Numbers 19:11

Whoever touches the dead body of any person shall be unclean seven days.

Matthew 9:

23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up.

Did Jesus become unclean?

  • 2
    The Principle of purification cannot become impure in principle. Fire cannot be defiled by any timber thrown into it. Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 13:52
  • The Law was written for the fallen and sinful men. It wasn't written for the One of Whom the Law was a mere partial reflection.
    – brilliant
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 11:13
  • @LevanGigineishvili If you were to post that comment as an answer (just as it is) I would not hesitate to up-vote it. You have captured everything I could possibly say in just one sentence. Divine Life is often expressed as fire (the seven spirits burning before the throne, the burning bush with flame that is not fuelled by the bush) and fire is not contaminated by what it burns. Excellent, excellent analogy.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 13:28
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    @NigelJ Thanks for reading and appreciating my comment, I thought just to have said a banality, for the very OP question sounded for me as a patently rhetorical question, for it is excluded from the outset that the Lord can be contaminated, for this would be a contradiction in terms. Fine, I put this as an answer under your encouragement:) Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 13:54

8 Answers 8


Did Jesus become unclean in Matthew 9:25?

Questions From Readers in the Watchtower July 15, 1972 issue has a very similar question and addresses it:

So, if Jesus touched her corpse, would that make him unclean? No, not at all.

Jesus resurrected the girl, brought her back to life. Matthew writes: “He went in and took hold of her hand, and the little girl got up.” (Matt. 9:25) Far from Jesus becoming unclean, he removed the source of uncleanness, the dead body. He did this by bringing the child to life. “Immediately the maiden rose and began walking.” Thus, she was not unclean and was not making anyone touching her unclean. Jesus was the means of bringing cleanness, and he had no need to undergo any purification ceremony.​—Mark 5:41, 42; Luke 8:54, 55.

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    I wonder if this is part of the reason Jesus said "The girl is not dead but asleep" - that way, no one would be considered unclean
    – 2br-2b
    Commented May 2, 2022 at 9:05

By the strict interpretation of the Torah law, Jesus became unclean when He touched the dead body of the girl. This was not the only time. Note the instance in Matt 8:2 & 3 -

Suddenly a leper came and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (see also Mark 1:40, 41.

This also made Jesus "unclean". But that is the point - Jesus "cleansed" the leper by healing him. Note the comments of the Pulpit commentary -

Verse 3. - And Jesus put forth (and he stretched forth, Revised Version) his hand, and touched him. The careful record of the twofold action may be either a trace of the increasing astonishment of the bystanders or a means of indicating that this was no accidental touch, but the result of deliberate will (cf. Matthew 14:31). According to the Law (Leviticus 13:46 with Leviticus 11:40), our Lord by this action would become unclean until the evening. But of this there is no hint. That indeed he could not by it contract any real impurity, or even any ceremonial impurity in the eyes of God, is self-evident. But how could he himself justify his exemption from the Law? and how could the people justify it? Probably both he and they felt that as "the priests, in their contact with the leper to be adjudged, were exempted from the law of defilement," much more was the One who "cleansed" him. "He says, I will,' to meet the heresy of Photinus. He commands, because of Afius. He touches, because of Manichseus" (Ambrose, in Ford). Saying, I will (θέλω). Synchronous with the action. Be thou clean; be thou made clean (Revised Version); καθαρίσθητι. The external power which the man had himself acknowledged was now applied to him, and he was made clean by it, physically and therefore ceremonially (cf. Bishop Westcott, on 'Hebrews,' p. 346). And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (On the parallel passage in Mark and Luke, "departed from him," see Professor Marshall, in Expositor, June, 1891, p. 464). Matthew 8:3

It is obvious that Jesus used this and the raising the dead as metaphors for His cleansing us of sin - note the remarks of Heb 7:25-27 -

Therefore He is able to save completely those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly befits us—One who is holy, innocent, undefiled, set apart from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer daily sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people; He sacrificed for sin once for all when He offered up Himself.

Or again, put another way, Jesus took our uncleaness and cleansed it thus making us clean.

  • 2 Cor 5:21, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
  • Gal 1:4, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.
  • Gal 3:13, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.
  • 2 Cor 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
  • Isa 53:4-6, Surely He took on our infirmities and carried our sorrows; yet we considered Him stricken by God, struck down and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

That is, Jesus was treated as we deserve so that we can be treated as He deserved.

  • @DanielDahlberg - you are quite correct. Thanks for pointing that out. Now corrected.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 10:45

The Principle of purification cannot become impure in principle. Fire cannot be defiled by any timber thrown into it.

  • Up-voted, as promised.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 14:10
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    @NigelJ Thanks, that's an encouragement for me! Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 15:41

Jesus specifically touched that was deemed to be unclean. This was ‘by design’ - intentional.

