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1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,

2 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:

3 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:

4 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:

5 And one shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn:

6 And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer.

7 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.

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

9 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.

10 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.

11 He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days.

12 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.

13 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.

14 This is the law, when a man dieth in a tent: all that come into the tent, and all that is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days.

15 And every open vessel, which hath no covering bound upon it, is unclean.

16 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.

17 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:

18 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:

19 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.

20 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.

21 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.

22 And whatsoever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean; and the soul that toucheth it shall be unclean until even.

Commentary for Numbers 19

The ashes of a heifer. (1-10) Used to purify the unclean. (11-22)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.

11-22 Why did the law make a corpse a defiling thing? Because death is the wages of sin, which entered into the world by it, and reigns by the power of it. The law could not conquer death, nor abolish it, as the gospel does, by bringing life and immortality to light, and so introducing a better hope. As the ashes of the heifer signified the merit of Christ, so the running water signified the power and grace of the blessed Spirit, who is compared to rivers of living water; and it is by his work that the righteousness of Christ is applied to us for our cleansing. Those who promise themselves benefit by the righteousness of Christ, while they submit not to the grace and influence of the Holy Spirit, do but deceive themselves; we cannot be purified by the ashes, otherwise than in the running water. What use could there be in these appointments, if they do not refer to the doctrines concerning the sacrifice of Christ? But comparing them with the New Testament, the knowledge to be got from them is evident. The true state of fallen man is shown in these institutions. Here we learn the defiling nature of sin, and are warned to avoid evil communications.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for Numbers 19

  • ALEX on Numbers 19
    Jesus said every sinner will have their part in the lake of fire thats everybody we are all sinners. even the church we answer to the red heifer that needs to be burnt to ashes at the door of the tabernacle which is his baptism of fire an the h.g. malachi who shall abide the day of his coming,who shall stand when he appears for he shall be as a refiners fire and fullers soap, we be th red heifer.
  • Frank - in Reply on Numbers 19
    red heifer. We had a redheifer on the farm and we would never kill her. Because she produced milk and cheese for us all. I can't understand why all these animals has to be killed. She never did anything to no one.
  • Stephen Botts - in Reply on Numbers 19
    Frank, God requires a blood sacrifice. Hebrews 9:22 "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."
    And praise God, He sent His only begotten Son to pay that price for us once and for all. Even in the Garden, God had to kill innocent animals to make skins/clothes for Adam and Eve. John the Baptist cried, "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world". Jesus was and is the very definition of Innocence. Without spot and blameless. Yet He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. For you and me. His shed blood is why we are saved and KEPT SAVED! He paid the price of our sin. Death. Rom 6:23. Take care.
  • Alex on Numbers 19
  • BSP on Numbers 19
    Verse 20: One who refused to cleanse himself was to be cut off from the congregation. If Jehovah God felt that strongly about physical cleanliness, imagine how strongly he feels about those who refuse to morally and spiritually cleanse themselves.
  • Sandy on Numbers 19
    To Ron. It seems to me Jesus would have been a clean body he was baptized. John Baptized him So I would say he was clean and anybody that touched him was baptized as well. And also considered clean. But in this part of the Bible Jesus wasn't here yet. So I think being sprinkled with the water was a type of baptizing along with the burnt offerings and such.
  • Bozki on Numbers 19
    God's Word is always been applied yesterday today and tomorrow in our Lives, When Jesus came He fulfilled the Law, instead of offering a lamb for our sins He offer Himself to pay all of our sin, that's why today we never do the offering of the lamb, all we need is to Accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and confess all of our sins to Him and He is faithful and Just to forgive us and cleanse us from our unrighteousness.And the Holy Spirit will Dwell in us He will be our Comforter, Our Guide, Our Conscience....God Bless.......
  • Dirk on Numbers 19:11
    Does this still apply today? If it does how should one clean oneself?
  • Augustine on Numbers 19:20
    Well! I think numbers 19 : 20 is emphasizing on the value God almighty placed on purity, hence anyone that must visit the sanctuary, must purify himself because God appropriates purity more than physical attendance.
  • Kabelo on Numbers 19:19
    Good morning,

    Kindly explain/simplify in your own version Numbers 19:19 and give a relative parable in the New Testament.

    Best regards in Jesus name


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According to the book of Numbers, how long will someone be ceremonially unclean after touching a dead body?
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