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Sacrifice,

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properly so called, is the solemn infliction of death on a living creature, generally by effusion of its blood, in a way of religious worship; and the presenting of this act to the Deity as a supplication for the pardon of sin, and a supposed mean of compensation for the insult and injury thereby offered to his majesty and government. Among the Hebrews it was an offering made to God on his altar by the hand of a lawful minister. Sacrifice differed from oblation: in a sacrifice there was a real change or destruction of the thing offered, whereas an oblation was but a simple offering or gift. In the Mosaic economy it was the main public form of worship. (See SACRIFICIAL OFFERING).

I. Scripture Terms.-The following are the original words used in the Bible to express the sacrificial act:

1. מַנְחָה, minchah, from the obsolete root מָנִה, "to give;" used in Genesis 32:13; Genesis 32:20-21, of a gift from Jacob to Esau (Sept. δῶρον ); in 2 Samuel 8:2; 2 Samuel 8:6 (ξένια ), in 1 Kings 4:21 (δῶρα ), in 2 Kings 17:4 (μαναά ), of a tribute from a vassal king; in Genesis 4:3; Genesis 4:5, of a sacrifice generally (δῶρον and θυσία, indifferently); and in Leviticus 2:1; Leviticus 2:4-6, joined with the word korban, of an unbloody sacrifice, or "meat offering" (generally δῶρον θυσία ). Its derivation and usage point to that idea of sacrifice which represents it as a eucharistic gift to God our King. (See MINCHAH).

2. קָרְבָּן, korban (derived from the root קָרִב, "to approach," or [in Hiphil] to "make to approach"); used with minchah in Leviticus 2:1; Leviticus 2:4-6 (Sept. δῶρον θυσία ), generally rendered δῶρον (see Mark 7:11, κορβᾶν, ἐστι δῶρον ) or προσφορά. The idea of a gift hardly seems inherent in the root. which rather points to sacrifice, as a symbol of communion or covenant between God and man. (See CORBAN).

3. זֶבִח, zebach (derived from the root זָבִח, to "slaughter animals," especially to "slay in sacrifice"), refers emphatically to a bloody sacrifice, one in which the shedding of blood is the essential idea. Thus it is opposed to nminchah in Psalms 40:6 (θυσίαν καὶ προσφοράν ), and to olah (the whole burned offering) in Exodus 10:25; Exodus 18:12, etc. With it the expiatory idea of sacrifice is naturally connected. (See VICTIM).

4. In the New Test. the comprehensive term is θυσία (from θύω, which seems radically to express the fuming up of the sacrificial smoke), which is used both of the victim offered and of the act of immolation, whether literal or figurative. Distinct from these general terms, and often appended to them, are the words denoting special kinds of sacrifice. (See OFFERING).

5. עוֹלָה, olah (Sept. generally ὁλοκαύτωμα ), the "whole burned offering." (See BURNED OFFERING).

6. שֶׁלֶ ם, shelem (Sept. θυσία σωτηρίου ), used frequently with זֶבִה, and sometimes called קָרְבָּן, the "peace-" or "thank offering." See each of these words.

7. חִטָּאת, chattath (Sept. generally περὶ ἁμαρτίας ), the "sin offering" (q.v.).

8. אָשָׁ ם, asham (Sept. generally πλημμελεία ), the "trespass offering" (q.v.).

9. אַשֶּׁה, ishsheh (from אֵשׁ, fire), a "sacrifice made by fire;" spoken of every kind of sacrifice and offering, as commonly burned (Leviticus 2:3; Leviticus 2:10), and even of those not consumed by fire (Leviticus 14:7; Leviticus 14:9); but usually in the ritual formula, "a sacrifice of sweet odor to Jehovah" (Leviticus 1:9; Leviticus 1:13; Leviticus 1:17; Leviticus 2:2; Leviticus 2:9; Leviticus 3:5; comp. Exodus 29:41; Leviticus 8:12; briefly, Exodus 29:18; Exodus 29:25; Leviticus 2:16). (See FIRE).

10. תּוֹדָה, todah, is used in a figurative sense only, a "a sacrifice of praise." (See PRAISE).

11. חָג, chag (from הָגִג, to dance in religious joy), is s properly a festival only; but by metonymy is occasionally used for the sacrificial victims of such occasions (Exodus 23:18; Psalms 118:27; Malachi 2:3). (See FESTIVAL). The term "sacrifice" is sometimes used figuratively for deep repentance (Psalms 51:17), for the good works of believers (Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:16), and for the duties of prayer and praise (Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15; 1 Peter 2:5).

