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Ceremony of the Red Heifer


The L ord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 2This is a statute of the law that the L ord has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect, in which there is no blemish and on which no yoke has been laid. 3You shall give it to the priest Eleazar, and it shall be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. 4The priest Eleazar shall take some of its blood with his finger and sprinkle it seven times towards the front of the tent of meeting. 5Then the heifer shall be burned in his sight; its skin, its flesh, and its blood, with its dung, shall be burned. 6The priest shall take cedarwood, hyssop, and crimson material, and throw them into the fire in which the heifer is burning. 7Then the priest shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterwards he may come into the camp; but the priest shall remain unclean until evening. 8The one who burns the heifer shall wash his clothes in water and bathe his body in water; he shall remain unclean until evening. 9Then someone who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the congregation of the Israelites for the water for cleansing. It is a purification offering. 10The one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.

This shall be a perpetual statute for the Israelites and for the alien residing among them. 11Those who touch the dead body of any human being shall be unclean seven days. 12They shall purify themselves with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, and so be clean; but if they do not purify themselves on the third day and on the seventh day, they will not become clean. 13All who touch a corpse, the body of a human being who has died, and do not purify themselves, defile the tabernacle of the L ord; such persons shall be cut off from Israel. Since water for cleansing was not dashed on them, they remain unclean; their uncleanness is still on them.

14 This is the law when someone dies in a tent: everyone who comes into the tent, and everyone who is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days. 15And every open vessel with no cover fastened on it is unclean. 16Whoever in the open field touches one who has been killed by a sword, or who has died naturally, or a human bone, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days. 17For the unclean they shall take some ashes of the burnt purification offering, and running water shall be added in a vessel; 18then a clean person shall take hyssop, dip it in the water, and sprinkle it on the tent, on all the furnishings, on the persons who were there, and on whoever touched the bone, the slain, the corpse, or the grave. 19The clean person shall sprinkle the unclean ones on the third day and on the seventh day, thus purifying them on the seventh day. Then they shall wash their clothes and bathe themselves in water, and at evening they shall be clean. 20Any who are unclean but do not purify themselves, those persons shall be cut off from the assembly, for they have defiled the sanctuary of the L ord. Since the water for cleansing has not been dashed on them, they are unclean.

21 It shall be a perpetual statute for them. The one who sprinkles the water for cleansing shall wash his clothes, and whoever touches the water for cleansing shall be unclean until evening. 22Whatever the unclean person touches shall be unclean, and anyone who touches it shall be unclean until evening.

31. And ye shall eat it. Because the tithes were reckoned to be amongst the sacred oblations, a question might arise, whether it was lawful to eat them anywhere except in the sanctuary. God therefore declares, that when the Levites had separated the δευυτεροδεκάτας (the second tithes,) the residue passed into the nature and condition of ordinary meats; inasmuch as they might then eat in any place of the bread made of tithe-corn, like the produce of their own fields. The reason, which is subjoined, seems to be by no means appropriate; via, that it was the reward for the labor which they bestowed on the service of the tabernacle; for hence it was rather to be inferred, that this food was peculiarly destined for the ministers, whilst they were discharging their official duties, and keeping watch in the tabernacle, or killing the victims at the altar. But since by God’s command they were scattered over the whole land, and did not cease to be ministers of the tabernacle on account of the distance of their residence, it was justly permitted that, wherever they might be, they should eat of the meat appointed them by God. If it were allowable to take the particle כי, ki, 225225     כיfor, or because. W.
   "On pourroit aussi translater, Combien que ce soit votre loyer;” it might also be translated, although this is your reward. — Fr.
adversatively, the sense would be clearer. In the next verse he confirms the same declaration, i.e., that they should be free from all guilt when they had honestly paid the priests. Yet at the same time they are strictly admonished that they should not commit themselves by any fraud; for God declares that it would amount to sacrilege, if they should have thievishly embezzled any of it, and threatens them with capital punishment; for “to pollute the holy things” of the people, is equivalent to profaning whatever was consecrated in the name of the whole people.

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