Tazria – Uncleanness. Is it Always Sinful?

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As I read this week’s Torah portion, Tazria, I have found myself really pondering something.

Uncleanness.

And Sin.

This portion always brings this up for me. How can something biological Abba created in women to allow for the procreation of mankind be sinful? I’m not the first to ask this question, nor will I be the last.  But I will share my little bit of research into this topic.

tazria 4

 

This concept that a woman bringing life into the world through birth being sinful, in my very western way of thinking, does not seem very consistent with Hebrew thinking. How is it possible? I am a firm believer that translations can have a huge impact on our understanding of scripture, so the first place I search is to look at the various translations I use in eSword to see what language they use in translating Leviticus 12:6. Do they use “Sin Offering”?

(Brenton) And when the days of her purification shall have been fulfilled for a son or a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of a year old without blemish for a whole-burnt-offering, and a young pigeon or turtle-dove for a sin-offering to the door of the tabernacle of witness, to the priest.

(Bishops) And when the dayes of her purifiyng are out, whether it be for a sonne or for a daughter, she shall bryng a lambe of one yere olde for a burnt offeryng, and a young pigeon or a turtle doue for a sinne offeryng, vnto the doore of the tabernacle of the congregation, vnto the priest:

(Geneva) Nowe when the dayes of her purifying are out, (whether it be for a sonne or for a daughter) shee shal bring to the Priest a lambe of one yeere olde for a burnt offering, and a yong pigeon or a turtle doue for a sinne offring, vnto the doore of the Tabernacle of the Congregation,

(KJV-1611) And when the dayes of her purifying are fulfilled, for a sonne, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lambe of the first yeere for a burnt offring, & a yong pigeon, or a turtle doue for a sinne offering, vnto the doore of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, vnto the Priest:

(KJV) And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:

(KJV+) And when the daysH3117 of her purifyingH2892 are fulfilled,H4390 for a son,H1121 orH176 for a daughter,H1323 she shall bringH935 a lambH3532 of the firstH1121 yearH8141 for a burnt offering,H5930 and a youngH1121 pigeon,H3123 orH176 a turtledove,H8449 for a sin offering,H2403 untoH413 the doorH6607 of the tabernacleH168 of the congregation,H4150 untoH413 the priest:H3548

(KJVA) And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:

(WoY) And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:

(The Scriptures 1998+) ‘And when the days of her cleansing are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she brings to the priest a lamb a year old, as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the Tent of Meeting.

(NET) ” ‘When11 the days of her purification are completed for a son or for a daughter, she must bring a one year old lamb12 for a burnt offering13 and a young pigeon or turtledove for a sin offering14 to the entrance of the Meeting Tent, to the priest.

(ASV) And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb a year old for a burnt-offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtle-dove, for a sin-offering, unto the door of the tent of meeting, unto the priest:

(ESV) “‘And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering,

(YLT) `And in the fulness of the days of her cleansing for son or for daughter she doth bring in a lamb, a son of a year, for a burnt-offering, and a young pigeon or a turtle-dove for a sin-offering, unto the opening of the tent of meeting, unto the priest;

(LBP) And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to the priest;

Yes. Every single one of them.  And what is more puzzling, several of these are not Eastern / Roman / Greek thinking translations. So, I go look up the Hebrew word H2403 – chatta’ath. Here is what Gesenius (Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon) explained:

h2403

None of these gave me any relief from this inconsistent reading and apparent contradiction in thinking. So I read the Commentary in my translation of choice for this Torah cycle reading, The Five Books of Moses by Robert Alter. I find this commentary to be far more in sync with how I view this topic…

an offense offering. The present case is a strategic instance of why it is misleading to render the Hebrew hata’t, as almost all English Versions do, as “sin offering”. Surely the childbearing woman has done nothing that can be called a sin

I also pulled out another commentary that is quickly gaining my favor, The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament, and it essentially reads the same:

ceremonial uncleanness. Not all uncleanness was avoidable, and the cause of uncleanness was often something that would in no way be considered sinful… Cases like this make it clear that what has been called a “sin offering” is actually a purification offering. There is no sin here that needs atonement….

Now THIS makes sense. Purification. Finally after 7 years of studying, I have an understanding that harmonizes my understanding of Hebraic thinking and the language being used. And that brings me to a whole new level to ponder and study out.

If uncleanness does not always equate to sinful… where else is being “unclean” not sin… as we have been taught?  Lots to study out on that one.

There is more to discuss from this Torah portion, but I wanted to focus on this aspect because… hey, I’m a woman and a mom … so naturally this always makes me cringe when I read it.  I hope it has blessed you to see this scripture and verse from a different perspective and that it will cause you to dig into The Word and study it for yourself. Don’t take my word for any of it. Be a Berean (Acts 17:11)

Trish

 

 

 

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Show your children how to defend their faith…. by knowing and studying the Word for ourselves. Teach them diligently.

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