Leviticus 12
James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Leviticus 12:1-8


What period of uncleanness followed the birth of a male (Leviticus 12:2)? What transaction in his life took place on the 8th day (Leviticus 12:3)? How long was the period of the mother’s purification (Leviticus 12:4)? What difference was there as to these two periods in the case of a female child (Leviticus 12:5)? What was required of the mother at the close of this period (Leviticus 12:6)? The reason for it (Leviticus 12:7)? How does Leviticus 12:8 compare with Luke 2:24, point to the lowly condition of the mother of Jesus as well as to her own need of a Savior?


The great principles underlying this chapter will come before us more definitely in chapter 15. The theme is the same there as here, and indeed throughout the whole section, viz.: sin and its only remedy. Here, however, we have sin at its source, humanly speaking. Sin is not merely something which man takes on outside of himself, but something which is a part of him. It belongs not to his nature as God made him, but to his nature as fallen and transmitted from Adam. Sin is here seen mingling with the transmission of life and tainting the vital forces as they descend from parent to child, and from generation to generation (Psalm 57:5). It is this awful truth that forms the subject of this chapter.

The mere physical uncleanness spoken of is not the real thing, but only ceremonial and typical. In other words, the regulations laid down are not for women everywhere and always, but as a figure for the time then present.

They impose a special legal disability on the woman because she was first in the transgression of Eden (1 Timothy 2:14), and show us that we all have come of sinful mothers and hence are ourselves sinful (Job 14:4). In the birth of a child, the original curse against the woman is regarded by the law as reaching its fullest expression, for now by means of those powers given her for good and blessing she can bring into the world only the child of sin.

The Meaning of Circumcision

We have learned that circumcision was not original with the Hebrews, being practiced by other nations in warm climates for hygienic reasons; but God adopted and constituted it in Abraham a symbol of an analogous spiritual fact, viz.: the purification of sin at its fountainhead, the cleansing of the evil nature with which we all are born. Read Colossians 2:10-11, the meaning of which is that there is no need of ritual circumcision for believers on Christ as they have the spiritual substance of it in Christ. Their circumcision is not made with hands, but is a spiritual thing, a real thing. It is the putting off of the body of the flesh, the realization of that which the other symbolized. Not of the putting off of a part, but the nature itself. It took place when we were buried with Him in the baptism, i.e., the baptism of the Holy Ghost, by which we were made one with Him so thoroughly that in God’s sight we lay in the same grave, having died on Calvary in Him.

The Eighth Day

The “eighth day” will be often met as we proceed, and needs to be recognized in its symbolic and prophetic significance.

The old creation was finished in six days with a following Sabbath, rendering six the number of the old creation as under imperfection and sin. But the eighth day, which is the first of a new week, appears everywhere in Scripture as symbolizing the new creation in which all things shall be restored in the redemption through the second Adam.

The thought finds its fullest expression in the resurrection of Christ as the Firstborn from the dead, the Beginning and the Lord of the new creation, who rose from the dead on the first day, on the day after the seventh, the eighth day. This gives the key to the use of the number eight in the Mosaic symbolism. With good reason, therefore, was circumcision ordered for the eighth day, as it symbolized the putting off of the old nature and the putting on of a new and purified nature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17 RV, margin).


1. What is sin?

2. Quote Job 14:4.

3. What Christian fact is symbolized by circumcision?

4. What does the 8th day symbolize in Scripture?

5. Quote 2 Corinthians 5:17 in the Revised Version.

James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary

Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

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