Temple 201-The Ceremonies (The Red Heifer)-Part 53

We pick up in the Mishnah, Tractate Parah 3.1:

3.1…Seven days before the burning of the Heifer the priest that was to burn the Heifer was taken apart from his house to a chamber that was opposite the NE corner of the Temple building; it was called the House of Stone (Beit Even in the Beit ha Nitzotz. It was made of stone because stone does not contract corpse impurity). Throughout the seven days they sprinkled him with water from the ashes of all the Sin-offerings (the ashes from all the previous Red Heifers. Remember, the Red Heifer is called the “sin offering cow.” Today, there are no previous ashes, so what do you do? This will be answered in 3.2) that were there. R. Jose says: They sprinkled him only on the third and seventh days. R. Hanina the Prefect of the Priests says: They sprinkled the priest that was to burn the Heifer on each of the seven days, but the priest that was set apart for the Day of Atonement they sprinkled only on the third and seventh days.

3.2…There were courtyards in Jerusalem built over the rock (for fear of uncleanness from unknown graves below- it is the same concept with the Parah Adumah bridge that was built across the Kidron Valley from the Temple to the Mount of Olives), and beneath them the rock was hollowed for fear of any grave down in the depths; and they used to bring women (kohanim) while pregnant and there they bore their children and reared them. And they brought oxen with doors (so their shadow will not “overshadow” any graves) laid upon their backs, and on these the children (7-8 year old boys) sat bearing in their hands cups of stone (which do not contract corpse impurity). When they reached Siloam they alighted (they got off at the Pool of Shiloach, 3/4 of a mile south of the Temple) and filled the cups with water and got up again and sat upon the doors. R. Jose says: The child used to let down his cup and fill it without alighting.(In other words, if there were no ashes young priests were born and raised in an area that is over pure rock to make sure there were no graves beneath them. They could not leave the house or the area for fear of contracting corpse impurity. If a heifer is needed, young boys will ride an oxen with doors laid across the back of the oxen. These doors make sure the shadow of the boys do not come into contact with a grave. They go down to the Pool of Siloam to get the water that will be used with the ashes. This is what is done if there are no previous ashes and it has never been done before).

3.3…When they come to the Temple Mount they alighted (got off). Beneath both the Temple Mount and the courts of the Temple was a hollowed space for fear of any grave down in the depths (The Temple Mount, with all its chambers, was erected with a hollow space below and the entire Temple complex was built upon overlapping arches in the same manner as the bridge leading from the Temple Mount to the Mount of Olives). At the entrance of the Temple court was set ready a jar of the ashes of the Sin-offering. They brought a male from among the sheep, tied a rope between the horns, and a stick and wound about it (a bushy twig) with the other end of the rope, and threw it into the jar (of ashes). The sheep was smitten so that it started backwards and spilled the ashes, and the child took the ashes and mixed enough to be visible on the water (this avoided the risk of rendering them unclean by taking them out by hand). R. Jose says: Give not the Sadducees an occasion to make petty objections! But rather, one of the children took the ashes directly from the jar and mixed them (so, it will be the children who sprinkles the attending priest and so on).

3.4…If they did not find the ashes from the seven earlier Sin-offerings (Red Heifers) they could use them from six, from five, from four, from three, from two or from one (Of the previous Red Heifers. Ashes were kept in three places: The Temple Mount at the Chel, at the site of the Red Heifer ceremony on the Mount of Olives and they were divided among the 24 Mishmarot (courses) of the priests). Who prepared them? Moses prepared the first, Ezra the second, and five were prepared after Ezra (for a total of seven). So R. Meir. But the sages say: seven since Ezra (plus the one Moses and Ezra did, and they say there has been a total of nine). And who prepared them? Simeon the Just and Jochanan the High Priest prepared two each, and Eliehoenai the son of Hakkof (is a variant of ha-Kayyaf, the name of Caiaphas) and Hanamel the Egyptian and Ishmael the son of Piabi prepared one each.

3.6…They made a causeway (bridge or “kevesh”) from the Temple Mount to the Mount of Olives, and arched way built over an arched way, with an arch directly above each pier of the arch below, for fear of any grave in the depths below (the teaching is this..if there was only a solid bridge between those who crossed the causeway and any corpse impurity below, the impurity, if contained in less than a cubic handbreadth’s space, would cleave perpendicularly upwards; but if a hollow space intervened, measuring a cubic handbreadth or more, the impurity penetrates no further). By it the priest that was to burn the Heifer, and the Heifer, and all that aided him went forth to the Mount of Olives.

