Sharon Wilharm Bible Storyteller

Women and Childbirth

The book of Leviticus is a rulebook to guide the people of God in their daily lives. God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, and Moses presented the laws to the people. Many of these laws were more geared for the men, but some were for the women. Leviticus 12 is dedicated to women following childbirth.

God enacted many purity rules involving clean and unclean. Contact with blood was always unclean, so it stands to reason that childbirth would have rules governing it. According to Leviticus 12, if a woman bore a son, she would be unclean for seven days, then on the eighth day, they would circumcise him. After that, she would continue into a lesser stage of uncleanness for the thirty-three days.

If a woman bore a daughter, she was unclean for two weeks and then continued in the lesser stage of uncleanness for sixty-six days.

Whether she bore a son or daughter, at the end of her time of purification, she would then present an offering to the priest. If she could afford it, she brought a lamb. If she were too poor, she could bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons. Once she presented her sacrifice, the priest would make atonement for her and she would be clean.

Childbirth can be a scary time. How much more so for the women who had to isolate themselves. Had their husbands come in contact with them during their first weeks of uncleanness, then they would be unclean as well. Which meant they weren’t there to share the first days in the life of a newborn. But what a special time it must have been when she came to the end of her purification time and presented her offering to the Lord.

Read about women and childbirth in Scripture: Leviticus 12

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