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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Consecration

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The solemn setting apart of a person or thing to a special use or purpose. According to Fleischer (Levy, "Neuhebr. Wörterb." 2:206), the word "ḥanak" (to initiate) is derived from the "rubbing of the throat" of an infant for the purpose of cleansing it and enabling it to take the mother's milk, and is therefore applied to every form of initiation. It appears, moreover, that the "rubbing" remained for a long time an essential feature of the rite of initiation, for "every consecration in Biblical times was accompanied by rubbing or anointing with oil the object to be consecrated. Thus the pillar at Bethel was anointed (Genesis 28:18; compare the "dedication" of Nebuchadnezzar's image, Daniel 3:2 et seq.). The priests and the vessels of the Tabernacle were anointed with oil (Exodus 28:41, 30:26; Leviticus 8:10-12; Numbers 7:13), and by this rite they were "hallowed." "Mishḥat Adonai" is, therefore, "consecration to the Lord" (Leviticus 10:7).

Priests and Altar.

In the case of a priest to be consecrated there was also an anointing with the blood of the initiation "sacrifice" (Ex. xxix, 1), the sacrifice receiving the name of , from , "the filling of the hand" of the priest with the offering which he had to bring in order to be thereby initiated as ministering priest (see Dillmann's and Strack's commentaries on Leviticus 7:37). The anointing of kings with oil (1 Samuel 16:13, 26:11; 1 Kings 1:39; 2 Kings 11:12) is also a consecratory rite; hence, also, that of prophets (1 Kings 19:16). The consecration of the altar was most essential, and therefore accompanied with special solemnities in the form of sacrificial offerings (see Numbers 7:10,11,84-88). The consecration () of Solomon's Temple consisted of a dedicatory prayer and a blessing, in addition to the sacrifices (1 Kings 8:15 et seq., 55 et seq., 63 et seq.). The consecration of the Second Temple is mentioned in Ezra 6:16,17, and for the probable date (25th of Kislew) see Num. R. 13:4 (compare Ḥag. 2:10). It was the consecration of the newly erected altar which gave the feast of the Maccabees the name of ḤANUKKAH (I Macc. 4:53,59). According to Deuteronomy 20:5, private houses also were consecrated, and as to the gates of a city see Nehemiah 3:1 and CORNER-STONE (2).

The warrior when going to battle was also "consecrated" (Joel 4:9; Micah 3:5; Jeremiah 22:7, Hebr.); hence, probably, the name for the young warrior initiated into war (Genesis 14:14). This gave rise to the proverb (Proverbs 22:6, Hebr.):

"Initiate the lad [A. V. and R. V. "Train up a child"] in the way he should go."

In Rabbinical Times.

It was considered the duty of parents to "initiate" the young into every religious practise, and this was a "consecration" to a life of religious duty (, Yoma 82a; Nazir 29b). When children were to be initiated into the study of the Law or of the Hebrew language, Hebrew letters or Biblical sentences upon honey-cakes covered with honey were given them to eat, in accordance with Ezekiel 3:3 (see Maḥzor Vitry § 508, p. 628, ed. Horwitz; Zunz, "Z. G." pp. 167 et seq.; and compare Soṭah 11b and the symbolical offering of honey and milk as a similar Christian baptismal rite; Tertullian, "De Corona Militis,"; and Augusti, "Handbuch der Kirchlichen Archäologie," 2:445 et seq.).

For the consecration of synagogues there is no special form mentioned in Talmudical literature; but the fact that in the beginning of the fourth century the churches had their dedication ceremonies (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl." 10:4) makes it probable that the synagogues had some such form, as indeed Greeks and Romans also had for their temples (see Pfannenschmid, "Germanische Erntefeste," 1878, pp. 524-530). Mishnah M. Ḳ. 1:6 speaks of consecration of family sepulchers (), and Yer. M.K. 1:80d of consecration of cemeteries . But this does not always imply a formal act, as may be learned from Sheb. 15a: "The vessels of the sanctuary after Moses' time were consecrated by their use without being anointed." Later practise, however, introduced ceremonies of dedication for synagogues, and also for a newly written "Sefer Torah" when given to a congregation. Modern life extended dedication ceremonies to every communal institution of an educational, charitable, or religious character. A fixed form for such dedication exercises does not exist; the Psalms to be read and the prayers to be offered are left to the discretion of the rabbi or officers in charge.

At the dedication of cemeteries a superstitious custom, sanctioned by R. Juda the Pious, was to kill a rooster (, a term used for both man and rooster) and bury it as the first victim of death (see Isaac Lampronti, ). For a wise selection of Psalms and prayers at the dedication of a cemetery, see Praeger, "Gebetund Erbauungsbuch für Israeliten," 1860, pp. 178-181, and M. Silberstein, "Predigten bei Besonderen Veranlassungen," p. 163, Breslau, 1870. For the consecration of a new house see Singer, "Authorized Daily Prayer Book," pp. 300-303, London, 1891. For other dedications see "Liturgies" in Zedner, "Cat. Hebr. Books Brit. Mus."

E. G. H.
K.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Consecration'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/c/consecration.html. 1901.

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