From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

1. Meaning of the term. -Among its simplest designations, ‘blood’ represents the blood which flows From wounds in the body ( Acts 22:20); the extremity of human endurance of evil ( Hebrews 12:4). The phrase ‘flesh and blood’ signifies the lower sensuous nature ( 1 Corinthians 15:50; cf.  Matthew 16:17); any one whatever ( Galatians 1:16); the substantial basis of human life ( Hebrews 2:14); and human power antagonistic to the gospel ( Ephesians 6:12). Thus ‘blood’ may symbolize any aspect of human life inferior to that of the ‘spirit.’

2. Origin. -The meaning of the term is derived from OT usage, as in St. Peter’s reference to the portents of the Day of the Lord, quoting Joel’s words, ‘blood … the moon [shall be turned into] blood’ ( Acts 2:19-20; cf.  Joel 2:30-31). The same usage together with dependence on the story of the plagues in Egypt appears in Rev. ( Revelation 6:12;  Revelation 8:7;  Revelation 8:6;  Revelation 11:6;  Revelation 16:3-4). Blood thus represents the greatness, awfulness, and finality of the Divine judgment, by which either a wicked condition is simply brought to an end (cf. also  Revelation 19:13), or a temporary dispensation gives place to the last age of human earthly existence in the fulfilment of God’s purpose.

3. Usage. -(1) The word is related to Jewish ordinances. Among the prohibitions put forth by the council at Jerusalem was one enjoining abstinence from blood ( Acts 15:20-29;  Acts 21:25; cf.  Leviticus 3:17). The reason for the edict was doubtless that assigned for the earlier restriction, that ‘the life of all flesh is in the blood’ ( Leviticus 17:14). (2) Blood further symbolizes the life violently taken ( Acts 1:19;  Acts 22:20,  Romans 3:15,  Revelation 16:5), for which the murderer is responsible ( Acts 5:28,  Revelation 17:6;  Revelation 18:24), and liable to the just judgment of God ( Revelation 6:10;  Revelation 19:2), perhaps, in poetic justice, a punishment like the crime (cf.  Revelation 14:20). It may also signify the unpitying violence with which men treat their fellows ( Romans 3:15). (3) In his denunciation that blood shall be upon one’s own head, St. Paul meant that the Corinthians who had refused belief in the gospel were both responsible for their rejection and exposed to God’s judgment against them ( Acts 18:6; cf.  Acts 5:26,  2 Samuel 1:16,  Matthew 27:25). In like manner one might be ‘guilty of the … blood of Christ’ ( 1 Corinthians 11:27). (4) Blood represents the life of men capable of redemption, for which any herald of the gospel is responsible and of which he may be found guilty if he fails in his duty as a preacher of Christ ( Acts 20:26). (5) It signifies the life given up for an atonement, both as presented to God and as having reconciling virtue for men ( Hebrews 9:7;  Hebrews 10:4;  Hebrews 10:18-22;  Hebrews 13:11 f.;  Hebrews 13:20 f.).

4. The term used in connexion with the work of Christ. -The most important uses of the word centre in the work of Christ. In the Epistle to the Romans the reference to blood involves its relation on the one hand to the sacrificial-offering, on the other hand to the sin-offering, wherein it appears that the sacrificial is the sin-offering. In other letters of St. Paul the references to blood are incidental and determined by the particular feature of redemption in the mind of the Apostle at the moment. In the Epistle to the Hebrews the meaning of the word is derived from the analogy of the OT Scriptures, which in a very inadequate manner prefigured the offering which Christ made of Himself. Revelation is dominated by the OT usage of the word and is in a large degree influenced by prophetic language, although the common note of redemption through the blood of Christ is heard here also. As related to the work of Christ, then, the apostolic teaching concerning blood involves the following specific features: ( a ) It is connected with sacrifices, as that of the Day of Atonement ( Romans 3:25,  Hebrews 9:7 ff.), by means of which the relation of men to God, and indeed of God to men (cf.  Romans 5:10), broken by sin, is restored by the death of Christ. According to the Epistle to the Hebrews, while the animal sacrifices as such were irrational, destitute of personal consent, intermittent, incapable of purifying, spiritual efficacy ( Hebrews 10:4), this lack was more than set off by the blood of Christ, ( b ) As in the Old Dispensation all persons ministering at the altar, utensils of service and worship, and means of approach to God were cleansed with blood as a medium of purification (cf., however,  Leviticus 5:11 ff.), so the blood of Christ signifies that all that which pertains to salvation in the heavenly sanctuary into which both He and His followers enter has been for ever purified in His blood ( Hebrews 9:22 ff.). It is as if the author of the Hebrews conceived of sin as having penetrated and defiled even the unseen heavenly world, which therefore needed to be set free from contamination and made holy in the same way as things belonging to the earthly tabernacle. ( c ) It is the sign and pledge of Christ’s free surrender of Himself to His atoning death ( Hebrews 9:12-14,  Revelation 1:5), and symbolizes the experience through which Jesus must pass on His way to perfected communion with God and the final stage of His mediatorial agency ( Hebrews 10:19;  Hebrews 13:12,  1 John 5:6-8; cf.  1 Corinthians 15:28,  Revelation 19:13). ( d ) The blood is also the means for the ratification of the New Covenant ( 1 Corinthians 11:25,  Hebrews 9:15-20;  Hebrews 10:29;  Hebrews 13:20; cf.  Matthew 26:28,  Exodus 24:6-8). It could not but be that a ceremony, the meaning of which was so deeply embedded in the religions experience of the race, and which was so well fitted to symbolize the solemn consecration to mutual obligations, should find its significance completely expressed in the blood of Christ through which God would reunite Himself in even more spiritual bonds to the lives of Christ’s followers. ( e ) the blood is represented as the purchase price of deliverance from sin ( Acts 20:28,  Ephesians 1:7,  Colossians 1:14,  1 Peter 1:19,  Revelation 5:9; cf.  Hebrews 9:22). The vivid imagery of this word receives nowhere a closer definition; its force lies in its suggestion of one aspect of the experience of the man who passes from the consciousness of the bondage of sin to the joyful freedom of forgiveness. ( f ) Hence the word is associated with forgiveness of sins. As a sacrificial offering Christ was at the same time a sin-offering ( Romans 3:25;  Romans 5:9,  Hebrews 9:12), and as such His offering has expiatory efficacy. ( g ) By His blood as our High Priest He enters into the presence of God on our behalf ( Hebrews 9:12-24;  Hebrews 10:19), there both perfectly realizing fellowship with God for Himself and carrying forward His mediatorial work. ( h ) The blood has efficacy in the actual life of believers, disclosing its energy in their progressive personal sanctification ( Hebrews 9:14;  Hebrews 10:19;  Hebrews 12:24,  1 Peter 1:2,  1 John 1:7,  Revelation 1:5;  Revelation 7:14), and in the power which it confers on thorn to overcome that which resists the Christian aim from without ( Revelation 12:11). ( i ) Blood is also a symbol of the inner fellowship of believers with one another and with God-the reference is social ( 1 Corinthians 10:16,  Hebrews 13:12).

Looking back over this subject as a whole, it is evident that the apostolic writers do not let their attention rest on blood as such, but only on blood as it is a vehicle and symbol of life. For the blood represents the life, even if this is taken by violence. Christ’s blood freely given, with the sole aim of recovering men in sin to fellowship with God and to their Divine destination as children of God. The efficacy of the life of Christ thus given is continuous from the unseen world and in the purpose of God. Thus the blood which flowed once for all is not of transitory worth, but is endowed with the energy perpetually to create new redemptive personal and social values-it is eternal.

Literature.-B. F. Westcott, The Epistle of St. John , 1883, ‘Additional note on i. 7:1,’ p. 34ff., also The Epistle to the Hebrews , 1889, note ‘On the Use at the term “Blood” in the Epistle,’ p. 293f.; W. Sanday and A. C. Headlam, The Epistle to the Romans 5 ( International Critical Commentary , 1902), p. 91ff.

C. A. Beckwith.

Holman Bible Dictionary [2]

 Deuteronomy 12:23-24

Even when the Old Testament speaks of animal sacrifice and atonement, the sacredness of life is emphasized. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” ( Leviticus 17:11 ). Perhaps because an animal life was given up (and animals were a vital part of a person's property), this action taken before God indicated how each person is estranged from God. In giving what was of great value, the person offering the sacrifice showed that reconciliation with God involved life—the basic element of human existence. How giving up an animal life brought about redemption and reconciliation is not clear. What is clear is that atonement was costly. Only the New Testament could show how costly it was.

