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Saturday, September 30th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 12

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-5


Leviticus 11 is about defilement by something that man takes from the outside. In Leviticus 12 it is about the problem that man is impure in himself. Here we have the impurity of human nature or the impurity of the indwelling sin. Man is unclean by birth and unclean because he can only bring unclean children into the world. In Leviticus 13 we also see this impurity break out in the different forms of leprosy.

Unclean By Giving Birth

In Leviticus 11 one who touches something unclean is unclean until the evening. Here, in Leviticus 12, when a child is given birth, the period of uncleanness and cleansing is the longest we find in Scripture. For the mother, this period when given birth of a boy forty days and when given birth of a girl eighty days. This indicates the seriousness of the problem.

This is not about the uncleanness and cleansing of the child, but of the mother. This is also expressed by David in Psalm 51 (cf. Psalms 51:7; Job 14:4; Job 25:4). The children are unclean because they are born from sinful parents. The source is not good. Everything that comes forth from man is unclean (Matthew 15:18). The only exception is the Lord Jesus. He is the clean One Who is born of an unclean one.

The time that the woman is unclean is seven days for a boy and fourteen days for a girl. After those days follows a time of cleansing: in the case of a boy thirty-three days and in the case of a girl sixty-six days. After the days of her cleansing, she has to bring an offering.

In the circumcision of the boy, it is acknowledged – spiritually seen – that the child is unclean. Circumcision speaks of the death of Christ (Colossians 2:11). The child is brought on the basis of the death of Christ.

As long as the days of the mother’s cleansing last, she should not go to the holy place. When those days are over, she must make the sacrifices at the entrance of the tent of meeting. This we can apply to receiving at the Lord’s table. A person can only be received when the days of his cleansing are over, in which he has learned to know himself and has also accepted for himself the value of the work of the Lord Jesus.

The fact that the period of uncleanness and cleansing in the case of a girl lasts twice as long can perhaps be explained as follows. It is a reminder of the fact that sin came into the world through the woman (Genesis 3:6; 1 Timothy 2:14).

A spiritual application is this one. The female speaks of the emotions, the feelings, the subjective. Here there is no talk of being circumcised. With those who rely on their feelings it often takes longer to accept what Christ has done. This can be seen in many Christians who feel too bad or not bad enough to be accepted by God. Sometimes such Christians find peace with God only on their deathbed and then they see something of the meaning of the burnt offering and sin offering.

Verses 6-8

Cleansing After Giving Birth

After the forty or eighty days, the mother must also place herself on the basis of the offering, in the picture the offering of Christ. She must bring a burnt offering and a sin offering. When Mary has given birth to the Lord Jesus, she also offers this offering, because she too is unclean of herself (Luke 2:21-Jeremiah :). That she does not bring the ordinary offering, a lamb and a dove (Leviticus 12:6), but two pigeons, thus the offering of the poor (Leviticus 12:8), indicates the poverty of the parents of the Lord Jesus. Mary is the only exception as regards the Child she gave birth to. The Child Jesus was the perfectly clean One. He indeed is not conceived by a sinful man – and therefore has not original sin – but by God the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35).

In the woman we also can see a picture of Israel, a people who are impure, and from whom the Messiah was born, the clean One. In Revelation 12 we see that picture too (Revelation 12:1-Joshua :). The woman there represents Israel; the male Son is the Lord Jesus.

The days of the cleansing of the people begin after ‘circumcision’, that is, after what happened to the Lord Jesus on the cross. Only now, in the period after the cross, can those who come to repentance see what they have all done and been and are still naturally. It often takes quite a while to see that. This applies both to Israel and to the individual believer of the church. The more I get to know myself, the more I abhor myself.

The result of this cleaning period is that we really place ourselves on the basis of the burnt offering and the sin offering. Only then are we also able to understand something of the value of the Lord Jesus’ work for God and that God looks at us in Him (burnt offering). The burnt offering comes first and therefore has the emphasis. It is only then that we are able to understand something of the meaning of the sin offering, that we are a little more aware of it.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Leviticus 12". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/leviticus-12.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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