The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Numbers 19

Num 19:1

Num 19: The Red Heifer: In context of repeated failures (Aaron, Miriam: Num 11,12; murmurings: Num 14; Korah's rebellion: Num 16), Israel is in urgent need for salvation/cleansing from sin. Cp Heb 9:14; 1Pe 1:19.

Num 19:2

HEIFER: Female aspect: Gen 3:15; 1Ti 2:15n.

Num 19:3

ELEAZAR THE PRIEST: Aaron was still High Priest; Eleazar was High Priest to come! Typ Christ, the High Priest-elect. Sig of name: as Lazarus: "God will help". The sacrifice was provided by God: Gen 22:8; Isa 59:16,20.

OUTSIDE THE CAMP: Not done in tabernacle. The Law cannot cleanse us: Rom 8:3; Heb 10:4. Here we have no continuing city: Heb 13:14; 11:10.

Num 19:4

Num 19:4.

See Heb 9:13,14.

Num 19:6

CEDAR: Upright tree, sweet, incorruptible(Song 1:17n).

HYSSOP: "Which springs out of wall" (1Ki 4:33). Blue flower: godliness (Num 15:38). Small plant, with medicinal, detergent qualities.

SCARLET: Sig sin and sacrifice: cp Song 4:3; Psa 22:6. A worm (tolahanee) yields the scarlet dye, through death, heat, and crushing. Typ Christ (cp Job 25:6 with Psa 8:4-6). Scarlet wool = sins of others cast into fire (Isa 53:5,6).

Num 19:7

In the offering of the red heifer, as a means of cleansing from the defilement of death, the priest becomes so much associated with the sacrifice, that he becomes unclean himself. Thus the lesson is taught: to remove death, he must first become subject to it (Rom 8:3; Heb 2:14).

"The ashes of a slain heifer applied to a man defiled by death, was a curing of death by death. This is precisely what has happened in the antitype: Christ, 'through death, destroyed that having the power of death, that is, the devil' (Heb 2:14). How could he do this if he had not in himself the power of death to destroy by dying? He has destroyed death. But in whom? In himself alone as yet. Believers will obtain the benefit by incorporation with him at the resurrection: but, at the present time, the victory is his alone. The fact is plain to everyone. Some who admire Christ are horror-struck at the idea of his having been a partaker of the Adamic condemned nature -- a nature defiled by death because of sin. Their horror is due wholly to too great a confinement of view. They fix their attention on the idea of 'defilement' without remembering that the defilement was undertaken expressly with a view to removal.

"We must have God's revealed object in view. The power of death was there that it might be destroyed. If it was not there, it could not be destroyed. This is the mischief of what may be truly called the Papal view. By denying that Jesus came in the very dying flesh of Adam, it changes the character of the death of Christ into a martyrdom or a punishing of the innocent for the guilty: instead of being what it is revealed to have been -- a declaration of the righteousness of God that He might be just, while the justifier of those who have faith in it for the forgiveness of their sins (Rom 3:24-26)" (LM 264,265).

Num 19:9

A MAN WHO IS CLEAN: Typ the apostles, cleansed by the sacrifice of Christ, who carry the message of that cleansing outside of the camp of Israel, to the Gentiles.

Num 19:11

Vv 11-16: "In these passages there is a clear recognition that the carcasses of diseased animals can transmit 'uncleanness' to anything which they come into contact with, and that these secondarily contaminated objects can also transmit 'uncleanness' " (SP, Tes 71:205). Cp Lev 11:31-40.

WHOEVER TOUCHES THE DEAD BODY OF ANYONE...: When the people had accused Moses of killing the people of the LORD (Num 16:41), 14,700 died (Num 16:49). While the bodies of Korah and his rebels had been buried by God when the ground opened and swallowed them, these other bodies would need to be buried by the people. The Red Heifer was introduced at this time, for anyone who had touched a dead body, to teach Israel the heinous nature of rebellion and the death that followed on that rebellion.

Num 19:12

Christ the individual was purified on the 3rd day, and his whole "body" will be cleansed on the 7th day!

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