II. Origin of Sacrifice. Did it arise from a natural instinct of man, sanctioned and guided by God, or was it the subject of some distinct primeval revelation? This is a question the importance of which has probably been exaggerated. There can be no doubt that sacrifice was sanctioned by God's law, with a special typical reference to the atonement of Christ; its universal prevalence, independent of, and often opposed to, man's natural reasonings on his relation to God, shows it to have been primeval, and deeply rooted in the instincts of humanity. Whether it was first enjoined by an external command, or whether it was based on that sense of sin and lost communion with God which is stamped by his hand on the heart of man, is a historical question, perhaps insoluble, probably one which cannot be treated at all, except in connection with some general theory of the method of primeval revelation, but certainly one which does not affect the authority and the meaning of the rite itself. We need not discuss here the theory of the old English deists, such as Blount and Tyndale, that, as cruel men delighted in bloodshed, so they conceived God to be like themselves, and sought to please and appease him by the slaughter of innocent beasts; or the specious improvement of this theory which Spencer (De Leg. Hebr. Rit. 1. 3, diss. 2) framed, that men sacrificed originally because of the savage wildness of their nature, and that God accepted and ratified their grim worship to restrain them from what was worse. The question is now proposed in this form: Did sacrifice arise from the natural religious instinct of man, with or without (for both views are held) an unconscious inspiration of the Divine Spirit, or did it originate in a distinct divine revelation? Those who advocate the former view speak of sacrifice as the "free expression of the divinely determined nature of man" (Neumann). "Man sacrifices because of his inalienable divine likeness, according to which he cannot cease to seek that communion with God for which he was created, even through such an effectual self sacrifice as is exhibited in sacrifice. Sacrifices have thus been as little an arbitrary invention of man as prayer. Like prayer, they have originated in an inner necessity to which man freely surrenders himself" (Oehler, in Herzog's Real-Encykl. 10, 617).

1. One recent writer on the subject (Davison, Inquiry into the Origin and Intent of Primitive Sacrifice, 1825) adduces (on the authority of Spencer and Outram) the consent of the fathers in favor of the human origin of primitive patriarchal sacrifice, and alleges that the notion of its divine origin is "a mere modern figment, excogitated in the presumptively speculative age of innovating Puritanism." This assertion has, in part, been met by Faber (Treatise on the Origin of Expiatory Sacrifice, 1827), who shows that the only authorities adduced by Outram (De Sacrificiis) and Spencer (De Leg. Hebr.) are Justin Martyr, Chrysostom, the author of the work called Apostolical Constitutions, and the author of the Questions and Answers to the Orthodox, commonly printed with the works of Justin Martyr. Of the early theologians thus adduced, the last three are positive and explicit in their assertion, while the sentiments of Justin Martyr are gathered rather by implication than in consequence of any direct avowal. He says, "As circumcision commenced from Abraham, so the Sabbath, and sacrifices, and oblations, and festivals commenced from Moses;" which clearly intimates that he considered primitive sacrifice as a human invention until made by the law a matter of religious obligation. The great body of the fathers are silent as to the origin of sacrifice; but a considerable number of them, cited by Spencer (De Leg. Hebr. p. 646 sq.), held that sacrifice was admitted into the law through condescension to the weakness of the people, who had been familiarized with it in Egypt, and, if not allowed to sacrifice ta God, would have been tempted to sacrifice to the idols of their heathen neighbors. The ancient writers who held this opinion are Justin Martyr, Origen, Tertullian, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Cyril of Alexandria, Epiphanius of Salamis, Irenaeus, Jerome, Procopias, Eucherius, Anastatius, and the author of the Apostolical Constitutions.

But out. of the entire number, only the four already mentioned allege incidentally the human origin of primitive sacrifice; the rest are silent on this point. Outram, indeed (De Sacrif. lib. 1, cap. 1, § 6, p. 8, 9), thinks that in giving this opinion they virtually deny the divine origin of sacrifice. But it is fairly answered that the assertion, be it right or be it wrong, that sacrifice was introduced into the law from condescension to the Egyptianizing weakness of the people, furnishes no legitimate proof that the persons entertaining this opinion held the mere human origin of primitive patriarchal sacrifice, and affords no ground for alleging the consent of Christian antiquity in favor of that opinion. Such persons could not but have known that the rite of sacrifice existed anterior to the rise of pagan idolatry; and hence the notion which they entertained leaves the question as to the primitive origin of sacrifice entirely open, so far as they are concerned. Paganism, whether in Egypt or elsewhere merely borrowed the rite from pure patriarchism, which already possessed it; and unless a writer expressly declares such to be his opinion, we are not warranted in concluding that he held the human origin of primitive patriarchal sacrifice, simply because he conceives that a system of sacrificial service had been immediately adopted into the law from paganism out of condescension to the weakness of the people. Besides, some of these very fathers held language with respect to primitive sacrifice not much in favor of the interpretation which has, on this ground, been given to their sentiments. Thus, according to Cyril, "God accepted the sacrifice of Abel and rejected the sacrifice of Cain, because it was fitting that posterity should learn from thence how they might blamelessly offer unto God his meet and due honor." If, then, these authorities be taken as neutral on the question, with the four exceptions already indicated, we shall find whatever authority we ascribe to these more than counterbalanced by the testimony of other ancient witnesses in favor of the divine origin of primitive sacrifice. Philo-Judoeus says, "Abel brought neither the same oblation as Cain, nor in the sane manner; but, instead of things inanimate, he brought things animate; and instead of later and secondary products, he brought the older and the first: for he offered in sacrifice from the firstlings of his flock, and from their fat, according to the most holy command" (De Sacrif. Abelis et Caini in Opp. p. 145). Augustine, after expressly referring the origin of sacrifice to the divine command, more distinctly evolves his meaning by saying, "The prophetic immolation of blood, testifying, from the very commencement of the human race, the future passion of the Mediator, is a matter of deep antiquity; inasmuch as Abel is found in Holy Scripture to have been the first who offered up this prophetic immolation" (Cont. Faust. Manich. in Opp. 6, 145). Next we come to Athanasius, who, speaking of the consent of the Old Testament to the fundamental doctrines of the New, says: "What Moses taught, these things his predecessor Abraham had preserved; and what Abraham had preserved, with those things Enoch and Noah were well acquainted; for they made a distinction between the clean and the unclean, and were acceptable to God. Thus, also, in like manner, Abel bore testimony; for he knew what he had learned from Adam, and Adam himself taught only what he had previously learned from the Lord" (Synod. Nicen. contra Hoer. Arian. decret. in Opp. 1, 403). Eusebius of Caesarea, in a passage too long for quotation, alleges that animal sacrifice was first of all practiced by the ancient lovers of God (the patriarchs), and that not by accident, but through a certain divine contrivance, under which, as taught by the Divine Spirit, it became their duty thus to shadow forth the great and venerable victim, really acceptable to God, which was, in time then future, destined to be offered in behalf of the whole human race (Demonst. Evang. 1, 8, 24, 25).

