The Woman’s Purification After Childbirth

Women contract tumah (ritual contamination) through childbirth.  The time period of the woman’s purification after childbirth differs and is based on the sex of the child as explained in Leviticus 12:1-8:

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her customary impurity she shall be unclean. 3 And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4 She shall then continue in the blood of her purification thirty-three days. She shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary until the days of her purification are fulfilled. 5 ‘But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her customary impurity, and she shall continue in the blood of her purification sixty-six days. 6 ‘When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 7 Then he shall offer it before the Lord, and make atonement for her. And she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who has borne a male or a female. 8 ‘And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons — one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’”

Mary obeyed this command after Jesus was born in Luke 2:21-25:  “And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.  Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”“ 

Here we see that Jesus was named on the day of His circumcision but they did not offer sacrifices until the days of Mary’s impurity were completed.  This was to fulfill the commandment of God.  At this time, Simeon saw and blessed Jesus in addition to saying Jesus was the Lord’s salvation, the glory of the people of Israel, and a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles.  The prophetess, Anna also saw Jesus, thanked the Lord, and talked about Jesus to those who were looking for redemption in Jerusalem.

There’s still more for us to learn about the time of ritual contamination after childbirth.  Let’s see what else can be revealed by comparing the command for women who give birth to a male child to the law of the Nazirite vow and to parts of Jesus’ life since all three have the common theme of “separation.”

Leviticus 12 explains that women who gives birth to a male child shall be contaminated for 7 days as in her days of menstruation (niddah = separation from marital relations and sacred things).  Circumcision on the 8th day pictures the putting to death of the fleshly nature in order to be made clean.  The number eight is the number for new beginnings—being born again.  The new mother must be in blood of her purification for 33 days. This is basically a ceremonial purification from the blood of birth, life, and death.  During that time, she may not touch anything sacred and she’s unclean until time of purification is complete.  After the 33 days are complete, she must bring a sin offering and a whole burnt offering.  The sin-offering can be a young pigeon or a turtledove and the whole burnt offering can be a lamb or a young pigeon or a turtledove.  After that the woman can now be with her husband and enter the Tabernacle/Temple.

In general, a woman’s consecration is defiled by birth or menstruation.  Birth is a picture of death in one world (the womb) in order to be given life in new world outside the womb.  Menstruation is the result of the lost opportunity for life—defaulting in death.

Numbers 6:2-10 is the passage concerning the Nazirite.  If someone next to the Nazirite (who can be a man or woman) dies very suddenly, so that he defiles his consecrated head, then he is to shave his head on the day of his purification; he is to shave his hair off on the seventh day.  Since the Nazirite is as bald as a newborn baby, this represents a new birth.  On the 8th day he is to bring:

  • Two doves or two young pigeons – (a sin offering and a burnt offering).
  • A lamb in its first year as a guilt offering. The previous days will not be counted, because his consecration became defiled.

The Nazirite is made clean.  As long as a man or a woman consecrates himself to the Lord as a Nazirite he is to eat or drink nothing derived from the grapevine.  This is basically a ceremonial purification from the blood of grapes.  The Nazirite is not to shave his head or approach a corpse because his consecration to God is on his head.  He is to be holy for the Lord.  Once the time of his consecration is complete, he must bring the following sacrifices:

  • Sin offering:  female lamb.
  • Burnt offering:  male lamb.
  • Peace offering & grain offering is waved.
  • Drink offering.
  • Hair burned under peace offering.

Once this is done, the Nazirite is purified or clean and he may now drink wine.

Jesus experienced separation from His heavenly Father while He was on earth and was defiled as a sin offering at death.  While He is now in heaven, He is experiencing separation (time of consecration) from His bride while in heaven.  Even now, the wicked are being cut off from their people and the righteous (Christ’s bride) are putting their fleshly nature to death (circumcision of the heart).  The righteous are being purified from their uncleanness and being made holy unto the Lord.  The consecrated are offered to God as various kinds of living offerings since Jesus’ blood has made atonement for them.

In Matthew 26:29, Jesus said, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”   This is essentially the vow of a Nazirite.

The Nazirite represents Jesus, the bridegroom of all true Christians.  While Jesus was with His disciples, they enjoyed a time of personal fellowship and teaching with one another that God did not have with His people during previous times.  Before Jesus left to return to His Father in heaven, He took the vow of a Nazirite by saying He would not drink of the fruit of the vine until He drank it with them in His Father’s kingdom.  This vow represents Jesus’ separation from His bride who is still physically separated from Him on earth.  It is also how someone from another tribe can attain a similar level of consecration as that of the Levitical High Priest.  

The number of days for the purification for a male child is 33.  Thirty three is a product of three and eleven.  The number three represents that which is complete or resurrection and eleven represents the end of something such as the end of the age.  In Jesus case, He passed from death to life in three days and is alive forever.  When the Father says it is the time of the end, Jesus will return for His bride.

The woman in our passage who gives birth to a male child represents the bride of Christ.  The bride of Christ is now experiencing her time of separation from Jesus who is the bridegroom.  While the bride is waiting for Christ to return, she is being sanctified. 

