Leviticus 12 Commentary

Leviticus 12 Commentary: Uncleanliness in Child-bearing process.


Chapter 12 is very short and covers one item: – purification rituals for women after childbirth. The law served many purposes. The obvious purposes are detailed here. The burnt offering was an act of worship by the mother. It reconnected the process of childbearing to the creator God. The sin offering is best described as a ‘sin offering’ and not as a ‘purification offering’. A sin offering was an obvious item on the agenda for just about every trip to the tabernacle. Errant men needed to seek forgiveness quite regularly.

The less obvious purpose would be to give rest to the mother. She is ceremonially unclean and isolated for her protection and safety. This chapter reveals the tender-loving kindness of the LORD.

You would easily understand why a mother’s rest, taken as uncleanliness, in this case, is shortened when the child is a boy. A boy must be circumcised on the eighth day which required the presence of the mother. Without the need for circumcision, a girl birth has 14 days of bed rest or days of uncleanliness.

Ritual uncleanliness is not equal to physical dirty or physical uncleanliness. Childbearing is a divine process. The mother is definitely on divine duty. You would expect everything to do with this duty to be sanctified. No. We can blame Genesis 3 for this loss of sanctity. The factory produces children, not after the image of God as initially designed. The uncleanliness of this divine process may seek to draw man’s attention to the need for rebirth – the process that the LORD describes as being born again in the gospel of John. Whatever it is, and God knows, we are looking at symbols whose meaning is definitely deeper than the guesswork presented here. But let’s keep reading. The LORD will reveal more.

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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