Articles‎ > ‎

Clean and Unclean - Uncleanness, Human, Cases of in Scripture

By Chuck Henry
chuck.henry@sbcglobal.net
http://www.halleluyahfellowship.com
rev. 5/8/2015

 

 

Table of Contents

 

Purpose

Introductory Remarks

Passages

Lev 5:2-3

Verse 2: Touching any unclean thing, specifically the carcass of an unclean thing.

Verse 3: Touching human uncleanness.

Lev 11:24-43

Verses 39-40: Touching or carrying the carcass of an unclean animal, or even of a clean animal.

Verse 40: Also includes eating of the carcass of a clean animal.

Lev 12:1-8 (entire chapter)

Childbirth

Lev 13:1-46

Leprosy

Lev 15:2-15

Bodily Discharge

Lev 15:16-17

Semen Emission

Lev 15:18

Marital Intercourse

Lev 15:19-31

Woman’s Discharge of Blood

Lev 17:15-16

Eating of a (clean) animal which died naturally or was torn by beasts.

Lev 22:1-9 (“Speak to Aaron and his sons…,” verse 2; thus, this instruction was for the Aaronic Priests.)

Various causes, see text.

Num 6:1-12 (“…When either a man or woman consecrates an offering to take the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to Yahweh,” verse 2)

Uncleanness because of a dead body

Num 19:1-10

Sacrifice of the Red Heifer

Num 19:11-13

Touching a dead body

Num 19:14-15

Coming into or being present in a tent wherein a person has died.

Num 19:16

Whoever in the open field touches one who is slain by a sword or who has died, or a bone of a man, or a grave … .

Num 19:21

Sprinkling or touching (?) the water of purification

Num 19:22

Touching what the unclean person touched.

Num 31:1-24 (When vengeance was taken on the Midianites, including Balaam)

“… Whoever has killed any person, and whoever has touched any slain …” (v 19)

Deu 23:9-11

Nocturnal Emission

 

 

 

Examine regulations in Scripture regarding cases of human uncleanness, including:

 

  • the causes

 

  • the action required

 

  • other possible specifics relating to each circumstance

 

 

 

In some cases of uncleanness, no sin offering is specified; in other cases, it is. On the surface, it would seem that if a sin offering was required, this would be an indicator that some type of sin was involved. However, in my opinion after examining the cases, becoming unclean in and of itself does not constitute sin. A case in point is childbearing (Lev 12:1-8), the cleansing process for which requires a sin sacrifice. Does giving birth to a child constitute sin? I believe the answer to this is obvious, and it is “No, it is not a sin to give birth to a child.”

 

Then, why was a sin sacrifice required in this, and some other cases of uncleanness? One reason might be to remind the person being cleansed of his constant need for redemption because of his human condition. Another reason might be that, at some point, sin became involved due to defilement of the tabernacle or the camp.

 

A key issue relative to cases of uncleanness was that Yahweh’s tabernacle (and later, the Temple) was not to be defiled—

 

Lev 15:31

Thus you shall separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness when they defile My tabernacle that is among them.

 

Further evidence that defiling the tabernacle constitutes sin is found in Numbers 19:13, 20, where it describes the ashes of the red heifer used in the water of purification for the cleansing of the individual who touches a man’s bone, the slain, the dead, or a grave, or who has been in a tent wherein a person died. —

 

Num 19:13, 20

13 Whoever touches the body of anyone who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of Yahweh. That person shall be cut off from Israel. He shall be unclean, because the water of purification was not sprinkled on him; his uncleanness is still on him.

20 But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of Yahweh. The water of purification has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean.

 

Also lending support is the case of uncleanness after childbearing (Leviticus 12). The later part of verse 4 emphasizes the sanctity of the tabernacle by stating—

 

Lev 12:4b.

…She shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary until the days of her purification are fulfilled.

 

Still further evidence is from Leviticus 16:16-19, which describes a special atoning process related to the tabernacle once per year, on the Day of Atonement, “because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel” —

 

Lev 16:16-19

16 So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness.

17 There shall be no man in the tabernacle of meeting when he goes in to make atonement in the Holy Place, until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself, for his household, and for all the assembly of Israel.

18 And he shall go out to the altar that is before Yahweh, and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around.

19 Then he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, cleanse it, and consecrate it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.

 

Numbers 5:1-4 also speaks of cases which could “defile their camps in the midst of which I dwell”—

 

Num 5:1-4

1 And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying:

2 Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper, everyone who has a discharge, and whoever becomes defiled by a corpse.

3 You shall put out both male and female; you shall put them outside the camp, that they may not defile their camps in the midst of which I dwell.

