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Leviticus 15:2-18

Context
15:2 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When any man 1  has a discharge 2  from his body, 3  his discharge is unclean. 15:3 Now this is his uncleanness in regard to his discharge 4  – whether his body secretes his discharge or blocks his discharge, he is unclean. All the days that his body has a discharge or his body blocks his discharge, 5  this is his uncleanness. 6 

15:4 “‘Any bed the man with a discharge lies on will be unclean, 7  and any furniture he sits on will be unclean. 8  15:5 Anyone who touches his bed 9  must wash his clothes, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 10  15:6 The one who sits on the furniture the man with a discharge sits on must wash his clothes, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 15:7 The one who touches the body 11  of the man with a discharge must wash his clothes, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 15:8 If the man with a discharge spits on a person who is ceremonially clean, 12  that person must wash his clothes, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 15:9 Any means of riding 13  the man with a discharge rides on will be unclean. 15:10 Anyone who touches anything that was under him 14  will be unclean until evening, and the one who carries those items 15  must wash his clothes, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 15:11 Anyone whom the man with the discharge touches without having rinsed his hands in water 16  must wash his clothes, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 15:12 A clay vessel 17  which the man with the discharge touches must be broken, and any wooden utensil must be rinsed in water.

Purity Regulations for Male Bodily Discharges

15:13 “‘When the man with the discharge becomes clean from his discharge he is to count off for himself seven days for his purification, and he must wash his clothes, bathe in fresh water, 18  and be clean. 15:14 Then on the eighth day he is to take for himself two turtledoves or two young pigeons, 19  and he is to present himself 20  before the Lord at the entrance of the Meeting Tent and give them to the priest, 15:15 and the priest is to make one of them a sin offering 21  and the other a burnt offering. 22  So the priest 23  is to make atonement for him before the Lord for 24  his discharge.

15:16 “‘When a man has a seminal emission, 25  he must bathe his whole body in water 26  and be unclean until evening, 15:17 and he must wash in water any clothing or leather that has semen on it, and it will be unclean until evening. 15:18 When a man has sexual intercourse with a woman and there is a seminal emission, 27  they must bathe in water and be unclean until evening.

1 tn Heb “Man man.” The reduplication is a way of saying “any man” (cf. Lev 17:3; 22:18, etc.; see the distributive repetition of the noun in GKC 395-96 §123.c).

2 tn The term “discharge” actually means “to flow,” whether referring to a full flow as at a spring of water (Ps 78:20 and parallels) or in reference to the promised land as “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exod 3:8 and parallels).

3 tn Heb “man, man when there is a discharge from his flesh.” The repetition of the word “man” is distributive, meaning “any [or “every”] man” (GKC 395-96 §123.c). It is well-recognized that the term “flesh” (i.e., “body”) in this chapter refers regularly and euphemistically to the male and female genital members or areas of the body (HALOT 164 s.v. בָּשָׂר 5.b; see also, e.g., B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 93). The euphemism has been retained in this translation since it is, in fact, intended in the Hebrew text. Some English versions partially remove the euphemism (e.g., NAB “from his private parts”; NRSV “from his member”) while some remove it completely (e.g., NLT “a genital discharge”; TEV “from his penis”; CEV “with an infected penis”).

4 tn The LXX has “this the law of his uncleanness…” (cf. v. 32 and compare, e.g., 13:59; 14:2, 56).

