Numbers 19:8
And he that burns her shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the even.
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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. 7. the priest shall be unclean until the even—The ceremonies prescribed show the imperfection of the Levitical priesthood, while they typify the condition of Christ when expiating our sins (2Co 5:21). No text from Poole on this verse. And he that burneth her shall wash his clothes in water,.... In forty seahs of water, as the Targum of Jonathan: this shows that one different from this is designed in Numbers 19:7; and that this is one distinct from him that sprinkled the blood, Numbers 19:4,

and bathe his flesh in water: in a like quantity, as the above Targum:

and shall be unclean until the even: and, though washed, might not go into the camp until that time: this may signify, as before, that though the crucifixion of Christ was a very great sin, and done by wicked hands, yet was pardonable through the very blood that was shed by them, Acts 2:23.

And he that {d} burneth her shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the even.

(d) The inferior priest who killed her, and burned her.

Preparation of the Purifying Water. - As water is the ordinary means by which all kinds of uncleanness are removed, it was also to be employed in the removal of the uncleanness of death. But as this uncleanness was the strongest of all religious defilements, fresh water alone was not sufficient to remove it; and consequently a certain kind of sprinkling-water was appointed, which was strengthened by the ashes of a sin-offering, and thus formed into a holy alkali. The main point in the law which follows, therefore, was the preparation of the ashes, and these had to be obtained by the sacrifice of a red heifer.

(Note: On this sacrifice, which is so rich in symbolical allusions, but the details of which are so difficult to explain, compare the rabbinical statutes in the talmudical tractate Para (Mishnah, v. Surenh. vi. pp. 269ff.); Maimonides de vacca rufa; and Lundius jd. Heiligth. pp. 680ff. Among modern treatises on this subject, are Bhr's Symbolik, ii. pp. 493ff.; Hengstenberg, Egypt and the Books of Moses, pp. 173ff.; Leyrer in Herzog's Cycl.; Kurtz in the Theol. Studien und Kritiken, 1846, pp. 629ff. (also Sacrificial Worship of the Old Testament, pp. 422ff., Eng. transl., Tr.); and my Archologie, i. p. 58.)

Numbers 19:2

The sons of Israel were to bring to Moses a red heifer, entirely without blemish, and to give it to Eleazar the priest, that he might have it slaughtered in his presence outside the camp. פּרה is not a cow generally, but a young cow, a heifer, הב́לבכיע (lxx), juvenca, between the calf and the full-grown cow. אדמּה, of a red colour, is not to be connected with תמימה in the sense of "quite red," as the Rabbins interpret it; but תמימה, integra, is to be taken by itself, and the words which follow, "wherein is no blemish," to be regarded as defining it still more precisely (see Leviticus 22:19-20). The slaying of this heifer is called חטּאת, a sin-offering, in Numbers 19:9 and Numbers 19:17. To remind the congregation that death was the wages of sin, the antidote to the defilement of death was to be taken from a sin-offering. But as the object was not to remove and wipe away sin as such, but simply to cleanse the congregation from the uncleanness which proceeded from death, the curse of sin, it was necessary that the sin-offering should be modified in a peculiar manner to accord with this special design. The sacrificial animal was not to be a bullock, as in the case of the ordinary sin-offerings of the congregation (Leviticus 4:14), but a female, because the female sex is the bearer of life (Genesis 3:20), a פּרה, i.e., lit., the fruit-bringing; and of a red colour, not because the blood-red colour points to sin (as Hengstenberg follows the Rabbins and earlier theologians in supposing), but as the colour of the most "intensive life," which has its seat in the blood, and shows itself in the red colour of the face (the cheeks and lips); and one "upon which no yoke had ever come," i.e., whose vital energy had not yet been crippled by labour under the yoke. Lastly, like all the sacrificial animals, it was to be uninjured, and free from faults, inasmuch as the idea of representation, which lay at the foundation of all the sacrifices, but more especially of the sin-offerings, demanded natural sinlessness and original purity, quite as much as imputed sin and transferred uncleanness. Whilst the last-mentioned prerequisite showed that the victim was well fitted for bearing sin, the other attributes indicated the fulness of life and power in their highest forms, and qualified it to form a powerful antidote to death. As thus appointed to furnish a reagent against death and mortal corruption, the sacrificial animal was to possess throughout, viz., in colour, in sex, and in the character of its body, the fulness of life in its greatest freshness and vigour.

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