Read Leviticus 15
Discharges Causing Uncleanness
15 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When any man has an unusual bodily discharge, such a discharge is unclean. 3 Whether it continues flowing from his body or is blocked, it will make him unclean. This is how his discharge will bring about uncleanness:
4 “‘Any bed the man with a discharge lies on will be unclean, and anything he sits on will be unclean. 5 Anyone who touches his bed must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. 6 Whoever sits on anything that the man with a discharge sat on must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
7 “‘Whoever touches the man who has a discharge must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
8 “‘If the man with the discharge spits on anyone who is clean, they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
9 “‘Everything the man sits on when riding will be unclean, 10 and whoever touches any of the things that were under him will be unclean till evening; whoever picks up those things must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
11 “‘Anyone the man with a discharge touches without rinsing his hands with water must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
12 “‘A clay pot that the man touches must be broken, and any wooden article is to be rinsed with water.
13 “‘When a man is cleansed from his discharge, he is to count off seven days for his ceremonial cleansing; he must wash his clothes and bathe himself with fresh water, and he will be clean. 14 On the eighth day he must take two doves or two young pigeons and come before the Lord to the entrance to the tent of meeting and give them to the priest. 15 The priest is to sacrifice them, the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way he will make atonement before the Lord for the man because of his discharge.
16 “‘When a man has an emission of semen, he must bathe his whole body with water, and he will be unclean till evening. 17 Any clothing or leather that has semen on it must be washed with water, and it will be unclean till evening. 18 When a man has sexual relations with a woman and there is an emission of semen, both of them must bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
19 “‘When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.
20 “‘Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. 21 Anyone who touches her bed will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. 22 Anyone who touches anything she sits on will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. 23 Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, they will be unclean till evening.
24 “‘If a man has sexual relations with her and her monthly flow touches him, he will be unclean for seven days; any bed he lies on will be unclean.
25 “‘When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period. 26 Any bed she lies on while her discharge continues will be unclean, as is her bed during her monthly period, and anything she sits on will be unclean, as during her period. 27 Anyone who touches them will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
28 “‘When she is cleansed from her discharge, she must count off seven days, and after that she will be ceremonially clean. 29 On the eighth day she must take two doves or two young pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 30 The priest is to sacrifice one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way he will make atonement for her before the Lord for the uncleanness of her discharge.
31 “‘You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them.’”
32 These are the regulations for a man with a discharge, for anyone made unclean by an emission of semen, 33 for a woman in her monthly period, for a man or a woman with a discharge, and for a man who has sexual relations with a woman who is ceremonially unclean.
This is the final chapter in a series of chapters on the topic of uncleanliness. It reads as an almost-too-graphic textbook in parts. Leviticus 15 presents a detailed list of laws concerning ceremonial uncleanness which is associated with bodily discharge. In the opening verses, men are addressed here with laws regarding “unusual bodily discharge”, which results from a wanton sexual life. Through verse 13, the laws speak to every facet of how he is to be treated during this time; from what should be done with the bed he sleeps in to the clothes he wears and even the things he sits on to the things he touches.
Verses 19-33 concern discharge from both healthy and diseased women. Just as the laws regarding the discharge of men, every detail of her life is outlined including the parameters of time and ceremony in which she may become clean again. Verse 31 provides a reasoning for the litany of ordinances: “You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them.” The holy nature of the Israelites depended on them separating themselves through their rituals and adherence to these laws.
Reading Levitical law is one of the easiest and often most poignant ways to see how the veil of the Old Covenant was torn with the person of Jesus. While Leviticus 15:11 says that “anyone the man with a discharge touches…will be unclean till evening”, we see in sharp contrast to Luke 5:12-13, when Jesus reaches out to the leprous man and says “Be clean!” And the man is instantly free from leprosy. Similarly, in Luke 8, the story of the hemorrhaging woman that “came up behind Him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped”. Both of these accounts directly contrast Levitical law, which would banish a person from society and the tabernacle. It is important for us to study these less narrative Old Testament books in order to form a context for the laws, cultural norms and milieu of Old Testament Israelites so we can fully gain perspective on the astonishing, world changing, supernatural work of the cross. Without rituals, Jesus promises in John 15:3 that “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”
- Do you hold yourself to any specific rules or social norms that make you feel you have earned more favor with God?
- What sorts of people, actions or habits, in our society, do we consider “unclean”?
- What other passages in the New Testament sharply contrast the book of Leviticus?
After reading the past few chapters on uncleanliness, check out this helpful resource from The Gospel Coalition!
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3 thoughts on “Leviticus 15”
I immediately made the connection to the unnamed woman in the gospels with an issue of blood. Having been isolated for 12 years from society and labeled as “unclean” she bravely steps into the crowd surrounding Jesus to merely get close enough to touch the hem of his robe. What seems to be an insignificant touch results in immediate healing. Jesus calls her “daughter” and commends her faith. Wow! Today, whatever we’re facing we can reach out to Jesus. He is sure to meet us exactly where we are, and when he does, let’s remember to thank him and tell others of his love, grace & mercy.
“By constantly calling the Israelites to ritual purity in all aspects of life, the Lord was reminding them of their need for also seeking after moral purity in all aspects of life (20:24-26).” The Gospel Coalition
God has reasons for everything. There are times I do not understand but have to trust. God shows us through His Word, through lots of avenues in life how to seek and find Him. I think as I read surely it would be different for me, I would have been grateful for Him parting the Red Sea, giving me manna everyday. But evidently they so questioned His ways. They wanted their cake and eat it too and were so ungrateful (?) that He then had to give them these laws for them to remember their need for Him and to become a moral society again. BUT GOD. God in his goodness has given us Holy Spirit that we can have a direct communication line with Him. Now as JP taught yesterday who will drive SPIRIT or FLESH. Who are we feeding?
God thank You for the promise of Word. Thank You that as I endeavor to sow to the spirit that it helps me reap life everlasting. Thank You for fruit in my tree. Thank You for me seeing others in Your eyes of love in Jesus name amen
If we go back to when God made the Sabbath (seventh day) blessed and Holy (Gen. 2:3), we read even before the fall that God intended there to be a day for holiness on Earth—the day of rest—the first ever law that we still observe today. When my morning started off with a rainbow at 8:30am (very rare), then two more significant sun dogs that evening, I thought, “this is what a blessed and Holy Sabbath feels like.” Our church was awesome. JP’s sermon was awesome. The blessings from God in the sky were awesome… I’m still somewhat speechless.
Thank you HC for this ministry. Thank you for the men and women that lead worship. Thank you for the obedience of each Pastor. May God bless you all for your faithfulness, and reveals the lives that you are changing from distance. 🤗