Heifer

Concise Bible Dictionary:

Heifer
A young cow, which is several times alluded to as “three years old,” as if that was the age when they began to be broken in for labor (Gen. 15:99And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. (Genesis 15:9); Isa. 15:55My heart shall cry out for Moab; his fugitives shall flee unto Zoar, an heifer of three years old: for by the mounting up of Luhith with weeping shall they go it up; for in the way of Horonaim they shall raise up a cry of destruction. (Isaiah 15:5); Jer. 48:3434From the cry of Heshbon even unto Elealeh, and even unto Jahaz, have they uttered their voice, from Zoar even unto Horonaim, as an heifer of three years old: for the waters also of Nimrim shall be desolate. (Jeremiah 48:34)). They were not usually offered as sacrifices; but it was appointed that one should be slain when an unknown murder was discovered in a field, to put away the guilt of shedding innocent blood (Deut. 21:1-91If one be found slain in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in the field, and it be not known who hath slain him: 2Then thy elders and thy judges shall come forth, and they shall measure unto the cities which are round about him that is slain: 3And it shall be, that the city which is next unto the slain man, even the elders of that city shall take an heifer, which hath not been wrought with, and which hath not drawn in the yoke; 4And the elders of that city shall bring down the heifer unto a rough valley, which is neither eared nor sown, and shall strike off the heifer's neck there in the valley: 5And the priests the sons of Levi shall come near; for them the Lord thy God hath chosen to minister unto him, and to bless in the name of the Lord; and by their word shall every controversy and every stroke be tried: 6And all the elders of that city, that are next unto the slain man, shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley: 7And they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it. 8Be merciful, O Lord, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel's charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them. 9So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 21:1‑9)). Various symbolical references are made to the heifer. Samson called his wife a heifer with which others had plowed to discover his riddle (Judg. 14:1818And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down, What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a lion? And he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle. (Judges 14:18)). Egypt was like a “very fair heifer”; and Israel was a “backsliding or untractable heifer,” though it had been taught and loved to tread out the corn (Jer. 46:2020Egypt is like a very fair heifer, but destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north. (Jeremiah 46:20); Jer. 50:1111Because ye were glad, because ye rejoiced, O ye destroyers of mine heritage, because ye are grown fat as the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls; (Jeremiah 50:11); Hos. 4:1616For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the Lord will feed them as a lamb in a large place. (Hosea 4:16); Hos. 10:1111And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods. (Hosea 10:11)).