Leviticus 12:5
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.
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(5) But if she bear a maid child.—Better, but if she giveth birth to a female child. (See Leviticus 12:2.)

As in her separation.—Better, as in the time of her monthly courses. (See Leviticus 12:2.) In the case of a daughter the days of purification in both stages is exactly double that prescribed at the birth of a son. The reason for this difference is probably owing to the fact that the ancients believed that the physical derangement of the system is far greater at the birth of a girl than at the birth of a boy, and that it requires a longer time for the effects to pass away. Similar laws obtained among other nations of antiquity, and exist to this day among many Eastern tribes. The Greeks held that the man who had been near a woman in childbirth defiled the altar if he approached it. One of the means adopted during the Peloponnesian war for purifying the island of Delos was to proscribe women keeping their confinement on the island. The Hindoos go so far as to regard all the relations of a new-born child as impure; the father has to undergo lustrations, and the mother remains unclean till the tenth day, when the child receives its name. Among the Arabs the mother continues unclean for forty days.

In the blood of her purifying.—Better, in the blood of purification, that is, pure blood. (See Leviticus 12:4.) It will be seen that the law here only legislates for ordinary cases, and that it passes over in silence cases of twins. The administrators of the law during the second Temple had therefore, in this instance, as in many other points, to supplement the Mosaic legislation. They therefore enacted that when a mother had twins, and if they were a boy and a girl, the two stages of her uncleanness were those for a girl. If one of the twins was a boy and the other sexless, or bi-sexual, she continued unclean for both male and female. If, on the contrary, one was a female and the other of neither sex, or bi-sexual, her separation was only for a female.

Leviticus 12:5. Threescore and six days — The time in both particulars is double to the former; the law, as some think, being adapted to a received opinion that women are sooner purified after the birth of males than of females; an opinion which, however questioned, Grotius shows to be supported by no less authority than that of Aristotle and Hippocrates. Others, however, suppose that this difference was made to put an honour on the ordinance of circumcision, which, being administered to the males, put an end to that pollution sooner than otherwise would have been the case.

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.Some have thought that this doubling of each of the two periods was intended to remind the people of the fact that woman represents the lower side of human nature, and was the first to fall into temptation. 1 Timothy 2:13-15; 1 Peter 3:7. The ancients had a notion that the mother suffers for a longer time after the birth of a girl than after the birth of a boy. The period required for the restoration of her health in the one case was thirty days, and in the other, it was 40 or 42 days. This notion may have been connected with a general custom of observing the distinction as early as the time of Moses. 2. If a woman, &c.—The mother of a boy was ceremonially unclean for a week, at the end of which the child was circumcised (Ge 17:12; Ro 4:11-13); the mother of a girl for two weeks (Le 12:5)—a stigma on the sex (1Ti 2:14, 15) for sin, which was removed by Christ; everyone who came near her during that time contracted a similar defilement. After these periods, visitors might approach her though she was still excluded from the public ordinances of religion [Le 12:4]. The time in both particulars is double to the former, not so much from natural causes, because the purifications in female births are longer and slower, which if it were true, yet doth not extend to any such time as here is mentioned, as for moral reasons; either to be as a blot upon that sex for being the first in man’s transgression, 1 Timothy 2:14, or to put an honour upon the sacrament of circumcision, which being administered to the males, did put an end to that pollution sooner than otherwise had been; or to show the privilege of the man above the woman, and that the women were to be purified, sanctified, and saved by one of the other sex, even by the man Christ Jesus, without whom they should have still continued in their impurity.

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.

But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two {e} weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.

(e) Twice as long as if she gave birth to a boy.

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." Leviticus 12:5But if she had given birth to a girl, she was to be unclean two weeks (14 days), as in her menstruation, and then after that to remain at home 66 days. The distinction between the seven (or fourteen) days of the "separation for her infirmity," and the thirty-three (or sixty-six) days of the "blood of her purifying," had a natural ground in the bodily secretions connected with child-birth, which are stronger and have more blood in them in the first week (lochia rubra) than the more watery discharge of the lochia alba, which may last as much as five weeks, so that the normal state may not be restored till about six weeks after the birth of the child. The prolongation of the period, in connection with the birth of a girl, was also founded upon the notion, which was very common in antiquity, that the bleeding and watery discharge continued longer after the birth of a girl than after that of a boy (Hippocr. Opp. ed. Khn. i. p. 393; Aristot. h. an. 6, 22; 7, 3, cf. Burdach, Physiologie iii. p. 34). But the extension of the period to 40 and 80 days can only be accounted for from the significance of the numbers, which we meet with repeatedly, more especially the number forty (see at Exodus 24:18).
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