Hebrews 9:13
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) For if the blood of bulls and of goats.—This verse connects itself with the last words of Hebrews 9:12, “having won eternal redemption,” showing why our hope may rise so high. The sacrifice is mentioned here in words slightly different from those of Hebrews 9:11; but in each case the writer’s thought is resting on the sin offering of the Day of Atonement, a bullock for the high priest himself, a goat for the people. (There is no distinct reference in this Epistle to the “scapegoat” sent into the wilderness.)

And the ashes of an heifer.—The nineteenth chapter of Numbers is wholly occupied with the remarkable institution here referred to. A red heifer without spot was slain and wholly burnt, “with cedar-wood and hyssop and scarlet,” and the ashes were laid up in a clean place without the camp. “And for 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: and a clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water and sprinkle . . . . upon the unclean” (Hebrews 9:17-19). The “unclean” are those that have been defiled by touching the dead body of a man, or by being in any way brought into connection with death. It is said that on the third and seventh days of the high priest’s week of preparation for the Day of Atonement (see Note on Hebrews 7:26), he was sprinkled with this water of purification, lest he should inadvertently have contracted such defilement.

Sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh.—Better, sanctify unto the cleanness of the flesh. As we have seen already (Hebrews 9:10), the writer is looking at the intrinsic character of the sacrifices (Hebrews 10:4) and rites of purification, apart from their importance as marks of obedience or their value to those who were able to discern their spiritual lessons. They could not cleanse the conscience (Hebrews 9:9); but they could and did remove what the Law accounted “uncleanness,” and disabilities connected with the outward life and religious worship of the commonwealth.

Hebrews 9:13-14. For, &c. — The truth intended to be confirmed in these verses, is that which the apostle had asserted in the two preceding, namely, That Christ by his blood hath obtained for us eternal redemption. And his words contain both an argument and a comparison, to this effect: “If that which is less can do that which is less, then that which is greater can do that which is greater; provided also that less, in what it did, was a type of what was greater in that greater thing which it was to effect. The apostle takes for granted, what he had proved before, namely, 1st, That the Levitical services and ordinances were in themselves carnal, and had only an obscure representation of things spiritual and eternal; and that the office and sacrifice of Christ were spiritual, and had their effects in eternal things. 2d, That those other carnal earthly things were divinely-appointed types and resemblances of those which were spiritual and eternal. From these suppositions the argument is firm: as the ordinances of old, being carnal, had an efficacy to their proper end, to purify the unclean as to the flesh; so the sacrifice of Christ hath a certain efficacy to its proper end, the purging of our consciences, &c. The force of the inference depends on the relation that was between them in the appointment of God. Nay, there was evidently a greater efficacy in the sacrifice of Christ, with respect to its proper end, than there was in those sacrifices, with respect to their proper end: the reason is, because all their efficacy depended on a mere arbitrary institution, having in their own nature neither worth nor efficacy; but in the sacrifice of Christ there is an innate glorious worth and efficacy, which, suitably to the rules of eternal reason and righteousness, will procure and accomplish its effects.” — Owen. Therefore the apostle says, How much more shall the blood of Christ, &c. These things being observed, the explication of the apostle’s words will not be difficult. As if the apostle had said, That Jesus, by his death, should procure an eternal pardon and deliverance from all the consequences of sin for us, is reasonable; for if the blood of bulls and of goats, of which I have just been speaking, when presented to God, with the appointed circumstances, on the day of general expiation by the high-priest, and, in cases of personal pollution, the ashes of a heifer, (namely, the red heifer, of which see Numbers 19:17-19,) consumed by fire, as a sin-offering, being sprinkled on them who were legally unclean, did sanctify to the purifying of the flesh — Had so much efficacy in consequence of the divine institution, as to reconcile God to the whole Jewish people, in the former instance, and in the other to introduce persons legally unclean to the liberty of approaching him in his sanctuary, which would otherwise have been denied them; how much more reasonable is it to think that the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit — Supporting the infirmities of his human nature, and animating him to the exercise of all those graces which shed such a lustre round all the infamy of his cross; offered himself voluntarily, without spot, a most acceptable sacrifice, to God — How much more, I say, shall that blood of his avail to purge our consciences from dead works, (of which see on Hebrews 6:1,) that is, from the pollutions we have contracted by works of sin and death; to serve — That is, that we may freely approach, and acceptably worship and serve the living God? — How surely shall it appease that consciousness of guilt, which might otherwise be very distressing and discouraging to us, and introduce us to present our prayers, praises, and other services in the divine presence, with assurance of acceptance and regard. It is justly observed by Macknight here, that “the ceremonial institutions mentioned, sanctified the bodies of the polluted, not by any natural efficacy, (for they rather defiled them,) but by the appointment of God, who, considering them as acts of obedience, was pleased, on their account, to remit the punishment, which, as their political ruler, he had a right to inflict on the polluted; but the shedding of the blood of Christ, both by the appointment of God, and by its own efficacy, availeth to the procuring an eternal pardon for penitent sinners. The sanctification effected by the legal rites being the sanctification of nothing but the body, it was, in a religious light, of little use, unless it was a representation and pledge of some real expiation. Now, what real expiation of sin is there in the whole universe, if the sacrifice of Christ is excluded? We must therefore acknowledge that the Levitical rites, which sanctified the flesh, derived their whole virtue from their being, as the apostle affirms, figurative representations of the real atonement which Christ [made upon the cross and] was to make in heaven, [by presenting his crucified body there,] for sanctifying the soul of the sinner. Christ is said to have offered himself through the eternal Spirit, because he was raised from the dead by the Spirit, (1 Peter 3:18,) consequently he was enabled by the Spirit to offer himself to God.”9:11-14 All good things past, present, and to come, were and are founded upon the priestly office of Christ, and come to us from thence. Our High Priest entered into heaven once for all, and has obtained eternal redemption. The Holy Ghost further signified and showed that the Old Testament sacrifices only freed the outward man from ceremonial uncleanness, and fitted him for some outward privileges. What gave such power to the blood of Christ? It was Christ's offering himself without any sinful stain in his nature or life. This cleanses the most guilty conscience from dead, or deadly, works to serve the living God; from sinful works, such as pollute the soul, as dead bodies did the persons of the Jews who touched them; while the grace that seals pardon, new-creates the polluted soul. Nothing more destroys the faith of the gospel, than by any means to weaken the direct power of the blood of Christ. The depth of the mystery of the sacrifice of Christ, we cannot dive into, the height we cannot comprehend. We cannot search out the greatness of it, or the wisdom, the love, the grace that is in it. But in considering the sacrifice of Christ, faith finds life, food, and refreshment.For if the blood of bulls and of goats - Referring still to the great day of atonement, when the offering made was the sacrifice of a bullock and a goat.

