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Bible Commentaries

Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Leviticus 12


Clean and Unclean (Leviticus 11:1 to Leviticus 15:33 ).

The priesthood having been informed of their responsibility to discern between what was ritually clean and what was ritually unclean (Leviticus 10:10), five chapters now deal with the question in order to provide them with guidance (compare Ezekiel 22:26 for their later failure to do this). The question of clean and unclean brings out Israel’s world view, and stresses the difference between walking with God, and enjoying life and enjoying what is pure, in other words what is ‘clean’, and grovelling in what is ‘unclean’, with its connections with impurity and death, urging men to the former away from the latter.

In order to appreciate the significance of this we need first to recognise what precisely is involved. The purpose behind the idea of cleanness and uncleanness is not mainly hygiene or moral uncleanness. Rather it emphasises in a general way the holiness and perfection of God, and our need to escape from and avoid and rise above degradation and death. We have already seen that sacrifices and offerings are to be ‘perfect’ or ‘without blemish’. This is a pointer to the concept involved. In emphasising what is clean and unclean God seeks only what is totally ‘perfect’, what is wholly right, for Himself and for His people. What is clean is best. What is not clean is not best.

But we must not confuse holiness and ‘cleanness’. Holiness goes much further than cleanness. Things can be clean and not holy. And there are degrees of holiness within the area where all is ‘clean’. For holiness is to do with what God is, and what man’s attitude towards Him is, while cleanness has to do with what man is and with his attitude to his environment. This clearly impinges on holiness, but it is looking at it from a very different angle.

In order to be ‘holy’ enough to enter the tabernacle court men needed to be ritually ‘clean’, but being clean did not render them ‘most holy’. Yet the constant awareness of the need to avoid what was ‘unclean’ in God’s eyes did bring God’s Law very much into the daily lives of the common man. This included both its moral and its ritual requirements. It constantly made them think of what was for their good in accordance with God’s commands, what was ‘clean’, what was wholesome for those who were holy. But there can be no doubt that God also used these distinctions in order to keep them healthy, to let them see that in the uncleanness and decay of much of nature lay unknown dangers, to test their obedience, and to remind them constantly of His holiness.

There are also grounds for recognising that some of the living creatures which were unclean were seen as such because of their connections with various gods, although this may simply be because in their worship men regularly seek what is low. This would tie in with the general principle of perfection and wellbeing. While it is argued that in that case the bull ox would also have been unclean due to its prominence in the Baal religion, the answer to that might simply be that the bull ox had been recognised as clean for so long that it countered any other interpretation.

With, for example, the pig, which was revered and feared in religions elsewhere, the position was different. The black pig was taboo to worshippers of Horus in Egypt because Seth as a black pig had once blinded him. In certain Hittite rituals a pig was slaughtered in order to protect the sacrificers from evil curses. And pigs were associated with certain Syrian-Canaanite cults. This, even if not suggesting it, would certainly have helped to confirm the pig’s uncleanness. And ‘creeping things’ were undoubtedly connected with idolatry in Ezekiel 8:10. But nothing of this is even hinted at in either Leviticus or Deuteronomy so that we can only see it as of subsidiary significance.

The Law depicts Yahweh as supremely holy, that is uniquely ‘set apart’ as One Who is wholly good, wholly righteous, uniquely powerful, and then reveals grades of descent from God’s holiness and perfection into spheres of lesser and lesser holiness (‘set apartness’). This is because man could not fully cope with the full holiness of God.

On the one hand therefore the Law is very much designed to bring out God’s uniqueness and extreme holiness, together with the Priest’s and Israel’s special position before Him, but on the other it reveals intermediate levels of holiness until it comes down to where uncleanness intervenes and then goes on to the other extreme of ‘uncleanness’ which is to do with death and extreme impurity.

God is the living God, and, for Him, to be holy is to be supremely alive and pure. For man to become fully holy would be to become wholly alive and pure, and not only free from all the claims of death, but living positively to the full. For man to miss out on that, even by a fraction, would be to miss out on the very best. But man is far from that. He is weak and failing and that best is so far beyond him that it could only be a distant hope to be brought about by the grace of God. God therefore begins to lead him in ways that will enable him one day eventually, step by step, to understand that best, and this was indeed stated to be the purpose of the Law. It was that man might finally find true life (Leviticus 18:5).

This was to be revealed to him in two ways. Firstly by his coming to appreciate the full holiness of God, an awareness of God’s environment, and of His righteousness and purity (see Isaiah 57:15), and secondly by being made aware of what is wholly clean, what is best and most ‘perfect’ in man’s environment. Thus would his mind be turned towards God. With that in mind let us first consider the levels of holiness.

The Levels of Holiness.

1). There is what is supremely holy, the very ‘Holy of Holies’ (the Most Holy, the Holiest of All) itself, the throne room of the living God, remote from man in the tabernacle, inaccessible to any but the High Priest and he only once a year after complicated rituals of preparation which had made him especially holy. There God had at times revealed something of His glory.

It is the highest level attainable for those on earth, and then was only attainable by the High Priest once a year, and that only for a short while. But it is where Christ has now entered for us, and He has made a way open for us, so that we are so privileged that we may enter the Holiest in Him (Hebrews 10:19). This is the level which we should be enjoying in our fellowship with Him. It requires total commitment and full absorption in God, but for most it is only attained in its fullness at rare times. We may glibly speak of entry into the Holiest. But until we really become aware of the glory and holiness of God we have not really entered. Jesus Christ has made it possible, but like the children of Israel with Moses we ask that His face be veiled. For to see His face would take up too much of our lives.

2). Then there is the next level, what is extremely holy, the Holy Place and what is involved with it, so holy that nothing that pertains to it may remain in the camp outside the Holy Place, except temporarily. It has to be burned in a clean place outside the camp This includes the remains of the purification for sin offerings for priests and for the whole congregation, whose blood is brought into the Holy Place. Only the priests may enter or deal with such matters, and that only when they are ‘clean’ (a basic requirement), when on duty and properly attired, and having washed hands and feet with water to remove even the earthiness of the courtyard, and of things that they have touched. Any part of those offerings is extremely holy. Such extremely holy things must not remain within the Sanctuary precincts nor in the camp. What remains after making the offering must be burned with fire in a clean place outside the camp in order to go to God.

