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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

1. Sources .-The sacrificial ideas found in the teaching of the Apostolic Church cast their roots so deeply in the soil of OT ideas and practice that careful reference to the sacrificial system inherited by apostolic writers from Jewish sources is essential. Even more closely than in other subjects, the apostolic literature assumes the genetic connexion of Christianity with Judaism in its doctrine of sacrifice. The OT thought-world is everywhere regarded as the basis for expounding the ultimate and more spiritual exhibitions of the sacrificial principle characteristic of apostolic interpretation. To make accurately and sympathetically the fine adjustments necessary between these transformed and spiritualized sacrificial values and their pre-Christian forms is of first importance. This task is the more difficult because the Jewish sources are themselves in turn inherited from primitive Semitic usages of which the meaning and origin are at present under investigation and the subject of keen discussion. Possibly reminiscences of each of the main theories advocated respecting the origin of sacrifice may be traced in the terms that illustrate apostolic teaching-e.g. the Gift theory ( Philippians 4:18), the Homage theory ( Romans 12:1), the Common Meal theory ( 1 Corinthians 10:14-22); the Expiatory theory is too obvious to need references. The one constant element in primitive sacrifice persisting to apostolic times that modern research, both anthropological and psychological, seems to warrant is that sacrifice appears to have pleased the object of worship and secured the favour of the deity-i.e., it was ‘propitiatory’ in the broadest sense. The most reliable expert opinion of different schools of anthropologists regards sacrifice as devised by man as an institution by which he might indicate and satisfy the instincts of his religious nature, and therefore only indirectly Divine in its origin. Sacrifice thus originated in primitive childlike ideas of God, and developed, through the primary religious instinct of pleasing Him by giving or sharing a meal with Him, into later rites regarded as of expiatory value as the moral consciousness of the race deepened. Some such long course of development lies behind the appearance of sacrifice in the OT.

(a) Early Israel.-Here sacrifice is regarded as a familiar custom at the beginning of human history; it originated in the first family; it was patriarchal. It meets us early in the OT as the comparatively complete and elaborated cultus mirrored in the J document, but no light is thrown upon its origin. Its chief occasions were times of meeting with God; it marked the intimate relationship between the god and his worshippers; the prevailing conception of its significance was that it was a present to God in sign of homage, thanksgiving, desire for communion or Divine gifts. The indications here of the stricter motive of expiation are very slight, although awe of the Divine Presence finds early and constant expression; and there is little doubt that Israel in all ages believed in the effectiveness of sacrifice to preserve or restore the favour of Jahweh. In view of apostolic teaching the early significance of the Covenant Sacrifice should be noted. Its specific object was to make a covenant sure and binding by the interchange of blood between the parties to it; half the animal victim’s blood was poured upon the altar for God and half sprinkled upon the people (cf.  Exodus 24:6-8,  Hebrews 8:6 ff;  Hebrews 9:15-22). The religious efficacy of sacrifice was interpreted according to the degree of ethical and spiritual enlightenment of the offerers. The popular idea of a union cemented by blood in its physical and literal character was beginning to be challenged in the early monarchy; the higher theology of the age was already excluding the idea of God as a fellow-guest, and offerings were regarded as worthless without obedience (cf.  1 Samuel 15:22). God was disposed favourably by sacrifices, but we are not able to say in what manner they were supposed to influence Him. Neither these nor the older Semitic sacrifices were strictly expiatory, as has often been assumed; even where the animal may have been regarded as the offerer’s substitute, it may not necessarily have been as expiation for sin. Human sacrifices were unquestionably offered in the earlier stages of the Hebrew transition from the prehistoric to the historic development of the doctrine. They were common in Palestinian religion.

(b) Prophetic teaching.-Before touching upon the priestly or Levitical sacrificial system, from which it is evident apostolic teaching chiefly drew its thought-forms and its sacrificial terminology, reference must be made to the attitude taken towards sacrifice by the OT prophets, especially by those of the 8th century. From these the primitive Christian Church drew much of the substance of its teaching on sacrifice as it came to be interpreted in ethical and spiritual values. These two types-prophetic and priestly-dominate the structure of our OT sources; they existed side by side and acted and reacted upon each other. If not distinctly rival systems in the religious thought and practice of Israel, they represent different ideals concerning that which is an acceptable offering to the Lord. To recognize that both of them deeply influenced apostolic views of sacrifice is important. It is not probable that the prophets actually proposed the abolition of sacrifice, as some scholars have maintained. They assumed its legitimacy; they denied its necessity. Their protest was against the exaggerated importance of sacrifice (cf.  Amos 5:25,  Jeremiah 7:21 f.); it was not essential to forgiveness. The Levitical cultus provided sacrifice as the chief vehicle of God’s grace; forgiveness is mediated through it. The insistent iterance of the prophetic word is that sacrifice is not essential; God requires obedience, not sacrifice. Because He is a righteous God, He can accept nothing in place of righteousness. Righteousness is fundamental religion ( Micah 6:6-8); without it sacrifice was an insult to God; He was weary of it; it provoked Him. Whilst they did not demand a religion without a cultus, i.e. a purely spiritual worship, the prophets denied that sacrifice in itself has efficacy with God, and that He has appointed it as essential to the ministry of His grace. In thus setting character before cultus the Psalmists join the prophets, emphasizing at the same time the abiding value in the sight of God of penitential feeling (cf.  Psalms 40:6-9;  Psalms 51:16 f.). With the great prophet of the Exile there rises also the commanding figure of the Suffering Servant of the Lord. Out of His personal afflictions for His people grows the vision of a voluntary and personal sacrificial offering of Himself. This transcends in its perfect ethical and spiritual value all lower ideas associated with the offering of animal victims (Isaiah 53). The extent to which this presentation of the Suffering Servant and the prophetic attitude of bare tolerance towards the sacrificial system influenced the apostolic teaching on sacrifice has not been fully appreciated.

(c) Levitical.-Historically this followed the prophetic period referred to. It did not precede it, as was formerly thought. The elaboration of the Levitical Code and the bewildering details of the priestly legislation respecting sacrifice led to the depreciation of the prophetic criticism of it. Levitical conceptions became characteristic of the Judaism with which early Christianity had such intimate and vital connexion. The transition from the ethical ideals of the prophets to the ceremonial ritual of the Levitical system carries us into a different world of sacrificial ideas; in many respects the change marks reaction; ethically it is on a lower plane, though it may possibly as a hard shell have preserved for future generations the kernel of the prophetic teaching regarding sacrifice. Its marvellous completeness provided a basis for typological analogy. It was almost inevitable, in the circumstances in which Christianity arose, that the primitive Church should extensively use this as a vehicle for teaching its doctrine of redemption. We need not refuse to see in the rich detail of Jewish sacrifices an unconscious illustrative preparation for apostolic forms of teaching. Yet it is difficult to hold that this whole ceremonial system was instituted with a conscious reference to, or binding authority for, the spiritual teaching of the sacrificial principle in Christianity, in which the Jewish sacrificial system was at once fulfilled and abrogated. The chief feature of the Levitical system, as distinguished from the sacrifices of the earlier cultus in Israel, was the greater importance attached to piacular or expiatory sacrifices-the guilt-, sin-, and trespass-offerings. This resulted from the deepened sense of sin which had developed during the Exile. Originally not more important than other offerings, the sin-offering now becomes the sacrifice par excellence. Eventually this type of sacrifice appears to have overshadowed the other great type represented by the peace-offerings, which assumed that the covenant relations with Jahweh were undisturbed. It was the expiatory type that constituted the daily sacrifice-the continual burnt-offering-up to apostolic times; it was regarded as most perfectly embodying, through its vicarious character, the sacrificial idea; it was not connected with any particular transgression, but was maintained as the appropriate means of a sinful people’s approach to a Holy God. Essential features in it were the shedding and sprinkling of blood and the conveyance of the sacrifice entire to God and His ministers; it was also accompanied by the imposition of hands. The utmost importance was attached in this type of sacrifice to the disposition of the victim’s blood: the blood was God’s; it belonged to Him of right; a mysterious potency inhered in it; the life was in it (cf.  Leviticus 17:11); safety for the individual and the nation lay in such sacrifices of blood. It is of great importance, however, in view of apostolic conceptions to note that such sacrifices-the highest in value the Levitical system provided-availed only for sins of ignorance, for unwitting transgression of holy things and for the removal of physical uncleanness, which was regarded as implying moral as well as ceremonial disability in drawing near to God ( Numbers 15:30). For wilful sins-‘sins with a high hand’-no reconciling sacrifice was provided in Israel; the penalty of such sins was death-‘that soul was cut off from Israel.’ But even such sins were not beyond the reach of forgiveness. That such sinners might through confession and true penitence approach God, and through His grace, apart from sacrifice, meet with His mercy was the evangelical proclamation of the prophets. It was held, however, by later Jewish interpreters that the ‘scapegoat’ on the great Day of Atonement expiated the sins of all Israelites who had not deliberately put themselves outside its effects by forsaking the religion of their people; and this expiation was applied so as to include sins the penalty of which was ‘to be cut off from his people,’ or death (cf. Encyclopaedia Biblicaiv. 4219, 4224).

(d) Later Jewish.-The whole question of the expiatory value of Jewish sacrifices generally is keenly debated amongst modern scholars. The theory of the penal substitution of the life of the animal victim in place of the life of the offerer, which was formerly regarded as almost an axiomatic principle of interpretation, now meets with cogent criticism. Whilst this theory is still held on the ground of evidence direct and indirect in biblical and post-biblical ideas or usage, it must be said that probably the majority of modern scholars regard it as no longer tenable. Much in the discussion of these opposing positions turns upon the confidence which should be placed upon the theories of sacrifice prevalent in later Judaism. If the date and adequacy of the valuable materials collected from later Jewish sources, belonging to the time when the institution of the Synagogue was growing up side by side with the sacrificial worship of the Temple, could be depended upon, they would afford data of the highest importance in seeking to interpret the ideas of the apostolic literature, whose writers had been taught in the synagogue or in the Rabbinical schools. The present difficulty, however, of gathering the old Jewish theory of sacrifice from these sources may be illustrated by the contrary judgments of two scholars who have had access to them. Holtzmann sums up the result thus: ‘Everything pressed towards the assumption that the offering of a life, substituted for sinners according to God’s appointment, cancelled the death penalty which they had incurred, and that consequently the offered blood of the sacrificial victims expiated sin as a surrogate for the life of the guilty’ (Neutest. Theol. i. 68, quoted by W. P. Paterson, article‘Sacrifice’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols)iv. 342b; cf. Stevens, Theol. of the NT, p. 409). G. F. Moore holds an opposite opinion: ‘The theory that the victim’s life is put in place of the owner’s is nowhere hinted at, perhaps because the Jewish doctors understood better than our theologians what sin offerings and trespass offerings were, and what they were for’ (Encyclopaedia Biblicaiv. 4226). Such a measure of disagreement need not, however, lead to the position assumed by other scholars that no theory underlay the practice of sacrifice in Israel: ‘A precise answer to the question how the sacrificial worship influenced God men were unable to give. When in the blood of the Sin-offering the tie between God and His people was renewed, what was felt was the weird influence of the incomprehensible’ (Smend, Alttest. Religionsgesch., p. 324). Apostolic writers held that there is a simple answer given in  Leviticus 17:11 to the question how sacrifice expiates-‘it is the blood that maketh atonement.’ ‘According to the law, I may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission’ ( Hebrews 9:22). Two other important tendencies of the later Jewish period also passed as influential principles for sacrificial interpretation into the apostolic teaching: (a) the strong tendency to recognize the sufferings, and especially the death, of righteous men as atoning for the sins of other men. For instance, the merits of Abraham served to cover the sins of his posterity; such expiatory value of suffering is also applied to the sufferings of Moses, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah, and to the passion of the martyrs; it was also pre-eminently illustrated in the career of the Suffering Servant of Is 53. These sufferings constituted a ground of forgiveness of sin in Israel; they are expressly compared, in point of efficacy, to the Day of Atonement (Pesiqta, 174b). These tendencies probably influenced profoundly the sacrificial theory of the age; for it was a transition easily made from the vicarious death of the righteous to the belief in substitution of animal victims, or possibly by a fortiori reasoning from the value of the substitutionary death of the animal victim to that of the righteous saint (cf.  2 Maccabees 7:37,  4 Maccabees 6:29). (b) Whilst the sacrificial ceremonies were most scrupulously observed and with great pomp and solemnity, a process was going on which was loosening the hold of sacrifice upon the Jewish religion. A reluctant admission was beginning to be made-which ultimately found its logical and historical completion in apostolic Christianity-that it was not a full expression of the relation of His people to God, and was not wholly essential for their communion with Him. Sacrificial worship was being gradually co-ordinated with that of the synagogue. Owing to the renewed authority of the teaching of the prophets, and the widening distance from the Temple services of the multiplied congregations of the Dispersion, knowledge of the Law and the ethical value of good deeds became recognized forms of religious activity which were regarded as directly well-pleasing to God; the Rabbi and the scribe became at least complementary authorities, often indeed competitors with the priest and the Levite. The destruction of the Second Temple within the Apostolic Age so quickened the rapidity with which traditional authority became superior to sacrificial that it was officially taught that the study of the Law was more valuable in the sight of God than the continual burnt-offering (Megilla, 3b, 16b, Pesiqta, 60b). The fact that within the Apostolic Age the abolition of sacrifice as a national mode of worship in Jewish religion had become, through the destruction of Jerusalem, a necessity may well be helpful in defining the attitude of apostolic writers towards sacrifice.

For careful information on the origin and theory of sacrifice the reader should consult the very full article ‘Sacrifice’ by W. P. Paterson in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols), which favours the substitutionary theory, and that in Encyclopaedia Biblicaby G. F. Moore, which opposes it; also Smend’s discussion of the development of the sacrificial system in Israel in his Alttest. Religionsgeschichte; G. B. Stevens outlines the sacrificial system in Christian Doctrine of Salvation, pt. i. ch. 1.

2. Modifications of the inherited sacrificial system presented in apostolic teaching and in the practice of the Apostolic Church. -The best method of expounding the apostolic views of sacrifice is to notice in what directions and to what extent the writers in the primitive Church modified the sacrificial ideas they carried with them in their passage from Judaism to Christianity. These were the ideas from which controversies and party divisions in the Apostolic Church largely sprang. Jewish and Gentile Christians possessed a different heritage of sacrificial practices; the apostolic literature has reference to both, but the references to the Jewish immeasurably preponderate. The starting-point for the apostolic modifications is found in the Synoptic account of the attitude of Jesus towards the current sacrificial system. (a) He recognized the authority of the sacrificial law as practised in His time by observing it, keeping the Passover and other feasts, worshipping in the Temple, where sacrifice was the central act; by commending its observance to others, e.g. the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing ( Matthew 8:4; cf.  Mark 1:44). (b) He constantly favoured the prophetic rather than the priestly view of sacrifice. He quoted  Hosea 6:6 ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’ ( Matthew 9:13;  Matthew 12:7), and commended the judgment that love is more than all burnt-offering ( Mark 12:33); He declared that sacrifice is worthless with unrepented sin ( Matthew 5:23). (c) He referred to His own death as sacrificial, comparing it especially with the Covenant sacrifice with which the Mosaic system was instituted, ‘My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many unto remission of sins’ ( Matthew 26:28,  Luke 22:20; cf.  1 Corinthians 11:25). If we may take the ‘new’ of the Lucan and Pauline versions as our Lord’s, we may draw the inference that in the establishing of the ‘new’ the ‘old’ Covenant was abrogated, and with it the sacrifices that had initiated it and given it historical continuity in Israel. How long it was after the institution of the New Covenant before the Apostolic Church appreciated all its implications it is not easy to determine. The Petrine attitude, which favoured a policy of continuity or at least compromise towards important parts of the Jewish sacrificial cultus, is exhibited in early, strenuous conflicts of judgment recorded in the Apostolic Church. St. Paul quickly seized the central principle in the changed situation which was to mark the development of Christian thought and usage in reference to the Jewish sacrificial system, but he succeeded only gradually in applying it. The full inferences of the abrogation of the ancient sacrifices are first drawn by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The use made by the apostolic witnesses of the elaborate and technical terminology of the Jewish sacrificial system must be briefly reviewed. The ‘proof-text’ method of working over this material in fragmentary textual correspondences and coincidences between the old and new is not satisfactory, and has yielded place to the co-ordinated testimonies of typical apostolic teachers. The differences and signs of developing doctrine in this group of writers must be separately considered as constituting together-

3. The apostolic teaching. -The records of the apostolic preaching in the Acts reveal the primary fact that ‘Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures’ ( 1 Corinthians 15:3) was an article of common tradition in the Apostolic Church. The death of Christ appears to have been regarded at a very early period as expiatory; the idea of expiation was closely associated with that of sacrifice; it was natural, therefore, that the death of Christ should be looked upon as a sacrifice and spoken of under sacrificial figures. This sacrificial interpretation of His death is embedded in subsequent types of apostolic teaching (A. Ritschl, Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung, Bonn, 1870-74, ii. 161; A. Cave, Scriptural Doctrine of Sacrifice, p. 280 ff.). No direct mention of the sacrifice of Christ is made by James or Jude; but their silence may be accounted for by the fact that the subject was foreign to the purpose for which they wrote.

(a) Petrine.-In the Epistles of Peter the sacrificial references are clear and interesting; ‘sprinkling of the blood of Jesus’ ( 1 Peter 1:2; cf.  Exodus 24:8); ‘ye were redeemed … with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ’ ( Exodus 1:18); cf. also  Isaiah 53:7 ff. with its clear echo in  1 Peter 2:21-25, where the sacrificial idea of vicarious suffering is too obvious to need comment. The characteristic feature of the Petrine references is their close sympathy with OT ideas and usage.

