Leviticus 12


וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר   12:1

Levi. 12:1  And the Lord spoke to Moses saying,

דַּבֵּר אֶל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר אִשָּׁה כִּי תַזְרִיעַ וְיָלְדָה זָכָר וְטָמְאָה שִׁבְעַת יָמִים כִּימֵי נִדַּת דְּוֹתָהּ   12:2


Levi. 12:2  “Speak to the children of Israel saying, ‘When a woman would conceive and bring forth a male, then she shall be unclean seven days.  She shall be unclean like the days of menstruation illness.’

וּבַיֹּום הַשְּׁמִינִי יִמֹּול בְּשַׂר עָרְלָתֹו   12:3

Levi. 12:3  ‘And on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

וּשְׁלֹשִׁים יֹום וּשְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים תֵּשֵׁב בִּדְמֵי טָהֳרָה בְּכָל־קֹדֶשׁ לֹא־תִגָּע וְאֶל־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ לֹא תָבֹא   12:4

עַד־מְלֹאת יְמֵי טָהֳרָהּ

Levi. 12:4  ‘And she shall remain in the innocence of purification thirty-three days.  She shall not come in contact with any holy thing, and she shall not come to the sanctuary, until the days of her purification are fulfilled.’

This verse inspires several questions and remarks.  First of all, are the 33 days added to the seven already spent in “innocence?”  Thirty-three is an odd number (no pun intended), as it appears only twice in the Torah, once in Gene. 46:15 where the souls, the sons and daughters of Jacob, coming from Leah are numbered at 33, and in Exod. 6:8 where the age of Kohath at his death is given as 133.  In the next verse the number 66 appears, which should help to answer the first question.  It would appear that the 33 days is in addition to the seven, bringing the total to 40.  The number 40 is found several times and has much significance throughout the bible.  Second, what does the phrase “innocence of purification” mean?  Incidentally, in many bibles the word I translate as innocence is translated as blood.  I believe my translation to be better, in that the woman would not be with blood for 33 (or 66) days.  My guess is that it means abstinence from sexual contact.  Third, here we are told that during these days she may not come to the sanctuary.  This means that at other times, when she is clean, she is permitted in the sanctuary.  Thus women could come and bring sacrifices to the Lord.  This also means that the sanctuary can only be the whole or a part of the courtyard of the tent of meeting.

וְאִם־נְקֵבָה תֵלֵד וְטָמְאָה שְׁבֻעַיִם כְּנִדָּתָהּ וְשִׁשִּׁים יֹום וְשֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תֵּשֵׁב עַל־דְּמֵי טָהֳרָה   12:5

Levi. 12:5  ‘And if she should bring forth a female, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as for her menstruation, and she shall remain sixty-six days with the innocence of her purification.’

Continuing the discussion from the previous verse, we find here that a woman giving birth to a girl must remain in the innocence of purification for a total of 80 days, twice 40.

Now, being unclean means that if the woman is touched by her husband, he becomes unclean as well.  So they have to be apart for the entire period. Aside from this understanding, four questions immediately come to my mind; they are the following:  First, is it permissible for two unclean people to touch one another without divine consequence?  After all, they cannot become more unclean.  And the Lord tells us nothing about this possibility.  Second, does the woman’s being unclean mean that she cannot prepare meals or touch food except what she eats?  Third, if she already has children of sin-bearing age, must she stay away from them as well, so they may remain clean?  And fourth, must the woman remain away from her home, so that everything in the home may stay clean?  If you and I think about it for while, I’m sure many other questions would arise.  And there may be no straightforward answers for them.

וּבִמְלֹאת יְמֵי טָהֳרָהּ לְבֵן אֹו לְבַת תָּבִיא כֶּבֶשׂ בֶּן־שְׁנָתֹו לְעֹלָה וּבֶן־יֹונָה אֹו־תֹר לְחַטָּאת אֶל־פֶּתַח    12:6

אֹהֶל־מֹועֵד אֶל־הַכֹּהֵן

Levi. 12:6  ‘And on fulfillment of the days of her purification for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb yearling for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or turtle dove for a sin offering, to the entrance of the tent of meeting, to the priest.’

וְהִקְרִיבֹו לִפְנֵי יְהוָה וְכִפֶּר עָלֶיהָ וְטָהֲרָה מִמְּקֹר דָּמֶיהָ זֹאת תֹּורַת הַיֹּלֶדֶת לַזָּכָר אֹו לַנְּקֵבָה   12:7

Levi. 12:7  ‘And he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her, and she shall be purified from the issue of her innocence.  This is the law of she who is bringing forth a male or a female.’

וְאִם־לֹא תִמְצָא יָדָהּ דֵּי שֶׂה וְלָקְחָה שְׁתֵּי־תֹרִים אֹו שְׁנֵי בְּנֵי יֹונָה אֶחָד לְעֹלָה וְאֶחָד לְחַטָּאת וְכִפֶּר   12:8

עָלֶיהָ הַכֹּהֵן וְטָהֵרָה

Levi. 12:8  ‘And if she can not attain enough of her hand for a lamb, then she shall bring two turtle doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and one for a sin offering, and the priest shall make atonement for her and she shall be clean.’”

Once more we have a reversal of sequential events in the Hebrew of this verse.  The woman must be clean before she can approach the sanctuary or bring a sacrifice.  Then the priest can make atonement for her.

Torah Commandments in this Chapter

171. Women shall observe the procedures of purification after giving birth.    V. 12:2 - 12:8


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