This is a slightly lower level of holiness from that of supreme holiness, enjoyed only by the priests, when they daily trimmed the lamps and offered incense on the altar of incense. But we being made priests in Christ have it opened up to us. It is enjoyed by those whose lives are genuinely fully committed, who walking before Him and in His sight trim the lamps of witness, testimony, and good works (Matthew 5:16), who offer the daily incense of praise and thanksgiving, but have not yet, or only at times, attained the higher level. But they do choose to live totally and completely as priests to God and on behalf of men, revealing it in witness, intercession, prayer, worship and thanksgiving, committing themselves to God as a living sacrifice, and seeking to be wholly acceptable to God. They live in the Holy Place.

3). Then there is what is ‘most holy’. It is not so holy that it is confined to the Holy Place, but it so holy that it must not leave the Sanctuary precincts or be touched by any but the priests. This includes all offerings and sacrifices, once offered, apart from the meat of peace/wellbeing sacrifices, but especially refers to the portions that the priests, and they alone may eat, meat from purification for sin offerings (Leviticus 6:29) and grain from grain offerings (Leviticus 2:10). If anyone apart from a priest touches them that person becomes ‘holy’ and thus subject to the restrictions of priests without actually attaining office (Leviticus 6:18; Leviticus 6:27).

In these days this lower level is attained by those who are set apart in Christ in holiness, who truly serve Him, but who have not yet reached the level of faith of living always in the presence of God. Their faith and dedication needs an upward lift.

4). Then there is what is ‘holy’, but is not so holy that it is not allowed to leave the Sanctuary precincts, for the camp also is holy, although not always fully clean. These holy things may be dealt with in a clean place within the camp. They include the priests’ portions of peace sacrifices, and the flesh of the peace sacrifices returned to the offerer, which must be eaten in a clean place and not by anyone while unclean. They are therefore more holy than the camp.

This is the level of the average Christian who walks with God, seeks to avoid uncleanness and the desires of the flesh, but whose commitment and dedication is not sufficiently full to enjoy the higher blessings.

Up to this point all this holiness has been free from any taint of uncleanness, for participation has only been allowed by those who are ‘clean’. In a sense the camp is the last stage of holiness and is the place where distinctions between clean and unclean begin to impinge. For this is where God’s holy people confront what is less than wholesome, what is less than ‘perfect’, what may come short in one way or another of contributing to their wellbeing.

5). The camp of Israel is holy (Deuteronomy 23:14), but it is of an even lesser holiness than the clean places within the camp, for those who are mildly unclean may remain in it in their tents, and the part in which they are is then unclean until they themselves are clean. And in the same way the nation of Israel, and all who join it within the covenant by circumcision, are holy (Exodus 19:6), for they are God’s covenant people, and yet they may be temporarily unclean. However because they are holy they must seek not to defile themselves by disobedience and by contact with what is unclean, and take whatever precautions are necessary to deal with uncleanness and prevent it affecting the holy. While unclean they are not so holy that they can come in direct contact with the holiness of God.

This is the level of the low level Christian who is satisfied to honour Christ but is also seeking to enjoy life in general and does not want to be too restricted. He wants to be allowed his periods of ‘uncleanness’. He is an ‘also ran’.

6). Then there is outside the camp of Israel. This is not holy, but it is more complicated for it is divided into the clean and the unclean. Firstly there are (undefined) ‘clean places’ (Leviticus 4:12; Leviticus 6:11) where what is extremely holy may be burned and where the ashes from the altar of burnt offering may be deposited. Secondly there are places which cannot be unclean, for men can go there without becoming unclean, and clean animals rove there without becoming unclean. But as with the camp unclean things impinge there. Thirdly there are places which are unclean because unclean people, non-Israelites, live there who do not observe the rules of cleanness and uncleanness. Fourthly there are places which are unclean because they are the haunts of what is unclean. There there is much which is unclean, with which even indirect contact must be avoided. And fifthly there are unclean and defiled places (Leviticus 14:40-3.14.41; Leviticus 14:45) where death and uncleannesses must be put and must remain. Man’s excrement, for example, must be put in a designated special place outside the camp (Deuteronomy 23:13-5.23.14 compareLeviticus 5:3; Leviticus 5:3) and must be buried there, as must the building materials of buildings condemned for certain fungi and rotting (Leviticus 14:40; Leviticus 14:45). We are not given details of these places, only their function. It may be that they were simply designated areas for refuse.

On the whole the inhabited world outside ‘the camp’ and outside later ‘Israel’, was probably seen as unholy, and as largely ‘unclean’, except possibly for the land suitable for grazing, arable land and pasture in the wilderness (not, of course, too strictly defined), for even in generally unclean lands, these were presumably seen as mildly clean, otherwise clean wild animals would become unclean.

But the ground was cursed in Genesis 3:17, and the snake was cursed ‘above all cattle and above every beast of the field’, and sentenced to grovel in the dirt, to ‘eat the dust’ (Genesis 3:14), a phrase which at a minimum indicated something totally low, ignominious and unpleasant. And this ground would only yield man his food after great and laborious effort. He would have to restore it to usefulness. It had become his adversary. And the dust was what man would return to (Genesis 3:19), it was the dust of lifelessness and death above which man had been raised, but only for a time. He would return to it in death. Thus what lived in the dust of the ground was unclean.

This ties in with chapter 11 here for a separation was made in Genesis 1-3 along similar lines to here, between animals both wild and domestic, and the other land creatures, and creeping things which grovelled in the dust, which thus became unclean, together with the birds of the air and the fish of the sea (Genesis 1:20-1.1.21; Genesis 1:24-1.1.25; Genesis 1:29-1.1.30). The intention was that all would eat vegetation or ‘green herbs’ (Genesis 1:30). It would seem that that was seen as the ideal and that those that began to subsist on other things become ‘unclean’, although later man’s right to eat of animals is confirmed (Genesis 9:3), but he would be expected to use discernment.

