Ordinance of the Red Heifer
1Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 2“This is the statute of the law which the Lord has commanded: ‘Tell the Israelites to bring you an unblemished red heifer in which there is no defect and on which a yoke has never been placed. 3You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, and it shall be brought outside the camp and be slaughtered in his presence. 4Next Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger and sprinkle some of it toward the front of the Tent of Meeting (tabernacle) seven times. 5Then the heifer shall be burned in his sight; its skin, its flesh, its blood, and its waste, shall be burned (reduced to ash). 6The priest shall take cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet [material] and cast them into the midst of the burning heifer. 7Then the priest shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water; and afterward come into the camp, but he shall be [ceremonially] unclean until evening. 8The one who burns the heifer shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and shall be unclean until evening. 9Now a man who is [ceremonially] clean shall collect the ashes of the heifer and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place, and the congregation of the Israelites shall keep it for water to remove impurity; it is [to be used for] purification from sin. 10The one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until evening. This shall be a perpetual statute to the Israelites and to the stranger who lives as a resident alien among them.
11‘The one who touches the dead body of any person shall be unclean for seven days. 12That one shall purify himself from uncleanness with the water [made with the ashes of the burned heifer] on the third day and on the seventh day, and then he will be clean; but if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean. 13Whoever touches a corpse, the body of anyone who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from Israel [that is, excluded from the atonement made for them]. Because the water for impurity was not sprinkled on him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is still on him.
14‘This is the law when a man dies in a tent: everyone who comes into the tent and everyone who is in the tent shall be [ceremonially] unclean for seven days. 15Every open container [in the tent], which has no covering tied down on it, is unclean. 16Also, anyone in the open field who touches one who has been killed with a sword or who has died [of natural causes], or a human bone or a grave, shall be unclean for seven days. 17Then for the unclean person they shall take some of the ashes of the heifer burnt for the purification from sin, and running water shall be added to them in a container. 18A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water and sprinkle it on the tent and on all the furnishings and on the people who were there, and on the one who touched the bone or the one who was killed or the one who died [naturally] or the grave. 19Then the clean person shall sprinkle [the water for purification] on the unclean person on the third day and on the seventh day, and on the seventh day the unclean man shall purify himself, and wash his clothes and bathe himself in water, and shall be [ceremonially] clean at evening.
20‘But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. The water for purification has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean. 21So it shall be a perpetual statute to them. He who sprinkles the water for impurity [on another] shall wash his clothes, and he who touches the water for impurity shall be unclean until evening. 22Furthermore, anything the unclean person touches shall be unclean, and anyone who touches it shall be [ceremonially] unclean until evening.’ ”