The number of days for the purification of a female child is 66.  Sixty six is a product of six and eleven or three, two, and eleven.  Six is the number of imperfect man or the flesh.  The number two is the number for judging and separating.  As we said before, three represents that which is complete or resurrection and eleven represents the end of the age.  Mankind must choose to put to death the flesh in this life.  Eventually, mankind will be resurrected, judged, and separated at the end of the age.

Every time a believing woman gives birth to a child or experiences the pain associated with her monthly period, she should remain separate from her husband according to God’s commandments.  She should use that time to reflect and remember that she is still physically separated from her bridegroom, Jesus Christ.  Just as a woman experiences joy when the pain of childbirth and menstruation is over and when her time of separation from her husband is past she should remember that the pain of being separated from Jesus will soon be over too and that one day she will experience the joy of being with Him face to face.

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15 thoughts on “The Woman’s Purification After Childbirth

  1. How do we count the 33 days? Do we continue after day 8 of circumcision or at that point, we start afresh and count to 33?

    • I believe 33 begins on the day after circumcision. In Hebrew, verse 4 continues by saying, “and thirty days and three days; she will remain/continue in the blood of her purifying…”

      • I believe God makes everything add in a form of symmetry, to add 33 and 8 would make the total days of purification for a boy to be 41…a prime number with no division available and quite out of sync with the 80 days total for delivering a female child. I do see how this can be rendered so by reading the scripture in one way…but then that would mean God would have said nothing of her purity on day 8. Besides you even point out that 8 signifies a new beginning, what would that do to have a new beginning on day 8 and then a new beginning again the following day to count out the 33 days that she is to wait for her purification?

        On another point, before I forget, I LOVE your website!! I was born into a Judeo-Christian faith where we celebrated all of God’s Holy Days, and I enjoyed them immensely until our doctrine changed. I happily enjoy many of the mainstream Christian Holidays now….but have a much deeper appreciation knowing their true meanings and Histories. I look forward to reading more from you, ~Dolly P

      • I have been wanting to look at this from another perspective when I can find time. It very well could be that day 8 is also considered to be day 1 for the additional 33 day count. This would be a total of 40 days for a boy and 80 days for a girl.

  2. I think it adds up to 40 days. They were in the wilderness 40 years after the passover sacrifice and there were 2 40 day periods after the flood cleanse of Noah. The reason a woman is unclean is because the moment a child is conceived they are conceived into Adam’s death – separated from eternal life. That is the connection with death. Actually Mary did not need to be cleansed. She was fulfilling righteousness. The seed in her was not the seed of the 1st Adam who sinned but of the last Adam. She was fulling righteousness just as Jesus when he did the act of kinsman redeemer and John said he was unworthy to unlatch Jesus’s shoes. Correct me if I made any mistakes. I sometimes have a lousy memory.

  3. Seems that a huge problem is presented by Matthew’s Gospel inasmuch as the holy family head out for Egypt as opposed to going to Jerusalem, the very city where Herod the Great was waiting to do Jesus in.

    • It might seem that way if the wise men had arrived shortly after Yeshua’s birth but based on the Scriptures, they presented their gifts to Him when he was a child (yeled in Hebrew). Since Herod’s order to kill the boys was for boys 2 years old and under, Yeshua had been circumcised and grown a bit before they had to flee. We are deceived by Christmas nativities and stories that put other images in our minds that don’t line up with Scripture.

      • Joseph and Mary fleeing to Egypt to prevent the death of their first born has something to do with the first passover. Rachel’s children were killed but Yeshua was saved. There’s a deep spiritual lesson here that takes us all the way back to Eden to undo the original sin while Jesus fights a battle in heaven for us. Yet was crucified in Jerusalem but the Bible says it is spiritually Egypt. The children of Israel were spared possible starvation by coming to Egypt through Joseph.

        It’s interesting how a serpent deceived Eve but Aaron’s rod turns to a serpent and Moses makes a brass serpent and lifts it on a pole to save the dying Israelites who were stung by serpents and Jesus was lifted up like the serpent on the pole.

        Today we have a serpent on a pole representing the Medical profession BUT Aaron’s serpent ate the serpents of Pharaoh’s magicians and sorcerers. Likewise no one could heal like Messiah did, but it’s deeper than just the physical healing. Messiah restores us to the eternal where Adam and Eve were cut off from it.

    • The Scripture does not forbid a woman to accept hugs or sit on the same furniture as others during menstruation. It does not forbid others to hug a menstruating woman or sit on what she has sat on. It just says that if people come in contact with her or what she has lain or sat on during her customary impurity, they will be unclean for the specified time. The issue is transmission of uncleanness to the temple. The temple is not in service. If it were, we’d be following the time limits and immersion protocols to avoid transmitting uncleanness to the temple. Everyone has probably unknowingly touched a menstruating woman or sat where one has sat. We’ve all been unclean. It’s part of life. It’s not a sin. The only thing forbidden is sexual intercourse with a woman during her customary impurity.

