This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke:
a red heifer
The following curious particulars have been remarked in this ordinance: 1. A heifer was appointed for sacrifice, in opposition to the Egyptian superstition, which held these sacred, and worshipped their goddess Isis under this form; and this appears the more likely, because males only were chosen for sacrifice. So Herodotus says, they sacrifice males, both old and young; but it is not lawful for them to offer females. 2. It was to be a red heifer, because the Egyptians sacrificed red bulls to the evil demon Typhon. 3. It was to be without spot, having no mixture of any other colour. Plutarch says, the Egyptians "sacrifice red bulls, and select them with such scrupulous attention, that if the animal has a single black or white hair, they reckon it [athuton] unfit to be sacrificed." 4. Without blemish. (See note on Le 22:21.) 5. On which never came yoke: because an animal which had been used for a common purpose was deemed improper for sacrifice.
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:
without the camp
And Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times:
And one shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn:
And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer.
Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall be unclean until the even.
And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it is a purification for sin.
lay them up
a water of separation
That is, water prepared by being mixed with the ashes of the heifer, and set apart for the special purpose of being sprinkled on those who had contracted any legal defilement. To this rite the apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Hebrews. (ch. 9:13, 14,) pointedly alludes: "For if," says he, "the blood of bulls and of goats," alluding, probably, to the sin-offerings and the scape-goat, "and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot unto God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God."
And he that gathereth the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: and it shall be unto the children of Israel, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among them, for a statute for ever.
it shall be
He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days.
toucheth the dead
He who touched a dead beast was only unclean for one day, (Le 11:12, 27, 39;) but he who touches a dead man is unclean for seven days. This was certainly designed to show the peculiar impurity and sinfulness of man, and the hatefulness of sin, seven times worse than the vilest animal!
Heb. soul of man.
He shall purify himself with it on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean: but if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean.
He shall purify
"Yithchatta," literally, "he shall sin himself," i.e., not add sin, but take it away, purify. So we say to fleece, and to skin, which do not signify to add a fleece, or a skin, but to take one away.
Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him.
And every open vessel, which hath no covering bound upon it, is unclean.
And whosoever toucheth one that is slain with a sword in the open fields, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days.
And for an unclean person they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel:
running water shall be put thereto
Heb. living waters shall be given.
And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave:
And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even.
on the seventh day he
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.
And it shall be a perpetual statute unto them, that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even.
And whatsoever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean; and the soul that toucheth it shall be unclean until even.