Parashah 27: Tazria (She conceives)
Leviticus 12:1 through 13:59
Parashah 27: Tazria (She conceives) Leviticus 12:1 through 13:59.
Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): 2 Kings 4:42 through 5:19.
B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): Matthew 8:1-4; 11:2-6; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 2:22-24; 5:12-16; 7:18-23.
Tanach Scriptures are from Stern's Complete Jewish Bible; B'rit Chadash Scriptures from the AENT.
Welcome "newbies" and "oldies!" As you all know, Torah was written by Moshe (Moses) and consists of the first five Books of the Bible which contain God's original Divine Instructions in Righteousness. Since this is a Netzarim (Nazarene/Messianic) website, we refer to God by His proper Name: Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, transliterated into English as YHWH, and most likely pronounced "Yah-way" (see Exodus 3:13-15). His Son's Name is Y'shua (most likely pronounced "Ye-shoo-ah"). Enjoy this week's Torah portion!
Today's short parashah reading at first glance seems to be a "turn-off" because it discusses subjects such as menstrual cycles, seminal discharges and disease. Upon closer inspection, however, the discerning could easily recognize that the underlying message was obedience to YHWH's commands and the need to return to holiness once a crisis was over.
Beginning with the first topic at hand: Women giving birth.
Leviticus 12: 1 ADONAI said to Moshe, 2 "Tell the people of Isra'el: 'If a woman conceives and gives birth to a boy, she will be unclean for seven days with the same uncleanness as in niddah, when she is having her menstrual period. 3 On the eighth day, the baby's foreskin is to be circumcised. 4 She is to wait an additional thirty-three days to be purified from her blood; she is not to touch any holy thing or come into the sanctuary until the time of her purification is over. 5 But if she gives birth to a girl, she will be unclean for two weeks, as in her niddah; and she is to wait another sixty-six days to be purified from her blood.
6 "'When the days of her purification are over, whether for a son or for a daughter, she is to bring a lamb in its first year for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or dove for a sin offering to the entrance of the tent of meeting, to the cohen. 7 He will offer it before ADONAI and make atonement for her; thus she will be purified from her discharge of blood. Such is the law for a woman who gives birth, whether to a boy or to a girl. 8 If she can't afford a lamb, she is to take two doves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; the cohen will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.'"
Notice that YHWH makes a clear distinction between girls and boys! He has done this since the beginning when we are told that Adam was created first and then Eve was taken from one of his ribs. In today's society we like to tout "equality" and "same-ness" etc., but the bottom line is: According to YHWH there IS a marked difference with each gender having specific roles, and this difference is further defined by the fact that when a woman gives birth to a female, her time of "uncleanness" is literally doubled.
If you are wondering why the length of purification was so different between boys and girls, the answer is: It is unclear, and even the rabbis disagree. However, it seems to be in the Hebrew word "tum'ah" which in English is "unclean". The Hebrew word, of course, means more than the English word represents. "Tum'ah" has to do with purity and impurity, and carries with it a defined period to become pure again.
The difference in the number of days for purification after childbirth for a boy or a girl seems to be in that since the mother has a unique bond with her child, for a boy (since the boy's role in the family is to become a man), the purification period for the mother is only 40 days. But for a girl, since her role is more her mother's responsibility, and after all, the baby is a girl who will be capable of creating another life, the time of purification is doubled to give the mother time to to once again, wholeheartedly submit her total thoughts back to YHWH.
Note that the sacrifice the mother brings for her child is the same for a boy or girl (Leviticus 12:6), but that the mother is not permitted to bring the sacrifice at the end of the whole period - 40 days for the boy, 80 days for the girl. This seems to line up with the deeper meaning of "tum'ah".
We need to remember that being in a state of "uncleanness" was not the same as sin. It was simply the state of being "dirty" and having to take steps to become cleansed from that dirt, both physically and spiritually....
A woman who gave birth in Biblical times was considered "unclean" - a thing for which, in the end, she had to make atonement. This seems to go a lot deeper than just being "unclean" from the blood and the "afterbirth" etc.: It's the idea that the act of sex and the resulting pregnancy temporarily took her attention away from YHWH, and in order to begin the process of returning into His Presence once more, she had to offer certain sacrifices.
