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Leviticus 12:1-8

Context
Purification of a Woman after Childbirth

12:1 The Lord spoke to Moses: 12:2 “Tell the Israelites, ‘When a woman produces offspring 1  and bears a male child, 2  she will be unclean seven days, as she is unclean during the days of her menstruation. 3  12:3 On 4  the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin 5  must be circumcised. 12:4 Then she will remain 6  thirty-three days in blood purity. 7  She must not touch anything holy and she must not enter the sanctuary until the days of her purification are fulfilled. 8  12:5 If she bears a female child, she will be impure fourteen days as during her menstrual flow, and she will remain sixty-six days in 9  blood purity. 10 

12:6 “‘When 11  the days of her purification are completed for a son or for a daughter, she must bring a one year old lamb 12  for a burnt offering 13  and a young pigeon or turtledove for a sin offering 14  to the entrance of the Meeting Tent, to the priest. 12:7 The priest 15  is to present it before the Lord and make atonement 16  on her behalf, and she will be clean 17  from her flow of blood. 18  This is the law of the one who bears a child, for the male or the female child. 12:8 If she cannot afford a sheep, 19  then she must take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, 20  one for a burnt offering and one for a sin offering, and the priest is to make atonement on her behalf, and she will be clean.’” 21 

Leviticus 15:1-33

Context
Male Bodily Discharges

15:1 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: 15:2 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When any man 22  has a discharge 23  from his body, 24  his discharge is unclean. 15:3 Now this is his uncleanness in regard to his discharge 25  – 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, 26  this is his uncleanness. 27 

15:4 “‘Any bed the man with a discharge lies on will be unclean, 28  and any furniture he sits on will be unclean. 29  15:5 Anyone who touches his bed 30  must wash his clothes, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 31  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 32  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, 33  that person must wash his clothes, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 15:9 Any means of riding 34  the man with a discharge rides on will be unclean. 15:10 Anyone who touches anything that was under him 35  will be unclean until evening, and the one who carries those items 36  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 37  must wash his clothes, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 15:12 A clay vessel 38  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, 39  and be clean. 15:14 Then on the eighth day he is to take for himself two turtledoves or two young pigeons, 40  and he is to present himself 41  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 42  and the other a burnt offering. 43  So the priest 44  is to make atonement for him before the Lord for 45  his discharge.

15:16 “‘When a man has a seminal emission, 46  he must bathe his whole body in water 47  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, 48  they must bathe in water and be unclean until evening.

Female Bodily Discharges

15:19 “‘When a woman has a discharge 49  and her discharge is blood from her body, 50  she is to be in her menstruation 51  seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean until evening. 15:20 Anything she lies on during her menstruation will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. 15:21 Anyone who touches her bed must wash his clothes, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 15:22 Anyone who touches any furniture she sits on must wash his clothes, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 15:23 If there is something on the bed or on the furniture she sits on, 52  when he touches it 53  he will be unclean until evening, 15:24 and if a man actually has sexual intercourse with her so that her menstrual impurity touches him, 54  then he will be unclean seven days and any bed he lies on will be unclean.

15:25 “‘When a woman’s discharge of blood flows 55  many days not at the time of her menstruation, or if it flows beyond the time of her menstruation, 56  all the days of her discharge of impurity will be like the days of her menstruation – she is unclean. 15:26 Any bed she lies on all the days of her discharge will be to her like the bed of her menstruation, any furniture she sits on will be unclean like the impurity of her menstruation, 15:27 and anyone who touches them will be unclean, and he must wash his clothes, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 57 

Purity Regulations from Female Bodily Discharges

15:28 “‘If 58  she becomes clean from her discharge, then she is to count off for herself seven days, and afterward she will be clean. 15:29 Then on the eighth day she must take for herself two turtledoves or two young pigeons 59  and she must bring them to the priest at the entrance of the Meeting Tent, 15:30 and the priest is to make one a sin offering and the other a burnt offering. 60  So the priest 61  is to make atonement for her before the Lord from her discharge of impurity.

Summary of Purification Regulations for Bodily Discharges

15:31 “‘Thus you 62  are to set the Israelites apart from their impurity so that they 63  do not die in their impurity by defiling my tabernacle which is in their midst. 15:32 This is the law of the one with a discharge: the one who has a seminal emission 64  and becomes unclean by it, 65  15:33 the one who is sick in her menstruation, the one with a discharge, whether male or female, 66  and a man 67  who has sexual intercourse with an unclean woman.’”