In Genesis 2:19-1.2.20 it is only the cattle, the wild beasts and the birds which are seen as within man’s domain, and in Genesis 3:14 we come across ‘cattle’, ‘beasts of the countryside’ and a reptile, the latter despatched to lurk in the dust as a punishment. It should not therefore surprise us if animals which nuzzle in the dust, and reptiles and creatures that live in the dust and never rise above it are seen as especially unclean, and even more ‘creeping things’, for the dust is what man who dies will return to. It is the dust of death (Psalms 22:15; Psalms 22:29; Psalms 30:9; Psalms 104:29; Ecclesiastes 3:20; Daniel 12:2). To ‘cleave to the dust’ was considered to be the same as dying (Psalms 119:25). It was a world of death. And while the curse was partly relieved by God’s covenant with Noah as far as man was concerned (Genesis 9:21), which might explain why grazing land and arable land could be seen as ‘clean’, it certainly did not remove the whole curse. Thorns and thistles are still man’s bain. The earth is still man’s adversary and seeks ever to return to the wild or to desert. And all this was closely linked with death (Genesis 3:19; Genesis 5:5), which was the final sentence.

The same distinctions are mainly found in the story of the flood (Genesis 7:8; Genesis 7:14; Genesis 7:21; Genesis 7:23; Genesis 8:19), but there we are introduced to clean and unclean animals and birds, only the clean of which can be sacrificed (Leviticus 7:2; Leviticus 8:20).

It is possible that the ‘clean places’ as in Leviticus 4:12; Leviticus 6:11 are those where it is considered that death does not usually take place and where man’s and animal’s uncleanness would not have reached, thus remote almost inaccessible spots, but they are never defined specifically, and it may be that they were places especially set aside and cleansed, (although if this is so it is never mentioned). But the fact that there could be these ‘clean places’ suggests that the created world was originally seen as fundamentally clean, (God saw that it was good), but as having been largely defiled by death and uncleanness, that which is related to opposition to God.

But in terms of living things only Israel, and those who worship Yahweh, are now holy and that because cleansed by God, while certain animal, birds and fish are ‘clean’, and can therefore be eaten, but they are not spoken of as holy. To be holy is to be in a relationship with God, or to be God’s special possession.

We could see ‘outside the camp’ as largely signifying the level of those who are not in Christ. Some are relatively ‘cleaner’ than others, but none are in the camp and holy to God.

Connected with these degrees of holiness that we have described therefore, and at the bottom end, we must fit in the ideas of what is ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’. These things affect holiness but are not the same thing. They are to do with man’s contact with the world through his body. Nothing of this uncleanness is ever to be brought into contact with the tabernacle. To do so deliberately would be to warrant death. If discovered as occurring unwittingly it will require guilt offerings (Leviticus 5:2-3.5.3).

And while mild uncleanness is allowed in the camp, the camp too must be kept separate from it, and the aim is always to be rid of any such uncleanness as quickly as feasible. Meanwhile it must be contained within the tent, and by avoiding contact with others.

It should be noted that something can be clean but not holy. But it cannot be unclean and holy. This is especially so with regard to food. Food that is unclean must be abhorred by Israel. It will defile the holiness of any of the people involved with it. It will make them less whole and pure. Thus it is necessary to distinguish between clean and unclean foods. But certain animals are seen as ‘clean’ wherever they are, unless they have been defiled in some way. Thus to be ‘clean’ is not the same thing as to be holy. However the converse is true, what is ‘unclean’ is not holy, and at least to some extent defiles holiness.

And at the bottom end of uncleanness are things that defile the land, murder, adultery, idolatry and so on (Leviticus 18:6-3.18.27; Leviticus 20:2-3.20.22). These are the extremes of ‘uncleanness’. Those who do such things must be cut off. Their end is death, for death is the final end of uncleanness. So if their bodies are hung on a tree in order to disgrace them, they are not to stay there overnight, for it would render the land unclean because they are accursed by God. Thus they must be buried (Deuteronomy 21:23). It was for such uncleannesses that Israel would be finally expelled from the land (Leviticus 18:25).

So cleanness and uncleanness refer to men’s relationship to themselves and to the world, and how they react to the world, although they do also affect their position before God. And as will be seen there are certain basic rules regarding the cleanness of living things, and they have a certain logic to them. If fully followed out they would undoubtedly have contributed to human health, but that, at least humanly speaking, would not be seen as their main purpose, and it does not mean that all unclean things are always physically unhealthy for humans, only that they would be ill advised to partake of them because of how often they are. But the main reson why they must not eat of them is because God has not appointed them for men. Abstaining from them is a sign of being God’s men and women.

Men like Moses may well have learned certain basic medical rules from observation. But a detailed individual diet list giving individual ‘clean’ items would have been neither wise or practical, and would have been observed more in the breach than in the fulfilment, and one is not given. Nor was this the main purpose of establishing things as clean, although from a health point of view there is no doubt that avoiding unclean things would have contributed to good health.

The real significance of cleanness and uncleanness was with regard to ‘perfection’ and ‘imperfection’, to ‘wholeness’ and ‘unwholeness’, to making men ritually ‘without blemish’. The aim was to keep God’s people involved only with what was ‘perfect’, with what was pleasing to God, and this would result in their being ritually and morally clean as they lived to do His will, rising above what was most unpleasant in the world. It meant avoiding all that was unclean in any way, however seemingly desirable, and, when they fell short it, involved their going through the necessary process for the removal of that uncleanness. For what was unclean was in general harmful, and would remove them from the state of wholeness that should be theirs, so that if possible the situation had to be rectified. If it was not rectified they would be removed from the camp, for anything other than temporary uncleanness would defile the camp and make it unholy.

We have already observed the constant necessity for the removal of sin, and of all breaches of the covenant, which was a special kind of unholiness to do with ritual and moral failure. We now see the requirement also to be ‘clean’ in everything in relationship with creation.

To summarise we may consider the various levels of humanity (if we leave Moses out of account who was unique). There is first the High Priest, then the priests, then the blemished priests. The first can enter the Holy of Holies, the second the Holy Place and the third can partake of what is most holy, but cannot enter the Holy Place. These in descending order can deal with ‘most holy’ things as long as they are ‘clean’. Then come the people when clean, allowed into the tabernacle court, then the people when temporarily unclean, and not allowed,while unclean, in the tabernacle court, and then the people who are blemished who cannot enter the tabernacle court. But all these may remain in the camp. Then come the people unclean and excluded from the camp but kept within range, for whom worship can be conducted and offerings made. And then finally come outsiders not connected with the camp. All these described are as a whole split into clean and unclean. Any of these who are rendered unclean, even the High Priest, must not enter the Sanctuary precincts while unclean. None who are blemished may ever do so. Although they, and ‘strangers’, may offer sacrifices and offerings. They are not excluded from God (Numbers 15:14; Numbers 15:16). Only the High Priest and the unblemished priests may enter the Holy Place as long as they are ‘clean’. Only the ritually ‘clean’ may enter the tabernacle court. But in all cases, from highest to lowest, all approaches are only through offerings and sacrifices. To be clean was not to be sinless.