If you think about it, this still holds true today. Who thinks about God when they're having sex? Sex is a totally selfish, self-absorbing activity. The difference today is that (1) we have hot and cold running water and detergents with which to cleanse our bodies. And (2) today, there is no Temple where one can offer sacrifices...
Note something that sounds very strange: If a woman conceives and gives birth to a boy, she will be unclean for seven days with the same uncleanness as in niddah, when she is having her menstrual period. She then is to wait an additional thirty-three days to be purified from her blood. Wonder why those particular number of days? In themselves, 33 doesn't have much meaning. But count up the total time and you get what? - 33 plus 7 is 40! Forty is YHWH’s time of teaching...as in "40 years in the desert".... But if she gives birth to a girl, she will be unclean for two weeks, as in her niddah; and she is to wait another sixty-six days to be purified from her blood. 66 plus 14 = 80. 80 is twice 40! Everything YHWH does is mathematical and filled with "deeper" meaning!
As we get further into the parashah, we see YHWH handing down instructions to Moshe and Aharon concerning the handling of various diseases; specifically, leprosy which is caused by a certain bacteria and which before the advent of modern medicine, was extremely contagious. Back then, people lived a more closely together "in clusters" than we do today where everyone has their own house or apartment. If someone became sick, they were forced to "live outside the camp" until they were well, or died.
This particular Torah parshah is ostensibly about skin diseases - more specifically: tzara'at (leoprosy), which was common in Biblical times. As we read through the portion, however, it becomes clear that, though outwardly, tzara'at would seem to be a mysterious skin disease, inwardly, it reveals something about the human condition, from God's point of view.
Leviticus 13: 1 ADONAI said to Moshe and Aharon, 2 "If someone develops on his skin a swelling, scab or bright spot which could develop into the disease tzara'at, he is to be brought to Aharon the cohen or to one of his sons who are cohanim. 3 The cohen is to examine the sore on his skin; if the hair in the sore has turned white, and the sore appears to go deep into the skin, it is tzara'at, and after examining him the cohen is to declare him unclean. 4 If the bright spot on his skin is white, but it does not appear to go deep into the skin, and its hair has not turned white, then the cohen is to isolate him for seven days.
5 On the seventh day the cohen is to examine him again, and if the sore appears the same as before and has not spread on the skin, then the cohen is to isolate him for seven more days....
Leviticus 13: 9 "If a person has tzara'at, he is to be brought to the cohen. 10 The cohen is to examine him, and if he sees that there is a white swelling in the skin which has turned the hair white and inflamed flesh in the swelling, 11 then it is chronic tzara'at on his skin, and the cohen is to declare him unclean; he is not to isolate him, because it is already clear that he is unclean. 12 If the tzara'at breaks out all over the skin, so that, as far as the cohen can see, the person with tzara'at has sores everywhere on his body, from his head to his feet; 13 then the cohen is to examine him, and if he sees that the tzara'at has covered his entire body, he is to pronounce the person with the sores clean -it has all turned white, and he is clean.
Leviticus 13: 18 "If a person has on his skin a boil that heals 19 in such a way that in place of the boil there is a white swelling or a reddish-white bright spot, it is to be shown to the cohen. 20 The cohen is to examine it; if he sees that it appears to be more than skin-deep, and its hair has turned white, then the cohen is to pronounce him unclean - the disease of tzara'at has broken out in the boil. 21 But if the cohen looks at it and doesn't see any white hairs in it, and it isn't more than skin-deep but appears faded, the cohen is to isolate him for seven days. 22 If it spreads on the skin, the cohen is to declare him unclean; it is the disease. 23 But if the bright spot stays where it was and has not spread, it is the scar of the boil; and the cohen is to declare him clean.
The rabbis of old argued that tzara'at refers not necessarily to a bodily disease but to a physical manifestation of a spiritual malaise, a punishment designed to show the "offender" that he must mend his ways. In other words, tzara'at is not so much a disease as a form of supernatural spiritual discipline. It was suggested that the inward cause of tzara'at was sin, particularly anti-social sins, such as lying for selfish ends, sexual immorality, false oaths, pride, and especially slander. The biblical treatment of tzara'at was complete isolation: The person was to live outside the camp, cloak himself up to his lips, and cry out, "Unclean! Unclean!"
