Sexual Uncleanness.* 1The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 2* Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When any man has a genital discharge, he is thereby unclean.a 3Such is his uncleanness from this discharge, whether his body* drains freely with the discharge or is blocked up from the discharge. His uncleanness is on him all the days that his body discharges or is blocked up from his discharge; this is his uncleanness. 4Any bed on which the man with the discharge lies is unclean, and any article on which he sits is unclean. 5Anyone who touches his bed shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 6Whoever sits on an article on which the man with the discharge was sitting shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 7Whoever touches the body of the man with the discharge shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 8If the man with the discharge spits on a clean person, the latter shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 9Any saddle on which the man with the discharge rides is unclean. 10Whoever touches anything that was under him shall be unclean until evening; whoever carries any such thing shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.b 11Anyone whom the man with the discharge touches with his unrinsed hands shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 12Earthenware touched by the man with the discharge shall be broken; and every wooden article shall be rinsed with water.
13When a man with a discharge becomes clean* of his discharge, he shall count seven daysc for his purification. Then he shall wash his garments and bathe his body in fresh water, and so he will be clean. 14On the eighth day he shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons,d and going before the LORD, to the entrance of the tent of meeting, he shall give them to the priest, 15who shall offer them up, the one as a purification offering and the other as a burnt offering. Thus shall the priest make atonement before the LORD for the man because of his discharge.
16* When a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body in water and be unclean until evening.e 17Any piece of cloth or leather with semen on it shall be washed with water and be unclean until evening.
18If a man has sexual relations with a woman, they shall both bathe in water and be unclean until evening.
19* When a woman has a flow of blood from her body, she shall be in a state of menstrual uncleanness for seven days. Anyone who touches her shall be unclean until evening.f 20Anything on which she lies or sits during her menstrual period shall be unclean. 21Anyone who touches her bed shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 22Whoever touches any article on which she was sitting shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 23Whether an object* is on the bed or on something she sat upon, when the person touches it, that person shall be unclean until evening. 24If a man lies with her, he contracts her menstrual uncleanness and shall be unclean for seven days;g every bed on which he then lies also becomes unclean.
25* When a woman has a flow of blood for several days outside her menstrual period, or when her flow continues beyond the ordinary period, as long as she suffers this unclean flow she shall be unclean, just as during her menstrual period.h 26Any bed on which she lies during such a flow becomes unclean, as it would during her menstrual period, and any article on which she sits becomes unclean just as during her menstrual period. 27Anyone who touches them becomes unclean; that person shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.
28i When she becomes clean from her flow, she shall count seven days; after this she becomes clean. 29On the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 30The priest shall offer one of them as a purification offering and the other as a burnt offering. Thus shall the priest make atonement before the LORD for her because of her unclean flow.
31You shall warn the Israelites of their uncleanness, lest they die through their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle,j which is in their midst.
32This is the ritual for the man with a discharge, or who has an emission of semen, and thereby becomes unclean; 33as well as for the woman who has her menstrual period; or one who has a discharge, male or female; and also for the man who lies with an unclean woman.
* [15:1–33] Sexual discharges may be unclean partly because they involve the loss of life fluids or are otherwise involved with phenomena at the margins of life and death.
* [15:2–3] The uncleanness here is perhaps a discharge of pus because of urethritis (often but not solely associated with gonorrhea).
* [15:3] Body: here a euphemism in the Hebrew for “penis.”
* [15:13] Becomes clean: i.e., when his discharge ceases. The rite that follows is for purification, not a cure; see note on 14:1–32.
* [15:16–18] Menstrual blood, semen, and other impurities in Lv 11–15 are considered “impure” either because they are force of life whose “loss” represents death or because, as uniquely human conditions, they are symbolically incompatible with the deity and the divine abode, the sanctuary. Lv 15:16 refers to a spontaneous nocturnal emission, and either because this marks life and death boundaries or because of its uniquely human (versus divine) character, any contact with it renders the object or person ritually unclean. Thus, in 15:18 it is not the marital act itself that is polluting, but only semen.
* [15:19–24] This is normal menstruation.
* [15:23] An object: the Hebrew is unclear. This translation means that even an object on the woman’s unclean bed or chair can mediate uncleanness to another, but only if all the object touched is still on the bed or article sat upon, thus forming a chain of simultaneous contact.
* [15:25–30] This is menstruation outside the normal cycle or for periods longer than normal. A woman with a chronic blood flow was healed by touching the tassel of Jesus’ cloak (Mt 9:20–22; Mk 5:25–34; Lk 8:43–48).
b. [15:10] Lv 11:24–25, 27–28, 39–40; 14:46–47.
e. [15:16] Ex 19:15; Dt 23:11–12; 1 Sm 21:6.
f. [15:19] Lv 12:2, 5; 2 Sm 11:4; Ez 36:17.
g. [15:24] Lv 18:19; 20:18; Ez 18:6.
h. [15:25] Mt 9:20–22; Mk 5:25–34; Lk 8:43–48.