One important lesson we should learn from all this is that God is not to be approached lightly. Those who would know Him fully must recognise His purity and truth and come to Him in purity and truth, and must therefore recognise and acknowledge their need for cleansing, for atonement and forgiveness, and for cleanness of life from all that is unclean. The exclusion of the blemished (what is not perfect) is not intended as a slight on them, but as a reminder of the supremely perfect and unblemishes being of God.

As we go through the laws of uncleanness we will discover a pattern based on the first five chapters of Genesis. The tradition behind Genesis was Scripture for the people of Israel under Moses. It dealt with the roots of life, leading up to the promises given to Abraham. In Genesis 1:0 the world was created, and with it all living creatures. In Genesis 2:0 God prepared man’s dwelling place on earth, and set him over all cattle, wild beasts and birds. And he walked naked, authoritative and tall, and was not ashamed. But what crept on the ground was not said to be submissive to him. And in Genesis 3:0 this was evidenced when mankind fell into sin, deceived by the serpent, and the serpent was cursed and was sentenced to the dust, and the woman who first sinned was punished in the very thing that was dearest to her, the ability to conceive, and the ground which produced man’s food was cursed.

So we have in descending order, God, man, animals and birds, creeping things of the ground, the latter outside man’s control.

From now on man had to be clothed, and God made for him suitable clothing. Then man was sentenced to be cast from the Garden, excluded from the place where God had walked with him. He was unclean. He would no longer be ‘in the camp’, but was cast out, and the world would abundantly produce thorns and thistles to hinder his labours. This was when he was first introduced to clothing to hide his nakedness.

But then came a new beginning, when man triumphed and was restored into fellowship with God as Abel offered his ‘gifts’ to Him. Man could once more enjoy God’s blessing. But Cain slew Abel and then went away and built the first houses in his ‘city’, and his line was built up as a result of their sexual responses. Meanwhile godly man began to ‘call on the name of Yahweh’, and thus in chapter 5 we have the line of men who were born, and lived and died, again the result of sexual responses, both good and bad.

It is surely not a coincidence that the laws of uncleanness follow this pattern. Leviticus 11:0 connects with Genesis 1-3. Leviticus 12:0 connects with the punishment of the woman in Genesis 3:16. Leviticus 13:1-3.13.46 connects with the casting out of the man from the Garden in Genesis 3:17-1.3.19 with Genesis 3:23-1.3.24. Leviticus 13:47-3.13.59; Leviticus 13:47-3.13.59 connects with God’s provision of their first clothing in Genesis 3:21. Leviticus 14:1-3.14.32; Leviticus 14:1-3.14.32 connects with the restoration of fellowship and the new beginning in Genesis 4:0, and Leviticus 14:33-3.14.53 connects with ‘the building of a city’ on arrival in the land also as in Genesis 4:17. And finally Leviticus 15:0 deals with the means of reproduction and the organs of reproduction as illustrated in Genesis 4:18 and Genesis 5:1-1.5.32). We might then see Leviticus 16:0, with its emphasis on the great Day of Atonement, which gave Israel a new beginning every year, as reflected in the story of the Flood when God decided to make a new beginning, and enabled man to begin again, by sacrificing clean animals and birds on an altar. He gave them a new start, as He would now give Israel one, once a year.

So with all this in mind let us now consider this chapter, which deals with what food is clean and may therefore be freely enjoyed by the people, and will not make them unclean, and what is unclean and should be avoided for one reason or another. But one warning. The purpose of these restrictions was not in order to be a list of all harmless foods, although they certainly did prevent the eating of many harmful foods, nor was it in order to declare that what was unclean was necessarily bad in itself, it was in order to set apart His people from all others, and to lift them up from the squalor of the world and from the taint of death. It was to make them holy. It was in order to lift them above all that was degrading, and to keep them living before Him in purity, and in recognition that death and all connected with it is the very opposite of all that God is. It was to ensure their wellbeing and their wholesomeness. It was to keep them out of the dust of death (Psalms 22:15; Psalms 22:29; Psalms 30:9; Psalms 104:29; Ecclesiastes 3:20; Daniel 12:2).

Thus God’s aim is to keep His people from all that is unholy, that is, from all that is in general terms unlike Himself, all that was not created specifically for man’s benefit, and all that might be harmful either spiritually or physically, and it was especially to separate him from the taint of death.

In going into the world His people would inevitably occasionally become ‘unclean’, but provision was now made for the conscious removal of this uncleanness, and warnings given not to deliberately step beyond the bounds laid down. For disobedience is the ultimate uncleanness.

It will be noted in what follows that the creatures that are ‘clean’ are those that are (as seen by the Israelites) wholly grazing animals, still eaters of herbs (Genesis 1:30), and not predators (death-dealers) and blood-eaters; or are those that swim in the open water well away from the dirt and the mud; or are those that eat vegetation and leap and are not tied to crawl on the earth. Each keeps to its proper sphere. In no case therefore do they do lurk and crawl in dirt and filth, among the dust that the snake was to grovel in, and to which man, when he ceased to be man and became an empty shell with its breath withdrawn, would return. And to which the carcases of all beasts would return. That was the realm of death. This must be seen from a ‘common knowledge’ aspect, not as a naturalist. It is the basic ideas that are being conveyed.

There is an important lesson here for Christians. We too can enter the Holiest of All through the blood of Jesus. We too can gather together to worship in holiness, having a ‘rarified’ time. But we too cannot enter God’s presence until cleansed. We too have to go out into the world and must choose between what is wholesome and what is degraded, and must avoid what is degrading and choose the wholesome. This is all a warning to us to discern between what is spiritually clean and what is spiritually unclean (2 Corinthians 7:1), although not necessarily in the terms laid out in what follows. For as Jesus pointed out, it is what is in the heart of man that is really unclean (Mark 7:18-41.7.23). And for us too the depths of uncleanness is murder, adultery and idolatry.

Chapter 12 The ‘Uncleanness’ of Women.

