The Purification after Childbirth.
V.1. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, v.2. Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, if a woman have conceived seed, brought forth bodily issue, and born a man child, a boy, then she shall be unclean seven days, this being the time of her personal uncleanness, during which every person and thing touched by her itself became defiled; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean, that is, during the average time of the flow following birth. V.3. And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised, Gen. 17, this notice being here inserted lest this very necessary rite be neglected. V.4. And she shall then, counting from the eighth day, continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days, this making a total of forty days, during which she was to stay at home, although the restrictions of the first seven days were now made much lighter; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the Sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. Although free to perform the ordinary duties of the household, she could not take part in sacrificial meals, the Passover and other festivals, nor was she permitted to enter the court of the Sanctuary. The forty days were the symbolical time of purification, of exclusion from the world. V.5. But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation, the extra seven days probably being an equivalent for the rite of circumcision in the case of the boy; and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying, for the average length of the entire flow, threescore and six days, this making a total of eighty days in the case of a girl. Natural sanitary reasons were probably the basis of the Levitical ordinance. V.6. And when the days of her purification are fulfilled, for a son or for a daughter, that is, depending upon the fact whether it was a boy or a girl that had been born, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin-offering, unto the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, unto the priest, v.7. who shall offer it before the Lord, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. “The order of the offerings is a remarkable deviation from the general principle that, when the two offerings came together, the sin-offering always preceded. The reason of this exception appears to lie in the fact that at the birth of a child feelings of joy and gratitude are naturally uppermost; the thought of the child’s heritage of sinfulness comes afterward.” This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female. V.8. And if she be not able to bring a lamb, if her poverty is such as to make it impossible for her to afford a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles (turtledoves) or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering and the other for a sin-offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean. A significant light is thrown upon the external circumstances of Joseph’s share in this world’s goods by the fact that Mary was obliged to bring the sacrifice of the poor people at the time of her purification, Luke 2, 24. Note also: As the little Jewish baby was received into fellowship with the covenant God by the rite of circumcision, so Christian children, cleansed from the guilt of inherited sin by the mashing of Baptism, are placed in to the arms of their Savior for their soul’s salvation.