(b) Pauline.-In the Pauline references the contrast between the Jewish and Christian aspects of sacrifice is more pronounced. St. Paul’s direct references to Levitical sacrifice are not numerous. Their scarcity, however, does not warrant Bruce’s suggestion that his ideas were coloured more by the analogy of human sacrifice, with which Greek and Roman story makes us familiar, than by that of the Levitical system (cf. St. Paul’s Conception of Christianity, Edinburgh, 1894, p. 169). Whilst St. Paul does allude to pagan ideas of communion through sacrifice ( 1 Corinthians 10:18;  1 Corinthians 10:28), he was intimately acquainted with the minutiae of the Levitical system and even definitely associated himself with its observance ( Acts 21:26;  Acts 24:11;  Acts 24:17 f.), though some find it difficult to believe that his action in the Temple could have been so contrary to his clearly expressed precept (cf.  Galatians 4:9). It should also be noted that St. Paul, unlike the writer to the Hebrews, does not explicitly declare that the sacrifices of the Law came to an end with the death of Christ. Whilst it cannot be denied that St. Paul clearly regards the death of Christ as substitutionary, he expounds this conception so much less in terms of the sacrificial system than might have been expected from him that it has been possible for some expositors to maintain with some plausibility that he did not regard Christ’s death as a sacrifice (cf. Pfleiderer, Der Paulinismus2, Leipzig, 1890, p. 144). This is an exaggerated position; for in addition to many traces of sacrificial ideas which he used as suggestive illustrations of the meaning of Christ’s death, he speaks definitely of the Death as a sacrifice, ‘He gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odour of a sweet smell’ ( Ephesians 5:2); ‘Our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ’ ( 1 Corinthians 5:7). References to the blood of Christ as the ground of the benefits conferred by His death ( Romans 3:25;  Romans 5:9,  1 Corinthians 10:16,  Ephesians 2:13) are not satisfied by regarding the ‘blood’ as merely an allusion to His violent death; it seems clear from the tenor of St. Paul’s teaching that he means ‘sacrificial blood’ (cf.  Romans 8:32,  Galatians 2:20,  Colossians 1:20,  Ephesians 1:7). It may be maintained, however, that if he ‘has not especially brought out this idea [the interpretation of Christ’s death] in connection with his allusions to sacrifice, he has done so in other ways, and the inference that this was his conception of Christ’s death, viewed as a sacrifice, is quite inevitable’ (Stevens, Christian Doctrine of Salvation, p. 63).

(c) Epistle to the Hebrews.-Unlike St. Paul the writer to the Hebrews presents his doctrine of salvation wholly in terms of sacrifice, and thus provides the classical treatment of the significance of sacrifice for apostolic thought. His argument is developed in a running comparison between the sacrifices of the Levitical ritual and the perfect offering presented by Christ in the sacrifice of Himself. The sacrificial institutions associated with the Old Covenant are set forth as types and shadows of the heavenly and eternal reality in which the New Covenant is established in the blood of Christ. The key-word of the Epistle and of the comparison it elaborates is ‘better.’ The Son whose humanity is perfect, the Mediator of the new and better covenant, is the true High Priest (see articlePriest) (cf.  Hebrews 8:6-13;  Hebrews 9:15 ff.). His constitutive function is to offer sacrifice ( Hebrews 8:3). Christ offers Himself; the nature and effect of this perfect sacrifice are contrasted with the sacrifices of the Law ( Hebrews 8:1 to  Hebrews 10:18); the contrast culminates in the parallel between the action of the high priest in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement ( Exodus 24:4-8) and Christ entering the heavenly places ‘through his own blood’ ( Hebrews 9:11 ff.). The superiority of Christ’s sacrifice is everywhere impressively developed. It was also an offering in close dependence upon the love of God: by the grace of God Christ tasted death for every man ( Hebrews 2:9); it was never spoken of as ‘reconciling God.’

Three main truths emerge from the comparison. (i.) The Levitical sacrifices cannot take away sin; they serve rather to bring to mind the sin they cannot expiate ( Hebrews 10:3). At its best the Levitical system contemplated the removal of ceremonial faults only, sins of ignorance and infirmity ( Hebrews 10:4;  Hebrews 10:11); it effected a purification of the body only. The pathetic failure of the whole sacrificial system touches all the writer’s thought; it was morally ineffective because it belonged to the lower, sensible world ( Hebrews 9:11,  Hebrews 11:3), ‘the visible order’ of Philo and the Alexandrian thinkers. The absoluteness and finality of Christ’s sacrifice is demonstrated by relating it to the heavenly and eternal realm of reality ( Hebrews 8:1 f.,  Hebrews 9:1;  Hebrews 9:24,  Hebrews 10:1)-the realm which Philo, in the spirit of Plato’s doctrine of archetypal ideas, calls ‘the intelligible world.’ Christ has entered with His sacrifice into heaven itself ( Hebrews 9:24) and obtained eternal salvation for us ( Hebrews 7:27,  Hebrews 9:12;  Hebrews 9:15,  Hebrews 10:10), having ‘through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God’ ( Hebrews 9:14). It was an offering, on our behalf and as our representative, of a pure and spotless life. The solidarity of Christ with mankind is confidently stated: ‘Both he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren’ ( Hebrews 2:11). The Levitical sacrifices were perpetually repeated, just because they had no real efficacy either objective or subjective ( Hebrews 9:6,  Hebrews 10:3 f.); Christ’s sacrifice is made once for all, ‘perfecting for ever them that are sanctified’ ( Hebrews 7:27,  Hebrews 9:12;  Hebrews 9:25 f., 28,  Hebrews 10:12;  Hebrews 10:14). Christ’s sacrifice purged the conscience to serve the living God ( Hebrews 9:14,  Hebrews 10:22), thus dealing with sin ethically and in its deepest seat instead of with its accidental expressions which marked the limits of efficacy in ceremonial sacrifices ( Hebrews 9:9,  Hebrews 10:3). The sacrifices of the Law opened no way of spiritual access to the holy presence of God ( Hebrews 9:8); by the blood of Jesus a new and living way was dedicated by which men could draw near to Him with spiritual confidence ( Hebrews 10:19 f.). Everywhere the writer insists upon the truth that only by better sacrifices than those of the Levitical system could the heavenly places and the spiritual realities be cleansed and consecrated ( Hebrews 7:25,  Hebrews 9:19;  Hebrews 9:21-24); insufficiency marks all material elements and outward aspects of sacrifice; indeed, the whole point of the exposition turns upon contrast, not upon congruity. The interpretation of the Epistle which is frequently met with, that because its author expounds the Christian salvation in the terminology of sacrifice its meaning is therefore to be determined throughout by reading it in the light of the Levitical system, misses entirely the main motive of the writer, which is to mark the radical difference between the Christian and the Levitical conception of sacrifice. The most important fact to be observed is that the author, constrained by the estimate of the Christian values of sacrifice, ethicizes the whole meaning of sacrifice, and ascribes to Christ’s offering of Himself a wholly different nature from that which belongs to the Levitical oblations.

This is specially seen in the way in which the writer deals with (ii.) the value of the material of Christ’s sacrifice-His blood. In the Levitical system the manipulation of the blood was of supreme importance. Nothing was cleansed without its use ( Hebrews 9:21 f.). The vital moment in the culmination of the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement was the entering of the Holy of Holies by the high priest, bearing with him sacrificial blood ( Hebrews 9:7). Christ’s sacrificial act was accomplished also when He entered into the heavenly place ‘through his own blood’ ( Hebrews 9:11 ff.) ‘to make propitiation for the sins of the people’ ( Hebrews 2:17); ‘he offered a sacrifice for sins once for all, when he offered up himself’ ( Hebrews 7:27; cf.  Hebrews 9:26;  Hebrews 9:28). It is clear that the writer makes distinct use of the conception of substitution. But it is important to notice the evidence that something deeper than the literal substitution and the idea of legal transfer of sin which had gained currency in the later Jewish period was in the writer’s mind. The value of Christ’s offering is ethical; it resides in His will; His blood is presented not simply as the evidence of His death, but as the offering of His life. It is life, not death, which is the essence of all true sacrifice. Even in the Levitical system the blood constitutes the sacrifice, because ‘the blood is the life’ ( Leviticus 17:11). Christ’s offering of Himself includes more than His dying; it is the willing offering of His life in the perfection of ceaseless filial obedience to the will of God. The writer of this Epistle emphasizes this: ‘Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein (the which are offered according to the law), then hath he said, Lo, I am come to do thy will. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all’ ( Hebrews 10:8 ff.). This offering with which God was well pleased brought humanity into a new relation to God. It was a positive ethical and religious valuation of Christ’s sacrifice that went beyond its value as merely legal substitution.

(iii.) The doctrine of the New Covenant. The first Covenant was not dedicated without blood ( Hebrews 9:18; cf.  Exodus 24:6;  Exodus 24:8); sacrificial blood was for Israel essentially ‘the blood of the covenant’ ( Hebrews 9:20; cf.  Matthew 26:28). The sacrifices of the Mosaic Covenant were the sign of the establishment of the Law; the New Covenant in Christ’s blood was the sign of its fulfilment, and therefore ‘unto remission of sins’ ( Matthew 26:28; cf.  John 6:53-71;  John 7:1,  1 John 1:7). The blood divided by sprinkling between the parties to the covenant was the seal of the friendship it established or restored. It was under the shelter of this covenant relation that the whole system of Levitical sacrifices was instituted; they availed only for those within its bonds. This conditioned its permanence; it could not abide. It was the prophetic attitude towards sacrifice that initiated the conception of the necessity of a New Covenant which should be ethical and spiritual and therefore permanent and universal. Jeremiah’s prophecy of the New Covenant ( Jeremiah 31:31) is the principal link between the sacrifices of the Law and Christ’s fulfilment and consequent abolition of them. This is a covenant under which God lays His laws upon the hearts of men and inscribes them upon their minds, and undertakes no longer to remember their sins and iniquities ( Hebrews 10:16 ff.,  Hebrews 8:8 ff.). ‘Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin’ ( Hebrews 10:18). A real remission makes all other sacrifices useless. The sacrifice of Christ, ‘the mediator of a new covenant’ ( Hebrews 9:15) by which such a new covenant is established, is the ‘one offering by which he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified’ ( Hebrews 10:14). The prophetic idea of the value of the sacrificial sufferings of the Righteous Servant is thus restored in close association with the use of sacrificial ideas which were the current coin of Jewish thought. Henceforth there was no longer room for the sacrifices of the Law ( Hebrews 10:18). The only sacrifice that retained its permanence for the future was ‘a sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips which make confession to his name’ ( Hebrews 13:15).

(d) Johannine.-These writings probably represent apostolic views on sacrifice towards the close of the Apostolic Age and therefore later than the sources hitherto considered. It is a question for discussion, however, whether the ideas they suggest represent a development of the apostolic thought upon this subject or whether they simply reproduce the common positions to which the Church had become accustomed as traditional interpretations. That so little is said of sacrifice itself and so much of the abiding ethical and spiritual results that Christian thought had learned to connect with the sacrificial death of Christ seems to favour the opinion that the apostolic conception had by this time become more completely separated from the Jewish and more perfectly expressed in purely ethical applications; the mystical rather than the legal aspect of sacrifices prevails. But direct sacrificial terms appear at times in the Gospels, Epistles, and Apocalypse, and probably quite as frequently, proportionately, as in the Pauline writings. (i.) The references to ‘the Lamb of God’ ( John 1:29) predominate. The great saying of John the Baptist, whether critically valid or not, is a good illustration of the Johannine type of reference. This sacrificial symbol is definitely applied to Jesus. Whether the reference is to the Paschal Lamb or to the prophetic sacrificial ideal of the Suffering Servant ( Isaiah 53:11) is not certain. But there is no doubt of the expiatory value attached to the symbol; for the Lamb ‘taketh away the sin of the world’ ( John 1:29; cf.  1 Peter 1:19). Jesus takes away sin by the sacrificial method. Symbol and expiatory idea occur again several times in the Apocalypse, where ‘the Lamb’ is combined with references to the sacrificial blood; ‘a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain’ ( Revelation 5:6;  Revelation 5:12); those who have ‘washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’ ( Revelation 7:14); ‘they overcame because of the blood of the Lamb’ ( Revelation 12:11). Salvation is ascribed unto ‘our God which sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb’ ( Revelation 7:10). These references indicate how easily and naturally sacrificial ideas were associated with the work of Christ and especially with its results. Although textual difficulties attach to ‘the Lamb that hath been slain from the foundation of the world’ ( Revelation 13:8), it may illustrate how influentially the sacrificial idea applied to Christ persisted in apostolic thought. (ii.) The references of Jesus to ‘eating my flesh, and drinking my blood,’ in John 6 are sacrificial; they are interesting as references in apostolic times to sacrifice as the sharing in a common meal with a view to enriching human life by communion. Here such ideas, though presented in sacrificial symbolism, are intensely ethical and spiritual in value. (iii.) Illustrations of the elevation of the sacrificial idea to the sublime acts of ethical self-sacrifice by which Christ accomplished His redemptive mission may be traced in the references to the laying down of his life in vicarious surrender; ‘the lifting up’ ( John 3:14;  John 12:32 f.), ‘the good shepherd’ ( John 10:11), ‘the prophecy of Caiaphas’ ( John 11:50), ‘the corn of wheat’ ( John 12:23 ff.). (iv.) And in  John 17:19 the work of Christ is paralleled, as in Hebrews, by that of the high priest on the Day of Atonement by the use of a word of sacrificial associations. (v.) In the First Epistle of John words and ideas with direct sacrificial implications are frequently observed; ‘the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin’ ( 1 John 1:7); ‘he is the propitiation for our sins’ ( 1 John 2:2,  1 John 3:16,  1 John 4:10); ‘he was manifested to take away sins’ ( 1 John 3:5); with these may be read the distinctive saying of the Apocalypse, ‘Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood’ ( Revelation 1:5). The contribution these sayings make to the interpretation of the apostolic thought respecting sacrifice is that they everywhere appear as familiar Christian phrases, which suggest how surely the transition had been accomplished in the early Church from the legal and preparatory conception of sacrifice to the permanent Christian view which was ethical and spiritual.

(e) Sub-apostolic.-In this period the sacrificial ideas met with in the Apostolic Age continued with but little change; the tendency, judging from post-apostolic development, was, if anything, towards more ceremonial and material views of sacrifice as applied to illustrate or interpret the death of Christ. The Epistle ascribed to Barnabas deals with the subject in its relation to the sacrifices of the Jewish Temple, which are considered to have been abolished in order that ‘the new law of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is without the yoke of necessity, might have a human oblation’ (ii.).

4. Conclusions. -Sacrifice was taken over by the Apostolic Church as a living institution in Judaism; the value of it as a fundamental principle of religious worship was recognized; the retrospect of its history given by the apostolic writers is reverent and appreciative; it was educative. For a time there appears to have been hesitation as to how far its practice should continue in the Christian environment; the primitive Jewish Christians made use of it by worshipping in the Temple at Jerusalem, and in the observance of ritual associated with the sacrificial system elsewhere within the Christian communities. Others with a quicker spiritual instinct reached the conviction that as Christ was the only perfect sacrifice, the material and historical sacrifices were of relative value only, and transient. Vehement controversy arose when the Judaizing party in the Church sought to lay upon Gentile believers the burden of the ceremonial law of Israel. The sharp contentions of the Petrine and Pauline schools ( Acts 15:39), the Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15), the teaching of the Pauline Epistles, particularly Galatians, and ultimately the masterly argument of the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews are witnesses to hesitations and tendencies of thought in apostolic times. Sympathy with the ancient ritual of sacrifice and sanction for its practice appear to have accompanied the emergence of Christianity as a separate institution from the Judaism in which it had its rise. Whilst the great principle that in Christ all preparatory sacrificial institutions were fulfilled found early acceptance, it was only slowly that its many-sided implications were fully acknowledged.