Flesh and Blood This phrase designates a human being . When Peter confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus told Peter, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” ( Matthew 16:1;Matthew 16:1; 17:1 ). No human agent informed Peter; the Father Himself disclosed this truth. When “flesh and blood” is used of Jesus, it designates His whole person: “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him” ( John 6:56 ). The next verse shows that eating “blood and flesh” is powerful metaphorical language for sharing in the life that Jesus bestows—”so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me” ( John 6:57 ).

When Paul used the phrase “flesh and blood” in  1 Corinthians 15:50 , he referred to sinful human existence: “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” The sinfulness of human beings disqualifies them as inheritors of God's kingdom. In  Galatians 1:16 , Paul used “flesh and blood” as a synonym for human beings with whom he did not consult after his conversion. Paul said his gospel came directly from God.

In  Ephesians 6:12 , Paul portrayed Christians in conflict—their wrestling is “not against flesh and blood” but with higher, demonic powers, “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Of course, Christians do meet opposition to Christ and the gospel from other human beings, but behind all human opposition is a demonic-Satanic opposition. Human beings choose to identify with moral evil. We wrestle with the demonic leaders of moral revolt.

Finally, the phrase “flesh and blood” sometimes designates human nature apart from moral evil. Jesus, like other children of His people, was a partaker “of flesh and blood” ( Hebrews 2:14 ). Because He did so, He could die a unique, atoning death. He was fully human, yet more than human; He was both God and man.

After the flood, God renewed the original command that Noah and his sons be fruitful and multiply ( Genesis 9:1 ). They were not to eat the flesh with its life, that means the blood ( Genesis 9:4 ). Then murder is forbidden ( Genesis 9:5-6 ). The reason is explained thus: “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made he man.” ( Genesis 9:6 ). Since a murderer destroys one made in God's image, murder is an attack upon God.

In  Deuteronomy 21:1-9 , we read of an elaborate ceremony by elders concerning a person murdered in the fields near their city. They were to pray for the Lord's forgiveness by atonement: “Be 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” ( Deuteronomy 21:8; see  Deuteronomy 21:9 ). The victim is assumed to be innocent, and the community is held responsible. A person who killed another accidentally had six cities to which he could flee and there establish his innocence ( Joshua 20:1-9 ). He had to flee because the avenger of blood (the nearest of kin to the person murdered) was obligated to kill the individual who had murdered his relative ( Numbers 35:1 ).

Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees of His day who would kill some of the “prophets, and wise men, and scribes” sent by Jesus ( Matthew 23:34 ). This generation would be held accountable not only for their own sins but for “all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zecharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar” ( Matthew 23:35; compare  2 Chronicles 24:20-21 ).

When Pilate saw that justice was being distorted at the trial of Jesus, he washed his hands symbolically and declared his own innocence: “I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it [i.e., that's your affair]” ( Matthew 27:24 ). The people replied naively, “His blood be on us, and on our children” ( Matthew 27:25 ).

Blood of sacrifices, blood of the covenant The great historic event of the Old Testament was the Exodus from Egypt. Central to that event was the offering of a lamb from the sheep or from the goats ( Exodus 12:5 ). The blood of that lamb was put on the top and the two sides of the door frame ( Exodus 12:7 ,Exodus 12:7, 12:22-23 ). When the angel passed through, destroying the firstborn in Egypt, he would pass by the houses in Israel's part of Egypt that were marked in this fashion. In terms of its redemptive effects, none of the daily sacrifices made throughout the Old Testament (see Leviticus ) were as dramatic as the Passover sacrifice.

Almost as dramatic as the Passover was the ceremony at the dedication of the covenant treaty at Sinai between Yahweh and His covenant people, the Israelites ( Exodus 24:1-8 ). Moses took the blood of oxen and placed it in two bowls. Half of it he dashed upon the altar and half he dashed upon the people ( Exodus 24:6-8 ). Moses declared “Behold the blood of the covenant which the LORD hath made (literally, cut) with you concerning [or in agreement with] all these words.” The people solemnly promised to act in agreement with this covenant ( Exodus 24:3 ,Exodus 24:3, 24:7 ).

When Jesus inaugurated the New Covenant after His last Passover with the disciples, He declared: “This is my blood of the new testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins” ( Matthew 26:28 ). Luke reads: “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” ( Luke 22:20 ). Testament means covenant here. Jesus, the God-man, gave up His life and experienced the reality of death so that those who identify themselves with Jesus might experience His life and never taste death as He did. He died as a sin-bearer that we might live for righteousness and become healed ( 1 Peter 2:24 ).

Blood of Christ—meaning and effects The term “blood of Christ” designates in the New Testament the atoning death of Christ. Atonement refers to the basis and process by which estranged people become at one with God (atonement-one-ment). When we identify with Jesus, we are no longer at odds with God. The meaning of Christ's death is a great mystery. The New Testament seeks to express this meaning in two ways: (1) in the language of sacrifice, and (2) in language pertaining to the sphere of law. This sacrificial language and legal language provide helpful analogies. However, the meaning of Christ's death is far more than an enlargement of animal sacrifices or a spiritualization of legal transactions. Sometimes, both legal and sacrificial language are found together.

In the language of sacrifice we have “expiation” (removal of sins,  Romans 3:25 ); “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus” ( 1 Peter 1:1-2 ); “redeemed by precious blood as of a lamb without spot and without blemish” ( 1 Peter 1:19 ); “blood of His Son cleanses us from all sin” ( 1 John 1:7 ); “blood that cleanses the conscience” ( Hebrews 9:14 ); and “blood of an eternal covenant” ( Hebrews 13:20 ). In legal language we have “justification” ( Romans 5:9 ); “redemption” ( Ephesians 1:7 ); been redeemed to God by His blood ( Revelation 5:9 ). Such metaphors show that only God could provide atonement; Jesus, the God-man was both Priest and Offering, both Redeemer and the One intimately involved with the redeemed.

Blood is a symbol and indicator of apocalyptic judgment In  Acts 2:17-21 , the apostle Peter quotes  Joel 2:28-32 . Peter emphasized that the coming of the Spirit upon various groups was accomplished in his day. The Spirit came upon Jew and Gentile (all flesh), sons and daughters, younger men and older men, and upon men-servants and maid-servants. Peter urged his audience to respond by calling upon the name of the Lord ( Acts 2:21 ). Although Peter also quoted  Joel 2:30-31 (  Acts 2:19-20 ), he did not develop the apocalyptic theme of judgment when the age to come breaks forth into this age. The text of Joel that Peter quoted in Acts speaks of “wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath—blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke” ( Acts 2:19; compare  Joel 2:30 ). In the next verse ( Joel 2:31;  Acts 2:20 ), the sun is pictured turning into darkness and the moon into blood before the great day of the Lord comes. Here the term “blood” describes the physical changes both in the heavens and upon earth. Even the balance of nature will reflect God's hand of judgment as Christ takes up His reign. Nature off balance reflects the disharmony between human beings and God. The bloody red color symbolizes this.

A. Berkeley Mickelsen

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [3]

The special significance of blood in the Bible is that it commonly signifies death; not death through natural causes, but death through killing or violence. In the language of the Bible, anyone responsible for the death of another has upon him the blood of the dead person, and the one who executes the guilty avenges the blood of the dead person ( Numbers 35:19;  1 Kings 2:32-33;  1 Kings 2:37;  Matthew 27:4;  Matthew 27:24-25;  Acts 5:28;  Revelation 6:10;  Revelation 17:6). Likewise those who lay down their lives for others are, so to speak, offering their own blood ( 2 Samuel 23:15-17;  Romans 5:6-9).

The life of the flesh

Blood has this special significance because ‘the life of the flesh is in the blood’ ( Genesis 9:4;  Leviticus 17:11;  Deuteronomy 12:23). However, the Bible’s emphasis is not on blood circulating through the body, but on shed blood; not on blood’s chemical properties, but on its symbolic significance. Since blood in the body represents life, shed blood represents life poured out; that is, death.