Leviticus 13: 45 "Everyone who has tzara'at sores is to wear torn clothes and unbound hair, cover his upper lip and cry, 'Unclean! Unclean!' 46 As long as he has sores, he will be unclean; since he is unclean, he must live in isolation; he must live outside the camp. 47 "When tzara'at infects an article of clothing, whether it be a woolen or a linen garment, 48 on the threads or the woven-in parts of either linen or wool, or on a hide or item made of leather; 49 then if the stain on the garment, hide, threads, woven-in parts or leather item is greenish or reddish, it is an infection of tzara'at and is to be shown to the cohen.
50 The cohen is to examine the stain and isolate the article that has the infection for seven days. 51 On the seventh day he is to examine the stain; if the stain has spread on the garment, threads, woven-in parts or leather, whatever its use, the infection is a contagious tzara'at; the garment is unclean. 52 He is to burn the garment, threads, woven-in parts of either wool or linen, or item of leather having the infection; for it is a contagious tzara'at; it must be burned up completely. 53 But if, when the cohen examines it, he sees that the infection has not spread on the garment or in the threads, woven-in parts or leather item, 54 then the cohen is to order that the article having the infection be washed and isolated for seven more days.
59 This is the law concerning infections of tzara'at in a garment of wool or linen, or in the threads or the woven-in parts, or in any leather item - when to declare it clean and when to declare it unclean.
We must remember, living conditions were different thousands of years ago, where electricity, indoor plumbing, or soap and running tap water were nonexistent. No one took "daily showers" nor were there any flushable toilets or any other "modern conveniences" that helped people keep germs at bay. Cleanliness was extremely difficult to achieve, and no one knew anything about germs or bacteria or the causes of disease. In this parashah we are given a perfect illustration of why, as the population grew, YHWH needed to keep adding to His Torah (Divine Instructions in Righteousness) to keep His Creation safe.
In Matthew 15:18-20, we find Yeshua in agreement with the Rabbis concerning this issue:
Matthew 15: 18. But whatever that proceeds from the mouth proceeds from the heart and becomes a defilement to a man. 19. For from the heart go out evil thoughts: Murder, fornication, theft, false witness, blasphemy. 20. These are what defile a man.
If you'll remember, in Numbers 12, Miriam, Moshe's own sister, was afflicted with tzara'at. What was her sin? Please read on:
Numbers 12: 1 Miryam and Aharon began criticizing Moshe on account of the Ethiopian woman he had married, for he had in fact married an Ethiopian woman. 2 They said, "Is it true that ADONAI has spoken only with Moshe? Hasn't he spoken with us too?"ADONAI heard them. 3 Now this man Moshe was very humble, more so than anyone on earth. 4 Suddenly ADONAI told Moshe, Aharon and Miryam, "Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting."The three of them went out.
5 ADONAI came down in a column of cloud and stood at the entrance to the tent. He summoned Aharon and Miryam, and they both went forward. 6 He said, "Listen to what I say: when there is a prophet among you, I, ADONAI, make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream. 7 But it isn't that way with my servant Moshe. He is the only one who is faithful in my entire household. 8 With him I speak face to face and clearly, not in riddles; he sees the image of ADONAI. So why weren't you afraid to criticize my servant Moshe?" 9 The anger of ADONAI flared up against them, and he left. 10 But when the cloud was removed from above the tent, Miryam had tzara'at, as white as snow. Aharon looked at Miryam, and she was as white as snow.
11 Aharon said to Moshe, "Oh, my lord, please don't punish us for this sin we committed so foolishly. 12 Please don't let her be like a stillborn baby, with its body half eaten away when it comes out of its mother's womb!" 13 Moshe cried to ADONAI, "Oh God, I beg you, please, heal her!" 14 ADONAI answered Moshe, "If her father had merely spit in her face, wouldn't she hide herself in shame for seven days? So let her be shut out of the camp for seven days; after that, she can be brought back in." 15 Miryam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not travel until she was brought back in. 16 Afterwards, the people went on from Hatzerot and camped in the Pa'ran Desert.