(a) Retention of the Jewish sacrificial system as symbolic.-Even when the sacrificial system as a living institution had passed into a condition of obsolescence in the Apostolic Church, it remained permanently influential as an organized system of illustrations for interpreting the spiritual realities of the work of Christ; it became a system of types and symbols which were of service for the teacher and preacher. Whilst the apostles deliberately set aside the belief in the efficacy of Jewish sacrifices, it is evident not only that they could express the work of Christ in no better terms than those associated with sacrificial ritual, but that they found in these terms some real meaning when applied to the shedding of His blood for the remission of sins. Consequently sacrificial terminology came into easy and common usage, and became in fact the most comprehensible and almost necessary medium for the thought-forms which set forth the inward and abiding realities of the Christian redemption. The evidence for this abounds, as we have seen, in the apostolic literature. How close the symbol moved towards the reality in the apostolic teaching respecting the significance of the death of Christ, how far, that is, His death was truly a sacrifice, involves questions that run up into the problems of the grounds on which the efficacy of His death was ultimately based (see Atonement). So far, however, as its efficacy is based on the meaning of sacrifice in the OT, the divergent positions held as satisfying the terms of apostolic teaching may be broadly represented on the one hand by writers who hold that sacrifice in the OT was substitutionary in the sense of providing satisfaction for sin, and, on the other hand, by writers who maintain that such a view ‘rests upon profound misunderstandings of the nature of the OT sacrifices, and entirely ignores Jewish conceptions of the effect and operation of sacrifice’ (Encyclopaedia Biblicaiv. 4232). The kindred question arising from the apostolic use of sacrificial symbols, as to how far Christ’s death was truly a sacrifice, or merely illustrated by sacrificial language, also leads to opposing replies. On the one hand, it is held that ‘Old Testament conceptions will always be suggestive and historically instructive for the study of Christian teaching, but a direct source of such teaching they cannot be. Christianity rises high above that national and ritualistic religion on whose soil it took its rise’ (Stevens, Christian Doctrine of Salvation, p. 2; cf. W. R. Smith, Prophets of Israel, Edinburgh, 1882, p. 6). On the other hand, W. P. Paterson writes: ‘Nor for the apostolic age was the description of Christ’s death as a sacrifice of the nature of a mere illustration. The apostles held it to be a sacrifice in the most literal sense of the word’ (Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols)iv. 343 f.). One fact stands clearly out. The thought-forms of the Apostolic Church have survived, and are living and apparently necessary thought-forms for modern Christian thinkers. The whole problem of symbolism or typology in Christian teaching will probably receive greater attention in the near future. This will be necessary in order to show how far the detailed correspondences between the precise elements of Jewish ritual and Christian ideas of sacrifice so freely set forth in the apostolic writings afford justification or otherwise for the exegetical methods subsequently adopted by Christian expositors. It is in effect the question whether the minutiae of sacrificial ritual in the ancient economy should be elaborated by them with increasing ingenuity as providentially supplied for literal application as a means of legitimately interpreting the sacrificial work of Christ, or whether the whole Levitical system should be broadly expounded as preparatory because illustrating the sacrificial principle, itself eternal in all true religion, as generally predictive of its final and highest expression in Christ. The latter alternative would have the advantage of co-ordinating the predictive element in sacrificial typology with the same element in prophecy, and applying to it the methods of interpretation which modern critical scholarship has used with success in exhibiting the preparatio evangelica in Messianic prophecies as Christ fulfils them. (These positions are discussed in Cave, Scriptural Doctrine of Sacrifice, pp. 131-173; Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols)iv. 348; Stevens, Christian Doctrine of Salvation, p. 2 ff.; A. S. Peake, The Bible, London, 1913, pp. 347-361.) Another feature of the retention by the apostolic writers of the sacrificial symbols is their effective application to the beautiful ethical ritual that was to become characteristic of the worship and service of the Christian life. Everything in Christianity, in both its Godward and its manward activities, is regarded as essentially sacrificial in spirit. Christ’s sacrifice of Himself was not only the fulfilment of all preceding types; it was itself a type; it was typical of the presentation to God as an offering well pleasing to Him, ‘an odour of a sweet smell,’ of the whole body, soul, and spirit of Christian manhood ( Romans 15:16,  Judges 1:24). The heart of apostolic teaching was that every Christian was crucified with Christ; he died with Him ( Romans 6:4 ff.). But he had also his own cross upon which, as upon an altar, the oblation of his own life was offered; he also was a ‘priest unto God,’ and it was essential that he should have somewhat to offer. Hence the offering of his body ( Romans 12:1), his prayers and his thanksgivings ( Hebrews 13:15), his good deeds (13:16), his gifts of charity ( Philippians 4:18), his entire service for others ( Philippians 2:17), were spoken of as sacrifices after the manner of Christ’s offering of Himself. Such sacrifices were acceptable to God and were a means of blessing for men. St. Paul is bold enough to say that his sufferings on behalf of others were means whereby he could ‘fill up what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh on behalf of his body, which is the church’ ( Colossians 1:24). This saying probably reflects in the Christian atmosphere the later Jewish idea of the value of ‘the sufferings of the saints.’ Its applications in subsequent Christian thought are too subtle and historically too far-reaching for reference here. These and the association of the Eucharist with sacrificial values lie far beyond the limits of apostolic thought both exegetically and historically (cf. T. M. Lindsay, The Church and the Ministry in the Early Centuries, London, 1902, p. 307; J. B. Lightfoot, ‘The Christian Ministry,’ in Philippians6, London, 1881, pp. 261, 264 f.

(b) Fulfilment in the death of Christ.-The dominant and, with the slight exception of the secondary applications referred to, the sole concern of the apostolic mind was to relate the sacrificial ideas of the past to the supreme fulfilment of their meaning in the death of Christ. There can be no doubt that the death of Christ was very early regarded in this light; it corresponded to these ideas as antitype to type. Not only was the whole sacrificial worship thought of as in a general sense typical of Christ’s perfect offering of Himself, but the correspondence between His death and the different elements of the Levitical system is indicated; e.g. covenant sacrifice ( Hebrews 9:15); Passover sacrifice ( 1 Corinthians 5:7); peace offering ( Ephesians 5:2); sin offering ( Romans 8:3,  Hebrews 13:11,  1 Peter 3:18); sacrifices of the Day of Atonement ( Hebrews 9:12 ff.). The ritual acts of the Jewish system are also regarded as having been repeated in the history of Christ’s dying; e.g. the slaying of the spotless lamb ( Revelation 5:6;  Revelation 13:8), the sprinkling of blood in the sin offering ( Hebrews 9:13 ff.), and in the covenant sacrifice ( 1 Peter 1:2); the destruction of the victim without the gate ( Hebrews 13:13). Moreover, spiritual results are attributed so definitely to the fulfilment in Christ’s death of all the suggestions conveyed historically and typically by the ineffective offering continually of animal sacrifices that this event must inevitably issue in-

(c) The abrogation of sacrifice.-In their pre-Christian days the apostolic writers had believed in the efficiency of the Jewish sacrificial system; now they regarded its oblations as of value chiefly because of the witness of these to their own inadequacy. The reality of the inward experience that they had ‘redemption in his blood,’ access in worship into ‘the holiest of all’ through the blood of Jesus, reduced their need of the older sacrifices to a vanishing point. Whilst it may be an open question whether the sacrificial systems of either the Jewish or the Graeco-Roman religion could have maintained their place as permanent institutions in presence of the growing refinement of taste and the more elevated ideas of God, made familiar in the Platonic or Stoic systems of thought current in the Apostolic Age, yet the sure joys of forgiveness of sin, the newness of life and the privileges of direct communion with God in Christ ultimately made it axiomatic for apostolic teaching that all other sacrifices, Jewish or pagan, were abolished in Christ. His sacrifice was effective because it belonged to a different world-the world of heavenly and eternal realities-from that of the temporary, carnal, and ineffectual offering of material gifts. This transition to ethical and final values in sacrifice was accompanied in apostolic thought by a-

(d) Return to prophetic ideas of sacrifice.-These made the real value of sacrifice to depend upon personal relations between God and man, and upon its voluntary quality. This return was, as we have seen, mediated chiefly by means of the influence of the great prophetic figure of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 (cf.  Acts 8:32;  Acts 3:13;  Acts 3:26;  Acts 4:27 f.,  Acts 4:30,  Hebrews 9:28,  1 Peter 2:21-25). It cannot be without significance for the modern mind that sacrificial categories derived from the Levitical order were unable to express fully for the apostolic mind the significance of the sacrificial death of Christ. These were obsolescent and needed the complement and interpretation of the prophetic ideas whose value was permanent. In the recognition of sacrifice as essentially ethical and spiritual the apostolic writers so far anticipated the findings of modern criticism that prophecy, not ceremonial legalism, represented the high-water mark of the religious ideas of Israel. Without implying its priority in time they assumed its priority in value; it was the decline of prophetism and the ascendancy of ritualism which had brought on that night of legalism in later Jewish religion in which the formalism of priest, Pharisee, and scribe, to which apostolic teaching was antithetical, had developed. The exposition of the apostolic meaning of sacrifice has suffered many things, even at the hands of Christian teachers, because the animal victims and not the human servant, law and not prophecy, have given it significance; the OT system of ritual sacrifice has been so fully discussed that the figures of Jeremiah, the suffering Remnant, and the Servant of the Lord, the human forerunners of Christ in sacrificial obedience, have failed in emphasis (cf. G. A. Smith, Modern Criticism and the Preaching of the OT, London, 1901, p. 170 ff.).

Literature.-A. A. Sykes, Essay on the Nature of Sacrifice, London, 1748; W. Magee, Scriptural Doctrines of Atonement and Sacrifice, do., 1812; J. Davison, Origin and Intent of Primitive Sacrifice, do., 1825; P. Fairbairn, The Typology of Scripture, Edinburgh, 1845-47; A. Cave, Scriptural Doctrine of Sacrifice and Atonement, new and revised ed., do., 1890; J. F. D. Maurice, Doctrine of Sacrifice, new ed., London, 1879; H. C. Trumbull, The Blood Covenant and its Bearings on Scripture, New York, 1885; A. Scott, Sacrifice: its Prophecy and Fulfilment, London, 1894; W. Sanday, Different Conceptions of Priesthood and Sacrifice, do., 1900; G. B. Stevens, The Christian Doctrine of Salvation, Edinburgh, 1905, pt. i., chs. i., ii., v., vii., Theology of the NT, do., 1899, pts. iii., v.; G. Milligan, Theology of the Epistle to the Hebrews, do., 1899; T. V. Tymms, Christian Idea of Atonement, London, 1904, lects. v., vii.; C. von Weizsäcker, The Apostolic Age2, do., 1897; W. H. Ward, ‘The NT Doctrine of the Relation of Christ’s Death

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

Every sacrifice was assumed to be vitally connected with the spirit of the worshipper. Unless the heart accompanied the sacrifice God rejected the gift ( Isaiah 1:11;  Isaiah 1:13). Corban included all that was given to the Lord's service, whether firstfruits, tithes ( Leviticus 2:12;  Leviticus 27:30), and gifts, for maintaining the priests and endowing the sanctuary ( Numbers 7:3;  Numbers 31:50), or offerings for the altar. The latter were:

1. Animal

(1) burnt offerings,

(2) peace offerings,

(3) sin offerings.

2. Vegetable:

(1) meat and drink offerings for the altar outside,

(2) incense and meat offerings for the holy place within.

Besides there were the peculiar offerings, the Passover lamb, the scape-goat, and the red heifer; also the Chagigah peace offering during the Passover. (See Passover .) The public sacrifice as the morning and evening lamb, was at the cost of the nation. The private sacrifice was offered by the individual, either by the ordinance of the law or by voluntary gift. Ζebach is the general term for "a slaughtered animal", as distinguished from Minchah , "gift," a vegetable offering, our "meat (I.E. Food) offering." 'Οwlah is the "burnt offering", that which ascends (from 'Alah ) or "is burnt"; also Kaleel , "whole," it all being consumed on the altar; "whole burnt sacrifice." Shelem is the "peace offering". Τodah the "thank offering". Chattath ("Sin And Punishment") the "sin offering". 'Αsham , "trespass offering", accompanied by pecuniary fine or forfeit, because of injury done to some one (It Might Be To The Lord Himself) in respect to property. The burnt offering was wholly burnt upon the altar; the sin offering was in part burnt upon the altar, in part given to the priests, or burnt outside the camp. The peace offering was shared between the altar, the priests, and the sacrificer.

The five animals in Abraham's sacrifice of the covenant ( Genesis 15:9) are the five alone named in the law for sacrifice: the ox, sheep, goat, dove, and pigeon. They fulfilled the three legal conditions: (1) they were clean; (2) used for food; (3) part of the home property of the sacrificers. They must be without spot or blemish; but a disproportioned victim was allowed in a free will peace offering ( Leviticus 7:16-17;  Leviticus 22:23). The age was from a week to three years old;  Judges 6:25 is exceptional. The sacrificer (The Offerer Generally, But In Public Sacrifice The Priests Or Levites) slew the victim at the N. side of the altar. The priest or his assistant held a bowl under the cut throat to receive the blood. The sacrificial meal was peculiar to the peace offering. The priest sprinkled the blood of the burnt offering, the peace offering, and the trespass offering "round about upon the altar."

But in the sin offering, for one of the common people or a ruler, he took of the blood with his finger and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and poured out what blood remained at the bottom of the altar; in the sin offering for the congregation and for the high priest he brought some of the blood into the sanctuary and sprinkled it seven times before the veil, and put some on the horns of the altar of incense ( Leviticus 4:3;  Leviticus 4:6;  Leviticus 4:25;  Leviticus 4:30). The "sprinkling" ( Hizah ) of the blood of the sin offering with the finger or hyssop is distinct from the "casting abroad" (As The Hebrew Zarak Expresses) with the bowl in which the victim's blood was received as it flowed. The Mishna says the temple altar was furnished with two holes at the S.W. corner, through which the blood made its way down to Kedron. The Hebrew for burning ( Hiktir ) on the altar means to send up or make to ascend in smoke, rather than to consume ( Leviticus 1:9). The offering was one of sweet smelling savour sent up in flame to Jehovah, not merely consumed.

The fat burned on the altar was mainly "sweet fat" or Suet , Cheleb ( Exodus 29:13;  Exodus 29:22;  Leviticus 3:4;  Leviticus 3:10;  Leviticus 3:15;  Leviticus 4:9;  Leviticus 7:4), distinct from Mishman or Shameen ( Numbers 12:20). The Cheleb , as the blood, was not to be eaten ( Leviticus 3:17); the other fat might be eaten ( Nehemiah 8:10). A different word, Peder , denotes the fat of the burnt offering, not exclusively selected for the altar as the Cheleb of the other sacrifices ( Leviticus 1:8;  Leviticus 1:12;  Leviticus 8:20). The significance of its being offered to Jehovah was that it is the source of nutriment of which the animal economy avails itself on emergency, so that in emaciation or atrophy it is the first substance that disappears; its development in the animal is a mark of perfection. The shoulder belonging to the officiating priest was "heaved," the breast for the priests in general was "waved" before Jehovah.

The wave offering ( Tenuphah ) was moved to and fro repeatedly; applied to the gold and bronze, also to the Levites, dedicated to Jehovah. The heave offering ( Terumah ) was lifted upward once; applied to all the gifts for the construction of the tabernacle. Abel offered "a more excellent sacrifice than Cain" because in "faith" ( Hebrews 11:4). Now faith must have some revelation from God on which to rest. The revelation was doubtless God's command to sacrifice animals ("the firstlings of the flock") in token of man's forfeiture of life by sin, and a type of the promised Bruiser of the serpent's head ( Genesis 3:15), Himself to be bruised as the one sacrifice. This command is implied in God's having made coats of skins for Adam and Eve ( Genesis 3:21); for these must have been taken from animals slain in sacrifice (for it was not for food they were slain, animal food not being permitted until after the flood; nor for clothing, as clothes might have been made of the fleeces, without the needless cruelty of killing the animal).

A coat of skin put on Adam from a sacrificed animal typified the covering or atonement ( Kaphar ) resulting from Christ's sacrifice ("Atone" Means To Cover) . Wycliffe translated  Hebrews 11:4 "a much more sacrifice," one which partook more largely of the true virtue of sacrifice (Magee). It was not intrinsic merit in "the firstling of the flock" above "the fruit of the ground." It was God's appointment that gave it all its excellency; if it had not been so it would have been presumptuous will worship ( Colossians 2:23) and taking of a life which man had no right over before the flood ( Genesis 9:2-4). Fire was God's mode of "accepting" ("Turn To Ashes" Margin  Psalms 20:3 ) a burnt offering. Cain in unbelieving self righteousness presented merely thank offering, not like Abel feeling his need of the propitiatory sacrifice appointed for sin. God "had respect (first) unto Abel, and (then) to his offering" ( Genesis 4:4). Our works are not accepted by God, until our persons have been so, through faith in His work of grace.

The general prevalence of animal sacrifice among the pagan with the idea of expiation, the victim's blood and death removing guilt and appeasing divine wrath, is evidently a relic from primitive revelation preserved by tradition, though often encrusted over with superstitions. The earliest offering recorded as formally commanded by Jehovah, and of the five animals prescribed, is that of Abraham ( Genesis 15:9-17). The intended sacrifice of Isaac and substitution of a ram vividly represented the one only true sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, in substitution for us (Genesis 22). (See Isaac .) Jacob's sacrifices at Mizpeh when parting with Laban, and at Beersheba when leaving the land of promise, were peace offerings ( Genesis 31:54;  Genesis 46:1). That sacrifice was known to Israel in Egypt appears from Moses alleging as a reason for taking them out of Egypt that they might hold a feast and sacrifice to Jehovah ( Exodus 3:18;  Exodus 5:1;  Exodus 5:3;  Exodus 5:8;  Exodus 5:17).

Jethro's offering burnt offerings and peace offerings when he met Israel shows that sacrifice was common to the two great branches of the Semitic stock ( Exodus 18:12). Balaam's sacrifices were burnt offerings ( Numbers 23:2-3;  Numbers 23:6;  Numbers 23:15); Job's were also ( Job 1:5;  Job 42:7-8). Thus the oldest sacrifices were burnt offerings. The fat is referred to, not the blood. The peace offering is later, answering to a more advanced development of social life. Moses' order of the kinds of sacrifices in Leviticus answers to this historical succession. Therefore, the radical idea of sacrifice is in the burnt offering; figuring THE Ascent of the reconciled, and accepted creature to Jehovah: " 'Olah " ( Leviticus 1:9): his self-sacrificing surrender wholly of body, soul, and spirit to Jehovah. In the sacrifice of Job ( Job 1:5;  Job 42:7-8;  Leviticus 1:4) atonement is connected with the burnt offerings, mediation for the guilty resting on the sacrifice. The blood symbolized the life of the offerer represented by the victim's blood, the material vehicle of life. In contrast with flesh and bones it represents the immaterial principle which survives death ( Leviticus 17:11).

The Passover lamb's sprinkled blood represented its life substituted for the people's life, which therefore escaped ( Exodus 12:7;  Exodus 12:22-23). The first mention of throwing the blood upon the altar (the established mode afterward in the burnt offerings, peace offerings, and trespass offering, but not the sin offering) was when Moses "threw (So Hebrew) half of the blood on the altar" ( Exodus 24:4-8), and after reading the covenant, and after that the people assented, he took the blood in the basins and "threw it on them, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words" ( Hebrews 9:19-20;  Hebrews 13:20).

In the sin offering, on the contrary, part of the blood was offered to Jehovah by being put on the horns of the altar, and on certain occasions by being sprinkled within the tabernacle, while the rest was poured at the altar base ( Leviticus 4:6-7;  Leviticus 4:17-18;  Leviticus 4:25, etc.;  Leviticus 16:18, etc.). In Moses' consecration of the people the blood represented their collective life consecrated to Jehovah; so in the priests' consecration with the ram's blood, and in the blood thrown on their persons, the consecrated life was given back to them to be devoted to Jehovah's service. The Mosaic law accords remarkably with modern research: "the blood is the fountain of life, the first to live, the last to die, the primary seat of the animal soul; it lives, and is nourished of itself and by no other part of the human body" (Harvey); "all other parts of the frame are formed and nourished by it" (John Hunter).