One of the principles on which Israelite law was based was that all physical life belonged to God and was therefore precious in his sight. This was particularly so in the case of human life, because men and women are made in God’s image ( Genesis 1:26). Any person who killed another without God’s approval was considered no longer worthy to enjoy God’s gift of life and had to be executed. In this case the executioner was not guilty of wrongdoing, because he was acting with God’s approval. He was carrying out God’s judgment ( Genesis 9:5-6). Therefore, until a murderer was punished, the blood of the murdered person cried out for justice ( Genesis 4:10;  Numbers 35:33;  Deuteronomy 19:11-13).

Animal life also belonged to God. God allowed the flesh of animals to be a source of food for human beings, but in the law he set out for Israel, those who took an animal’s life had to acknowledge God as the rightful owner of that life. They took the animal’s life only by God’s permission. Therefore, they poured out the animal’s blood (representing the life that had been taken) either on the altar or on the ground. This was an expression of sacrificial thanks to God for benefits received at the cost of the animal’s life. Any drinking of the blood was strictly forbidden ( Genesis 9:4;  Leviticus 17:3-7;  Leviticus 17:10-14;  Leviticus 19:26;  Deuteronomy 12:15-16;  Deuteronomy 12:20-28).

The blood of atonement

Because of this connection between shed blood and life laid down, God gave the blood of sacrificial animals to his people as a way of atonement. Their sin made them guilty before God, and the penalty was death. But God in his mercy provided a way for repentant sinners to come to him and have their sins forgiven, while at the same time the penalty for their sin was carried out. An animal was killed in their place. People received forgiveness through the animal’s blood; that is, through the animal’s death on their behalf ( Leviticus 17:11; see Atonement ; Sacrifice ).

This symbolic significance of blood was clearly illustrated at the time of the Passover in Egypt. The sprinkling of the blood around the door was a sign that an animal had died in the place of the person who was under judgment. The firstborn was saved through the death of an innocent substitute ( Exodus 12:13).

The blood of Christ

Human beings live in a body of flesh that is kept alive by the blood that circulates through it. Therefore, when Jesus became a human being he took upon himself the nature of ‘flesh and blood’ ( Hebrews 2:14;  Hebrews 5:7; cf.  Matthew 16:17;  Galatians 1:16;  Ephesians 6:12). All humankind was, because of sin, under the penalty of death; but when Jesus Christ died on the cross in the sinner’s place, he made salvation possible. He broke the power of sin through his own blood ( Acts 20:28;  Ephesians 1:7;  Titus 2:14;  Revelation 1:5;  Revelation 5:9).

In the New Testament the expressions ‘blood of the cross’, ‘blood of Christ’ and ‘death of Christ’ are often used interchangeably ( Romans 5:7-9;  Ephesians 2:13;  Ephesians 2:16;  Colossians 1:20;  Colossians 1:22). To have life through Christ’s blood means to have life through his death. There is no suggestion of using Christ’s blood in any way that might be likened to the modern practice of a blood transfusion. Christ did not give his blood in the sense of a blood donor who helps overcome some lack in another person. He gave his blood through dying to bear the penalty of sin ( Romans 3:24-25;  Colossians 1:14;  1 Peter 2:24;  1 John 1:7). Those who ‘share in Christ’s blood’ share in the benefits of his death through receiving forgiveness of sins and eternal life ( John 6:54-58;  1 Corinthians 10:16).

The book of Revelation uses the symbolism of Christ’s blood in relation to the presence in heaven of those killed for the sake of Christ. Yet their fitness to appear in God’s presence is because of Christ’s sacrifice, not theirs. They are cleansed through Christ’s blood. This does not mean that they are washed in blood in the sense that clothes are washed in water, but that they are cleansed from sin through Christ’s atoning death ( Revelation 7:14; cf.  1 Peter 1:2;  1 John 1:7).

Under the Old Testament system people’s access to God was limited. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest, and he alone, could enter the Most Holy Place, the symbol of God’s presence. Even then, he could enter the divine presence only by taking with him the blood of a sacrificial animal and sprinkling it on and in front of the mercy seat. This blood was a sign of a life laid down in atonement for sin, so that the barrier to God’s presence through sin might be removed (Leviticus 16;  Hebrews 9:7;  Hebrews 9:25; for details of the ritual see Day Of Atonement ).

But Christ, the great high priest, entered the heavenly presence of God, not with his blood but through his blood. He entered by means of his death. Christ has no need to carry out blood rituals in heaven, for he has already put away sin by the sacrifice of himself ( Hebrews 9:12;  Hebrews 9:24-26). Just as he entered God’s holy presence through his blood, so his people can have boldness to enter by the same blood. They claim for themselves the benefits of his death ( Hebrews 10:19).

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [4]

Beside its proper sense, the fluid of the veins of men and animals, the term in Scripture is used,

1. For life. "God will require the blood of a man," he will punish murder in what manner soever committed. "His blood be upon us," let the guilt of his death be imputed to us. "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth;" the murder committed on him crieth for vengeance. "The avenger of blood;"

he who is to avenge the death of his relative,  Numbers 35:24;  Numbers 35:27 .

2. Blood means relationship, or consanguinity.

3. Flesh and blood are placed in opposition to a superior nature: "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven,"

 Matthew 16:17 .

4. They are also opposed to the glorified body; "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,"   1 Corinthians 15:50 .

5. They are opposed also to evil spirits: "We wrestle not against flesh and blood," against visible enemies composed of flesh and blood, "but against principalities and powers," &c,   Ephesians 6:12 .

6. Wine is called the pure blood of the grape: "Judah shall wash his garments in the blood of the grape,"   Genesis 49:11;  Deuteronomy 32:14 .

7. The priests were established by God to judge between blood and blood; that is, in criminal matters, and where the life of man is at stake;—to determine whether the murder be casual, or voluntary; whether a crime deserve death, or admit of remission, &c.

8. In its most eminent sense blood is used for the sacrificial death of Christ; whose blood or death is the price of our salvation. His blood has "purchased the church,"   Acts 20:28 . "We are justified by his blood,"

 Romans 5:9 "We have redemption through his blood,"   Ephesians 1:7 , &c. See Atonement .

That singular and emphatic prohibition of blood for food from the earliest times, which we find in the Holy Scriptures, deserves particular attention. God expressly forbade the eating of blood alone, or of blood mixed with the flesh of animals, as when any creature was suffocated, or strangled, or killed without drawing its blood from the carcass. For when the grant of animal food was made to Noah, in those comprehensive words, "Even as the green herb have I given you all things," it was added, "but flesh with the life thereof, namely, its blood, ye shall not eat"  Genesis 9:4 . And when the law was given to the children of Israel, we find the prohibition against the eating of blood still more explicitly enforced, both upon Jews and Gentiles, in the following words, "Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people: for the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul,"

 Leviticus 17:10-11 . And to cut off all possibility of mistake upon this particular point, it is added: "Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood; and whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof and cover it with dust, for it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof; therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof; whosoever eateth it shall be cut off,"  Leviticus 17:12-14 . This restraint, than which nothing can be more express, was also, under the new covenant, enjoined upon believing Gentiles, as "a burden" which "it seemed necessary to the Holy Spirit to impose upon them,"  Acts 15:28-29 . For this prohibition no moral reason seems capable of being offered; nor does it clearly appear that blood is an unwholesome aliment, which some think was the physical reason of its being inhibited; and if, in fact, blood is deleterious as food, there seems no greater reason why this should be pointed out by special revelation to man, to guard him against injury, than many other unwholesome ailments. There is little force in the remark, that the eating of blood produces a ferocious disposition; for those nations that eat strangled things, or blood cooked with other ailments, do not exhibit more ferocity than others. The true reason was, no doubt, a sacrificial one. When animals were granted to Noah for food, the blood was reserved; and when the same law was reenacted among the Israelites, the original prohibition is repeated, with an explanation which at once shows the original ground upon which it rested: "I have given it upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls." From this "additional reason," as it has been called, it has been argued, that the doctrine of the atoning power of blood was new, and was, then, for the first time, announced by Moses, or the same cause for the prohibition would have been assigned to Noah. To this we may reply,

1. That unless the same reason be supposed as the ground of the prohibition of blood to Noah, as that given by Moses to the Jews, no reason at all can be conceived for this restraint being put upon the appetite of mankind from Noah to Moses; and yet we have a prohibition of a most solemn kind, which in itself could have no reason, enjoined without any external reason being either given or conceivable.

