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    FAQ 40

    Why Abstain for One
    Week After Menstruation?

    Q. The most burning question I have is your thoughts on abstinence for 14 days during a woman's period. I see in scripture where 7 days is mentioned, but not 14 days. I'm wondering if (a) you are being overcautious, or (b) Leviticus 15:25 speaks of a problem period that runs on longer than normal where a women is supposed to count off an additional 7 days after the flow stops, or (c) there is another scripture which I couldn't find which gives us the 14 day time frame.

    When a woman has given birth to a boy she must remain celibate for 7 + 33 = 40 days, abstaining from sexual intercourse (Leviticus 12:2-4). If she gives birth to a girl, she must remain celibate for 14 + 66 = 80 days, abstaining from all sexual intercourse. Sexual abstinence is enjoined for the duration of her menstruation: violation of this prohibition meant being cut off from the nation of Israel (Leviticus 18:19; 20:18; Ezekiel 18:6; 22:10).

    The story of the woman with an issue of blood in Matthew 9:20-22 and Mark 5:25-34 is particularly interesting in the context of the passage you cite as it is generally recognised that the "bleeding" she suffered from was an uncontrollable menstruation, making her constantly ceremonially unclean. This meant that nobody could touch her. Yah'shua's (Jesus') reaction at being touched by one who was unclean makes better sense for He detected that power had gone out of Him no doubt caused by the fact that she was unclean.

    But let us take a closer look at this passage which is the only passage (that I know of) which talks of the 'extra week' after a discharge of blood:

      "When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period. Any bed she lies on while her discharge continues will be unclean, as is her bed during her monthly period, and anything she sits on will be unclean, as during her period. Whoever touches them will be unclean; he must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. When she is cleansed from her discharge, she must count off seven days, and after that she will be ceremonially clean. On the eighth day she must take two doves or two young pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. The priest is to sacrifice one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way he will make atonement for her before Yahweh for the uncleanness of her discharge" (Leviticus 15:25-30, NIV).

    Although the context is undoubtedly an abnormal long discharge during her period, or a discharge unassociated with menstruation, the principle, as I see it, is that once any discharge has taken place, the body requires a week to be purified. The fact that this 'extra week' has been part and parcel of orthodox Jewish observation for centuries further suggests to me that this was the original intent of the statute. I realise that as the Scriptures stand that it is open to interpretation either way, viz.:

    • (a) that sexual intercourse is permitted immediately after a normal monthly period (whatever 'normal' may mean); or
    • (b) that sexual intercourse is only permitted seven days after menstruation has ceased.

    For those who accept the Bible as their only rule of faith then I suppose it is a matter of conscience what they do.

    As one who believes in New Covenant apostolic halakah - that is, apostolic interpretation of the Scriptures which seem to leave certain matters unresolved - in our community it was determined in 1996 that the correct interpretation was the seven-day plus ruling (Olive Branch, NC&C 433:4). The determining factors were:

    • (a) Jewish tradition;
    • (b) The fact that irregular menstrual cycles are very common these days;
    • (c) It is 'better to be safe than sorry'; and
    • (d) The experiences of members of this Order.

    I myself saw a vision when once I had intercourse during the 7 extra-day period in which I was very clearly shown that it was unclean. When this happened on two other occasions, the matter was effectively established for me personally, vindicating the revelatory halakah of our Apostolate in the Olive Branch.

    My counsel is that patriarchs should abstain during the one week period after menstruation has ceased. But as far as those who are not of our Order are concerned, it should be a personal matter between them and Yahweh.

    Though disciplining yourself to live this 14-day off cycle may be a little hard at first for those accustomed to being sexually 'on-line' rather more often, we have discovered and reaped many blessings from its observance in terms of better communion with Yahweh, a sense of purity, more time for prayer and other spiritual activities, and a total absence of miscarriages. Some of these things may be either coincidental or imaginary, to be sure, as they are subjective by nature, and not everyone will take my word for these things. The proof of the pudding is, however, in the eating. One thing is for sure: no-one will be harmed from abstaining an extra week whereas following the shorter abstinance cycle certainly leaves one open to possible risks. As a polygamist who has many wives to think about, I prefer to err on the side of caution rather than be too liberal and end up harming my loved ones and myself through ignorance or carelessness. Another effect, which again may be explicable because of other factors, is that it spaces the children out rather nicely so that the wives are not physically overwhelmed energetically by having children in too rapid succession.

    There seems to be a nice balance in it all physically, emotionally and mentally. But also I have noted certain symbolic relevences with the number 14 (2 x 7) and you will have noticed above, I am sure, the fact that after the birth of a female child that abstinence follows a 14 + 66 day cycle. This certainly needs further investigation because the symbolism appears in many places: e.g. the types of animals on Noah's Ark (2's and 7's - Genesis 7:2). Notice in the former that the division is one of unclean animals (2's) and clean animals (7's). Notice also the 14 generations between David and the Babylonian captivity, and between the latter and Christ (Matthew 1:17). I am not saying that there is necessarily anything in this but that perhaps there is a pattern here connected to cleanliness that should be researched. Other uses of the biblical number 14 are interesting too, and in particular the events surrounding the purification of Solomon's Temple (Numbers 29:13,15,17,20,23,26,29,32; also 1 Kings 8:65; Acts 27:33; 2 Corinthians 12:2; Galatians 2:1).

    Author: SBSK

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    Updated on 17 April 2016

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