The sin offering was first introduced by the law, the province of which is to awaken in man the consciousness of sin. Every sacrifice was Based on atonement, and at the same time included the idea of the burnt offering, a portion ascending up to Jehovah in the flame ( Leviticus 1:4). The order of the law was: (1) the sin offering, (2) the burnt offering, (3) the peace offering ( Leviticus 8:14-22;  Leviticus 9:8-22;  Leviticus 12:8;  Leviticus 14:19-20). So the spiritual order; the sinner needs

(1) atonement expressed in the sin offering; then

(2) he could in the burnt offering offer himself accepted as a sweet savour ( Psalms 51:19) ascending to God; in virtue of this acceptanc

(3) he enjoyed communion with Jehovah and with God's people in the peace offering.

The burnt offering came before the sin offering in the princes' offerings in dedicating the altar and in reconsecrating the Nazarite, where personal holiness was subordinate to the idea of national consecration ( Numbers 6:14;  Numbers 7:15, etc.;  Ezekiel 45:17). The additions to sacrificial ritual made by the law were the one altar and the national priesthood and the details peculiar to the sin offering and the trespass offering. The law showed that sin must be removed before the sinner can be accepted. Bringing his victim to the tabernacle door he presented it before the Lord, and slew and cut it in pieces. Then his need of a mediator appeared in the priest's taking the victim from the worshipper, sprinkling of the blood within the tabernacle, and putting some upon the horns (The Highest Part Toward Heaven) of the altar, also placing in the altar fire some of the fat a "sweet savour" to Jehovah ( Leviticus 4:31). Thus the priest "made atonement for him."

Except the parts assigned to the altar, the whole flesh of the sin offering (As Being "Most Holy," I.E. By Its Blood Consecrated For Making Atonement) was eaten by the priests only within the sacred precincts ( Leviticus 6:25-30;  Leviticus 17: 11). (Note That Hebrew Chay , Greek Zoee , Means Life Opposed To Death. Νephesh , Psuchee (Greek), Anima (Latin), Is The Soul Distinguished From The Body, The Life In Man Or Beast:  Genesis 2:7 . Ruach , Pneuma (Greek), Is The Spirit Opposed To The Flesh:  Romans 8:4-6 ;  Galatians 5:17 ;  1 Peter 3:18 ; Distinguished From "The Life Of The Flesh," It Is Man'S Highest Part, Holding Communion With God. See  Matthew 6:25 ;  Matthew 10:28 ;  Matthew 10:39 ;  Matthew 16:25-26 ;  Mark 8:35 ;  Luke 12:22-23 ;  1 Corinthians 15:44 ;  1 Thessalonians 5:23 ;  Hebrews 4:12 .)

The offerer's sin, and the victim's freedom from blemish, and the priest's atoning for him, all pointed to the spotless Saviour, at once the perfect Victim and Priest, so entering into God's presence for us as a sweet savour ( Leviticus 4:20;  Leviticus 4:26;  Leviticus 5:6;  Leviticus 6:7;  Leviticus 12:8;  Hebrews 10:19-21;  Ephesians 5:2). The offering of innocent animals in substitution for man is no arbitrary invention; it is founded on man's close connection with animals. He could not offer his own forfeited life to divine justice, but in the life of the innocent fellow creature was found a suitable typical representative. Jesus Himself is called "the Lamb of God," "the Firstborn of every creature." The propitiatory, dedicatory, and eucharistic elements combine to give the perfect idea of sacrifice. Anyone divorced from the other two would convey a wrong idea. The propitiatory alone would give the idea of atonement without consequent repentance, faith, and thankful loving obedience.

Dedication alone would ignore God's holy justice, between which and our sin there must be an insuperable barrier without atonement. Thanksgiving alone would make gifts the essence of God's service, as the pagan bribe their gods by vows and offerings. The prophets take for granted sacrificial propitiation, and add that self-dedicating obedience which the Bunt offering taught is what the worshippers must spiritually aim at, else their sacrifice is vain ( 1 Samuel 15:22;  Isaiah 1:10-20;  Jeremiah 7:22-23;  Ezekiel 20:39-44;  Hosea 6:6;  Amos 5:21-27;  Micah 6:6-8;  Psalms 40:8-11;  Psalms 50:13-14;  Psalms 51:16-17).

The sacrifice had no intrinsic efficacy, and could never "make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience" ( Hebrews 9:9;  Hebrews 10:1;  Hebrews 10:11); but they vividly typified "Christ who through the eternal Spirit offering Himself without spot to God purges the conscience front dead works to serve the living God" ( Hebrews 9:14); so that we can "draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience" ( Hebrews 10:22). Their need of repetition implies their intrinsic incompleteness ( Hebrews 10:1-3); also "bulls" and "goats" are so much inferior to man that "it is not possible their blood could take away sins" ( Hebrews 10:4). Christ's atonement was made and accepted in God's foreordaining before the foundation of the world ( 1 Peter 1:20;  Revelation 13:8), so that penitent and believing offerers of sacrifices in the Old Testament were accepted on the ground of it.

Their victims were arbitrary and inadequate representatives of the offerer; but He is one with man the offerer, and one with God the Accepter of the sacrifice, so our true and only mediating Priest, representative Offerer, and Victim ( Hebrews 5:1-4), ordained by God with an oath a High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, "tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin," yet as Son of God above all creatures, ever living to intercede for us, opening once for all access into the holiest by a new and living way (not by dead sacrifce:  Hebrews 10:19-22;  Hebrews 4:14-16). His vicarious sacrifice is asserted ( Isaiah 53:6), "the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all"; ( Isaiah 53:12) "He bore the sin of many."  Matthew 20:28, "a ransom ( Lutron , Apolutroosis ;  Romans 3:25;  1 Corinthians 1:30) for ( Anti , substituted for) many."

He is the Atonement for sinners as such, still enemies to God ( Romans 5:6-8); the Propitiation ( Hilasmos , Hilasteerion ;  Romans 3:24;  1 John 2:2), changing God's relation to man from estrangement to union from wrath to love ( Isaiah 12:1-2) only remember it was God's love that first provided this sacrifice to make scope for love being harmonized with His unchangeable hatred of sin. (Compare  Hebrews 9:7-12 on the typical sin offering on the day of atonement; the inauguration of the Mosaic covenant,  Hebrews 9:13-23; the Passover,  1 Corinthians 5:7; the burning of the public or priestly sin offerings without the camp,  Hebrews 13:10-13; the altar of sacrifice typifying His passion, which "we have" as a present and us" though He "knew no sin,"  2 Corinthians 5:21). His self-dedicating obedience, answering to the burnt offering, is our pattern next after having appropriated the Atonement ( Hebrews 2:10;  Hebrews 5:7-9;  Hebrews 10:7-9).

As He removed our guilt by His death, so by His obedience He fulfills all which the first Adam left undone ( Romans 5:19, though His "obedience" in this verse includes His atoning death;  Philippians 2:8;  John 10:18). Our obedience is as necessary a complement of our faith in His atonement as the burnt offering was of the sin offering and Christ's self dedicating obedience was of His atoning sacrifice ( Romans 6:6;  Romans 12:1;  Galatians 2:20;  2 Corinthians 1:5;  Colossians 1:24;  1 John 3:16;  2 Timothy 4:6;  Philippians 2:17). Christ's sin offering was made once for all, rending the veil between man and heaven; our continual burnt offering is accepted now through the mediation of our ever living Intercessor within the veil; the incense of tits merits makes our prayers a sweet savour unto God ( Revelation 8:4;  Hebrews 9:24-28;  Hebrews 4:14-16;  Hebrews 6:19-20;  Hebrews 7:25).

Our peace offerings are sacrifices of praise, almsgiving, and love ( Philippians 4:18;  Hebrews 13:15-16). Atonement by Christ's sacrifice as substitute for the penalty of God's broken law was necessary in the interests of God's moral government of the universe, to show His displeasure against sin. "It is the blood that maketh atonement by means of (Hebrew) the soul" ( Leviticus 17:11). The ceremonies of sacrifice were:

(1) the victim's presentation at the altar;

(2) the laying on of hands, signifying consecration to death ( Leviticus 24:14);

(3) slaughtering, being the completion of the penal death, whereby the blood became the medium of expiation;

(4) the sprinkling of the blood against the altar, completing the expiation;

(5) the burning of the flesh;

(6) the sacrificial meal at the sanctuary.

That sacrifices were offered for moral as well as for ceremonial transgressions appears in  Leviticus 6:2-7;  Leviticus 19:20;  Leviticus 19:22. The vicarious nature of sacrifice appears in  Leviticus 1:4;  Leviticus 16:21-22;  Isaiah 53:4-6;  Isaiah 53:8; Isaiah 53:10-12. Hebrew Nasa' (compare  Leviticus 5:1;  Leviticus 5:17;  Leviticus 17:16;  Leviticus 20:19-20;  Leviticus 24:15;  Leviticus 10:17) implies He not only entered into the fellowship of our sufferings, but took upon Himself the sufferings which we had to bear in order to take them away.  Matthew 8:17; He bore their punishment and atoned for them. So more explicitly Cabal (compare  1 Peter 2:25).

In  Matthew 26:28 Christ declares His blood not merely ratifies the new testament or covenant, but was "shed for many for the remission of sins," referring back to the Old Testament ( Exodus 24:5-8;  Hebrews 9:18-21). John the Baptist calls Him "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" ( John 1:29). The flocks passing the ford where John baptized, on their way to Jerusalem; suggested the image the Lamb led to the "slaughter," not merely the shearing ( Isaiah 53:7). The Passover was near ( John 2:13); Christ combined the Passover lamb, the atonement scape-goat ( Leviticus 16:21), and the morning and evening sacrifice of a lamb. The time of John's pointing to the Lamb of God was about "the tenth hour," just after the evening sacrifice ( John 1:39;  Revelation 5:8-12), a coincidence connecting Him with the typical daily sacrifice. The Passover was sacrificial: for it is called

(1) Qorban ( Numbers 9:7), an offering to Jehovah, and

(2) Zebach , the special designation of a bloody sacrifice. (See Passover .)

(3) Philo and Josephus confirm  Mark 14:12 margin and  1 Corinthians 5:7, that it is a sacrifice.

(4) It had the notes of a sacrifice; the blood was poured out and sprinkled on the altar ( Exodus 23:18;  Exodus 34:25;  2 Chronicles 30:15;  2 Chronicles 35:11.

(5) The Mishna and Karaite Jews, who reject all tradition not founded on Scripture, say the fat and entrails were burnt on the altar.

(6) Priests offered it at Hezekiah's Passover.

Other leading passages representing Christ's death as a sacrifice are  1 Corinthians 15:3;  Hebrews 1:3 (Greek "made purgation of (our) sins");  Hebrews 9:12-13;  Hebrews 9:14-28;  Hebrews 10:10;  Hebrews 10:12;  Hebrews 10:18;  1 Peter 1:18-20, "not redeemed with silver but ... lamb," etc., i.e. not with the daily offered lamb purchased with the half-shekel soul-redemption money of every Israelite ( Exodus 30:12-16), but, etc. As "Christ offered Himself to God" He was a real priest, having "somewhat to offer" ( Hebrews 8:3); but if He had only a figurative sacrifice to offer He would have no superiority to the Aaronic priests ( Revelation 1:5;  Revelation 1:8-9;  Revelation 1:12). The Aaronic sacrifices were allusions to Christ's one atonement, not His to them. The epistle to the Hebrew makes the legal sacrifices to have no inherent efficacy, but Christ's sacrifice on the contrary to be intrinsically efficacious. The analogy between the Aaronic sacrifices and Christ's does not mean that both are empty figures, or that they exactly resemble one another, but that they have similarity in their relations.

(1) Sacrifice restored an Israelite to his status in the theocracy, forfeited by sin; it was his public confession of guilt, satisfaction of the law, and means of removing legal disability, i.e. "sanctifying to the purifying of the flesh."

(2) Offering sacrifice in penitence and faith he received atonement or reconciliation with God, on the ground of the foreordained sacrifice of Christ.

This second effect must have pertained to John's sacrifice who had no status in the Hebrew theocracy to fall from or be restored to. Christ's death was not only a sacrifice for sin, but a substitution, propitiation, and ransom to God for us:  Matthew 20:28 ( Anti );  Mark 10:45;  Ephesians 1:7;  1 Timothy 2:6;  1 Corinthians 7:23;  Galatians 3:13;  2 Peter 2:1. There was a claim against man, Christ's death met that claim, therefore we are freed froth it. God Himself provided the ransom ( John 3:16;  2 Corinthians 5:19), so that He is not only "just" but also "the justifier of him that believes in Jesus" ( Romans 3:26). Christ's work has that excellency which God's unerring justice has seen to be an actual doing of that which was requisite to compensate for the injury perpetrated, and to restore the moral harmony which had been violated; so it is rightly called a "satisfaction" (Pye Smith), though the term is not in Scripture.

Christ did not need to undergo the very penalty we incurred, namely, eternal death, but such a penalty as, taking into account Who and what He was, He on our behalf must suffer. The fact of God's appointment of Him as our atonement guarantees that His death is an amply sufficient satisfaction. There was a real and intrinsic worthiness in Jesus' propitiation which was the reason of the divine appointment and justifies it. We cannot define the value of Christ's death, nor its exact mode of satisfying divine justice, but we know it was "precious blood" in God's sight, and therefore appointed as the propitiation adequate to atone for our sin ( 1 Peter 1:19;  1 Corinthians 6:20;  Romans 8:32;  Hebrews 9:14). God's just wrath against sin is as real as His love to us ( Psalms 7:11;  John 3:36). The sacrificial atonement or reconciliation covers sin out of God's sight, so that wrath is removed, and He "who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity" sees us in Christ at peace with Him ( Isaiah 12:1-3;  Psalms 32:1;  Romans 3:24-25). (See Atonement ; Reconciliation; Propitiation )

Christ's sacrifice did not make God placable, but was God's own appointed means through which to bestow mercy ( Hebrews 2:17;  1 John 1:7;  1 John 2:2;  1 John 4:10), and to produce reconciliation between God and man ( Romans 5:10-11;  Colossians 1:20;  Ephesians 2:16). At-one may be from two at variance becoming at one, or from German aussohnen, "to expiate." It is objected that it is opposed to God's justice that the innocent should suffer for the guilty; but in the daily experience of life and the course of nature the innocent often suffer, sometimes voluntarily, oftener involuntarily, for the guilty; philanthropists, patriots, and missionaries voluntarily. Christ's knowing and voluntary suffering in our stead is palpably no injustice ( John 10:17-18;  Psalms 40:6-8). The vast benefit to be gained for man vindicates it as lawful, as certainly it was in His power, to lay down His life for us. It is objected guilt cannot be transferred, it is purely personal. True: Jesus was personally innocent, but it is just Because He was so, and therefore free, which other men through sin are not, that He could atone for sin.

The animal sacrifice similarly was innocent and spotless, but appointed to die for the guilty. The transfer of guilt to the Saviour was only legal, not moral; imputation, not pollution; He took the penalty, not the moral consciousness of our guilt, not the stain but the liability to suffer, the obligation to die. A solvent man, generously paying for an insolvent, does not become insolvent himself, but takes the obligation that really belongs to the debtor. Christ became "sin" and a "curse" for us (i.e. took on Him sin's penal consequences), but not a sinner ( 2 Corinthians 5:21;  Galatians 3:13). Hence the serpent of brass lifted up by Moses was the type of Christ, for it had the form of the animal cursed above all beasts of the field, but not the venom; harmless in itself, but resembling the deadly serpent of the wilderness. So Christ was "made in the likeness of sinful flesh," but not in sinful flesh. He died "for sin," all our sin being laid on Him, though no sin was in Him ( Numbers 21:9;  John 3:14;  Romans 8:3). It is also objected that the atonement is opposed to God's love and goodness.

But in the moral and physical world we see daily sure punishment following violation of its laws; this attests what Scripture asserts, namely, the reality of God's judicial anger. The flood that destroyed the antediluvians, and the fire that consumed Sodom, contradict the notion that punishment's sole end is the sinner's reformation. Since then God's benevolence is consistent with punishment following sin, it cannot be inconsistent with His appointing His Son's voluntary, sacrificial, substitutional, atoning death to be the means of harmonizing divine justice with mercy to the sinner, and besides of effectively renewing and reforming the sinner, just because His death was of that atoning, redeeming nature. It is objected also that the atonement is unfavourable to virtue, and leads men to trust in another's work, instead of amending their lives. But God's wrath against sin, so awfully shown in Christ's death, never leads men, really believing in it, to trifle with sin; and His love first to us, when felt, constrains us to love Him in turn and try to obey Him.

Others object we are taught to forgive because God has forgiven us, but if the atonement be true we ought to imitate God in exacting from our brother the uttermost farthing. We answer: the atonement is the act of God as a holy Judge, but the pardon comes to us perfectly gratuitous; in this its effect, viewed from our human standpoint, God's forgiving mercy to us is our model for forgiving others. The judge's and magistrate's duly is often not to forgive but punish; only in our private relations to fellow men is forgiveness our duty, as opposed to personal revenge. The Socinian view derogates from the love of God: for if Christ were mere man, His death was His own act, not God's; just as any virtuous deed or death of a good man for others. Suffering lighting on an innocent man can give no declaration of God's readiness to pardon the guilty on repentance. No view but that of His death being expiatory can make it a manifestation of God's love ( 1 John 4:9-10).