And the ashes of an heifer - For an account of this, see Numbers 19:2-10. In ver. 9, it is said that the ashes of the heifer, after it was burnt, should be kept "for a water of separation; it is a purification for sin." That is, the ashes were to be carefully preserved, and being mixed with water were sprinkled on those who were from any cause ceremonially impure. The "reason" for this appears to have been that the heifer was considered as a sacrifice whose blood has been offered, and the application of the ashes to which she had been burnt was regarded as an evidence of participation in that sacrifice. It was needful, where the laws were so numerous respecting external pollutions, or where the members of the Jewish community were regarded as so frequently "unclean" by contact with dead bodies, and in various other ways, that there should be some method in which they could be declared to be cleansed from their "uncleanness." The nature of these institutions also required that this should be in connection with "sacrifice," and in order to this, it was arranged that there should be this "permanent sacrifice" - the ashes of the heifer that had been sacrificed - of which they could avail themselves at any time, without the expense and delay of making a bloody offering specifically for the occasion. It was, therefore, a provision of convenience, and at the same time was designed to keep up the idea, that all purification was somehow connected with the shedding of blood.

Sprinkling the unclean - Mingled with water, and sprinkled on the unclean. The word "unclean" here refers to such as had been defiled by contact with dead bodies, or when one had died in the family, etc.; see Numbers 19:11-22.

Sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh - Makes holy so far as the flesh or body is concerned. The uncleanness here referred to related to the body only, and of course the means of cleansing extended only to that. It was not designed to give peace to the conscience, or to expiate moral offences. The offering thus made removed the obstructions to the worship of God so far as to allow him who had been defiled to approach him in a regular manner. Thus, much the apostle allows was accomplished by the Jewish rites. They had an efficacy in removing ceremonial uncleanness, and in rendering it proper that he who had been polluted should be permitted again to approach and worship God. The apostle goes on to argue that if they had such an efficacy, it was fair to presume that the blood of Christ would have far greater efficacy, and would reach to the conscience itself, and make that pure.

Heb 9:13-28. Proof of and Enlargement on, the "Eternal Redemption" Mentioned in Heb 9:12.

