Leviticus 15 Commentary

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Chart from recommended resource Jensen's Survey of the OT - used by permission
Another Overview Chart of Leviticus - Charles Swindoll
A third Overview Chart of Leviticus

Adapted and modified from C. Swindoll
Leviticus 1-17 Leviticus 18-27
The Way to God
The Walk with God
The Approach: Offerings Practical Guidelines
The Representative: Priest Chronological Observances
The Laws: Cleansing
Physically & Spiritually
Severe Consequences
Verbal promises
Ritual for Worship
Worshipping a Holy God
Practical for Walking
Living a Holy Life
Location: Mt Sinai for one full year
Theme: How sinful humanity can approach and worship a holy God
Key Verses: Lev 17:11, 19:2, 20:7-8
Christ in Leviticus: In every sacrifice, every ritual, every feast
Time: about 1446BC

Leviticus 15:1 The LORD also spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, (

Leviticus 15 focuses on male and female discharges…

The Uncleanness of Human Discharges

Unnatural Male Discharges (Lev 15:1-15)

Natural Male Discharges (Lev 15:16-18)

Natural Female Discharge (Menstrual) (Lev 15:19-24)

Unnatural (Long-Term) Female Discharges (Lev 15:25-33)

Leviticus 15:2 "Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, 'When any man has a discharge from his body, his discharge is unclean. (


Key Words

  • Discharge: 25x in 18v
  • Seminal Emission (KJV = seed of copulation) - 4x in 4v - Lev 15:16, 17, 18, 32
  • Spit - Once Lev 15:8
  • Wash - 11x in 11v

Discharge (02101) (zub) means a flowing and refers to a discharge, to semen, to menstrual flow.

Zob - 40x - Ex 3:8, 17; 13:5; 33:3; Lev 15:2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 19, 25, 32; 20:24; 22:4; Nu 5:2; 13:27; 14:8; 16:13f; Deut 6:3; 11:9; 26:9, 15; 27:3; 31:20; Josh 5:6; 2 Sam 3:29; Ps 78:20; 105:41; Isa 48:21; Jer 11:5; 32:22; 49:4; Lam 4:9; Ezek 20:6, 15. NAS =discharge(14), flow(1), flowed(1), flowing(19), flows(1), gushed(2), has(1), has a discharge(1), pine away(1).

Criswell has a pithy comment: Bodily discharges, representative of secret sins, were mostly related to the generative organs and would have been known only to the person involved. To the Jew they were especially abhorrent, because they indicated pollution and uncleanness in the area of the seal of circumcision (the sign of the covenant).

Ryrie: These verses (Lev 15:2-15) describe a diseased condition of the male sexual organs resulting in bodily discharge. After he became well, the man had to offer a sin and a burnt offering (Lev 15:15).

The specific disease is not mentioned but as a physician this certainly sounds like gonorrhea and Chlamydia infections both of which can produce discharges.


TODAY IN THE WORD (Moody Bible) - Leviticus 15:1-33 [K]eep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place. - Leviticus 15:31

Until recently, the Colombian army encouraged Marxist rebels to surrender by distributing photos of glamorous women. Since the rebels are not allowed to date without permission from the commanders, the implication was that as soon as they gave up fighting they could have their pick of the beautiful women in the photos. The new defense minister, a woman, put an end to that policy!

We live in confused times. The world has no idea what to do with issues of sexual morality and behavior. By contrast, the Law provided clear guidelines for God’s people. Today’s reading focuses on standards for cleanness and uncleanness related to sexual hygiene.

What was at issue here? Leviticus 15:1–15 discuss abnormal male conditions, possibly the result of an illness or sexually transmitted disease. Leviticus 15:16, 17, 18 describe the appropriate procedures for male hygiene under normal circumstances. And Leviticus 15:19-24 deal with a woman’s menstrual period. Finally, Leviticus 15:25-30 cover abnormal female symptoms in which a woman experiences a chronic hemorrhage (called “menostaxis”). The woman Jesus healed in Mark 5 suffered from this condition (see “Today Along the Way”).

