Numbers 19:22
And whatsoever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean; and the soul that toucheth it shall be unclean until even.
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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. 21. he that sprinkleth … ; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even—The opposite effects ascribed to the water of separation—of cleansing one person and defiling another—are very singular, and not capable of very satisfactory explanation. One important lesson, however, was thus taught, that its purifying efficacy was not inherent in itself, but arose from the divine appointment, as in other ordinances of religion, which are effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that administers them, but solely through the grace of God communicated thereby. The unclean person; not he who is so only by touching the water of separation, Numbers 19:21, but he who is so by the greater sort of uncleanness, which lasted seven days, of which Numbers 19:11,16, and which was not removed without the use of this water of purification, as is manifest from the context and other places of Scripture, and from the nature of the thing; for the lesser sort of uncleanness, mentioned in the foregoing verse, lasted only till even, and was cleansed by the sole washing of his clothes and flesh in water, Numbers 19:7, without any use of this water of purification, which, if it had been necessary, must have been used on the third and on the seventh day, according to the rule, Numbers 19:12,19, and so the uncleanness of one day had been made an uncleanness of seven days, which is a contradiction. Besides it is unreasonable, that he who immediately touched the defiling thing, should be no more and longer unclean than he who touched that person only; and it was contrary to other rules in like cases, as Le 15, where the man or woman having an issue, are thereby made unclean for seven days, Leviticus 15:13,28, but he who toucheth them is made unclean only till even, Le 15 7,27. And therefore this cannot be meant of him who was unclean by touching this water, who himself was unclean only till even, Numbers 19:21, as also he who toucheth him is in this place.

Shall be unclean, to signify to us the very infectious nature of sin and of sinful company.

Until even, because as his defilement was less, so it was fit the duration of it should be shorter.

And whatsoever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean,.... Not the person unclean by sprinkling, or touching the water of purification, but the unclean person spoken of throughout the chapter, that was unclean by touching a dead body, bone, or grave; whatever that man touched, any vessel or thing, that was unclean also; or "whomsoever", any person, man or woman, for it respects both persons and things:

and the soul that toucheth it; that which the unclean person hath touched; or "him", the unclean person, whether the unclean person touched him, or he the unclean person, or touched anything he had touched, he was unclean; denoting the spreading and infectious nature of sin, and how much sin and sinners are to be avoided; see Leviticus 15:4.

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

(m) That is, unclean.

Numbers 19:22This also was to be an everlasting statute, that he who sprinkled the water of purification, or even touched it (see at Numbers 19:7.), and he who was touched by a person defiled (by a corpse), and also the person who touched him, should be unclean till the evening, - a rule which also applied to other forms of uncleanness.
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