“The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period.“-Leviticus 12:1-2
Leviticus chapter 12 deals with the type of ritual impurity that results when a woman gives birth to a child.
We’re told that immediately upon childbirth the mother becomes unclean or ritually impure and the length of time of the impurity differs depending on whether the child is a boy or a girl.
It is 40 days for the boy and double that or 80 days for the girl.
I don’t know and the Scripture doesn’t give us a direct answer.
What’s interesting is that both the 40-day and 80-day periods of ritual impurity are divided into two stages as follows:
1st STAGE OF RITUAL IMPURITY WHEN A BOY IS BORN: 7 days
2nd STAGE OF RITUAL IMPURITY WHEN A BOY IS BORN: 33 days
1st STAGE OF RITUAL IMPURITY WHEN A GIRL IS BORN: 14 days
2nd STAGE OF RITUAL IMPURITY WHEN A GIRL IS BORN: 66 days
During the 1st stage of ritual impurity, regardless of whether the child born was a male or female, the mother cannot engage in marital relations with her husband and anything she has sits or lays on during this period becomes impure.
This means she is prohibited from participating in temple sacrifice nor touch anything sacred.
She must be SEPARATED from anything HOLY.
However, the type of impurity one gets from a new mother is not so serious.
The person or item that contracted impurity from a new mother will only be in that state until sundown which signifies the end of the day and the beginning of a new day.
In our Bibles, we will sometimes see the words “pure” and “impure” in place of “clean” and “unclean”?
Are the words “pure” and “impure” synonymous with the words “clean” and “unclean”?
There is actually a subtle difference between these two sets of terms that needs to be articulated and here it is.
PURITY is the result of staying away from the UNCLEAN.
IMPURITY is the result of coming into contact with the UNCLEAN.
Another important word connected to this is “defiled” or “defilement”.
To become defiled means to lose one’s HOLY status.
It indicates a loss of ritual purity.
Here’s an easy illustration that will sharpen your understanding of this concept further.
When you catch a disease like measles for example, you don’t become that disease, right?
You don’t necessarily become a “measle” right, but you still become ill from contracting that disease.
Or if you were to touch a dead body, do you yourself all of a sudden become a dead body.
You don’t become a dead body, but since you have just touched something UNCLEAN you are now IMPURE.
And as a result, you are now barred from being in the presence of holiness.
You might think I’m splitting hairs here but understanding the subtle differences in meaning between clean and pure and unclean and impure and how they’re connected to defilement will aid you greatly not only in your study of Leviticus but the New Testament as well.