In Leviticus 15:15, 30 NKJV

15 And the priest shall use them, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord for his discharge.

30 And the priest shall use one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her before the Lord for her unclean discharge.

Does this mean that God is considering having a natural discharge a sin? I assumed originally it was ceremonial reasons but I am surprised that it requires a sin offering.

  • 1
    Many of the "ceremonial" rites in the Torah were for hygiene reasons, especially isolation/quarantine.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 20 at 7:34

2 Answers 2


"Sin offerings" generally involved unintentional acts. Some resulted from naturally occurring states that rendered a person ritually unclean, such as childbirth. In such cases no sin was committed, but the offering was required to purify the person so as to ensure that a very serious sin be avoided: defiling God's sanctuary.

Leviticus 15:31

31 You shall warn the Israelites of their uncleanness, lest they die through their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle, which is in their midst.

Because these offerings often involved no actual sin, modern translators sometimes interpret the term as "purification offering." (Incidentally, this is the offering that Mary was required to make in Luke 2:22).

Finally, it should be noted that once the Israelites established a nation - and even more so in the Second Temple period when many Jews lived abroad - it would be impractical that people travel to Jerusalem every time a child was born or woman had a discharge. Since there was no possibility they would defile the sanctuary, they naturally went about their business, perhaps after immersing themselves in a ritual bath, as they would for other cases of ritual impurity.


"Why was discharge in need of a sin offering? Does this mean that God is considering having a natural discharge a sin?"

Yes. Having a natural discharge is a type of sin, hence the sin offering.

The word used for sin in these verses is a noun based on the verb חָטָא, or ḥâṭâ’, which The Hebrew Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) has as the primary meaning the definition "to miss (a mark)."

In other words, the primary meaning of the word "sin" is failure or error. Sin as error is most often thought of in terms of moral failure, but the Bible isn't just concerned about moral failure but also physical failure.

Hence, on the day of atonement, a sacrifice must be made to atone not just for the moral failures or rebellions of the people of Israel, but also for all their physical shortcomings described as their uncleannesses. All these, being atoned for, are grouped under the category of "all their sins":

Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. And so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which dwells with them in the midst of their uncleannesses.
-Leviticus 16:16

This might seem unfair that the people were required to sacrifice for normal bodily processes, however, a couple of things should be kept in mind:

1). The whole nation was a nation of priests

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” 7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him. 8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.”
-Exodus 19:5-8

This means that the people agreed to have extra responsibilities as a kingdom to represent the truth of God to each other and to the nations

2). Much of the laws and practices were accomplished as shadows of heavenly truths:

4 ...there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things...”
-Hebrews 8:4-5

With these in mind, it can be understood that these sacrifices were designed to teach the heavenly truth expressed by Paul:

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
-1 Corinthians 15:50

Conclusion These instructions regarding sin and sin offering for diseases and leaking natural fluids teaches that our bodies are riddled with error, marred by the sin of Adam. They have become what Paul refers to as a "body of sin" (Rom 6:6). The corrupt nature of our flesh, cursed by fall, fails to meet the standards of the incorruptable kingdom of God. Thus the law of Moses teaches that if we're to get out of this mess we'll need a sacrifice sufficiently perfect to make things right not just for our moral failures, but for our physical ones as well.

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
-1 Corinthians 15:53-57

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
-1 John 2:2

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