2. That it is a mistake to suppose that the declaration of Moses to the Jews, that God had "given them the blood for an atonement," is an "additional reason" for the interdict, not to be found in the original prohibition to Noah. The whole passage occurs in Leviticus 17; and the great reason there given of the prohibition of blood is, that it is "the life;" and what follows respecting "atonement," is exegetical of this reason;—the life is in the blood, and the blood or life is given as an atonement. Now, by turning to the original prohibition in Genesis, we find that precisely the same reason is given: "But the flesh with the blood, which is the life thereof, shall ye not eat." The reason, then, being the same, the question is, whether the exegesis added by Moses must not necessarily be understood in the general reason given for the restraint to Noah. Blood is prohibited because it is the life; and Moses adds, that it is "the blood," or life, "which makes atonement." Let any one attempt to discover any reason for the prohibition of blood to Noah, in the mere circumstance that it is "the life," and he will find it impossible. It is no reason at all, moral or instituted, except that as it was Life Substituted For Life the life of the animal in sacrifice for the life of man, and that, therefore, blood had a sacred appropriation. The manner, too, in which Moses introduces the subject, is indicative that, though he was renewing a prohibition, he was not publishing a new doctrine; he does not teach his people that God had then given, or appointed, blood to make atonement; but he prohibits them from eating it, because he had already made this appointment, without reference to time, and as a subject with which they were familiar. Because the blood was the life, it was sprinkled upon, and poured out at, the altar: and we have in the sacrifice of the paschal lamb, and the sprinkling of its blood, a sufficient proof that, before the giving of the law, not only was blood not eaten, but was appropriated to a sacred sacrificial purpose. Nor was this confined to the Jews; it was customary with the Romans and Greeks, who, in like manner, poured out and sprinkled the blood of victims at their altars; a rite derived, probably, from the Egyptians, who deduced it, not from Moses, but from the sons of Noah. The notion, indeed, that the blood of the victims was peculiarly sacred to the gods, is impressed upon all ancient Pagan mythology.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [5]

Forbidden to be eaten ( Genesis 9:4) under the Old Testament, on the ground that "the life (soul) of the flesh (the soul which gives life to the flesh) is in the blood," and that "God gave it upon the altar to make atonement with for men's souls" ( Leviticus 17:11). Translate the next clause, "for the blood maketh atonement by virtue of the soul." The blood, not in itself, but as the vehicle of the soul, atones, because the animal soul was offered to God on the altar as a. substitute for the human soul. Now that Christ's one, and only true, sacrifice has superseded animal sacrifices, the prohibition against eating blood ceases, the decree in Acts 15 being but temporary, not to offend existing Jewish prejudices needlessly. In  Leviticus 3:17 the "fat" is forbidden as well as the blood. God reserved the blood to Himself, investing it with a sacramental sanctity, when allowing man animal food. Besides the atoning virtue it typically had, it brought a curse when not duly expiated, as by burial ( Genesis 9:4;  Leviticus 17:13).

The blood of victims was caught by the priest in a basin, and sprinkled seven times (that of birds was squeezed out at once) on the altar, its four corners or horns, on its side above and below the line running round it, or on the mercy-seat, according to the nature of the offering; the blood of the Passover lamb on the lintel and doorposts (Exodus 12;  Leviticus 4:5-7;  Leviticus 16:14-19). A drain from the temple carried the blood into the brook Kedron. A land was regarded as polluted by blood shed on it, which was to be expiated only by the blood of the murderer, and not by any "satisfaction" ( Genesis 4:10;  Genesis 9:4-6;  Hebrews 12:24;  Numbers 35:31;  Numbers 35:33;  Psalms 106:38). The guilt of bloodshed, if the shedder was not known, fell on the city nearest by measurement, until it exculpated itself, its elders washing their hands over an expiatory sacrifice, namely, a beheaded heifer in a rough, unplowed, and unsown valley ( Deuteronomy 21:1-9).

The blood and water from Jesus' side, when pierced after death, was something extraordinary; for in other corpses the blood coagulates, and the water does not flow clear. The "loud voice" just before death ( Luke 23:46) shows that He did not die from mere exhaustion. The psalmist, His typical forerunner, says ( Psalms 69:20), "reproach hath broken my heart." Crucifixion alone would not have killed Him in so short a time. Probably the truth is, if we may with reverence conjecture from hints in Scripture, that mental agony, when He hung under the Father's displeasure at our sins which He bore, caused rupture of the pericardium, or sac wherein the heart throbs. The extravasated blood separated into the crassamentum and serum, the blood and the water, and flowed out when the soldier's spear pierced the side.

Hence appears the propriety of  Hebrews 10:19-20, "having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He hath consecrated for us through the veil (which was 'rent' at His death), that is to say His flesh." Also, "this is My body which is broken for you" ( 1 Corinthians 11:24) is explained by the breaking of the heart, though it was true "a bone of Him shall not be broken" ( John 19:32-27); compare also  1 John 5:6, "this is He that came by water (at His baptism by John in Jordan) and blood" (by His bloody baptism, at Calvary).

'''The Avenging Of Blood''' by the nearest kinsman of the deceased was a usage from the earliest historical times ( Genesis 9:5-6;  Genesis 34:30;  2 Samuel 14:7). Among the Bedouin Arabs the thar, or law of blood, comes into effect if the offer of money satisfaction be refused. So among the Anglo-Saxons the wer-gild, or money satisfaction for homicide, varying in amount according to the rank, was customary. The Mosaic law mitigated the severity of the law of private revenge for blood, by providing six cities of refuge (among the 48 Levitical cities), three on one side of Jordan, three on the other, for the involuntary homicide to flee into. The avenger, or goel (derived from a Hebrew root "pollution," implying that he was deemed polluted until the blood of his slain kinsman was expiated), was nearest of kin to the man slain, and was bound to take vengeance on the manslayer.

If the latter reached one of the six cities, (Kedesh in Naphtali, Shechem in mount Ephraim, Hebron in the hill country of Judah, W. of Jordan; Bezor in Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead (Gad), Golan in Manasseh, E. of Jordan,) he was safe until the elders of the city, and then those of his own city, decided whether it was an involuntary act. In this case he was kept safe from the avenger in the city of refuge, so long as he did not go 2,000 cubits beyond its precincts. After the high priest's death he might return home in safety ( Numbers 35:25;  Numbers 35:28;  Joshua 20:4-6). The roads were to be kept clear, that nothing might retard the flight of the manslayer, to whom every moment was precious ( Deuteronomy 19:3). Jewish tradition adds that posts inscribed "Refuge," "Refuge," were to be set up at the cross roads. All necessaries of water, etc., were in the cities.

No implements of war were allowed there. The law of retaliation in blood affected only the manslayer, and not also (as among pagan nations) his relatives ( Deuteronomy 24:16). Blood revenge still prevails in Corsica. The law of blood avenging by the nearest kinsman, though incompatible with our ideas in a more civilized age and nation, is the means of preventing much bloodshed among the Arabs; and its introduction into the law of Israel, a kindred race, accords with the provisional character of the whole Mosaic system, which establishes not what is absolutely best, supposing a state of optimism, but what was best under existing circumstances. Moreover, it contained an important typical lesson, hinted at in  Hebrews 6:18;  Hebrews 2:14-15.

The Son of man, as He to whom the Father hath committed all judgment, is the Goel or avenger of blood on guilty man, involved by Satan the "murderer from the beginning" in murderous rebellion against God. He, in another sense, is the Goel or redeemer of man, as the high priest whose death sets the shut up captive free; He is also the priestly city of refuge (His priestly office being the mean of our salvation), by fleeing into which man is safe; but in this latter sense, as our High priest "ever liveth," we must not only eater the city, and moreover abide in Him, but also abide in Him forever for eternal safety ( John 15:1-11). "The way" to Him is clearly pointed out by God Himself ( Isaiah 30:21). "Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope" ( Zechariah 9:12) Once in Christ, He can defy avenging justice ( Romans 8:33-34).

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [6]

 Genesis 4:10 (c) This is symbolical of the death of Abel by the hand of Cain, his brother. The actual blood shed by Abel and lying on the ground called loudly for the punishment of the murderer.

 Exodus 12:13 (a) Here is a proof that those in the house had believed GOD's Word and had offered the proper sacrifice. The lamb and its blood are types of Christ and His Blood. (See1Co  5:7).

 Leviticus 20:9 (a) Here is pictured the fact that GOD will fasten upon the guilty person his guilt and his punishment. The lawbreaker shall receive the due reward of his deeds. (See also  Leviticus 20:13 and  Leviticus 20:27;  Ezekiel 18:13;  Ezekiel 33:5).