The reason was to demonstrate or ‘show’ that he was Messiah. This is best demonstrated via his dealings with lepers. Leprosy was ‘deemed’ by the Pharisees to be the epitome of ‘unclean’

The mystery of leprosy is why Moses dedicated two entire chapters – Leviticus 13 and 14 to the subject as well as the declaration of cleansing, when no Jewish person was ever healed of the disease. (While being under the Mosaic covenant.)

The rabbi”s knew this, but their oral traditions stated that when the messiah comes, he will will heal lepers. (Cleanse the unclean). Confirmed in the Talmud, where we read this interpretation(Rabbi Hiyya ben Abba:) ‘A sick man does not recover from his sickness until all his sins are forgiven him, as it is written, ‘Who forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases’” (Ps. 103:3).

So Jesus touching the unclean was an intentional sign. That’s why after healing the leper he told him specifically to go show himself to the priests.

From the (Babylonian) Talmud, we know the expectation regarding the ‘unclean’ - that is not touching, were expected to be reversed for Messiah, that is, instead of the unclean making the clean ‘unclean’ - that He (the clean) would make the unclean clean.

In their view (Pharisees) - Because leprosy was inflicted by God, for sin! called “The Finger of God”, the Jews believed that only God or His Messiah would be able to cleanse a leper. Because only God could forgive ‘sin’.

So the answer is no, Jesus could not become unclean, simply because he was, in fact, the Messiah!


The law of uncleanness was becoming obsolete. Jesus fulfilled the Law.

Acts 10

24The following day he arrived in Caesarea, where Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25As Peter was about to enter, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet to worship him. 26But Peter helped him up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”

27As Peter talked with him, he went inside and found many people gathered together. 28He said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with a foreigner or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.

Jesus made everything and everyone clean. He could not be unclean.


She was not dead when Christ touched her so, no, he was not unclean by touching her.


Yes, I think in the life of Jesus, as in the life of all jews, there were several occasions where he became unclean and had to go through ritual purification. This was an important part of being an observant (law abiding) jew. Every time a woman menstruated, or a man received a skin rash, or an emission of semen, or a whole host of other situations, one became unclean and had to be purified.

When raising the girl, I believe he was already unclean because of what happened just before (Luke 8.43-48):

And a woman who was suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years (who, although she had spent all her assets on physicians, was not able to be healed by anyone) came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her hemorrhaging stopped. And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched me?” And when they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are pressing you hard and crowding you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, because I know power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she did not escape notice, she came trembling and falling down before him. In the presence of all the people, she told for what reason she had touched him, and that she was healed immediately. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

I believe that power going out was becoming unclean, not a power of healing leaving him (since he would go on right after that to raise someone from the dead). He sensed that he was unclean and needed to go through the purification rituals. Having that sensitivity allowed him to keep the law and avoid any transgression. The purity laws also explain why the woman was hiding and didn't want to reveal herself, as it wasn't a good idea to go around touching people if you were unclean.

I also think this is why Jesus didn't want the crowd to come with him (to save them from becoming unclean):

Luke 8:49-51

While he was still speaking, someone came from the synagogue ruler’s house, saying, “Your daughter is dead! Trouble the Teacher no longer!” But Jesus, when he heard this, replied to him, “Do not be afraid! Only believe, and she will be healed.” Now when he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him except Peter and John and James and the father and mother of the child.

This is most likely because these 5 were already unclean with him, the three disciples for also touching the woman (or him earlier) and the parents for holding their dead daughter.

I don't believe he commanded the others to not be there because he couldn't heal the girl in their presence -- he raised Lazarus in front of a crowd. But rather, he didn't want them to become unclean either.

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    I can find no reference in scripture to Jesus of Nazareth submitting to a Jewish cleansing process. What I can find is his baptism (by John the Baptist) which was other than a Jewish cleansing process.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 17:05
  • I can find no reference to Jesus having breakfast, but I'm sure he had it, so let's not read the scriptures this way, and instead understand that Jesus followed the law perfectly and this is a requirement of the law.
    – Robert
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 17:22
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    Does the law require baptism ?
    – Nigel J
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 17:24
  • I would not call cleansing with the water of the red heifer a baptism, no. I would also not say that Jesus only did things required of the law, which would be a mistake in the other direction. Not every action that Jesus did to fulfill the law is recorded, and likewise not every action taken by Jesus that is recorded was done to fulfill the law. We should avoid both of these extremes.
    – Robert
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 18:47
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    Indeed. For he is called 'Jesus Christ Righteous' (1 John 2:1 ιησουν χριστον δικαιον) and we know that 'law is not made for the righteous' (1 Timothy 1:9 οτι δικαιω νομος ου κειται).
    – Nigel J
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 21:06

"Did Jesus become unclean in Matthew 9:25?"

The MT 9:25 girl, and the verses echoing Mt 9:25, simply demonstrate that everything is accomplished.

Now, all WE need to do is get on board the Arc, as we get this memo and fully realize that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us.

Isaiah 26:12 Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.

Matt 18: For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

Even as we are drowning in chaos two thousand years later, it is difficult to believe that everything has been accomplished. It was done for us, our gratitude brings it into sharp focus.

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