For the next four chapters concentration (with a few exceptions) is on ‘uncleanness’ as it applies to men and women in connection with discharges from, or diseases in, their physical bodies. They had little scientific understanding of the various discharges from their bodies, and these regulations were certainly hygienically helpful in helping them to cope with them. But at the root of the regulations lay questions of life, and death, and wholesomeness, and a falling short of wholeness, and a providing of comfort and hope to those suffering from these conditions. At least they then felt that they understood what their problem was, rather than being afraid of it.

We have seen already that the cleanness and uncleanness of living creatures as described in chapter 11 was connected with creation in Genesis 1:0 and with man’s fall in Genesis 3:0. Creation was seen as no longer ‘very good’, but as marred and spoiled. Disease and death had entered it. But in chapter 11 we saw that ensuring ‘cleanness’, by partaking only of that which was approved by God, would help to prevent the worst effects of the fall. By avoiding the dust of death, and what was involved in it and connected with it, and looking only to the positively good things that God had placed in the world, they could be ‘clean’ and could then maintain the possibility of life before God, and of fellowship with God through their offerings and sacrifices. This would then help towards being ‘holy’, separated to God, belonging to Him and pleasing to Him.

And the whole book has revealed that when they failed, whether physically or morally, because they lived in a world affected by sin, provision was made for their restoration, both in the provisions for ridding themselves of individual ‘uncleanness’, and through the offerings and sacrifices God had provided as a way of purification from sin, atonement and rededication. In both cases there was a way back to God from both uncleanness and sin, except in the case of presumptuous sin, sin with a high hand.

The same principle applies to childbirth here. Apart from God two things dominated man’s life. The provision of his basic bodily needs, and the production of children to carry on his name, and inherit his land. From the point of view of the beginning of things the provision of food was man’s responsibility, which is why it came first in chapter 11. And when he had sinned that was the sphere in which God punished him, although there it had been by cursing the ground (Genesis 3:17). It had not directly affected the cattle, as we discover from the fact that Abel was a shepherd, although indirectly all was affected by it. And in that sphere he was to seek what was clean. He was to avoid what was cursed and seek what was blessed.

But next to the provision of food, which was man’s responsibility, came God’s command to ‘Go forth and multiply’ (Genesis 1:28), and that was very much seen as the woman’s obligation. Indeed women themselves saw this as their main function in life. Bringing children into the world and bringing them up brought them fulfilment and joy, and gave significance and meaning to their lives.

But all had to recognise that it was not the same world as it had been when God had first given the command to multiply, for the first woman, along with her husband, had been responsible for having brought sin into the world, and there was no greater continual reminder of this than women’s problems in connection with birth. They were part of her punishment. (Genesis 3:16 - women still call them ‘the curse’ although the Bible does not).

Chapter 11 had been a reminder of a fallen world and of man’s dealings with it, a world of clean and unclean, a world of which part could be accepted because it was wholesome, and of much which must be shunned because it was not. But through its gloom had shone out the fact that God had from the beginning provided clean food for man, and that if he was discerning and obedient, and rejected the unclean, he could, once he had obtained purification and atonement through offerings and sacrifices, enjoy a life that was full and blessed. He could avoid the unclean. He could be ‘holy’, set apart to God and to some extent like Him. And he could obtain ‘clean’ food. For the curse had not fallen on the cattle, or on the grain, or on Adam himself, but on the ground that produced the grain, on the dust of the earth, and on what lurked in that ground. And provision had been made to counter the effect of the fall as far as man was concerned.

But now in Leviticus 12:0 comes a reminder of the next consequence of the fall, the way in which womankind was affected. Childbirth was now inevitably connected with ‘uncleanness’. For, as far as the woman was concerned, it was in the discomforts of childbirth that God had found a way of punishing her because of her part in the fall (Genesis 3:16). It would be a reminder every time a child was born that a sinner was being born into a sinful world.

So in every case of childbirth there was no avoiding uncleanness. It was not a question of choice. It was something that had to be endured. Birth inevitably involved sin because the birth process had been affected by sin, and the child being born into the world was now subject to sin. Indeed he or she would be a sinner (compare Romans 5:14; Psalms 51:5; Psalms 58:3). And therefore the very process of birth came short of ‘perfection and must be ‘unclean’. And that is why the woman, being in the process of producing a sinner, was during that process prevented from being able for a while to approach the holiness of God.

And men and women saw this as being made visibly quite clear. When the child was born it was covered with blood and mucus. It came out ‘unclean’. (This does not contradict the statement that every child which opens the womb shall be called holy to Yahweh (Luke 2:23). The latter means that it is seen as set apart for Yahweh’s service, not that it is ‘ritually holy’ at that point. In the mercy of God while it enters the world ‘unclean’ it is, if an Israelite, also set apart as His).’

But because of the grace of God it was recognised that that uncleanness would be temporary and not permanent, and therefore that through following due processes the woman and the child could come out of their period of uncleanness in childbearing, back into cleanness and the light of God’s holiness, with all traces of sin being put behind them. That is the process described here.

This uncleanness in childbirth includes a woman’s discharges after childbirth, indeed they were a main part of it. They are seen here in Leviticus as the next example of uncleanness. They are seen as part of the consequences of that same foolish act that had rendered so much of the world unclean. That woman was to suffer in childbearing had been determined then, and she was aware that that suffering would in childbearing continually bring her down from her life of cleanness and fellowship with God, into the realm of uncleanness, that she might remember continually what had been done. She was, as it were, continually to relive the fall.

If she was to produce children this uncleanness was something that she would have to undergo. There was no avoiding it. In order to produce new life she must be willing to go through the uncleanness of childbirth. It was intended to bring home to all the awfulness of sin.

So the woman’s problems after birth were to be seen as part of God’s indictment of the first woman (Genesis 3:16) from whom she was descended. She was to recognise that the reason that she was no longer in the sphere of painless and untroubled birth, and that her body would manifest that fact during the process of birth and after, was both because of the sin that was past, and because even more sin was by it seen as coming into the world, and even more death by sin. Every unclean new birth shouted out and proclaimed the sinfulness of man, and stressed that God does judge sin, even though that judgment might have been partially delayed. It was the explanation of all the pain and unpleasantness that the woman went through.

Fruitfulness in childbearing would rightly be seen as fulfilling God’s purpose for women at creation (Genesis 1:28). All was going on as it should. But the result of sin would also be seen as intervening and could not be overlooked and thrust aside. It would result in that fruitfulness coming about in unpleasant ways as a result of God’s judgment.