If love be estimated by the greatness of its gifts, God's gift of His divine Son to die in our stead is an infinitely greater manifestation of love than that of His allowing a good man to die in self sacrifice. Socinianism sacrifices God's justice, and so lowers His moral character of holiness of which His justice is one phase, and confounds the eternal distinctions of right and wrong. A human judge who lets criminals escape punishment is counted unjust, however merciful criminals might call him. Love of right is not a whit more virtuous than hatred of evil. A being without anger against wrong would be morally imperfect ( Mark 3:5). If God, moreover, were a God of benevolence only, one cannot see why Christ should have been allowed by God to die at all. If it be unjust to punish the innocent for the guilt of others, must it not be much more unjust to punish him for no guilt whatever?

Again, if the object of His death was only to show an example of fortitude, patience, and self denial, since there is nothing of this kind in the sacrificial ritual of the Old Testament, there is no analogy between the sacrifices and Christ's death, and the sacrificial Old Testament language applied to Christ's death is meaningless. The Homily of Salvation truly says "reason is satisfied by God's great wisdom in this mystery of our redemption, who hath so tempered His justice and mercy together, that He would neither by His justice condemn us unto the everlasting captivity of the devil and his prison of hell, remediless forever without mercy, nor by His mercy deliver us clearly without justice or payment of a just ransom; but with His endless mercy He joined His most upright and equal justice." See Hollywood's admirable "Bishop Jeune's Prize Essay on the Atonement," from which the latter part of the above is mainly condensed.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [3]

From earliest times people expressed their devotion to God through presenting to him offerings and sacrifices. Some sacrifices expressed thanks, as people presented to God the best of their crops or animals ( Genesis 4:4;  Genesis 8:20). Others emphasized fellowship, both with God and with others, as the offerers ate part of the sacrifice in a meal with relatives and friends ( Genesis 31:54). Other sacrifices were for forgiveness of sins, a slaughtered animal bearing the penalty that the offerers, because of their sins, should have suffered ( Job 42:8). These basic elements of the sacrifices were later developed in the ceremonial law of Israel.

Offerers and their offerings

Whether before or after the institution of Israel’s ceremonial law, the heart attitude of the worshipper was always more important than his gifts. Abel offered his sacrifice in humble faith and God accepted it. Cain offered his sacrifice in a spirit of arrogance and God refused it. Even if Cain’s sacrifice, like Abel’s, had involved the shedding of blood, it would still have been unacceptable to God, because Cain himself was ungodly and unrepentant ( Genesis 4:2-5;  Genesis 4:7;  Hebrews 11:4;  1 John 3:12).

The Bible’s first specific statement concerning the particular significance of blood did not come till the time of Noah. The first clear revelation of the value of blood for atonement had to wait till the time of Moses ( Genesis 9:3-6;  Leviticus 17:11).

God revealed his purposes progressively as people were able to understand them, but always his acceptance of the offering depended on the spiritual condition of the offerer. The sacrificial system of Israel did not ignore this principle; rather it had this principle as its basis. Therefore, when people carried out the rituals mechanically, without corresponding faith and uprightness, the prophets condemned their sacrifices as worthless ( Isaiah 1:13-20;  Amos 5:21-24;  Micah 6:6-8).

God’s gift of the blood of atonement

The Passover in Egypt marked an important stage in God’s revelation of the special significance of blood. Blood was a symbol of life; shed blood was therefore a symbol of death; in particular, death through killing ( Genesis 9:4-6;  Numbers 35:19;  Numbers 35:33; see Blood ). In the original Passover, the blood of the lamb was important, not because of any chemical property in the blood itself, but because it represented the animal’s death. The blood around the door showed that an animal had been killed instead of the person under judgment ( Exodus 12:13).

In Israel’s sacrificial system God provided a way of atonement through the shed blood of animals. Through sin people were separated from God and under the penalty of death, and there was nothing they could do to save themselves. There could be no forgiveness of their sin, no releasing them from its consequences, apart from death. God, however, provided a way of salvation through the blood (that is, the death) of a guiltless substitute. The blood of atonement was not an offering people made in the hope of squeezing pardon from an unwilling God. On the contrary it was the merciful gift of a God who was eager to forgive ( Leviticus 17:11). The escaping of divine punishment was not something that sinners brought about, but was due to God himself (see Propitiation ).

Although an animal substitute had to bear the death penalty so that the sinner could be forgiven ( Hebrews 9:22), the blood of an animal could not itself take away sins ( Hebrews 10:4). Nevertheless, it enabled the sinner to see that God, in forgiving sins, was not ignoring those sins but dealing with them. The only blood that can bring forgiveness of sins is the blood of Jesus – his death on the cross. God knew of Jesus’ atoning death even though it had not yet occurred ( 1 Peter 1:18-20), and because of that he was able to ‘pass over’, temporarily, the sins of believers of former generations. He forgave them, one might say, on credit, for their sins could not be actually removed till Christ died ( Romans 3:25-26;  Hebrews 9:15).

The sacrificial system helped people see what salvation involved, but it was not in itself a means of salvation. Under the old covenant, as under the new, people were saved not through their works, but through the grace of a merciful God. The repentant sinner could do nothing but accept God’s salvation by faith ( Romans 4:13;  Romans 4:16;  Romans 4:22;  Galatians 3:17-19;  Ephesians 2:8-9). The benefit of the sacrificial system was that it gave people a means of communication with God, by which they could demonstrate their faith and seek God’s forgiveness ( 1 Samuel 1:3;  Isaiah 56:7).

Ritual requirements

God set out the legal requirements for the various sacrifices in great detail, and these details should have helped the Israelites understand the meaning of what they were doing. The sacrificial animal, for instance, had to be without defects, to symbolize that it was free from condemnation and therefore fit to be the guiltless substitute for the guilty sinner ( Leviticus 1:3;  Leviticus 1:10; see Lamb ).

No matter what people offered, it had to be their own property, so that it had meaning as part of them personally, so to speak. As an offering, it was a personal possession they gave. As a sacrifice, it cost them something. It impressed upon them that they could not treat the removal of sin lightly. Devotion to God was not to be treated cheaply.

At the same time God did not want to drive people into poverty. In many cases he therefore allowed grades of offerings, so that people could make offering that were suited to their varying financial capacities ( Leviticus 1:3;  Leviticus 1:10;  Leviticus 1:14;  Leviticus 5:7-13).

By laying their hands on the animal’s head, offerers indicated that it bore their guilt and they wanted God to accept it on their behalf ( Leviticus 1:4;  Leviticus 16:21). The unpleasant task of killing the animal (which was carried out beside the altar, not on it) reminded them of the horror of sin ( Leviticus 1:11). The priest collected the blood in a basin to apply to various places as a visible sign that a life had been taken to bear the curse and penalty of sin. Unused blood was poured out on the ground beside the altar ( Leviticus 1:5;  Leviticus 4:7;  Leviticus 16:14).

Some burning occurred with all the sacrifices, though the amount that was burnt varied. The parts to be burnt were usually burnt on the altar of sacrifice, though in some cases they were burnt in an isolated place away from the central camp ( Leviticus 1:9;  Leviticus 2:2;  Leviticus 3:3-5;  Leviticus 4:10-12;  Leviticus 4:35;  Leviticus 7:5). The portions not burnt were eaten, sometimes by the worshippers and the priests (including the priests’ families) and sometimes by the priests alone ( Leviticus 2:3;  Leviticus 2:10;  Leviticus 6:26;  Leviticus 7:15-17;  Leviticus 7:32;  Leviticus 22:11).

Five main offerings

Israel’s sacrificial system had five main categories of sacrifice, though there were variations of these on certain occasions. The major categories were the burnt offering (Leviticus 1;  Leviticus 6:8-13), the cereal (or grain) offering (Leviticus 2;  Leviticus 6:14-23), the peace (or fellowship) offering (Leviticus 3;  Leviticus 7:11-38), the sin offering ( Leviticus 4:1-5;  Leviticus 4:13;  Leviticus 6:24-30) and the guilt (or repayment) offering ( Leviticus 5:14-19;  Leviticus 6:1-7;  Leviticus 7:1-10). Although the different types of sacrifices were for different purposes, elements of atonement and devotion were associated with them all ( Leviticus 1:5;  Leviticus 2:2;  Leviticus 3:2;  Leviticus 3:5;  Leviticus 4:5-7;  Leviticus 5:18).

The burnt offering, so called because the whole animal was burnt upon the altar, indicated the complete consecration, or self-dedication, of the offerer to God ( Leviticus 1:9; cf.  Genesis 8:20;  Genesis 22:2;  Exodus 10:25;  Romans 12:1). A burnt offering, offered on behalf of the entire nation, was kept burning on the altar constantly, as a symbol of the nation’s unbroken dedication to God ( Exodus 29:38-42).

The cereal (or grain) offering and its associated wine (or drink) offering demonstrated thanks to God for his daily provision of food. Cereal and wine offerings were not offered alone, but always with burnt offerings or peace offerings. The wine was poured over the animal sacrifice on the altar, and a handful of cereal was burnt with it ( Leviticus 2:4-10;  Leviticus 23:13;  Leviticus 23:18;  Numbers 15:1-10).

The peace offering expressed fellowship, a truth demonstrated in the meal that accompanied it. After initial blood ritual, burning ritual and presentation of a portion to the priest, the worshipper joined with his family, friends, the poor and the needy in eating the remainder of the animal in a joyous feast ( Leviticus 7:11-18;  Deuteronomy 12:7;  Deuteronomy 12:12;  1 Samuel 9:12-13).

The sin offering was compulsory for those who became aware that they had broken one of God’s laws. In cases of sin by priests or the nation as a whole, the priests sprinkled the animal’s blood inside the Holy Place, burnt parts of the animal on the altar of sacrifice, and burnt the remainder outside the camp ( Leviticus 4:7;  Leviticus 4:10;  Leviticus 4:12). In cases of sin by private citizens, the priests sprinkled the blood at the altar of sacrifice, burnt parts of the animal on the altar, and ate what remained ( Leviticus 4:27-30;  Leviticus 6:26;  Leviticus 6:30).

The guilt offering was offered in those cases where the person’s wrongdoing could be given a monetary value. Such wrongdoing would include forgetting to pay tithes, causing damage to property, or failing to pay for goods ( Leviticus 5:15;  Leviticus 6:1-5). The person presented an offering (similar to the sin offering for a private citizen) and repaid the loss, along with a fine of one fifth of its value ( Leviticus 5:16;  Leviticus 6:5).

Limitations of the offerings

In general, the sacrifices detailed in the Israelite law were available only for unintentional sins. None of the five categories of sacrifice set out a procedure to deal with deliberate sin, even though that is the sin that most troubles the repentant sinner ( Leviticus 4:2;  Leviticus 4:13;  Leviticus 4:22;  Leviticus 4:27;  Leviticus 5:15;  Leviticus 5:17;  Numbers 15:30). The sacrificial system demonstrated that no system could solve the problem of sin or provide automatic cleansing. Sinners had no right to forgiveness. They could do nothing except turn to God and cast themselves on his mercy ( 2 Samuel 24:14;  Psalms 51:1-2;  Psalms 51:16-17).

This does not mean that the sacrifices were useless or could be ignored. They still provided a means of communication by which repentant sinners could approach God, express their repentance and ask God’s forgiveness. The sacrifices pointed beyond themselves to something higher, the merciful love of God ( Micah 7:18-20).

Cleansing and response

Animal sacrifices could not in themselves remove sin ( Hebrews 10:1-4), but they at least showed that sacrificial death was necessary for the removal of sin ( Hebrews 9:22). The one sacrificial death that has achieved what all the Old Testament sacrifices could not achieve is the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 10:11-14;  Hebrews 10:17-18). Unlike the animal sacrifices, Christ’s sacrifice removes sin, cleanses the conscience, brings total forgiveness and secures eternal redemption ( Hebrews 9:9-14;  Hebrews 9:25-26;  Hebrews 10:14-18).

The book of Hebrews goes to some length to display the perfection of Christ’s work, presenting him as both priest and sacrifice. In particular, it contrasts his sacrificial work with the sacrificial work of the Israelite high priest on the Day of Atonement ( Hebrews 9:6-7;  Hebrews 9:11-12;  Hebrews 9:25-26; see DAY OF Atonement; Priest )

Besides being the only way of atonement, the sacrifice of Christ is an example to Christians of the sort of life they should live. Christ’s sacrifice was a willing sacrifice, an act of obedience and love. God wants his people to show their obedience and love by willingly sacrificing themselves for the sake of others ( Ephesians 5:2;  Ephesians 5:25; cf.  John 15:12-13;  Romans 5:8;  Hebrews 10:7;  Hebrews 10:10).

The sacrifices of Christians, then, are spiritual sacrifices, which are offered in response to God’s love and mercy ( 1 Peter 2:5). They are not atoning sacrifices, for Christ’s one sacrifice has already brought complete release from sin’s penalty ( Hebrews 10:17-18). Christians offer to God the sacrifices of worship, praise and service ( Romans 15:16;  Philippians 4:18;  Hebrews 13:15). But they will be able to present such sacrifices properly only when they have first given themselves to God as living sacrifices ( Romans 12:1;  2 Corinthians 8:5).

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Sacrifice. The peculiar features of each kind of sacrifice are referred to under their respective heads.

I. (A) Origin of Sacrifice. - The universal prevalence of sacrifice 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 which cannot be determined.

(B) Ante-Mosaic History of Sacrifice. - In examining the various sacrifices recorded in Scripture, before the establishment of the law, we find that the words specially denoting expiatory sacrifice are not applied to them. This fact does not at all show, that they were not actually expiatory, but it justified the inference that this idea was not then the prominent one in the doctrine of sacrifice. The sacrifices of Cain and Abel are called Minehah , and appear to have been Eucharistic. Noah's,  Genesis 8:20, and Jacob's at Mizpah, were at the institution of a covenant; and may be called Federative. In the Burnt 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. The same is the case in the words of Moses to Pharaoh.  Exodus 10:26. Here the main idea is at least deprecatory.

(C) The Sacrifices of the Mosaic Period. - These are inaugurated by the offering of the Passover , and the sacrifice of  Exodus 24:1. The Passover , indeed, is unique in its character, 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. The law of Leviticus now unfolds distinctly, the various forms of sacrifice:

(a) The Burnt Offering: Self-dedicatory.

(b) The Meat [Meal] Offering: (unbloody): Eucharistic.

(c) The Sin Offering; The Trespass Offering: Expiatory. To these may be added,

(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 8:1, we find these offered in what became, ever afterward, their appointed order. First came the Sin Offering, to prepare access to God; next came the Burnt Offering, to mark their dedication to his service; and third came the Meat [Meal] Offering of thanksgiving. Henceforth, the sacrificial system was fixed in all its parts, until he should come whom it typified.

(D) Post-Mosaic Sacrifices. - It will not be necessary to pursue, in detail, the history of the Poet Mosaic sacrifice, for its main principles were now fixed forever. The regular sacrifices in the Temple service were -

(a) Burnt Offerings.

1, The daily Burnt Offerings,  Exodus 29:38-42;

2, The double Burnt Offerings on the Sabbath ,  Numbers 28:9-10;

3, The Burnt Offerings at the great festivals;  Numbers 26:11;  Numbers 29:39.

(b) Meat [Meal] Offerings.

1, The daily Meat [Meal] Offerings accompanying the daily Burnt Offerings,  Exodus 29:40-41;

2, The shewbread, renewed every Sabbath ,  Leviticus 24:6;  Leviticus 24:9]

3, The special Meat [Meal] Offerings at the Sabbath , and the great festivals,  Numbers 28:1;  Numbers 29:1;

4, The first-fruits, at the Passover ,  Leviticus 23:10-14; at Pentecost ,  Leviticus 23:17-20; the firstfruits of the dough and threshing-floor at the harvest time.  Numbers 15:20-21;  Deuteronomy 26:1-11.

(c) Sin Offerings.

1, Sin offering each new moon,  Numbers 28:15;

2, Sin offerings at the Passover , Pentecost , Feast of Trumpets , and Feast of 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 for the people and of the bullock for the priest himself, on the Great Day of Atonement .  Leviticus 16:1;

(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.

II. By the order of sacrifice, in its perfect form, as in  Leviticus 8:1, it is clear that the Sin Offering occupies the most important place; the Burnt Offering comes next, and the Meat [Meal] Offering or Peace Offering comes 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 Burnt 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.

The essential difference between heathen views of sacrifice, and the scriptural doctrine of the Old Testament, is not to be found in its denial of any of these views. 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.

First, that 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.

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.

From the prophets and the Epistle to the Hebrews, we learn that the Sin Offering represented that covenant as broken by man, and as knit together again, by God's appointment through 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. 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 ceremonial and meaning of the Burnt 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; but 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,  Romans 12:1, the death of the victim was, so to speak, an incidental feature.

The meat [or, more properly, the meal] offering, the peace or thank offering, the firstfruits, 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.

The characteristic ceremony in the Peace Offering was the eating of the flesh by the sacrificer. It betokened the enjoyment of communion with God. 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. All three, probably, were more or less implied, in each sacrifice. Each element predominating in its turn. The Epistle to the Hebrews contains the key of the whole sacrificial doctrine. The object of the Epistle is to show the typical and probationary character of sacrifices, and to assert that, in virtue of it alone, they had a spiritual meaning. Our Lord is declared, (see  1 Peter 1:20, "to have been foreordained" as a sacrifice, "before the foundation of the world," or, as it is more strikingly expressed in  Revelation 13:8, "slain from the foundation of the world."

The material sacrifices represented this great atonement as already made and accepted in God's foreknowledge; and to those who grasped the ideas of sin, pardon and self-dedication symbolized in them, they were means of entering into the blessings which the one true sacrifice alone procured. They could convey nothing in themselves, yet as types they might, if accepted by a true though necessarily imperfect faith, be means of conveying, in some degree, the blessings of the antitype. It is clear that the atonement in the Epistle to the Hebrews, as in the New Testament generally, is viewed in a twofold light.