The text here is pretty straightforward about the guidelines under normal circumstances, and only minimal times of purification were required. Disease-related complications, by contrast, were more serious. They contaminated all who came in contact with them, and required burnt and sin offerings to be made for purification. (Again, it may be better to think in terms of purification rather than atonement.) The bottom line is that these rules reflect a respect for blood (as symbolic of life) and reproductive organs (as generative of life).

TODAY ALONG THE WAY - As a supplementary Scripture passage today, we encourage you to read and reflect on Mark 5:25-34, the story of Jesus’ miraculous healing of a woman with a chronic bleeding condition. According to the Law, how would she have suffered from her condition physically, socially, and spiritually? In light of this, consider not only the power but also the great love and compassion Jesus showed in healing her. How might the Jewish people in the crowd, who would have known the Law, have perceived and responded to this miracle?

Leviticus 15:3 'This, moreover, shall be his uncleanness in his discharge: it is his uncleanness whether his body allows its discharge to flow, or whether his body obstructs its discharge. (

Leviticus 15:4 'Every bed on which the person with the discharge lies becomes unclean, and everything on which he sits becomes unclean. (

Leviticus 15:5 'Anyone, moreover, who touches his bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening; (

Leviticus 15:6 and whoever sits on the thing on which the man with the discharge has been sitting, shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening. (

Leviticus 15:7 'Also whoever touches the person with the discharge shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening. (


F B Meyer (Our Daily Homily) Leviticus 15:7 He that toucheth … shall be unclean.

There were doubtless great sanitary reasons for many of these enactments. This book is one of the greatest sanitary codes in existence. God made religious duty enforce regulations essential to the physical health and well-being of his people. But there were deeper reasons yet. The whole of these arrangements were contrived to teach profound lessons to us all of the nature and evil of sin, and of the need of being continually cleansed in the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

The unclean soul spreads uncleanness. — Whatever the ceremonially unclean touched, used, or sat on, was polluted. Even those who came into contact with him were defiled. How wary all true Israelites must have been of their associates, lest they should contract pollution! Let us adopt similar precautions, and not voluntarily associate with the unholy or unclean. And if our business calls us into their daily company, let us seek cleansing for ourselves as we return to our homes, that any adhering germs of evil may be removed.

The urgent demand for holiness. — The ordinary processes of life are not necessarily clean because they are natural. The foul heart may vitiate the most natural functions. We must bring the thought of God into the simplest, the commonest, and the most secret acts. Nothing is outside his jurisdiction. Though hid from sight, yet He is ever near the child of God. His grace, and blood, and cleansing, are always requisite, and ever ready. Amidst and after every act, incident, and episode of life, we should be quiet before God, considering if we have aught to confess, and asking to be ever kept from staining our white robes.

Leviticus 15:8 'Or if the man with the discharge spits on one who is clean, he too shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening. (

Leviticus 15:9 'And every saddle on which the person with the discharge rides becomes unclean. (

Leviticus 15:10 'Whoever then touches any of the things which were under him shall be unclean until evening, and he who carries them shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening. (

Leviticus 15:11 'Likewise, whomever the one with the discharge touches without having rinsed his hands in water shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening. (

Leviticus 15:12 'However, an earthenware vessel which the person with the discharge touches shall be broken, and every wooden vessel shall be rinsed in water. (

Leviticus 15:13 'Now when the man with the discharge becomes cleansed from his discharge, then he shall count off for himself seven days for his cleansing; he shall then wash his clothes and bathe his body in running water and shall become clean. (

Leviticus 15:14 'Then on the eighth day he shall take for himself two turtledoves or two young pigeons, and come before the LORD to the doorway of the tent of meeting, and give them to the priest; (

Leviticus 15:15 and the priest shall offer them, one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf before the LORD because of his discharge. (

Leviticus 15:16 'Now if a man has a seminal emission, he shall bathe all his body in water and be unclean until evening. (


Lev 15:16-18

Seminal Emission. KJV is more literal "seed (zera) of copulation (shekabah = lying down, copulation) Notice that this refers to natural secretion for which no offerings had to be made.

