“If a woman has a discharge, and the discharge from her body is blood, she will be in her state of niddah for seven days. Whoever touches her will be unclean until evening. Everything she lies on or sits on in her state of niddah will be unclean. Whoever touches her bed is to wash his clothes and bathe himself in water; he will be unclean until evening. Whoever touches anything she sits on is to wash his clothes and bathe himself in water; he will be unclean until evening. Whether he is on the bed or on something she sits on, when he touches it, he will be unclean until evening. If a man goes to bed with her, and her menstrual flow touches him, he will be unclean seven days; and every bed he lies on will be unclean.“-Leviticus 15:19-24
Chapter 15 of Leviticus also serves as the basis for the Jewish menstrual laws.
From verse 19, the first type of discharge we’re presented with is a woman’s NORMAL monthly cycle.
Once a female’s cycle starts, we’re told she will be UNCLEAN for seven days.
The Hebrew word used for menstruation here is NIDDATAH.
The root is N-D-H meaning “separation”, referring to the physical separation required of women during menstruation .
While the word NIDDATAH (or NIDDAH) is most often connected with menstruation, it is often used in the Bible as a general term for a female who is in a state of impurity regardless of the cause.
When a woman is in a state of impurity due to NIDDAH, anyone who touches her becomes UNCLEAN.
Just like the man who has an abnormal discharge, a woman with her normal menstrual discharge can transmit her UNCLEANNESS to anything she might sit down on or lie upon.
But again, keep in mind, it’s not a severe form of UNCLEANNESS.
Restoring one’s purity involves the identical rituals of washing and waiting until sunset.
But in this case, one also has to wash his or her clothing.
And of course, if a man lies down (not having sex, just lying down) with a woman while she’s on her cycle, he will become UNCLEAN for the same 7-day period as the woman.
Now given that your average modern woman today menstruates about 450 times in her life, I suspect many ladies when thinking about life in Bible times must have imagined things were quite difficult for the Hebrew woman who had to regularly go through all of the rituals detailed in the Torah.
The truth is it wasn’t that bad and I’ve heard that Orthodox female Jews today don’t find these Torah rituals as anything but edifying and honoring.
First, it is simply a medical fact that in Bible times, your average Israelite female didn’t have to deal with a regular cycle.
Let me explain by outlining some key differences between life then and life now.
-Your average ancient Hebrew female was normally married off very soon after puberty and very soon after started having children (many, many children!).
-It was a normal practice for the Hebrew woman to continue nursing her child up to the age of 3, and in some cases, even up to the age of 4 or 5.
In general, since a nursing mother does NOT have regular periods during that time, she doesn’t become UNCLEAN or impure and thus wasn’t subjected to all of the purity rituals.
A typical modern woman’s experience is far, far removed from the typical ancient Hebrew woman’s experience.
While the younger girls just after puberty may have had to deal with UNCLEANNESS on a monthly basis, your average married Hebrew female did not.