 Deuteronomy 17:8 (a) The words used here refer to relatives who are quarreling among themselves. Those of the same blood are brought before the judgment seat for the adjustment of their difficulties. (See2Ch  19:10).

 Job 16:18 (a) Job is making a call for a great inventory of his own life. He is inviting an investigation of his own character. He is really asserting that he has lived a righteous life.

 Psalm 58:10 (b) This is a description of the joy of GOD's people when the wicked are conquered and the enemy is under the feet of the Lord. (See also  Psalm 68:23).

 Isaiah 1:15 (a) Probably this is a figure which describes the guilt of these people in murdering their fellowmen and murdering their children for idol worship.

 Ezekiel 16:6 (a) This probably refers to the early days of Israel's history in the time of Abraham followed by the times of Isaac and Jacob. The nation was formed with difficulty and trouble which is compared to the birth of a baby whereby blood is shed.

 Joel 2:31 (c) It is not clearly understood whether the moon will actually become red, or whether men because of strained eyes see the moon as red, or whether the tumult of earth's sorrows changes man's vision. Evidently it refers to a time of great and miraculous happenings because of the powerful operation of the Spirit of GOD in human affairs. (See also  Revelation 6:12;  Revelation 8:8;  Revelation 16:3).

 Matthew 16:17 (a) This represents human reasonings, philosophies and deductions or conclusions. Nothing within the human heart or mind ever reveals anything of GOD or of the Deity of CHRIST.

 John 1:13 (a) This is a definite statement that no one becomes a child of GOD because of his parents, or through any blood stream. Salvation or Christianity is not passed down to the children through the blood stream of the father or the mother. Each child and each relative must experience the will and the power of GOD in his own personal case in order to become a child of GOD. This relationship only comes about through personal faith in Jesus Christ

 John 6:54 (a) The blood in this case is a type or a picture of the life and death of CHRIST and the Person of CHRIST appropriated by the believer for salvation. It represents the receiving by faith of the sacrifice of CHRIST for forgiveness and cleansing. It is a figure of speech which we commonly use when one expresses his love for another by saying, "I could eat you up." Sometimes the expression is used, "I lapped it up as a cat laps milk." The thought is the same. The believer embraces by faith with no question or doubt the value of the person of CHRIST and the efficacy of His work for our souls. See also1Co  11:25-26.

 Acts 17:26 (a) This blood is a type or a symbol of the universal character of human beings as distinguished from all animal life. All human beings are made of the same kind of blood. It is different from animal blood, but it is always human blood. This links all human beings together as a separate group from all the animal creation and proves the fallacy and the false character of the hypothesis of "evolution."

 Acts 20:26 (a) The word in this case is used to represent the fact that Paul would not be held responsible for the death, the second death, of any of those whom he had contacted in his travels and preaching. The appearance of blood indicates death. Paul so preached CHRIST and the Gospel that none of those who heard His Word need never die in their sins and be sent to the Lake of Fire, which is the second death. Paul felt that he had completely cleared himself of all responsibility in connection with the salvation of those people.

 1 John 1:7 (a) The blood here represents the sacrifice of CHRIST at Calvary with all the saving power connected with it. When we believe in and trust the Lord Jesus Christ, God and CHRIST apply His sacrifice to our record of sins, and to ourselves in order to blot out all these sins and iniquities. GOD has made a "blood bank." Any person who believes in and accepts the Lord Jesus Christ may and does receive the benefits of that precious blood.

 Revelation 14:20 (c) This is a picture of the complete victory of the Lord Jesus over all His enemies and the vindication as well as the culmination of the wrath of GOD against all His opponents.

 Revelation 17:6 (b) This blood represents the death of multitudes who have been slain by this wicked church under the guise of serving GOD. That evil monster, the apostate church, was and is responsible for the death of many thousands of true believers who were burned at the stake, tortured in cages, torn by the rack, and otherwise killed by extremely cruel means. This church reveled in this carnage, and still rejoices in every opportunity to injure and destroy true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ (See also  Revelation 18:24).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [7]

Dâm —( דָּם , Strong'S #1818), “blood.” This is a common Semitic word with cognates in all the Semitic languages. Biblical Hebrew attests it about 360 times and in all periods. Dâm is used to denote the “blood” of animals, birds, and men (never of fish). In Gen. 9:4, “blood” is synonymous with “life”: “But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” The high value of life as a gift of God led to the prohibition against eating “blood”: “It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood” (Lev. 3:17). Only infrequently does this word mean “blood-red,” a color: “And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood” (2 Kings 3:22). In two passages, dâm represents “wine”: “He washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes” (Gen. 49:11; cf. Deut. 32:14).

Dâm bears several nuances. First, it can mean “blood shed by violence”: “So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein …” (Num. 35:33). Thus it can mean “death”: “So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee; and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee” (Ezek. 5:17).

Next, dâm may connote an act by which a human life is taken, or blood is shed: “If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood [one kind of homicide or another] …” (Deut. 17:8). To “shed blood” is to commit murder: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed …” (Gen. 9:6). The second occurrence here means that the murderer shall suffer capital punishment. In other places, the phrase “to shed blood” refers to a non-ritualistic slaughter of an animal: “What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb … in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, and bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord; blood [guiltiness] shall be imputed unto that man” (Lev. 17:3-4).

In judicial language, “to stand against one’s blood” means to stand before a court and against the accused as a plaintiff, witness, or judge: “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood [i.e., act against the life] of thy neighbor …” (Lev. 19:16). The phrase, “his blood be on his head,” signifies that the guilt and punishment for a violent act shall be on the perpetrator: “For everyone that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood [guiltiness] shall be upon him” (Lev. 20:9). This phrase bears the added overtone that those who execute the punishment by killing the guilty party are not guilty of murder. So here “blood” means responsibility for one’s dead: “And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him” (Josh. 2:19).

Animal blood could take the place of a sinner’s blood in atoning (covering) for sin: “For it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11). Adam’s sin merited death and brought death on all his posterity (Rom. 5:12); so the offering of an animal in substitution not only typified the payment of that penalty, but it symbolized that the perfect offering would bring life for Adam and all others represented by the sacrifice (Heb. 10:4). The animal sacrifice prefigured and typologically represented the blood of Christ, who made the great and only effective substitutionary atonement, and whose offering was the only offering that gained life for those whom He represented. The shedding of His “blood” seals the covenant of life between God and man (Matt. 26:28).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [8]

A — 1: Αἷμα (Strong'S #129 — Noun Masculine — haima — hah'ee-mah )

(hence Eng., prefix haem,), besides its natural meaning, stands, (a) in conjunction with sarx, "flesh," "flesh and blood,"  Matthew 16:17;  1—Corinthians 15:50;  Galatians 1:16; the original has the opposite order, blood and flesh, in  Ephesians 6:12;  Hebrews 2:14; this phrase signifies, by synecdoche, "man, human beings." It stresses the limitations of humanity; the two are essential elements in man's physical being; "the life of the flesh is in the blood,"  Leviticus 17:11; (b) for human generation,  John 1:13; (c) for "blood" shed by violence, e.g.,  Matthew 23:35;  Revelation 17:6; (d) for the "blood" of sacrificial victims, e.g.,  Hebrews 9:7; of the "blood" of Christ, which betokens His death by the shedding of His "blood" in expiatory sacrifice; to drink His "blood" is to appropriate the saving effects of His expiatory death,  John 6:53 . As "the life of the flesh is in the blood,"  Leviticus 17:11 , and was forfeited by sin, life eternal can be imparted only by the expiation made, in the giving up of the life by the sinless Savior.

A — 2: Αἱματεκχυσία (Strong'S #130 — Noun Feminine — haimatekchusia — hahee-mat-ek-khoo-see'-ah )

denotes "shedding of blood,"  Hebrews 9:22 (haima, "blood," ekchuno, "to pour out, shed").

B — 1: Αἱμορροέω (Strong'S #131 — Verb — haimorrhoeo — hahee-mor-hreh'-o )

from haima, "blood," rheo, "to flow" (Eng., "hemorrhage"), signifies "to suffer from a flow of blood,"  Matthew 9:20 .