4 And the children of Israel did so, and put them outside the camp; as Yahweh spoke to Moses, so the children of Israel did.

 

This is not to say that defiling the tabernacle or the camp was necessarily the only factor involving cases of uncleanness. For example, marital intercourse during the time of a woman’s monthly flow is prohibited in Scripture. This is considered a time of “uncleanness” (KJV) or “impurity” (NKJV) – Lev 18:19; also see Lev 20:18.

 

Nevertheless, since the tabernacle or temple is no longer in our midst, there is no tabernacle or temple to defile at this time. Also, we are not encamped around the tabernacle as were the ancient Israelites. Even so, it is wise to practice the principle of quarantine to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. For example, don’t attend a Sabbath meeting if you have the flu.

 

 

 

Passage

Lev 5:2-3

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Verse 2: Touching any unclean thing, specifically the carcass of an unclean thing.

Verse 3: Touching human uncleanness.

 

Action Required

Trespass and sin offering (vv 6-13).

 

In considering the context, the person is unaware that he or she became unclean:

 

  • Verse 3: “…he is unaware of it; when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty.”

 

  • Verse 4 may also apply (although, the first part of v 4 mentions speaking thoughtless oath): “…he is unaware of it; when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters.”

 

Verse 5 states: “And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing.” Please see the following comments regarding the sin element.

 

Because they are unaware that they became unclean, it follows that they would not realize it necessary to go through the proper cleansing and would thus defile the camp. This may be what constituted the sin. Had the person realized that he had become unclean, he could have taken the proper steps to remedy it and possibly could have avoided the sin.

 

It is also interesting to consider Leviticus 11:24-43, which also deals with touching the carcass of an unclean animal [or even of a clean animal (v 39)], and it does not there indicate that sin is involved.

 

 

 

Passage

Lev 11:24-43

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Verses 39-40: Touching or carrying the carcass of an unclean animal, or even of a clean animal.

Verse 40: Also includes eating of the carcass of a clean animal.

 

Action Required

Wash clothes and be unclean until evening (vv 24-25, 27-28, 31, 39-40). Possible exception to washing clothes for touching the carcass of a clean animal – in v 39, it states only being unclean until even with no mention of washing clothes. Bathing may have also been required in the case of eating of the carcass of a clean animal (Lev 17:15-16).

 

 

 

Passage

Lev 12:1-8 (entire chapter)

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Bloodflow associated with childbirth

  • Verse 4: “… the blood of her purification …”
  • Verse 7: “… And she shall be clean from the flow of her blood …”)

 

Action Required

“…A lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering…” was to be brought to the priest to make atonement for her, and she would become clean from the flow of her blood (vv 6-8). “And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons — one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering” (v 8).

 

Verse 4 emphasizes the sanctity of the tabernacle by stating, “…She shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary until the days of her purification are fulfilled.”

 

Although a sin offering was required, it should be understood that the act of giving birth is not a sin.

 

Here are possible reasons for why a sin offering was required:

 

  • When the days of her purification were fulfilled, she was to bring an offering to the door of the tabernacle of meeting for her cleansing (vv 6-8). It therefore seems that she would still be in an unclean state when approaching the tabernacle to perform the necessary steps for her cleansing; thus the sin offering would be required.

 

  • Because it was commanded that she be separated from the tabernacle of meeting for an extended period of time (apparently 41 days total in the event of giving birth to a boy and 80 days total in the event of giving birth to a girl), the sin offering might be to atone for any sin she may have committed during the time of her separation.

 

In addition to the fact that giving birth to a child is not a sin, it should also be understood that the act of conceiving a child within the marital bond, although causing a ceremonial uncleanness, is not classified as sin (see Lev 15:18 and Heb 13:4)—

 

Lev 15:18

Also, when a woman lies with a man, and there is an emission of semen, they shall bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.

 

Heb 13:4

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers Yahweh will judge.

 

Although Leviticus 15:18 addresses uncleanness involved with marital relations, Hebrews 13:4 says that the marriage bed is “undefiled.” The difference is that Leviticus 15:18 addresses ceremonial uncleanness, while Hebrews 13:4 addresses morality. Hebrews 13:4 makes this clear by mentioning the moral purity of the marriage bed in the first part of the verse (“honorable,” “undefiled”) and then contrasts the immoral acts of fornication and adultery in the latter part of the verse.

 

 

 

Passage

Lev 13:1-46

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Leprosy

 

Action Required

Dwell outside the camp (also see Num 5:1-4), cry “unclean,” etc (see vv 45-46). Washing of clothes is mentioned in vv 6 and 34 and evidently applies to the cleansing of each and every case of leprosy, as verified by Lev 14:8-9.

