|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:1-8 Ceremonial purification. - After the laws concerning clean and unclean food, come the laws concerning clean and unclean persons. Man imparts his depraved nature to his offspring, so that, excepting as the atonement of Christ and the sanctification of the Spirit prevent, the original blessing, Increase and multiply, Ge 1:28, is become to the fallen race a direful curse, and communicates sin and misery. Let those women who have received mercy from God in child-bearing, with all thankfulness own God's goodness to them; and this shall please the Lord better than sacrifices.
Verse 5. - If she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks;... and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days. The reason why the duration of the mother's uncleanness is twice as long at a girl's birth as at a boy's, would appear to be that the uncleanness attached to the child as well as to the mother, but as the boy was placed in a state of ceremonial purity at once by the act of circumcision, which took place on the eighth day, he thereupon ceased to be unclean, and the mother's uncleanness alone remained; whereas in the case of a girl, both mother and child were unclean during the period that the former was "in the blood of her purifying," and therefore that period had to be doubly long. See Luke 2:20, where the right reading is, "When the days of their purification, according to the Law of Moses, were accomplished." For eight days the infant Saviour submitted to legal uncleanness in "fulfilling all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15), and therefore the whole forty days were spoken of as "the days of their purification."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But if she bear a maid child,.... A daughter, whether born alive or dead, if she goes with it her full time:
then she shall be unclean two weeks; or fourteen days running; and on the fifteenth day be free or loosed, as the Targum of Jonathan, just as long again as for a man child:
as in her separation; on account of her monthly courses; the sense is, that she should be fourteen days, to all intents and purposes, as unclean as when these are upon her:
and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying sixty and six days; which being added to the fourteen make eighty days, just as many more as in the case of a male child; the reason of which, as given by some Jewish writers, is, because of the greater flow of humours, and the corruption of the blood through the birth of a female than of a male: but perhaps the truer reason may be, what a learned man (p) suggests, that a male infant circumcised on the eighth day, by the profusion of its own blood, bears part of the purgation; wherefore the mother, for the birth of a female, must suffer twice the time of separation; the separation is finished within two weeks, but the purgation continues sixty six days; a male child satisfies the law together, and at once, by circumcision; but an adult female bears both the purgation and separation every month. According to Hippocrates (q), the purgation of a new mother, after the birth of a female, is forty two days, and after the birth of a male thirty days; so that it should seem there is something in nature which requires a longer time for purifying after the one than after the other, and which may in part be regarded by this law; but it chiefly depends upon the sovereign will of the lawgiver. The Jews do not now strictly observe this. Buxtorf (r) says, the custom prevails now with them, that whether a woman bears a male or a female, at the end of forty days she leaves her bed, and returns to her husband; but Leo of Modena relates (s), that if she bears a male child, her husband may not touch her for the space of seven weeks; and if a female, the space of three months; though he allows, in some places, they continue separated a less while, according as the custom of the place is.
(p) Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 2. p. 314, 315. (q) Apud Grotium in loc. (r) Synagog. Jud. c. 5. p. 120. (s) History of Rites, Customs, &c. of the Jews, par. 4. c. 5. sect. 3.
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