Sermon on the Mount, The Emmaus View

Appendix O: Summary of ritual cleansing procedures (Version 1.3)

The phases of ritual cleansing, cautionary, cataclysmic, and confirmatory, are introduced in Chapter 25.

Cautionary phase activities

Source of uncleanliness

Separate    

Determine gone

Eat an unclean animal (Lev 11:1-31)1

Destroyed by eating (cf. Matt 15:11)


An earthen vessel or oven contaminated by an animal carcass (Lev 11:33)

Smash the pot


A personal discharge (Lev 15:13-15)

Excluded from the camp (Num 5:2)

Wait seven days from cessation

Menstruation (Lev 15:19-30)

Excluded from the camp (Num 5:2)

Wait seven days (traditionally from end*)

Childbirth (Lev 12:1-8)

Excluded from sanctuary and touching consecrated things.

As menstruation, 7 days for a male child, 14 for a female.

Tsara`ath in a person (Lev 14:1-32).

Excluded from the camp (Num 5:2)

Check gone, wait at least seven days outside their tent.

Tsara`ath in a house (Lev 14:33-57)

Empty the house (Lev 14:36)

Wait seven days and check gone

Contact with death (Num 19:11-19)

Excluded from the camp (Num 5:2)

Wait seven days

Nazirite after contact with death (Num 6:9-12)

Excluded from the camp (Num 5:2)

Wait seven days (implied by Num 19:17-19 and Shave on seventh day)

* Rabbinic tradition for niddah (menstruation) required the counting of seven days from the cessation of the flow and then a ritual bath2. It was also traditional to treat the first seven days following childbirth in the same way3. The Babylonian Talmud, dating from about the Fifth Century C.E., assumes this practice (Niddah, Folio 35b).

Cataclysmic phase activities

Tsara`ath leprosy in a person or house (Lev 14:1-57) required sprinkling seven times. Similarly, after contact with death a house, its vessels and those present were all sprinkled (Num 19:11-19). Any people who touch the body, typically relatives who buried the corpse, were sprinkling on the third day, allowing time for death to be confirmed4. They then remained unclean until the seventh day (Num 19:12). The same rules applied to those encountering a death or touching a bone.

Washing and waiting until evening was near ubiquitous as shown below, the only clear exception being for Tsara`ath in a house, where immersion was impractical.

Type

Wash

Wait till evening

Touch carcass of an unclean animal (Lev 11:24-25)

Wash clothes

Unclean till evening

Touched by carcass of an unclean animal that dies (Lev 11:32)

Put in water

Wait till evening

Touch carcass of a clean animal that dies (Lev 11:39)

Washing implied by adjacent procedures

Wait till evening

Eat an animal kept for food that dies (Lev 11:40)

Wash clothes

Wait till evening

Pick up an animal kept for food that dies (Lev 11:40)

Wash clothes

Wait till evening

Lay or sit on object touched by one with any discharge or woman with discharge of blood (Lev 15:5-6 man, 21-22 woman)

Wash clothes, bathe

Unclean till evening

Contact with a man with any discharge (Lev 15:7)

Wash clothes, bathe

Unclean till evening

Spat on by man who has a discharge (Lev 15:8)

Wash clothes, bathe

Unclean till evening

Touched by someone with a discharge (Lev 15:11)

Wash

Wait till evening

Contact with things under a man with any discharge (Lev 15:10, Lev 15:5-6)

Wash clothes, bathe

Unclean till evening

Seminal emission (Lev 15:16)

Wash

Unclean till evening

Garment on which semen falls (Lev 15:17)

Wash

Wait till evening

Man lies with a women & seminal emission (Lev 15:18)

Wash

Wait till evening

Everyone involved in the procedure of the Red heifer (Num 19:10)

Wash

Wait till evening

Nocturnal emission of semen (Deut 23:10)

Wash

Wait till evening

Cleansing of a personal discharge (Lev 15:13-15)

Wash


Menstruation (Lev 15:19-30). Compare the analogous procedures for men (Lev 15:13-33)

Traditional to wash5 *

Wait till evening

Childbirth (Lev 12:1-8)

Traditional to wash

Implied same as menstruation (Lev 12:2)

Tsara`ath in cloth (Lev 13:47-59)

Wash

Quarantine*, destroy if recurs

Tsara`ath in a person (Lev 13:1-46, 14:1-32, N.B. Lev 13:6, 14:8 are taken to be additive.

Shave, wash, wash clothes

If unsure, quarantine*

Tsara`ath in a house (Lev 14:33-57)

Destroy affected part

Quarantine*, destroy if recurs

Contact with death (Num 19:11-19)

Wash

Wait till evening

Nazirite after contact with death (Num 6:9-12) - read with procedure for cleansing from death (Num 19:17-19).

Shave head, wash (inferred)

Wait till evening (inferred)

* Quarantine was for seven days (cf. Gen 8:11).

Confirmatory Phase activities

Type

Offerings and delays

A discharge (Lev 15:13-15)

On eighth day offer two birds one burnt and one sin.

Menstruation (Lev 15:19-30)

On the eighth day offer two birds one burnt and sin6.

Childbirth (Lev 12:1-8)

Circumcision on eighth day. After 33 days for male, 66 for a female, offer a lamb plus bird, or two birds.

Tsara`ath in a person (Lev 13:1-46, 14:1-32)

On eighth day a guilt offering (equivalent to the ordination lamb, see Appendix N) then two lambs or birds, one for burnt and one for sin. Outside tent seven days7.

Nazirite after contact with death (Num 6:9-12)

On the eighth day offer a Lamb as a guilt offering and two birds one for burnt one for sin.

After contact with death (Num 19:17-19).

Nothing mentioned, a guilt offering may be inferred from the use of one for a Nazirite after contact with death.

A guilt offering was also used when a person was rendered unclean by contact, but failed to recognise what had happened until later (Lev 5:2-3). This retrospective offering was presumably necessary because the need to follow the proper procedure of washing was hidden from everyone until evening had passed, by which time it was too late to comply.

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1 There is no specific procedure given. However, given the presence of eating unclean food amongst the other cleanliness procedures I have taken the view that the activity brought its own cleansing.

2 Susan Grossman. "Mikveh and the Sanctity of Being Created Human," (Paper presented to the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, 13 Sep 2006), 1-25. Cited 18 Mar 2009. Online:http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/docs/Grossman-Niddah.pdf.

3 “Mikvah,” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Cited: 11 Jun. 2008, Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/382051/mikvah.

4 I assume only one sprinkling. The second ‘and on the seventh day’ at Numbers 19:19 resembles a copyist’s duplication that refers to the being clean rather than a second sprinkling. I therefore read Numbers 19:12 along the lines - if they are not sprinkled on the third day then on the seventh they are not clean (as in the KJV).

5 See footnote for Niddah on previous table.

6 Lev 15:24-28 is an interjection to deal with a special case.

7 The comment on staying outside their tent (Lev 14:8) is intended to remind the reader that the first priestly ordination had involved such a wait (Lev 8:33), for it happened over seven days.