Among the considerations urged in support of the opinion that sacrifice must have originated in a divine command, it has been suggested as exceedingly doubtful whether, independently of such a command, and as distinguished from vegetable oblations, animal sacrifice, which involves the practice of slaughtering and burning an innocent victim, could ever, under any aspect, have been adopted as a rite likely to gain the favor of God. Our own course of scriptural education prevents us, perhaps, from being competent judges on this point; but we have means of judging how so singular a rite must strike the minds of thinking men not in the same degree prepossessed by early associations. The ancient Greek masters of thought not unfrequently expressed their astonishment how and upon what rational principles so strange an institution as that of animal sacrifice could ever have originated; for as to the notion of its being pleasing to the Deity, such a thing struck them as a manifest impossibility (Iamblic. De Vit. Pythag. p. 106-118; Porphyr. De Abstin. p. 96; Theophrast. et Porphyr. ap. Euseb. Proep. Evang. p. 90, 91). Those who do not believe that sacrifices were of divine institution must dispose of this difficulty by alleging that, when men had come to slay animals for their own food, they might think it right to slay them to satisfy their gods; and, in fact, Grotius, who held the human origin of sacrifices, and yet believed that animal food was not used before the Deluge, is reduced to the expedient of contending that Abel's offering was not an animal sacrifice, but only the produce-the milk and wool-of his best sheep. This, however, shows that he believed animal sacrifice to have been impossible before the Deluge without the sanction of a divine command, the existence of which he discredited.

A strong moral argument in favor of the divine institution of sacrifice, somewhat feebly put by Hallet (Comment. on Hebrews 11:4, cited by Magee, On the Atonement), has been reproduced with increased force by Faber (Prim. Sacrifice, p. 183). It amounts to this:

(1.) Sacrifice, when uncommanded by God, is a mere act of gratuitous superstition; whence, on the principle of Paul's reprobation of what he denominates will-worship, it is neither acceptable nor pleasing to God.

(2.) But sacrifice during the patriarchal ages was accepted by God, and was plainly honored with his approbation.

(3.) Therefore, sacrifice during the patriarchal ages could not have been an act of superstition uncommanded by God.

(4.) If, then, such was the character of primitive sacrifice that is to say, if primitive sacrifice was not a mere act of gratuitous superstition uncommanded by God it must, in that case, indubitably have been a divine, and not a human, institution. If it be held that any of the ancient sacrifices were expiatory, or piacular, the argument for their divine origin is strengthened. as it is hard to conceive the combination of ideas under which the notion of expiatory sacrifice could be worked out by the human mind. This difficulty is so great that the ablest advocates of the human origin of primitive animal sacrifice feel bound also to deny that such sacrifices as then existed were piacular. It is strongly insisted that the doctrine of an atonement by animal sacrifice cannot be deduced from the light of nature or from the principles of reason. If, therefore, the idea existed, it must either have arisen in the fertile soil of a guessing superstition, or have been divinely appointed. Now, we know that God cannot approve of unwarranted and presumptuous superstition; if, therefore, he can be shown to have received with approbation a species of sacrifice undiscoverable by the light of nature, or from the principles of reason, it follows that it must have been of his own institution.

The question of the existence of expiatory sacrifice before the law, however, is more difficult, and is denied by Outram, Ernesti, Doderlin, Davison, and many others, who believe that it was revealed under the law, as well as by those who doubt its existence under the Mosaical dispensation. The arguments already stated in favor of the divine institution of primitive sacrifice go equally to support the existence of piacular sacrifice, the idea of which seems more urgently to have required a divine intimation. Besides, expiatory sacrifice is found to have existed among all nations in conjunction with eucharistic and impetratory sacrifices; and it lies at the root of the principle on which human sacrifices were offered among the ancient nations. The expiatory view of sacrifice is frequently produced by heathen writers: "Take heart for heart, fibre for fibre. This life we give you in the place of a better" (Ovid, Fasti, 6, 161). This being the case, it is difficult to believe but that the idea was derived, along with animal sacrifice itself, from the practice of Noah, and preserved among his various descendants. This argument, if valid, would show the primitive origin of piacular sacrifice. Now there can be no doubt that the idea of sacrifice which Noah transmitted to the postdiluvian world was the same that he had derived from his pious ancestors, and the same that was evinced by the sacrifice of Abel, to which we are, by the course of the argument, again brought back. Now if that sacrifice was expiatory, we have reason to conclude that it was divinely commanded; and the supposition that it was both expiatory and divinely commanded makes the whole history far more clear and consistent than any other which has been or can be offered. It amounts, then, to this-that Cain, by bringing a eucharistic offering, when his brother brought one which was expiatory, denied virtually that his sins deserved death, or that he needed the blood of atonement. Some go further, and allege that in the text itself God actually commanded Cain to offer a piacular sacrifice. (See this question discussed below.)

