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The Days of Her Purification

The Days of Her Purification
James Scott Trimm

We read in the KJV of Luke 2:22-24:

22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
(Luke 2:22-24 KJV)

There is a conflict in this passage between the Aramaic of the Old Syriac (דתדכיתה) “her purification” and the Peshitta which has (דתדכיתהון) “their purification”.

A similar conflict exists between the reading of the Western Type Text of Codex D, the Old Latin and the Latin Vulgate, which have “her purification” and the Alexandrian and majority of Byzantine Type manuscripts, which have “their purification” (The KJV is based on the Textus Receptus, which used a minority Byzantine manuscript here).

This is a classic example of the typical quality of the Western Type Text (see my earlier blog on The Earliest Versions of the New Testament)

The original reading, is that of the Old Syriac, as is so often the case (see my blog The Old Syriac as Key to Most Original Hebrew Matthew: DuTillet vs. Shem Tob )

We read in the Torah:

1 And YHWH spoke unto Moshe, saying:
2 Speak unto the children of Yisra’el, saying: If a woman be delivered, and bear a man-child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of the impurity of her sickness shall she be unclean.
3 And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.
4 And she shall continue in the blood of purification three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purification be fulfilled.
5 But if she bear a maid-child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her impurity; and she shall continue in the blood of purification threescore and six days.
6 And when the days of her purification 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 turtle-dove, for a sin-offering, unto the door of the tent of meeting, unto the cohen.
7 And he shall offer it before YHWH, and make atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the fountain of her blood. This is the Torah for her that bears, whether a male or a female.
8 And if her means suffice not for a lamb, then she shall take two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons: the one for a burnt-offering, and the other for a sin-offering; and the cohen shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.
(Lev. 12:1-8).

to present him before YHWH – This was a separate ritual of redeeming the firstborn male for five shekels:

15 Every thing that opens the womb, of all flesh which they offer unto YHWH, both of man and beast, shall be your; howbeit the first-born of man shall you surely redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts shall you redeem.
16 And their redemption-money–from a month old shall you redeem them–shall be, according to your valuation, five shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary–the same is twenty gerahs.
(Num. 18:15-16)

a pair of turtledoves -This is connected to Miriam’s purification ritual. The pair of turtledoves could substitute for the lamb which was normally required if the woman cannot afford a lamb (Lev. 12:6, 8). This tells us that Yeshua was born into a poor family.

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