Leviticus 15:17 'As for any garment or any leather on which there is seminal emission, it shall be washed with water and be unclean until evening. (

Leviticus 15:18 'If a man lies with a woman so that there is a seminal emission, they shall both bathe in water and be unclean until evening. (

Leviticus 15:19 'When a woman has a discharge, if her discharge in her body is blood, she shall continue in her menstrual impurity for seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. (


Lev 15:19-24

Note that Lev 15:19-24 refers to natural menstrual discharge and no offering was required.

Leviticus 15:20 'Everything also on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean, and everything on which she sits shall be unclean. (

Leviticus 15:21 'And anyone who touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening. (

Leviticus 15:22 'And whoever touches any thing on which she sits shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening. (

Leviticus 15:23 'Whether it be on the bed or on the thing on which she is sitting, when he touches it, he shall be unclean until evening. (

Leviticus 15:24 'And if a man actually lies with her, so that her menstrual impurity is on him, he shall be unclean seven days, and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean. (

Leviticus 15:25 'Now if a woman has a discharge of her blood many days, not at the period of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond that period, all the days of her impure discharge she shall continue as though in her menstrual impurity; she is unclean. (

Not at the period of her menstrual impurity - This refers to an abnormal condition and does require sin and burnt offerings.

Leviticus 15:26 'Any bed on which she lies all the days of her discharge shall be to her like her bed at menstruation; and every thing on which she sits shall be unclean, like her uncleanness at that time. (

Leviticus 15:27 'Likewise, whoever touches them shall be unclean and shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening. (

Leviticus 15:28 'When she becomes clean from her discharge, she shall count off for herself seven days; and afterward she shall be clean. (

Leviticus 15:29 'Then on the eighth day she shall take for herself two turtledoves or two young pigeons, and bring them in to the priest, to the doorway of the tent of meeting. (

Leviticus 15:30 'And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. So the priest shall make atonement on her behalf before the LORD because of her impure discharge.' (

Leviticus 15:31 "Thus you shall keep the sons of Israel separated from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by their defiling My tabernacle that is among them." (

Paul gave a similar instruction to the saints at Corinth

2Cor 6:14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?

15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?

16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.

17 "Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE," says the Lord. "AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.

18 "And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty.

7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.


G Campbell Morgan - Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible - Lev. 15:31 Thus shall ye separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness.

This chapter contains the laws governing the whole experience of issues from the flesh as they are involved in uncleanness. It is a strange and solemn chapter in which, once again, as in the one dealing with the subject of motherhood and childhood (12), there is brought before the mind, with dread and forceful solemnity, the fact of the defilement of the race. A simple and yet careful consideration of these requirements will serve to remind us that the procreative powers of humanity are all under the curse, as the result of race-pollution. Whether the exercise of such powers be natural or unnatural, within the restraint of law or beyond such restraint, they are tainted with the same virus of sin in the sight of a God of absolute holiness. Therefore for these people of God who were to be preserved from all contamination physically with other races, in connection with the activity of these powers, stringent laws were enacted for cleansing. The chapter, therefore, has a solemn message to all of us concerning the fact of the pollution of human nature at its fountain-head, and the consequent perpetual necessity for cleansing. This view of human nature is not flattering, and the human mind is often in rebellion against it. To deny it, is to deny a fact which is constantly proven true in human experience. We should, therefore, sedulously observe the spiritual significance, and apply it resolutely in the physical realm. For us the way of perpetual cleansing is provided in Christ.

Leviticus 15:32 This is the law for the one with a discharge, and for the man who has a seminal emission so that he is unclean by it, (

Leviticus 15:33 and for the woman who is ill because of menstrual impurity, and for the one who has a discharge, whether a male or a female, or a man who lies with an unclean woman. (