2. On the other hand, the great difficulty in the theory which refers it to a distinct command of God is the total silence of Holy Scripture-a silence the more remarkable when contrasted with the distinct reference made in Genesis 2 to the origin of the Sabbath. Sacrifice when first mentioned, in the case of Cain and Abel, is referred to as a thing of course; it is said to have been brought by men; there is no hint of any command given by God. This consideration, the strength of which no ingenuity has been able to impair, although it does not actually disprove the formal revelation of sacrifice, yet at least forbids the assertion of it, as of a positive and important doctrine. See, for example (as in Faber's Origin of Sacrifice), the elaborate reasoning on the translation of חִטָּאת in Genesis 4:7. Even supposing the version a "sin offering coucheth at the door" to be correct, on the ground of general usage of the word, of the curious version of the Sept., and of the remarkable grammatical construction of the masculine participle with the feminine noun (as referring to the fact that the sin offering was actually a male), still it does not settle the matter. The Lord even then speaks of sacrifice as existing, and as known to exist: he does not institute it. The supposition that the "skins of beasts" in Genesis 3:21 were skins of animals sacrificed by God's command is a pure assumption. The argument on Hebrews 11:4, that faith can rest only on a distinct divine command as to the special occasion of its exercise, is contradicted by the general definition of it given in Hebrews 11:1. (See below.)

Nor is the fact of the mysterious and supernatural character of the doctrine of atonement, with which the sacrifices of the O.T. are expressly connected, any conclusive argument on this side of the question. All allow that the eucharistic and deprecatory ideas of sacrifice are perfectly natural to man. The higher view of its expiatory character, dependent, as it is, entirely on its typical nature, appears but gradually in Scripture. It is veiled under other ideas in the case of the patriarchal sacrifices. It is first distinctly mentioned in the Law (Leviticus 17:11, etc.); but even then the theory of the sin offering, and of the classes of sins to which it referred, is allowed to be obscure and difficult; it is only in the N.T. (especially in the Epistle to the Hebrews) that its nature is clearly unfolded. It is as likely that it pleased God gradually to superadd the higher idea to an institution, derived by man from the lower ideas (which must eventually find their justification in the higher), as that he originally commanded the institution when the time for the revelation of its full meaning was not yet come. The rainbow was just as truly the symbol of God's new promise in Genesis 9:13-17, whether it had or had not existed as a natural phenomenon before the flood. What God sets his seal to he makes a part of his revelation, whatever its origin may be. It is to be noticed (see Warburton, Div. Leg. 9, c. 2) that, except in Genesis 15:9, the method of patriarchal sacrifice is left free, without any direction on the part of God, while in all the Mosaic ritual the limitation and regulation of sacrifice, as to time, place, and material, is a most prominent feature, on which much of its distinction from heathen sacrifice depended. The inference is at least probable that when God sanctioned formally a natural rite, then, and not till then, did he define its method.

See on the question, in addition to the above treatises, Sykes, Essay on the Nature, Origin, and Design of Sacrifices; Taylor, Scripture Doctrine of the Atonement (1758); Ritchie, Criticisms upon Modern Notions of Sacrifices (1761); Magee, Discourses on Atonement and Sacrifices. (See ATONEMENT).

III. Biblical History of Sacrifice.

1. Ante-Mosaic Instances. In examining the various sacrifices recorded in Scripture before the establishment of the law, we find that the words specially denoting expiatory sacrifice ( חִטָּאת and אָשָׁ ם ) are not applied to them. This fact does not at all show that they were not actually expiatory, nor even that the offerers had not that idea of expiation which must have been vaguely felt in all sacrifices; but it justifies the inference that this idea was not then the prominent one in the doctrine of sacrifice.

The sacrifice of Cain and Abel is called minchah. although in the case of the latter it was a bloody sacrifice. (So in Hebrews 11:4 the word θυσία is explained by the τοῖς δώροις below.) In the case of both it would appear to have been eucharistic, and the distinction between the offerers to have lain in their "faith" (Hebrews 11:4). Whether that faith of Abel referred to the promise of the Redeemer and was connected with any idea of the typical meaning of sacrifice, or whether it was a simple and humble faith in the unseen God, as the giver and promiser of all good, we are not authorized by Scripture to decide. (See CAIN).

