Wednesday, April 26, 2017

About Red Haifer

One of the very important components of the Tabernacle was the so-called Waters of Impurity which were made out of Red Heifer. Let's take a look what the text says:
YLT Num 19:1 And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, and unto Aaron, saying, 
YLT Num 19:2 'This is a statute of the law which Jehovah hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the sons of Israel, and they bring unto thee a red cow, a perfect one, in which there is no blemish, on which no yoke hath gone up
YLT Num 19:3 and ye have given it unto Eleazar the priest, and he hath brought it out unto the outside of the camp, and hath slaughtered it before him. 
YLT Num 19:4 'And Eleazar the priest hath taken of its blood with his finger, and hath sprinkled over-against the front of the tent of meeting of her blood seven times;
YLT Num 19:5 and one hath burnt the cow before his eyes; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, besides her dung, he doth burn; 
YLT Num 19:6 and the priest hath taken cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and hath cast unto the midst of the burning of the cow; 
YLT Num 19:7 and the priest hath washed his garments, and hath bathed his flesh with water, and afterwards doth come in unto the camp, and the priest is unclean till the evening; 
YLT Num 19:8 and he who is burning it doth wash his garments with water, and hath bathed his flesh with water, and is unclean till the evening. 
YLT Num 19:9 'And a clean man hath gathered the ashes of the cow, and hath placed at the outside of the camp, in a clean place, and it hath become to the company of the sons of Israel a charge for waters of separation--it is a cleansing
YLT Num 19:10 and he who is gathering the ashes of the heifer hath washed his garments, and is unclean till the evening; and it hath been to the sons of Israel, and to the sojourner who is sojourning in their midst, for a statute age-during
YLT Num 19:11 'He who is coming against the dead body of any man--is unclean seven days; 
YLT Num 19:12 he doth cleanse himself for it on the third day, and on the seventh day he is clean; and if he cleanse not himself on the third day, then on the seventh day he is not clean. 
YLT Num 19:13 Any one who is coming against the dead, against the body of man who dieth, and cleanseth not himself--the tabernacle of Jehovah he hath defiled, and that person hath been cut off from Israel, for water of separation is not sprinkled upon him; he is unclean; his uncleanness is still upon him.
I underlined the most important parts but please read the whole thing. So what does the text mean:

First of all, it can be ANY RED COW !!! They are actually very common and come in different shades of red. The exact color that is required can be deduced from Genesis 25:30, where it says that the the stew that Jacob gave Esau in exchange for his birthright was "red". So the cow should be a shade of a red stew/pottage.

Here is a good, unbiased picture of what Torah talks about. As you can see it is perfect and does not have any spots.

Secondly, this is one of the very interesting slaughters (offerings) mentioned in the Torah because unlike all other ones, in this case the whole cow was burned. The difference between this commandment and the pagan sacrifices is that the ashes of the cow were used, pagans on the other hand would burn everything, even the ashes. So, as you can see, even in this extreme example, the animal was NOT sacrificed in vain. It was used for a very specific and important purpose.

So once the ashes were produced, they would be kept for making "waters of impurity" (Holy Water). The words מי נדה - mi nidah  mean literally "waters of impurity".

Please note that this entire commandment is called "chukat olam" or "eternal statute", meaning that the creation of Waters of Impurity was a CONTINUOUS process. This mean that once the ashes were used up, another Red Cow was burned to produce more water. So, once again, these Red Cows are COMMON and we can use ANY cow of the proper shade of red for this purpose.

As you can see from the last verse cited, the Waters of Impurity were used for cleansing purposes. The reason why the Waters of Impurity were important was because there was a significant punishment for violating the command. As you can see, Num 19:13 say that the person who does not clean himself from the dead body touch is "cut off from Israel" forever!

Please note that Num 19:13 is one of many commandments that require Waters of Impurity. Therefore, we must rebuild the Tabernacle so that we can do these commandments and help cleanse the people who became impure for this or that reason.

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