Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Leviticus 12:4

Then she shall remain in the blood of her purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until the days of her purification are completed.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Defilement;   Sanitation;   The Topic Concordance - Uncleanness;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Jesus Christ;   Woman;   Worship;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Birth;   First-Born, Redemption of;   Sanctuary;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Unclean and Clean;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Birth;   Clean, Cleanness;   Leprosy;   Leviticus;   Woman;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Clean and Unclean;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Firstborn;   Fulfilment;   Infancy;   Joseph (2);   Smith Bible Dictionary - Children;   Uncleanness;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Law of Moses, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Defile;   Genesis;   Joseph, Husband of Mary;   Law in the New Testament;   Leviticus;   Sanctuary;   Uncleanness;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Birth;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Baraita De-Niddah;   Forty, the Number;   Jubilees, Book of;   Medicine;   Pharisees;   Solomon;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The blood of her purifying - A few words will make this subject sufficiently plain.

  1. God designs that the human female should bring forth children.
  • That children should derive, under his providence, their being, all their solids and all their fluids, in a word, the whole mass of their bodies, from the substance of the mother.
  • For this purpose he has given to the body of the female an extra quantity of blood and nutritious juices.
  • Before pregnancy this superabundance is evacuated at periodical times.
  • In pregnancy, that which was formerly evacuated is retained for the formation and growth of the fetus, or the general strengthening of the system during the time of pregnancy.
  • After the birth of the child, for seven or fourteen days, more or less according to certain circumstances, that superabundance, no longer necessary for the growth of the child as before, continues to be evacuated: this was called the time of the female's purification among the Jews.
  • When the lacerated vessels are rejoined, this superfluity of blood is returned into the general circulation, and, by a wise law of the Creator, becomes principally useful to the breasts, and helps in the production of milk for the nourishment of the new-born infant.
  • And thus it continues till the weaning of the child, or renewed pregnancy takes place. Here is a series of mercies and wise providential regulations which cannot be known without being admired, and which should be known that the great Creator and Preserver may have that praise from his creatures which his wonderful working demands.
  • The term purifying here does not imply that there is any thing impure in the blood at this or the other times referred to above; on the contrary, the blood is pure, perfectly so, as to its quality, but is excessive in quantity for the reasons above assigned. The idle tales found in certain works relative to the infectious nature of this fluid, and of the female in such times are as impious as they are irrational and absurd.

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    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Leviticus 12:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/leviticus-12.html. 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    The Levitical law ascribed impurity exclusively to the mother, in no degree to the Child.

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    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Leviticus 12:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/leviticus-12.html. 1870.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    And she shall continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days,.... That is, so many more, in all forty; for though at the end of seven days she was in some respects free from her uncleanness, yet not altogether, but remained in the blood of her purifying, or in the purifying of her blood, which was more and more purified, and completely at the end of forty days: so with the Persians it is said, a new mother must avoid everything for forty days; when that time is passed, she may wash and be purifiedF14Lib. Shad-der, port. 86. apud Hyde Hist. Relig. Vet. Pers. p. 478. ; and which perhaps Zoroastres, the founder of the Persian religion, at least the reformer of it, being a Jew, as is by some supposed, he might take it from hence:

    she shall touch no hallowed thing; as the tithe, the heave offering, the flesh of the peace offerings, as Aben Ezra explains it, if she was a priest's wife:

    nor come into the sanctuary; the court of the tabernacle of the congregation, or the court of the temple, as the same writer observes; and so with the Greeks, a pregnant woman might not come into a temple before the fortieth dayF15Censorinus apud Grotium in loc. , that is, of her delivery:

    until the days of her purifying be fulfilled; until the setting of the sun of the fortieth day; on the morrow of that she was to bring the atonement of her purification, as Jarchi observes; See Gill on Leviticus 12:6.

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    The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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    Bibliographical Information
    Gill, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 12:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/leviticus-12.html. 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

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

    (b) Besides the first seven days.

    (c) As sacrifice, or such like.

    (d) That is, into the court gate till after forty days.

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    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Leviticus 12:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/leviticus-12.html. 1599-1645.

    Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

    Observe to what extent the law of uncleanness reached. Reader! do you not find cause to bless GOD who hath done away these ordinances in JESUS CHRIST? Colossians 2:10; Col_2:15.

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    Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Leviticus 12:4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/leviticus-12.html. 1828.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    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.

    In the blood of her purifying — In her polluted and separated estate; for the word blood or bloods signifies both guilt, and uncleanness, as here and elsewhere. And it is called the blood of her purifying, because by the expulsion or purgation of that blood, which is done by degrees, she is purified.

    No hallowed thing — She shall not eat any part of the peace-offerings which she or her husband offered, which otherwise she might have done; and, if she be a priest's wife, she shall not eat any of the tythes or first fruits, or part of the hallowed meats, which at other times she together with her husband might eat.

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    These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
    Bibliographical Information
    Wesley, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 12:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/leviticus-12.html. 1765.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    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.

    Ver. 4. She shall touch no hallowed thing.] Preparation must go before participation of holy ordinances. [Haggai 2:13]

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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 12:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/leviticus-12.html. 1865-1868.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    She shall then continue, Heb. sit, i.e. abide, as that word is oft used, as Genesis 22:5 34:10, or tarry at home, nor go into the sanctuary.

    In the blood of her purifying; in her polluted and separated estate; for the word blood or bloods signifies both guilt, as Genesis 4:10, and uncleanness, as here and elsewhere. See Ezekiel 16:6. And it is called the blood of her purifying, because by the expulsion or purgation of that blood, which is done by degrees, she is purified.

