The Red Heifer (Part One)
Then YaHuWaH spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “This is the statute of the law which YaHuWaH has commanded, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Yisra’El that they bring you an unblemished red heifer in which is no defect and on which a yoke has never been placed.” – Num. 19:1-2
It was a command of YaHuWaH given to Moses and Aaron for the sons of Yisra’El to bring a certain cow; a red heifer.
The Hebrew phrase for “red heifer” is “פרה אדומה” – “perah adamah” and literally means “red cow,” however in the verses quoted above, we read the term “red heifer” because a heifer more specifically describes the kind of cow which was to be brought to Moses and Aaron. A heifer is defined as “a young female cow over one year old that has not produced a calf.” It was to be a particular kind of cow and it was to be a particular color as well, red.
The red heifer that the children of Yisra’El were to bring to Moses and Aaron had to meet all of the criteria that the YaHuWaH specified:
“unblemished” – “תמימה” – “temimah” – “whole” or “complete”
“no defect” – “אין בה מום” – “ein bo mum” – “no spot or defect in it”
“on which a yoke has never been placed” – “אשר לא עלה עליה עול” – “asher lo alah alei’ah ol”
This young, female, red cow had to fit these specifications exactly. She could never have worked a day in her life. She needed to be whole and complete, without any spot or defect in anyway. She had to be a perfect, red heifer.
After the red heifer was thoroughly checked to meet all of the above specifications, this perfect, young, female cow was then to be brought to the priest:
You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, and it shall be brought outside the camp and be slaughtered in his presence. Next Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger and sprinkle some of its blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times. Then the heifer shall be burned in his sight; its hide and its flesh and its blood, with its refuse, shall be burned. The priest shall take cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet material and cast it into the midst of the burning heifer. – Num. 19:3-6
The Kohen was to slaughter the red heifer, take some of its blood and sprinkle it towards the front of the tent of meeting seven times, and then burn the red heifer together with cedar, hyssop, and scarlet material. What was the purpose of this perfect sacrifice with these added materials?
The Ashes of the Red Heifer
When all was said and done, the perfect red heifer was reduced to ashes, however, YaHuWaH had a particular function for these ashes within the community of Yisra’El:
Now a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place, and the congregation of the sons of Yisra’El shall keep it as water to remove impurity; it is purification from sin. The one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening; and it shall be a perpetual statute to the sons of Yisra’El and to the alien who sojourns among them. – Num. 19:9
The ashes of the red heifer were to be used by the Yisraelites, and anyone who sojourned among them, as a means of cleansing and purification from sin.
The Waters of Purification
The ashes of the red heifer together with water were a means of spiritual purification before YaHuWaH. This was not a magic potion to bring purification from all sin, but rather a means of purification when anyone became defiled through coming in contact with a dead person:
The one who touches the corpse of any person shall be unclean for seven days. That one shall purify himself from uncleanness with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, and then he will be clean; but if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean. Anyone who touches a corpse, the body of a man who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of YaHuWaH ; and that person shall be cut off from Yisra’El. Because the water for impurity was not sprinkled on him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is still on him. – Num. 19:11-13
Death is considered an unclean state and whenever a person came in contact with death, they needed to be purified. The ashes of the red heifer together with water were a means to make one ritually clean before YaHuWaH.
YaHuWaH’s Prescription for Cleansing
There are various scenarios that are detailed throughout the rest of this chapter in Numbers 19 to explain when a person is considered to be unclean by coming in contact with a dead person and how they were to be cleansed through the water and ash mixture (Num. 19:14-22). Outside of stating that the unclean person defiled the Tabernacle of YaHuWaH by their unclean state, no other explanation is given for this prescription of cleansing through the ashes of an unblemished red heifer together with cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet material. Why did YaHuWaH prescribe this exact formula for cleansing the Yisraelites from the impurity of death?
A Result of Disobedience
One of the most obvious answers regarding the timing of the giving of this ordinance for cleansing from the impurity of death is that it follows soon after the return of the twelve spies and the rejection of the majority of the people to go up and conquer the Land. As a result YaHuWaH judged the people and determined that the whole generation that was twenty years old and older, except Joshua and Caleb, would die in the wilderness:
But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness. According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition. I YaHuWaH, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they will die. – Num. 14:32-35
For forty years the children of Yisra’El would bury that whole generation of people who rebelled against the command of YaHuWaH. Death continually faces them during this time and YaHuWaH provided a means for them to purify themselves if and when they came in contact with a dead body.
This judgement on the generation of Yisra’El clearly provides a reason for why YaHuWaH had to provide a law instructing the people to be careful to cleanse themselves from the impurity of death, but it doesn’t answer the question of the red heifer and the added materials that were together turned into ashes. What was the purpose of this exact combination of materials for the waters of impurity?
Why did YaHuWaH prescribe this exact formula for cleansing?