On the one hand, it is set forth distinctly as a vicarious sacrifice, which was rendered necessary by the sin of man, and in which the Lord "bare the sins of many." It is its essential characteristic that, in it, he stands absolutely alone offering his sacrifice, without any reference to the faith or the conversion of men. In it, he stands out alone as the mediator between God and man; and his sacrifice is offered once for all, never to be imitated or repeated. Now, this view of the atonement is set forth in the Epistle as typified by the Sin Offering.

On the other hand, the sacrifice of Christ is set forth to us, as the completion of that perfect obedience to the will of the Father, which is the natural duty of sinless man. The main idea of this view of the atonement is representative, rather than vicarious. It is typified by the Burnt Offering. As without the Sin Offering of the cross, this, our Burnt Offering, would be impossible, so also, without the Burnt Offering, the Sin Offering will, to us, be unavailing.

With these views of our Lord's sacrifice on earth, as typified in the Levitical sacrifices on the outer alter, is also to be connected, the offering of his intercession for us in heaven, which was represented by the incense. The typical sense of the Meat [Meal] Offering, or Peace Offering, is less connected, the sacrifice of Christ himself , than with those sacrifices of praise, thanksgiving, charity and devotion which we, as Christians, offer to God, and "with which he is well pleased,"  Hebrews 13:15-16, as with "an odor of sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God."  Philippians 4:18.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

An offering made to God on his altar, by the hand of a lawful minister. A sacrifice differed from an oblation; it was properly the offering up of a life; whereas an oblation was but a simple offering or gift. There is every reason to believe that sacrifices were from the first of divine appointment; otherwise they would have been a superstitious will-worship, which God could not have accepted as he did. See Abel . Adam and his sons, Noah and his descendents, Abraham and his posterity, Job and Melchizedek, before the Mosaic law, offered to God real sacrifices. That law did but settle the quality, the number, and other circumstances of sacrifices. Every one was priest and minister of his own sacrifice; at least, he was at liberty to choose what priest he pleased in offering his victim. Generally, this honor belonged to the head of a family; hence it was the prerogative of the firstborn. But after Moses this was, among the Jews, confined to the family of Aaron.

There was but one place appointed in the law for the offering of sacrifices by the Jews. It was around the one altar of the only true God in the tabernacle, and afterwards in the temple, that all his people were to unite in his worship,  Leviticus 17:4,9   Deuteronomy 12:5-18 . On some special occasions, however, kings, prophets, and judges sacrificed elsewhere,  Judges 2:5   6:26   13:16   1 Samuel 7:17   1 Kings 3:2,3   18:33 . The Jews were taught to cherish the greatest horror of human sacrifices, as heathenish and revolting,  Leviticus 20:2   Deuteronomy 12:31   Psalm 106:37   Isaiah 66:3   Ezekiel 20:31 .

The Hebrews had three kinds of sacrifices:

1. The burnt-offering or holocaust, in which the whole victim was consumed, without any reserve to the person who gave the victim, or to the priest who killed and sacrificed it, except that the priest had the skin; for before the victims were offered to the Lord, their skins were flayed off, and their feet and entrails were washed,  Leviticus 1:1-17   7:8 . Every burnt offering contained an acknowledgment of general guilt, and a typical expiation of it. The burning of the whole victim on the altar signified, on the part of the offerer, the entireness of his devotion of himself and all his substance to God; and, on the part of the victim, the completeness of the expiation.

2. The sin offering, of which the trespass offering may be regarded as a variety. This differed from the burnt-offering in that it always had respect to particular offences against law either moral through ignorance, or at least not in a presumptuous spirit. No part of it returned to him who had given it, but the sacrificing priest had a share of it,  Leviticus 4:1-6:30   7:1-10   3 . Peace-offerings: these were offered in the fulfillment of vows, to return thanks to God for benefits, (thank-offerings,) or to satisfy private devotion, (freewill-offerings.) The Israelites accordingly offered these when they chose, no law obliging them to it, and they were free to choose among such animals as were allowed in sacrifice,  Leviticus 3:1-17   7:11-34 . The law only required that the victim should be without blemish. He who presented it came to the door of the tabernacle, put his hand on the head of the victim, and killed it. The priest poured out the blood about the altar of burntsacrifices: he burnt on the fire of the altar the fat of the lower belly, that which covers the kidneys, the liver, and the bowels. And if it were a lamb, or a ram, he added to it the rump of the animal, which in that country is very fat. Before these things were committed to the fire of the altar, the priest put them into the hands of the offerer, then made him lift them up on high, and wave them toward the four quarters of the world, the priest supporting and direction his hands. The breast and the right shoulder of the sacrifice belonged to the priest that performed the service; and it appears that both of them were put into the hands of him who offered them, though Moses mentions only the breast of the animal. After this, all the rest of the sacrifice belonged to him who presented it, and he might eat it with his family and friends at his pleasure,  Leviticus 8:31 . The peace offering signified expiation of sin, and thus reconciliation with God, and holy communion with him and with his people.

The sacrifices of offerings of meal or liquors, which were offered for sin, were in favor of the poorer sort, who could not afford to sacrifice an ox or goat or sheep,  Leviticus 5:10-13 . They contented themselves with offering meal or flour, sprinkled with oil, with spice (or frankincense) over it. And the priest, taking a handful of this flour, with all the frankincense, sprinkled them on the fire of the altar; and all the rest of the flour was his own: he was to eat it without leaven in the tabernacle, and none but priests were to partake of it. As to other offerings, fruits, wine, meal, wafers, or cakes, or any thing else, the priest always cast a part on the altar; the rest belonged to him and the other priests. These offerings were always accompanied with salt and wine, but were without leaven,  Leviticus 2:1-16 .

Offerings, in which they set at liberty a bird or a goat, were not strictly sacrifices, because there was no shedding of blood, and the victim remained alive.

Sacrifices of birds were offered on three occasions: 1. For sin, when the person offering was not rich enough to provide an animal for a victim,  Leviticus 5:7,8   2 . For purification of a woman after childbirth,  Leviticus 12:6,7 . When she could offer a lamb and a young pigeon, she gave both; the lamb for a burnt offering, the pigeon for a sin offering. But if she were not able to offer a lamb, she gave a pair of turtles, or a pair of young pigeons; one for a burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering. 3. They offered two sparrows for those who were purified from the leprosy; one was a burnt offering, the other was a scape-sparrow, as above,  Leviticus 14:4 , etc  Leviticus 14:1   27:34 .

For the sacrifice of the paschal lamb, see Passover .

The perpetual sacrifice of the tabernacle and temple,  Exodus 29:38-40   Numbers 28:3 , was a daily offering of two lambs on the altar of burnt offerings; one in the morning, the other in the evening. They were burnt as holocausts, but by a small fire, that they might continue burning the longer. The lamb of the morning was offered about sunrise, after the incense was burnt on the golden altar, and before any other sacrifice. That in the evening was offered between the two evenings, that is, at the decline of day, and before night. With each of these victims was offered half a pint of wine, half a pint of the purest oil, and an assaron, or about five pints, of the finest flour.

Such were the sacrifices of the Hebrews-sacrifices of divine appointment, and yet altogether incapable in themselves of purifying the soul or atoning for its sins. Paul has described these and other ceremonies of the law "as weak and beggarly elements,"  Galatians 4:9 . They represented grace and purity, but they did not communicate it. They convinced the sinner of his necessity of purification and sanctification to God; but they did not impart holiness or justification to him. Sacrifices were only prophecies and figures of the sacrifice, the Lamb of God, which eminently includes all their virtues and qualities; being at the same time a holocaust, a sacrifice for sin, and a sacrifice of thanksgiving; containing the whole substance and efficacy, of which the ancient sacrifices were only representations. The paschal lamb, the daily burnt-offerings, the offerings of flour and wine, and all other oblations, of whatever nature, promised and represented the death of Jesus Christ,  Hebrews 9:9-15   10:1 . Accordingly, by his death he abolished them all,  1 Corinthians 5:7   Hebrews 10:8-10 . By his offering of himself once for all,  Hebrews 10:3 , he has superseded all other sacrifices, and saves forever all who believe,  Ephesians 5:2   Hebrews 9:11-26; while without this expiatory sacrifice, divine justice could never have relaxed its hold on a single human soul.

The idea of a substitution of the victim in the place of the sinner is a familiar one in the Old Testament,  Leviticus 16:21   Deuteronomy 21:1-8   Isaiah 53:4   Daniel 9:26; and is found attending all the sacrifices of animals,  Leviticus 4:20,26   5:10   14:18   16:21 . This is the reason assigned why the blood especially, as being the very life and soul of the victim, was sprinkled on the altar and poured out before the Lord to signify its utter destruction in the sinner's stead,  Leviticus 17:11 . Yet the Jews were carefully directed not to rely on these sacrifices as works of merit. They were taught that without repentance, faith, and reformation, all sacrifices were an abomination to God,  Proverbs 21:27   Jeremiah 6:20   Amos 5:22   Micah 6:6-8; that He desires mercy and not sacrifice,  Hosea 6:6   Matthew 9:13 , and supreme love to him,  Mark 12:33 . "To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams,"  1 Samuel 15:22   Proverbs 21:3   Matthew 5:23 . See also  Psalm 50:1-23 . Then, as truly as under the Christian dispensation, it could be said, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise,"  Psalm 51:17 . The Jews, without these dispositions, could not present any offering agreeable to God; and he often explains himself on this matter in the prophets,  Psalm 40:6   Isaiah 1:11-14   Hosea 6:6   Joel 2:12-18   Amos 5:21,22 , etc.

The term sacrifices is sometimes used metaphorically with respect to the services of Christians; implying a giving up of something that was their own, and a dedication of it to the Lord,  Romans 12:1   Philippians 4:18   Hebrews 13:15,16   1 Peter 2:5 .

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [6]

An offering made to God on an altar, by means of a regular minister: as an acknowledgment of his power, and a payment of homage. Sacrifices (though the term is sometimes used to comprehend all the offerings made to God, or in any way devoted to his service and honour) differ from mere oblations in this, that in a sacrifice there is a real destruction or change of the thing offered; whereas an oblation is only a simple offering or gift, without any such change at all: thus, all sorts of tithes, and first fruits, and whatever of men's worldly substance in consecrated to God for the support of his worship and the maintenance of his ministers, are offerings, or oblations; and these, under the Jewish law, were either of living creatures, or other things; but sacrifices, in the more peculiar sense of the term, were either wholly or in part consumed by fire. They have, by divines, been divided into bloody and unbloody. Bloody sacrifices were made of living creatures; unbloody, of the fruits of the earth. They have also been divided into expiatory, impetratory, and eucharistical. The first kind were offered to obtain of God the forgiveness of sins; the second, to procure some favour; and the third, to express thankfulness for favours already received. Under one or other of these heads may all sacrifices be arranged, though we are told that the Egyptians had six hundred and sixty-six different kinds; a number surpassing all credibility. Various have been the opinions of the learned concerning the origin of sacrifices.

Some suppose that they had their origin in superstition, and were merely the inventions of men; others, that they originated in the natural sentiments of the human heart; others imagine that God in order to prevent their being offered to idols, introduced them into his service, though he did not approve of them as good in themselves, or as proper rites of worship. "But that animal sacrifices, " says a learned author, "were not instituted by man, seems extremely evident from the acknowledged universality of the practice; from the wonderful sameness of the manner in which the whole world offered these sacrifices; and from the expiation which was constantly supposed to be effected by them. "Now human reason, even among the most strenuous opponents of the divine institutions, is allowed to be incapable of pointing out the least natural fitness or congruity between blood and atonement; between killing of God's creatures and the receiving a pardon for the violation of God's laws. This consequence of sacrifices, when properly offered, was the invariable opinion of the heathens, but not the whole of their opinion in this matter; for they had also a traditionary belief among them, that these animal sacrifices were not only expiations, but vicarious commutations, and substituted satisfactions; and they called the animals so offered the ransom of their souls. "But if these notions are so remote from, nay, so contrary to, any lesson that nature teaches, as they confessedly are, how came the whole world to practise the rites founded upon them? It is certain that the wisest Heathens, Pythagoras, Plato, Porphyry, and others, slighted the religion of such sacrifices, and wondered how an institution so dismal (as it appeared to them, ) and so big with absurdity, could diffuse itself through the world.

An advocate for the sufficiency of reason (Tindall) supposes the absurdity prevailed by degrees; and the priests who shared with their gods, and reserved the best bits for themselves, had the chief hand in this gainful superstition. But, it may well be asked, who were the priests in the days of Cain and Abel? Or, what gain could this superstition be to them, when the one gave away his fruits, and the other his animal sacrifice, without being at liberty to taste the least part of it? And it is worth remarking, that what this author wittily calls the best bits and appropriates to the priests, appear to have been the skin of the burnt-offering among the Jews, and the skin and feet among the Heathens." Dr. Spencer observes (De Leg. Heb. lib. 3: &2.) that "sacrifices were looked upon as gifts, and that the general opinion was, that gifts would have the same effect with God as with man; would appease wrath, conciliate favour with the Deity, and testify the gratitude and affection of the sacrificer; and that from this principle proceeded expiatory, precatory, and eucharistical offerings. This is all that is pretended from natural light to countenance this practice. But, how well soever the comparison may be thought to hold between sacrifices and gifts, yet the opinion that sacrifices would prevail with God must proceed from an observation that gifts had prevailed with men; an observation this which Cain and Abel had little opportunity of making.

And if the coats of skin which God directed Adam to make, were the remains of sacrifices, sure Adam could not sacrifice from this observation, when there were no subjects in the world upon which he could make these observations." (Kennicott's second Dissert. on the Offerings of Cain and Abel, p. 201, &c.) But the grand objection to the divine origin of sacrifices is drawn from the Scriptures themselves, particularly the following ( Jeremiah 7:22-23 .) "I spake not to your fathers, nor commanded them, at the time that I brought them out of Egypt, concerning the matters of burnt-offerings or sacrifices; but only this very thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people." The ingenious writer above referred to, accounts for this passage (p. 153 and 209.) by referring to the transaction at Marah, ( Exodus 15:23;  Exodus 15:26 , ) at which time God spake nothing concerning sacrifices: it certainly cannot be intended to contradict the whole book of Leviticus, which is full of such appointments. Another learned author, to account for the above, and other similar passages, observes, "The Jews were diligent in performing the external services of religion; in offering prayers, incense, sacrifices, oblations: but these prayers were not offered with faith; and their oblations were made more frequently to their idols than to the God of their fathers.

The Hebrew idiom ixcludes with a general negative, in a comparative sense, one of two objects opposed to one another, thus: 'I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.' ( Hosea 6:6 .) For I spake not to your fathers, nor commanded them, concerning burnt- offerings or sacrifices; but this thing I commanded them, saying, Obey my voice.'" (Lowth on  Isaiah 43:22;  Isaiah 43:24 .) The ingenious Dr. Doddridge remarks, that, according to the genius of the Hebrew language, one thing seems to be forbidden, and another commanded, when the meaning only is, that the latter is generally to be preferred to the former. The text before us is a remarkable instance of this; as likewise  Joel 2:13 .  Matthew 6:19-20 .  John 6:27 .  Luke 12:4-5 . and  Colossians 3:2 . And it is evident that  Genesis 45:8 .  Exodus 16:8 .  John 5:30 .  John 7:19 . and many other passages, are to be expounded in the same comparative sense. (Paraph. on the New Test. sect. 59.) So that the whole may be resolved into the apophthegm of the wise man. ( Proverbs 21:3 :) "To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice."

See Kennicott, above referred to; Edwards's History of Redemption, p. 76. note: Outram de Sacrificiis; Warburton's Divine Leg. b. 9, 100: 2; Bishop Law's Theory of Rel. p. 50 to 54; Jennings's Jewish antiq. vol. 1: p. 26, 28; Fleury's Manners of the Israelites, part 4: ch. 4.; McEwen on the Types.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [7]

properly so called, is the solemn infliction of death on a living creature, generally by the effusion of its blood, in a way of religious worship; and the presenting of this act to God, as a supplication for the pardon of sin, and a supposed means of compensation for the insult and injury thereby offered to his majesty and government. Sacrifices have, in all ages, and by almost every nation, been regarded as necessary to placate the divine anger, and render the Deity propitious. Though the Gentiles had lost the knowledge of the true God, they still retained such a dread of him, that they sometimes sacrificed their own offspring for the purpose of averting his anger. Unhappy and bewildered mortals, seeking relief from their guilty fears, hoped to atone for past crimes by committing others still more awful; they gave their first-born for their transgression, the fruit of their body for the sin of their soul. The Scriptures sufficiently indicate that sacrifices were instituted by divine appointment, immediately after the entrance of sin, to prefigure the sacrifice of Christ. Accordingly, we find Abel, Noah, Abraham, Job, and others, offering sacrifices in the faith of the Messiah; and the divine acceptance of their sacrifices is particularly recorded. But, in religious institutions, the Most High has ever been jealous of his prerogative. He alone prescribes his own worship; and he regards as vain and presumptuous ever pretence of honouring him which he has not commanded. The sacrifice of blood and death could not have been offered to him without impiety, nor would he have accepted it, had not his high authority pointed the way by an explicit prescription.