Miriam and Aaron (the order of their names suggests that Miriam was the instigator) committed the sin of lashon hara, or evil tongue, speaking against Moshe. Actually, it was true that Moses had a Cushite wife, but repeating even the truth, with selfish or prideful motives, is sin. After all, why was Miriam bringing this matter up, but for the purpose of maligning Moshe. People tend to make light of the sins of the tongue - gossip, backbiting, tale-bearing - but YHWH takes it very, very seriously!
Our words have the power to build up or to tear down! Our words can edify, build up trust and respect and community, or they can destroy, tearing down reputation and relationships and spiritual intimacy. In 2 Corinthians 12:20, Rav Shaul (Paul), lists the sins of "quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder."
We are told in Leviticus that the only thing that atones for sin is the blood of an innocent goat or lamb - which points to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! We can be cleansed from the inside-out merely by asking YHWH to save us; merely by accepting Y'shua our as our Final Sin Sacrifice. Halleluyah! As Psalm 130:3 says: 3 Yah, if you kept a record of sins, who, Adonai, could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, so that you will be feared.
In today's Haftarah reading, we learn something awesome: Scriptural proof that YHWH "knows the hearts" and that His grace and mercy extend into all areas of our lives!
2 Kings 5: 1 Na'aman, commander of the king of Aram's army, was highly respected and esteemed by his master; because through him ADONAI had brought victory to Aram. But although he was a brave warrior, he also suffered from tzara'at. 2 Now on one of their raids into Isra'el's territory, Aram carried away captive a little girl, who became a servant for Na'aman's wife. 3 She said to her mistress, "I wish my lord could go to the prophet in Shomron! He could heal his tzara'at." 4 Na'aman went in and told his lord, "The girl from the land of Isra'el said such-and-such."
5 The king of Aram said, "Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Isra'el." He set out, taking with him 660 pounds of silver, 6,000 pieces of gold and ten changes of clothes. 6 He brought the king of Isra'el the letter, which said, "When this letter reaches you, you will see that I have sent my servant Na'aman to you, so that you can heal his tzara'at." 7 When the king of Isra'el finished reading the letter, he tore his clothes. "Am I God, able to kill and make alive," he asked, "so that he sends me a man to heal of tzara'at? You can see that he is only seeking an excuse to quarrel with me."
8 But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Isra'el had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king: "Why did you tear your clothes? Just have him come to me, and he will know that there is a prophet in Isra'el." 9 So Na'aman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha's house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, who said, "Go, and bathe in the Yarden seven times. Your skin will become as it was, and you will be clean." 11 But Na'aman became angry and left, saying, "Here now! I thought for certain that he would come out personally, that he would stand, call on the name of ADONAI his God and wave his hand over the diseased place and thus heal the person with tzara'at.
12 Aren't Amanah and Parpar, the rivers of Dammesek, better than all the water in Isra'el? Why can't I bathe in them and be clean?" So he turned and went off in a rage. 13 But his servants approached him and said, "My father! If the prophet had asked you to do something really difficult, wouldn't you have done it? So, doesn't it make even more sense to do what he says, when it's only, 'Bathe, and be clean'?" 14 So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Yarden, as the man of God had said to do; and his skin was restored and became like the skin of a child; and he became clean.
Read carefully what is said below in verses 15 through 19, as it shows YHWH's grace and mercy to those who cannot help their lot in life:
2 Kings 5: 15 Then, with his whole retinue, he returned to the man of God, went and stood before him, and said, "Well, I've learned that there is no God in all the earth except in Isra'el; therefore, please accept a present from your servant." 16 But Elisha answered, "As ADONAI lives, before whom I stand, I will not accept it." And despite his urging him to take it, he refused. 17 So Na'aman said, "If you won't take it, then please let your servant be given as much earth as two mules can carry; because from now on, your servant will offer neither burnt offerings nor sacrifices to other gods, but only to ADONAI. 18 Except this, and may ADONAI forgive your servant for it: when my master goes into the temple of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand, and I bow down in the temple of Rimmon - when I bow down, may ADONAI forgive your servant for this." 19 Elisha said to him, "Go in peace."