For His blood, offered by Himself, purifies not only outwardly, as the Levitical sacrifices on the day of atonement, but inwardly unto the service of the living God (Heb 9:13, 14). His death is the inaugurating act of the new covenant, and of the heavenly sanctuary (Heb 9:15-23). His entrance into the true Holy of Holies is the consummation of His once-for-all-offered sacrifice of atonement (Heb 9:24, 26); henceforth, His reappearance alone remains to complete our redemption (Heb 9:27, 28).

13. if—as we know is the case; so the Greek indicative means. Argument from the less to the greater. If the blood of mere brutes could purify in any, however small a degree, how much more shall inward purification, and complete and eternal salvation, be wrought by the blood of Christ, in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead?

ashes of an heifer—(Nu 19:16-18). The type is full of comfort for us. The water of separation, made of the ashes of the red heifer, was the provision for removing ceremonial defilement whenever incurred by contact with the dead. As she was slain without the camp, so Christ (compare Heb 13:11; Nu 19:3, 4). The ashes were laid by for constant use; so the continually cleansing effects of Christ's blood, once for all shed. In our wilderness journey we are continually contracting defilement by contact with the spiritually dead, and with dead works, and need therefore continual application to the antitypical life-giving cleansing blood of Christ, whereby we are afresh restored to peace and living communion with God in the heavenly holy place.

the unclean—Greek, "those defiled" on any particular occasion.

purifying—Greek, "purity."

the flesh—Their effect in themselves extended no further. The law had a carnal and a spiritual aspect; carnal, as an instrument of the Hebrew polity, God, their King, accepting, in minor offenses, expiatory victims instead of the sinner, otherwise doomed to death; spiritual, as the shadow of good things to come (Heb 10:1). The spiritual Israelite derived, in partaking of these legal rights, spiritual blessings not flowing from them, but from the great antitype. Ceremonial sacrifices released from temporal penalties and ceremonial disqualifications; Christ's sacrifice releases from everlasting penalties (Heb 9:12), and moral impurities on the conscience disqualifying from access to God (Heb 9:14). The purification of the flesh (the mere outward man) was by "sprinkling"; the washing followed by inseparable connection (Nu 19:19). So justification is followed by renewing.

This service of Christ in his sanctuary exceeds the Aaronical, not only for reconciling souls to God, but purifying of them, as cleared in this and Hebrews 9:14.

For if the blood of bulls and of goats: the blood is the same as spoken of Hebrews 9:12.

Bulls, here put for calves, are but to distinguish the sex; and it is to be noted, where our translators read oxen, as to sacrifices in the Old Testament, as particularly Numbers 7:87, they mean bulls, for no oxen were by the law to be offered to God at all as sacrifices; see Leviticus 22:17-23; because they could not be true types of the true sacrifice, which was to perfect them. This blood was sprinkled on the mercy-seat and before it, and on the altar, Leviticus 16:14,19, &c., expiating sins, and taking away the guilt and legal punishment.

And the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean: the rite of preparing it, read in Numbers 19:1-10. A red heifer was by the people given to the priest; he was to bring her without the camp, and order her to be slain, and then take the blood with his finger, and sprinkle it towards the tabernacle seven times; after which she was to be wholly burnt in his sight, with cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet, the ashes of which were reserved; when they used them, they took them in a vessel, and put running water to them, and then sprinkled them with a bunch of hyssop on persons legally unclean, Hebrews 9:18-20, and so they purified them from their ceremonial filth and pollution; but none of these could purify an unclean soul, that was left unholy and unclean still.

Sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; these sprinklings did sanctify those who were legally unclean, and did procure a legal purity and acceptance of them the service of the sanctuary, from which else they were excluded; by this they were looked on as externally holy with the congregation, their flesh and outward man being made pure by it for their external worship. For if the blood of bulls and of goats,.... Shed either on the day of atonement, or at any other time: the former of thee, Pausanias (y) relates, was drank by certain priestesses among the Grecians, whereby they were tried, whether they spoke truth or no if not, they were immediately punished; and the latter, he says (z), will dissolve an adamant stone; but neither of them can purge from sin:

and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean; the apostle refers to the red heifer, Numbers 19:1 which being burnt, its ashes were gathered up and put into a vessel, and water poured upon them, which was sprinkled with a bunch of hyssop on unclean persons; the ashes and the water mixed together made the water of separation, or of sprinkling; for so it is called by the Septuagint, "the water of sprinkling", and in the Targum in a following citation: this was the purification for sin, though it only

sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; the body, or only in an external and typical way, but did not really sanctify the heart, or purify and cleanse the soul from sin. The Jews say, that the waters of purification for sin were not waters of purification for sin, without the ashes (a); and to this the Targumist, on Ezekiel 36:25 and on Zechariah 13:1 refers, paraphrasing both texts thus;

"I will forgive their sins as they are cleansed with the water of sprinkling, and with the ashes of the heifer, which is a purification for sin.''