Under the law, sacrifices of various kinds were appointed for the children of Israel; the paschal lamb,  Exodus 12:3; the holocaust, or whole burnt- offering,  Leviticus 7:8; the sin-offering, or sacrifice of expiation,  Leviticus 4:3-4; and the peace-offering, or sacrifice of thanksgiving,  Leviticus 7:11-12; all of which emblematically set forth the sacrifice of Christ, being the instituted types and shadows of it,  Hebrews 9:9-15;  Hebrews 10:1 . Accordingly, Christ abolished the whole of them when he offered his own sacrifice. "Above, when he said, Sacrifice, and offering, and burnt- offerings, and offering for sin, thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein, which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ once for all,"  Hebrews 10:8-10;  1 Corinthians 5:7 . In illustrating this fundamental doctrine of Christianity, the Apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, sets forth the excellency of the sacrifice of our great High Priest above those of the law in various particulars. The legal sacrifices were only brute animals, such as bullocks, heifers, goats, lambs, &c; but the sacrifice of Christ was himself, a person of infinite dignity and worth,  Hebrews 9:12-13;  Hebrews 1:3;  Hebrews 9:14;  Hebrews 9:26;  Hebrews 10:10 . The former, though they cleansed from ceremonial uncleanness, could not possibly expiate sin, or purify the conscience from the guilt of it; and so it is said that God was not well pleased in them,  Hebrews 10:4-5;  Hebrews 10:8;  Hebrews 10:11 . But Christ, by the sacrifice of himself, hath effectually, and for ever, put away sin, having made an adequate atonement unto God for it, and by means of faith in it he also purges the conscience from dead works to serve the living God,  Hebrews 9:10-26;  Ephesians 5:2 . The legal sacrifices were statedly offered, year after year, by which their insufficiency was indicated, and an intimation given that God was still calling sins to his remembrance,  Hebrews 10:3; but the last required no repetition, because it fully and at once answered all the ends of sacrifice, on which account God hath declared that he will remember the sins and iniquities of his people no more.

The term sacrifice is often used in a secondary or metaphorical sense, and applied to the good works of believers, and to the duties of prayer and praise, as in the following passages: "But to do good, and to communicate, forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased,"  Hebrews 13:16 . "Having received of Epaphroditus the things which ye sent, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God,"

Php_4:18 . "Ye are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ,"  1 Peter 2:5 . "By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually; that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name,"

 Hebrews 13:15 . "I beseech you, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service,"  Romans 12:1 . "There is a peculiar reason," says Dr. Owen, "for assigning this appellation to moral duties; for in every sacrifice there was a presentation of something unto God. The worshipper was not to offer that which cost him nothing; part of his substance was to be transferred from himself unto God. So it is in these duties; they cannot be properly observed without the alienation of something that was our own,—our time, ease, property, &c, and a dedication of it to the Lord. Hence they have the general nature of sacrifices." The ceremonies used in offering the Jewish sacrifices require to be noticed as illustrative of many texts of Scripture, and some points of important doctrine. See Atonement , See Offerings , See Expiation , See Propitiation , See Reconciliation , and See Redemption .

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [8]

Zebach ( זֶבַח , Strong'S #2077), “sacrifice.” This root with the meaning “to sacrifice” is represented in other Semitic languages: Akkadian, Ugaritic, Phoenician, Aramaic, and Arabic. Zebach continued to be used in Mishnaic Hebrew, and its use is greatly reduced in modern Hebrew, since there is no temple. The word is used 162 times in the Hebrew Old Testament and in all periods. The first occurrence is in Gen. 31:54: “Then Jacob offered sacrifice upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread: and they did eat bread, and tarried all night in the mount.”

The basic meaning of zebach is “sacrifice.” When a “sacrifice” had been slaughtered by the priest, he then offered it to God. The purpose was not just to create communion between God and man; rather, the “sacrifice” represented the principle that, without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins (Lev. 17:11; cf. Heb. 9:22). In the act of “sacrifice” the faithful Israelite submitted himself to the priest, who, in keeping with the various detailed regulations (see Leviticus), offered the “sacrifice” in accordance with God’s expectations. The “sacrifices” are the Passover “sacrifice” (Exod. 12:27), “sacrifice” of the peace offering (Lev. 3:1ff.), “sacrifice” of thanksgiving (Lev. 7:12), and “sacrifice” of the priest’s offering ( qarban  ; Lev. 7:16). The zebach was not like the burnt offering ( ‘olah ), which was completely burnt on the altar; and it was unlike the sin offering ( chatta’t ), where the meat was given to the priest, for most of the meat of the zebach was returned to the person who made the “sacrifice.” The fat was burned on the altar (Lev. 3:4-5), and the blood was poured out around the altar (3:2). The person who made the zebach had to share the meat with the officiating priest (Exod. 29:28; Lev. 7:31-35; Deut. 18:3).

view of the fact that the people shared in the eating of the zebach , the “sacrifice” became a communal meal in which the Lord hosted His people. Zephaniah’s message of judgment is based on this conception of “sacrifice”: “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests” (Zeph. 1:7). The Israelite came to the temple with the animal to be sacrificed. It was butchered, boiled, and eaten in the area of the sanctuary (1 Sam. 2:13). Apart from the sanctuaries, the Israelites also celebrated God’s goodness together in their native villages. The story of Samuel gives several good illustrations of this custom (cf. 1 Sam. 9:13; 16:2-3).

The prophets looked with condemnation on apostate Israel’s “sacrifices”: “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats” (Isa. 1:11). Hosea spoke about the necessity of Israel’s love for God: “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hos. 6:6). Samuel the prophet rebuked Saul with the familiar words: “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22). David knew the proper response to God when he had sinned: “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 51:16-17).

The Septuagint gives the following translation: thusia —(“sacrifice; offering”). The KJV gives these senses: “sacrifice; offering.”

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [9]

A — 1: Θυσία (Strong'S #2378 — Noun Feminine — thusia — thoo-see'-ah )

primarily denotes "the act of offering;" then, objectively, "that which is offered" (a) of idolatrous "sacrifice,"  Acts 7:41; (b) of animal or other "sacrifices," as offered under the Law,  Matthew 9:13;  12:7;  Mark 9:49;  12:33;  Luke 2:24;  13:1;  Acts 7:42;  1—Corinthians 10:18;  Hebrews 5:1;  7:27 (RV, plural); 8:3; 9:9; 10:1,5,8 (RV, plural),11; 11:4; (c) of Christ, in His "sacrifice" on the cross,   Ephesians 5:2;  Hebrews 9:23 , where the plural antitypically comprehends the various forms of Levitical "sacrifices" in their typical character;  Hebrews 9:26;  10:12,26; (d) metaphorically, (1) of the body of the believer, presented to God as a living "sacrifice,"  Romans 12:1; (2) of faith,  Philippians 2:17; (3) of material assistance rendered to servants of God,  Philippians 4:18; (4) of praise,  Hebrews 13:15; (5) of doing good to others and communicating with their needs,  Hebrews 13:16; (6) of spiritual "sacrifices" in general, offered by believers as a holy priesthood,  1—Peter 2:5 .

B — 1: Θύω (Strong'S #2380 — Verb — thuo — thoo'-o )

is used of "sacrificing by slaying a victim," (a) of the "sacrifice" of Christ,  1—Corinthians 5:7 , RV, "hath been sacrificed" (AV, "is sacrificed"); (b) of the Passover "sacrifice,"  Mark 14:12 , RV, "they sacrificed" (AV, "they killed");  Luke 22:7 , RV, "(must) be sacrificed," AV, "(must) be killed;" (c) of idolatrous "sacrifices,"  Acts 14:13,18;  1—Corinthians 10:20 (twice). See Kill , No. 3.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [10]

As a technical religious term, 'sacrifice' designates anything which, having been devoted to a holy purpose, cannot be called back. In the generality of sacrifices offered to God under the law the consciousness is supposed in the offerer that death, as God's judgement, was on him; hence the sacrifice had to be killed that it might be accepted of God at his hand. In fact the word sacrifice often refers to the act of killing.

The first sacrifice we read of was that offered by Abel, though there is an indication of the death of victims in the fact that Adam and Eve were clothed by God with coats of skins. Doubtless in some way God had instructed man that, the penalty of the fall and of his own sin being that his life was forfeited, he could only appropriately approach God by the death of a substitute not chargeable with his offence; for it was by faith that Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.  Hebrews 11:4 . God afterward instructed Cain that if he did not well, sin, or a sin offering, lay at the door.

The subject was more fully explained under the law: "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 . Not that the blood of bulls and of goats had any inherent efficacy to take away sins; but it was typical of the blood of Christ which is the witness that they have been taken away for the believer by Christ's sacrifice.

Christ appeared once in the end of the world "to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself;" and He having once died, there remains no more sacrifice for sins.  Ephesians 5:2;  Hebrews 9:26;  Hebrews 10:4,12,26 . Without faith in the sacrificial death of Christ there is no salvation, as is taught in  Romans 3:25;  Romans 4:24,25;  1 Corinthians 15:1-4 .

The Christian is exhorted to present his body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is his intelligent service,  Romans 12:1 : cf.  2 Corinthians 8:5;  Philippians 4:18 . He offers by Christ the sacrifice of praise to God, and even to do good and to communicate are sacrifices well pleasing to God.  Hebrews 13:15,16 : cf.  1 Peter 2:5 . For the sacrifices under the law see OFFERINGS.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [11]

Sacrifices were offered in the ante-diluvian age. The Lord clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of animals, which in all probability had been offered in sacrifice ( Genesis 3:21 ). Abel offered a sacrifice "of the firstlings of his flock" (4:4;  Hebrews 11:4 ). A distinction also was made between clean and unclean animals, which there is every reason to believe had reference to the offering up of sacrifices ( Genesis 7:2,8 ), because animals were not given to man as food till after the Flood.

The same practice is continued down through the patriarchal age ( Genesis 8:20;  12:7;  13:4,18;  15:9-11;  22:1-18 , etc.). In the Mosaic period of Old Testament history definite laws were prescribed by God regarding the different kinds of sacrifices that were to be offered and the manner in which the offering was to be made. The offering of stated sacrifices became indeed a prominent and distinctive feature of the whole period ( Exodus 12:3-27;  Leviticus 23:5-8;  Numbers 9:2-14 ). (See Altar .)

We learn from the Epistle to the Hebrews that sacrifices had in themselves no value or efficacy. They were only the "shadow of good things to come," and pointed the worshippers forward to the coming of the great High Priest, who, in the fullness of the time, "was offered once for all to bear the sin of many." Sacrifices belonged to a temporary economy, to a system of types and emblems which served their purposes and have now passed away. The "one sacrifice for sins" hath "perfected for ever them that are sanctified."

Sacrifices were of two kinds: 1. Unbloody, such as (1) first-fruits and tithes; (2) meat and drink-offerings; and (3) incense. 2. Bloody, such as (1) burnt-offerings; (2) peace-offerings; and (3) sin and trespass offerings. (See Offerings .)

King James Dictionary [12]

SAC'RIFICE, sac'rifize. L. sacrifico sacer, sacred, and facio, to make.

1. To offer to God in homage or worship, by killing and consuming, as victims on an altar to immolate, either as an atonement for sin, or to procure favor, or to express thankfulness as, to sacrifice an ox or a lamb.  2 Samuel 6 . 2. To destroy, surrender or suffer to be lost for the sake of obtaining something as, to sacrifice the peace of the church to a little vain curiosity. We should never sacrifice health to pleasure, nor integrity to fame. 3. To devote with loss.

Condemn'd to sacrifice his childish years to babbling ignorance and to empty fears.

4. To destroy to kill.

SAC'RIFICE, To make offerings to God by the slaughter and burning of victims, or of some part of them.  Exodus 3 .

SAC'RIFICE, n. L. sacrificium.

1. An offering made to God by killing and burning some animal upon an altar, as an acknowledgment of his power and providence, or to make atonement for sin, appease his wrath or conciliate his favor, or to express thankfulness for his benefits. Sacrifices have been common to most nations, and have been offered to false gods, as well as by the Israelites to Jehovah. A sacrifice differs from an oblation the latter being an offering of a thing entire or without change, as tithes or first fruits whereas sacrifice implies a destruction or killing, as of a beast. Sacrifices are expiatory, impetratory, and eucharistical that is, atoning for sin, seeking favor, or expressing thanks.

Human sacrifices, the killing and offering of human beings to deities, have been practiced by some barbarous nations.

2. The thing offered to God, or immolated by an act of religion.

My life if thou preserv'st, my life thy sacrifice shall be.

3. Destruction, surrender or loss made or incurred for gaining some object, or for obliging another as the sacrifice of interest to pleasure, or of pleasure to interest. 4. Any thing destroyed.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [13]

The sacrifices under the Old Testament dispensation were all shadowy representations and types of that one great and all-sufficient sacrifice of the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, whereby "he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."

It is proper to observe that though the sacrifices under the law were all typical of Christ, yet sacrifices did not first come in under the law. In the garden of Eden we find their observance. And as a still farther confirmation that every sacrifice, both under the law, and before the law, was typical, we are expressly told by the Holy Ghost that by faith they were offered—that is, faith in the promised seed. "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. By faith Abraham when he was tried offered up Isaac." And what could this faith be in but Christ? (See  Hebrews 11:4; Heb 11:17)

The sacrifices under the law were of different kinds, but all signified the same thing. To Jesus Christ, "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," they all referred, and in him the whole had their accomplishment. Whether the sacrifice was what was called the burnt offering, or Holocaust, the sacrifice for sin, or expiation, or the peace-offering, or sacrifice of thanksgiving, Christ was the great object set forth in every one. For neither could the blood of bulls, and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer, "sprinkling the unclean, sanctify to the purifying of the flesh, but Jesus, by his own blood, and by entering once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." ( Hebrews 9:12-13)

It may be proper to observe under this particular of sacrifice, wherein it differed from oblation. In the former there was somewhat done as well as presented. The offering, of whatever sort it was, whether a burnt offering, or a sacrifice for sin, underwent a change; it was either in part or in whole consumed: whereas an oblation simply consisted in the presentation or dedication of it. See Passover.

Webster's Dictionary [14]

(1): ( n.) A sale at a price less than the cost or the actual value.

(2): ( n.) Destruction or surrender of anything for the sake of something else; devotion of some desirable object in behalf of a higher object, or to a claim deemed more pressing; hence, also, the thing so devoted or given up; as, the sacrifice of interest to pleasure, or of pleasure to interest.

(3): ( n.) The offering of anything to God, or to a god; consecratory rite.

(4): ( n.) Anything consecrated and offered to God, or to a divinity; an immolated victim, or an offering of any kind, laid upon an altar, or otherwise presented in the way of religious thanksgiving, atonement, or conciliation.

(5): ( n.) To make an offering of; to consecrate or present to a divinity by way of expiation or propitiation, or as a token acknowledgment or thanksgiving; to immolate on the altar of God, in order to atone for sin, to procure favor, or to express thankfulness; as, to sacrifice an ox or a sheep.

(6): ( n.) Hence, to destroy, surrender, or suffer to be lost, for the sake of obtaining something; to give up in favor of a higher or more imperative object or duty; to devote, with loss or suffering.

(7): ( n.) To destroy; to kill.

(8): ( n.) To sell at a price less than the cost or the actual value.

(9): ( v. i.) To make offerings to God, or to a deity, of things consumed on the altar; to offer sacrifice.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [15]

 Hebrews 13:16 (a) By this word is described any praise or worship rendered to GOD from a grateful heart. (See also1Pe  2:5). Some of the sacrifices of the Old Testament represented various aspects of the work of CHRIST on the Cross. (See under "OFFERINGS"). Other sacrifices represented various attitudes of the Christian in his relationship to GOD. In some cases the sacrifices represented the attempt of sinners to appease their gods.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [16]

Sacrifice.  Genesis 31:54. Sacrifices were in use from the earliest periods of the world, and among all nations. The universality of sacrificial rites is a powerful argument on behalf of their naturalness; they meet the demand of the sinner for some way of appeasing the offended divinity. But Christians have no need of them, simply because of the one perfect Sacrifice once offered on the cross. See Offerings, Altar, and Lamb.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [17]

See Offerings And Sacrifices

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [18]

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

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [19]

sak´ri - fı̄s , sak´ri - fı̄z  :

In the Old Testament

I. Terms And Definitions

II. Origin And Nature Of Sacrifices

1. Theory of a Divine Revelation

2. Theories of a Human Origin

(1) The Gift-Theory

(2) The Magic Theory

(3) The Table-Bond Theory

(4) The Sacramental Communion Theory

(5) The Homage Theory

(6) The Piacular Theory

(7) Originating Religious Instincts

III. Classification Of Sacrifices

1. Maimonides

2. W.R. Smith and Others

3. Oehler

4. Paterson and Others

5. H.M. Wiener

IV. Sacrifices In The Pre-Mosaic Age

1. In Egypt

2. In Babylonia

3. Nomads and Tribes of Arabia and Syria

4. The Offerings of Cain and Abel

5. Of Noah

6. Of Abraham

7. Of Job

8. Of Isaac

9. Of Jacob

10. Of Israel in Egypt

11. Of Jethro

12. Summary and Conclusions

V. The Mosaic Sacrificial System

1. The Covenant Sacrifice

2. The Common Altars

3. The Consecration of Aaron and His Sons

4. Sacrifices before the Golden Calf

5. The Law of the Burnt Offering ('Olah)

(1) Ritual for the Offerer ( Leviticus 1:3-17 )

(2) Ritual for the Priest ( Leviticus 1:3-17 )

(3) General Laws for the Priest

(4) Laws in  Deuteronomy 12:6,13 ,  14,27;  27:6

6. The Law of the Meal Offering (Minchah)

(1) Ritual for the Offerer ( Leviticus 2:1-16 )

(2) Ritual for the Priest ( Leviticus 2:1-16 )

(3) General Laws for the Priest ( Leviticus 6:14-18 ), etc.)

7. The Law of the Peace Offering

(1) Ritual for the Offerer ( Leviticus 3:1-17 )

(2) Ritual for the Priest ( Leviticus 3:1-17 )

(3) General Laws for the Priest ( Leviticus 6:12;  7:1 ff)

8. The Law of the Sin Offering

(1) At the Consecration of Aaron and His Sons ( Exodus 29:10 ff)

(2) The Law of the Sin Offering ( Leviticus 4:1-35;  24-30 , etc.)

( a ) The Occasion and Meaning

( b ) Ritual for the Offerer (  Leviticus 4:1-5,13 , etc.)

