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.
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'HEIFER'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".