Gender Bias?

Lev 12 2-5

Q. Why is it that a woman is unclean for 7 days when she gives birth to a son, but 14 days for a girl? Gender bias?

A. This is a puzzling passage in Lev 12:

Lev 12:2 “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying: ‘When a woman gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of her menstruation she shall be unclean.
• Lev 12:5 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.

The uncleanness is not due to the birth itself, but the discharge of blood during childbirth, similar to menstruation. The purification period is actually 40 days (7+33) for boys, 80 days (14+66) for girls. Why double for girls? Commentators have suggested various explanations, none quite satisfactory:

Physiology of boys – Some suggested the “normal” duration for uncleanness for all babies is 14 days, but cut short to 7 days for boys, in order that they can be circumcised on the eighth day. This is so because the coagulation agent in the blood is at its peak on the eighth day, and the boy would heal faster. But if that is so, why isn’t the purification period 40 or 80 days for both when circumcision is not a factor?
Physiology of girls – Others believed that the babies carry the mothers’ hormones in their system, which may lead to bloody mucous discharge for girls for up to two weeks, but not for boys. This could explain the difference in the unclean duration, but still not the purification period.
Health for mothers – some commentators turn the negative connotation around by seeing the purification period as giving the mother a maternity leave, allowing her to rest after delivering her child. So the double duration for girls is actually a blessing compared to only half the time for boys.
Spiritual – Still others suggested that Eve was deceived by the serpent and led Adam to fall, so the duration is double for girls. 1 Tim 2:14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. While 1 Tim 2:14 is certainly true, the Bible never made a direct connection between this and the double duration.
Social – Some felt baby girls grow up to be women who in turn give birth to their own babies, whereas baby boys grow up to be men who do not give bear children directly. So the duration is doubled for girls.

As you can see, none of the proposals provide a fully satisfactory explanation. The pagan nations may have a gender bias in favoring boys, but I don’t think God has that prejudice:
Ga 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Sin Offering Discord

Nadab Abihu 2

Q. Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, and were consumed by fire before God. Their brothers Eleazar and Ithamar offered a sin offering but did not eat it. Why was Moses angry with them, then changed his mind?

A. The incident referred to is in Lev 10:

Lev 10:16-20 But Moses searched carefully for the goat of the sin offering, and behold, it had been burned up! So he was angry with Aaron’s surviving sons Eleazar and Ithamar, saying, “Why did you not eat the sin offering at the holy place? For it is most holy, and He gave it to you to bear away the guilt of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD. Behold, since its blood had not been brought inside, into the sanctuary, you should certainly have eaten it in the sanctuary, just as I commanded.” But Aaron spoke to Moses, “Behold, this very day they presented their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD. When things like these happened to me, if I had eaten a sin offering today, would it have been good in the sight of the LORD?” When Moses heard that, it seemed good in his sight.

The rules governing the sin offering are given in Lev 6:24-30:

Lev 6:24-26, 29-30 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘This is the law of the sin offering: in the place where the burnt offering is slain the sin offering shall be slain before the LORD; it is most holy. The priest who offers it for sin shall eat it. It shall be eaten in a holy place, in the court of the tent of meeting. … Every male among the priests may eat of it; it is most holy. But no sin offering of which any of the blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the holy place shall be eaten; it shall be burned with fire.

There were two types of sin offering:
1. Those whose blood was brought into the sanctuary – the meat should be burned;
2. Those whose blood was not brought into the tabernacle – the meat should be eaten.
In this case the blood had not been brought into the sanctuary, so Eleazar and Ithamar should have eaten the sin offering. Moses was angry because they were clearly in violation of Lev 6:25-26. However, Aaron defended them by saying that they did everything else, but could not eat today i.e. just this time, because they were mourning for their sons/brothers by fasting. They were not deviating from the rule by being lax. Moses accepted his explanation and did not pursue further. Hope this helps.

War on the Bible

bible under attack 1

Recently I received a WhatsApp message from which I quote the following:
“Covert war on changing the Bible now becomes overt. The NIV was published by Zondervan but is now owned by Harper Collins, who also publishes the Satanic Bible and The Joy of Gay Sex. The NIV and ESV has now removed 64,575 words from the Bible including Jehovah, Calvary, Holy Ghost and omnipotent, to name but a few … The NIV and ESV has also now removed 45 complete verses. … Try and find these scriptures in NIV and ESV on your computer, phone or device right now if you are in doubt: Mt 17:21, 18:11, 23:14; Mk 7:16, 9:44, 9:46; Lk 17:36, 23:17; Jn 5:4; Acts 8:37 … you will not believe your eyes. …”
The message then went on other subjects such as the rapture, the mark of the beast etc., warning Christians to be vigilant.

I myself use the NASB most of the time, but supplements it with the NIV, ESV, and NKJV as the need arises. I do not like any publisher distributing books that corrupt society, but I also believe the message’s author, in criticizing the NIV and the ESV above, is over-reacting in his/her assertions.

I know the progressive attempts in revising Bible versions to make it more politically correct, such as the use of gender-inclusive language, and the downplaying of certain doctrines to make it more palatable to those who find the truth “offensive” e.g. hell, prohibition on homosexuality. When translators select language according to their own theological biases, they are no longer translating but interpreting. That is not being true to Scripture, and not acceptable.

However, language does evolve with usage and changes over time. The KJV, for example, was very modern 500 years ago, but with the passage of time became archaic and hard to understand. This necessitates fresh translations into the language of the common people, so that the reader can understand God’s word in his native tongue and cultural setting. This is not only acceptable but in fact needed if we want people to follow what the Bible teaches.

The NIV and ESV have their flaws, but not in the manner described. When the message said “64,575 words have been removed from the Bible”, I assume it was comparing both versions the KJV, which “KJV only” supporters hold to be the only reliable translation. But the examples cited are really using different words to translate the Hebrew or Greek words into English:
• Jehovah = LORD
• Calvary = The Skull
• Holy Ghost = Holy Spirit
• Omnipotent = Almighty
These are not really removal as such, but substitution. 64,575 words is a lot, representing 8.2% of the 788,258 words in the KJV. Could it be using fewer words to translate more concisely, and dropping old words no longer used in current English? Without a complete list we cannot tell, so a sweeping statement like this leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

“The NIV and ESV has removed 45 complete verses.” I tried looking them up on my online Bible as suggested. Indeed they are not there, but each has a footnote explaining why. For example, Mt 17:21’s note says “Some manuscripts include here words similar to Mk 9:29.” In other words, these words are dropped because they are in some manuscripts but not in the one on which the translation is based. This is not censorship, but consistency to the manuscript.

For that matter, the sample verses removed from but footnoted in the NIV and ESV, are quoted below from the NASB:

Mt 17:21 But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.
• Mt 18:11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
• Mt 23:14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
• Mk 7:16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.
• Lk 17:36 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left.
• Lk 23:17 Now he was obliged to release to them at the feast one prisoner.
• Jn 5:4 for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.
• Acts 8:37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

Am I concerned about left-wing liberal translations watering down the Bible? Most definitely yes. But I am just as concerned about ultra-right-wing proponents finding offence when they are not called for. Hope we can discern and know the difference.