water of purification

water of purification

The liquid used in an ancient purification ritual to cleanse one from the defilement incurred by coming into close contact with human death, either by touching a human bone, a grave, or a corpse, or by entering a tent where someone had died. An unblemished red heifer that had never been put under the yoke was sacrificed and the blood sprinkled toward the sanctuary. The heifer’s body was then burned with cedar wood along with hyssop and scarlet (wool?) and the ashes collected and preserved. They were to be mixed with living (running) water and sprinkled upon the defiled person, using a branch of hyssop, on the third and seventh day after the defilement. After bathing and washing their clothes the individuals would then be considered clean and acceptable in the community again. The mixture of water and ashes would also be sprinkled on the tent and its furnishings if a death had occurred within the tent (Num 19:1-22; Num 31:21-24).

Num 19:1-22

Ceremony of the Red Heifer
1The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying:2This is a statute of the law that the Lord has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring yo ... View more

Num 31:21-24

21Eleazar the priest said to the troops who had gone to battle: “This is the statute of the law that the Lord has commanded Moses:22gold, silver, bronze, iron, ... View more

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