I understand that any ideas or research presented on this matter will keep the company of "hypothetical" since, even the Jewish sages are divided and uncertain.

What we know is that if a woman gave birth to a male child, she was unclean for seven days and then, upon the eighth day, the male child was to be circumcised. Then, 33 days following this the woman would still not be allowed into the Sanctuary thus placing her process of purification at 40 days.

However, if a female child was born, the mother is regarded unclean for 14 days (twice the amount) and then her period of time not being allowed to enter the Sanctuary was 66 days (once again, double that of the male child). This put her total time of purification at 80 days.

Leviticus 12:1-8 (KJV) 1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. 3 And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4 And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. 5 But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days. 6 And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest: 7 Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female. 8 And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

Why the "doubling" between male and female? Both activities of labor brought about a ritual uncleanliness due to menstrual blood, but why the doubling? Is there something scientific between male and female children that would account for this? I know that minor "menstruation" occurs with female infants due to the hormones she is exposed to while in her mothers womb. Interestingly, many say that infant menstruation lasts roughly 1-2 weeks maximum. Could this be the reason? Is the purification double because it is occurring for both the mother and the daughter?

  • Related question Mar 29 '17 at 18:21
  • @JamesShewey checking it out now Mar 29 '17 at 21:53
  • @JamesShewey in my post I'm seeing a "this question already has an answer here..." yet my question was asked almost a year prior to the posted link provided in my question. Also, the "related question" you posted has more to do with the "why is it a sin or was it a sin to have a baby," which my question doesn't ask. Dec 30 '18 at 13:11
  • that is not the related question's title, however "sin" and that which is "unclean" would have been understood anonymously (historically speaking). While your question might have proceeded the other chronologically, the other question had better answers - hence why this may have been voted as a duplicate. Dec 31 '18 at 2:58

This might verge on speculation, but circumcision is a purifying rite which only males can participate in, so the doubling may imply either that half of the mother's impurity is taken upon the male child or else the mother is made doubly unclean by giving birth to a child that cannot be circumcised.


Whether or not it is acceptable to say in modern society, the simple fact is that men are, in a general sense, considered to be superior throughout the Bible (at least in rank) to women, and therefore, giving birth to a girl warrants extra unclean-ness.

The woman was made for the purpose of helping the man. (Genesis 2:18)

The woman sinned first, and God commanded that the man should rule over her. (Genesis 3)

As a result, men are the leaders and the doers of society, with a particular direction all their own, while women exist to serve men and reproduce for them. Evidencing that men were leaders, note that leaders in the period of the patriarchs were all men, that leaders in the time of the judges and kings were, with few exceptions, all men, that virtually all prophets were men, that the apostles were all men, etc. Evidencing that women were primarily valued for reproduction, note the practice of polygamy (which expanded reproduction) and the strict sexual laws placed on women (Deuteronomy 22, Leviticus 21:9, etc)

Throughout the Hebrew scriptures, women are generally depicted as the property of men. (See Ruth, traded as property during a land exchange, or Caleb's daughter, traded to Othniel in exchange for capturing a city)

We don't have direct guidance in this passage that the woman's lower social status is the reason, but I think the context makes it obvious. No one in that culture would have questioned why a female would be more unclean than a male. "It's because she's a girl." would have been a sufficient explanation for anyone.


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