 Mark 5:25 Luke 8:43 Acts 17:26  Colossians 1:14 Acts 28:8

King James Dictionary [9]


1. The fluid which circulates through the arteries and veins of the human body, and of other animals,which is essential to the preservation of life. This fluid is generally red. If the blood of an animal is not red, such animal is called exsanguious, or white-blooded the blood being white, or white tinged with blue. 2. Kindred relation by natural descent from a common ancestor consanguinity.

God hath made of one blood, all nations of the earth.  Acts 17 .

3. Royal lineage blood royal as a prince of the blood. 4. Honorable birth high extraction as a gentleman of blood. 5. Life.

Shall I not require his blood at your hands?  2 Samuel 4

6. Slaughter murder, or bloodshedding.

I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu.  Hosea 1 .

The voice of thy brother's blood crieth to me from the ground.  Genesis 4

7. Guilt, and punishment.

Your blood be upon your own heads.  Acts 18

8. Fleshly nature the carnal part of man as opposed to spiritual nature,or divine life.

Who were born, not of flesh and blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  John 1 .

9. Man, or human wisdom, or reason.

Flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee,but my Father who is in heaven.  Matthew 16

10. A sacramental symbol of the blood of Christ.

This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for the remission of sins.  Matthew 26

11. The death and sufferings of Christ.

Being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  Romans 5.3 .

12. The price of blood that which is obtained by shedding blood,and seizing goods.

Wo to him that buildeth a town with blood.  Habakkuk 2Acts 1

13. Temper of mind state of the passions but in this sense, accompanied with cold or warm, or other qualifying word. Thus to commit an act in cold blood, is to do it deliberately, and without sudden passion. Warm blood denotes a temper inflamed or irritated to warm or head the blood, is to excite the passions. 14. A hot spark a man of fire or spirit a rake. 15. The juice of any thing, especially if red as, "the blood of grapes."  Genesis 49

Whole blood. In law, a kinsman of the whole blood is one who descends from the same couple of ancestors of the half blood, one who descends from either of them singly, by a second marriage.

BLOOD, To let blood to bleed by opening a vein.

1. To stain with blood. 2. To enter to inure to blood as a hound. 3. To heat the blood to exasperate. Unusual.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [10]

Very important, in Scripture language, is the mention made of blood. So much so, indeed, that perhaps the perfect apprehension of it is not known. From the beginning of the creation of God, the Lord himself pointed to the blood as the life of the creature. And in a peculiar and special manner, the Lord intimated somewhat of an high nature in the blood, when speaking to Cain concerning the blood of his brother Abel, which he had shed; the Lord said, "What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." In the margin of the Bible, the word is rendered bloods, in the plural number. ( Genesis 4:10) In  Deuteronomy 12:23, the prohibition of eating blood is mentioned with peculiar emphasis, and the reason assigned; "because it is the life." And it is again and again forbidden. There can be no question but that much of the Lord Jesus, and his precious blood-shedding, was veiled under it; though the subject is too mysterious to explain.

It is, no doubt, a wonderful dispensation from beginning to end, that of redemption by the blood of Christ. That blood should be an appointed laver for uncleanness, so that, "without shedding of blood there is no remission;" and that "the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin," ( 1 John 1:7) whereas according to all our natural ideas of blood, it defiles. Yea, the Lord himself, speaking of defilements in his people Israel, he expresseth their uncleanness under this figure: "Your hands are full of blood;" and instantly adds, "wash you, make you clean: put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes." ( Isaiah 1:15-16) But here we stop; the subject is mysterious, and beyond our scanty line of knowledge to fathom. It is enough for us to know that that blood which Christ shed, as a sacrifice for sin, is, the only "fountain opened to the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for all uncleanness." In this the church on earth are beheld clean; and in this the church in heaven are accepted before God, having "washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." ( Revelation 7:14) And hence, those strong expressions we every where meet with in the Scripture, "of the blood of the covenant, the blood of sprinkling, and the like." ( Zechariah 9:11;  Hebrews 12:24)

People's Dictionary of the Bible [11]

Blood. The blood of an animal is declared to be "the life" of it.  Genesis 9:4;  Leviticus 17:11. And hence God may be said to have reserved it to himself; it was not to be eaten; it was that by which sacrificial atonement was made; all the cleansings of the law being by the shedding and sprinkling of blood.  Hebrews 9:18-22. In this respect it had a typical meaning. The blood-shedding of the Mosaic victims prefigured that greater and more efficacious blood-shedding, when Christ gave his life for mankind,  Matthew 20:28;  1 John 3:16; so that his blood "cleanseth from all sin."  1 John 1:7. Further, when blood was shed wantonly, a curse was incurred. The blood of a bird or animal was to be poured upon the ground and covered up,  Leviticus 17:13; and the blood of a man cried for vengeance against the murderer.  Genesis 4:10-11. Hence the command to Noah that a murderer must be put to death,  Genesis 9:6, a command sanctioned in the Mosaic legislation,  Numbers 35:30-31;  Numbers 35:33, a command which it would be hard to prove not intended to be binding as an universal law upon the world. And, if any one was slain, and the slayer could not be found, the nearest city was to make an atonement.  Deuteronomy 21:1-9. In the earlier law it is written, "Surely your blood of your lives will I require... At the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed."  Genesis 9:5-6. In the Lord's Supper we are reminded of Christ's giving his life for us. He said: "This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you."  Luke 22:20;  Mark 14:24. Our ascription of praise is: "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." See Sacrifice.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [12]

The life of all animals was regarded as especially in the blood, which was a sacred and essential part of the sacrifices offered to God,  Hebrews 9:22 . It was solemnly sprinkled upon the altar and the mercy seat, "for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul,"  Leviticus 17:1-16 the life of the victim for the life of the sinner. It was therefore most sacredly associated with the blood of the Lamb of God which "cleanseth us from all sin,"   Ephesians 1:7   1 John 1:7 . Hence the strict prohibition renewed in  Acts 15:29 . In direct opposition to this are the heathen customs of drinking the blood of animals and even of men- of eating raw flesh, with the blood, and even fresh cut from the living animal,  1 Samuel 14:32   Psalm 16:4   Ezekiel 33:25 .

Besides the ordinary meaning of the word blood, it often signifies the guilt of murder,  2 Samuel 3:28   Acts 27:25; also relationship or consanguinity. "Flesh and blood" are placed in contrast with a spiritual nature,  Matthew 16:17 , the glorified body,  1 Corinthians 15:50 , and evil spirits,  Ephesians 6:12 . The cause "between blood and blood,"  Deuteronomy 17:8 , was one where life was depending on the judgment rendered.

Webster's Dictionary [13]

(1): (n.) A man of fire or spirit; a fiery spark; a gay, showy man; a rake.

(2): (n.) Relationship by descent from a common ancestor; consanguinity; kinship.

(3): (n.) Temper of mind; disposition; state of the passions; - as if the blood were the seat of emotions.

(4): (n.) Descent; lineage; especially, honorable birth; the highest royal lineage.

(5): (n.) A bloodthirsty or murderous disposition.

(6): (n.) Descent from parents of recognized breed; excellence or purity of breed.

(7): (n.) The shedding of blood; the taking of life, murder; manslaughter; destruction.

(8): (v. t.) To give (hounds or soldiers) a first taste or sight of blood, as in hunting or war.

(9): (v. t.) To heat the blood of; to exasperate.

(10): (n.) The fluid which circulates in the principal vascular system of animals, carrying nourishment to all parts of the body, and bringing away waste products to be excreted. See under Arterial.

(11): (n.) The fleshy nature of man.

(12): (v. t.) To stain, smear or wet, with blood.

(13): (n.) The juice of anything, especially if red.

(14): (v. t.) To bleed.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [14]

The blood of man is claimed by God; for the 'life is in the blood;' 'the blood is the life.' It therefore must not be eaten; if not offered in sacrifice it must be 'poured upon the earth as water.' "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." The blood also maketh atonement for the soul: it must be poured out upon the altar.  Genesis 9:4-6;  Leviticus 17:10-14;  Deuteronomy 12:23-25;  Acts 15:29 . In the O.T. dispensation everything in the tabernacle, the priests and their dresses were purged and sanctified by blood, everything being sprinkled with blood, including the book of the law and the people.  Hebrews 9:18,21 . This was typical of the blood of the Lord Jesus, which has accomplished everything for the Christian: with His blood He 'purchased' us,  Acts 20:28; 'justified' us,  Romans 5:9; 'redeemed,'  Ephesians 1:7; 'sanctified,'  Hebrews 13:12; 'cleanseth us from all sin,'  1 John 1:7; etc.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [15]

  • Blood used metaphorically to denote race ( Acts 17:26 ), and as a symbol of slaughter ( Isaiah 34:3 ). To "wash the feet in blood" means to gain a great victory ( Psalm 58:10 ). Wine, from its red colour, is called "the blood of the grape" ( Genesis 49:11 ). Blood and water issued from our Saviour's side when it was pierced by the Roman soldier ( John 19:34 ). This has led pathologists to the conclusion that the proper cause of Christ's death was rupture of the heart. (Compare  Psalm 69:20 .)

