Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. Child. By this manner of expressing himself, Moses excludes the blessed Virgin, as the ancient fathers and the moderns generally remark. She conceived without concupiscence, and was subject to none of the usual inconveniences of child-birth. (Suarez) — So that whether this law was instituted to expiate the former, or to purify the latter, she was not included. All other mothers were separated, at least seven days, and longer if their state required it; (Calmet) during which time, they were treated like those mentioned, chap xv. 19. After that period they were allowed to manage their affairs, as usual, but not to touch any thing sacred, nor suffer their husbands to approach them, till the expiration of 33 days more, ver. 4. (Menochius) — Euripides blames Diana for keeping such women at a distance from her altar, while she delighted in human sacrifices. (Iphigen. v. 380.) Censorinus says, “Pręgnans ante diem quadragesimum non prodit in Fanum; & post partum pleręque graviores sunt, nec sanguinem interdum continent.” (Grotius)
Ver. 3. Eighth. Nothing but the child’s health could retard the day, (Calmet) unless the parents were under the necessity of taking a journey, as they were in the desert, &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 4. Sanctuary, or court of the tabernacle, where the women had probably a place apart. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Days. In all 80, double the time required for a male child, as they infirmities of women continue so much longer when they bear a female. (Vales. sac. Philos. c. xviii.) Hippocrates allows forty-two days for the one, and thirty for the other. — Purification. Some copies of the Septuagint read, in her pure, others, in her impure blood; which Origen attempts to reconcile by observing, that she is deemed less impure during the last thirty-three or sixty-six days, than in the preceding ones. (Calmet) — During these, she was treated almost like those who were under the greatest legal uncleanness, chap. xv.; Numbers v. Those who were under the less, might enter the court of the Gentiles, and did not infect others by their touch. (Josephus, contra Apion 2.) (Tirinus)
Ver. 6. Lamb, to thank God for her happy delivery. — Sin, or uncleanness, which was esteemed a legal offence. Perhaps this sacrifice was also designed to expiate the sins she might have fallen into, (Menochius) since she was last able to offer one; and likewise the original sin of her female offspring. That of males was effaced by circumcision. (Haydock)
Ver. 7. Blood, which has caused her legal uncleanness.
Ver. 8. Lamb. This was the case of the blessed Virgin Mary: (Luke ii. 24,); so poor was she! (Menochius) — It seems difficult to conceive, how all the women of Palestine could present themselves before the tabernacle, 40 or 80 days after the childbirth. Perhaps the law regarded those only who lived in the neighbourhood. The priests explained to the rest what they had to do, whether they might defer bringing their offspring to the next great festival, or they might send it by another hand. We read that Anna came to the temple after she had weaned Samuel, 1 Kings i. 21. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The purification of women after child-birth.
1 And the Lord spoke to Moses,* saying:
2 Speak to the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them: *If a woman having received seed shall bear a man-child, she shall be unclean seven days, according to the days of the separation of her flowers.
3 *And on the eighth day the infant shall be circumcised:
4 But she shall remain three and thirty days in the blood of her purification. She shall touch no holy thing, neither shall she enter into the sanctuary, until the days of her purification be fulfilled.
5 But if she shall bear a maid-child, she shall be unclean two weeks, according to the custom of her monthly courses, and she shall remain in the blood of her purification sixty-six days.
6 And when the days of her purification are expired, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring to the door of the tabernacle of the testimony, a lamb of a year old for a holocaust, and a young pigeon, or a turtle, for sin, and shall deliver them to the priest:
7 Who shall offer them before the Lord, and shall pray for her, and so she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that beareth a man-child or a maid-child.
8 And if her hand find not sufficiency, and she is not able to offer a lamb, she shall take two turtles, *or two young pigeons, one for a holocaust, and another for sin: and the priest shall pray for her, and so she shall be cleansed.
1: Year of the World 2514.
2: Luke ii. 22.
3: John vii. 22.
8: Leviticus v. 7. and 11.; Luke ii. 24.