13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: (KJV)
ESV - 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh.
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The ritual being referred to in the passage from Hebrews cited in the question was commanded by God in Numbers 19:1-10. As I see it, all such rituals in the Law that God gave to Israel through Moses involving the shedding of the blood of animals were intended as a foreshadowing of the ultimate and complete sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins that would be made by Christ through His suffering, death, and resurrection. (Although sacrifices were offered in many different forms for many different purposes -- among which were both ritual cleansing and forgiveness -- in the Old Testament, Christ's sacrifice superseded and fulfilled the purpose of all of them.) In the particular case of the red heifer, the aspects of its sacrifice that most specifically prefigured Christ were the facts that Numbers 19:3 required that it was to be slaughtered outside the Israelite camp, in the same way in which Jesus was taken outside the city walls of Jerusalem to be crucified on Golgotha; and also that the water into which the ashes of the heifer (the burning of which also symbolized the extreme degree of Christ's suffering) were placed was to be retained forever for use whenever cleansing was required, just as the redemption won by the shedding of Christ's blood would remain permanently effective.
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