Friday, January 11, 2013

Purification of Mary, Sin offering

Protestants use Luke 2 with mention of Mary's purification and link it with the sin offering mentioned in Leviticus 12 as evidence Mary had committed sin, however the Catholic view is that this whole process was not necessary for Mary because of her situation (she bore the Son of God in her womb!) Leviticus 12 states the woman while she is unclean shall touch nothing holy,  yet we are told Jesus is Holy in Luke 1. Was Mary breaking the law simply by touching her son? If you were a Protestant saying this process was an obligation, then you would say yes! On top of that the word "sin offering" according to the Jewish Study Bible can mean "decontamination offering" and cite Leviticus 4 for the word chatat, since no sin is actually involved in the process of pregnancy and birth.
Here is the Hebrew text of Leviticus 12:
וּבִמְלֹאת יְמֵי טָהֳרָהּ, לְבֵן אוֹ לְבַת, תָּבִיא כֶּבֶשׂ בֶּן-שְׁנָתוֹ לְעֹלָה, וּבֶן-יוֹנָה אוֹ-תֹר לְחַטָּאת--אֶל-פֶּתַח אֹהֶל-מוֹעֵד, אֶל-הַכֹּהֵן--Leviticus 12:6
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:--Leviticus 12:6 KJV
 The word means לְחַטָּאת l'atat "for sin" or "for purification" as in Numbers 8:7
וְכֹה-תַעֲשֶׂה לָהֶם לְטַהֲרָם, הַזֵּה עֲלֵיהֶם מֵי חַטָּאת; וְהֶעֱבִירוּ תַעַר עַל-כָּל-בְּשָׂרָם, וְכִבְּסוּ בִגְדֵיהֶם וְהִטֶּהָרוּ--Numbers 8:7
And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying [חַטָּאת] upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean.--Numbers 8:7 KJV
Also, we see in Numbers 19:9 the same:
 וְאָסַף אִישׁ טָהוֹר, אֵת אֵפֶר הַפָּרָה, וְהִנִּיחַ מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה, בְּמָקוֹם טָהוֹר; וְהָיְתָה לַעֲדַת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת, לְמֵי נִדָּה--חַטָּאת הִוא--Numbers 19:9
And a man [that is] clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay [them] up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it [is] a purification for sin.--Numbers 19:9
So we see that same word with the same spelling, just lacking the lammed "l" meaning "for" is missing, so the KJV and other translations recognize this translation as being valid at least in other verses.

The Jewish Study Bible in the commentary for Leviticus 12:6-7 p. 233-234:
6-7a: The expiation , that is, decontamination of the sanctuary, is accomplished elsewhere by means of the "ata't" sacrifice (see ch 4). Uniquely the mother is also required to offer a burnt offering (see ch 1), though generally this is not needed for expiation. It may be an expression of thanks or a required gesture of obeisance. 6: Sin offering, correctly, purification offering (see 4.3); no sin has been committed. 
for when the word in contention is used in JSB's Leviticus 12:6 translation footnote:
See note at 4.3
At Leviticus 4:3 p. 212-213 the note reads:
A sin offering: This is the usual translation of "ata't," associating it with "et'," "sin, misdeed" and "ata'," "to sin, err" (see above). The noun is actually derived, however, from the verb "ite'," "purge, decontaminate" (8.15; 9.15; 14.49, 52; Num. 8.21; 19.12, 13, 20; 31:19-20, 23; Ezek. 43.22-23; 45.18; Ps. 51.9) which is virtually synonymous with "kipper," "atone" (see also Exod. 29.36; Ezek. 43.20), and so the preferred translation is "purification offering"; note also the "ata't"-water (Num. 8.7), which means "water of purification." 
Also we see in the footnotes of the NIV state:


  1. Leviticus 12:6 Or purification offering; also in verse 8
So even some Bible translations recognize this as possible! We also see a modern Catholic translation reading:
When the days of her purification for a son or for a daughter are fulfilled, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a yearling lamb for a burnt offering and a pigeon or a turtledove for a purification offering.--Leviticus 12:6 NABRE
And a "High-Church" Protestant one:
When the time of purification is complete, whether for a son or a daughter, the mother must bring a one-year-old lamb as an entirely burned offering and a pigeon or turtledove as a purification offering to the priest at the meeting tent’s entrance.--Leviticus 12:6 CEB
Also, let's look at Ezekiel 43:22 and how it uses the word hata't (and other forms) in the colors:
וּבַיּוֹם, הַשֵּׁנִי, תַּקְרִיב שְׂעִיר-עִזִּים תָּמִים, לְחַטָּאת; וְחִטְּאוּ, אֶת-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ, כַּאֲשֶׁר חִטְּאוּ, בַּפָּר--Ezekiel 43:22
And on the second day thou shalt offer a kid of the goats without blemish for a sin offering; and they shall cleanse the altar, as they did cleanse [it] with the bullock.--Ezekiel 43:22 KJV
Three times חִטְּא is used. We see the first time לְחַטָּאת l'hata't is used and its translated here as "sin offering." The second time וְחִטְּאוּ v'hit'u is used translated as "and they shall cleanse." Saying "and they shall sin the altar" would be nonsense, here it clearly dose not mean sin! Finally, חִטְּאוּ hit'u is translated as "they did cleanse."
Furthermore, some Fathers read Leviticus 12 as saying its for women that receive seed (ie semen) so as to get pregnant. which Mary as a virgin certainly did not receive. Others explain the sin offering as a result of the evil things that slip from the mouth of the mother during child birth due to the pains of labor, however, Mary did not experience pains according to 1st century writings, and the church fathers who say Isaiah 66:7 say saying such.

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