We are going to summarize some of the basics we have learned in this study. Ritual (or Levitical) purity and impurity deals with the rules associated with human reproduction and issues, food and drink, disease and death. The term “impurity” used refers to Levitical impurity and defilement. Most kinds of impurity is included in this list and it is the primary source of impurity, called a “father of impurity.”
Those emanating from a living human being include a male with a discharge or flow (Lev 15.2); a female with a discharge or flow (Lev 15.25); a menstruant (Lev 15.19); a woman after childbirth (Lev 12.2); zara’at (leprosy-Lev 13); semen (Lev 15.16). Then we have contact impurity resulting from a corpse including one in contact with a corpse (Num 19.11); creping things and a dead reptile (Lev 11.29-31); carrion of clean animals (Lev 11.39); carrion of unclean animals (Lev 11.26); carrion of clean birds (Lev 17.15). There are purification rites causing impurity including the burning of the Red Heifer (Num 19.7); the water of the sin offering (Num 19.21); the ashes of the sin offering (Num 19.10); the burning of the bulls and goats of the High Priest (Lev 4.3); the young bull for the thing hidden (Lev 4.13-14); the young bull for Yom Kippur (Lev 16.3); the goat of Yom Kippur (Lev 16.27); a kid of the goats (Num 15.24).
The “children of impurity” is the term applied to a person or object that incurs impurity through contact or certain relations with any “father of impurity.” Whatever suffers an impurity directly from a “father of impurity” is termed an “offspring” of the “father of impurity” and becomes impurity of the second level. The korbanot (offerings), the bread offering, the bread of the thank offering, the wafers of unleavened bread of the Nazarite, the two loaves and the bread of the table in the Holy Place may by contact with impurity acquire impurity and become a “child of impurity” to the fourth level. Non-holy produce, un-tithed produce, first tithe and second tithe cannot acquire impurity beyond the second level.
A corpse is termed a “father of impurity” and causes ritual impurity, and renders a metal vessel on contact a father of impurity. But, the metal vessel becomes a father of impurity if it touches one rendered impure by reason of a corpse. The carrion of unclean birds does not communicate impurity. The flesh and members of the carrion of wild animals, unclean beasts or clean cattle does impart ritual impurity by contact and by carrying. The carrion of a clean bird in the gullet of the consumer the size of an olive conveys impurity. Only an Israelite, utensils, garments, fabrics, foods, houses and liquids can become impure ritually. A person becomes ritually impure through a corpse or a “father of impurity.” This includes something not attached to the ground made of metal, wood, leather, cloth and can become ritually impure if they touch a corpse. If it is made of earthenware, crystal or glass do not become a father of impurity, but can contract impurity. A garment, material, wood or linen can become unclean if it is not less then three fingers wide, and in the case of other material, not less than handbreadths square. Utensils and materials made from the skin of bone of clean or unclean animals, wild animals or birds, creeping things, unclean locusts, unclean fish can become ritually impure.
Purification from impurity is done by a ritual immersion and in the case of a corpse impurity, sprinkling with water and the ashes of the Red Heifer (Num 19.17). Plague spots and signs of zara’at (leprosy) in the flesh of humans can be inflammation from a blow (Lev 13.2-17); a boil or a burn (Lev 13.18-28); baldness on the scalp and on the forehead (Lev 13.40-44); various vesicular skin diseases (Lev 13.38-39). Spots and signs in garments made of wool or linen and white in color in the threads that run length wise and threads that run across, and in tanned hides is considered zara’at (Lev 13.47-59). Those in houses can be found in Lev 14.34-48. Periods of seclusion, isolation or quarantine for these is fourteen days for those in the skin and in garments, and in certain cases three weeks for those in garments.
All of these items are only a brief summary of a vast subject. Whether you agree or disagree with the fact that these laws are applicable for today is up to you. But, two things are inescapable in the Gospels and Epistles. The first century believers in Yeshua followed them as they applied, mostly because there was a functioning Temple and priesthood. They also taught other believers in Yeshua, whether they were Jewish or non-Jewish, to do the same. When thinking about these things, we want to leave you with the words of Rabbi Joseph Hertz, Chief Rabbi of the British Empire years ago who said concerning the laws of purification, “It is to be noted that most laws of purity and impurity apply only in reference to the Sanctuary (Temple) and the holy objects connected with it. They did not apply in ordinary life, or to persons who do not intend to enter the Sanctuary (The Hertz Pentateuch, p.459).”
The Purity Laws, Tape Series, Hatikva Ministries
The Interlinear Bible