    She shall touch no hallowed thing; she shall not eat any part of the peace-offerings which she or her husband offered, which otherwise she might have done; and if she be a priest’s wife, she shall not eat any of the tithes or first-fruits, or part of the hallowed meats, which at other times she together with her husband might eat.

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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Leviticus 12:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/leviticus-12.html. 1685.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    4.Thirty-three days — At the end of seven days she ceased to be unclean, in the sense of ceremonially defiling by her contact, but she is for more than a month longer forbidden to touch any hallowed thing and to come into the sanctuary — court of tabernacle or temple. She was competent to perform secular but not religious duties. Obstetrical science suggests that the seclusion of seven days relates to the lochia rubra, the red discharge, and that of thirty-three days to the lochia alba, the white issue. Mosaism makes no discrimination against the sex in respect to public worship. The Hindoos, Parsees, and Arabs require the mother to be secluded forty days, and then to be purified by bathing. The ancient Greeks had a similar usage. They suffered neither childbirth nor death to pollute consecrated places.

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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Leviticus 12:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/leviticus-12.html. 1874-1909.

    Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

    Leviticus 12:4. In the blood of her purifying — In her polluted and separated estate; for the word blood, or bloods, signifies both guilt and uncleanness, as here and elsewhere. And it is called the blood of her purifying, because by the expulsion or purgation of that blood, which is done by degrees, she is purified. No hallowed thing — She shall not eat any part of the peace- offerings which she or her husband offered, which otherwise she might have done; and, if she be a priest’s wife, she shall not eat any of the tithes or first-fruits, or part of the hallowed meats, which at other times she, together with her husband, might eat.

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    Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Leviticus 12:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/leviticus-12.html. 1857.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

    Sanctuary, or court of the tabernacle, where the women had probably a place apart. (Calmet)

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    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Leviticus 12:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/leviticus-12.html. 1859.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    three and thirty. Half the period of maid child. See Leviticus 12:5 (7 + 33 = 40. See App-10).

    hallowed. Hebrew. kadesh. See note on Exodus 3:5.

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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Leviticus 12:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/leviticus-12.html. 1909-1922.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (4) Continue in the blood of her purifying.—Better, continue in the blood of purification, that is, pure blood. Though the discharge consequent upon the birth ceases after two or three weeks, the period in this case, as in the former instance, is nearly doubled, to include exceptional cases. During these thirty-three days, which constituted the second stage, the mother was only debarred from touching holy things, such as first tithes, the flesh of thank- and peace-offerings, &c, and from entering the sanctuary. Having bathed at the end of the seven days which constituted the first and defiling period, she could now partake of the second tithes, and resume conjugal intercourse, since any blood that might now appear was regarded as pure blood, in contradistinction to the (dam nidah) blood of monthly courses. Her proximity, therefore, no longer defiled. The Sadducees and the Samaritans during the second Temple, and their followers, the Karaite Jews, interpreted this law more rigidly. Though admitting that there is a difference of degree in the two periods, they maintained that the woman was too unclean for conjugal intercourse even during the second period. They therefore pointed the text differently so as to yield the rendering “blood of her purifying.” The Authorised Version, which, in this instance, follows the opinion of the Sadducees, departs from the received text.

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    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Leviticus 12:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/leviticus-12.html. 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    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.
    15:25-28; Haggai 2:13; Luke 2:22,23
    Reciprocal: Leviticus 12:5 - GeneralLeviticus 15:19 - and her issue;  2 Chronicles 30:19 - though he be not

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Leviticus 12:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/leviticus-12.html.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    4.And she shall then continue. The uncleanness of seven days in the case of a male, and fourteen days for a female, has reference to the hemorrhage, as we shall also see elsewhere of the menstrual discharge. For the remainder of the time she is forbidden to take part in religious services, and to approach the sanctuary, (by which word the court is here meant,) and thus is accounted unholy, not only that she should herself lament her condition, but that her husband also, admonished by the sight, should learn to abhor and detest original sin. For this was a serious exhortation to repentance, when they acknowledged that they were contaminated in their offspring, wherein otherwise God’s blessing manifests itself. The question now arises, why the time of purification is double for a female child? Some ascribe this to a natural cause, viz., because the hemorrhage is then of longer continuance; and in truth it was a part of chastity and continence, that husbands should not then come near their wives. But inasmuch as the object of this ceremony was different, viz., as an indication of the curse on the whole human race, we must look more attentively in this direction. I know not whether the view is sound which some take, that the mother is more defiled by female offspring, because there is more disposition to vice in this sex. Perhaps, it is more probable, as some think, that it was because the woman was the beginning of the rebellion, when, being deceived by the serpent, she destroyed her husband with her, and drew her posterity into the same ruin. But it seems more correct to me that the punishment in regard to males was lightened and diminished by circumcision. For although in that symbol God consecrated both sexes, yet He honored males with special favor, by engraving His covenant on their flesh.

    Wherefore, also, He expressly mentions their circumcision, whereby a dignity was imparted to them, which rendered them superior to females. At the end of the chapter; regard is had to the poor, lest, being burdened by too great an expense, they might be rendered less ready to obey the Law: whence we gather that God has no care for outward pomp and wealth, since the humble sacrifice of the poor, according to the measure of their poverty, is no less grateful to Him than the more valuable one of the rich.

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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 12:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/leviticus-12.html. 1840-57.