Women contract tumah (ritual contamination) through childbirth. The time period of the woman’s purification after childbirth differs and is based on the sex of the child as explained in Leviticus 12:1-8:
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a woman has 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. 3 And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4 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. 5 ‘But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her customary impurity, and she shall continue in the blood of her purification sixty-six days. 6 ‘When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 7 Then he shall offer it before the Lord, and make atonement for her. And she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who has borne a male or a female. 8 ‘And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons — one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’”
Mary obeyed this command after Jesus was born in Luke 2:21-25: “And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”“
Here we see that Jesus was named on the day of His circumcision but they did not offer sacrifices until the days of Mary’s impurity were completed. This was to fulfill the commandment of God. At this time, Simeon saw and blessed Jesus in addition to saying Jesus was the Lord’s salvation, the glory of the people of Israel, and a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles. The prophetess, Anna also saw Jesus, thanked the Lord, and talked about Jesus to those who were looking for redemption in Jerusalem.
There’s still more for us to learn about the time of ritual contamination after childbirth. Let’s see what else can be revealed by comparing the command for women who give birth to a male child to the law of the Nazirite vow and to parts of Jesus’ life since all three have the common theme of “separation.”
Leviticus 12 explains that women who gives birth to a male child shall be contaminated for 7 days as in her days of menstruation (niddah = separation from marital relations and sacred things). Circumcision on the 8th day pictures the putting to death of the fleshly nature in order to be made clean. The number eight is the number for new beginnings—being born again. The new mother must be in blood of her purification for 33 days. This is basically a ceremonial purification from the blood of birth, life, and death. During that time, she may not touch anything sacred and she’s unclean until time of purification is complete. After the 33 days are complete, she must bring a sin offering and a whole burnt offering. The sin-offering can be a young pigeon or a turtledove and the whole burnt offering can be a lamb or a young pigeon or a turtledove. After that the woman can now be with her husband and enter the Tabernacle/Temple.
In general, a woman’s consecration is defiled by birth or menstruation. After birth, a woman has a discharge called lochia that can continue for 4-6 weeks. The time length varies for each woman and each delivery. It consists of blood, mucus, and uterine tissue, so in a way it is comparable to menstruation. Birth is a picture of death in one world (the womb) in order to be given life in new world outside the womb. Menstruation is the result of the lost opportunity for life—defaulting in death.
Numbers 6:2-10 is the passage concerning the Nazirite. If someone next to the Nazirite (who can be a man or woman) dies very suddenly, so that he defiles his consecrated head, then he is to shave his head on the day of his purification; he is to shave his hair off on the seventh day. Since the Nazirite is as bald as a newborn baby, this represents a new birth. On the 8th day he is to bring:
- Two doves or two young pigeons – (a sin offering and a burnt offering).
- A lamb in its first year as a guilt offering. The previous days will not be counted, because his consecration became defiled.
The Nazirite is made clean. As long as a man or a woman consecrates himself to the Lord as a Nazirite he is to eat or drink nothing derived from the grapevine. This is basically a ceremonial purification from the blood of grapes. The Nazirite is not to shave his head or approach a corpse because his consecration to God is on his head. He is to be holy for the Lord. Once the time of his consecration is complete, he must bring the following sacrifices:
- Sin offering: female lamb.
- Burnt offering: male lamb.
- Peace offering & grain offering is waved.
- Drink offering.
- Hair burned under peace offering.
Once this is done, the Nazirite is purified or clean and he may now drink wine.
Jesus experienced separation from His heavenly Father while He was on earth and was defiled as a sin offering at death. While He is now in heaven, He is experiencing separation (time of consecration) from His bride while in heaven. Even now, the wicked are being cut off from their people and the righteous (Christ’s bride) are putting their fleshly nature to death (circumcision of the heart). The righteous are being purified from their uncleanness and being made holy unto the Lord. The consecrated are offered to God as various kinds of living offerings since Jesus’ blood has made atonement for them.
In Matthew 26:29, Jesus said, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” This is essentially the vow of a Nazirite.
The Nazirite represents Jesus, the bridegroom of all true Christians. While Jesus was with His disciples, they enjoyed a time of personal fellowship and teaching with one another that God did not have with His people during previous times. Before Jesus left to return to His Father in heaven, He took the vow of a Nazirite by saying He would not drink of the fruit of the vine until He drank it with them in His Father’s kingdom. This vow represents Jesus’ separation from His bride who is still physically separated from Him on earth. It is also how someone from another tribe can attain a similar level of consecration as that of the Levitical High Priest.
The number of days for the purification for a male child is 33. Thirty three is a product of three and eleven. The number three represents that which is complete or resurrection and eleven represents the end of something such as the end of the age. In Jesus case, He passed from death to life in three days and is alive forever. When the Father says it is the time of the end, Jesus will return for His bride.
The woman in our passage who gives birth to a male child represents the bride of Christ. The bride of Christ is now experiencing her time of separation from Jesus who is the bridegroom. While the bride is waiting for Christ to return, she is being sanctified.
The number of days for the purification of a female child is 66. Sixty six is a product of six and eleven or three, two, and eleven. Six is the number of imperfect man or the flesh. The number two is the number for judging and separating. As we said before, three represents that which is complete or resurrection and eleven represents the end of the age. Mankind must choose to put to death the flesh in this life. Eventually, mankind will be resurrected, judged, and separated at the end of the age.
Every time a believing woman gives birth to a child or experiences the pain associated with her monthly period, she should remain separate from her husband according to God’s commandments. She should use that time to reflect and remember that she is still physically separated from her bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Just as a woman experiences joy when the pain of childbirth and menstruation is over and when her time of separation from her husband is past she should remember that the pain of being separated from Jesus will soon be over too and that one day she will experience the joy of being with Him face to face.