“This is to be the law concerning the person afflicted with tzara‘at on the day of his purification. He is to be brought to the cohen, and the cohen is to go outside the camp and examine him there. If he sees that the tzara‘at sores have been healed in the afflicted person, then the cohen will order that two living clean birds be taken for the one to be purified, along with cedar-wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop leaves. The cohen is to order one of the birds slaughtered in a clay pot over running water. As for the live bird, he is to take it with the cedar-wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird slaughtered over running water, and sprinkle the person to be purified from the tzara‘at seven times. Next he is to set the live bird free in an open field. He who is to be purified must wash his clothes, shave off all his hair and bathe himself in water.-Leviticus 14:2-8
From today we’re going to begin taking a close look at the METSORA (Skin Disease Carrier) purification rites.
Like with any type of content that is a bit complicated, it’s best to digest these details one bite at a time.
So let’s start with taking a look at the items needed for the METSORA purification rites.
They are as follows:
-2 Birds brought to the Priest:
The birds had to be CLEAN birds but they could not be domesticated birds meaning the birds used could NOT have a homing instinct.
When they were released, they were NOT to return.
Hence, usually sparrows were used.
Pigeons and doves since they have an inherent homing instinct would NOT have been good for these purification rites.
-Scarlet from a Worm
This is referring to a red dye which came from the eggs of a certain type of worm that dwelled in trees.
The scarlet (red dye) that was dipped into a bowl was actually a strip of wool that had been dyed red.
We will see that the hyssop branch was used in all of the various types of Israelite purification ceremonies described in Leviticus and in other parts of Scripture.
Take note that when we study the Red Heifer sacrifice, the exact same three items are also used: CEDAR WOOD, RED DYE, AND HYSSOP.
Next, the procedures for purifying the METSORA were as follows:
STEP 1: One of the birds is killed and its blood drained into a clay bowl filled with water.
STEP 2: The remaining alive bird TOGETHER WITH the cedar wood, the hyssop, and red dye is dipped into the bowl now containing a mixture of blood and water.
STEP 3: The officiating priest sprinkles the blood and water onto the METSORA seven times.
STEP 4: The live bird is released to fly away and never come back.
There is one point I want to make about the bird that is killed for this purification rite.
IT IS NOT CONSIDERED A SACRIFICE.
It does NOT fall into any of the categories of any of the sacrificial rituals we have studied thus far.
This is just simply a matter of the bird being slain via having its neck slit because its blood is necessary.
There are two major differences between the bird being killed here for the METSORA purification rite and birds that are killed for sacrificial or atonement purposes.
The first difference is that ALL SACRIFICIAL RITUALS are to take place at the Tabernacle or the Temple, not OUTSIDE THE CAMP where this particular bird is killed.
The second difference is the way the bird is killed.
If a bird is being used for a sacrifice, its neck is pinched in a way that quickly AND PAINLESSLY severs its brain stem rendering it instantly unconscious.
Now I can hear the chorus of objections heading my way in the form of the following question:
Well, what about the Red Heifer sacrifice?
That was a true sacrifice done OUTSIDE THE CAMP, wasn’t it?
The big difference here is that the High Priest who slaughtered the Red Heifer was SIMULTANEOUSLY WORKING IN CONCERT with the other priests who were back at the temple.
The priest who killed this bird for the METSORA purification ritual worked alone.
Now that we’ve got that point out of the way, I want to close with a final point that I think holds tremendous significance.
There is an interesting Hebrew word used to describe the water put inside the clay bowl where the sparrow’s blood was to be drained into.
That Hebrew word is MAYIM CHAYIM.
Does that word sound familiar to you?
Well, it should, because it is the Hebrew word for “Living Water”.
Were you operating under the assumption that “living water” was some New Testament idea referring to Jesus?
Living water originates right here in the Torah.
Living water refers to water whose source is a running spring or a flowing river and was required for many of the Levitical sacrifices, especially for those ritual that INVOLVED PURIFICATION FROM UNCLEANNESS.
Water taken from a pond or well did not qualify as living water.
So what did Yeshua mean when he referred to Himself as the source of LIVING WATER?
He was saying that He was the ONLY and REAL source of purification that would never ever dry up!
Rivers might dry up and springs might quit flowing, but not the Living Water of Yeshua, which was UNLIMITED.
The Jews would have instantly understood what Yeshua was implying when He said He was the source of Living Water.
So yet again, here we encounter an idea thought to have originated in the New Testament which actually began in Torah.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Yeshua answered her,
“If you knew God’s gift,
that is, who it is saying to you,
‘Give me a drink of water,’
then you would have asked him;
and he would have given you living water.”
She said to him,
“Sir, you don’t have a bucket,
and the well is deep;
so where do you get this ‘living water’?
You aren’t greater than our father Ya‘akov, are you?
He gave us this well and drank from it,
and so did his sons and his cattle.”
“Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again,
but whoever drinks the water I will give him
will never be thirsty again!
On the contrary, the water I give him
will become a spring of water inside him,
welling up into eternal life!”