Numbers 19

Chapter 19

The Red Heifer. 1 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 2 “This is a statute of the law which the Lord has commanded saying, ‘Tell the people of Israel to bring you an unblemished red heifer that has no defect and upon which a yoke has never been placed. 3 You will give it to Eleazar the priest. Take it outside of the camp and slaughter it in front of him. 4 Eleazar the priest is to dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle its blood seven times directly in front of the tent of meeting. 5 Then the heifer will be burned before him; its skin, its meat, its blood, and its dung will be burned. 6 The priest is to take cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet wool and throw them upon the burning heifer. 7 The priest is then to wash his clothes and bathe himself. He can then enter the camp, but he will be unclean until the evening. 8 The man who burns it must also wash his clothes in water and bathe in water, but he, too, will be unclean until the evening. 9 A man who is clean is to gather up the ashes from the heifer and place them in a clean place outside of the camp. They will be kept by the assembly of the people of Israel for the water of purification, for removal of sin. 10 The man who gathers the ashes of the heifer will wash his clothes, and he will be unclean until the evening. This is the way it will be for the people of Israel and the foreigner dwelling among them, a statute forever.

11 Water of Purification.“ ‘Whoever touches a person’s dead body will be unclean for seven days. 12 He will purify himself with the water on the third day, and on the seventh day he will be clean; but if he does not cleanse himself on the third day, then he will not be clean on the seventh day. 13 Whoever touches a dead body, the body of someone who died and then does not purify himself defiles the tabernacle of the Lord. That person shall be cut off from Israel. He will be unclean because the water of purification was not sprinkled upon him; he will be unclean.

14 “ ‘This is the law for when a man dies inside of a tent. Everyone who comes inside the tent and everything that is in the tent will be unclean for seven days. 15 Every open uncovered container will be unclean. 16 Anyone who is out in the open fields and touches someone who has been killed with a sword, or a dead body, or a bone of a person, or a grave, that person will be unclean for seven days.

17 [a]“ ‘For the unclean, take the ashes from the burnt purification from sin and put them into a vessel and pour fresh water over them. 18 Then a person who is clean will dip hyssop into the water and sprinkle it upon the tent and upon its belongings and upon all the people who were there, upon anyone who touched a bone, or a person who was killed, or a dead body, or a grave. 19 The clean person will sprinkle the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day. On the seventh day he will purify himself. He will wash his clothes and bathe himself in water, and then he will be clean in the evening. 20 But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself will be cut off from the assembly because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. The water of purification was not sprinkled upon him and he is unclean. 21 It will be an everlasting statute that the one who sprinkles the water of purification will wash his clothes. The one who touches the water of purification will be unclean until the evening. 22 Whatever the unclean person touches will be unclean, and the person who touches it will be unclean until the evening.’ ”


  1. Numbers 19:17 Throughout history water has been used for cleansing in religious ceremonies. Here is a detailed account of water being used in a cleansing ritual to purify persons who have come into contact with dead bodies. In the New Testament (Heb 9:13-14), the cleansing power of the blood of Christ is the ultimate means of being made clean.

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