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Monday, July 11, 2011

The Red Heifer Sacrifice Fulfilled in Messiah

Hebrews 9:

13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh:

14 How much more shall the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to Elohim, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living Elohim?

What is the significance of the red heifer and more importantly how does it relate to the Messiah and the Temple? Let us examine the Bible texts on the matter.

Jeremiah 48:10 Cursed is he that does the work of YaHuWaH with slackness; and cursed is he who keeps back his sword from bloodshed.

It is right to determine the work of Elohiym with zeal. However, it must be correct.

Numbers 19:1 

1 Now YaHuWaH said to Moshe and to Aaron, 

This is the statute of the law which YaHuWaH has commanded: Tell the people of Israel to bring you a red heifer without defect, in which there is no blemish, and upon which a yoke has never come. 

*Note: this gives more meaning to what Messiah said in Matthew 11. The yoke is a symbol of slavery to a man-made religious system.

Matthew 11:

28 Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Numbers 19:

3 And you shall give her to Elea’zar the priest, and she shall be taken outside the camp and slaughtered before him; 

4 and Elea’zar the priest shall take some of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle some of her blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times. 

5 And the heifer shall be burned in his sight; her skin, her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall be burned; 

6 and the priest shall take cedarwood and hyssop and scarlet stuff, and cast them into the midst of the burning of the heifer.
7 Then the priest shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterwards he shall come into the camp; and the priest shall be unclean until evening. 

8 He who burns the heifer shall wash his clothes in water and bathe his body in water, and shall be unclean until evening. 

9 And a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the congregation of the people of Israel for the water for impurity, for the removal of sin. 

10 And he who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until evening. And this shall be to the people of Israel, and to the stranger who sojourns among them, a perpetual statute. 

11 He who touches the dead body of any person shall be unclean seven days; 

12 he shall cleanse himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, and so be clean; but if he does not cleanse himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not become clean. 

13 Whoever touches a dead person, the body of any man who has died, and does not cleanse himself, defiles the tabernacle of YaHuWaH, and that person shall be cut off from Israel; because the water for impurity was not thrown upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is still on him.

The purpose of the Red Heifer was to cleanse the tent of meeting. It was to bear sin and the impurity of Israel. The ashes were to be gathered up and stored in a clean place outside the camp. They were kept for the people of Israel for the water for impurity. Thus, this object was the source of the material used for the sanctifying waters that purified Israel. This whole structure was to combine to make the sacrifice of purification. It is followed immediately by the rite of the cleansing of those that were impure by reason of their handling a dead person.

All of these times and events relate back also to the Passover Sacrifice. Messiah is widely understood to have been the Passover Sacrifice and, by his death on 14th of Abib, he saved and sanctified Israel. He required, however, to fulfil a number of other sacrifices at the same time to enable the all saving aspect of the redemption to take effect. All those that buried Messiah were held to be unclean for seven days. In other words, they were unclean up until the last Holy Day of Unleavened Bread. On the Passover, therefore, they had to see the corpse down off the Taw (cross, stauros) before sundown so that the people were not unclean. Given some of the rabbinical views, they would have been unclean for the entirety of the feast. However, the Dead Sea Scrolls show that the later interpretations were wrong. They took the body down before dark so that they did not profane the first Holy Day. This Holy Day commenced on the Wednesday evening at nightfall. The Red Heifer was the instrument that sanctified the people in this circumstance. It was not the Passover lamb that performed that function initially. It was for this reason that Messiah had to be placed in a clean tomb that had borne no other corpse. This was symbolic of the remains of the heifer. Messiah had to remain uncontaminated until his ascension. His death satisfied multiple and, indeed, the entire sacrificial requirements of the Temple once and for all.

He was buried at sunset and his resurrection was widely accepted in the early centuries as being in the evening at sunset. Thus he was three full days in the tomb from sunset to sunset. The ancient letter of Pilate to Tiberius Caesar (in the first Greek form) says:

And on the evening of the first day of the week there was a sound out of the heavens, so that the heaven became enlightened seven-fold more than all the days. And at the third hour of the night also the sun was seen brighter than it had ever shone before, lighting up all the heaven.

