Numbers 19:3
And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, that he may bring her forth without the camp, and one shall slay her before his face:
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Numbers 19:3. Ye shall give her unto Eleazar — Who was the second priest, and in some cases the deputy of the high-priest. To him this service was committed, and not to Aaron, because it was not fit that Aaron should be engaged in any thing that would render him ceremonially unclean, although but till the evening, Numbers 19:8. Yet as it was an affair of great moment, especially as typifying the sufferings and death of Christ, and purification through his blood, it was proper it should be performed by him who was next to Aaron in dignity. The chief priests of our Lord’s time had the principal hand in his death. That he may bring her forth without the camp — Partly because this heifer was reputed an unclean and accursed thing, being laden with the sins of all the people, and partly to signify that Christ should suffer without the gate, (Hebrews 13:12,) in the place where malefactors suffered.

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.The work would necessarily require a priest; yet as it rendered him unclean for the day Numbers 19:22, the high priest was relieved from performing it.

Without the camp - The defilement was viewed as transferred to the victim that was to be offered for its removal. Under these circumstances the victim, like the defiled persons themselves, would be removed outside the camp. The particular pollution to be remedied by this ordinance was the indirect one resulting from contact with tokens and manifestations of sin, not the direct and personal one arising from actual commission of sin. So too the sinless antitype had to bear the reproach of associating with sinners Luke 5:30; Luke 15:2. And as the red heifer was expelled from the precincts of the camp, so was the Saviour cut off in no small measure during His Life from the fellowship of the chief representatives of the theocracy, and put to death outside Jerusalem between two thieves. Compare Hebrews 13:11-12.

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. Unto Eleazar, who was the second priest, and, in some cases, the vicegerent or deputy of the high priest. To him, not to Aaron, because this service made him unclean for a season, Numbers 19:7, and consequently unfit for holy ministrations; whereas the high priest was, as far as possibly he could, to be preserved from all sorts of defilement, and constantly fit for his high and holy work. Without the camp; partly because it was reputed an unclean and accursed thing, being ceremoniously laden with the sins of all the people; and partly to signify that Christ should suffer without the camp, as he did, Hebrews 13:12, in the place where malefactors suffered, Leviticus 24:14.

One; a person appointed by Eleazar for this work.

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.

And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, that he may bring her forth without the camp, and {b} one shall slay her before his face:

(b) Another priest.

3. and one shall bring her forth] Probably the person who is to kill her; not Eleazar.

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. Numbers 19:3The sacrifice itself was to be superintended by Eleazar the priest, the eldest son of the high priest, and his presumptive successor in office; because Aaron, or the high priest, whose duty it was to present the sin-offerings for the congregation (Leviticus 4:16), could not, according to his official position, which required him to avoid all uncleanness of death (Leviticus 21:11-12), perform such an act as this, which stood in the closest relation to death and the uncleanness of death, and for that very reason had to be performed outside the camp. The subject, to "bring her forth" and "slay her," is indefinite; since it was not the duty of the priest to slay the sacrificial animal, but of the offerer himself, or in the case before us, of the congregation, which would appoint one of its own number for the purpose. All that the priest had to do was to sprinkle the blood; at the same time the slaying was to take place לפניו, before him, i.e., before his eyes. Eleazar was to sprinkle some of the blood seven times "towards the opposite," i.e., toward the front of the tabernacle (seven times, as in Leviticus 4:17). Through this sprinkling of the blood the slaying became a sacrifice, being brought thereby into relation to Jehovah and the sanctuary; whilst the life, which was sacrificed for the sin of the congregation, was given up to the Lord, and offered up in the only way in which a sacrifice, prepared like this, outside the sanctuary, could possibly be offered.
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