Category: Devotional

Does God Prefer Boys?

Today’s reading has, broadly, two sections. The bulk of it addresses skin diseases, which is an interesting topic unto itself, and its relative size would seem to demand attention, but the relatively minuscule chapter 12 — a mere 8 verses long has stolen the show today.

My wife and I were reading the Bible together last year and upon reading this she wrinkled her nose and pursed her lips and asked why God seems to punish women for having girls — especially given what we now know about genetic donation. It was an interesting question worthy of a deep-dive. And after looking at it last year and refreshing myself this year, I think I can shed some light on these curious regulations.

If a woman gives birth to a boy, she is ceremonially unclean for 7 days, but with a girl it is 14? Explain yourself!

This one is relatively simple, being “ceremonially unclean” meant that one was contagious and would transfer their status to anyone or anything they touched. That means no cooking or cleaning or anything of the like right after childbirth. In this context, cutting it shorter for boys is actually the downside, not the longer term with girls. But why cut it short? So new moms could attend their son’s circumcision!

Okay, but then a woman remains impure for just 33 days with boys, while it’s 66 days for girls! What’s that all about?

This type of impurity was no longer contagious, but it still required that the woman not engage sexually with her husband, and that she refrain from temple duties during that time. There has been much ink spilled over this for centuries! But as we see with the rest of Leviticus, God is amazingly practical. I think in a culture that prized sons so highly, the desire to “try again” after having a girl would have been high in the mind of the father, and this extra duration after having a girl meant that the new mom had nearly 3 months in which to recover first.

Essentially, I don’t think there is any preference in God’s mind. He just wants us to be taken care of.

Feb 20 | Lev 12:1-14:32 | 051/365