Why must a new mother remain unclean longer for birthing a girl than a boy in Leviticus 12?
This question was brought up by John Cedars in his vlog, “My top 10 most immoral bible verses,” where he implies God is so against women that He made a law that requires a new mother to remain unclean longer just for birthing a girl. He calls God sexist and misogynist, and not showing equality for women.
While to the modern world this looks like a punishment to women, in Biblical times it was an acceptable mandate.
Leviticus 12:1-5, “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, speak to the sons of Israel, saying: ‘When a woman gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of her menstruation she shall be unclean. On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall remain in the blood of her purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until the days of her purification are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean for two weeks, as in her menstruation; and she shall remain in the blood of her purification for sixty-six days.’”
One possible reason for the longer unclean time is an infant girl, within the first days of life, has vaginal bleeding. This backed by Seattle Children’s Hospital, who states, “Baby girls can have vaginal bleeding at any time from 2-10 days of life. This is normal and called false menses. The cause is the sudden drop-off in the mother’s estrogen (a hormone) after birth. The blood tinged discharge can last 3 or 4 days.”
God did not institute this command because He hates females, but for the woman to be cleansed for both herself and the baby girl. We must be careful not to pick out one verse to judge God’s character, but the Bible in its entirety. There are many verses which show God’s tender, loving care for woman throughout Bible and I imagine if we knew the full reason for this mandate, we would find it was also for the good of the woman and baby girl.