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Verses 1-33

4. Uncleanness due to bodily discharges associated with reproduction ch. 15

This chapter concludes the regulations on uncleanness (chs. 11-15).

"The uncleanness laws start with uncleanness that is permanent: that associated with various animals and food (ch. 11). Then they deal with the uncleanness of childbirth, which may last up to eighty days (ch. 12). Chs. 13 and 14 deal with uncleanness of indefinite duration; it all depends how long the serious skin disease persists. Finally, ch. 15 deals with discharges associated with reproduction, pollutions which usually only affect a person for up to a week. Whatever the explanation of the order of the material within chs. 11-15, these laws illuminate the day of atonement rituals, which are designed to cleanse the tabernacle ’of the uncleannesses of the Israelites’ (Leviticus 16:16). Without these chapters we should be at a loss to know what was the purpose of the ceremonies described in ch. 16." [Note: Ibid., p. 216.]

Moses described four cases of secretions from the reproduction organs that resulted in ritual uncleanness in this chapter. Two of these cases arose from disease and two from natural causes. The chapter opens with an introductory statement (Leviticus 15:1) and closes with a summary (Leviticus 15:32-33), which we have come to recognize as typical in this part of Leviticus. In the four central sections, there is a definition of the type of pollution, a description of its consequences, and an explanation of the appropriate rite of purification. The rite usually involved simply washing and waiting until evening.

The first two cases concern continuing and occasional emissions of the male. Moses followed these with the last two cases that reverse this order and deal with the female. The writer apparently used this chiastic literary structure to reflect the unity of humankind in two sexes. Leviticus 15:18, the center of the chiasm, mentions sexual intercourse, the most profound expression of the unity and interdependence of the sexes.

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