For Bible Study Nerds

The “Woman with an Issue of Blood” lived 12 years with a chronic uterine illness—but her physical suffering was not the worst part of her daily life. Here are the facts about what this woman most likely endured for more than a decade:

  • She was probably in her mid to late twenties—a young woman by our standards. According to Bible historian, Craig S. Keener, “[Her] ailment probably started after puberty; given an average life expectancy of about forty years and the ‘twelve years’ she had been ill, she may have spent half or all her adult life with this trouble.”
  • Because of her feminine discharge, this woman was literally shunned by everyone in her society. This was not simply a community prejudice; it was required by God himself and recorded by Moses in Leviticus 15.
  • According to Jewish law and customs at the time, the woman with an issue of blood was considered unclean, both physically and spiritually.
  • She was to be confined to her home while menstruating (which, for her, was all the time).
  • She was not allowed to touch anybody. Her family members weren’t even allowed to lie on a bed or sit on a chair that she had touched.
  • People who touched this menstruating woman, even by accident, were considered contaminated right alongside her and had to a) take a bath to purify themselves; b) wash their clothes; and c) stay isolated until evening.
  • She was forced away from religious gatherings, from temple worship, from even joyous annual religious feasts that consumed her Jewish culture in regular intervals.
  • Gentile cultures of that time had similar rules. For instance, the Roman philosopher Pliny dictated that the touch of a menstruating woman was invisibly harmful and to be avoided.
  • Some extremists forbade even speaking with a menstruating woman or making eye contact with her because her breath was poisonous and her gaze was injurious.


Works Cited:

[BBC, 148; BKC 124; ZB1, 237; GISM, 83-85]



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