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CHAPTER 19 Apr. 4 
The Red Heifer
Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 2This is the statute of the law which Yahweh has commanded: Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without spot, in which is no blemish, and which was never yoked. 3You shall give her to Eleazar the priest, and he shall bring her forth outside of the camp, and one shall kill her before his face. 4Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle her blood toward the front of the Tent of Meeting seven times. 5One shall burn the heifer in his sight: her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn; 6and the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer. 7Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall be unclean until the evening. 8He who burns her shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the evening. 9A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up outside of the camp in a clean place; and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water for impurity. It is a sin offering. 10He who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the evening. It shall be to the children of Israel, and to the stranger who lives as a foreigner among them, for a statute forever. 11He who touches the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days. 12The same shall purify himself with water on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean; but if he doesn’t purify himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean. 13Whoever touches a dead person, the body of a man who has died, and doesn’t purify himself, defiles the tent of Yahweh; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel. Because the water for impurity was not sprinkled on him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet on him. 14This is the law when a man dies in a tent: everyone who comes into the tent, and everyone who is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days. 15Every open vessel, which has no covering bound on it, is unclean. 16Whoever in the open field touches one who is slain with a sword, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days. 17For the unclean they shall take of the ashes of the burning of the sin offering; and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel: 18and a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it on the tent, and on all the vessels, and on the persons who were there, and on him who touched the bone, or the slain, or the dead, or the grave. 19The clean person shall sprinkle on the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day, and on the seventh day he shall purify him; and he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at evening. 20But the man who shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of Yahweh. The water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him: he is unclean. 21It shall be a perpetual statute to them. He who sprinkles the water for impurity shall wash his clothes, and he who touches the water for impurity shall be unclean until evening. 22Whatever the unclean person touches shall be unclean; and the soul that touches it shall be unclean until evening.


19:2 This sacrifice was to provide purification from death through its ashes, which were to be mixed with water (:9), perhaps the running water from the rock, which water followed them through the wilderness- for what other source of “running [Heb. ‘springing’] water” (:17) could they have had in the wilderness? It speaks very clearly of Christ’s death; for He was without blemish and never came under the yoke of sin; He too was killed outside the camp of Israel (:3 cp. Heb. 13:12). Heb. 9:13 specifically alludes to how the ashes of this heifer were typical of Christ’s sacrifice.
19:6 Wood, and hyssop, and scarlet- All associated with the crucifixion of Christ.
19:13 The sacrifice of the red heifer, like that of Christ, became meaningful and effective for the individual when mixed with water, which could suggest our need to appropriate the sacrifice of Christ to ourselves through baptism.
19:21 Perpetual statute- The implication is that this process of cleansing from the results of death was to be permanent; but the whole style of the command for Eleazar to kill the red heifer in :2,3 sounds as if only one red heifer was killed for all time. There is no command as to continuing to kill a red heifer, nor by whom or how often it should be done. The record may be framed to present the result of the red heifer’s sacrifice as if it were eternal, clearly typifying Christ’s sacrifice. Another option is that this entire ritual is to be understood in the context of the death of so many Israelites in the rebellion described in chapter 16. Chapters 17 and 18 provide the answer to the peoples’ concerns arising out of that incident, and chapter 19 may also be in that context- describing how to avoid defilement by all the dead bodies which died in the plague.