Article By: Jana Bennun (DeNoon)
After the series of teachings on biblical equality, we were overwhelmed by the letters coming in every sort of questions on the peoples minds. Some of the concerns are that the Torah – known to Christians as the first five books of the Bible- teaches inferiority of the female sex in the eyes of The G-d of Israel. The scripture in question was Leviticus 12:2-5.
This biblical passage describes the “ceremonial” uncleanness of a woman after delivering a baby boy, for a period of seven days; and her subsequent purification for thirty-three days. After the delivery of a baby girl, the woman was consider unclean for fourteen days, with subsequent purification for sixty-six days- doubling the time needed for purification compared to that of the boy baby.
I have examined several teachings on the biblical passages found in Leviticus and was very shocked at what I discovered. Leviticus 12:2-5, is used in many mainstream Churches as their “proof” to defend the “subjection” of women and the view that The G-d of Israel has divinely ordained women to be only secondary to men. What’s worse is that this Biblical passage is also used to justify teachings on “female shame” that women should bear as the daughter of Eve. ( Eve is viewed as the first person responsible for sin and is cursed to subjection and obedience to her husband as the view of many pastors.)
In the case of a newborn boy, Moses recorded the following in Leviticus:
Then the LORD spoke to Moses , saying, ” Speak to the children of Israel, saying: “If a woman 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. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 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 ( Leviticus 12:1-4)
But in the case of a newborn girl, the scripture reads as following:
But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean for two weeks, as in her customary impurity, and she shall continue in the blood of her purification sixty-six days (Leviticus 12:5)
At a first glance, in the above mentioned scripture, it seems that G-d is “punishing” women after the delivery of a baby girl as He deemed her “unclean” for double the time for that of a boy. However, the true reason is indeed very different and has nothing to do with female inferiority or G-d preferring boys over girls and punishing girls for their female sex. ( Even though some ministers would have you believe just the opposite).
What these ministers don’t tell you (conveniently) is that the ceremonial laws of ancient Israel were extremely complex and it was not just women that had issues of “uncleanness” due to their monthly menstrual cycles or the postpartum period of cleaning. ( usually six weeks). It was also males that have issues of uncleanliness, and quite frequent at that I might add! A man became ritually “unclean” any time he had an emission of semen. Even if he washed his clothes , his body remained unclean for a period of time too.
For example , Leviticus 15:16-18 reads:
When a man has an emission of semen, he must bathe his whole body with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Any clothing or leather that has semen on it must be washed with water, and it will be unclean till evening. When a man has a sexual relations with a woman and there is an emission of semen, both of them must bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. ( Notice , it was semen emission that made woman unclean together with man, him making her unclean).
Now, mind you, if the emission of semen was biologically possible for a straight seven days – his uncleanness would be for that period of time. Imagine newly wed couple during their “honeymoon” a time of enjoying sexual relations daily- they were ceremonially unclean every day they had sexual contact . Why? Because of the emission of semen from the husband! So G-d did not “pick” on women to shame them for their monthly cycles or their childbearing periods.
The ceremonial laws of ancient Israel records many other events in which man would become unclean such as; touching a dead body, touching a dead carcass of an unclean beast or creeping thing, if they had any kind of injury where the “raw” flesh was appearing , or, even if Israelite entered a house where someone else was considered unclean!
Still, the fact that women were ceremonially unclean twice the amount of time after delivering a girl than that of a boy, has driven many ministers to abuse Leviticus 12, teaching that G-d simply prefers males over females. Many NT scriptures are used to justify this teaching and Leviticus 12:1-5 happens to be one of very convenient OT scripture to have on their list.
So lets get to the bottom of this.
In my early years I attended a Nursing College in East Europe. I was trained professionally as a nurse- midwife in the town called Michalovce in the Slovak Republic.Although I do not practice the wonderful profession of a midwife today, yet surprisingly many things I learned in anatomy and physiology, gynecology , obstetrics and pediatrics I still remember. And yes, I could even professionally deliver a baby if needed today.
One thing that is important to understand is that during pregnancy, a mothers hormones enter the bloodstream of her fetus. After the delivery of a baby, the baby still has their mother’s hormones ( such as estrogen) in his or her blood. As a result, baby boys may have enlarged breast tissue underneath their nipples, even releasing some drops of white watery discharge.(breast milk) Baby girls usually have, besides swollen breast tissue like the boys, they may also have a milky white mucus or even bloody discharge from their vagina. It is called “withdrawal bleeding” a condition similar to that of a woman’s period. The baby girl may show signs of red droplets of blood in their diapers mixed with mucus.
These types of conditions in a newborn girl is absolutely normal ,it is a result of their mothers hormones still present in the baby’s bloodstream and usually resolves itself within 7-14 days according to the medical community! It is important to note here that baby boys do not have a bloody discharge like that of baby girls after delivery. None the less G-d Himself knows just how long these issues may occur subsequently we may see the reasoning for His timing for purification.
The Almighty our Creator knows the anatomy perfectly – He made each one of us. He is very well aware of whats going on in the female body during pregnancy and in the body of newborn baby be it a boy or girl. Even though there is no formal explanation in the Torah of the reason for why women were ceremonially unclean double the time after the delivery of a female child, the truth is , that little newborn girl would be “ceremonially” unclean double the time of that of a boy because the hormones left over from her mother could possibly cause her to have vaginal discharge or even bloody discharge. ( One must remember any kind of bodily discharge made man or woman unclean). Therefore until the mother’s hormones left the baby’s blood , and the discharges would stop, the little girl was considered “unclean”.
Her mother – a woman who birthed the child- was unclean because she, as a mother, had constant contact with the baby- feeding it , diapering it and caring for it. We have mentioned above that a person was ritually unclean even for touching another unclean person being man or woman…
It is reasonable to conclude then, that the Creator who gave Israelite’s such laws , would make sure those laws were perfectly kept. Since He knew the physiology of birth and after birth, He made a provision for woman and the baby girl to come to a ceremonially clean state after the hormones left the baby’s blood and the discharge would stop. After all, He has blessed parenting and He loves boys and girls just the same. May His Blessed Name be praised forever and ever!
I hope this article has helped you to understand that The G-d of Israel is not a respecter of persons. He is a wonderful , caring, and loving Creator of us all. He loves us more than we could ever comprehend. Yes, He loves boys and He loves girls, men and women just the same and we are all precious in His eyes. Amen.
By: Jana Bennun