Numbers 19:6
And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the middle of the burning of the heifer.
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(6) And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet.—According to the Targum of Jonathan, another priest was to do this, but the reference seems to be to Eleazar. Cedar-wood may be regarded as the emblem of fragrance and incorruption; hyssop as the emblem of purification; and scarlet (or crimson) wool or cloth may be regarded as emblematical both of sin, which is compared to it in Isaiah 1:18, and also of the blood, which is the life, the shedding of which was needful in order to the remission of sin. All of these were used in the purification of the leper (Leviticus 14:4). In both cases there appears to be a typical reference to the sprinkling of the blood of Christ. (See. Hebrews 9:13-14).

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.Compare Leviticus 14:4 note. 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. All which are here burnt, and as it were offered to God, that they might be sanctified to this holy use for the future; for of these kinds of things was the sprinkle made wherewith the unclean were sprinkled, Leviticus 14:4. And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet,.... Another priest, according to the Targum of Jonathan; but it seems to design Eleazar the priest, and so, in later times, the same priest that burnt the cow took these things; the Jews say (h), when he took them he said, is this cedar wood? is this hyssop? is this scarlet? so he said three times for everyone of them, and he was answered, yes, three times to each of them: these were the same that were used at the cleansing of the leper, Leviticus 14:4,

and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer; these were rolled or bound up together, as the Jews say (i), and made one bundle of, that they might the more easily be cast into the fire; the hyssop was wrapped about the cedar wood with the scarlet wool: the true reason of the use of these, Maimonides says (k), was never clear to him; but the cedar wood, being durable, may denote the continued efficacy of Christ's sufferings; the hyssop, being purgative and of a good smell, the purging nature of Christ's sacrifice, who by himself purged away our sins, and the sweet odour thereof ascended to the Lord; and the scarlet, the sins of his people destroyed thereby.

(h) Misn. Parah, c. 3. sect. 10. (i) Misn. Parah, c. 3. sect. 11. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. (k) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 47.

And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer.
6. cedar wood, and hyssop] The former, perhaps, for its durability, the latter for its cleansing qualities. It is doubtful, however, if ‘hyssop’ is the true rendering of the Heb. ’çzôbh, since the hyssop is not native to Palestine. The ‘cape’ and the ‘marjoram’ have been suggested.

In the purification of the leper the same objects are employed, but with a different purpose. The cedar wood and ’çzôbh, bound together by a scarlet thread, formed an instrument for sprinkling blood upon the recovered leper and his house (Leviticus 14:4; Leviticus 14:6; Leviticus 14:49; Leviticus 14:51). See Numbers 19:18 below.Verse 6. - Cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. See on Leviticus 14:4-6 for the significance of these things. The antiseptic and medicinal qualities of the cedar (Juniperus oxycedrus) and hyssop (probably Capparis spinosa) make their use readily intelligible; the symbolism of the "scarlet" is much more obscure. They would load no sin upon themselves by so doing (see Leviticus 19:17), if they only lifted off the best as tithe (for the priest), and did not desecrate the holy gifts, sc., by eating in all kinds of places, which was not allowed, according to Numbers 18:10, with regard to the most holy gifts. These regulations concerning the revenues of the priests and Levites were in perfect accordance with the true idea of the Israelitish kingdom of God. Whereas in heathen states, where there was an hereditary priestly caste, that caste was generally a rich one, and held a firm possession in the soil (in Egypt, for example; see at Genesis 47:22), the Levites received no hereditary landed property in the land of Israel, but only towns to dwell in among the other tribes, with pasturage for their cattle (ch. 35), because Jehovah, the God of Israel, would be their inheritance. In this way their earthly existence as based upon the spiritual ground and soil of faith, in accordance with the calling assigned them to be the guardians and promoters of the commandments, statutes, and rights of Jehovah; and their authority and influence among the people were bound up with their unreserved surrender of themselves to the Lord, and their firm reliance upon the possession of their God. Now, whilst this position was to be a constant incitement to the Levites to surrender themselves entirely to the Lord and His service, it was also to become to the whole nation a constant admonition, inasmuch as it was a prerogative conferred upon them by the Lord, to seek the highest of all good in the possession of the Lord, as its portion and inheritance. - The revenue itself, however, which the Lord assigned to the Levites and priests, as His servants, consisting of the tenths and first-fruits, as well as certain portions of the different sacrificial gifts that were offered to Him, appears to have been a very considerable one, especially if we adopt the computation of J. D. Michaelis (Mos. Recht. i. 52) with reference to the tithes. "A tribe," he says, "which had only 22,000 males in it (23,000 afterwards), and therefore could hardly have numbered more than 12,000 grown-up men, received the tithes of 600,000 Israelites; consequently one single Levite, without the slightest necessity for sowing, and without any of the expenses of agriculture, reaped or received from the produce of the flocks and herds as much as five of the other Israelites." But this leaves out of sight the fact that tithes are never paid so exactly as this, and that no doubt there was as little conscientiousness in the matter then as there is at the present day, when those who are entitled to receive a tenth often receive even less than a twentieth. Moreover, the revenue of the tribe, which the Lord had chosen as His own peculiar possession, was not intended to be a miserable and beggarly one; but it was hardly equal, at any time, to the revenues which the priestly castes of other nations derived from their endowments. Again, the Levites had to give up the tenth of all the tithes they received to the priests; and the priests were to offer to Jehovah upon the altar a portion of the first-fruits, heave-offerings, and wave-offerings that were assigned to them. Consequently, as the whole nation was to make a practical acknowledgment, in the presentation of the tithe and first-fruits, that it had received its hereditary property as a fief from the Lord its God, so the Levites, by their payment of the tenth to the priests, and the priests, by presenting a portion of their revenues upon the altar, were to make a practical confession that they had received all their revenues from the Lord their God, and owed Him praise and adoration in return (see Bhr, Symbolik, ii. pp. 43ff.).
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