God spoke to Moses and Aaron:
"This is the rule from the Revelation that God commands: Tell the People of Israel to get a red cow, a healthy specimen, ritually clean, that has never been in harness.
Present it to Eleazar the priest, then take it outside the camp and butcher it while he looks on.
Eleazar will take some of the blood on his finger and splash it seven times in the direction of the Tent of Meeting.
"Then under Eleazar's supervision burn the cow, the whole thing - hide, meat, blood, even its dung.
The priest then will take a stick of cedar, some sprigs of hyssop, and a piece of scarlet material and throw them on the burning cow.
Afterwards the priest must wash his clothes and bathe well with water. He can then come into the camp but he remains ritually unclean until evening.
The man who burns the cow must also wash his clothes and bathe with water. He also is unclean until evening.
"Then a man who is ritually clean will gather the ashes of the cow and place them in a ritually clean place outside the camp. The congregation of Israel will keep them to use in the Water-of-Cleansing, an Absolution-Offering.
"The man who gathered up the ashes must scrub his clothes; he is ritually unclean until evening. This is to be a standing rule for both native-born Israelites and foreigners living among them.
"Anyone who touches a dead body is ritually unclean for seven days.
He must purify himself with the Water-of-Cleansing on the third day; on the seventh day he will be clean. But if he doesn't follow the procedures for the third and seventh days, he won't be clean.
Anyone who touches the dead body of anyone and doesn't get cleansed desecrates God's Dwelling and is to be excommunicated. For as long as the Water-of-Cleansing has not been sprinkled on him, he remains ritually unclean.
"This is the rule for someone who dies in his tent: Anyone who enters the tent or is already in the tent is ritually unclean for seven days,
and every open container without a lid is unclean.
"Anyone out in the open field who touches a corpse, whether dead from violent or natural causes, or a human bone or a grave is unclean for seven days.
For this unclean person, take some ashes from the burned Absolution-Offering and add some fresh water to it in a bowl.
Find a ritually clean man to dip a sprig of hyssop into the water and sprinkle the tent and all its furnishings, the persons who were in the tent, the one who touched the bones of the person who was killed or died a natural death, and whoever may have touched a grave.
Then he is to sprinkle the unclean person on the third and seventh days. On the seventh day he is considered cleansed. The cleansed person must then scrub his clothes and take a bath; by evening he is clean.
But if an unclean person does not go through these cleansing procedures, he must be excommunicated from the community; he has desecrated the Sanctuary of God. The Water-of-Cleansing has not been sprinkled on him and he is ritually unclean.
This is the standing rule for these cases. "The man who sprinkles the Water-of-Cleansing has to scrub his clothes; anyone else who touched the Water-of-Cleansing is also ritually unclean until evening.
"Anything the ritually unclean man touches becomes unclean, and the person who touches what he touched is unclean until evening."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)