 

Further information is given in Lev 14:1-32, regarding the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing. An entire process is described, not all of which will be cited herein.

 

Lev 14:1-20 describes, among other things, 2 male lambs being brought. From the context which follows this verse, evidently one was for a trespass offering (v 12), and the other for a sin offering (v 19). An exception was made for the poor who cannot afford the usual cleansing (Lev 14:21-32).

 

Verse 18 states, “…the priest shall make atonement for him before Yahweh.”

 

 

 

Passage

Lev 15:2-15

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Bodily Discharge

 

Action Required

Wash clothes and bathe (v 13).

 

Sin offering and burnt offering (vv 14-15).

 

Numbers 5:1-4 adds the stipulation that everyone who had a discharge was to dwell outside the camp—

 

Num 5:1-4

1 And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying:

2 Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper, everyone who has a discharge, and whoever becomes defiled by a corpse.

3 You shall put out both male and female; you shall put them outside the camp, that they may not defile their camps in the midst of which I dwell.

4 And the children of Israel did so, and put them outside the camp; as Yahweh spoke to Moses, so the children of Israel did.

 

 

 

Passage

Lev 15:16-17

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Semen Emission

 

Action Required

Bathe and be unclean until evening.

 

Also wash any garment or leather on which there is semen and it remains unclean until evening.

 

 

 

Passage

Lev 15:18

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Marital Intercourse

 

Action Required

“…they shall bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.”

 

What is described here is a ceremonial, physical uncleanness, not a moral one. That is, it is not immoral to have sex within the context of marriage (Heb 13:4), even though there is a ceremonial uncleanness associated with it, which would cause the couple not to be able to approach the tabernacle or temple.

 

 

 

Passage

Lev 15:19-31

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Woman’s Discharge of Blood

 

Action Required

Be separate 7 days for customary impurity (i.e., the normal monthly cycle). Additional time required for non-customary circumstances (v 25).

 

Sin offering and burnt offering was possibly required for either case, customary or non-customary flow (v 30).

 

The separateness was possibly speaking within the context of making sure that the woman did not approach the tabernacle or temple during this time, not that she couldn’t have contact with their family (consider, for example, nursing children). However, whoever touches the woman during this time also becomes unclean (v 19). In turn, this would mean that the person who touched her could not approach the tabernacle because of uncleanness.

 

Requirements are also stipulated regarding sexual relations. Sexual relations, as it is mentioned here, would evidently be unintentional, not realizing that a tiny amount of blood flow was present until after the fact, because intentionally having sex during this time is expressly prohibited (Lev 18:19; 20:18).

 

In verse 31, we find a very interesting statement made regarding uncleanness—

 

Lev 15:31

Thus you shall separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness when they defile My tabernacle that is among them.

 

This verse may be very telling in that it is possibly conveying to us that any sin involved in cases of uncleanness is related to defiling the tabernacle that was among them. See the Introductory Remarks of this study for further information having to do with defiling the tabernacle of Yahweh.

 

 

 

Passage

Lev 17:15-16

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Eating of a (clean) animal which died naturally or was torn by beasts.

 

This is speaking of animals which may be eaten (cp Lev 11:39-40). Of animals which were forbidden to eat, we are not to partake, even if they are freshly butchered! Therefore, it is obvious that they are also forbidden if they have died naturally or have been torn by beasts.

 

Action Required

Wash clothes, bathe, and be unclean until evening.

 

 

 

Passage

Lev 22:1-9 (“Speak to Aaron and his sons…,” verse 2; thus, this instruction was for the Aaronic Priests.)

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Various causes, see text.

 

Action Required

Unclean until evening, and shall not eat the holy offerings (v 6). Bathe and be unclean until sunset (vv 6-7).

 

But, if they did go near the holy things while they had their uncleanness upon them, the penalty was that they were to be cut off—

 

Lev 22:3

Say to them: Whoever of all your descendants throughout your generations, who goes near the holy things which the children of Israel dedicate to Yahweh, while he has uncleanness upon him, that person shall be cut off from My presence: I am Yahweh.

 

Compare Jam 3:1

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.

 

 

 

Passage

Num 6:1-12 (“…When either a man or woman consecrates an offering to take the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to Yahweh,” verse 2)

 

Num 6:7

He shall not make himself unclean even for his father or his mother, for his brother or his sister, when they die, because his separation to Elohim is on his head.

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Uncleanness because of a dead body

 

Action Required

Shave head (v 9).

 

Sin offering and burnt offering (v 10-11). Possibly what constituted the sin was the breach of the Nazirite vow.