The discharges were thus seen as being a reminder of the result of the fall, as being an indication of woman’s coming short of God’s ‘perfection’ because of that fall, and therefore as ‘uncleanness’. They were a reminder not only of the sinfulness of men and women, but of the certainty of judgment and of the fact that God did take note of sin, and that without God’s grace man would have no hope.

They were also a reminder of what birth meant. It meant that another sinner had been born into the world (Psalms 51:5; Psalms 58:3). This especially comes out in the need for the spilling of blood through the circumcision of a male child, and in the need for the whole burnt offering and purification for sin offering which were to be made whether the child was male or female (Leviticus 12:6). It could not be overlooked that this babe from her womb shared in the sinfulness of Adam and Eve.

And yet it also testified that both she and the child still had a future because of the mercy of God. And that was why, once the discharges had cleared up, due offerings of gratitude, dedication, tribute and repentance would be made. It should be noted that the uncleanness of the child resulted from that of the mother. It was not unclean in itself, nor is it said to specifically require atonement. Its uncleanness came from contact with the mother. But it would certainly require atonement, along with all Israel, in the future, once it was a part of the congregation of Israel.

Indeed we may possibly take this process further. The flow of blood may well have been intended to be seen as a reminder of the sentence of death under which the first woman had been, and the sentence of death under which, but for the mercy of God, the woman and her child would be. Even as the blood flowed it was the reminder that she was mortal and through producing a child she was diminishing herself so that she became less than ‘perfect’, and was even putting herself in danger of death. Death in childbirth was then not uncommon. And it may even be that the subsequent discharges of ‘waters’ may have been seen as an indication of the new life that both were receiving, having been as it were ‘brought from death to life’ (Isaiah 48:1). This might have been seen as the explanation as to why the seven/fourteen day period of severe uncleanness, when blood might flow more copiously, was followed by the longer period of milder uncleanness and purification when the lochia (after birth flow) flowed and the body was being restored.

So this period of uncleanness in child bearing was a period of joy because a child had been born into the world, a period of remembrance and endurance because of what had been lost because of man’s first sin, and a period of restoration and hope as they contemplated the future. It was a reminder that God’s judgement against sin was real, and would continue, and yet a period of gratitude to God that there was a way out of the uncleanness. God had not left them in despair. Every day, somewhere in Israel, this reminder would be proclaimed forth when the birth of a child was announced.

So what the woman went through each time there was a birth was a reminder of the first sin of her ancestress, and that that sin (and those done since), were something that God looked on with severity. And even the child who was thus born, while welcomed and rejoiced over, would also have to be redeemed, along with all Israel. For each child born, while a reason for rejoicing, was also to be a reminder of man’s sinfulness, and that man’s only hope lay in redemption.

But the law of uncleanness was also a declaration of the fact that that redemption was available for God’s holy people, that God had provided a way back to Himself, that man could become clean, and even holy.

Through the fall womankind had fallen from her proper sphere in the presence of God, and in that fallen sphere in every childbirth she would no longer be ‘clean’, would no longer whole. The child would be born in blood and tears, and even sometimes in death. The position of cleanness would only be restored through the goodness of God once she had fully recovered from the childbirth. Then she and the child could be clean and holy. It was not a childbirth in Paradise, it was a childbirth in a very sinful world, but with their hope set in God.

Practically speaking, of course, there was another benefit to these regulations. The after-birth regulations gave the woman a much needed rest, and freedom from intercourse, and from work, until her body had recovered from its exertions, seen as being a recovery from ritual ‘uncleanness’. She could rest up until she had recovered.

Furthermore, in days when the forms of protection women have today were lacking it also meant that she need not seek to laboriously protect herself against losing blood or lochia when outside her tent, and especially on approaching the tabernacle, which would have disgraced her. She had to do neither the one nor the other. Even the most careless or cruel of husbands could not force that upon her. His compatriots would never have forgiven him for bringing them into contact with uncleanness, and the priests would not have overlooked it. Her period of uncleanness confined her to her tent thus preventing such embarrassments. The law of uncleanness may therefore also be seen as God acting for the wife’s protection. It was an act of God’s goodness.

But the ritual reason was that in losing blood she was seen as at this time blemished, and not fully ‘whole’, as in a state of living death, as diminished, and therefore as not in a condition to approach the tabernacle, and all this as a result of the fall. Indeed she may even have been seen as being at the beginning of a death process, something to be successfully averted in most cases by the obedient waiting on God and the offered sacrifices that followed.

We can see why such a thought might be there. Immediately after birth the placenta would be discharged along with a flow of blood, a horrific circumstance at any time, and made even worse here. And it might well have been intended to convey the reminder that death had only been averted by the mercy of God. Then would follow puerperal discharges which might include some blood, and which in the case of a male child may last over a month, and in the case of a female child even longer. They would find this length of time difficult to comprehend. They would ask, why should it take so long? And the ritual answer would be, because of the gravity of sin, because being once again made clean can only occur through genuine cost, and through sacrifice. The family and all connected with them would thus have brought home to them the seriousness of sin. And in fact, what was suggested by all this, would be genuinely true. It was indeed only through the mercy of God that women could now bring children into the world at all.

But why the lengths of time? The puerperal discharges do not necessarily take that long. But the puerperal discharges may then in some cases have been followed by puerperine fever. This would extend the woman’s suffering and its often occurrence would make it seem a part of the process and may have affected the length of the period of uncleanness for both boys and girls. Furthermore we know that the puerperal discharges for a girl are in fact by nature for a longer period than for a boy, and on top of them we should consider that if shortly after these had died down menstruation began, as would often be the case, that too would be seen as being a continuation of the discharge. As there would have been numerous cases of this, it would have given an indication that a much longer period of ‘purification’ (a purification evidenced only by final recovery) was needed in the case of a girl as opposed to a boy.

Thus when we look at the periods allocated we must take all this into account. They had had to allow for all the possible complications that could arise so that at the end of the prescribed period every woman was truly ‘clean’.

