Parah Adamah: The Red Heifer – Part 1

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What is the Red Heifer and what makes it so special? Is it something rare or is it quite common? What does its presence signify and does it have anything to do with Messiah? Let’s investigate.

The Torah contains many instructions that were given by God to Moses for the people of Israel to follow. Among these were instructions regarding sacrifices for sin and purification. In all of these there was one particular sacrifice that remains a mystery to the Israelites to this day. What is it about the ashes of a Red Heifer that can purify someone or something?

In Numbers chapter 19 Moses records instructions for the people of Israel that were given to him and to his brother Aaron, the High Priest, starting in verse 1:  

And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke. 

The words red and heifer are the Hebrew words Parah for heifer and Adamah for red. This is the only instance in which an animal that is chosen for sacrifice must be of a certain color. History recorded by the Rabbis tell us this was the first of nine red heifers that were selected for sacrifice, the last one appearing before the destruction of Herod’s temple in 70 AD. 

The instructions for Moses and Aaron continue through verse 6:

And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, that he may bring her forth without the camp, and one shall slay her before his face: And Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times: And one shall burn the heifer in his sight, her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn: And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer.

Why is this sacrifice made outside the camp? Sacrifices are normally made and presented at the altar. Why are other things burned with this Red Heifer; doesn’t this contaminate it?

And, finally in verse 9 we read this:

And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it is a purification for sin.

To sort this all out, let’s first see what the ancient pictograms for the word Parah can show us. Parah is spelled Pey Reysh Hey.

 Pey is pictured as an open mouth  and means to speak.

Reysh is the picture of the head  and means the leader or the prince.

Hey is the picture of the man with arms lifted to the heavens and means to behold or to pay attention to what follows.


In these three letters for heifer we can see that we are to pay attention to what the leader the prince is saying. But what is he telling us? For that, we need to study the letters for the word Adamah which is spelled Aleph Dalet Mem Hey.

Aleph is the picture of the ox and means the strong leader or God the Father.  

Dalet is the picture of the door and means a doorway, a path, or an entrance to life or death.

Mem  is the picture of liquid. It can be massive chaotic waters like a tsunami or gentle water  coming down like rain that brings life.

Hey is again the picture of the man with arms lifted to the heavens  and means to behold or to pay attention to what follows.


We can see that we are to behold: The Heavenly Father, our strong leader, is going to open a pathway for us through the liquid that will bring us life.  The ashes of the Red Heifer are going to be mixed into water that will be used to purify all who are sprinkled with it. 

But there is something more here as well. In the middle of this word are the letters Dalet Mem which comprise the Hebrew word for blood. The ashes which are in the water will be used to affect the purification, but it will only happen because of the power that was in the blood that originated there. 

The writer of Hebrews confirms this for us in chapter 9 verses 13 and 14 where he shows us this is only a picture of the future work of Christ:

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctified to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 

Why was the Red Heifer sacrificed outside the camp? Again, the writer of Hebrews in chapter 13 verse 12 shows us the parallel to Jesus who was also sacrificed outside the camp:

Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.  

Why did Eleazar sprinkle the blood seven times before the tabernacle, and why were cedar, hyssop, and scarlet burned with the Parah Adamah? Is there any connection with this to the purification of priests and implements of worship in the coming third temple in Jerusalem? In part two of this article, we will investigate these questions and more. 

Until then, remember the significance we have discovered so far in the pictographs of Parah Adamah, the Red Heifer: pay attention, for the Father is going to open a doorway to life for us through the waters of life, the blood of the prince, His Son.

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