Study Guide

Leviticus Chapter 12

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Chapter 12

Birthin' Babies Are Disgusting

  • In chapters 12 through 15, the author moves from the ceremonial purity rules for animals to the ceremonial purity rules for people. Chapter 12 starts with the bête noire of Honey Boo Boo: birthin' babies.
  • The writer doesn't pull any punches: when a woman gives birth to a child, she's unclean.
  • As with the kosher laws, this kind of uncleanness is not defined literally as being dirty. Leaking and mixing bodily fluids are a big obsession over the next few chapters.
  • The author starts by saying that becoming a baby-mama makes a woman just as unclean as when she is having her period. Hmmm.
  • That goes for her and anything she touches. She can't go to the tabernacle or touch anything that's holy. The only thing she can do as a certified cootie carrier is stay home and watch The Real Housewives of Mount Sinai.
  • The timing of a woman's release from tent arrest depends on whether the darling little angel is a boy or a girl.
  • If it's a girl, mom is unclean for 14 days and has to sit out an additional 66 days before she can be pure.
  • If it's a boy, she is unclean for just 7 days and only has to wait an extra 33 days more.
  • Wow, what an amazing coincidence. A boy gets circumcised on the eighth day. Getting snipped makes him part of the covenant. That speeds things up for mom.
  • If she has mixed multiples or a hermaphrodite, she makes a creative rabbinical scholar feel quite useful.
  • When her purification time is over, the new mom has to get a priest two—count 'em—sacrifices as atonement: a burnt offering and a sin offering. What's up with that? 

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