The sacrifice of Noah after the flood (Genesis 8:20) is called burned offering (olah). This sacrifice is expressly connected with the institution of the covenant which follows in Genesis 9:8-17. The same ratification of a covenant is seen in the burned offering of Abraham, especially enjoined and defined by God in Genesis 15:9; and is probably to be traced in the "building of altars" by Abraham on entering Canaan at Bethel (Genesis 12:7-8) and Mamre (Genesis 12:13; Genesis 12:18), by Isaac at Beersheba (v. 26, 25), and by Jacob at Shechem (v. 33, 20), and in Jacob's setting-up and anointing of the pillar at Bethel (Genesis 25:18; Genesis 35:14). The sacrifice (zebach) of Jacob at Mizpah also marks a covenant with Laban, to which God is called to be a witness and a party. In all these, therefore, the prominent idea seems to have been what is called the federative, the recognition of a bond between the sacrificer and God, and the dedication of himself, as represented by the victim, to the service of the Lord. (See NOAH). The sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-13) stands by itself as the sole instance in which the idea of human sacrifice was even for a moment, and as a trial, countenanced by God. Yet in its principle it appears to have been of the same nature as before: the voluntary surrender of an only son on Abraham's part, and the willing dedication of himself on Isaac's, are in the foreground; the expiatory idea, if recognised at all, holds certainly a secondary position. (See ISAAC).

In the burned offerings of Job for his children (Job 1:5) and for his three friends (Job 42:8), we, for the first time, find the expression of the desire of expiation for sin accompanied by repentance and prayer, and brought prominently forward. The same is the case in the words of Moses to Pharaoh as to the necessity of sacrifice in the wilderness (Exodus 10:25), where sacrifice (zebach) is distinguished from burned offering. Here the main idea is at least deprecatory; the object is to appease the wrath and avert the vengeance of God.

2. The Sacrifices of the Mosaic Period. These are inaugurated by the offering of the Passover and the sacrifice of Exodus 24. The Passover, indeed, is unique in its character, and seems to embrace the peculiarities of all the various divisions of sacrifice soon to be established. Its ceremonial, however, most nearly resembles that of the sin offering in the emphatic use of the blood, which (after the first celebration) was poured at the bottom of the altar (see Leviticus 4:7), and in the care taken that none of the flesh should remain till the morning (see Exodus 12:10; Exodus 34:25). It was unlike it in that the flesh was to be eaten by all (not burned, or eaten by the priests alone), in token of their entering into covenant with God, and eating "at his table," as in the case of a peace offering. Its peculiar position as a historical memorial, and its special reference to the future, naturally mark it out as incapable of being referred to any formal class of sacrifice; but it is clear that the idea of salvation from death by means of sacrifice is brought out in it with a distinctness before unknown. (See PASSOVER).

The sacrifice of Exodus 24, offered as a solemn inauguration of the covenant of Sinai, has a similarly comprehensive character. It is called a "burned offering" and "peace offering" in Exodus 24:5; hut the solemn use of the blood (comp. Hebrews 9:18-22) distinctly marks the idea that expiatory sacrifice was needed for entering into covenant with God, the idea of which the sin and trespass offerings were afterwards the symbols.

The law of Leviticus now unfolds distinctly the various forms of sacrifice:

(a.) The burned offering. Self dedicatory.

(b.) The meat offering (unbloody). Eucharstic.

The peace offering (bloody).

(c.) The sin offering.

The trespass offering. Expiatory.

(d.) The incense offered after sacrifice in the Holy Place, and (on the Day of Atonement) in the Holy of Holies, the symbol of the intercession of the priest (as a type of the Great High priest), accompanying and making efficacious the prayer of the people.

In the consecration of Aaron and his sons (Leviticus 8) we find these offered in what became ever afterwards the appointed order: first came the sin offering, to prepare access to God; next the burned offering, to mark their dedication to his service; and, thirdly, the meat offering of thanksgiving. The same sacrifices, in the same order, with the addition of a peace offering (eaten, no doubt, by all the people), were offered a week after for all the congregation, and accepted visibly by the descent of fire upon the burned offering. Henceforth the sacrificial system was fixed in all its parts, until He should come whom it typified. It is to be noticed that the law of Leviticus takes the rite of sacrifice for granted (see Leviticus 1:2; Leviticus 2:1, etc., "If a man bring an offering, ye shall," etc.), and is directed chiefly to guide and limit its exercise. In every case but that of the peace offering the nature of the victim was carefully prescribed, so as to preserve the ideas symbolized, but so as to avoid the notion (so inherent in heathen systems, and finding its logical result in human sacrifice) that the more costly the offering, the more surely must it meet with acceptance. At the same time, probably in order to impress this truth on the mind, and also to guard against corruption by heathenish ceremonial, and against the notion that sacrifice in itself, without obedience, could avail (see 1 Samuel 15:22-23), the place of offering was expressly limited, first to the Tabernacle, afterwards to the Temple. (For instances of infringement of this rule uncensored, see Judges 2:5; Judges 6:26; Judges 13:19; 1 Samuel 11:15; 1 Samuel 16:5; 2 Samuel 6:13; 1 Kings 3:2-3. Most of these cases are special, some authorized by special command; but the law probably did not attain to its full strictness till the foundation of the Temple.) This ordinance also necessitated a periodical gathering as one nation before God, and so kept clearly before their minds their relation to him as their national King. Both limitations brought out the great truth that God himself provided the way by which man should approach him, and that the method of reconciliation was initiated by him, and not by them.

