Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.
And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.
And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.
But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.
And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:
Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.
And if she be not able to bring ° a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.
 

12:2 unclean seven days. There were no doubt certain health reasons for these seemingly stringent rules, but probably the main factor involved was to foster continued recognition that the sin of the first woman has been transmitted to all her descendants (note Psalm 51:5). All, therefore, are born to be sinners, so that even their mothers need purification. It is noteworthy that Mary, the mother of Jesus obeyed these laws for the purification of women after her divine Son was born. Even though He, by miraculous conception, was born free of sin, Mary recognized that she herself was not sinless and thus needed to obey the rules of purification (Luke 2:21-24).

12:3 eighth day. See note on Genesis 21:4.

12:5 maid child. The purification period after the birth of a son was forty days, but eighty days in the case of a daughter. The reason for the difference is not given, but possibly had to do with two considerations. It was the woman who had originally been deceived, with the resultant pronouncement of travail in childbirth (Genesis 3:16), with the additional purification period symbolic of the future travail the daughter must also anticipate. The second factor could be that the rite of circumcision, applicable only to the male child, symbolized the more direct entrance into covenant relation with God. See also note on Genesis 17:11.

12:5 unclean two weeks. Another possible reason for these seemingly rigorous laws of purifying for a new mother is that the pagan nations around them are said to have had similar though much more severe regulations required of their own women. The Hebrew regulations were much gentler in comparison but were retained in this milder form in order to keep from offending these Gentile neighbors unnecessarily. At least this explanation was offered by medieval Jewish theologians.


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