For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2004 James Melough

12:1.  "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,"


12:2.  "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."


This chapter deals with the uncleanness connected with natural birth, with man in his natural state, born with Adam's fallen corrupt nature, and therefore unclean and condemned by God's holy law.  


As it was by the woman that sin came in, so is it that all born of woman are born unclean, for as Job asks rhetorically, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one," Job 14:4, and since a clean thing can't be brought out of an unclean, that which is born of the woman, by natural birth, is also unclean, tainted with Adam's fallen nature, as Grant aptly comments, "Human increase is human defilement.  Every child born into the world, but adds to the evil in it."


But as it was by the woman that sin came into the world, so has God graciously ordained that through the woman the Redeemer should also come into the world, as He declared to Satan, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel," Genesis 3:15.  The man child spoken of in the verse we are now examining, is a double type: (1) he represents man as he is by natural birth, but (2) he also represents the second man, the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, “made of a woman,” Galatians 4:4.


It is easy to see why the woman should be ceremonially unclean when she has brought a man child into the world.  She has, as Grant has said, simply added to the world's evil.


But how do we reconcile her being unclean when the man child brought into the world is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ?  Very simply.  In this context the woman is a type of Israel, and with the coming of Christ, their unclean spiritual state was brought into sharper focus than ever before, because until His birth, they could measure themselves by a human standard relative to God's law, and thereby make themselves appear righteous.  He however, by the spotless holiness of His human life, condemned the unholiness of theirs, as He said Himself, "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin .... If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father," John 15 :22-24.  His righteous life was the catalyst that exposed their sin in the blinding light of heaven.


The woman's being unclean for seven days is the typological declaration of Christ's exposure of Israel's sin during His life here on earth.  But seven is the scriptural number of completeness or satisfaction, and the cleansing of the woman after seven days points to the truth that God desires to see men cleansed from sin, and fitted for heaven.


12:3.  "And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised."


That circumcision of the man child portrays the "cutting off" of Christ at Calvary, see, for example Colossians 2:10-11 "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: in whom also ye are circumcised (cut off) with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision (death) of Christ."


The need to circumcise the man child declares the truth that the only remedy for man's sinful state is the cutting off of the flesh, and that "cutting off" occurs when I see myself worthy only of death, I dying that death vicariously through Christ's death for me, God graciously imputing His death to me, so that by Divine reckoning I have died. 


But Christ's resurrection is also imputed to me as a believer, so that I, raised up out of spiritual death, stand before God as a new creature in Christ, possessing His life and nature, and being clothed in His righteousness.  The circumcision that was literal for the Israelite, is spiritual for believers of this age of grace, being accomplished for us through the cutting off of Christ at Calvary, our responsibility being to give practical expression to the spiritual "circumcision" by our cutting off the deeds of the flesh.  We are to make good in practice what is imputed to us by grace.  We are to live as those who have become dead to the world (cut off from it) by the cross of Christ.  The things of the world are to have no more attraction for us than they would have for a corpse.


Since eight is the number of a new beginning, the lesson of the man child’s being circumcised on the eighth day is that at the moment of conversion the spiritual equivalent of circumcision occurs: God first imputes Christ’s death, the cutting off of the flesh, to the believer, and then also His resurrection, so that in Christ the sinner has died to his former state of condemnation, and then has been raised up out of death as a new creature in Christ, possessed of His life and nature.


12:4.  "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."


The following thirty-three days would then represent the early Apostolic age when Israel was still being offered the kingdom.  Had they accepted the Gospel of salvation through faith in a crucified and resurrected Messiah, their days of uncleanness would have ended, and they would have entered into the enjoyment of millennial blessings, to be followed by eternal blessing in the new heaven and new earth.  All they had to do was to come in faith and present Christ, first as their Lamb for a burnt offering, and then as their turtledove or pigeon for a sin offering.  But they would not, with the result that they have continued in their "uncleanness" for over two thousand years, cut off from touching any hallowed thing, and from coming into the sanctuary, i.e., into God’s presence.


12:5.  "And 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."


The female child may be a figure of the Church.  It is from Israel that the Church has come: the first believers were Jews, Cornelius appearing to be the first Gentile convert, many Bible scholars believing that his conversion may not have occurred until eight years after Pentecost.  The double period of uncleanness would then point to the truth that Israel has incurred a double condemnation.  She rejected Christ during His life on earth, as she did also when He was presented from the day of Pentecost until AD 70, as her resurrected Savior/Messiah, Peter assuring the Jews that God viewed their crucifixion of His Son as having been done in ignorance, "And now, brethren, I know that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers," Acts 3:17.  Their martyrdom of Stephen however, declared that their rejection of the resurrected Christ was as adamant as had been their rejection of Him while bodily in their midst.  As noted already, that rejection has resulted in their remaining spiritually unclean for two thousand years, during which time He is calling out from amongst the nations those who as a corporate body constitute spiritual Israel, the Church.


12:6.  "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:


12:7.  "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."


The lamb of the first year is Christ in all the vigor of manhood, but the offering priest is also a figure of Christ, the two combining to present us with the truth declared in Hebrews 9:14, "Christ ... through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God."  And we do well to note that the Burnt offering preceded the Sin offering.  That sacrifice at Calvary was first for God and His glory; then for the expiation of men’s sins and the redemption of their souls.  And it teaches the further truth that a man’s sin must be put away before he can offer acceptable worship.


The turtledove or pigeon for the Sin offering portrays Him as the heavenly One dying in the stead of earthy, guilty man.


12:8.  “And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles (turtledoves), 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.”


The literal poverty of an Israelite is symbolic of the spiritual poverty of a believer of this present age of grace, that poverty deriving from several causes: first, the believer may be a new convert, a babe in Christ, who hasn’t yet had time to acquire knowledge through his own study of Scripture, or the teaching of mature believers.  Second, it may be due to limited ability to absorb knowledge: all men, including believers, are not endued with the same intellectual competence.  Third, it may be due to carnality.  Whatever the cause, the fact remains that the ability to worship varies from believer to believer.  The mature spiritual believer can offer in worship the equivalent of the Israelite’s costly bullock; another, less mature or less spiritual, can offer only the equivalent of a sheep or goat; another, what is analogus to a pigeon or turtledove; and yet another, only the equivalent of a handful of meal.


It is to be noted however, that the poor woman’s turtle doves or pigeons were just as precious in God’s sight as was the costlier offering of her wealthier neighbor, as it is written, “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not,” 2 Corinthians 8:12.  We should remember also the Lord’s commendation of the poor widow’s two mites, “And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: for all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had,” Luke 21:3-4.


This ritual for the cleansing of the woman who had brought forth a man child however, ought to remind us that the type has also a wider and very different application.  Israel was the woman who brought forth the man child, Christ, two thousand years ago.  The time of her cleansing is near.  The long awaited rapture of the Church is imminent, and the ensuing seven years of the Tribulation will produce the believing remnant which will constitute the new converted Israel that will enter the Millennium, their presentation of Christ as their Burnt and Sin offering securing their cleansing, and enabling them to touch what is hallowed, and to come again into the sanctuary, i.e., into God’s presence.

[Leviticus 13]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough