The LORD said to Moses and Aaron,
"This is what the LORD's teachings have commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red cow that is perfect, with no defects. Also, it must never have worn a yoke.
Give it to the priest Eleazar. It must be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence.
The priest Eleazar will take some of the blood with his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the tent of meeting.
Then the entire cow (the skin, meat, blood, and excrement) will be burned while he watches.
The priest will take some cedar wood, a hyssop sprig, and some red yarn and throw them onto the burning cow.
The priest must then wash his clothes and his body. After that, he may go into the camp. But he will be unclean until evening.
The person who burned the calf must also wash his clothes and his body. He, too, will be unclean until evening.
"A man who is clean will collect the ashes from the cow and put them in a clean place outside the camp. They will be kept by the community of Israel and used in the water that takes away uncleanness. The cow is an offering for sin.
The person who collected the ashes from the cow must also wash his clothes. He will be unclean until evening. This will be a permanent law for the Israelites and for the foreigners who live with them.
"Whoever touches the dead body of any human being will be unclean for seven days.
The unclean person must use this water on the third day and the seventh day to take away his sin. Then he will be clean. But if he doesn't use this water on the third day and the seventh day, he will not be clean.
Whoever touches the dead body of a human being and doesn't use this water to take away his sin makes the LORD's tent unclean. That person must be excluded from Israel, because the water that takes away uncleanness wasn't sprinkled on him. He is unclean; his uncleanness stays with him.
"These are your instructions for when a person dies in a tent: Everyone who goes into the tent and everyone who is in the tent will be unclean for seven days.
Every container without a lid fastened on it is unclean.
"Whoever is outdoors and touches someone who was killed or has died naturally or anyone who touches a human bone or a grave will be unclean for seven days.
"[This is what you must do] for people who become unclean from touching a dead body. Put some of the ashes from the red cow that was burned as an offering for sin into a container. Then pour fresh water on them.
A person who is clean will take a sprig of hyssop, dip it in the water, and sprinkle the tent, all the furnishings, and all the people who were in the tent [with the dead body]. He must also sprinkle any person who has touched a human bone or a grave and any person who has touched someone who has been killed or who has died naturally.
A person who is clean will sprinkle these types of unclean people on the third day and the seventh day. On the seventh day the clean person will finish taking away their sins. Then they must wash their clothes and bodies, and in the evening they will be clean.
But if the person who becomes unclean doesn't have his sin taken away, that person must be excluded from the assembly. He has made the holy place of the LORD unclean. The water to take away uncleanness wasn't sprinkled on him. He is unclean.
This will be a permanent law for them. "Whoever sprinkles the water to take away uncleanness must wash his clothes. And whoever touches this water will be unclean until evening.
Anything that an unclean person touches becomes unclean, and the person who touches it will be unclean until evening."