|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
19:11-22 Why did the law make a corpse a defiling thing? Because death is the wages of sin, which entered into the world by it, and reigns by the power of it. The law could not conquer death, nor abolish it, as the gospel does, by bringing life and immortality to light, and so introducing a better hope. As the ashes of the heifer signified the merit of Christ, so the running water signified the power and grace of the blessed Spirit, who is compared to rivers of living water; and it is by his work that the righteousness of Christ is applied to us for our cleansing. Those who promise themselves benefit by the righteousness of Christ, while they submit not to the grace and influence of the Holy Spirit, do but deceive themselves; we cannot be purified by the ashes, otherwise than in the running water. What use could there be in these appointments, if they do not refer to the doctrines concerning the sacrifice of Christ? But comparing them with the New Testament, the knowledge to be got from them is evident. The true state of fallen man is shown in these institutions. Here we learn the defiling nature of sin, and are warned to avoid evil communications.
Verse 11. - Shall be unclean seven days. The fact of defilement by contact with the dead had been mentioned before (Leviticus 21:1; Numbers 5:2; Numbers 6:6; Numbers 9:6), and had no doubt been recognized as a religious pollution from ancient times; but the exact period of consequent uncleanness is here definitely fixed.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He that toucheth the dead body of any man,.... A man and not a beast, as Aben Ezra observes; for he that touched the dead body of a beast was unclean only until evening, Leviticus 11:24; any man, Jew or Gentile, as the same writer notes: this is instanced in, as being the principal pollution, though not the only one, yet so some think, for which the water of purification made of the ashes of the burnt heifer was appointed:
shall be unclean seven days; the reason of which is, because death is the fruit of sin, which is of a defiling nature, and to show that all that are dead in sins are defiled and defiling, and are not to be touched, or to have communion and fellowship held with them but to be abstained from.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11-22. He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean—This law is noticed here to show the uses to which the water of separation [Nu 19:9] was applied. The case of a death is one; and as in every family which sustained a bereavement the members of the household became defiled, so in an immense population, where instances of mortality and other cases of uncleanness would be daily occurring, the water of separation must have been in constant requisition. To afford the necessary supply of the cleansing mixture, the Jewish writers say that a red heifer was sacrificed every year, and that the ashes, mingled with the sprinkling ingredients, were distributed through all the cities and towns of Israel.
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