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Monthly blood and the God of life

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posted on Jul, 22 2016 @ 05:02 PM
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Everything the Old Testament says about blood follows on from the one fundamental principle;
“The life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus ch17 v11).
But another principle found in the Old testament is that the Creator God is the source of life.
If the life in living things is to be found in their blood, this leads to the conclusion (which I discussed in a previous thread) that the blood itself ultimately belongs to God. It is “holy to the Lord”.

Yet there seems to be one obvious exception to this conclusion.
In the chapters of Leviticus, the instructions about dealing with menstrual blood have been collected alongside the laws about leprosy and other illnesses and defilements.
On the face of it, that puts menstruation into the same category.
So it’s worth taking a closer look at these laws, to see if that was the original intention.

For two chapters (chs.13 & 14) the law is dealing with leprosy.
This is certainly a medical issue, with clearly visible symptoms. There will be eruptions and spots and swellings and boils of different kinds.
The patient is kept in enforced isolation, to stop the infection from spreading.
It seems that these diseases can cure themselves with the passage of time.
Once there are recognisable signs that the disease has passed, the man is cleansed all over. He washes himself, he washes his clothes, he removes his hair.
There is a ceremony of purification involving the use of hyssop, a sacrificed bird, and a released bird which is probably thought to “carry off” the disease.
But before the man can re-join society, he must present a “guilt-offering” to be sacrificed.

The beginning of the next chapter (ch15 vv1-15) covers discharges of some kind, produced from the body, which again have an obviously medical origin.
There are rigorous instructions about “cleansing” to avoid infection.
Everything the infected man touches must be washed- his bedding, his clothes, his saddle.
Any man who touches these things must wash himself and his clothes and “shall be unclean until the evening”.
The same applies, of course, to anyone who touches the man himself.
The patient must wait seven days after the discharge, and then he can be cleansed, with further washing.
In addition, he offers a sacrifice as a “sin offering”.

The case of a woman who has a discharge of blood not connected with menstruation is covered in vv25-30. This would have to be another medical problem.
The treatment is similar. The washing of everything she touches, and everyone who touches what she touches.
She waits seven days once the discharge is over, and then she too will give a “sin offering”.

But the instructions between these two passages cover two kinds of discharge which are not medical issues.

“If a man has a discharge of semen…” (vv16-18).
This is dealt with by washing alone, his body and his garments.
Any woman who is with him at the time also needs to bathe.
They will be “unclean until the evening”.

Then there is menstruation, the woman’s “regular discharge from her body” (vv19-24)
The standard routine of washing. Her garments and bedding must be washed, and people who touch them will also need to wash themselves and “be unclean until the evening”.
This state of impurity lasts for seven days, for the woman herself and for any man who is with her during this time.

We can find a number of common factors in these last two situations.
NEITHER of them is a symptom of ill-health. They are natural events which occur to healthy people.
BOTH of them are dealt with by simple washing.
Putting it another way;
NEITHER of them requires a “sin offering”. That sign of “something being wrong” is missing.
And BOTH of them are side-effects of our natural capacity to produce new life.

So it seems to me that they are “unclean” only in the strictly hygienic sense.
The labelling of them as “unclean” in a spiritual sense may be the result of picking up the wrong end of the stick.
It’s an impression created by the way that the later priests who collected these laws chose to arrange them.

We may learn from anthropology how easily the concepts of “holy” and “unclean” can shade into one another, and get confused, because they have the same practical effect.
In either case, whatever comes under that umbrella must be avoided with great care.

For it is a common belief that the effect of contact with a sacred object must be removed, by washing or otherwise, before a man is free to mingle with his fellows… In short, primitive man believes that what is sacred is dangerous… Thus the primitive mind seems to conceive of holiness as a sort of dangerous virus, which a prudent man will avoid as far as possible, and of which, if he should chance to be infected by it, he will carefully disinfect himself by some kind of ceremonial purification.
(Sir James Frazier, “The Golden Bough”, ch XLIX)

I suggest that the law’s treatment of semen and menstrual blood may have had similar roots.

The original thinking would have gone;
The Lord, our God YHWH, is the source of life.
And semen is one of the instruments of new life.
Therefore it belongs to him; it is “holy to the Lord”.
Therefore we ought to avoid contact with it, as far as that can be managed, and cleanse ourselves from unavoidable contact.

And again;
The Lord, our God YHWH, is the source of life.
And menstrual blood is one of the instruments of new life.
Therefore it belongs to him; it is “holy to the Lord”. As, indeed, is all blood.
Therefore we ought to avoid contact with it, as far as that can be managed, and cleanse ourselves from unavoidable contact.

That is why they don’t get the same treatment as the real medical conditions.
They are in a different category.
As instruments of the Lord’s work, they are not “unclean”, but holy.

