Though Your Sins are as Scarlet



Dr. John Hoole – April 21, 2013





Over the last several lessons, we have been looking at what is being done to build Temple #3 in Jerusalem.  We have also looked at preparation being done right now so they are ready to operate a Temple once it is build.  This would include training priests, constructing the instrument and tools needed.  In order to understand all this, we have examined what the Bible says concerning the sacrifice and resulting ashes of a Red Heifer.  This article is to examine one ingredient in this sacrifice.


Numbers 19:6 NKJV


6       And the priest shall take cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet, and cast them into the midst of the fire burning the heifer.


What we will focus on here is the word “scarlet.” 

This translation (NKJV) does not identify the “scarlet.” 

The NIV and New English Translation render it as “scarlet wool.” 

The NAS reads, “scarlet material,” with the word “material” in italics

The RSV and Message Bible each say, “scarlet stuff.” 

The Living Bible renders it as “scarlet thread.” 

The Complete Jewish Bible and ESV read, “scarlet yarn.” 

The NKJV, KJV, ASV, Young’s Literal, Darby Bible all leave it as “scarlet,” without any addition.


Just what is this scarlet.  Whatever it is, we understand it is important to carry out the sacrifice of a pure red heifer.  When you investigate what the Bible says about “scarlet,” one become aware of its importance in a number of other situations.


When Moses was giving instruction for the curtains as part of the Tabernacle, scarlet is used, along with other colors.  This is also true when the Temple was built almost 500 years later.


Exodus 26:1 NKJV


1       Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine woven linen and blue, purple, and scarlet thread; with artistic designs of cherubim you shall weave them.


The veil between the two rooms in the Tabernacle and Temples also used scarlet and other colors to weave the veil with the designed to have several cherubim displayed on it.  The breastplate for the High Priest must also include some scarlet thread.  The Ephod and the Sash (belt) also must have scarlet thread into their design (Exodus 28).


To be completely prepared to operate the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, orthodox Jews in The Temple Institute have prepared these items to the precise instructions given in the Bible.  All the colors, whether blue, purple, or scarlet must be the exact hue of color.


When it comes to “scarlet,” we are given clues by the Hebrew words used in the text.  Let’s begin by examining its use in the sacrifice of the Red Heifer.  The Hebrew that is translated “scarlet” is actually two Hebrew words.


ynvW=]  tulot`¢ ^ -  Towlaa’ath uwShaniy   


The Two Hebrew root words are:


                   Towla: (Strongs’s 8438) – pronounced: toe-law


                   Shaniy: (Strong’s 8144) – pronounced: shaw-nee


Both of these words have reference to a worm.  But this is not the normal Hebrew word for worm, which is Rimmah.        This is a specific worm, and is the only source of the red dye that can be used in the priestly garments and the curtain and veil in the Temple.  The technical word for this worm is Coccus Illicis.  And the Greek word translated “Scarlet” in the New Testament is Kokkinos


If you were to do a word study on these two Hebrew words, you would find:


         1.  Shaniy indicates the color – all but one time translated as “scarlet.”


         2.  Tolah generally refers to the worm itself.


This crimson worm is a special worm.  It looks more like a grub or maggot than a worm.


         These two Hebrew words are not often paired next to each other in the sentence structure as they are in Numbers 19:6.  Let’s look at Isaiah 1:18, in which we find both Hebrew words separated.


Isaiah 1:18


“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

Isaiah 1:18 may well be one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible.  The Hebrew word translated “scarlet” is Shaniy.  The Hebrew word translated “crimson” is Towla.


Let me take you through the life and death of this worm.  In it, I believe you will see our Lord Jesus Christ and the blood that flowed from his veins.  This crimson worm will have babies only once in her life.  When it is time, she finds the trunk of a tree, or a wood post or a stick.  She attaches her body to the wood – literally impaling herself to it.  She so attaches herself to the wood, it become permanent, for it is here she will die.  If you were to see her and try to pull her off the tree before she dies, you will virtually rip her body apart.


But before her death, the crimson worm lays her eggs under her body.  When the baby worms (or larvae) hatch, they stay there for a time.  Her body provides shelter for her young.  They are provided food from the living body of the mother.  She begins to ooze a crimson or scarlet dye which not only stains the wood, but also her young children.


On the fourth day, the mother has pulled the head and tail together, into almost a heart shape.  Her body starts to lose its scarlet or crimson color.  It turns into a white wax which falls to the ground like snow.  That wax can also be harvested and used to make shellac, a preservative of wood.


There are many verses of Scripture that have greater meaning when you consider the scarlet worm.  It was a Scarlet cord that Rahab put in her window that saved her and her family.  It was a scarlet robe that Pilate put on Christ before His crucifixion.


Take a look now at Psalm 22, which is sometimes called the Psalm of the Cross.  The Psalm begins with “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me.”  You will recognize these word as being what Jesus said while on the cross as recorded in Matthew 27:46.


The 22nd Psalm was written nearly 1,000 years before the crucifixion of Christ.  However, as you read the entire Psalm you can clearly see it was recorded as a prophetic event that would take place on day on Calvary.  This shows once again that the Lord knows the future better than we can remember the past.  God foretold the punishment of His only begotten son for the redemption of the world.  And a millennium after being written, every detail came to pass.


In this Messianic Psalm, we find what may at first appear as strange word in verse 6.


In Psalms 22:6 NKJV, we find Christ saying:


6       But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people.


                            In this verse, the Hebrew word for worm is Shaniy, the unique crimson worm.


In ancient times, these crimson worms were harvested and grown in Israel as well as other places.  When they needed the scarlet dye, they would scrape masses of them off the tree, while still alive, and crush them to extract the dye – the only source of this dye.


First, notice that this worm willfully climbs onto the tree all by itself.  Nobody forced it to get on the tree.  We need to fully understand that nobody forced Christ on the cross.  He came to earth with the express purpose not to live but to die, so that we might not die eternally but live.  It was His love for you and me that took Him to the cross.  He could have called 10,000 angels to release Him, but He died alone for you and me.


The crimson worm knows when it climbs on the tree that it will not come back down alive.  It is going to the tree to birth a family and to do so it must die.  Jesus knowing all things still was willing to die on the cross to birth a family.  Like the worm, it wasn’t the nails that held our Savior to the cross.  It was His love.


I don’t believe for a moment it was a mistake that He called Himself a worm.  He is the Crimson Worm who died to give birth to you and me.


But don’t forget that this worm was not used only to extract a dye.  It was used in the cleansing process resulting from the red heifer sacrifice.  Because Christ was crushed and shed His blood, we can be made clean today.


Isaiah 1:18


“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

John 15:13 NKJV


13     Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.


Where are my sins?  They are nailed to the cross.  While this maggot and its dye may be the only source for being able to conduct worship in the Temple, it is the Lord Jesus and His shed blood that is the only source of our salvation.