  4. Why is a woman unclean for twice as long if she gave birth to a female vs. male child?

    It doesn’t appear to support the statement that God values females and males exactly the same….

    • I’m convinced it doesn’t have anything to do with how God values males and females. It’s got to be typological in nature. Eventually, we will see and understand the connection and what it represents. For now it is still a mystery.

  5. For the sake of spiritual growth,both new born babies should be treated equally.Think of awoman staying out of church ⛪ for 80days because of a baby girl.The Bible says in Hebrew 10:25 that we should not stop meeting together for prayers.Think also what will happen to a man who is un believer who happen to marry 💑a believing woman;will the man wait for a purification period of 80 days so as to be united to his wife?What will be the future of this marriage?If you are born again,you were saved by Jesus Christ and not the laws.Jesus Christ is the one who died for our sins and not the laws of Moses.The law was written for the heart hardness of Israelites Jesus came to save us.If circumcision fail to happen on the 8th day does this mean there’s no purification?

    • I can certainly understand that when we look at things from a modern Christian perspective it seems male and female babies should be treated equally. Christian thinking is Greek thinking; it is not based on Hebraic thinking. Christian beliefs have been passed down for many generations but there are many teachings in Christianity that are not fully in line with Scripture. Since Scripture is a Hebraic document, we must approach it from that worldview. We need to be Scriptural. The believers in the time Hebrews was written still observed Torah, even this commandment.

      What we see here in this post has typological implications that we don’t fully understand at this time. I hope that I have accurately seen the theme regarding separation in this post but there could be more to see and understand. The Torah and specifically God’s commandments, are full of types and shadows. We don’t understand all of them yet but one day we will. With this in mind, we can’t say God’s commandments are not applicable for today.

      A marriage that is mixed (believer with unbeliever) is going to have all kinds of unavoidable problems. I don’t tell people how to navigate that. It’s extremely difficult without my interference.

      Christian teachers often teach that the Jews believe you have to earn your salvation by obeying the law. That is not true. Today’s Judaism is not what it was in Yeshua’s (Jesus’) day; there is a lot of emphasis on the traditions of men. The Talmud/Mishnah goes back to 3rd and 4th centuries, although they say much of it goes back to Mt. Sinai. I haven’t seen enough evidence that it does. Their quotes of various rabbis’ authority does not go back that far. Present day Judaism is just as synchretized with paganism as Christianity is.

      Paul’s teachings on the law are often misunderstood because certain other teachings on the law are overlooked. They must be looked at with a proper perspective on Torah to interpret them correctly.

      Reconcile the following verses with what you’ve been taught: Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (Because of these verses, Yeshua and Paul would never have taught things against the law; they would have been considered false prophets/teachers); Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (The commandments are doable); Matthew 5:18-20 (law will not pass away until heaven and earth pass away; Yeshua still has more prophecy to fulfill; He came to fully teach/preach [pleroo is active tense, not passive so we need to use appropriate definition]); Acts 21:24 (Paul observed the law even at this time); Romans 3:31 (Paul did not believe law was abolished; he upheld the law), Romans 7:16 (Paul said the law was good); 1 John 5:3 (Love of God = keeping His commandments; they are not burdensome); 2 John 6 (Love = walking according to His commandments…the ones you have heard from the beginning); Revelation 12:17 (At the end, believers will be keeping God’s commandments and the testimony of Yeshua [Jesus]).

      Remember sin is lawlessness ( 1 John 3:4); the opposite of that is righteousness = lawfulness or Torah obedience. The terms of the new covenant are the same as the original covenant on Mt. Sinai; they are written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).

      Keep in mind that much of the law does not apply to everyone. Some was for different sexes (like purification after childbirth), the priests, sacrifices, etc. The purpose of the law is to define what’s righteous (lawful) and what’s not. You don’t want to fall into the category of Matthew 7:21-23; 13:41-43.

      We are to live righteously; it’s not a means to earn salvation. The goal of Torah obedience/righteous living is holiness and everlasting life (Romans 6:19-23; Deuteronomy 30:11-20). Can you see Romans 6:23 in the context of verses 19-23?

      I’m sure that God will purify His people whether they are circumcised on the 8th day or not. He has to purify those who’ve been eating unclean food (Paul eventually understood the vision in Acts 10 was about men, not what was food [Acts 10::28]).

      The issue of purity has to do with the risk of possible temple defilement, not who can fellowship with other believers outside the temple. The risk associated with defiling the temple was/is not a concern for a church building or synagogue. Everyone today is likely ritually unclean whether it has to do with uncleanness after childbirth, monthly menstruation, seminal emissions, contact with the dead, lack of use of a mikveh and ashes of a red heifer, etc. We will be observing Torah during Yeshua’s millennial reign. For now, we are learning how to do it the best we can under our present circumstances so we can be prepared to properly judge in the future. The Jews of today are too far from the times of the Old Testament to be accurate enough to satisfy our questions. We will need clarification and instruction from Yeshua when He returns to do everything correctly. As for circumcision, we’ll see a repeat of Joshua 5:2-7 at the beginning of Yeshua’s millennial reign.

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