Having more face to wash does not make you ritually unclean.

Daily Bible Study Tips: Leviticus, Chapters 12, 13, 17

Comments on Leviticus, Chapter 1
Comments on Leviticus, Chapters 2 - 4, 8, and 11

Leviticus 12:1-8, Purification after childbirth.
Leviticus 13:1-6, Leprosy.
Leviticus 17:10-14, The life is in the blood.

Comments on Leviticus, Chapters 18, 19, and 25

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Leviticus 12:1-8, Purification after childbirth. (5/13/2010)

Yesterday we learned that lots of animals besides pigs are unclean, i.e., ritually unsuitable, and people or things that touch unclean people, or things, become unclean in turn.  Unless there is some means of ritual purification, uncleanness is contagious; cleanness is not. 
All this leads fellow-reader Nancy S. to ask whether there is any indication why some things were forbidden and some were not.  The short answer to this question is "no."  If you sort of fuzzy up your eyes, you can see that all land and air predators are unclean, and pigs are notorious for carrying trichinosis, which has led some folks to argue that the kosher dietary laws are about public health. Well, what about rabbits?  They are vegetarians, and you can't eat them.  Ah - can't eat anything that crawls on the ground, and rabbits are pretty close to the ground.  Well, what about camels and horses?  They are vegetarians and above the ground, and you can't eat them, either.
Another argument, probably with less foundation, is that a lot of the laws about what is forbidden arise from Canaanite religious practices:  if the Canaanites did it, the Jews were forbidden to do it.  Since we don't know a lot about their religious practices with regard to food - I personally have never seen anything on this topic -  I don't think this argument holds much water.
So we get back to the answer, "no."  A Jewish fellow-student when I was in grad school said that the reason is "because God said so."  I think this is the correct answer.  God probably has perfectly good reasons, and when we get to heaven, we can ask.  Meantime, we don't know.
Another way of becoming temporarily unclean is to have a baby, as we see in today’s reading.  We don't know why it's one week for a boy and two weeks for a girl.  Ask when you get to heaven.
Leviticus 13:1-6, Leprosy. (5/14/2010)

Priests were experts not only on sacrifices, but also on clean and unclean.  Another way to be ritually unclean was to have a skin disease, and thus the priests had to be good diagnostic dermatologists.  Yesterday we saw that unclean animals may or may not be a public-health issue, but skin diseases certainly are.  Leprosy, or measles for that matter, is no joke in a pre-antibiotic, pre-hospital society.  The only way they could stop the spread of disease was isolation.
Some of you may be interested that male pattern baldness is neither a skin disease nor unclean (Lev. 13:40-41).  So losing your hair is not an excuse for missing church, guys.
Leviticus 17:10-14, The life is in the blood. (5/17/2010)

So why is there all this emphasis in Leviticus about animal sacrifices for sin?  It's actually very simple.  Sin is a matter of life and death.  Once a sin has been committed, somebody will die for it.  God has graciously granted that the sacrifice of a living animal can take the place of the sacrifice of the living person who committed the sin.
The life belongs to God, and the life is in the blood.  Therefore, the blood belongs to God. 
This is why the New Testament requires Gentile converts to refrain from eating blood and strangled animals (which retain the blood; Acts 15:13-21).

Copyright 2010 by Regina L. Hunter.  All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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