First of all, I am not going to tell you how to observe this or any other law — that’s your business. My entire purpose is to address what is and is not written, because frankly there are a lot of misconceptions out there. A whole lot of folks get upset because of what they think is written in Leviticus 15. And right now we are only taking about a normal menstruation cycle here, and not the issue of abnormal bleeding, which is entirely different, and points to a serious medical condition.
19 And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even.
20 And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean.
21 And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
22 And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
23 And if it be on her bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth, when he toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the even.
24 And if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean.
First misconception — uncleanness is a sin. Where does it say this? Nowhere. Uncleanness is acondition that must be remedied before one goes to the Tabernacle/Temple. I will give the verse telling why a bit later. YHVH did not create us to be sinful without any hope. If uncleanness were a sin, then any woman with a sexually overactive husband would be ritually unclean every day of her life, and therefore in sin! No, uncleanness was simply something that had to be dealt with, and the remedy was simple — bathe and wait until evening and then one was able to go to the Temple. No biggie. Seriously, this wasn’t a big deal.
Second misconception – touching someone unclean, or being touched by them, is a sin. Oh I know people like to use this verse entirely out of context, from II Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” But the entire context of that was idolatry, not natural body functions! Yeshua touched unclean lepers so there could be no question of sinfulness. Nowhere are we forbidden to touch the unclean.
Third misconception — women have to live separately during their periods. Some folks really get upset about this one, but what does “put apart” mean? “Put apart” in the KJV is literally the word “niddah” and it means separation or set apartness related to uncleanness. In other words, the menstrual woman had a special status — she was not the same as she was the rest of the month. Sexually she was untouchable (Lev 18:19), and so in essence she was separated. Was there a commandment for her to live elsewhere? No. Was there a commandment not to touch her? No. What there was, was a specific commandment of what to do if you did touch her or the things she laid or sat on during her period. It is a set apart time, a different time, a time to be aware.
Fourth misconception — the couch she sits on and her bed need to be cleaned. I’ve had this one thrown in my face, “Oh yeah, do you wash the couches? He he.” They say this because some versions of the Bible have a different rendering of Mark 7:4 than we see in the KJV “And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.” Instead of table, the word couch is used, which it indeed can mean. But as we see here, Yeshua is clearly referring the Oral Torah commandments surrounding the preparation and eating of food and not actual Torah commandments. As you see from above, no, there is no commandment to steam clean the bed and couches.
Fifth misconception — men and women are only at risk of being unclean during niddah.
16 And if any man’s seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even.
17 And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the seed of copulation, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the even.
18 The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the even.
That’s right, normal everyday sex makes you unclean as well, with the exact same remedy! God would not command us to be fruitful and multiply if it were His desire for us to be ritually clean 24/7. Ritual uncleanness is never a problem EXCEPT for special circumstances — like going up to the Temple for the feasts or sacrifices or to serve, or when one is about to do battle in the Name of YHVH, as we see in Joshua.
Niddah is about awareness, not about shunning. Niddah teaches us when to and not to come into the Temple, and what steps have to be taken in order to be clean again. Sin would be going up to the Temple in an unclean state, and because everyone knew what it took to make one unclean, this was easily avoided. Here is the specific verse that sums it all up.
31 Thus shall ye separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness; that they die not in their uncleanness, when they defile my tabernacle that is among them.
There you have it — don’t go to the Temple unclean! As for the bathing, who doesn’t want to bathe? Uncleanness boils down to one simple thing, a temporary disqualification from going to the Temple.
And we must remember that especially during ancient times (as well as today) not having blood properly taken care of was dangerous to everyone. See — another health law! Frankly, in ancient times one’s menstruation would have been quite an ordeal, I am so glad we are alive now when it is much easier!
Almost all of the misconceptions about this law are related to what people hear about how the Orthodox Jews do things, separation for 14 days, separate beds, etc. but once again, read what the Bible does and does not say, and the truth shall set you free. Keeping this law according to the Talmud can be extremely demoralizing for women who were not raised this way, making a difficult time of the month far worse than it has to be, especially when one does not possess their mindsets and cultural attitudes about it.
Excerpt from The Bridge: Crossing Over Into the Fullness of Covenant Life by Tyler Dawn Rosenquist
Tyler Dawn Rosenquist is a stay at home homeschooling mom to her teenage sons Matthew and Andrew, and a wife of 23 years to Mark. She is the author of The Bridge: Crossing over Into the Fullness of Covenant Life and writes about the character of God and believers on her blog, www.theancientbridge.com.