Throughout the Scripture, especially in the Torah, we see many examples of YaHuWaH prescribing exact formulas to be followed in order to establish Set-Apartness and to provide a means for His people to worship Him in the manner which He so desires. Here are a few examples:
The construction of the Tabernacle and all of its furnishings – Ex. 25:8-9
The formula for anointing oil – Ex. 30:22-33
The formula for incense – Ex. 30:34-38
The instructions for various sacrifices and offerings – Lev. 1-6
In each of the above examples from Scripture, YaHuWaH gave specific instructions to be carried out according to His commands.
YaHuWaH does not always tell us why He commands us to do certain things in a certain manner. He is the King of the universe and part of the walk of faith with YaHuWaH acknowledges that He makes the rules. This is exactly what we see in the instructions regarding the red heifer and the other materials that are burned to ash and mixed together with water to purify individuals. In order to remain in the camp of the Yisraelites with the presence of YaHuWaH dwelling in their midst, a person, whether an Yisraelite or a foreigner, had to be considered clean in YaHuWaH’s sight.
According to YaHuWaH’s Word, it was only the ashes of the red heifer together with water used in the prescribed way that were able to purify a person from the uncleanness of death (Num. 19:9-10). The irony of this ritual of cleansing is that it was through the death of a perfect red heifer that the Yisraelites were purified from the uncleanness associated with death. Through the death of the red heifer they were made clean and could continue to live in the presence of YaHuWaH.
The Reason for the Red Heifer
There is no explanation in the Bible regarding why YaHuWaH specified this exact formula for the burning of a perfect red heifer together with cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet material in order to provide a means of cleansing. The former Chief Rabbi of the State of Yisra’El answered his own questions regarding YaHuWaH’s instructions for the red heifer in the following manner:
Why specifically a cow ? Why specifically red? Why must it be one which had never worn a yoke? Why do the ashes purify man? We don’t have definitive answers to these questions. They are all in the hands of YaHuWaH.” – Lau, Rabbi Yisra’El Meir. Practical Judaism. Modan Pub. Tel Aviv. p. 284
As Rabbi Lau has so eloquently stated, there are some things in life that must simply be left in the hands of YaHuWaH. YaHuWaH Himself sets the standard for holiness and He determines how we are made clean and set-apart in His sight.
YaHuWaH’s Cleansing Power
Despite all of the details found in the Torah which instruct the Yisraelites regarding how to be clean and set-apart before Almighty YaHuWaH, Elohim tells us through the prophet Ezekiel that YaHuWaH Himself will provide another cleansing water which will cleanse His people from the filth of all their sin:
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. – Ezekiel 36:25-27
This magnificent prophecy speaks of the cleansing from the filthiness of sin together with the promise of the giving of YaHuWaH’s Spirit to His people in order to lead them in His set-apart ways. In these verses we read about complete cleansing combined with faithful guidance through the indwelling of YaHuWaH’s Spirit.
This prophecy in Ezekiel 36 relates specifically to the nation of Yisra’El and YaHuWaH’s promise to restore the land and the people of Yisra’El for His Name’s sake. This prophecy is not dependent on the careful observance of YaHuWaH’s instructions but rather on YaHuWaH Himself:
Therefore say to the house of Yisra’El, ‘Thus says YaHuWaH, “It is not for your sake, O house of Yisra’El, that I am about to act, but for My set-apart name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the Almighty,” declares the YaHuWaH, “when I prove Myself set-apart among you in their sight…” – Ezekiel 36:22-24
It is YaHuWaH who acts on behalf of His people to bring about their great salvation and deliverance. YaHuWaH promised to deliver His people from the nations where they have been scattered, to bring them back to the Land of Yisra’El, to provide cleansing from their sinful ways, and to fill His people with His Ruach.
The Prescription for the Renewed Covenant
The promises of YaHuWaH in Ezekiel 36 are in keeping with YaHuWaH’s promise to establish a Renewed Covenant with His people and to provide complete forgiveness from sin (Jer. 31:31-34). This forgiveness of sin would not occur in a vacuum but rather in accordance with YaHuWaH’s prescribed plan to bring redemption through His Messiah, the Anointed One (Isaiah 53:4-6). YaHuWaH also declared that the Messiah would not only redeem His people Yisra’El but He would also be a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:5-6).
YaHuWaH’s Specifications for the Messiah
Just as the red heifer had to fit the specifications that YaHuWaH prescribed, so would the Messiah (the Anointed One), have to meet certain criteria in order to fulfill this promise of YaHuWaH to purge His people from lawlessness:
He would be born in Bethlehem – Micah 5:2
He would be born of a virgin (literally “a young woman”) – Isaiah 7:14
He would be called Emanuel (“YaHuWaH with us”) – Isaiah 7:14
He would be a child that would be born and son that was given – Isaiah 9:6
He would bear many names: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty YaHuWaH, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace – Isaiah 9:6
He would reign eternally on the throne of David – Isaiah 9:7
He would reign as King on Mt. Zion – Ps. 2:6. Zech. 14:9,16
This is a brief list of the many prophecies regarding the Messiah who would come to bear the weight of the sin of the world and provide salvation from the judgment of sin for the house Yahudah and house of Yisra’El alike.
