The Ashes of the Red Cow
1 The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron. He said, 2 “These are the laws from the teachings that the LORD gave to the Israelites. Get a red cow that has nothing wrong with it. That cow must not have any bruises. And it must never have worn a yoke. 3 Give that cow to Eleazar, and he will take it outside the camp and kill it there. 4 Then Eleazar the priest must put some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle some of the blood toward the Holy Tent. He must do this seven times. 5 Then the whole cow must be burned in front of him; the skin, the meat, the blood, and the intestines must all be burned. 6 Then the priest must take a cedar stick, a hyssop branch, and some red string. He must throw these things into the fire where the cow is burning. 7 Then the priest must wash himself and his clothes with water. Then he must come back into the camp. He will be unclean until evening. 8 The man who burns that cow must wash himself and his clothes in water. He will be unclean until evening.
9 “Then someone who is clean will collect the ashes from the cow and put them in a clean place outside the camp. These ashes will be used when someone must keep a special ceremony to become clean. These ashes will also be used to remove a person’s sins.
10 “The man who collected the cow’s ashes must wash his clothes. He will be unclean until evening.
“This rule will continue forever. This rule is for the citizens of Israel and for the foreigners living with you. 11 Those who touch a dead body will be unclean for seven days. 12 They must wash themselves with the special water on the third day and again on the seventh day. If they don’t do this, they will remain unclean. 13 Those who touch the body of someone who has died are unclean. If they stay unclean and then go to the LORD’S Holy Tent, they make it unclean. So they must be separated from the Israelites. Because the special water was not thrown on them, they remain unclean.
14 “This is the rule about those who die in their tents: If someone dies in the tent, everyone in the tent will be unclean for seven days. 15 And every jar or pot without a lid becomes unclean. 16 If there is a dead body out in a field, whether the person died in battle or for some other reason, whoever touches that dead body, or its bones, or even its grave will be unclean for seven days.
17 “If you have become unclean, someone must use the ashes from the burned cow to make you clean again. They must pour fresh water* fresh water Literally, “living water.” This means fresh, flowing water. over the ashes into a jar. 18 That clean person must take a hyssop branch and dip it into the water. The clean person must sprinkle it over the tent, the dishes, and any people who were in the tent. That clean person must do this for anyone who touches a dead body, its bones, or even a grave.
19 “Then that clean person must sprinkle this water on you on the third day and again on the seventh day. On the seventh day you will become clean. You must wash your clothes in water and you will become clean in the evening.
20 “Whoever becomes unclean and does not become clean must be separated from the community. If an unclean person is not sprinkled with that special water and does not become clean, that person might make the LORD’S Holy Tent unclean. 21 This rule will be for you forever. And whoever sprinkled the special water must wash their clothes because they will be unclean until evening. 22 And whoever an unclean person touches will be unclean until evening.”
*19:17 fresh water Literally, “living water.” This means fresh, flowing water.