Cedar wood in the wilderness?

Numbers Bible Background

Old Testament: Num 19.1–10

To read the Bible in a year, read Numbers 18–20 on February 27, In the year of our Lord Christ 2020

By Don Ruhl

Several kinds of sacrifices could be made to the Lord by the children of Israel. One of the sacrifices that they could offer for sin was that of a red heifer:

Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD has commanded, saying: Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect and on which a yoke has never come. You shall give it to Eleazar the priest, that he may take it outside the camp, and it shall be slaughtered before him; and Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, and sprinkle some of its blood seven times directly in front of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the heifer shall be burned in his sight: its hide, its flesh, its blood, and its offal shall be burned. And the priest shall take cedar wood…”

– Numbers 19.1–10

Cedar wood? The Middle-East has not always looked the way that it does now. For example, there is biblical, archaeological, and geological evidence that Egypt was not all sand, as it is today, but was once lush, even like the Garden of Eden. The same can be said of other parts of the Middle-East.

If the wilderness through which Israel wandered for 40 years looked the way that it does today, we might wonder where they would have gotten cedar wood. This does not mean that they never traveled through deserts, but it does mean that at least some of the areas where they wandered would have had cedar.

The Lord wanted them to use cedar in this particular sacrifice, therefore, He would make it available to them. And so the Lord does today, if He expects us to do something, He will make the resources available.

Questions:

  • What kind of condition did the heifer have to be in?
  • Where was the heifer slaughtered?

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