During the Menstrual Period

Now if that title doesn’t capture your attention, then I give up on writing titles. I don’t have a lot of time, so I shall make this quick. I was reading Ezekiel 18 this morning which is really quite a fascinating chapter. It’s incredibly repetitive, but a great chapter for all Christians to read in order to understand the importance of righteousness. I’ll probably write a different post on that later.

But yeah, back to menstruation.

God is speaking through Ezekiel and He’s listing things you shouldn’t do in order to be sinless and righteous. The list is actually quite long, but I was expecting just to read a bunch of common sense type things. And then right at the top of this list was Ezekiel 18:5-6.

But if a man is righteous and practices justice and righteousness, and does not eat at the mountain shrines or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman during her menstrual period–

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t see that coming. I remembered that this was against the Law in Bible times, but I didn’t expect to see it here, right at the top of a list of what righteousness looks like. It just seemed out of place. So I wanted to just take a super quick look through some commentaries to get hopefully a better understanding. However, it seems almost all my commentaries focus on the major parts of this chapter, so here’s at least a little help:

Leprosy and elephantiasis were said to be the fruit of such a connection [Jerome]. Chastity is to be observed even towards one’s own wife (Le 18:19; 20:18).[1]

Both adultery (Ex. 20:14; Lev. 20:10) and intercourse during the menstrual period (Lev. 18:19) were prohibited by the Mosaic Law. The righteous man in Ezekiel’s hypothetical case faithfully maintained sexual purity.[2]

And incase you care, elephantiasis is the following:

A condition in which a limb or other part of the body becomes grossly enlarged due to obstruction of the lymphatic vessels, typically by the nematode parasites that cause filariasis.[3]

[1]Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, A. R. Fausset, David Brown and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997). Eze 18:6.

[2]John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary., The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985). 1:1260.

[3]New Oxford American Dictionary 2nd edition © 2005 by Oxford University Press, Inc.


2 thoughts on “During the Menstrual Period

  1. Jamin to Jamin, I’ve recently done a study on blood and sex in the Bible and I might be able to add something to your thinking on this.

    At the time, anything that comes out of the body was considered to be unclean. So emissions, puss, ejaculate, saliva and blood were all things to be avoided. Contact with any form of blood would make one unclean. This is fairly well known.

    The second element is a bit more obscure and enters Israeli thinking after the Babylonian occupation, and that is the importance of sexuality for the purpose of procreation. Before then there was a culture of temple prostitution which was not considered to be sinful. When a woman was on her period she was considered unable to conceive and was able to engage in temple prostitution without fear of falling pregnant to a man other than her husband. After their liberation from Babylon by the Persians, the Jews had a need to repopulate quickly of face extinction and a lot of new laws were added to the old books to encourage the men to restrict their sexual activity to acts which could produce children. The first incidence of men not being permitted to have sex with a menstruating woman are in these verses. The only two OT verses condemning homosexuality can be found within these added verses as well.

    Ezekiel 18:5-6 appears to be talking about activities associated with the old style of worship at the mountain shrines. In this regard he is paralleled by Paul in the new testament when he tells the gentile believers to avoid worshipping idols, eating strangled animals (a method of ritual sacrifice in pagan temples), drinking animal blood (again, associated with pagan worship) and non-conventional sex (again, associated with worship of pagan gods).

    My references for this can be found at the end of my latest blog update. http://jaminism.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/christian-response-to-the-sexuality-divide/

  2. Thanks again Jamin!

    Yeah, I remembered a lot of the laws about uncleanliness and blood from what was Leviticus if I remember right. And there was definitely a lot of crazy prostitution and fertility cults back then, so I can see your connection to the temple. Thanks for expanding my thoughts and commenting!

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