3.7…If the Heifer refused to go forth they may not send out with a black heifer lest any say, “They slaughtered a black heifer.” Nor another red heifer, lest any say, “They slaughtered two.” R. Jose says: It was not for this reason, but because it is written, “And he shall bring her forth” by herself (the Red Heifer had to walk by herself, no rope or someone in front. They worked with her before to train her before the time came). And the elders of Israel (the Sanhedrin) used to go forth before them on foot to the Mount of Olives. There was a place of immersion there; and they had first rendered unclean the priest that should burn the Heifer (he had to be at least 17 years old) because of the Sadducees: that they should not be able to say: “It must be performed only by them on whom the sun had set” (he must be wholly clean).

3.8…They laid their hands upon him and said, “My lord the High Priest, immerse thyself this once” (it doesn’t have to be the High Priest that does this, it can be his agent). He went down and immersed himself and came up and dried himself. Wood was set in order there: cedar wood and pine and spruce and pieces of smooth fig-tree wood; and they built up the pile in the fashion of a tower and opened as it were windows in it; and its fore-side was to the west (this pile was open towards the Temple Mount and the Holy of Holies).

3.9…They bound the Heifer with a rope of bast (a particular reed not susceptible to impurity) and set it on the pile, lying with its head to the south and its face to the west (toward the Holy of Holies). The priest (he will be in state in purity, but will become impure ritually in the process of this ceremony) stood to the east with his face to the west (Holy of Holies). He slaughtered with his right hand and received the blood with his left. R. Judah says: He used to receive the blood with on his right hand, put it on his left hand and sprinkle with his right. He dipped his hand and sprinkled the blood seven times (like wielding a whip) towards the Holy of Holies (Middot 2.4 says that all the walls of the Temple were high except for the eastern wall because the High Priest that burns the Red Heifer will stand on the Mount of Olives and he must be able to see directly into the Sanctuary when the blood is sprinkled), dipping anew for each sprinkling. When he made an end of sprinkling he wiped his hand on the Heifer’s body. He came down and kindled the fire with small chips of wood. R. Akiba says: With branches of date palm.

3.10…When the Heifer burst he stood outside the pit. He took cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool and said to them. “Is this cedar wood?” “Is this cedar wood?” “Is this hyssop?” “Is this hyssop?” Is this scarlet wool?” Is this scarlet wool?”-asking three times for each; and they answered, “Yes! Yes!-three times for each (we don’t know why this was done this way).

3.11…He wrapped them together with the ends of the strip of wool and cast them inside the burning Heifer. When it was burnt up they beat the cinders with rods and sifted the ashes with sieves. R. Ishmael says: They used stone hammers and stoneware sieves. If a black cinder had ashes thereon, it was beaten up small; otherwise it was suffered to remain; in either case if it was a bone, it was beaten up small. The ashes were divided into three: one part was kept on the Chel, one part on the Mount of Olives, and one was divided among the courses of the priests.

The tractate Parah continues to 12.10, but we will stop here because we are only dealing with the ceremony of the slaughtering of the Red Heifer. Anyone entering the Temple Courts from other nations had to be sprinkled with the ashes. On the first day a person had to go to a priest and announce that he needed to be sprinkled. Then on the third and seventh day he went back to the Temple and was sprinkled with a hyssop plant. Paul took a Nazarite Vow and cut his hair in Acts 18.18, and was coming to the Temple from outside the land. He went through the cleansing ceremony of the Red Heifer (Acts 21.24-26). In Ezek 36.24-25 we read that the Jewish people will be gathered from among the nations, as well as believing non-Jews. They will be sprinkled with the ashes of a Red Heifer before entering into the Temple. This verse in Ezekiel describes what Yeshua will do.

People today do not see what’s coming because they don’t see it through the lens of the Temple. The Beit ha Mikdash, a type of Eden and Mount Sinai, is being opposed by the enemies of God, both spiritual and physical. That is the root of all the turmoil in the world. Its not terrorism, its not all the social problems, its not financial issues. Its because God is preparing the world for the Temple, his “Beit ha Mikdash” or “House of Kedusha” and Satan hates it. That means that he is preparing the world for the coming of Yeshua because they go together. The Lord is taking us back to Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden) in the Olam Haba.

In Part 54, we will begin to talk about the ceremony of the cleansing of the Metzora (Leper).

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, The Temple, Understanding the New Testament

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