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Saturday, July 13th, 2024
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Purification-Offerings

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

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were such as the law enjoined upon those who had been raised from leprosy, unclean issues, hemorrhages, and childbed. (See POLLUTION). Those for lepers were the most burdensome, since a trespass-offering was among them.

1. The purifying offerings of menstrual women and of men after unclean issues were just the same (Leviticus 15). And the eighth day after the cure was certain, each brought two turtle-doves, or young pigeons, to be slain by the priests the one as a sin-offering, the other as a burnt-offering (15, 14 sq., 29 sq.). Drink-offerings are not expressly mentioned in connection with these. (See WOMAN).

2. The offerings of purification of women after childbirth (Leviticus 12:6-8), offered thirty-three or sixty-six days after confinement, consisted in a yearling lamb as a burnt-offering, and a young pigeon or a turtle-dove as a sin-offering. In case of poverty, two turtle-doves or young pigeons sufficed the one as a burnt-offering, the other as a sin-offering (comp. Luke 2:24). (See CHILD).

3. More extended was the purifying ceremony of healed lepers (Leviticus 14; comp. Negaim, in the 6th part of the Mishna, ch. 14). The ritual is composed of two parts:

(a) Leviticus 14:2-8. The healed leper brought to the priest for cleansing must present two small birds, alive and clean (according to the Neguaiml, 14:5, they must be in form, size, and value precisely alike and bought at the same time; but this was not necessary; comp. Lutz, De Duab. Avib. Puayat. Leprosi Destino. earum. Myster. [Hal. 1737]). The one vas to be slain over an earthen vessel filled with fresh spring-water (and then buried; Negaim, 14:1), and the living bird, together with a bundle consisting of cedar-wood, scarlet wool, and hvssop, was dipped into the vessel, now containing water and blood mixed together, and the leper was sprinkled with it seven times. The priest then let the living bird loose into the open air (perhaps bearing away the guilt). (See EXPIATION). Then the man healed was required to wash, shave off all his hair, and bathe. He was now so far cleansed as no longer to render unclean the place he occupied (Negaim, 14:2), and might again abide in the city, but was required to "tarry abroad out of his own tent" or house. This is referred by the rabbins, as a euphemism, to sexual intercourse, but witlhout reason (yet Bahr follows them; Symbol. ii, 520 sq.). The ceremony with the two birds is not a sacrifice, but a mere symbol of the purifying of the blood from the humors of the disease, and the return of freedom on the part of the leper again to associate with men (otherwise explained in Bahr, op. cif. p. 515 sq.).

(b) Leviticus 14:9-31. On the seventh day, the leper was required again to shave his whole body with the utmost care not even sparing the eyebrows to wash, and to bathe. A special chamber was provided in a corner of the women's court-yard of the second Temple for this purpose (Middotih, ii, 5; comp. Negaim, 14:8. Bahr is mistaken, and contradicts Leviticus 14:9, in referring this washing to the eighth day). On the eighth day he presented two lambs and a yearling sheep. The lanmb was first slain as a trespass-offering, and the healed man was touched with its blood in three places on the right ear, the right thumb, and the great toe of the right foot. Then the priest took the oil offered by the leper, and, after sprinkling of it seven times "before the Lord," touched the leper with it in the same three places of the body, and poured the remainder over his head. Finally, the sin-offering and the burnt-offering were slain. Poor persons were allowed to bring for these two turtle-doves or young pigeons. (See LEPROSY). The putting of the blood on the body, as well as touching it with oil, in this second service, is considered as a ceremony expressing reconciliation; but the rabbins consider the final anointing with the oil as the essential part (Negaim, 14:10), because in this connection alone is mention made of "an atonement before the Lord" (Leviticus 14:18). In other respects, the whole ceremony strongly resembles the consecration of priests (Bahr, op. cit. 521 sq.). The cutting- off of the hair belonged to the medical police of the law, for the lepiosy conceals itself most easily under the hair, and hence the last traces of the disease could thus be detected. On the ceremonies of purification in consecrating priests and Levites, see those articles. (See NAZARITE)

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Purification-Offerings'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​p/purification-offerings.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
 
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