*Note: this was Saturday evening at around 9:00 o’clock p.m. (the third hour following sundown).

The second Greek form (whether one or both are genuine or not) states the following:

And on the first of the week, about the third hour of the night, the sun was seen such as it had never at any time shone, and all the heaven was lighted up ... (ANF, Vol. VIII, pp. 460-463).

Pilate was held to have later become a believer in Messiah. The letter seems to indicate that the darkness that covered the earth on the crucifixion was understood to have been replaced by light at the resurrection which was signaled by light up until the third hour or 9 pm. This was understood as being accompanied by the heavenly Host and a number of resurrections from the dead. Some manuscripts detail 500 resurrections took place (ibid.).

Matthew 27:

50 YaHuWshuwa, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up his spirit.

51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the set-apart ones which slept arose,

53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

The purpose, here, is to note the texts as understanding the resurrection to have taken place at the beginning of the evening of the first day of the week. Thus, Messiah was in the tomb three days and three nights. This clean receptacle was symbolic of the receptacle for the remains of sanctification.

This sacrifice was also the mark of salvation and the inheritance of Israel given to Abraham.

Genesis 15:1-21

1 After these things the word of YaHuWaH came to Abram in a vision, Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great. 

2 But Abram said, O Master ELOHIYM, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Elie’zer of Damascus? 

3 And Abram said, Behold, you have given me no offspring; and a slave born in my house will be my heir. 

4 And behold, the word of YaHuWaH came to him, This man shall not be your heir; your own son shall be your heir. 

5 And he brought him outside and said, Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. Then he said to him, So shall your descendants be. 

6 And he believed YaHuWaH; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness. 

7 And he said to him, I am YaHuWaH who brought you from Ur of the Chalde’ans, to give you this land to possess. 

8 But he said, O Master ELOHIYM, how am I to know that I shall possess it?  

9 He said to him, Bring me a heifer three years old, a she-goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. 

10 And he brought him all these, cut them in two, and laid each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two.

11 And when birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 

12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram; and lo, a dread and great darkness fell upon him. 

13 Then YaHuWaH said to Abram, Know of a surety that your descendants will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and will be slaves there, and they will be oppressed for four hundred years; 

14 but I will bring judgment on the nation which they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 

15 As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 

16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete. 

17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 

18 On that day YaHuWaH made a covenant with Abram, saying, To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphra’tes, 

19 the land of the Ken’ites, the Ken’izzites, the Kad’monites, 

20 the Hittites, the Per’izzites, the Reph’aim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Gir’gashites and the Jeb’usites.

Elohiym told Abraham he would receive an inheritance. Eliezar of Damascus was his heir at that time. He was also told to sacrifice a heifer, a she-goat and a ram all three years’ old with the dove and the pigeon.

This sacrifice pointed towards the heir and the replacement of the priesthood symbolised by Eliezar with the sons of the promise of the priesthood of Melchisedek. The sacrifices were three years’ old, seemingly symbolising the witness of the ministry of Messiah and John the Baptist. The sun was dark at the evening as it was with the crucifixion and, at evening when it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between the pieces of the sacrifices which had been split in two. The birds were not so split signifying the Holy Spirit and its role in the process. The presence of Elohiym is symbolised here passing between the pieces which was identified with the establishment of His covenant. This process involved the promise of the birthright and the redemption of the nations of Abraham within Israel which would bear the messianic promise. This act looked towards the covenant that would be fulfilled in Messiah.

The sacrifice of an unyoked heifer also involves guilt and judgment.

Deuteronomy 21:1-9

If in the land which YaHuWaH your Elohiym gives you to possess, any one is found slain, lying in the open country, and it is not known who killed him, 

2 then your elders and your judges shall come forth, and they shall measure the distance to the cities which are around him that is slain; 

3 and the elders of the city which is nearest to the slain man shall take a heifer which has never been worked and which has not pulled in the yoke. 

