Numbers 19:9
And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it is a purification for sin.
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Numbers 19:9. A man shall gather up the ashes — The ashes of the heifer were separated as well as they could be from the ashes of the wood wherewith it was burned, were pounded and sifted, and laid up for the use of the congregation as there was occasion, not only for that generation, but for posterity; for the ashes of this one heifer, the Jews tell us, were sufficient to season as many vessels of water as the people of Israel would need for many ages. Nay, they say this one served till the captivity, near one thousand years, and that there never was another heifer burned fill the time of Ezra. But to this tradition of theirs, grounded probably on the silence of ancient records, there seems to be no good reason to give credit, since, in the latter ages of their church, when they had more full records, they find an account of eight burned between Ezra’s time and the destruction of the second temple, which was only a space of about five hundred years. In the sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ, however, offered only once for all, we have an inexhaustible fund of merit, to which, by faith, his church may have recourse from generation to generation, for the purification of their consciences from dead works.19:1-10 The heifer was to be wholly burned. This typified the painful sufferings of our Lord Jesus, both in soul and body, as a sacrifice made by fire, to satisfy God's justice for man's sin. These ashes are said to be laid up as a purification for sin, because, though they were only to purify from ceremonial uncleanness, yet they were a type of that purification for sin which our Lord Jesus made by his death. The blood of Christ is laid up for us in the word and sacraments, as a fountain of merit, to which by faith we may have constant recourse, for cleansing our consciences.Water of separation - In Numbers 8:7, the water of purification from sin is the "water of purifying." So that which was to remedy a state of legal separation is here called "water of separation." 7. the priest shall be unclean until the even—The ceremonies prescribed show the imperfection of the Levitical priesthood, while they typify the condition of Christ when expiating our sins (2Co 5:21). For the congregation of the children of Israel, i.e. for their use, and therefore in a fit place or places, whence any of them might easily procure it.

For a water, or, to the water, i.e. to be put to the water, or mixed with it.

Of separation, i.e. appointed for the cleansing of them that are in a state of separation, who for their uncleanness separated from the congregation. Either the heifer thus managed, or the water thus made and sprinkled,

is a purification for sin, Heb. a sin, i.e. a kind of an offering for sin, or rather a mean for the expiation or cleansing of sin. The name of sin is sometimes given to the punishment of sin, and sometimes to the sacrifice or offering for sin. And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer,.... A man, a clean priest, as the Targum of Jonathan; in later times great care was taken that the priest concerned in the burning of the red cow should be pure; he was separated from his own house seven days before the time, and every day he was sprinkled with the blood of all sin offerings then offered, that it might be sure he was free from any pollution by a grave, or a dead body; and for the same reason they made a causeway on double arches from the temple to the mount of Olives, over the valley of Kidron, lest any unseen grave should be in the way; and when he came thither he was obliged to wash or dip himself, as before observed (m); and so he that gathered up the ashes was to be clean from all ceremonial pollution: the Jews say (n), that they pounded the ashes; if there were any black coal in them or bone, they did not leave it in them, but sifted them in stone sieves; and not the ashes of the heifer only they took, but the ashes of the cedar wood, &c. mixed with them; and these they put, as the Targum of Jonathan says, into an earthen vessel enclosed in a covering of clay:

and lay them up without the camp in a clean place; they were divided into three parts, according to the Targum of Jonathan, one part was put in the Chel (or the enclosure of the court of the tabernacle), another in the mount of Olives, and the third part was divided among all the wards of the Levites, with which the Misnah (o) agrees; Jarchi makes mention of the same division, and of the use of each; that the wards had was without the court, that the citizens might take of it, and all that needed to be purified; that in the mount of Olives was for the priests, to sanctify other heifers with it; and that in the Chel was for a reserve:

and it shall be kept for a reserve for the congregation of Israel; as ashes may be kept a long time, if well taken care of, because they are not subject to any corruption or putrefaction; and so was, as Bishop Patrick observes from Dr. Jackson, a figure of the everlasting efficacy of Christ's blood: and, according to the Jews, these ashes of the first heifer must last more than a thousand years; for they say (p) the second that was burnt was in the time of Ezra, though they reckon seven more afterwards before the destruction of the second temple, in all nine; and the tenth they expect in the days of the Messiah, which are past; he, being come, has put an end to this type by fulfilling it in himself: and the use of them was

for a water of separation; being put into water, and mixed with it, was for the cleansing of such as were separated from others for their uncleanness, and was a purification of them for it, as follows:

it is a purification for sin: or "it is sin" (q), not an offering for sin, properly speaking; the heifer, whose ashes they were, not being sacrificed in the tabernacle, nor on the altar, and wanted other rites; yet it answered the purposes of a sin offering, and its ashes in water were typical of the blood of Christ, which purges the conscience from dead works, when this only purified to the sanctifying of the flesh, Hebrews 9:13; and is the fountain set open for sin and uncleanness, Zechariah 13:1; where both the words are used which are here, and in the preceding clause: ashes are known to be of a cleansing nature, and so a fit emblem of spiritual purification by Christ; and the duration of them of the perpetuity of it.

(m) Misn. Parah, c. 3. sect. 1. 6. 7. (n) Ib. sect. 11. (o) lbid. (p) Ib. sect. 5. (q) "peccatum ipsa", Montanus; "peccatum enim est", Tigurine version.

And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a {e} water of separation: it is a purification for sin.

(e) Or, the water of separation because they that were separate due to their uncleanness, were sprinkled with it and made clean, Nu 8:7. It is also called holy water, because it was ordained for a holy use, Nu 1:17.

9. it shall be kept] i.e. the ashes, for which the Heb. word is singular, not plural.

a water of impurity] i.e. a water for the removal of impurity. Cf. ‘water of sin’ (Numbers 8:7). The word niddâh, ‘impurity,’ signifies something loathsome or abominable.

it is a sin-offering] The cow (not the water) could be called a sin-offering because it was burnt; but, since the ashes are the object of chief importance, the word hattâ’th (‘sin-offering’) must be understood in the more general sense of ‘something which removes sin.’ LXX. ἅγνισμα.Verse 9. - For a water of separation, i.e., a water which should remedy the state of legal separation due to the defilement of death, just as in chapter 8 the water of purification from sin is called the water of sin. The sacrifice itself was to be superintended by Eleazar the priest, the eldest son of the high priest, and his presumptive successor in office; because Aaron, or the high priest, whose duty it was to present the sin-offerings for the congregation (Leviticus 4:16), could not, according to his official position, which required him to avoid all uncleanness of death (Leviticus 21:11-12), perform such an act as this, which stood in the closest relation to death and the uncleanness of death, and for that very reason had to be performed outside the camp. The subject, to "bring her forth" and "slay her," is indefinite; since it was not the duty of the priest to slay the sacrificial animal, but of the offerer himself, or in the case before us, of the congregation, which would appoint one of its own number for the purpose. All that the priest had to do was to sprinkle the blood; at the same time the slaying was to take place לפניו, before him, i.e., before his eyes. Eleazar was to sprinkle some of the blood seven times "towards the opposite," i.e., toward the front of the tabernacle (seven times, as in Leviticus 4:17). Through this sprinkling of the blood the slaying became a sacrifice, being brought thereby into relation to Jehovah and the sanctuary; whilst the life, which was sacrificed for the sin of the congregation, was given up to the Lord, and offered up in the only way in which a sacrifice, prepared like this, outside the sanctuary, could possibly be offered.
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