It was not worked out scientifically. They would think by rule of thumb and what they observed, and would already have worked out that girls needed longer than boys, and this was the basis on which God therefore made His provisions. In the event twice as much time was allocated for a girl baby as opposed to a boy baby, because they were aware of all the problems that could arise. And the men at least would have seen that as totally unsurprising, as most would think that girls were after all twice as much trouble as boys, and only half as important (compare Leviticus 27:2-3.27.7)

However, forty days was also a significant period for another reason. Moses had been in the Mount for forty days (Exodus 24:18), bringing the nation to birth, a good reason in itself for seeing forty days as a good period for defining the birth pattern, and the rain and flood had come for forty days on the ark (Genesis 7:12), with the ark delivering those within, which again might be seen as a picture of the arduous ‘deliverance’ process following birth. Thus as ‘forty days’ had in the past been connected with ‘birth’ and ‘deliverance’, it might well for that reason have been seen by God as a period which would convey a suitable message, and by those involved have been seen as being a suitable round number in order to ensure that the discharges had assuaged. Eighty days would then be seen as forty doubled and therefore intensified because of the longer recovery in the case of a girl.

Thus the message that would come from the application of the law of uncleanness would be that the wages of sin is death, that God does bring every work into judgment, that blood must be poured out, at least in token, but that God has provided redemption for His people, so that each child born into Israel can be restored from the ‘foreign’ atmosphere of the fall, to the life of one who has been redeemed, accepted among God’s redeemed people, and living in cleanness and holy to God. It is a message of the way that God constantly acts in restoration.

Verse 1

‘And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,’

Once again it is stressed that this command came from Yahweh through Moses. But when we consider Leviticus 11:1 and Leviticus 13:1 we must ask, why only to Moses? The answer is probably because in this case the priests are not called on to judge anything. No one is required in order to declare that there has been a birth, the midwives would declare on the sex of the baby, and all would know the position with regard to cleanness and uncleanness. The expertise of the priests was not required.

Again we have to note that the only limit on this section timewise is the death of Moses. But whenever it was given the mention of circumcision, which was not practised in the wilderness, was seen as preparation for a future in the land of Canaan (as specifically with houses later (Leviticus 14:34)). As the people waited in Kadesh almost on the border of the land, they still lived in expectancy of finally entering the land, and the Law was designed to encourage them in their expectation.

Verse 2

“Speak to the children of Israel, saying, If a woman conceive seed, and bear a man-child, then she shall be unclean seven days, as in the days of the impurity of her sickness shall she be unclean.”

Firstly it is emphasised that the woman who gave birth was to be seen as unclean ‘for seven days’, as she was in the case of menstruation (the days of her impurity - see Leviticus 15:19, another case where a sacrifice was also required). After all similar blood flows came from her in both cases. The flow of blood was a constant reminder of the woman’s mortality. It also rendered her untouchable at the time, especially by men.

Whether it was seen as a reminder of prospective death, only averted by the later intended sacrifice, or whether rather it was seen as indicating that the woman was in an ‘imperfect’ and life diminishing state, and therefore at the time a blemished state, is something that cannot be demonstrated. But clearly she was seen as at that time ‘not her whole self’, and in no condition to approach God. Through childbirth she was undergoing the consequences of the fall afresh. She was unclean.

So a divinely perfect period, seven days (or for a girl twice seven days), the number of days connected with creation, was to be allowed for her first recovery. It was a period of severe uncleanness. She was enduring all the consequences of the fall. The number seven was a number used of divinely perfect and completed activity, and ‘seven days’ was the period of creation, Thus it may here have been seen as being in order that God might do His re-creating work in restoring her. Or it may simply be because seven was for all nations seen as a divine number of completeness. And it was after all in a sense already prescribed for in the covenant of circumcision (Genesis 17:10-1.17.14). It fitted in with circumcising a boy child on the eighth day.

This period then emphasised man’s fallen state. During this period of serious uncleanness the woman would be left relatively alone, helped only by those women (such as her mother) who were prepared to become unclean by helping her. And the child too would be unclean, if only because of contact with its mother. But at the end of the seven days, in the case of a boy, the severe uncleanness would be seen as at an end, to be followed on the eighth day with a ceremony in which blood was spilt, and in which the child was welcomed into the people of God. Hopefully by this stage the blood flow would have ceased, to be followed by the continuing discharge of lockia which would not be seen as outwardly as serious, and therefore was seen as occurring in a period of lesser uncleanness.

Verse 3

“And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.”

At the stage in fact when this law was first communicated, circumcision could not take place. It would have been unwise while constantly on the move. The instructions were thus in the final analysis for when they settled in the land. They were in the light of the soon anticipated entry into Canaan. (These instructions may have been given prior to the disobedience that cancelled that entry, thus with its full application being delayed, or it may have been shortly before Moses’ death, and used as an incentive to press the people to go forward).

Looked at in practical terms the seven days would also be necessary because time had to be given to her for recovery before she attended at the circumcision of a male child (see Genesis 17:10-1.17.14; Genesis 21:4). While circumcision was mainly seen as the father’s responsibility, unless he was too ill for it (Exodus 4:24-2.4.26), God graciously provided so that the woman could be fit enough to be present. He was her son too.

The circumcision would be performed, usually by the father, using a flint knife, by removing the foreskin. It was the shedding of covenant blood to seal the child in the covenant. It is probable that it was also seen as acting as a kind of blood offering, declaring the redemption of the child, and thus lessening the time needed for recovery in the case of a male child. They would have noticed that discharges of lochia did not occur for so long a period in the case of a male child.

The use of a flint knife for circumcision, following ancient tradition (see Exodus 4:25), was in fact much safer than using a metal knife, for the flint was naturally sterilised. It is also an interesting medical fact that the eighth day was probably the best and most painless period after birth for carrying out this operation. Up to about the fifth day the newborn babe was susceptible to haemorrhage, later the nerves would have become more sensitive.

Circumcision was a sign of the covenant that God made with Abraham in Genesis 17:0. Every male child who was to be seen as a true born Israelite had to be circumcised, and by it he became a member of the covenant people. It was also open to ‘strangers’ who wished to eventually become ‘true born Israelites’ (Exodus 12:48). But it was not carried out during the travels in the wilderness, presumably precisely because they were travelling, and it would be inconvenient, and then because of the breach with God which resulted in the stay at the oases around Kadesh. In one sense the covenant was seen as pending.