4 And the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with running water, which is neither plowed nor sown, and shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley. 

5 And the priests the sons of Levi shall come forward, for YaHuWaH your Elohiym has chosen them to minister to him and to bless in the name of YaHuWaH, and by their word every dispute and every assault shall be settled. 

6 And all the elders of that city nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley; 

7 and they shall testify, ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, neither did our eyes see it shed. 

8 Forgive, O YaHuWaH thy people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and set not the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of your people Israel; but let the guilt of blood be forgiven them.’ 

9 So you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the sight of YaHuWaH.

In this way also, the guilt of innocent blood was purged from Israel. The unyoked requirement signifies freedom from slavery to another religious system.

The power of judgment also passed into the kingship. Thus, judgment also rested with Messiah, again symbolized by this form of sacrifice.

1st Samuel 16:1-5

1 YaHuWaH said to Samuel, How long will you grieve over Saul, seeing I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons. 

2 And Samuel said, How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me. And YaHuWaH said, Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to YaHuWaH.’ 

3 And invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me him whom I name to you. 

4 Samuel did what YaHuWaH commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, Do you come peaceably? 

5 And he said, Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to YaHuWaH; consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice.

The sons of Jesse were both the sacrifice and the guests. Messiah was of the line of David through Nathan and also secondarily of Levi through Shimei.

The red heifer was sacrificed outside of the camp. This could not be closer than the one thousand yards from the Ark of the Covenant which was given as the distance of the tribes from the Ark of the Covenant on the march. The cities then had a thousand cubits for the Levites as pasture grounds and then the outer areas from the wall were also two thousand cubits (see Num. 35:1-5). The law forbade anyone but the sons of Aaron to camp in the east of the tabernacle and anyone who came into that area was to be put to death (Num. 3:38). This applied also to Jerusalem. Then the sons of Aaron sanctified the Kohathites (Num. 4:19) and so on down to each level of the priesthood and of the nation. Thus, the sacrifice and sanctification process began at the high priest and worked through the orders of the priesthood and the nation.

The sacrifices were understood according to the Mishnah as follows:

Jerusalem did not have to bring a heifer whose neck is to be broken (9.2. H Neusner Mishnah, Yale University Press, p. 462)

A blemish does not invalidate the heifer for the blood guilt (9.5.C, ibid.).

The elders of the town wash their hands in the place where the heifer’s neck was broken saying Our hands have not shed this blood (9.6.A & B, p. 463). Pilate did this for them in the case of Messiah.

The priests say Forgive O, Lord your people Israel whom you have redeemed, and do not allow innocent blood in the midst of your people Israel (Deut. 21:8; 9.6.F). They did not have to say And the blood shall be forgiven them (Deut. 21:8) because it is a function of Elohiym through Messiah and not of the priesthood.

The red heifer is traditionally slain in a rugged valley (9.5.D). (Hence across the Kidron).

If the neck of the red heifer is broken and then the murderer is found, then the murderer is to be put to death in its place. If he is found before the heifer is killed, then the heifer is not required to be killed and goes to pasture. However, Messiah died for the sins of the world and the blood guilt was on Israel and could not be removed except through his sacrifice.

If murderers became many then the rite of breaking the red heifer’s neck is cancelled (9.9.I.A). This cancellation was based on Hosea 4:14.

The composite rules of the Mishnah regarding other sacrifices and red heifers:

The red heifer is not to be kept waiting unless a hair turns black [and] it should not [otherwise] become unfit (1.1.E.2; pp. 1012-1035).

If there were on it, two black hairs or white ones inside a single follicle it is unfit (2.5.A, p. 1015).

If they were in two hollows or opposite [adjacent] to one another, it is unfit. R. Aqiba says Even four even five, and they are scattered about - let one uproot them. Eliezer says even fifty but Joshua b. Beterah says even one on its head and one on its tail it is unfit.