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Blood'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [16]

    BLOOD . Among all primitive races the blood, especially of human beings, has been and is regarded with superstitious, or rather, to be just, religious awe. By the Hebrews also blood was Invested with peculiar sanctity as the seat of the soul ( nephesh ), that is of the principle of life (  Leviticus 17:11 ‘the life [Heb. nephesh ] of the flesh is in the blood’). From this fundamental conception of blood as the vehicle of life may be derived all the manifold social and religious beliefs and practices with regard to it, which play so large a part in Scripture. See Atonement, Clean and Unclean, Covenant, Food, Propitiation, Sacrifice.

    A. R. S. Kennedy.

    Smith's Bible Dictionary [17]

    Blood. To blood, is ascribed in Scripture, the mysterious sacredness which belongs to life, and God reserved it to himself, when allowing man the dominion over and the use of the lower animals for food. Thus reserved, it acquires a double power:

    (1) that of sacrificial atonement; and

    (2) that of becoming a curse when wantonly shed, unless duly expiated.  Genesis 9:4;  Leviticus 7:26;  Leviticus 17:11-13.

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [18]

    ( דָּם , Dam; Αϊ v Μα : both occasionally used, by Hebraism, in the plural with a sing. sense), the red fluid circulating in the veins of men and animals. The term is employed in Scripture in a variety of senses.

    1. As Food. To blood is ascribed in Scripture the mysterious sacredness which belongs to life, and God reserved it to Himself when allowing man the dominion over and the use of the lower animals for food, etc. (See Thomson, Land And Book, i, 136.) In  Genesis 9:4, where the use of animal food is allowed, it is first absolutely forbidden to eat "flesh with its soul, its blood;" which expression, were it otherwise obscure, is explained by the mode in which the same terms are employed in  Deuteronomy 12:23. In the Mosaic law the prohibition is repeated with frequency and emphasis, although it is generally introduced in connection with sacrifices, as in  Leviticus 3:7;  Leviticus 7:26 (in both which places blood is coupled in the prohibition with The Fat of the victims); 17:10-14; 19:2;  Deuteronomy 12:16-23;  Deuteronomy 15:23. In cases where the prohibition is introduced in connection with the lawful and unlawful articles of diet, the reason which is generally assigned in the text is that " the blood is the soul," and it is ordered that it be poured on the ground like water. But where it is introduced in reference to the portions of the victim which were to be offered to the Lord, then the text, in addition to the former reason, insists that "the blood expiates by the soul" ( Leviticus 17:11; Leviticus 12). This strict injunction not only applied to the Israelites, but even to the strangers residing among them. The penalty assigned to its transgression was the being "cut off from the people," by which the punishment of death appears to be intended (comp.  Hebrews 10:28), although it is difficult to ascertain whether it was inflicted by the sword or by stoning. It is observed by Michaelis (Imos. Recht. 4: 45) that the blood of fishes does not appear to be interdicted. The words in  Leviticus 7:26, only expressly mention that of birds and cattle. This accords, however, with the reasons assigned for the prohibition of blood, inasmuch as fishes could not be offered to the Lord, although they formed a significant offering in heathen religions. To this is to be added that the apostles and elders, assembled in council at Jerusalem, when desirous of settling the extent to which the ceremonial observances were binding upon the converts to Christianity, renewed the injunction to abstain from blood, and coupled it with things offered to idols ( Acts 15:29). It is perhaps worthy of notice here that Mohammed, while professing to abrogate some of the dietary restrictions of the Jewish law (which he asserts were imposed on account of the sins of the Jews, Sura 4:158). still enforces, among others, abstinence from blood and from things offered to idols (Koran, Sur. v, 4; 6:146, ed. Flugel).

    In direct opposition to this emphatic prohibition of blood in the Mosaic law, the customs of uncivilized heathens sanctioned the cutting of slices from the living animal, and the eating of the flesh while quivering with life and dripping with blood. Even Saul's army committed this barbarity, as we read in  1 Samuel 14:32; and the prophet also lays it to the charge of the Jews in  Ezekiel 33:25. This practice, according to Bruce's testimony, exists at present among the Abyssinians. Moreover, pagan religions, and that of the Phoenicians among the rest, appointed the eating and drinking of blood, mixed with wine, as a rite of idolatrous worship, and especially in the ceremonial of swearing. To this the passage in  Psalms 16:4 appears to allude (comp. Michaelis, Critisth. Colleg. p. 108, where several testimonies on this subject are collected).

    Among Christians different views have been entertained respecting the eating of blood, some maintaining that its prohibition in the Scriptures is to be regarded as merely ceremonial and temporary, while others contend that it is unlawful under any circumstances, and that Christians are as much bound to abstain from it now as were the Jews under the Mosaic economy. This they found on the facts that when animal food was originally granted to man, there was an express reservation in the article of the blood; that this grant was made to the new parents of the whole human family after the flood, consequently the tenure by which any of mankind are permitted to eat animals is in every case accompanied with this restriction; that there never was any reversal of the prohibition; that most express injunctions were given on the point in the Jewish code; and that in the New Testament, instead of there being the least hint intimating that we are freed from the obligation, it is deserving of particular notice that at the very time when the Holy Spirit declares by the apostles (Acts 15) that the Gentiles are free from the yoke of circumcision, abstinence from blood is explicitly enjoined, and the action thus prohibited is classed with idolatry and fornication. After the time of Augustine the rule began to be held merely as a temporary injunction. It was one of the grounds alleged by the early apologists against the calumnies of the enemies of Christianity that, so far were they from drinking human blood, it was unlawful for them to drink the blood even of irrational animals. Numerous testimonies to the same effect are found in after ages (Bingham, Orig. Eccl., bk. 17:ch. v, § 20). (See Food).

    2. Sacrificial. It was a well-established rabbinical maxim (Mishna, Yoma, v, 1; Menachoth, xciii, 2) that the blood of a victim is essential to atonement ( כפרה אלא בדם אין , i.e. "there is no expiation except by blood"), a principle recognised by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews ( Χωρὶς Αὶματεκχυσίας Οὐ Γίνσται Ἄφεσις , 9: 22). See Bahr, Symbol. ii, 201 sq. (See Expiation). The blood of sacrifices was caught by the Jewish priest from the neck of the victim in a basin, then sprinkled seven times (in the case of birds at once shed out) on the altar, i.e. on its horns, its base, or its four corners, or on its side above or below a line running round it, or on the mercy-seat, according to the quality and purpose of the offering; but that of the Passover on the lintel and door-posts (Exodus 12;  Leviticus 4:5-7;  Leviticus 16:14-19; Ugolini, Thes. vol. x and xiii). There was a drain from the Temple into the brook Cedron to carry off the blood (Maimon. Apud Cramer De A Ra Exter. Ugolini, viii). It sufficed to pour the animal's blood on the earth, or to bury it, as a solemn rendering of the life to God. (See Sacrifice).

    3. Homicidal. In this respect " blood" is often used for Life: God " will require the blood of man;" he will punish murder in what manner soever committed ( Genesis 9:5). " His blood be upon us" ( Matthew 27:25), let the guilt of his death be imputed to us. "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth;" the murder committed on him crieth for vengeance ( Genesis 4:10). "The avenger of blood;" he who is to avenge the death of his relative ( Numbers 35:24;  Numbers 35:27). The priests under the Mosaic law were constituted judges between "blood and blood," that is, in criminal matters, and when the life of man was at stake; they had to determine whether the murder were casual or voluntary, whether a crime deserved death or admitted of remission ( Deuteronomy 17:8). In case of human bloodshed, a mysterious connection is observable between the curse of blood and the earth or land on which it is shed, which becomes polluted by it; and the proper expiation is the blood of the shedder, which every one had thus an interest in exacting, and was bound to seek ( Genesis 4:10;  Genesis 9:4-6;  Numbers 35:33;  Psalms 106:38). (See Avenger Of Blood). In the case of a dead body found and the death not accounted for, the guilt of blood attached to the nearest city, to be ascertained by measurement, until freed by prescribed rites of expiation ( Deuteronomy 21:1-9). The guilt of murder is one for which a satisfaction" was forbidden ( Numbers 35:31). (See Murder).

