Leviticus 12 Commentary

Concerning childbirth (12:1-8)

One consequence of Eve’s sin that affected women in general was the trouble and pain of childbirth (Gen 3:16). The process of conceiving and giving birth was affected by sin from the beginning (Ps 51:5), which is probably the reason why Israelite law required the mother to be ceremonially cleansed after childbirth.

If the child born was a boy, the mother was cut off from physical contact with members of her family for seven days, and from all things religious for forty days. If the child born was a girl, the time of uncleanness in each case was doubled. This also was probably related to the consequences of Eve’s sin on those of her sex. Boys were circumcised when eight days old (12:1-5; for the significance of circumcision see Gen 17:9-14).

When the time of her ceremonial uncleanness was over, the mother indicated her dedication to God by offering a burnt offering, and her cleansing and restoration by offering a sin offering. If she could not afford the animal that was normally required for the burnt offering, she could offer a bird instead (6-8; cf. Luke 2:21-24).

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