The Red Heifer

If you have an appetite for something “meaty,” 2 I believe you will enjoy the following study, which investigates the Red Heifer sacrifice a relatively “obscure” feature of the Mosaic Law and its astounding significance for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ nearly two millennia ago. In some respects this could be considered an “advanced” study. But then solid food is for the mature. As the writer of Hebrews stated,

We have much to say but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! [S]olid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation And God permitting, we will do so (5:11-6:3). 3

What exactly is this “solid food”? What sorts of topics does the writer tantalize us with, before deciding to stick to a simpler agenda? 4 The writer touches on such topics as angels, the elusive Melchizedek, Old Testament typology and fulfillment, the nature of sacrifice and especially, for our purposes, the Red Heifer. Now unless we have steeped ourselves in the Old Testament, we may be struck by the unfamiliarity of many items in this paper, which weaves together Torah, Mishnah, history, linguistics, the New Testament, and early Christian testimony to support its thesis. Please bear this in mind as you patiently consider the following pages. So lets dig in!

Sacrifice is found in nearly every book of the Bible, and this theme binds together all the other themes and plots in Scripture. The place of sacrifice par excellence is Moriah. Often we hear mention of “Mount Moriah.” In a sense, there is more than one “Mount Moriah.” Just as the Ark came to rest on “one of the mountains of Ararat,” rather than on the Mount Ararat (Genesis 8:4), so Abraham was bidden by God to sacrifice his son on one of the mountains in the land of Moriah (Genesis 22:2):

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

There are conceivably a number of “Moriahs.” Jesus too was sacrificed in the land of Moriah. Is there any need to remind the reader that there are at least ten amazing parallels, by way of foreshadowing, between the sacrifice of Isaac and the sacrifice of Jesus? It would come as no surprise if they were “sacrificed” and “received back” on the same mountain. The sacrifice of Christ takes on new meaning when we understand the Old Testament foreshadowing in this case, with startling coincidence of detail. 5 The site of Jesus execution, like that of Isaacs “sacrifice,” is never identified with the Temple Mount, unlike the threshing floor of Araunah:

Then Solomon began to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David (2 Chronicles 3:1).

There are, in effect, two theologically significant places of sacrifice in the land of Moriah. The Mount of Olives is located on Moriah, and it is probable that here both Isaac and Jesus were offered. The threshing floor at which David stemmed the plague, indeed the very site at which Solomon erected his magnificent Temple, were not on the Mount of Olives, but on Moriah. The Mount of Olives we could call “Upper” Mt. Moriah, the Temple Mount, “Lower” Mt. Moriah.

Les Miserables Themes: Forgiveness, Self Sacrifice, and Courage

It is precisely of him that I wished to speak. Dispose of me as you please; but help me first to carry him home. I only ask that of you. Upon examination of Les Miserables, it is clearly evident that the elements of Forgiveness, Self Sacrifice, and Courage are only a few of the main themes Hugo wanted to develop.

First off, is the element of forgiveness. In a book of mistrust, poverty, and hateforgiveness thrives in the world of Les Miserables. The first example of this was at the very beginning, when Jean Valjean stayed with the bishop. Valjean stole his silverand ran off. He ends up being caught by police, but when the police questioned the bishop, he claimed to have given the silver to Valjean. Jean was confusedand the bishop claimed that with the silver, he had purchased the convicts soul, and had given it to God, and from that day forward, Valjean must be a good man.

Another example of forgiveness goes two ways. Javert, in his relentless pursuit of Valjean, is captured by revolutionaries. In reward for saving the lives of a few of these revolutionaries, Valjean asks for, and gets, permission to take Javert outside, and kill him. Once outside, a small monologue occursand Valjean releases Javert, and lets him go free. Valjean just wanted to be left alone in peace, and hoped this act of kindness would change Javert, and make him realize that Valjean was no longer the man he was. The second wayis that in the end, after Javert finally captures Valjean, he lets him go. Since Javert had broken the law that he loved so dearly, he kills himself shortly thereafter, by jumping into a river.

Secondly, we come to the element of Self-Sacrifice. This is also another widely used theme in Les Miserables. One such example of this element is with Valjean. He lets Marius and Cosette marry, and for a while, he seems all right with that fact. Later on however, he goes to Marius, and confesses to his past. He tells Marius his whole story, and thinks it best if he never sees Cosette again. Marius agreesbut allows Valjean the occasional visit. Only at the end, does Marius realize what a good man Valjean isand by then it was too late.

Valjean dies shortly after Marius and Cosette visit him to ask him to come back and live with them. Another example would be that of Gavroche and his supreme sacrifice. Gavroche is really Thenardiers son. but he was thrown out as a little boy, because he wasnt bringing in any money. So Gavroche befriends the revolutionaries. During one of the battles, Gavroche goes out to pick the pockets of the dead soldiers for ammunition. The soldiers fighting the revolutionaries immediately open firebut cant hit Gavroche. Thinking he is invincible, he begins to mock the soldiers aim.

But, he speaks too soon, and on his way back, he is shot in the back, and dies. And lastly, we have the sacrifice of Eponineone of the daughters of Thenardier. She is in love with Mariusunbeknownst to him. She follows him to the barricades, and while there, saves his life. She put her hand in front of a barrel aimed for Marius, and the bullet went through her hand, and into her body. Of course, this act moves Marius greatly. Eponine admits her love to him, and tells him everything she knows. Before she dies in his arms, she asks him to kiss her on the forehead when she passes onand she says she would feel it. Marius grants her wish.

And finally, we reach the element of Courage. The main kind of courage that will be covered is emotional and physical. The first example is when Valjean must enter Paris by climbing the wall that surrounds the great city. Normally, this would be hard enough for anyone. Valjean however, has one more problem added to this; he has Cosette with him, and she is still a small child. Once he finally reaches the top, and Cosette joins him, they must jump from roof to roof to reach safety.

They finally end up in a Convent, and fortunate for Valjean, it is the one where he knows the Caretaker. So, for the next few years, he and Cosette live in the convent, and have a happy life. NextValjean saves Marius from the barricades. During the end of the battle, Marius is wounded, the barricade is shot to pieces, and the soldiers are moving in to kill anyone who resists. Delirious due to being wounded, Marius begins to think that he should never see Cosette again. Valjean runs over to Marius, and removes him from the area, and escapes with him into the sewers.

As always, Javert is hot on his trail. After walking through a sewer for the entire day, Valjean and Marius escapeto find Thenardier waiting with the key. After cutting a deal to get free, Valjean thinks he is in the clearand then Javert shows up, and arrests him. Valjean showed great courage, and even in the face of extreme danger to himself, he still saved Marius. And finally, Valjean lets Marius and Cosette marry. He knows it will mean that he wont see as much of Cosette as he would like, and he would be lonely. But he also knows it will make her very happy, and in the end, that is all Valjean really wants for her. He does end up dieing because of loneliness in the end, but he dies knowing that he is loved, because Marius and Cosette come to him, and ask him to come backbut as stated earlier, it was already too late.

In conclusion, Les Miserables shows the main themes of Forgiveness, Self-Sacrifice, and Courage. It shows how a persons life can be saved by a simple act of kindnessand how a life can be destroyed by the absence of happiness.