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Leviticus 12:1-8, Purification of a Woman after Childbirth

What is it about menstruating that seems so perplexing, mysterious, or disgusting to so many? Maybe it’s because we have attached a sense of shame to the whole process. Girls are taught from a very young age to refer to their periods using euphemisms – “Aunt Flo,” “That time of the month,” and my family’s personal favorite, “Monsterating.” Women are not to discuss it in mixed company, and accidents are a humiliating embarrassment.

In reality, there’s nothing mysterious about it, except for one thing – it is part of the unbelievably miraculous process of creating life! Ok, so maybe there is some mystery surrounding it. The gift God gave people to co-create is one of the most profound and critical gifts God ever gave. God knew this was not only natural and normal for God’s created, but God set guidelines for honoring women in light of their potential to create and nurture life every month. What God’s guidelines gave women was a moment to themselves – a set period of time when their bodies were their own. Any new mother can tell you it is exhausting to have a little human cling to their breasts several times a day for months on end. Those first days of being declared “unclean” actually gave them time and space to breathe – a gentle reprieve from the duties of wives and worshipers at a time when they need to be utterly and completely mothers.

Leviticus 12:1-8

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the people of Israel, saying: If a woman conceives and bears a male child, she shall be ceremonially unclean seven days; as at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Her time of blood purification shall be thirty-three days; she shall not touch any holy thing, or come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purification are completed. If she bears a female child, she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation; her time of blood purification shall be sixty-six days.

When the days of her purification are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb in its first year for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. He shall offer it before the Lord, and make atonement on her behalf; then she shall be clean from her flow of blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, male or female. If she cannot afford a sheep, she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement on her behalf, and she shall be clean.