CLAIM: Critics point out that Jewish mothers were doubly unclean, if they gave birth to girls, rather than boys (compare Leviticus 12:2 with 12:5). From this, they infer that girls were generally less clean than boys. Is this the case?
RESPONSE: By being called unclean, this provided rest for the mother. If she was unclean, she would not be required to work around the home or travel to the sanctuary to make an offering. Travel would have been very strenuous for a young mother. Moreover, by being called unclean, this would prevent the spread of childbed fever, which took many lives back then. However, these solutions do not address the male-female problem. The male-female objection can be met with at least three solutions:
First, this could be a sign of protection for the girls –rather than inferiority. The mother may have rested longer, because they protected girls more in their culture. If a modern woman was given four days to rest in the hospital, rather than two, we wouldn’t consider this an act of bigotry. In fact, we’d probably consider it an act of favoritism!
Second, this could be due to the fact that both mother and daughter are bleeding during birth, making them doubly unclean. During birth, an infant girl will often have vaginal bleeding (v.5). Therefore, there are two sources of bleeding –not one. In this way, they were doubly unclean. Because bleeding was a symbol of death, this was all symbolic for being unclean.
Third, the baby boy was circumcised on the eighth day. If the baby boys were considered unclean, they wouldn’t have been able to be circumcised. Medically, the best time to be circumcised is eight days after conception, because Vitamin K levels are at their highest. While the boys were recovering from circumcision, the baby girls were allowed to rest, as well.
 Harris writes, “Being unclean she could not do the cooking or keep the house.” Harris, R. L. Leviticus. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 2: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1990. 574.
 Harris writes, “It is possible that such a provision would help prevent the spread of childbed fever, which in former days took so many lives. If the mother was unclean, presumably any midwife would have to wash in water and be unclean until the evening, which might help prevent the direct transmission of this disease.” Harris, R. L. Leviticus. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 2: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1990. 574.