The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Numbers
And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron,
Here is the law of sacrifice, divinely instituted. Bid the sons of Israel bring a red heifer, fully grown and free from blemish, one that has never borne the yoke.
This you will give to the priest Eleazar, who will take it beyond the boundaries of the camp and immolate it there in the sight of all.
He will then dip his finger in its blood, with which he will sprinkle the front of the tabernacle door seven times;
the heifer itself he will burn publicly, committing skin and flesh, blood and dung to the flames.
Cedar-wood, too, and hyssop and stuff twice-dyed in scarlet must be thrown by the priest into the fire which consumes the heifer.
When all this is done, he will wash his clothes and his own person before he enters the camp again, and will hold himself defiled till evening comes;
and there will be the same duty of washing, the same law of defilement, for the man who has had the burning of it.
The ashes of the heifer must be collected by a man who is still free from defilement, and poured out in some place that is free from defilement; and there the people of Israel will keep them to provide lustral water, the ashes of this heifer that is burned to atone for men’s faults.
Even the man who has the carrying of the ashes must wash his clothes, and hold himself defiled till evening comes. This is to be a sacred observance for the Israelites, and for aliens who dwell among them, by right unalterable.
When a man has touched a dead body, and for a week counts as defiled,
with this water he must be sprinkled on the third and the seventh day if he is to be purified; no purification for him on the seventh day unless he has been sprinkled on the third.
One who has touched a man’s dead body, and will not use this salve for his cleansing, profanes the Lord’s dwelling-place; he is lost to Israel, unclean still, and bearing the burden of his defilement, until the lustral water sprinkles him.
If a man dies in his tent, this is the rule that must be followed; all those who go into the tent incur defilement for seven days, and so does all the furniture in it;
nothing escapes defilement except what is covered with a lid or wrapped up.
And if a man is killed or dies in the open, anyone who touches his body incurs defilement for seven days; so does anyone who touches some bone of a dead man, or his grave.
It was to atone for such faults the victim was burned; a handful of its ashes must be thrown into a vessel that contains fresh water,
and some man who is free from defilement, using hyssop for a brush, must sprinkle the tent with it, and the furniture of the tent, and all those who are defiled by contact with death.
So, on the third and on the seventh day, man defiled must be made clean by man undefiled; and on the seventh day he will wash his clothes, and hold himself defiled, even yet, till evening.
The man who will not avail himself of such atonement is lost to the congregation; he is a profanation to the Lord’s sanctuary until the lustral water has sprinkled him.✻
This command must never be abrogated. Even the man who has sprinkled the lustral water must wash his clothes, and everyone who has touched it is defiled for the rest of the day.
The defiled man defiles all he touches; and anyone who touches it is defiled in his turn till evening.
The Holy Bible