    4. In a slightly Metaphorical sense, " blood" sometimes means Race or nature, by virtue of relationship or consanguinity: God "hath made of one blood all nations of men" ( Acts 17:26). It is also used as the symbol of slaughter and mortality ( Isaiah 34:3;  Ezekiel 14:19). It also denotes every kind of premature death ( Ezekiel 32:6;  Ezekiel 39:18). "The bold imager' of the prophet," says Archbishop Newcome, " is founded on the custom of invitations to feasts after sacrifices; kings, princes, and tyrants being expressed by rams, bulls, and he-goats." Blood is sometimes put for sanguinary purposes, as in  Isaiah 33:15, "He that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood," or, more properly, who stoppeth his ears to the proposal of bloodshed. To "wash the feet in blood" ( Psalms 58:10) is to gain a victory with much slaughter. To "build a town with blood" ( Habakkuk 2:12) is by causing the death of the oppressed laborers as slaves.

    Wine is called the blood of the grape; "He washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes" ( Genesis 49:11). Here the figure is easily understood, as any thing of a red color may be compared to blood. See Wemyss, Symbol. Dict. S.V.'' Flesh And Blood are placed in opposition to a superior or spiritual nature: " Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven" ( Matthew 16:17). Flesh and blood are also opposed to the glorified body: "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" ( 1 Corinthians 15:50). They are opposed to evil spirits: "We wrestle not against flesh and blood," against visible enemies composed of flesh and blood, "but against principalities and powers," etc. ( Ephesians 6:12). (See Eucharist).

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [19]

    blud ( דּם , dām , probably from אדם , 'ādham "to be red"; αἷμα , haı́ma ): Used in the Old Testament to designate the life principle in either animal or vegetable, as the blood of man or the juice of the grape ( Leviticus 17:11 , et al.); in the New Testament for the blood of an animal, the atoning blood of Christ, and in both Old Testament and New Testament in a figurative sense for bloodshed or murder ( Genesis 37:26;  Hosea 4:2;  Revelation 16:6 ).

    1. Primitive Ideas

    Although the real function of the blood in the human system was not fully known until the fact of its circulation was established by William Harvey in 1615, nevertheless from the earliest times a singular mystery has been attached to it by all peoples. Blood rites, blood ceremonies and blood feuds are common among primitive tribes. It came to be recognized as the life principle long before it was scientifically proved to be. Naturally a feeling of fear, awe and reverence would be attached to the shedding of blood. With many uncivilized peoples scarification of the body until blood flows is practiced. Blood brotherhood or blood friendship is established by African tribes by the mutual shedding of blood and either drinking it or rubbing it on one another's bodies. Thus and by the inter-transfusion of blood by other means it was thought that a community of life and interest could be established.

    2. Hebrew and Old Testament Customs

    Notwithstanding the ignorance and superstition surrounding this suggestively beautiful idea, it grew to have more than a merely human significance and application. For this crude practice of inter-transference of human blood there came to be a symbolic substitution of animal blood in sprinkling or anointing. The first reference in the Old Testament to blood ( Genesis 4:10 ) is figurative, but highly illustrative of the reverential fear manifested upon the shedding of blood and the first teaching regarding it.

    The rite of circumcision is an Old Testament form of blood ceremony. Apart from the probable sanitary importance of the act is the deeper meaning in the establishment of a bond of friendship between the one upon whom the act is performed and Yahweh Himself. In order that Abraham might become "the friend of God" he was commanded that he should be circumcised as a token of the covenant between him and God ( Genesis 17:10-11; see Circumcision ).

    It is significant that the eating of blood was prohibited in earliest Bible times ( Genesis 9:4 ). The custom probably prevailed among heathen nations as a religious rite (compare  Psalm 16:4 ). This and its unhygienic influence together doubtless led to its becoming taboo. The same prohibition was made under the Mosaic code ( Leviticus 7:26; see Sacrifice ).

    Blood was commanded to be used also for purification or for ceremonial cleansing ( Leviticus 14:5-7 ,  Leviticus 14:51 ,  Leviticus 14:52;  Numbers 19:4 ), provided, however, that it be taken from a clean animal (see Purification ).

    In all probability there is no trace of the superstitious use of blood in the Old Testament, unless perchance in  1 Kings 22:38 (see Bathing ); but everywhere it is vested with cleansing, expiatory, and reverently symbolic qualities.

    3. New Testament Teachings

    As in the transition from ancient to Hebrew practice, so from the Old Testament to the New Testament we see an exaltation of the conception of blood and blood ceremonies. In Abraham's covenant his own blood had to be shed. Later an expiatory animal was to shed blood ( Leviticus 5:6; see Atonement ), but there must always be a shedding of blood. "Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission" ( Hebrews 9:22 ). The exaltation and dignifying of this idea finds its highest development then in the vicarious shedding of blood by Christ Himself ( 1 John 1:7 ). As in the Old Testament "blood" was also used to signify the juice of grapes, the most natural substitute for the drinking of blood would be the use of wine. Jesus takes advantage of this, and introduces the beautiful and significant custom ( Matthew 26:28 ) of drinking wine and eating bread as symbolic of the primitive intertransfusion of blood and flesh in a pledge of eternal friendship (compare  Exodus 24:6 ,  Exodus 24:7;  John 6:53-56 ). This is the climactic observance of blood rites recorded in the Bible.


    Trumbull, The Blood Covenant and The Threshold Covenant  ; Westermarck, The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas  ; Robertson Smith, Lectures on the Religion of the Semites .

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [20]

    There are two respects in which the ordinances of the Old and New Testaments concerning blood deserve notice here—the prohibition of its use as an article of food, and the appointment and significance of its use in the ritual of sacrifice; both of which appear to rest on a common ground.

    In  Genesis 9:4, where the use of animal food is allowed, it is first absolutely forbidden to eat 'flesh with its soul, its blood;' which expression, were it otherwise obscure, is explained by the mode in which the same terms are employed in  Deuteronomy 12:23. In the Mosaic law the prohibition is repeated with frequency and emphasis although it is generally introduced in connection with sacrifices, as in  Leviticus 3:17;  Leviticus 7:26;  Leviticus 17:10-14;  Leviticus 19:26;  Deuteronomy 12:16-23;  Deuteronomy 15:23. In cases where the prohibition is introduced in connection with the lawful and unlawful articles of diet, the reason which is generally assigned in the text is, that 'the blood is the soul;' and it is ordered that it be poured on the ground like water. But where it is introduced in reference to the portions of the victim which were to be offered to the Lord, then the text, in addition to the former reason, insists that 'the blood expiates by the soul' ( Leviticus 17:11-12). This strict injunction not only applied to the Israelites, but even to the strangers residing among them. The penalty assigned to its transgression was the being 'cut off from the people;' by which the punishment of death appears to be intended (cf.  Hebrews 10:28), although it is difficult to ascertain whether it was inflicted by the sword or by stoning. To this is to be added, that the Apostles and elders, assembled in council at Jerusalem, when desirous of settling the extent to which the ceremonial observances were binding upon the converts to Christianity, renewed the injunction to abstain from blood, and coupled it with things offered to idols ( Acts 15:29).

    In direct opposition to this emphatic prohibition of blood in the Mosaic law, the customs of uncivilized heathens sanctioned the cutting of slices from the living animal, and the eating of the flesh while quivering with life and dripping with blood. Even Saul's army committed this barbarity, as we read in  1 Samuel 14:32; and the prophet also lays it to the charge of the Jews in  Ezekiel 33:25. This practice, according to Bruce's testimony, exists at present among the Abyssinians. Moreover, pagan religions, and that of the Phoenicians among the rest, appointed the eating and drinking of blood, mixed with wine, as a rite of idolatrous worship, and especially in the ceremonial of swearing. To this the passage in  Psalms 16:4, appears to allude.

    The appointment and significance of the use of blood in the ritual of sacrifice belongs indeed to this head; but their further notice will be more appropriately pursued in the article: Sacrifices.