Chapter 12


Purification after Childbirth

    • The Lord told Moses to give the Israelites the following instructions:

      • When a woman gives birth to a male child, she will be unclean for 7 days, just as she is unclean during her menstruation. The baby must be circumcised on the 8th day. For 33 days the woman will be in a period of purification, during which time she cannot touch anything holy or go into the sanctuary.

      • Guzik writes, “The child was then circumcised on the eighth day, with the ceremonial uncleanness lasting an additional 33 days, for a total of 40 days of ceremonial impurity after giving birth to a male child…The commanded time of ceremonial impurity should not be regarded as a negative attitude towards birth or child-bearing on God’s part. God commands child bearing, in that man is commanded to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28), children are regarded as a gift from God (Psalm 127:3), and a woman with many kids is considered blessed (Psalm 128:3).”

      • When a woman gives birth to a female child, she will be unclean for 14 days followed by an additional purification period of 66 days.

        • Why is the duration for the purification twice as long for a female baby vs male baby?

          • has a good article in response to this question. Here are a couple of quotes from the article, “Impurity in this context is not intended to imply sinfulness or inferiority; rather, it emphasizes the tremendous importance of holiness within a woman’s body and the power to create a new life through union with her husband. […] According to Jewish tradition, this period is twice as long to account for the purity of both the mother and the daughter. Therefore, the time period is twice as long as when a mother gives birth to a son.”

      • When a mother’s days of purification are complete, she is to bring the priest a year old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or turtledove for a sin offering. The priest will present them to the Lord and make atonement on her behalf. She will be ceremonially clean again from her bleeding after childbirth. If the woman can’t afford to bring a lamb, she can bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons- one for the burnt offering and one for the sin offering.

        • Guzik notes, “This was a fairly standard sacrifice for atonement, holding the woman symbolically responsible for bringing another sinner into this world. The required sacrifice was the same for her who has borne a male or a female.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes a alternative view for the reason for the sacrifices, “In this context, the issue is purity rather than sin, and the focus on restoring the woman to community fellowship, not forgiving a sinner.”

        • HCSB commentary notes, “Mary the mother of Jesus followed this regulation after His birth. She offered up two birds, the offering of the poor, for her purification (Luke 2:22-24).