In consequence of the peculiarity of the law, it has been argued (as by Outram, Warburton, etc.) that the whole system of sacrifice was only a condescension to the weakness of the people, borrowed, more or less, from the heathen nations, especially from Egypt, in order to guard against worse superstition and positive idolatry. The argument is mainly based (see Warburton, Div. Leg. 4, § 6:2) on Ezekiel 20:25, and similar references in the Old and New Test. to the nullity of all mere ceremonial. Taken as an explanation of the theory of sacrifice, it is weak and superficial; it labors under two fatal difficulties, the historical fact of the primeval existence of sacrifice, and its typical reference to the one atonement of Christ, which was foreordained from the very beginning, and had been already typified, as, for example, in the sacrifice of Isaac. But as giving a reason for the minuteness and elaboration of the Mosaic ceremonial so remarkably contrasted with the freedom of patriarchal sacrifice, and as furnishing an explanation of certain special rites, it may probably have some value. It certainly contains this truth: that the craving for visible tokens of God's presence, and visible rites of worship, from which idolatry proceeds, was provided for and turned into a safe channel by the whole ritual and typical system, of which sacrifice was the centre. The contact with the gigantic system of idolatry which prevailed in Egypt, and which had so deeply tainted the spirit of the Israelites, would doubtless render such provision then especially necessary. It was one part of the prophetic office to guard against its degradation into formalism, and to bring out its spiritual meaning with an ever-increasing clearness.

3. Post-Mosaic Sacrifices. It will not be necessary to pursue, il; detail, the history of Post-Mosaic sacrifice, for its main principles were now fixed forever. The most remarkable instances of sacrifice on a large scale are by Solomon at the consecration of the Temple (1 Kings 8:63), by Jehoiada after the death of Athaliah (2 Chronicles 23:18), and by Hezekiah at his great Passover and restoration of the Temple-worship (2 Chronicles 30:21-24). In each case the lavish use of victims was chiefly in the peace offerings, which were a sacred national feast to the people at the table of their Great King.

The regular sacrifices in the Temple service were:

(a.) Burned offerings.

1. The daily burned offerings (Exodus 29:38-42).

2. The double burned offerings on the Sabbath (Numbers 28:9-10).

3. The burned offerings at the great festivals (Numbers 28:11 to Numbers 29:39).

(b.) Meat offerings.

1. The daily meat offerings accompanying the daily burned offerings (flour, oil, and wine) (Exodus 29:40-41).

2. The shew bread (twelve loaves with frankincense), renewed every Sabbath (Leviticus 24:5-9).

3. The special meat offerings at the Sabbath and the great festivals (Numbers 28:29).

4. The first fruits, at the Passover (Leviticus 23:10-14), at Pentecost (28:17-20), both "wave offerings;" the first fruits of the dough and threshing floor at the harvest time (Numbers 15:20-21; Deuteronomy 26:1-11), called "heave offerings."

(c.) Sin offerings.

1. Sin offering (a kid) each new moon (Numbers 28:15).

2. Sin offerings at the Passover, Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, and Tabernacles (Numbers 28:22; Numbers 28:30; Numbers 29:5; Numbers 29:16; Numbers 29:19; Numbers 29:22; Numbers 29:25; Numbers 29:28; Numbers 29:31; Numbers 29:34; Numbers 29:38).

3. The offering of the two goats (the goat sacrificed, and the scapegoat) for the people, and of the bullock for the priest himself on the Great Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).

(d.) Incense.

1. The morning and evening incense (Exodus 30:7-8).

2. The incense on the Great Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:12). Besides these public sacrifices, there were offerings of the people for themselves individually: at the purification of women (Leviticus 12); the presentation of the firstborn, and circumcision of all male children; the cleansing of the leprosy (ch. 14) or any uncleanness (ch. 15); at the fulfilment of Nazaritic and other vows (Numbers 6:1-21); on occasions of marriage and of burial, etc., besides the frequent offering of private sinofferings. These must have kept up a constant succession of sacrifices every day, and brought the rite home to every man's thought and to every occasion of human life. (See SACRIFICIAL OFFERINGS).

IV. Significance of the Levitical Sacrifices. In examining the doctrine of sacrifice, it is necessary to remember that, in its development, the order of idea is not necessarily the same as the order of time. By the order of sacrifice in its perfect form (as in Leviticus 8) it is clear that the sin offering occupies the most important place, the burned offering comes next, and the meatoffering, or peace offering, last of all. The second could only be offered after the first had been accepted; the third was only a subsidiary part of the second. Yet, in actual order of time, it has been seen that the patriarchal sacrifices partook much more of the nature of the peace offering and burned offering; and that, under the law, by which was "the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20), the sin offering was for the first time explicitly set forth. This is but natural, that the deepest ideas should be the last in order of development.

It is also obvious that those who believe in the unity of the Old and New Tests., and the typical nature of the Mosaic covenant, must view the type in constant reference to the antitype, and be prepared, therefore, to find in the former vague and recondite meanings which are fixed and manifested by the latter. The sacrifices must be considered, not merely as they stand in the law, or even as they might have appeared to a pious Israelite, but as they were illustrated by the prophets, and perfectly interpreted in the N.T. (e.g. in the Epistle to the Hebrews). It follows from this that, as belonging to a system which was to embrace all mankind in its influence, they should be also compared and contrasted with the sacrifices and worship of God in other nations, and the ideas which in them were dimly and confusedly expressed.