My proposition is that Israel’s people would have held this belief at the beginning of their history, whatever understanding developed later;
That the monthly blood of women, like any other kind of blood, is holy as the gift and property of the God of Life.


edit on 22-7-2016 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)




posted on Jul, 22 2016 @ 05:05 PM
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This thread is the sequel to and completion of Blood and the God of life

I believe most of the members of ATS are grown-up people, so I'm sure we can discuss this topic decently and without prurience.


edit on 22-7-2016 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 22 2016 @ 05:31 PM
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Don't ask a Woman about monthly blood sacrifice.
You're bound to get injured.




posted on Jul, 22 2016 @ 05:33 PM
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a reply to: awareness10
Thank you for the warning.
I don't think I've given any cause to get injured.



posted on Jul, 22 2016 @ 07:43 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI




The Lord, our God YHWH, is the source of life. And menstrual blood is one of the instruments of new life. Therefore it belongs to him; it is “holy to the Lord”. As, indeed, is all blood.


Menstrual blood is not an instrument of new life. In fact it signals infertility and miscarriage. Now, the blood that is discharged after giving birth could be considered life giving, but according to Jewish tradition women remained unclean for different periods of time, depending on the gender of the child they gave birth to. Finally, when she was deemed clean, she had to offer a sin offering, for the sin of giving birth.


Leviticus 12
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.

3 And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

4 Then she shall remain in the blood of her purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until the days of her purification are completed.

5 But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean for two weeks, as in her menstruation; and she shall remain in the blood of her purification for sixty-six days.

6'When the days of her purification are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting a one year old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering.…



edit on 22-7-2016 by windword because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 22 2016 @ 08:25 PM
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originally posted by: windword
Menstrual blood is not an instrument of new life.

However, menstruation is one of the side-effects of the fact that women are capable of giving birth.
That's all my suggestion really needs. The Israelites of the time would have been up to making the connection and associating the two things in their minds.

Now, the blood that is discharged after giving birth could be considered life giving, but according to Jewish tradition women remained unclean for different periods of time

Somebody brought up this point in the thread on "blood" in general.
The best answer I could suggest was that this reaction to the birth event was dominated by the physical uncleanliness of what was happening, because this uncleanliness was not entirely about blood.

Finally, when she was deemed clean, she had to offer a sin offering, for the sin of giving birth.

I don't think it was the sin of giving birth. It can't have been, since the arrival of new life was deemed to be a good thing.
I think it was the sin of physical uncleanliness, exactly on the analogy of a man giving a sin-offering after a discharge having a medical origin- Leviticus ch15 vv1-15.



posted on Jul, 22 2016 @ 09:34 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI



However, menstruation is one of the side-effects of the fact that women are capable of giving birth.


Nonsense! Barren women, women who bled every month, were of a lesser class of women than those who were mothers and/or with child. No doubt their monthly bleeding brought on sadness, grief and shame.



I think it was the sin of physical uncleanliness


Why should a woman have to present an offering of a yearling lamb to a priest for atonement, from God, for the issue of blood, if it was merely a cleanliness issue? That doesn't make sense.

What is the rationale behind the idea that a woman who gave birth to a girl being unclean for 14 days, rather than 7 days for a boy, and 66 days of purification, compared to 33 for a boy baby, if it wasn't about sin, but merely hygiene?



edit on 22-7-2016 by windword because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 22 2016 @ 09:59 PM
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Leviticus talking about periods, is something no human female in the 21st century should read or ponder.



posted on Jul, 23 2016 @ 12:45 AM
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a reply to: zazzafrazz

The Patriarchy found it so dismaying, how a woman could attract and repel so naturally, they said to themselves, "There must a law!" So, they wrote a bunch of them, for their own protection, of course!





posted on Jul, 23 2016 @ 04:17 AM
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originally posted by: windword
"However, menstruation is one of the side-effects of the fact that women are capable of giving birth."
Nonsense!

You are saying that it is NOT one of the side-effects of the fact that women are capable of giving birth? I thought the medical connection between the two was fairly well established.

Barren women, women who bled every month, were of a lesser class of women than those who were mothers and/or with child.

The stigma on being barren is exactly in line with my main theme, that bringing forth life and being able to bring forth life is thought to be a good thing.

No doubt their monthly bleeding brought on sadness, grief and shame.

Yet even in those cases, they were NOT expected to give a sin offering. That is the point that has been impressing me.
This is a culture which requires something we translate as "sin offering" in almost every case of sickness and physical uncleanliness, but not in this event.

Why should a woman have to present an offering of a yearling lamb to a priest for atonement, from God, for the issue of blood, if it was merely a cleanliness issue? That doesn't make sense.

It doesn't make sense to us, because we don't merge the concepts of sickness and uncleanliness and sin, which is what the Israelites were doing.
As I pointed out in the OP, they were demanding sin offerings from men who suffered "discharges" of almost any kind. Again, with one very significant exception. In their minds, they associated sickness and uncleanliness with displeasing God.
(Bear in mind, also, that sin offerings were part of the food supply of the priests. In the course of time, they would want to multiply the occasions for sin offering, just as the priests of the Middle Ages multiplied occasions for penance)
All this makes it even more remarkable that menstruation is NOT regarded as an occasion for sin offering.

