Numbers 19:20
But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD: the water of separation has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Numbers 19:20-21. That shall not purify himself — Shall contemptuously refuse to submit to this way of purification. Shall wash his clothes — Because he is unclean. It is strange, that the same water should cleanse one person, and defile another. But God would have it so, to teach us that it did not cleanse by any virtue in itself, or in the work done, but only by virtue of God’s appointment; and to show that the efficacy of God’s ordinances doth not depend upon the person or quality of his ministers, because the same person who was polluted himself could and did, in the use of God’s appointed means, cleanse others. He that toucheth the water — Either by sprinkling of it, or by being sprinkled with it; for even he that was cleansed by it was not fully cleansed as soon as he was sprinkled, but only at the even of that day.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.One practical effect of attaching defilement to a dead body, and to all that touched it, etc., would be to insure early burial, and to correct a practice not uncommon in the East, of leaving the deal to be devoured by the wild beasts. 14. when a man dieth in a tent, &c.—The instances adduced appear very minute and trivial; but important ends, both of a religious and of a sanitary nature, were promoted by carrying the idea of pollution from contact with dead bodies to so great an extent. While it would effectually prevent that Egyptianized race of Israelites imitating the superstitious custom of the Egyptians, who kept in their houses the mummied remains of their ancestors, it ensured a speedy interment to all, thus not only keeping burial places at a distance, but removing from the habitations of the living the corpses of persons who died from infectious disorders, and from the open field the unburied remains of strangers and foreigners who fell in battle. Shall not purify himself, i.e, shall contemptuously refuse to submit to this way of purification. But the man that shall be unclean,.... By touching any dead body, bone, or grave:

and shall not purify himself; with the water of purification:

that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation: See Gill on Numbers 19:13.

because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the Lord: by going into it in his uncleanness:

the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him, he is unclean; and will remain so, for nothing else could purify him, see Numbers 19:13.

But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the LORD: the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him; he is unclean.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Special instructions concerning the defilement. If a man died in a tent, every one who entered it, or who was there at the time, became unclean for seven days. So also did every "open vessel upon which there was not a covering, a string," i.e., that had not a covering fastened by a string, to prevent the smell of the corpse from penetrating it. פּתיל, a string, is in apposition to צמיד, a band, or binding (see Ges. 113; Ewald, 287, e.). This also applied to any one in the open field, who touched a man who had either been slain by the sword or had died a natural death, or even a bone (skeleton), or a grave.
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