1. Contrast with Heathenism. It is needless to dwell on the universality of heathen sacrifices (see Magee, Dis. on Sacrifice, vol. 1, dis. 5, and Ernst von Lasaulx, Treatise on Greek and Roman Sacrifice, quoted in notes 23, 26 to Thomson's Bampton Lectures, 1853), and it is difficult to reduce to any single theory the various ideas involved therein. It is clear that the sacrifice was often looked upon as a gift or tribute to the gods; an idea which, for example, runs through all Greek literature, from the simple conception in Homer to the caricatures of Aristophanes or Lucian, against the perversion of which Paul protested at Athens, when he declared that God needed nothing at human hands (Acts 17:25). It is also clear that sacrifices were used as prayers to obtain benefits or to avert wrath, and that this idea was corrupted into the superstition, denounced by heathen satirists as well as by Hebrew prophets, that by them the gods' favor could be purchased for the wicked, or their "envy" be averted from the prosperous. (On the other hand, that they were regarded as thank offerings, and the feasting on their flesh as a partaking of the "table of the gods" (comp. 1 Corinthians 10:20-21), is equally certain. Nor was the higher idea of sacrifice as a representation of the self devotion of the offerer, body and soul, to the god, wholly lost, although generally obscured by the grosser and more obvious conceptions of the rite. But, besides all these, there seems always to have been latent the idea of propitiation; that is, the belief in a communion with the gods, natural to man, broken off in some way, and by sacrifice to be restored. The emphatic "shedding of the blood" as the essential part of the sacrifice, while the flesh was often eaten by the priests or the sacrificer, is not capable of a full explanation by any of the ideas above referred to. Whether it represented the death of the sacrificer, or (as in cases of national offering of human victims, and of those self devoted for their country) an atoning death for him; still, in either case, it contained the idea that "without shedding of blood is no renission," and so had a vague and distorted glimpse of the great central truth of revelation. Such an idea may be, as has been argued, "unnatural," in that it could not be explained by natural reason; but it certainly was not unnatural if frequency of existence and accordance with a deep natural instinct be allowed to preclude that epithet.

Now, the essential difference between these heathen views of sacrifice and the scriptural doctrine of the O.T. is not to be found in its denial of any of these ideas. The very names used in it for sacrifice, as is seen above, involve the conception of the rite as a gift, a form of worship, a thank offering, a self devotion, and an atonement. In fact, it brings out, clearly and distinctly, the ideas which, in heathenism, were uncertain, vague, and perverted. But the essential points of distinction are two:

(1.) Whereas the heathen conceived of their gods as alienated in jealousy or anger, to be sought after, and to be appeased by the unaided action of man, Scripture represents God himself as approaching man, as pointing out and sanctioning the way by which the broken covenant should be restored. This was impressed on the Israelites at every step by the minute directions of the law as to time, place, victim, and ceremonial, and by its utterly discountenancing the "will worship" which in heathenism found full scope, and rioted in the invention of costly or monstrous sacrifices. It is especially to be noted that this particularity is increased as we approach nearer to the deep propitiatory idea; for whereas the patriarchal sacrifices generally seem to have been undefined by God, and, even under the law, the nature of the peace offerings, and, to some extent, the burned offerings, was determined by the sacrificer only, yet the solemn sacrifice of Abraham in the inauguration of his covenant was prescribed to him, and the sin offerings under the law were most accurately and minutely determined (see. for example, the whole ceremonial of Leviticus 16). It is needless to remark how this essential difference purifies all the ideas above noticed from the corruptions which made them odious or contemptible, and sets on its true basis the relation between God and fallen man.

(2.) The second mark of distinction is closely connected with this, inasmuch as it shows sacrifice to be a scheme proceeding from God, and, in his foreknowledge, connected with the one central fact of all human history. It is to be found in the typical character of all Jewish sacrifices, on which, as the Epistle to the Hebrews argues, all their efficacy depended. It must be remembered that, like other ordinances of the law, they had a twofold effect, depending on the special position of an Israelite as a member of the natural theocracy, and on his general position as a man in relation with God. On the one hand, for example, the sin offering was en atonement to the national law for moral offenses:of negligence, which in "presumptuous" i.e. deliberate and wilful crime was rejected (see Numbers 15:27-31; and comp. Hebrews 10:26-27). On the other hand, it had, as the prophetic writings show us, a distinct spiritual significance as a means of expressing repentance and receiving forgiveness, which could have belonged to it only as a type of the great atonement. How far that typical meaning was recognised at different periods and by different persons, it is useless to speculate; but it would be impossible to doubt, even if we had no testimony on the subject, that, in the face of the high spiritual watching of the law and the prophets, a pious Israelite must have felt the nullity of material sacrifice in itself, and so believed it to be availing only as an ordinance of God, shadowing out some great spiritual truth or action of his. Nor is it unlikely that, with more or less distinctness, he connected the evolution of this, as of other truths, with the coming of the promised Messiah. But, however this be, we know that, in God's purpose, the whole system was typical; that all its spiritual efficacy depended on the true sacrifice which it represented, and could be received only on condition of faith; and that, therefore, it passed away when the Antitype had come.

2. The nature and meaning of the various kinds of sacrifice are partly gathered from the form of their institution and ceremonial, partly from the teaching of the prophets, and partly from the N.T., especially the Epistle to the Hebrews.

(1.) Old-Testament Relations. Here all had relation, under different aspects, to a covenant between God and man.