What is the rationale behind the idea that a woman who gave birth to a girl being unclean for 14 days, rather than 7 days for a boy, and 66 days of purification, compared to 33 for a boy baby, if it wasn't about sin, but merely hygiene?

As of this moment, I don't know.
I've pointed out that hygiene, for the Israelites, is a sin issue. So the question is where the sin lies in this instance.

The idea that it relates to the fact of bringing forth new life is ruled out by a number of factors;
1) The uncleanliness is temporary. It comes to an end on a set number of days after the birth-event, which shows that it relates to the circumstances of the event itself. Bringing forth new life is a semi-permanent effect; if the woman was going to be in disgrace for that, the disgrace would have been permanent.
2) It clashes with the fact that bringing forth new life is regarded as a blessing in the rest of the Old Testament, for women as well as for men. So the brothers of Rebekah blessed her and said "Our sister, be the mother of thousands of ten thousands". They could hardly have done that if there was anything sinful about giving birth to chldren.
3) It clashes with what you have observed yourself, the shame attached to NOT giving birth. There could be no shame in not doing something which was sinful.

So the most sensible explanation of that sin-offering is that it relates to the temporary hygiene implications of the birth event itself.


edit on 23-7-2016 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 23 2016 @ 04:25 AM
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originally posted by: zazzafrazz
Leviticus talking about periods, is something no human female in the 21st century should read or ponder.

Is this offered as an instruction? Why not let them decide for themselves?
I was aiming at and thought I was achieving a non-derogatory interpretation.



posted on Jul, 23 2016 @ 04:33 AM
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The case in the OP, before we wander too far away from it, rests on three points which I still think are significant.

1) The fact that menstruation did NOT require a woman to give a sin offering. This is remarkable, given the number of other occasions which demanded it.
2) The fact that it shared this special treatment with the accidental discharge of semen. What associates these two things together, apart from the "life" connection?
3) The fact that blood is regarded as holy to God everywhere else in the Old Testament.



posted on Jul, 23 2016 @ 04:42 AM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

Did Jesus think the same way?

Blood as being where the "life" is located in us?

One could point to the obvious but as a symbolic representation, blood wasn't needed... Mercy was




posted on Jul, 23 2016 @ 04:47 AM
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a reply to: Akragon
At the end of the "blood" thread, I suggested that the ritual around blood was a "visual aid", teaching the message that life comes from God.
The statement about life being in the blood would have been included in his upbringing, but I think he would have been capable of seeing through the visual aid and grasping the main point. Life is what we get from God.



posted on Jul, 23 2016 @ 04:50 AM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

Right... but that "visual" was an actuality

A life for a life...

not in Jesus' repertoire... so to speak




posted on Jul, 23 2016 @ 04:54 AM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

I know this is dealing with the religious practicalities and all the instructions, but
perhaps its not the law, but the environment that created some of these ideas.

People travelled and water was often an issue not to mention the heat and obviously the smell of dirty clothing, bedding etc plus of course infections. I suspect a lot of these matters were from a practical perspective. Looking at them in today's world, its hard to imagine what it must have been like living in a desert.

Many women use internal sanitary protection today so relating to dealing with soiled rags etc has been left behind in the past. The whole concept of women and sin is a huge thing for the biblical writers and many appear to have been misogynists regarding worm as chattels. It should be remembered that there was an industry for selling 'offerings' so obviously perhaps some had a vested interest in keeping their regular customer. If they couldn't blame Satan then any woman would do provided no one blamed them of course.



posted on Jul, 23 2016 @ 04:56 AM
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a reply to: Akragon
When I want to discuss what Jesus meant by "The Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many", I will write a separate thread on the subject.



posted on Jul, 23 2016 @ 05:00 AM
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originally posted by: Shiloh7
I know this is dealing with the religious practicalities and all the instructions, but
perhaps its not the law, but the environment that created some of these ideas.

Yes, the environment creates the situation which the law wants to deal with.
That will have been one reason why hygiene in general is a sin-issue.
(And yet, as I've been observing, menstruation is NOT treated as a sin issue)

edit on 23-7-2016 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 23 2016 @ 05:48 AM
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originally posted by: DISRAELI
a reply to: Akragon
When I want to discuss what Jesus meant by "The Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many", I will write a separate thread on the subject.



ok...

Blood wasn't required with him.. and the place where it was required was destroyed...




posted on Jul, 23 2016 @ 09:41 AM
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a reply to: DISRAELI


I believe most of the members of ATS are grown-up people, so I'm sure we can discuss this topic decently and without prurience.

I don't think prurience is a problem. The problem is rather, a certain visceral impiety toward the religion being discussed.

Women seem to be segregated away from the active life of the religious practice. What would be the religious status of a midwife? Would she be perpetually unclean, therefore permanently excluded from shrine activity? Or any person engaged in helping others with health issues? Permanently excluded?

If those attempting to help others live are excluded from religious life, are they not forced to either practice the religion of their neighbors who do not exclude or else make their own religion?

Both of those activities would then place them into the category of "those to be killed, for the sake of sanctity of the nation."

So the issue is a certain inability to be pious about a religion or deity which so easily casts away living people.



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