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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Leviticus 12

Verses 1-8

The Days of Separation and Purification Following Childbirth (Comments on this Passage in The Book of Jubilees ) When a woman gives birth to a male child, she is considered unclean for seven days in which she is to separate herself from social activity. When she bears a female child, her time of uncleanness is two weeks. Jewish tradition says that this period of time was based upon the fact that Adam was created during the first week of Creation while the woman was created during the second week.

“In the first week was Adam created, and the rib - his wife: in the second week He showed her unto him: and for this reason the commandment was given to keep in their defilement, for a male seven days, and for a female twice seven days.” (The Book of Jubilees 3.8-9) [20]

[20] The Book of Jubilees, trans. R. H. Charles, in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English With Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes to the Several Books, vol 2, ed. R. H. Charles, 1-82 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), 16.

It is also interesting to read in The Book of Jubilees that Adam was not brought into the Garden of Eden until he had completed forty days in the land, and while the woman had to complete eighty days before being brought in. This may be compared to the days of purification for a male child being a total of forty days (Leviticus 12:4) while being eighty days for the birth of a female (Leviticus 12:5) before the woman could enter into the Sanctuary.

“And after Adam had completed forty days in the land where he had been created, we brought him into the garden of Eden to till and keep it, but his wife they brought in on the eightieth day, and after this she entered into the garden of Eden. And for this reason the commandment is written on the heavenly tablets in regard to her that gives birth: 'if she bears a male, she shall remain in her uncleanness seven days according to the first week of days, and thirty and three days shall she remain in the blood of her purifying, and she shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor enter into the sanctuary, until she accomplishes these days which (are enjoined) in the case of a male child. But in the case of a female child she shall remain in her uncleanness two weeks of days, according to the first two weeks, and sixty-six days in the blood of her purification, and they will be in all eighty days.' And when she had completed these eighty days we brought her into the garden of Eden, for it is holier than all the earth besides and every tree that is planted in it is holy. Therefore, there was ordained regarding her who bears a male or a female child the statute of those days that she should touch no hallowed thing, nor enter into the sanctuary until these days for the male or female child are accomplished. This is the law and testimony which was written down for Israel, in order that they should observe (it) all the days.” ( The Book of Jubilees 3.9-15) [21]

[21] The Book of Jubilees, trans. R. H. Charles, in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English With Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes to the Several Books, vol 2, ed. R. H. Charles, 1-82 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), 16.

The Days of Separation and Purification Following Childbirth (Joseph and Mary) Notice how Joseph and Mary bring the baby Jesus to the Temple according to the Law. They gave the offering that poor people were allowed to give. This happened before the three wise men came bearing gifts to them.

The Days of Separation and Purification Following Childbirth (The Sin Offering) Why does God judge a woman and her son for seven days after childbirth? I believe that it is as a sign that every man is born into sin. This is why a man is not circumcised until the eighth day, because he is unclean for the first seven days of his life and is not allowed into the Temple. This view is supported by the fact that the parents are to come to the Temple after the time of purification and offer a sin offering unto the Lord.

Leviticus 12:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Leviticus 12:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.

Leviticus 12:3 And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

Leviticus 12:3 Comments - Why did God choose the eighth day? Scientists have discovered in the twentieth century a newborn’s blood does not clot well until the eighth day. However, when parents wait longer, then the pain is more intense in the child. [22] Bert Thompson explains that vitamin K and prothrombin serve to cause clotting of the blood. Vitamin K is first produced in the body during the fifth to the seventh day after birth. It is on the eighth day that the highest levels of vitamin K and prothrombin are found in the body during the life of a person. Therefore, the eighth day is the ideal day to perform circumcision since the blood clots the quickest of any day of a person’s life. [23]

[22] Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald B. Allen, and H. Wayne House, eds., Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), comments on Leviticus 12:3.

[23] Bert Thompson, Biblical Accuracy and Circumcision on the 8 th Day [on-line]; accessed 19 June 2009; available from http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2204; Internet.

Illustration - I had my son circumcised on the eighth day, and he suffered very little pain and discomfort. The only time when he cried was coming out of surgery. After nursing him in response to this cry, he never showed any visible signs of discomfort or pain again.

I had my firstborn son circumcised on the eighth day. My wife and I took him to the hospital on this eighth day where it was performed by a surgeon. I observed that it took my wife one week after childbirth before she felt like going out of the house on such an errand, and this is after she had a natural childbirth with no complications.

Leviticus 12:4 And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.

Leviticus 12:4 Comments - My wife tells me that it takes about six weeks, or forty-two days, after giving birth to a child for her blood to stop flowing, which is the indication of full recovery. This is the time period in which a doctor advises the couple to abstain from intercourse. Leviticus tells us basically the same thing, by saying that her “blood of purifying” continues for seven days plus thirty-three days, or a total of forty days. We note that Leviticus tells us that this blood flow is how the body cleanses itself from potential infection while the womb closes and seals itself back.

Leviticus 12:5 But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.

Leviticus 12:6 And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:

Leviticus 12:7 Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.

Leviticus 12:8 And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

Leviticus 12:8 Comments - Note a reference to Leviticus 12:8 in Luke 2:24:

Luke 2:24, “And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Leviticus 12". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/leviticus-12.html. 2013.