(y) Achaica, sive l. 7. p. 450. (z) Arcadica, sive l. 8. p. 485. (a) Misn. Temura, c. 1. sect. 5. Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.

{9} For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the {k} purifying of the flesh:

(9) If the outward sprinkling of blood and ashes of beasts was a true and effectual sign of purifying and cleansing, how much more shall the thing itself and the truth being present which in times past was shadowed by those external sacraments do it? That is to say, his blood, which is man's blood and also the blood of the Son of God, and therefore has an everlasting power of purifying and cleansing.

(k) He considers the signs separately, being separate from the thing itself.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 9:13-14. Justification of αἰωνίαν λύτρωσιν εὐράμενος, Hebrews 9:12, by an argument a minore ad majus. With the quantitative augmentation, however, expressed by εἰπόσῳ μᾶλλον, there is at the same time blended a qualitative augmentation by means of πρὸς τὴν τῆς σαρκὸς καθαρότητα and τὴν συνείδησιν ἡμ. κ.τ.λ., in such wise that the two following thoughts are enfolded the one in the other:—(1) If even the blood of animals works cleansing … how much more the blood of Christ? (2) If that effects the purity of the flesh, this effects purity of conscience.

καὶ σπόδος δαμάλεως] and ashes of an heifer. According to Numbers 19, those who by contact with a dead body had become defiled, must be sprinkled with a mixture of water and the ashes of a spotless red heifer wholly consumed by fire, of which the ashes were preserved in a clean place without the camp (with the so-called מֵי־הַנִּדָּה, Numbers 19:9; Numbers 19:13; Numbers 19:20-21; LXX.: ὕδωρ ῥαντισμοῦ), in order to become clean again.

ῥαντίζουσα τοὺς κεκεοινωμένους] sprinkling those who have been defiled. Free mode of expression for: with which (ashes) those who have been defiled are sprinkled.

τοὺς κεκοινωμένους] belongs, since ῥαντίζουσα most requires an express addition of the object, to this verb (Erasmus, Beza, Jac. Cappellus, Grotius, Böhme, Bleek, de Wette, Bisping, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, Hofmann, Woerner, al.), not to ἁγιάζει (Vulgate, Luther, Calvin, Bengel, Schulz, al.), which latter stands absolutely: works sanctification.

πρὸς τὴν τῆς σαρκὸς καθαρότητα] to the (producing of the) purity of the flesh. πρός, as v. 14. Indication of the result.Hebrews 9:13. εἰ γὰρ τὸ αἷμα … “For if the blood of goats and bulls and an heifer’s ashes sprinkling the unclean purify as regards the cleanness of the flesh, how much rather shall the blood of the Christ, who through eternal spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” The writer thus justifies the affirmation of Hebrews 9:12 that by offering His own blood Christ obtained eternal redemption. σποδὸς δαμάλεως, the law of purification with the ashes of the δάμαλις πυῤῥὰ ἄμωμος is given in Numbers 19, where we find the characteristic words of this verse, σποδός, ἄμωμος, ἁγνίζω, ῥαντισμός, καθαρός, but κοινοῦν (not used in LXX) is replaced by ἀκάθαρτος. κεκοινωμένους, “made common,” i.e., profane, ceremonially unclean. Defilement was contracted by touching a dead body, or entering into a house in which a corpse was lying, or touching a bone or a tomb; and to enter the Tabernacle while thus defiled was to incur the penalty of being cut off from Israel. The water in which lay the ashes of the burned heifer was therefore provided for purification (ὕδωρ ῥαντισμοῦ) and by using it the worshipper was again rendered fit for entrance to the worship of God. ῥαντίζουσα governs κεκοιν. and is not to be translated as if it were a passive; so Vulg., “aspersus inquinatos sanctificat” (cf. Calvin and Bengel). ἁγιάζει, the meaning is determined by its use in Numbers 19, where it signifies the removal of ceremonial defilement: the taking away of that which rendered the person “common” or “profane,” and the qualifying him for again worshipping God. This ἁγιασμός extended πρὸς τὴν τῆν σαρκὸς καθαρότητα, “in the direction of” (Hebrews 6:11) or “in relation to” (Hebrews 2:17, Hebrews 5:1) (cf. Weiss). The flesh is here opposed to “the conscience” of Hebrews 9:14. It was only the flesh that was defiled by attending to the dead; and only the flesh that was cleansed by the prescribed sprinkling. Defilement and cleansing were alike symbolic. It was within a well-defined ceremonial limit these sacrifices and washings availed. What kind of water, no matter how mixed with heifer’s ashes, could reach and wash the soul?13. if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean] The writer has designedly chosen the two most striking sacrifices and ceremonials of the Levitical Law, namely the calf and the goat offered for the sins of people and priest on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16) and “the water of separation,” or rather “of impurity,” i.e. “to remove impurity” “as a sin-offering” described in Numbers 19:1-12 (comp. Hebrews 7:26).

