We will begin to present the ceremony of the Red Heifer from the Danby Mishnah, tractate Parah, starting in 1.1.
1.1…R. Eliezer says: The heifer whose neck is to be broken must be not more than one year old; and the Red Heifer (Parah Adumah) not more than two years old. But the sages say (this is a decision by the Sanhedrin): The heifer may be two years old and the Red Heifer three years old or four. R. Meir says: Even five years old. An older heifer is valid, but they may not suffer it to wait so long lest any hair in it turns black, and that it may not otherwise become invalid. R. Joshua said: I have never heard that any was valid save a ‘three year old’ (sheloshit). They said to him, Why do you use the term sheloshit? He said to them, Thus have I heard it but without explanation. Ben Azzai said, I will explain it. When you say shelishit (spelled different) it means the third in number in relation to others. But, when you say sheloshit it means something that is three years old. In like manner they have spoken of a four year old (reba’i) vineyard. They said to him, Why do you say reba’i? He said to them, Thus have I heard it without explanation. Ben Azzai said, I will explain it. When you say rebi’i (spelled different) it means ‘the fourth’ in number in relation to others. But, when you say reba’i it means something that is four years old. In like manner they have said if a man ate in a house afflicted with leprosy (zara’at) he becomes unclean if he stayed time enough to eat a half-loaf, the size of which is three to a kab (1.5 quarts). They said to him, Say, rather, eighteen to the seah. He said to them, Thus I have heard it but without explanation. Ben Azzai said, I will explain it. When you say three to a kab it means that it had not been liable to dough offering (dough is liable to be offered as a dough offering if it is made from more than five quarters of a kab). But, when you say eighteen to the seah it means the dough offering that was taken from it has lessened the loaf somewhat.
1.2…R. Jose the Galilean says, Bullocks must be not more than two years old, for it is written, And a second year bullock of the herd you shall take for a sin offering (Num 8.8). But the sages say, They may not even be three years old. R. Meir says, Even if they are four years old or five they are valid; but they do not offer them that are old out of reverence (towards the Altar).
1.3…Lambs must be no more than one year old, and rams not more than two years old; and always the year is reckoned from day to day (a full calendar year). What is thirteen months old is not valid whether as a ram or as a lamb. R. Tarfon calls such a one a pallax (youth); Ben Azzai calls it a noked (herdsman); R. Ishmael calls it a parakhadeigma (counterfeit…all three words, although their exact meaning in these circumstances is uncertain, are given to show that at the age of thirteen months they are useless and invalid). If a man offered it he must bring for it the drink offerings of a ram, but it is not accounted to his credit as his prescribed animal offering. It it was thirteen months old and a day it counts as a ram.
1.4…The sin offerings of the congregation and their whole offerings (Korban Olah), the sin offerings (Korban Chata’at) of an individual, the guilt offering (Korban Asham) of a Nazarite and the guilt offering (Korban Asham) of a leper (metzora) are valid from the time they are thirty days old and upwards, even on the thirtieth day. And if they were offered on the eighth day (after they were born) they are valid (On the eighth day they are considered one year old. This applied to animals and humans. One year later, they are two years old. So, this mishnah gives us insight into Matt 2.16 and the birth of Yeshua, where Herod kills the two year old infants in Bethlehem. They were really one year old and younger. Biblically, and from this mishnah, we learn that life begins at conception). Vow offerings and Free Will offerings, Firstlings and tithe of cattle and the Passover offering are valid from the eighth day onwards, and even on the eighth day (after they were born).
2.1…R. Eliezer says: If the Red Heifer for the sin offering was with young it is valid. But the sages declare it invalid. R. Eliezer says it may not be bought from gentiles. But the sages declare such a one valid; and not only this, but any of the offerings of the congregation and of the individual may be brought from within the land of Israel or from outside of it, from new produce or from old, save only the Omer and the Two Loaves (Shtai Ha Lechem), which may be brought only from new produce and from within the land of ISrael (it says that in the Torah).
2.2…If the horns and the hoofs of the Heifer were black they be chopped off. If there was a blemish in the eye socket or the teeth or the tongue they do not render the heifer invalid. If it was dwarflike it is still valid. If there was a wen (wart) on it and this was cut off, R. Judah declares it is still valid. R. Simeon (This is Shimon Ben Gamaliel, the grandson of Gamaliel, Paul’s teacher) says: If it grew no red hair at the place where it was removed it is invalid.
2.3…If it was born from the side or was the hire of a harlot or the price of a dog (a male prostitute) it is invalid. R. Eliezer declares it valid, for it is written, You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the price of a dog into the house of the Lord they God (Deut 23.18); whereas the Heifer was not brought into the Temple. Any blemish that renders animal offerings invalid renders the Heifer invalid. If a man had ridden thereon or leaned thereon or if aught had been hung on its tail or if any had crossed a river by its help or doubled its leading rope on its back or set his cloak on it, it is invalid. But if had fastened it by its leading rope or made sandals for it lest it slip or spread his cloak over it because of flies, it remains valid. This is the general rule: if aught was done for the sake of the Heifer it remains valid; but if it for the sake of any other, the Heifer becomes invalid.
2.4…If a bird alighted on it it remains valid. If a male beast mounted it it becomes invalid. R. Judah says: If it was made to mount it becomes invalid but if it acted of itself it remains valid.
2.5…If two black or white hairs growing from within a single hole it is invalid. R. Judah says “Or even from a single hollow (circle of hair). If they grew from within two hollows that were adjacent, it is invalid.” R. Akiba says, Even though there were four or even five but they were dispersed, they may be plucked out. R. Eliezer says, Or even fifty. R. Joshua b. Bathyra says, Even though it has but one on its head and one on its tail, it is ivalid. If there were two hairs with their roots black but their tips red, or their roots red but their tips black, all is according to what is more manifest (visible). So R. Meir. But the sages say, According to the root (In 1998 the first candidate for a red heifer was born in 2000 years. Her name was “Melody.” She developed white hairs in her tail and was disqualified. But, people started asking, “What is a Red Heifer?”. So, this heifer was used by the Lord to raise awareness about this ceremony and get people studying about it because one is coming soon).
We will pick up in Parah 3.1 in Part 53 in our study of the ceremony of the Parah Adumah, the Red Heifer.