The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 2“This is a requirement of the law that the Lord has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke. 3Give it to Eleazar the priest; it is to be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. 4Then Eleazar the priest is to take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the tent of meeting.
Verse 3. Without the camp. The bodies of those animals which were offered for the sin of the congregation were always burnt outside the camp, the law thus testifying that sin and death had no proper place within the city of God. In this case, however, the whole sacrifice was performed outside the camp, and was only brought into relation with the national sanctuary by the sprinkling of the blood in that direction. Various symbolic reasons have been assigned to this fact, but none are satisfactory except the following: -
It served to intensify the conviction, which the whole of this ordinance was intended to bring home to the minds of men, that death was an awful thing, and that everything connected with it was wholly foreign to the presence and habitation of the living God.
It served to mark with more emphasis the contrast between this one offering, which was perhaps almost the only one they had in the wilderness, and those which ought to have been offered continually according to the Levitical ordinances. The red heifer stood quite outside the number of ordinary victims as demanded by the law, and therefore it was not slain at any hallowed altar, nor, necessarily, by any hallowed hand.
It served to prefigure in a wonderful and indeed startling way the sacrifice of Christ outside the gate.
Although the high priest brings the blood of animals into the Holy Place as a sacrifice for sin, the bodies are burned outside the camp.