The Midrash has conflict in the interpretation and thus the red heifer now in Israel would be unfit, but Aquiba would root them out and this is no doubt what will be done. When two rabbis disagree, who is right? The answer would be given both of them. So it will be the case here.

Seven days before the burning of the cow they bring the priest from his house to the chamber and bring him into the north-east corner of the Temple building called the stone house (3.1.A). He is purified with the waters of purification. He is sprinkled every day for seven days (3.1.B). However, it is only to be done on the third and the seventh days according to R. Yose (3.1.C) and this applies to the one for the Day of Atonement.

The Mishnah records that there were courtyards in Jerusalem built on rock which had hollows under them so that there could be no grave beneath for these purification rites.

The priest proceeds from the Temple Mount to the Mount of Olives. A cup, with stones, is filled from the pool of Siloam (Div. 6, Purities 3.3, pp. 1015-1016). They made a causeway from the Temple Mount to the Mount of Olives with arches (ibid., 3.6). The costs of the Red Heifer, the Azazel goat and the red thread (Lev. 16:5) were all borne from the funds of the heave offering of the [sheqel] chamber (Div. 2, Sheqalim 4.2, ibid., p. 256). The ramp for the red cow was at the high priest’s expense according to Abba Saul (ibid., 4.2.C). The cow went alone (Div. 6, ibid., 3.7, cf. Num. 19:3).

The elders of Israel preceded them on foot to the Mount of Olives where there was a house for immersion (3.7.F,G). They rendered the priest who burns the cow unclean because of the Sadducees (3.7.H) (i.e. the literal intent of the Bible) so that they could not say that it was done by one on whom the sun has set (3.7.I). So they immersed him once here before the sacrifice (3.8.A-C, cf. Neusner, ibid., p. 1017).

The high priest was immersed there and the logs of wood were laid out for a fire. It was made into a kind of tower and windows were in it facing westward (3.8.A-D) – in other words, back to the Temple Mount.

Water was taken from the pool at Siloam by youth detailed for the task.

The heifer was bound and laid with its head southward and its face westward (3.9.A). The priest stood on the east and slaughtered the animal with his right hand facing towards the west and received the blood in his left hand. He then dipped his finger in the blood and sprinkled seven times, once for each dipping, towards the house of the Holy of Holies (3.9.B-G).

Having completed sprinkling, he wiped his hand on the body of the animal. He then descended and kindled the fire, which Aqiba says were the dry branches of palm trees. (These were waved before Messiah on the 10th of Abib, perhaps symbolically).

The heifer was burnt and cedar hyssop and scarlet wool were bound together and thrown into the fire and the beast was then beaten with rods and crushed with stone hammers and stone sieves. The ashened cinders and the bone are crushed and the rest is left (3.10; 3.11.A-E).

The ashes are divided into three parts – one is placed on the rampart (3.11.G), one is placed on the Mount of Olives (3.11.H) and one is divided among all the priestly watches (3.11.I).

The act is done in white garments and it must be aimed directly at the Holy of Holies (4.1 to 4.2). The regulations concerning the mixing of the waters of purification are extensive and quite too tedious to be concerned with here.

The red heifer is required for the purification of those who were unclean because of dead bodies and other matters. We see from the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q, 276-277, Frag. 1) that they were only considered unclean until the evening from and by this process (see Wise, Abegg and Cook The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation, Hodder and Stoughton, 1996, pp. 284-285). However, the sun must set on them for this purpose (4QMMT:4Q394-399, Section B5, ibid., p. 360, cf. Num. 19:2-10; Mishnah Parah 3.7; 4.4)

In 70 A.D, the Temple was destroyed because it had to be destroyed in order to be replaced by a spiritual edifice not built by human hands. The tenth heifer sanctified a new priesthood of the order of Melchisedek which replaced the old order of Aaron.


  1. Does this mean we are no longer unclean for coming in contact with the dead? Are we still unclean seven days and make everything we touch unclean? Is there a way to be protected from the uncleanness?

  2. Does this relate to "the Balfour century" as detailed at