 

Trespass offering (v 12).

 

Must reset the count of days of separation: “…The former days shall be lost, because his separation was defiled” (v 12).

 

 

 

Passage

Num 19:1-10

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Sacrifice of the Red Heifer

 

Action Required

 

Num 19:7-8, 10

7 Then the priest shall wash his clothes, he shall bathe in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp; the priest shall be unclean until evening.

8 And the one who burns it shall wash his clothes in water, bathe in water, and shall be unclean until evening.

10 And the one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until evening. It shall be a statute forever to the children of Israel and to the stranger who dwells among them.

 

 

 

Passage

Num 19:11-13

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Touching a dead body

 

Action Required

Unclean 7 days (v 11).

 

Purification through the use of the ashes of the red heifer in the water of purification on the 3rd and 7th days (v 12).

 

Verses 17-19 also possibly apply here—

 

Num 19:17-19

17 And for an unclean person they shall take some of the ashes of the heifer burnt for purification from sin, and running water shall be put on them in a vessel.

18 A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, sprinkle it on the tent, on all the vessels, on the persons who were there, or on the one who touched a bone, the slain, the dead, or a grave.

19 The clean person shall sprinkle the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, wash his clothes, and bathe in water; and at evening he shall be clean.

 

Notice especially verse 13 —

 

Num 19:13

Whoever touches the body of anyone who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of Yahweh. That person shall be cut off from Israel. He shall be unclean, because the water of purification was not sprinkled on him; his uncleanness is still on him.

 

 

 

Passage

Num 19:14-15

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Coming into or being present in a tent wherein a person has died.

 

Action Required

Unclean 7 days (v14).

 

See verses 17-19 for additional instructions—

 

Num 19:17-19

17 And for an unclean person they shall take some of the ashes of the heifer burnt for purification from sin, and running water shall be put on them in a vessel.

18 A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, sprinkle it on the tent, on all the vessels, on the persons who were there, or on the one who touched a bone, the slain, the dead, or a grave.

19 The clean person shall sprinkle the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, wash his clothes, and bathe in water; and at evening he shall be clean.

 

Notice especially verse 20 —

 

Num 19:20

But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of Yahweh. The water of purification has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean.

 

 

 

Passage

Num 19:16

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Num 19:16

Whoever in the open field touches one who is slain by a sword or who has died, or a bone of a man, or a grave … .

 

Action Required

Unclean 7 days (v 16).

 

See verses 17-19 for additional instructions—

 

Num 19:17-19

17 And for an unclean person they shall take some of the ashes of the heifer burnt for purification from sin, and running water shall be put on them in a vessel.

18 A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, sprinkle it on the tent, on all the vessels, on the persons who were there, or on the one who touched a bone, the slain, the dead, or a grave.

19 The clean person shall sprinkle the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, wash his clothes, and bathe in water; and at evening he shall be clean.

 

Notice especially verse 20 —

 

Num 19:20

But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of Yahweh. The water of purification has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean.

 

 

 

Passage

Num 19:21

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Sprinkling or touching (?) the water of purification

 

Action Required

Wash clothes and be unclean until evening.

 

 

 

Passage

Num 19:22

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Touching what the unclean person touched.

 

Action Required

Unclean until evening.

 

 

 

Passage

Num 31:1-24 (When vengeance was taken on the Midianites, including Balaam)

 

Cause of Uncleanness

“… Whoever has killed any person, and whoever has touched any slain …” (v 19)

 

Action Required

 

Num 31:19, 24

19 And as for you, remain outside the camp seven days; whoever has killed any person, and whoever has touched any slain, purify yourselves and your captives on the third day and on the seventh day.

24 And you shall wash your clothes on the seventh day and be clean, and afterward you may come into the camp.

 

Also see information on Numbers 19:16 mentioned previously in this study.

 

 

 

Passage

Deu 23:9-11

 

Cause of Uncleanness

Nocturnal Emission

 

Action Required

Go outside the camp (the context is within a military camp), wash with water in the evening, may return to the camp at sunset.

 

As noted above, the context here is within a military camp. See Leviticus 15:16-17, noted previously in this study, for the civilian regulation addressing this issue, which did not require dwelling outside your home.

 

Why would the soldier in such a situation be required to dwell outside of the military camp? The answer may be that it was because Yahweh dwelt among the military camp in a special way and His priest was also present—

 

Deu 20:1-4

1 When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for Yahweh your Mighty One is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.

2 So it shall be, when you are on the verge of battle, that the priest shall approach and speak to the people.

3 And he shall say to them, Hear, O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them;

4 for Yahweh your Mighty One is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

 

&

Comments