5 tc Smr, LXX, and the Paleo-Hebrew Leviticus Scroll from Qumran (11QpaleoLev; Fragment G contains Lev 14:52-15:5 and 16:2-4, and agrees with the LXX of Lev 15:3b) are in essential (although not complete) agreement against the MT in Lev 15:3b and are to be preferred in this case. The shorter MT text has probably arisen due to a lengthy haplography. See K. A. Mathews, “The Leviticus Scroll (11QpaleoLev) and the Text of the Hebrew Bible,” CBQ 48 (1986): 177-78, 198; D. N. Freedman, “Variant Readings in the Leviticus Scroll from Qumran Cave 11,” CBQ 36 (1974): 528-29; D. N. Freedman and K. A. Mathews, The Paleo-Hebrew Leviticus Scroll, 32. The MT of Lev 15:3 reads: “Now this is his uncleanness in [regard to] his discharge – whether his body secretes his discharge or blocks his discharge, this is his uncleanness.” Smr adds after MT’s “blocks his discharge” the following: “he is unclean; all the days that his body has a discharge or his body blocks his discharge, this is his uncleanness.” Thus, the MT appears to skip from Smr טמא הוא “he is unclean” in the middle of the verse to יא/טמאתו הו “this is his uncleanness” at the end of the verse, leaving out “he is unclean; all the days that his body has a discharge or his body blocks his discharge” (cf. the BHS footnote). 11Q1 (paleoLeva frag. G) is indeed fragmentary, but it does have ימי ז בו כל “…in him, all the days of the fl[ow],” supporting Smr and LXX tradition. The LXX adds after MT “blocks his discharge” the following: “all the days of the flow of his body, by which his body is affected by the flow,” followed by “it is his uncleanness” (i.e., the last two words of the MT).

sn The contrast between the dripping or flowing from the male sexual member as opposed to there being a blockage is important. One might not understand that even though a blockage actually causes a lack of discharge, it is still unclean.

6 tn Heb “it is his uncleanness,” but the last clause recapitulates the effect of the first clause in this verse, both of which introduce the regulations for such uncleanness in the following verses. In other words, whether his discharge flows from his penis or is blocked in it, he is still unclean and must proceed according to the following regulations (vv. 4ff).

7 tn Heb “All the bed which the man with a discharge sits on it shall be unclean”; cf. NLT “Any bedding.”

8 tn Heb “and all the vessel which he sits on it shall be unclean”; NASB “everything on which he sits.”

9 tn Heb “And a man who touches in his bed”; NLT “touch the man’s bedding.”

10 tn Heb “he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until the evening” (cf. also vv. 6-8, 10-11, etc.).

11 tn Heb “And the one who touches in the flesh.” In this instance, “flesh” (or “body”) probably refers literally to any part of the body, not the genitals specifically (see the discussion in J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:914).

12 tn Heb “And if the man with a discharge spits in the clean one.”

13 tn The Hebrew term for “means of riding” is a cognate noun from the verb “ride” later in this verse. It refers to anything on which one may ride without the feet touching the ground including, for example, a saddle, a (saddle) blanket, or a seat on a chariot (see, e.g., J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:916).

14 tn Heb “which shall be under him.” The verb is perhaps a future perfect, “which shall have been.”

15 tn Heb “them”; the referent (the previously mentioned items which were under the unclean person) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

16 tn Heb “And all who the man with the discharge touches in him and his hands he has not rinsed in water.”

17 tn The Hebrew term כְּלִי (kÿli) can mean “vessel” (v. 12a) or “utensil, implement, article” (v. 12b). An article of clay would refer to a vessel or container of some sort, while one made of wood would refer to some kind of tool or instrument.

18 tn For the expression “fresh water” see the note on Lev 14:5 above.

19 tn Heb “from the sons of the pigeon,” referring either to “young pigeons” or “various species of pigeon” (contrast J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:168 with J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 14; cf. Lev 1:14 and esp. 5:7-10).

20 tc The MT has the Qal form of the verb בּוֹא (bo’) “to come” here, but the LXX (followed generally by the Syriac and Tg. Ps.-J.) reflects the Hiphil form of the same verb, “to bring” as in v. 29 below. In v. 29, however, there is no additional clause “and give them to the priest,” so the Hiphil is necessary in that context while it is not necessary here in v. 14.

21 sn See the note on Lev 4:3 regarding the term “sin offering.”

22 tn Heb “and the priest shall make them one a sin offering and the one a burnt offering.” See the note on Lev 1:3 regarding the “burnt offering.”

23 tn Heb “And the priest.” The Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) can be considered to have resultative force here.

24 tn Heb “from”; see the note on 4:26.

25 tn Heb “And a man when a lying of seed goes out from him”; KJV, ASV “any man’s seed of copulation”; NIV, NRSV, TEV, NLT “an emission of semen.”

26 tn Heb “and he shall bathe all his flesh in water.”

27 tn Heb “And a woman who a man lies with her a lying of seed.”



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