|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
19:1-10 The heifer was to be wholly burned. This typified the painful sufferings of our Lord Jesus, both in soul and body, as a sacrifice made by fire, to satisfy God's justice for man's sin. These ashes are said to be laid up as a purification for sin, because, though they were only to purify from ceremonial uncleanness, yet they were a type of that purification for sin which our Lord Jesus made by his death. The blood of Christ is laid up for us in the word and sacraments, as a fountain of merit, to which by faith we may have constant recourse, for cleansing our consciences.
Verse 3. - Unto Eleazar the priest. Possibly in order that Aaron himself might not be associated with dearly, even in this indirect way (see verse 6). In after times, however, it was usually the high priest who officiated on this occasion, and therefore it is quite as likely that Eleazar was designated because he was already beginning to take the place of his father in his especial duties. Without the camp. The bodies of those animals which were offered for the sin of the congregation were always burnt outside the camp, the law thus testifying that sin and death had no proper place within the city of God. In this case, however, the whole sacrifice was performed outside the camp, and was only brought into relation with the national sanctuary by the sprinkling of the blood in that direction. Various symbolic reasons have been assigned to this fact, but none are satisfactory except the following: -
1. It served to intensify the conviction, which the whole of this ordinance was intended to bring home to the minds of men, that death was an awful thing, and that everything connected with it was wholly foreign to the presence and habitation of the living God.
2. It served to mark with more emphasis the contrast between this one offering, which was perhaps almost the only one they had in the wilderness, and those which ought to have been offered continually according to the Levitical ordinances. The red heifer stood quite outside the number of ordinary victims as demanded by the law, and therefore it was not slain at any hallowed altar, nor, necessarily, by any hallowed hand.
3. It served to prefigure in a wonderful and indeed startling way the sacrifice of Christ outside the gate. In later days the heifer was conducted upon a double tier of arches over the ravine of Kedron to the opposite slope of Olivet. That he may bring her forth... and one shall slay her. The nominative to both these verbs is alike unexpressed. Septuagint, καὶ ἐξάξουσιν . . καὶ σφάξουσιν. In the practice of later ages the high priest led her out, and another priest killed her in his presence, but it was not so commanded.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest,.... The son of Aaron; the Sagan of the priests, as the Targum of Jonathan calls him, the second or deputy priest; it was not to be given to Aaron, that he might not be defiled, though but for a small time, that so he might not be hindered in his office at all; but to Eleazar, to inure him to his office, and to confirm him in it:
that he may bring her forth without the camp; without the camp of Israel; Jarchi says, without the three camps, as afterwards without Jerusalem; it used in later times to be burnt on the mount of Olives; it was brought forth as impure, and was a type of Christ, having the sins of his people on him, and who in conformity to this type suffered without the gates of Jerusalem, see Hebrews 13:11,
and one shall slay her before his face; the Targum of Jonathan says, another priest; but it was not necessary that it should be slain by a priest, any man might do it. Jarchi says, a stranger slew, and Eleazar looked on; though it was not slain by him, yet it was slain before him, that it might look like a sacrifice, though not offered on the altar; and slaying of it denotes the putting of Christ to death, which was done in the presence, and with the approbation, of the priests and elders of the people.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3-6. ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest that he may bring her forth without the camp—He was the second or deputy high priest, and he was selected for this duty because the execution of it entailed temporary defilement, from which the acting high priest was to be preserved with the greatest care. It was led "forth without the camp," in accordance with the law regarding victims laden with the sins of the people, and thus typical of Christ (Heb 13:12; also Le 24:14). The priest was to sprinkle the blood "seven times" before—literally, "towards" or "near" the tabernacle, a description which seems to imply either that he carried a portion of the blood in a basin to the door of the tabernacle (Le 4:17), or that in the act of sprinkling he turned his face towards the sacred edifice, being disqualified through the defiling influence of this operation from approaching close to it. By this attitude he indicated that he was presenting an expiatory sacrifice, for the acceptance of which he hoped, in the grace of God, by looking to the mercy seat. Every part of it was consumed by fire except the blood used in sprinkling, and the ingredients mixed with the ashes were the same as those employed in the sprinkling of lepers (Le 14:4-7). It was a water of separation—that is, of "sanctification" for the people of Israel.
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