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Holman Bible Dictionary


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A young cow, especially one that has not yet calved. Heifers were used for plowing (Deuteronomy 21:3 ; Judges 14:18 ) and for threshing grain (Hosea 10:11 ). Heifers were valued for milk (Isaiah 7:21 ) and were used as sacrificial animals (1 Samuel 16:2 ). Heifers (or cows) were used in three different rites: to ratify a covenant (Genesis 15:9 ); to remove the guilt associated with a murder by an unknown person (Deuteronomy 21:1-9 ); and to remove the uncleanness associated with contact with a corpse (Numbers 19:1-10 ). The Hebrew term for the red “heifer” of Numbers 19:1 is the common term for cow.

Samson characterized scheming with his wife as “plowing with my heifer” (Judges 14:18 ). One of David's wives (2 Samuel 3:5 ) was named Eglah (heifer). The heifer was used as a symbol for the splendor of Egypt (Jeremiah 46:20 ) and of Babylon (Jeremiah 50:11 ). Hosea 10:11 pictures obedient Ephraim as a trained heifer. In contrast, disobedient Israel is a stubborn cow.

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Heifer'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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