Beth was thinking about God's rules and about how people got gross if they touched dead bodies and stuff. That made her think of a question, so she went into the back yard where her mother was weeding the garden.
"Mother," Beth said when she reached her mother's side, "you can get gross by doing things that God doesn't want you to do, but all you have to do is wait a few days and you'll stop being gross. Why did God make it so easy for people to stop being gross?"
"God didn't mean for it to be easy, Dear One," her mother answered. "In fact, he eventually changed the rules so that it was not so easy to stop being gross. Here, let me tell you a story about that."
And this is the story she told:
One day God was talking to Moses and Aaron and he said, "Here's one of my laws which I told you to obey. Tell the Israelites to get a perfect red cow that has never been used to do work and give her to Eleazar the priest so that he can kill her in front of everyone. Then Eleazar the priest should take her blood and sprinkle it in front of the altar with his finger seven times.
"Someone should burn the cow in front of him, including her skin, her meat, her blood, and her poo. The priest should throw wood and other stuff into the middle of the burning cow. Then the priest should wash his clothes and take a bath, but even after that he is gross until sundown.
"Someone who isn't gross should get the cow's ashes and put them somewhere clean. Then he should wash his clothes and be gross until sundown.
"The cow ashes should be mixed with water and be used to make people stop being gross. That's my law, forever.
"Anyone who touches a dead body has to use the cow ashes three days later or he will stay gross and be thrown out of town. If someone dies in his tent, everyone who is in the tent or comes into the tent and any dishes that don't have covers on them are gross. Whoever touches someone who was killed with a sword in a field, or a dead body, or a person's bone, or a grave, is gross for a week, too. All these gross people have to use the cow ashes if they want to be clean, and the ashes in water should be sprinkled on tents and dishes to stop them from being gross.
"Only people who aren't gross can stop people from being gross this way. Clean people should sprinkle the ashes three days after a person gets gross, and seven days after a person gets gross, and he should use the ashes on himself, wash his clothes, and take a bath the same day so that he can be clean at sundown."
"I get it," said Beth. "All you need to do is find a red cow and you can make things all better. At least that's more difficult than just waiting."
Beth thought about this for a moment more and then she said, "But I've never seen a red cow, Mother. Where should I look if I ever need one to make me stop being gross?"
Her mother laughed, "Why, there's no such thing as a red cow, Dear One. And if there ever was, they're all gone now."
"Wow, that does make things difficult," exclaimed Beth. Then she smiled and hugged her mother. All her questions had been answered.
Be sure to visit The Bible Annotated for more Biblical wisdom!