Numbers 19:17
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:
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(17) of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin.—Better, of the ashes of the burnt sin-offering; literally, of the burning of the sin-offering.

19:11-22 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.One practical effect of attaching defilement to a dead body, and to all that touched it, etc., would be to insure early burial, and to correct a practice not uncommon in the East, of leaving the deal to be devoured by the wild beasts. 14. when a man dieth in a tent, &c.—The instances adduced appear very minute and trivial; but important ends, both of a religious and of a sanitary nature, were promoted by carrying the idea of pollution from contact with dead bodies to so great an extent. While it would effectually prevent that Egyptianized race of Israelites imitating the superstitious custom of the Egyptians, who kept in their houses the mummied remains of their ancestors, it ensured a speedy interment to all, thus not only keeping burial places at a distance, but removing from the habitations of the living the corpses of persons who died from infectious disorders, and from the open field the unburied remains of strangers and foreigners who fell in battle. Running water, i.e, waters flowing from a spring or river which are the purest. These manifestly signify God’s Spirit, which is oft compared to water, John 7:38,39, and by which alone true purification is obtained.

In a vessel, where they were to be mixed, and then the water was to be strained out and kept for this use. And for an unclean person,.... Defiled by any of the above means:

they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin; from the place where they were laid up for this use; See Gill on Numbers 19:9 and some have thought that they were laid up in various cities and places in the country, as well as at Jerusalem, that they might be come at easily upon occasion; otherwise they could not be had without great trouble and expense, and in some places not so soon as the law required for their purification, namely, on the third day after their defilement:

and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel; the Targum Jonathan is,"fountain water in the midst of earthen vessel;''for no water but fountain, spring, or river water, was made use of; and it should seem by what is said that ashes were first put into the vessel, and then the running water was put to them; and yet the Jewish writers say (s), that if the ashes were put in first, and then the water, it was not right; and the meaning of what is said here is, that the water and ashes should be mixed together; for it is urged from the words: "running water in a vessel", that it is plain, that the water is put in the vessel and not to the ashes; and therefore that which is said, "shall be put thereto", is to caution the person, that after he has put the ashes upon the water, that he mixes them well with his finger, and cause the water below to rise above (t).

(s) Maimon. Milchot, Parah Adumah, c. 9. sect. 1.((t) Bartenora in Misn. Temurah, c. 1. sect. 5.

And for an unclean person they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for {h} sin, and {i} running water shall be put thereto in a vessel:

(h) Of the red cow burnt for sin.

(i) Water of the fountain or river.

17. the sin-offering] The word is used in the same sense as in Numbers 19:9.

running water] Water fresh from a running stream. This is more explicit than the former account, in which (Numbers 19:9) the mixing of water with the ashes is taken for granted.Verse 17. - Running water. Septuagint, ὕδωρ ζῶν (cf. Leviticus 14:5; John 4:10). Whoever touched a corpse, "with regard to all the souls of men," i.e., the corpse of a person, of whatever age or sex, was unclean for seven days, and on the third and seventh day he was to cleanse himself (התחטּא, as in Numbers 8:21) with the water (בּו refers, so far as the sense is concerned, to the water of purification). If he neglected this cleansing, he did not become clean, and he defiled the dwelling of Jehovah (see at Leviticus 15:31). Such a man was to be cut off from Israel (vid., at Genesis 17:14).
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