1 tn Heb “produces seed” (Hiphil of זָרַע, zara’; used only elsewhere in Gen 1:11-12 for plants “producing” their own “seed”), referring to the process of childbearing as a whole, from conception to the time of birth (H. D. Preuss, TDOT 4:144; cf. J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 164-65; and J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:742-43). Smr and LXX have Niphal “be impregnated” (see, e.g., Num 5:28); note KJV “If a woman have conceived seed” (cf. ASV, NAB, NRSV; also NIV, NLT “becomes pregnant”).

2 sn The regulations for the “male child” in vv. 2-4 contrast with those for the “female child” in v. 5 (see the note there).

3 tn Heb “as the days of the menstrual flow [nom.] of her menstruating [q. inf.] she shall be unclean” (R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 1:925-26; the verb appears only in this verse in the OT). Cf. NASB “as in the days of her menstruation”; NLT “during her menstrual period”; NIV “during her monthly period.”

sn See Lev 15:19-24 for the standard purity regulations for a woman’s menstrual period.

4 tn Heb “and in….”

5 tn This rendering, “the flesh of his foreskin,” is literal. Based on Lev 15:2-3, one could argue that the Hebrew word for “flesh” here (בָּשָׂר, basar) is euphemistic for the male genitals and therefore translate “the foreskin of his member” (see, e.g., J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:748). A number of English versions omit this reference to the foreskin and mention only circumcision, presumably for euphemistic reasons (cf. NIV, NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT).

6 tn Heb “sit, dwell” (יָשָׁב, yashav) normally means “to sit, to dwell”), but here it means “to remain, to stay” in the same condition for a period of time (cf., e.g., Gen 24:55).

7 tn Heb “in bloods of purification” or “purifying” or “purity”; NASB “in the blood of her purification”; NRSV “her time of blood purification.” See the following note.

8 tn The initial seven days after the birth of a son were days of blood impurity for the woman as if she were having her menstrual period. Her impurity was contagious during this period, so no one should touch her or even furniture on which she has sat or reclined (Lev 15:19-23), lest they too become impure. Even her husband would become impure for seven days if he had sexual intercourse with her during this time (Lev 15:24; cf. 18:19). The next thirty-three days were either “days of purification, purifying” or “days of purity,” depending on how one understands the abstract noun טֹהֳרָה (toharah, “purification, purity”) in this context. During this time the woman could not touch anything holy or enter the sanctuary, but she was no longer contagious like she had been during the first seven days. She could engage in normal everyday life, including sexual intercourse, without fear of contaminating anyone else (B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 73-74; cf. J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:749-50). Thus, in a sense, the thirty-three days were a time of blood “purity” (cf. the present translation) as compared to the previous seven days of blood “impurity,” but they were also a time of blood “purification” (or “purifying”) as compared to the time after the thirty-three days, when the blood atonement had been made and she was pronounced “clean” by the priest (see vv. 6-8 below). In other words, the thirty-three day period was a time of “blood” (flow), but this was “pure blood,” as opposed to the blood of the first seven days.

9 tn Heb “on purity blood.” The preposition here is עַל (’al) rather than בְּ (bÿ, as it is in the middle of v. 4), but no doubt the same meaning is intended.

10 tn For clarification of the translation here, see the notes on vv. 2-4 above.

sn The doubling of the time after the birth of a female child is puzzling (see the remarks in J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:750-51; and G. J. Wenham, Leviticus [NICOT], 188). Some have argued, for example, that it derives from the relative status of the sexes, or a supposed longer blood flow for the birth of a woman, or even to compensate for the future menstrual periods of the female just born. Perhaps there is a better explanation. First, a male child must be circumcised on the eighth day, so the impurity of the mother could not last beyond the first seven days lest it interfere with the circumcision rite. A female child, of course, was not circumcised, so the impurity of the mother would not interfere and the length of the impure time could be extended further. Second, it would be natural to expect that the increased severity of the blood flow after childbirth, as compared to that of a woman’s menstrual period, would call for a longer period of impurity than the normal seven days of the menstrual period impurity (compare Lev 15:19 with 15:25-30). Third, this suggests that the fourteen day impurity period for the female child would have been more appropriate, and the impurity period for the birth of a male child had to be shortened. Fourth, not only the principle of multiples of seven but also multiples of forty applies to this reckoning. Since the woman’s blood discharge after bearing a child continues for more than seven days, her discharge keeps her from contact with sacred things for a longer period of time in order to avoid contaminating the tabernacle (note Lev 15:31). This ended up totaling forty days for the birth of a male child (seven plus thirty-three) and a corresponding doubling of the second set of days for the woman (fourteen plus sixty-six). See R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 2:368-70. The fact that the offerings were the same for either a male or a female infant (vv. 6-8) suggests that the other differences in the regulations are not due to the notion that a male child had greater intrinsic value than a female child (J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 169).

