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Verse 13. For if the blood of bulls and of goats. Referring still to the great day of atonement, when the offering made was the sacrifice of a bullock and a goat.

And the ashes of an heifer. For an account of this, see Nu 19:2-10. In Heb 9:9 it is said that the ashes of the heifer, after it was burnt, should be kept "for a water of separation; it is a purification for sin." That is, the ashes were to be carefully preserved; and, being mixed with water, were sprinkled on those who were from any cause ceremonially impure. The reason for this appears to have been that the heifer was considered as a sacrifice whose blood has been offered, and the application of the ashes to which she had been burnt was regarded as an evidence of participation in that sacrifice. It was needful, where the laws were so numerous respecting eternal pollutions, or where the members of the Jewish community were regarded as so frequently "unclean" by contact with dead bodies, and in various other ways, that there should be some method in which they could be declared to be cleansed from their "uncleanness." The nature of these institutions also required that this should be in connexion with sacrifice; and in order to this it was arranged that there should be this permanent sacrifice—the ashes of the heifer that had been sacrificed —of which they could avail themselves at any time, without the expense and delay of making a bloody offering specifically for the occasion. It was, therefore, a provision of convenience; and at the same time was designed to keep up the idea that all purification was somehow connected with the shedding of blood.

Sprinkling the unclean. Mingled with water, and sprinkled on the unclean. The word unclean here refers to such as had been defiled by contact with dead bodies, or when one had died in the family, etc. See Nu 19:11-22.

Sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh. Makes holy so far as the flesh or body is concerned. The uncleanness here referred to related to the body only, and of course the means of cleansing extended only to that. It was not designed to give peace to the conscience, or to expiate moral offences. The offering thus made removed the obstructions to the worship of God, so far as to allow him who had been defiled to approach him in a regular manner. Thus much the apostle allows was accomplished by the Jewish rites. They had an efficacy in removing ceremonial uncleanness; and in rendering it proper that he who had been polluted should be permitted again to approach and worship God. The apostle goes on to argue that, if they had such an efficacy, it was fair to presume that the blood of Christ would have far greater efficacy, and would reach to the conscience itself and make that pure.

{f} "ashes" Nu 19:2-17

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