The Epistle of Barnabas

Barnabae epistula

Barnabas. The Apostolic Fathers with an English Translation In Two Volumes. Vol. I. Lake, Kirsopp, translator. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann Ltd. 1912.

But what do you think that it typifies, that the[*](The sacrifice of a heifer) commandment has been given to Israel that the men in whom sin is complete offer a heifer and slay it and burn it, and that boys then take the ashes and put them into vessels and bind scarlet wool on sticks (see again the type of the Cross and the scarlet wool) and hyssop, and that the boys all sprinkle the people thus one by one in order that they all be purified from their sins?

Observe how plainly he speaks to you. The calf is Jesus; the sinful men offering it are those who brought him to be slain. Then there are no longer men, no longer the glory[*](This seems to be the only possible translation, but the text must surely be corrupt.) of sinners.

The boys who sprinkle are they who preached to us the forgiveness of sins, and the purification of the heart, to whom he gave the power of the Gospel to preach, and there are twelve as a testimony to the tribes, because there are twelve tribes of Israel.

But why are there three boys who sprinkle? As a testimony to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for these are great before God.

And why was the wool put on the wood? Because the kingdom

of Jesus is on the wood,[*](Or on the tree.) and because those who hope on him shall live for ever.

But why are the wool and the hyssop together? Because in his kingdom there shall be evil and foul days, in which we shall be saved, for he also who has pain in his flesh is cured by the foulness of the hyssop.

And for this reason the things which were thus done are plain to us, but obscure to them, because they did not hear the Lord’s voice.