of a heifer] The Jews have the interesting legend that nine such red heifers had been slain between the time of Moses and the destruction of the Temple.

the unclean] Those that have become ceremonially defiled, especially by having touched a corpse.

sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh] i.e. if these things are adequate to restore a man to ceremonial cleanness which was a type of moral purity. So much efficacy they had; they did make the worshipper ceremonially pure before God: their further and deeper efficacy depended on the faith and sincerity with which they were offered, and was derived from the one offering of which they were a type.Hebrews 9:13. Γὰρ, for) He confirms the fact, that the power of the one sacrifice of Christ is as great as he intimated at Hebrews 9:12.—ταύρων καὶ τράγων) of bulls and goats, which are mere brutes. Extenuation.[50]—δαμάλεως, of a heifer) which was to be red, Numbers 19. Andr. Christ. Zellerus has enlarged the treatise of Maimonides on this subject, and compares with it this passage of the apostle, p. 504. It is a tradition among the Jews, that nine heifers of that sort were sacrificed from the time of Moses to the destruction of the second temple; see ibid., pp. 416, 417.—τοὺς κεκοινωμένους, those defiled or made unclean) A participle [defiled on some particular occasion]: less strong than κοινοὺς, [habitually] common or defiled. Construe with ἁγιάζει, sanctifies; compare what follows.—καθαρότητα, cleanness or purifying) Purifying was performed by sprinkling, not by washing; but washing followed by inseparable connection: Numbers 19:19. This fact is exceedingly useful for making a distinction between justification and renewing.

[50] See App. The same as Litotes. The blood of bulls, etc., a less forcible expression than is the meaning, viz. sacrifices.—ED.Verse 13. - For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling those that have been defiled (κεκοινωμένους, cf. Matthew 15:11, etc.; Acts 21:28), sancfifieth to the purifying (literally, unto the purity, καθαρότητα) of the flesh. In addition to the sin offerings of the Day of Atonement, mention is here made of the red heifer, whose ashes were to be mixed with water for the purification of such as had been ceremonially defiled by contact with dead bodies (for account of which see Numbers 19.). They are classed together because both were general sin offerings for the whole congregation, representing the idea of continual and unavoidable defilements notwithstanding all the daily sacrifices; the difference between them being that the ashes were reserved for use in known cases of constantly recurring defilement, the sin offerings on the Day of Atonement were for general sin and defilement, known or unknown. But neither, in themselves, could from their very nature avail for more than outward ceremonial cleansing - " the purity of the flesh." This, however, they did avail for; and, if so, what -must the cleansing power of Christ's offering be? Its deeper efficacy shall appear from consideration of what it was. Ashes of a heifer (σποδός δαμάλεως)

Σποδός ashes, only here, Matthew 11:21; Luke 10:13, in both instances in the phrase sackcloth and ashes. Often in lxx. Δαμάλις heifer, N.T.o. The two examples selected cover the entire legal provision for removing uncleanness, whether contracted by sin or by contact with death. "The blood of bulls and goats" refers to the sin-offerings, perhaps especially to the annual atonement (Leviticus 16); "the ashes of a heifer" to the occasional sacrifice of the red heifer (Numbers 19) for purification from uncleanness contracted by contact with the dead. The Levitical law required two remedies: the Christian economy furnishes one for all phases of defilement.

Sprinkling the unclean (ῥαντίζουσα τοὺς κεκοινωμένους)

For sprinkling see on 1 Peter 1:2. The verb only in Hebrews, except Mark 7:4. For the unclean rend. them that have been defiled. The literal rendering of the participle brings out better the incidental or occasional character of the defilement.

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