What is the meaning of having 7 days of making atonement to cleanse the altar? We know the sacrifices at the temple were not acceptable until after they properly dedicated the altar, but why does it take 7 days?

Ezekiel 43: [26]Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar and cleanse it; so shall they consecrate it.[27]And when they have accomplished the days, it shall be that upon the eighth day, and forward, the priests shall make your burnt-offerings upon the altar, and your peace-offerings; and I will accept you, saith the Lord GOD.’

What writings explain this? Or is this simply a commandment/requirement and the way YHVH wants to be worshipped?

Exodus 29: 37 Seven days thou shalt make atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; thus shall the altar be most holy; whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy. ...44 And I will sanctify the tent of meeting, and the altar; Aaron also and his sons will I sanctify, to minister to Me in the priest’s office. 45 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.

What is in the 7 day length that is so special? In vs 44 above, YHVH says that HE will sanctify and will dwell among our people and be our elohim. So he will do the sanctifying of the tent of meeting, the altar, and Aaron and his sons but sequentially after this period of atonement for the altar.

Why is this uncleanness period of 7 days applied to a person and then on the 8th day they're able to establish the sign of the covenant? (Not counting researched medical reasons of vit.K production and all that.)

Leviticus 12: 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: If a woman be delivered, and bear a man-child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of the impurity of her sickness shall she be unclean. 3 And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

Is there a meaning to this pattern? What is it? Obviously 7s are a big deal. Several patterns of atonement for 7 days and acceptance on the 8th are here in Torah and Nevi'im. I guess the root of my asking this is application to my own life and obedience to Torah and noting what it means to have something anointed/dedicated/consecrated and if there's a relationship with a 7 day period of cleansing/purging things in my own life, physically or spiritually. So in general, is there a deeper meaning of what's going on during the 7 days that I'm missing in the scriptures or is it simply a commandment for the priesthood to follow specifically regarding how/when to sacrifice?


1 Answer 1


Rav Hirsch points out (especially with Bris Milah - circumcision) that seven is symbolic of the completion of the natural world, while eight is the moving above the natural world into the world of spirituality. Thus, six involves the complete physical world (such as right, left, forward, back up, down) while seven is Shabat - the completion of the physical universe (as with shabat completing creation).

Eight now takes the universe into the area of spirituality and taharah (translated as purity) which brings matters to the next level. Thus, we see the seven days of purification from "unclennliness" (tum'ah), the seven days an animal must remain with its mother before it can be sacrificed, the seven days befor the bris milah on the eighth day, etc.

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