11 tn Heb “And when” (so KJV, NASB). Many recent English versions leave the conjunction untranslated.

12 tn Heb “a lamb the son of his year”; KJV “a lamb of the first year” (NRSV “in its first year”); NAB “a yearling lamb.”

13 sn See the note on Lev 1:3 regarding the “burnt offering.”

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

15 tn Heb “and he” (i.e., the priest mentioned at the end of v. 6). The referent has been specified in the translation for clarity.

16 sn See the note on Lev 1:4 “make atonement.” The purpose of sin offering “atonement,” in particular, was to purge impurities from the tabernacle (see Lev 15:31 and 16:5-19, 29-34), whether they were caused by physical uncleannesses or by sins and iniquities. In this case, the woman has not “sinned” morally by having a child. Even Mary brought such offerings for giving birth to Jesus (Luke 2:22-24), though she certainly did not “sin” in giving birth to him. Note that the result of bringing this “sin offering” was “she will be clean,” not “she will be forgiven” (cf. Lev 4:20, 26, 31, 35; 5:10, 13). The impurity of the blood flow has caused the need for this “sin offering,” not some moral or relational infringement of the law (contrast Lev 4:2, “When a person sins by straying unintentionally from any of the commandments of the Lord”).

17 tn Or “she will be[come] pure.”

18 tn Heb “from her source [i.e., spring] of blood,” possibly referring to the female genital area, not just the “flow of blood” itself (as suggested by J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:761). Cf. ASV “from the fountain of her blood.”

19 tn Heb “If her hand cannot find the sufficiency of a sheep.” Many English versions render this as “lamb.”

20 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).

21 tn Or “she will be[come] pure.”

22 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).

23 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).

24 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”).

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

26 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.

27 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).

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

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

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

31 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.).

32 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).

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

34 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).

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

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

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

38 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.

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

40 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).

41 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.

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

43 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.”

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

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

46 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.”

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

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

49 tn See the note on Lev 15:2 above.

50 tn Heb “blood shall be her discharge in her flesh.” The term “flesh” here refers euphemistically to the female sexual area (cf. the note on v. 2 above).

51 tn See the note on Lev 12:2 and R. E. Averbeck, NIDOTTE 1:925-27.

52 tn Heb “and if on the bed it (הוּא, hu’) is or on the vessel which she sits on it, when he touches it….” The translation and meaning of this verse is a subject of much debate in the commentaries (see the summary in J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:938-40). It is difficult to determine what הוּא refers to, whether it means “he” referring to the one who does the touching, “it” for the furniture or the seat in v. 22, “she” referring to the woman herself (see Smr היא rather than הוא), or perhaps anything that was lying on the furniture or the bed of vv. 21-22. The latter view is taken here (cf. J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 202).

53 tn The MT accent suggest that “when he touches it” goes with the preceding line, but it seems to be better to take it as an introduction to what follows (see J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 202).

54 tn Heb “and if a man indeed lies with her and her menstrual impurity is on him.”

55 tn Heb “And a woman when the flow of her blood flows.”

56 tn Heb “in not the time of her menstruation or when it flows on her menstruation.”

57 tn See the note on v. 5 above.

58 tn Heb “And if…” Although this clause is parallel to v. 13 above, it begins with וְאִם (vÿim, “and if”) here rather than וְכִי (vÿkhi, “and when/if”) there.

59 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).

60 tn Heb “And the priest shall make the one a sin offering and the one a burnt offering.”

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

62 tn Heb “And you shall.” The Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) can be considered to have resultative force here (cf. KJV, ASV, NASB, NCV, NRSV).

63 tn Heb “and they.” Here the Hebrew conjunction ו (vav, “and”) indicates a negative purpose (“lest,” so NAB, NASB).

64 tn Heb “and who a lying of seed goes out from him.”

65 tn Heb “to become unclean in it.”

66 tn Heb “and the one with a discharge, his discharge to the male and the female.”

67 tn Heb “and for a man.”



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