(a.) The sin offering represented that covenant as broken by man, and as knit together again, by God's appointment, through the "shedding of blood." Its characteristic ceremony was the sprinkling of the blood before the veil of the sanctuary, the putting some of it on the horns of the altar of incense, and the pouring out of all the rest at the foot of the altar of burned offering. The flesh was in no case touched by the offerer; either it was consumed by fire without the camp, or it was eaten by the priest alone in the holy place, and everything that touched it was holy (קָדוֹשׁ ). This latter point marked the distinction from the peace offering, and showed that the sacrificer had been rendered unworthy of communion with God. The shedding of the blood, the symbol of life, signified that the death of the offender was deserved for sin, but that the death of the victim was accepted for his death by the ordinance of God's mercy. This is seen most clearly in the ceremonial of the Day of Atonement, when, after the sacrifice of the one goat, the high priest's hand was laid on the head of the scapegoat which was the other part of the sin offering with confession of the sins of the people, that it might visibly bear them away, and so bring out explicitly what in other sin offerings was but implied. Accordingly, we find (see quotation from the Mishna in Outram, De Sacr. 1, ch. 15:§ 10) that in all cases it was the custom for the offerer to lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, to confess, generally or specially, his sins, and to say, "Let this be my expiation." Beyond all doubt, the sin offering distinctly witnessed that sin existed in man, that the "wages of that sin was death," and that God had provided an atonement by the vicarious suffering of an appointed victim. The reference of the Baptist to a "Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world" was one understood and hailed at once by a "true Israelite." (See SIN OFFERING).

(b.) The ceremonial and meaning of the burned offering were very different. The idea of expiation seems not to have been absent from it, for the blood was sprinkled round about the altar of sacrifice; and, before the Levitical ordinance of the sin offering to precede it, this idea may have been even prominent. But in the system of Leviticus, it is evidently only secondary. The main idea is the offering of the whole victim (to God, representing (as the laying of the hand on its head shows) the devotion of the sacrificer, body and soul, to him. The death of the victim was (so to speak), an incidental feature, to signify the completeness of the devotion; and it is to be noticed that, in all solemn sacrifices. no burned offering could be made until a previous sin offering had brought the sacrificer again into covenant with God. The main idea of this sacrifice must have been representative, not vicarious; and the best comment upon it is the exhortation, in Romans 12:1, "to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God."

(c.) The meat offerings the peace or thank offering, the first fruits, etc. were simply offerings to God of his own best gifts, as a sign of thankful homage, and as a means of maintaining his service and his servants. Whether they were regular or voluntary, individual or national, independent or subsidiary to other offerings, this was still the leading idea. The meat offering, of flour, oil, and wine, seasoned with salt and hallowed by frankincense, was usually an appendage to the devotion implied in the burned offering; and the peace offerings for the people held the same place in Aaron's first sacrifice (Leviticus 9:22), and in all others of special solemnity. The characteristic ceremony in the peace offering was the eating of the flesh by the sacrificer (after the fat had been burned before the Lord, and the breast and shoulder given to the priests). It betokened the enjoyment of communion with God at "the table of the Lord," in the gifts which his mercy had bestowed, of which a choice portion was offered to him, to his servants, and to his poor (see Deuteronomy 14:28-29). To this view of sacrifice allusion is made by Paul in Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:15-16). It follows naturally from the other two. (See MEAT OFFERING).

It is clear, from this, that the idea of sacrifice is a complex idea, involving the propitiatory, the dedicatory, and the eucharistic elements. Any one of these, taken by itself, would lead to error and superstition. The propitiatory alone would tend to the idea of atonement by sacrifice for sin, as being effectual without any condition of repentance and faith; the self-dedicatory, taken alone, ignores the barrier of sin between man and God, and undermines the whole idea of atonement; the eucharistic, alone, leads to the notion that mere gifts can satisfy God's service, and is easily perverted into the heathenish attempt to "bribe" God by vows and offerings. All three, probably, were more or less implied in each sacrifice, each element predominating in its turn: all must be kept in mind in considering the historical influence, the spiritual meaning, and the typical value of sacrifice.

Now, the Israelites, while they seem always to have retained the ideas of propitiation and of eucharistic offering, even when they perverted these by half-heathenish superstition, constantly ignored the self dedication which is the link between the two, and which the regular burned offering should have impressed upon them as their daily thought and duty. It is, therefore, to this point that the teaching of the prophets is mainly directed; its key- note is contained in the words of Samuel "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (1 Samuel 15:22). So Isaiah declares (as in Isaiah 50:10-11) that "the Lord delights not in the blood of bullocks, or lambs, or goats;" that to those who "cease to do evil and learn to do well. though their sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow." Jeremiah reminds them (Jeremiah 7:22-23) that the Lord did not "command burned offerings or sacrifices" under Moses, but said, "Obey my voice, and I will be your God." Ezekiel is full of indignant protests (see Ezekiel 20:39-44) against the pollution of God's name by offerings of those whose hearts were with their idols. Hosea sets forth God's requirements (Hosea 6:6) in words which our Lord himself sanctioned: "I desired mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burned offerings." Amos (Amos 5:21-27) puts it even more strongly, that God "hates" their sacrifices, unless "judgment run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream." And Micah (Micah 6:6-8) answers the question which lies at the root of sacrifice "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord?" by the words, "What doth the Lord require of thee, but to


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Sacrifice,'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/s/sacrifice.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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