It would seem that the last couple of verses indicate that, when one is basically "held captive" somehow, it is truly a case of "God knows my heart!" For instance, there's a young Muslim who occasionally communicates with us at The Refiner's Fire to lament that - for his own safety - he's keeping his belief in YHWH/Y'shua a secret from his Muslim family. He's worried that YHWH would consider him a hypocrite and turn His Back. We've assured him that is not true, because YHWH knows those who are His and who are doing their best to BE His, despite their particular situations. Same thing with, for instance, having a job where we are required to work on Shabbat sometimes. If we cannot find another job that allows us to have Saturdays off, then at least we can rest in the knowledge that we ARE doing our best to be observant in every other way.
Brit Chadashah reading:
We also learn in today's Brit Chadasha ("New Testament") portion that Yeshua HEALED people with diseases - which confirms that He was YHWH-Come-in-the-Flesh! What other human being has ever been able to heal people, walk on water, turn water into wine or raise the dead?
Matthew 8: 1. And when he descended from the mountain, large crowds followed him. 2. And behold a certain leper came and worshipped him and said, "If you my master desire, you are able to make me clean." 3. And Y'shua stretched out his hand and touched him and said. I desire, be clean. And in that moment his leprosy was cleansed. 4. And Y'shua said to him, Why look to telling a man, rather show yourself to the priests and offer the offering as Moshe commanded for their testimony. (See Leviticus 13:2, 49; 14:2)
Matthew 11: 2. And when Yochanan heard in the house of prisoners the works of the Mashiyach, he sent word through his disciples. 3. And said to him, "Are you he who will come, or are we to expect another?" 4. Y'shua answered and said to them, Go relate to Yochanan that you have heard and have seen. 5. The blind are seeing, and the lame are walking, and the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf are hearing, and the dead are rising, and the poor are given hope. 6. And blessed is he that is not offended in me. (See Isaiah 35:5, 6; 26:14; Isaiah 61:1)
Luke 2: 22. And when the days of their purification were fulfilled according to the instruction of Moshe, they took him up to Urishlim to present him before Master YHWH, 23. According to what is written in the Torah of Master YHWH that every male who opens the womb will be called a Set Apart one of Master YHWH. 24. And as a sacrifice it is said in the Torah of Master YHWH to give a pair of turtledoves or two chicks of pigeons. (See Exodus 13:2; Leviticus 12:8)
Luke 7: 18. And his disciples reported all these things to Yochanan. 19. And Yochanan called two of his disciples and he sent them to Y'shua and said, "Are you he that is to come or should we wait for another?" 21. And they came to Y'shua and said to him. "Yochanan the Immerser sent us to you and said, 'Are you he that is to come or should we wait for another?'" 21. In that same hour, he healed many of their sickness and of plagues and of evil spirits and to many blind he gave sight. 22. And Y'shua answered and said to them, Go tell Yochanan everything that you have seen and heard, that the blind see and the lame walk and the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear and the dead arise and the poor are given hope. 23. And blessed is he who is not offended at me. 24. And when the disciples of Yochanan left Y'shua began to say to the crowds concerning Yochanan, What did you go out into the desert to see - a reed that is shaken by the wind? (See Isaiah 26:14; 35:5, 6; 61:1)
There is so much more that could be said about today's study, and we wholeheartedly urge you to read the cited scriptures through, if you haven't already done so. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to write! Thank you for reading our Torah study notes for this week, and we pray for you a blessed week ahead, that may you ever grow in your knowledge of YHWH. And, as always, please let us know if you ever see anything in our studies that sounds "off the mark"! Nobody has the market cornered on absolute Truth; we are all learning and obeying to the best of our abilities....
The next parashah reading:
Parashah 28: M'tzora (Person afflicted with tzara'at) Leviticus 14:1 through 15:33.
Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): 2 Kings 7:3-20.
B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): Matthew 9: 20-26; Mark 5:24-34; Luke 8:42-48; Hebrews 13:4.