This non circumcision of the people may have been significant even though it is never explained, especially as it continued in the long period at Kadesh. It would seem that it was linked with the future hope. At first it was probably practical. Circumcision could be tricky while on the move. But it then probably became theological. They would be circumcised once they entered the land of Promise. And until that they were not worthy. The covenant was temporarily partly in suspense until contempt had been purged by the dying out of those who had refused to obey God’s command to enter the land (Numbers 14:0).

All the people who entered the Promised Land who had not been circumcised in Egypt (including the mixed multitude of Exodus 12:38) would in fact be circumcised on reaching it (Joshua 5:2-6.5.9). And the blood that was shed in the act of circumcision would almost certainly have been seen in sacrificial terms as making atonement. It was certainly seen as vital for a servant of God (compare Exodus 4:24-2.4.26). And from that day on these provisions would apply at every birth.

So the childbearer was through this law of uncleanness going through a repeat of the curse. And that is why sacrifices would have to be offered. Then God would normally give back to her the gift of life, and she would be clean, and her ordeal would be over. So was it indicated that in every birth a sinner was born, affected by the fall, and so was it revealed that he/she would be graciously received by God and be made ‘clean’, restored to the state intended for God’s people. And so would it also be revealed that she was delivered by God in her childbearing (compare 1 Timothy 2:15).

Verses 4-5

“And she shall 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 are fulfilled.”

Then would follow a period, in the case of a male child of a further thirty three days, making forty days in all (see above), probably seen as a period of lesser uncleanness. But she was certainly seen as unclean for she was excluded from the tabernacle and could not touch any hallowed thing. Thus she could not partake of peace sacrifices. These were the days of her purifying when hopefully the discharges would eventually cease. Most women would be grateful for this period during which they could rest and recover.

Thirty and three may conveniently have been seen as intended to signify ‘intensive three’ (compare Genesis 4:24), indicating the perfectly complete period provided by God for purification.

The lesson that comes over sharply in all this is the emphasis on the sinfulness of man as a result of the fall. It stressed that even when born into the world a baby comes, not into an innocent world, but into a world of sin. It is, of course, a great joy, but because of sin in the human race it is born to labour in the sweat of its brow, and it must be redeemed. The other lesson is God’s goodness in looking after the woman’s wellbeing. No husband would dare to force his wife back to work or to engage in intercourse during this period of uncleanness.

Verse 5

“But if she bear a maid-child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her impurity; and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.”

However, in the case of a female child she would first be severely unclean for two sevens. And then her purifying was to take twice as long. This last period does in fact reflect the fact that the discharges in the case of a female baby would invariably be longer than for a male, and may then indeed become confused with her first menstruation after childbirth.

A number of reasons have been suggested for why girls should require a longer period for being made clean than males.

1). Some have based it on the idea that women were supposedly subject to stronger attacks by evil spiritual forces (see Genesis 6:1-1.6.4), and therefore required longer purification. But there is little evidence for the idea in Scripture.

2). Others have looked at it on the basis that it reflects the woman’s role as the first to transgress in the garden of Eden, and therefore as being more blameworthy. The idea was that when the baby was identified as a girl it was a solemn reminder that once more there had been born into the world one of those who were responsible for the original sin. She represented the one who was deceived and who became the transgressor (1 Timothy 2:14). Thus double purification was required. But this is not supported by the fact that the Scripture elsewhere tends to firmly fix the blame on Adam (Romans 5:12 onwards). It is in Adam that men die, not Eve.

3). Others have seen it as a provision that took notice of the fact that baby girls might be less welcome than boys and might otherwise receive inferior care from dismissive husbands. She was therefore to be doubly pampered.

4). Others have seen it as indicating that circumcising the male baby on the eighth day would somehow reduce the attendant uncleanness. Although even if that were so it could not apply until circumcision actually began again, which reduces the force of the argument.

5). Others have suggested that the distinction reflects the lower social status of women in ancient Israel. There is probably some truth in this, but it is doubtful if this is the full explanation.

6). Others have suggested that it indicates that girls are destined to become a source of menstrual and maternal uncleanness in the future, and therefore required more intensive purification. Or that there was a tendency in women to lead men astray which had to be guarded against by longer purification. Furthermore uncleanness in birth and sexual activity would have been a strong riposte to cultic prostitution. It could not claim to be ‘holy’ when it rendered ‘unclean’.

7). Others have suggested that the natural longer puerperal discharges after the birth of a girl, as compared with those for a boy, and the periodic vaginal bleeding of baby girls themselves, (for the withdrawal of maternal hormones at birth causes roughly one in ten female babies to experience vaginal bleeding), demanded a longer period of uncleanness, especially if the combination of the mother’s vaginal bleeding and the daughter’s possible vaginal bleeding was seen as requiring double purification.

It is possible that we have to recognise that a combination of some of these is the most likely. Thoughts on this matter would have been extremely complicated and it may well have been seen in a number of ways. But everything points finally to the importance of purification from uncleanness.

Verses 6-7

“And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb a year old for a whole burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a purification for sin offering, to the door of the tent of meeting, to the priest, and he shall offer it before Yahweh, and make atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from her blood-flow. This is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female.”

Once the woman had safely reached the end of her period of purification she was then to bring a one year old lamb (as for the daily sacrifice) and a young pigeon or turtledove to the priest for him to offer on the altar before Yahweh, ‘to make atonement for her’. This makes clear the connection with required atonement. And note the emphasis on her blood-flow. It is that primarily that has to be cleansed. By giving birth she has released blood, and that has made her unclean. But what it signified was also in mind.

The lamb was for a whole burnt offering. It was an act of gratitude, tribute, dedication and atonement. The bird was for a purification of sin offering. She needed forgiveness and reconciliation with God. By bringing her child into the world she had introduced further sin into the world and increased the burden of sin. She shared the responsibility of Eve.

Verse 8

“And if her means do not suffice for a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, the one for a whole burnt offering, and the other for a purification for sin offering: and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.”

However provision was made for a lesser whole burnt offering for those who were unable to afford a lamb, a bird could be offered as a replacement (see Leviticus 1:14-3.1.17). It was this that Mary offered for Jesus (Luke 2:24), but there is reason to think that by New Testament times that had become the standard offering.

It should be noted finally that neither the woman or the child were seen as ‘unclean’ in themselves. (We are not talking about sin but about ritual uncleanness). They were unclean because of the processes through which they went. But the requirement for sacrifices demonstrates that in uncleanness sin was also in mind.

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Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Leviticus 12". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.