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the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 12

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-8

Leviticus 12:2. Speak unto the children of Israel: that every man may convey the law to his wife, and assist in the ceremony of purification.

Leviticus 12:3. Circumcised. To this law our Saviour submitted, that he might fulfil all righteousness.


By this holy law of ceremonial defilement during the season of parturition, we are reminded of the original stain and depravity of human nature, which must be cleansed with sacrificial blood, or we shall all be cut off from the congregation of the Lord. David, viewing original sin, connected with actual transgression, said, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Hence the mother and the child both need the atonement of the Saviour’s blood, in order to inherit the blessings of the covenant. The body of an infant evidently partakes of disease and death from its parents, and the mind, however inexplicable, is most assuredly tainted from the same source. Else why should the righteous God afflict the unoffending babe with severe pain, and even with death. Let us not therefore complain, like the enemies of revelation, but rather avail ourselves of the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness, that we may approach the Lord with boldness, and live through the sprinkling of the Redeemer’s blood.

When a male child was born, forty days were fixed for the purification of the mother; and when a daughter was born, the time was eighty days. The text itself suggests a reason for this which ought to satisfy us; namely, that the male was circumcised the eighth day, to which females were not subject.

We learn from this law, that a woman and her family ought to offer up gratitude and praise to God after her delivery; for though the peculiarities of the law are abolished, gratitude is of equal force and obligation in all ages. And where is the place so proper to render thanks for family mercies so signal, as the house and the altar of God. It becomes the just to be thankful; and he that offereth praise glorifieth God. As the woman was forty days after the birth of a son before she could approach the sanctuary, so it is very remarkable that Moses was forty days on the mount; Elijah was forty days in approaching God at Horeb; our Lord was forty days in the desert, and forty days after his resurrection before he approached the Father in glory.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Leviticus 12". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/leviticus-12.html. 1835.
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