The Red Heifer & The Messiah
Although the ashes of the red heifer provided a means of cleansing, this cleansing was only temporary and would have to be applied each time a person was defiled. Unlike the temporary cleansing by means of the ashes of the red heifer, the cleansing from sin that YaHuWaH would provide through His Messiah would be perpetual and eternal in accordance with the very nature of the Messiah Himself:
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to YaHuWaH, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living YaHuWaH? For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. – Hebrews 9:13-15
The unique characteristic of the eternal nature of the Messiah provides an eternal source of cleansing that continually purifies those whose hope is in Him.
Through the death of the Messiah we who have been tainted by the lawlessness of this world can be made clean through the applying of His cleansing blood to our lives. This is the wisdom of YaHuWaH:
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not YaHuWaH made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of YaHuWaH the world through its wisdom did not come to know YaHuWaH, YaHuWaH was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Messiah crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Messiah the power of YaHuWaH and the wisdom of YaHuWaH. Because the foolishness of YaHuWaH is wiser than men, and the weakness of YaHuWaH is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:20-25
YaHuWaH’s wisdom and His provision of cleansing from sin is foolishness to the world system in which live. YaHuWaH has invited us to believe in His Messiah, the embodiment of His power and His wisdom, who through His death offers us cleansing from sin and life eternal.
Being Sprinkled By The Water of the Kohen haGadol
John/Yohanan 15:3 “You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you.” … Stay IN Me…….. born of Water/Mayim …. and Spirit/Ruach
Immersion- going under the ‘water’… or could be better stated as: submission – to come under His Supreme Authority; as Ruler over ‘our body’
“Let my Instruction fall as rain, My speech distilled – as dew, As fine rain on the tender plants, And as showers on the grass. “For I proclaim the Name of יהוה, Ascribe Greatness to our Elohim. (Deut. 32:2-3) << His Word/s << the ‘clean’ waters that we ‘come under’.. immersed in… His Word/s that ‘teach’ us ‘clean from unclean’…
Ezekiel/Yehezqel 36:24-27 “And I shall take you from among the gentiles, and I shall gather you out of all lands, and I shall bring you into your own land. “And I shall sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean <<(distilled as dew) – from all your filthiness and from all your idols I cleanse you. And I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. And I shall take the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I shall give you a heart of flesh, and put My Spirit within you. And I shall cause you to walk in My Statutes and guard My right-rulings and shall DO them.”
1 Peter/Kepha 1:1-7 Kĕpha, an emissary of יהושע Messiah, to the chosen, strangers of the dispersion in Pontos, Galatia, Kappadokia, Asia, and Bithunia, chosen according to the foreknowledge of Elohim the Father, set apart by the Spirit unto >> obedience and sprinkling of the blood ((the carrier of ‘the heart’s desire’ – The Spirit of obedience”)) of יהושע Messiah: Favour and peace be increased to you. Blessed be the Elohim and Father of our Master יהושע Messiah, who according to His great compassion has caused us to be born again to a living expectation through the resurrection of יהושע Messiah from the dead, >> to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and unfading, having been kept in the heavens for you,<< (the ‘waters’ above) >> distilled, pure, clean <<<< who are protected by the power of Elohim through belief, for a ‘deliverance’ ready to be revealed in the last time, in which you exult, even though for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by manifold trials, in order that the proving of your belief – much more precious than gold that perishes, and proven by fire – might be found to result in praise and respect and esteem at the revelation of יהושע Messiah,”
… sprinkled by the water with the ashes of ‘the red heifer’/PeRaH-ADaMaH… entering into ‘the gate’… at the altar of sacrifice; pouring out – our corrupted mind, and heart – utterly!!! coming ‘under’ – submissive obedience… to be purged and purified in ‘the fire’ – washed in the laver,<<(the outer court; ‘trampled by the gentiles’ Rev. 11:1-2)>> renewed, like in a gestation.. the water mingled with blood – and entering in through The Door – born into The Household… a newborn, or nursling… emotional attachment to ‘The Source’… nurtured, trained and taught ‘In The House’…. eating from The Table… ‘learning’ to ‘speak’ Truth (no guile was found in their mouths)….
when our heart ‘burns’ with a passionate desire to ‘obey’ & and our body goes into actions of obedience… seeking out INSTRUCTION and then doing according to the understanding we are given… we KNOW and can testify that HE HAS COME… our corrupted heart & mind cannot ‘desire’ submissive obedience… it is The Ruach/Spirit of Mashiach Yahusha ‘IN’ us… doing the Work of gathering us… leading us.. teaching us… the desire to submit is NOT ‘of ourselves’… we have nothing to boast in, EXCEPT HIM…