Leviticus 12:5, 7—If motherhood was so blessed by God, why did mothers have to bring a sacrifice to God to expiate for having children?

Problem: The Bible exalts the position of motherhood saying, “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine ... your children like olive plants” (Ps. 128:3). Nevertheless, mothers were commanded to bring a sacrifice to the altar for “purification” and “atonement” after the birth of a child (Lev. 12:5–7).

Solution: Some take this sacrifice as merely symbolic, but even then it must symbolize something that is literally true. It seems best to make a distinction between the office of motherhood as such and motherhood in a fallen world. God did create a wife for Adam and command them to have children (Gen. 1:27–28). In this original and pristine sense, motherhood is pure and unstained.

Unfortunately, since the Fall of Eve (with Adam) motherhood is not without the taint of sin. David confessed, “in sin my mother conceived me” (Ps. 51:5). Since motherhood, like everything else in this fallen world, is subject to sin, it too needed purification. After all, “the plowing of the wicked are sin” (Prov. 21:4) in a fallen world. As a result of the Fall, every woman bears children in pain (Gen. 3:16). It is appropriate, then, that mothers be reminded of God’s gracious provision for them and through them by the offering of a sacrifice on the birth of a child.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.