Leviticus 12 is solely about the rules regarding a woman’s uncleanliness after giving birth. This doesn’t mean she’s sinned. That’s not what that means. It means that the blood spilled in childbirth has set her apart for a time.
Elsewhere in the Old Testament we’ll read that when a woman has her monthly period, anything she sits on or lies on is unclean. Then, anyone who sits or lies down in those same places would become unclean. In order to accommodate that, it is assumed there was a place for women to go when they were unclean, to be set apart. That way they weren’t making their whole families unclean.
Every month, they would get this week off. Think of Rachel in her tent sitting down to hide the idols from Jacob. She said she couldn’t stand because she had her period. I adore these rules as just one of the ways God cares for women. This isn’t a punishment. It’s a gift.
Have you ever heard the expression, “A woman’s work is never done?” Well, it’s not. These planned times of rest are a forced rest, in a way. It reminds me of the famous phrase from the 23rd Psalm. “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” He makes me rest. It’s a forced rest, not a suggested activity. He knows the need for rest. He calls us all to rest and stillness. Sometimes He helps us there.
I have lived in the Middle East. I have lived in cultures where the young wife is basically the servant of the house. I have seen a young mother, who had given birth to twins not two weeks before, down on her hands and knees scrubbing the floor at her mother-in-law’s command.
She needed a law of rest. They all needed a law of rest. I can just picture some of these friends of mine sitting in the place of women, and their mothers-in-law needing to come and bring them food and water, and the role reversal makes me smile because I’ve seen what their lives are like.
When a male is born, a woman gets 40 days of rest. That would be the typical amount of time for things to recover completely to normal. The Lord gave it to them. When a girl is born, a woman gets 80 days, double. I consider this a special time. We all know a male child will be more celebrated in these ancient cultures. They are heirs.
I see this extra time as a chance for an extra bond to grow between mother and daughter. I can even see it as more time to spend together to make sure the child gets attention and affection.
God is a big God. He can accomplish innumerable things at once. These laws are not just about do this and not that. They were created for the good of His people because He loves them.