( 100 ) Ritual for the Priest (  Leviticus 4:1-5,13 , etc.)

( d ) General Laws for the Priest (  Leviticus 6:24-30 )

( e ) Special Uses of the Sin Offering

(i) Consecration of Aaron and His Sons

(ii) Purifications from Uncleanness

(iii) On the Day of Atonement

(iv) Other Special Instances

9. The Guilt Offering

(1) The Ritual ( Leviticus 5:14 through 6:7)

(2) Special Laws: Leper, Nazirite, etc.

10. The Wave Offering

11. The Heave Offering

12. Drink Offerings

13. Primitive Nature of the Cult

VI. Sacrifices In The History Of Israel

1. The Situation at Moses' Death

2. In the Time of Joshua

3. The Period of the Judges

4. Times of Samuel and Saul

5. Days of David and Solomon

6. In the Northern Kingdom

7. In the Southern Kingdom to the Exile

8. In the Exilic and Post-exilic Periods

9. A T emple and Sacrifices at Elephantine

10. Human Sacrifices in Israel's History

11. Certain Heathen Sacrifices

VII. The Prophets And Sacrifices

VIII. Sacrifice In The "WRITINGS"

1. Proverbs

2. The Psalms

IX. The Idea And Efficacy Or Sacrifices

1. A G ift of Food to the Deity

2. Expression of Adoration and Devotion, etc.

3. Means of Purification from Uncleanness

4. Means of Consecration to Divine Service

5. Means of Establishing a Community of Life between Worshipper and God

6. View of Ritschl

7. The Sacramental View

8. Symbol or Expression of Prayer

9. View of Kautzsch

10. Vicarious Expiation Theory; Objections

11. Typology of Sacrifice


I. Terms and Definitions.

זבח , zebhaḥ , "sacrifice"; עולה , ‛ōlāh , "burnt offering"; חטאה , ḥătā'āh , חטּאת , ḥaṭṭā'th , "sin offering"; אשׁם , 'āshām , "guilt" or "trespass offering": שׁלם , shelem , שׁלמים , shelāmı̄m , "peace offerings"; מנחה , minḥāh , "offering," "present"; שׁלמים זבח , zebhaḥshelāmı̄m , "sacrifice of peace offerings"; התּודה זבח , zebhaḥ ha - tōdhāh , "thank offerings"; נדבה זבח , zebhaḥ nedhābhāh , "free-will offerings"; נדר זבח , zebhaḥ nedher , "votive offerings"; תּנוּפה , tenūphāh , "wave offering"; תּרוּמה , terūmāh , "heave offering"; קרבּן , ḳorbān , "oblation," "gift"; אשּׁה , 'ishsheh , "fire offering"; נסך , neṣekh , "drink offering"; כּליל , kālı̄l , "whole burnt offering"; חג , ḥagh , "feast"; לבונה , lebhōnāh , "frankincense"; קטורה , ḳetōrāh , קטורת , ḳetōreth , "odor," "incense"; מלח , melaḥ , "salt"; שׁמן , shemen , "oil":

Zebhaḥ  : a "slaughtered animal," a "sacrifice," general term for animals used in sacrifice, including burnt offerings, peace offerings, thank offerings, and all sacrifices offered to the Deity and eaten at the festivals. More particularly it refers to the flesh eaten by the worshippers after the fat parts had been burned on the altar and the priest had received his portion.

‛Olāh  : a "burnt offering," sometimes whole burnt offering. Derived from the verb ‛ālāh , "to go up." It may mean "that which goes up to the altar" (Knobel, Wellhausen, Nowack, etc.), or "that which goes up in smoke to the sky" (Bahr, Delitzsch, Dillmann, etc.); sometimes used synonymously with kālı̄l (which see). The term applies to beast or fowl when entirely consumed upon the altar, the hide of the beast being taken by the priest. This was perhaps the most solemn of the sacrifices, and symbolized worship in the full sense, i.e. adoration, devotion, dedication, supplication, and at times expiation.

Ḥătā'āh , ḥattā'th  : a "sin offering," a special kind, first mentioned in the Mosaic legislation. It is essentially expiatory, intended to restore covenant relations with the Deity. The special features were: (1) the blood must be sprinkled before the sanctuary, put upon the horns of the altar of incense and poured out at the base of the altar of burnt offering; (2) the flesh was holy, not to be touched by worshipper, but eaten by the priest only. The special ritual of the Day of Atonement centers around the sin offering.

'Āshām  : "guilt offering," "trespass offering" (King James Version; in   Isaiah 53:10 , the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) "an offering for sin," the American Revised Version margin "trespass offering"). A special kind of sin offering introduced in the Mosaic Law and concerned with offenses against God and man that could be estimated by a money value and thus covered by compensation or restitution accompanying the offering. A ram of different degrees of value, and worth at least two shekels, was the usual victim, and it must be accompanied by full restitution with an additional fifth of the value of the damage. The leper and Nazirite could offer he-lambs. The guilt toward God was expiated by the blood poured out, and the guilt toward men by the restitution and fine. The calling of the Servant an 'āshām ( Isaiah 53:10 ) shows the value attached to this offering.

Shelem , shelāmı̄m  : "peace offering," generally used the plural, shelāmı̄m , only once shēlem (  Amos 5:22 ). These were sacrifices of friendship expressing or promoting peaceful relations with the Deity, and almost invariably accompanied by a meal or feast, an occasion of great joy. They are sometimes called zebhāḥim , sometimes zebhaḥ shelāmı̄m , and were of different kinds, such as zebhaḥ ha - tōdhāh , "thank offerings," which expressed the gratitude of the giver because of some blessings, zebhaḥ nedhābhāh , "free-will offerings," bestowed on the Deity out of a full heart, and zebhaḥ nedher , "votive offerings," which were offered in fulfillment of a vow.

Minḥāh  : "meal offering" (the Revised Version), "meat offering" (the King James Version), a gift or presentation, at first applied to both bloody and unbloody offerings (  Genesis 4:5 ), but in Moses' time confined to cereals, whether raw or roast, ground to flour or baked and mixed with oil and frankincense. These cereals were the produce of man's labor with the soil, not fruits, etc., and thus represented the necessities and results of life, if not life itself. They were the invariable accompaniment of animal sacrifices, and in one instance could be substituted for them (see Sin Offering ). The term minḥāh describes a gift or token of friendship ( Isaiah 39:1 ), an act of homage ( 1 Samuel 10:27;  1 Kings 10:25 ), tribute ( Judges 3:15 ,  Judges 3:17 f), propitiation to a friend wronged (  Genesis 32:13 ,  Genesis 32:18 (Hebrew 14:19)), to procure favor or assistance (  Genesis 43:11 ff;   Hosea 10:6 ).

Ṭenūphāh  : "wave offering," usually the breast, the priest's share of the peace offerings, which was waved before the altar by both offerer and priest together (the exact motion is not certain), symbolic of its presentation to Deity and given back by Him to the offerer to be used in the priests' service.

Ṭenūmāh  : "heave offering," something lifted up, or, properly, separated from the rest and given to the service of the Deity. Usually the right shoulder or thigh was thus separated for the priest. The term is applied to products of the soil, or portion of land separated unto the divine service, etc.

Ḳorbān  : "an oblation," or "offering"; another generic term for all kinds of offerings, animal, vegetable, or even gold and silver. Derived from the verb ḳārabh , "to draw near," it signifies what is drawn or brought near and given to God.

'Ishsheh  : "fire offering," applied to offerings made by fire and usually bloody offerings, but at times to the minḥāh , the sacred bread and frankincense placed on the tables as a memorial, part of which was burned with the frankincense, the bulk, however, going to the priest. The gift was thus presented through fire to the Deity as a sort of etherealized food.

Neṣekh  : "drink offering," or "libation," a liquid offering of wine, rarely water, sometimes of oil, and usually accompanying the ‛ōlāh , but often with the peace offerings.

Kālı̄l  : "whole burnt offering," the entire animal being burned upon the altar. Sometimes used synonymously with ‛ōlāh . A technical term among the Carthaginians.

Ḥagh  : a "feast," used metaphorically for a sacrificial feast because the meat of the sacrifices constituted the material of the feast.

Lebhōnāh  : "frankincense," "incense," used in combination with the meal offerings and burnt offerings and burned also upon the altar in the holy place. See Incense .

Ḳetōrāh , ḳetōreth  : "smoke," "odor of sacrifice," or incense ascending as a sweet savor and supposed to be pleasing and acceptable to God.

Melaḥ  : "salt," used in all sacrifices because of its purifying and preserving qualities.

Shemen  : "oil," generally olive oil, used with the meal offerings of cakes and wafers, etc.

Sacrifice is thus a complex and comprehensive term. In its simplest form it may be defined as "a gift to God." It is a presentation to Deity of some material object, the possession of the offerer, as an act of worship. It may be to attain, restore, maintain or to celebrate friendly relations with the Deity. It is religion in action - in early times, almost the whole of religion - an inseparable accompaniment to all religious exercises. Few or many motives may actuate it. It may be wholly piacular and expiatory, or an Offering of food as a gift to God; it may be practically a bribe, or a prayer, an expression of dependence, obligation and thanksgiving. It may express repentance, faith, adoration, or all of these combined. It was the one and only way of approach to God. Theophrastus defines it as expressing homage, gratitude and need. Hubert and Mauss define it as "a religious act which by the consecration of the victim modifies the moral state of the sacrificer, or of certain material objects which he has in view, i.e., either confers sanctity or removes it and its analogue, impiety."

II. Origin and Nature of Sacrifices.

The beginnings of sacrifice are hidden in the mysteries of prehistoric life. The earliest narrative in Genesis records the fact, but gives no account of the origin and primary idea. The custom is sanctioned by the sacred writings, and later on the long-established custom was adopted and systematized in the Mosaic Law. The practice was almost universal. The Vedas have their elaborate rituals. Some Semitic peoples, Greeks, Romans, Africans, and Indians of Mexico offered human sacrifices. It is unknown in Australia, but even there something akin to it exists, for some natives offer a portion of a kind of honey, others offer a pebble or a spear to their god. For this practically universal habit of the race, several solutions are offered.

1. Theory of a Divine Revelation:

One view maintains that God Himself initiated the rite by divine order at the beginnings of human history. Such a theory implies a monotheistic faith on the part of primitive man. This theory was strongly held by many of the Reformed theologians, and was based mainly on the narrative in  Genesis 4:4 f. Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice, and, according to   Hebrews 11:4 , this was because of his faith. Faber makes a strong plea as follows: Since faith was what made the sacrifice acceptable to God, this faith must have been based upon a positive enactment of God in the past. Without this divine positive enactment to guarantee its truthfulness, faith, in Abel, would have been superstition. In other words, faith, in order to be truly based and properly directed, must have a revelation from God, a positive expression of the divine will. Fairbairn, in his Typology , goes further and holds that the skins wherewith Adam and Eve were clothed were from animals which had been slain in sacrifices. This is entirely without support in the narrative. The theory of a divine order cannot be maintained on the basis of the Biblical narrative. Moreover, it involves certain assumptions regarding the nature of faith and revelation which are not generally held in this age. A revelation is not necessarily a positive divine command, an external thing, and faith may be just as real and true without such a revelation as with it. That there may have been such a revelation cannot be denied, but it is not a necessary or probable explanation.

2. Theories of a Human Origin:

(1) The Gift-Theory.

By this it is held that sacrifices were originally presents to the deity which the offerer took for granted would be received with pleasure and even gratitude. Good relations would thus be established with the god and favors would be secured. Such motives, while certainly true among many heathen people, were obviously based upon low conceptions of the deity. They were either. Nature-spirits, ancestral ghosts or fetishes which needed what was given, and of course the god was placed under obligations and his favor obtained. Or, the god may have been conceived of as a ruler, a king or chief, as was the custom in the East.

Cicero vouches for such a view when he says: "Let not the impious dare to appease the gods with gifts. Let them hearken to Plato, who warns them that there can be no doubt what God's disposition to them will be, since even a good man will refuse to accept presents from the wicked" ( Hdb , IV, 331a). This view of sacrifice prevails in classical literature. Spencer therefore thinks it is self-evident that this was the idea of primitive man. Tylor and Herbert Spencer also find the origin of sacrifices in the idea of a gift, whether to the deity or to dead ancestors, food being placed for them, and this afterward comes to be regarded as a sacrifice. Such a view gives no account of the peculiar value attached to the blood, or to the burnt offerings. It may account for some heathen systems of sacrifice, but can help in no degree in understanding the Biblical sacrifices.

(2) The Magic Theory.

There are two slightly variant forms of this: ( a ) that of R.C. Thompson ( Semitic Magic, Its Origins and Developments , 175-218), who holds that a sacrificial animal serves as a substitute victim offered to a demon whose activity has brought the offerer into trouble; the aim of the priest is to entice or drive the malignant spirit out of the sick or sinful man into the sacrificial victim where it can be isolated or destroyed; ( b ) that of L. Marillier, who holds that sacrifice in its origin is essentially a magical rite. The liberation of a magical force by the effusion of the victim's blood will bend the god to the will of the man. From this arose under the "cult of the dead" the gift-theory of sacrifice. Men sought to ally themselves with the god in particular by purifying a victim and effecting communion with the god by the application of the blood to the altar, or by the sacrifice of the animal and the contact of the sacrificer with its blood. Such theories give no account of the burnt offerings, meal offerings and sin offerings, disconnect them entirely from any sense of sin or estrangement from God, and divest them of all piacular value. They may account for certain depraved and heathen systems, but not for the Biblical.

(3) The Table-Bond Theory.

Ably advocated by Wellhausen and W.R. Smith, this view holds that sacrifices were meals which the worshippers and the god shared, partaking of the same food and thus establishing a firmer bond of fellowship between them. Sykes ( Nature of Sacrifices , 75) first advocated this, holding that the efficacy of sacrifices "is the fact that eating and drinking were the known and ordinary symbols of friendship and were the usual rites in engaging in covenants and leagues." Thus sacrifices are more than gifts; they are deeds of hospitality which knit god and worshipper together. W.R. Smith has expounded the idea into the notion that the common meal unites physically those who partake of it. Though this view may contain an element of truth in regard to certain Arabian customs, it does not help much to account for Bible sacrifices. As A.B. Davidson says, "It fails utterly to account for the burnt offering, which was one of the earliest, most solemn and at times the most important of all the sacrifices."

(4) The Sacramental Communion Theory.

This is a modification of the table-bond theory. The basis of it is the totemistic idea of reverencing an animal which is believed to share with man the divine nature. On certain solemn occasions this animal would be sacrificed to furnish a feast. At this meal, according to men's savage notions, they literally "ate the god," and thus incorporated into themselves the physical, the intellectual and the moral qualities which characterized the animal. If the divine life dwelt in certain animals, then a part of that precious life would be distributed among all the people ( RS2 , 313). In some cases the blood is drunk by the worshippers, thus imbibing the life. Sometimes, as in the case of the sacred camel, they devoured the quivering flesh before the animal was really dead, and the entire carcass was eaten up before morning.

The brilliant work of W. R. Smith has not been universally accepted. L. Marillier has criticized it along several lines. It is by no means certain that totemism prevailed so largely among Semites and there is no evidence of its existence in Israel. Also, if an original bond of friendship existed between the god and the kin, there is no need to maintain it by such sacrificial rites. There is no clear instance of this having been done. If on the other hand there was no common bond between the god and the people but that of a common meal, it does not appear that the god is a totem god. There is no reason why the animal should have been a totem. In any case, this idea of sacrifice could hardly have been anything but a slow growth, and consequently not the origin of sacrifice. Hubert and Mauss also point out that W. R. Smith is far from having established the historical or the logical connection between the common meal and the other kinds of sacrifices. Under piacula he confuses purification, propitiation and expiations. His attempts to show that purifications of magical character are late and not sacrificial do not succeed. Smith's theory is mainly the sacramental, though he does recognize the honorific and piacular element. The theory may be applicable to some of the heathen or savage feasts of the Arabs, but not to the practices of the Hebrews (see Encyclopedia Brit , Xxiii , 981).

(5) The Homage Theory.

This has been advocated by Warburton and F. D. Maurice. The idea is that sacrifices were originally an expression of homage and dependence. Man naturally felt impelled to seek closer communion with God, not so much from a sense of guilt as from a sense of dependence and a desire to show homage and obedience. In giving expression to this, primitive man had recourse to acts rather than words and thoughts. Thus sacrifice was an acted prayer, rather than a prayer in words. It was an expression of his longings and aspirations, his reverence and submission. There is much truth in this view; the elements of prayer - dependence and submission - enter into some sacrifices, the burnt offerings in particular; but it does not account for all kinds of offerings.

(6) The Piacular Theory.

This holds that sacrifices are fundamentally expiatory or atoning, and the death of the beast is a vicarious expiation of the sins of the offerer. Hubert and Mauss admit that in all sacrifices there are some ideas of purchase or substitution, though these may not have issued from some primitive form. The unifying principle in all sacrifices is that the divine is put in communication with the profane by the intermediary - the victim - which may be piacular or honorific. It is thus a messenger, a means of divination, a means of alimenting the eternal life of the species, a source of magical energy which the rite diffuses over objects in its neighborhood. Westermarck ( Origin of Moral Ideas ) makes the original idea in sacrifice a piaculum , a substitute for the offerer.

This view is the most simple, the most natural, and the only one that can explain certain sacrifices. Man felt himself under liability to punishment or death. The animal was his, it had life, it was of value, and perchance the god would accept that life in place of his. He felt that it would be accepted, and thus the animal was sacrificed. The offerer in a sense gives up part of himself. The beast must be his own; no sacrifice can be made of another person's property ( 2 Samuel 24:24 ). The true spirit of sacrifice appears in a willingness to acknowledge God's right to what is best and dearest (Gen 12).

Objection is raised to this by A. B. Davidson ( Old Testament Theology ), Paterson ( Hdb , IV, 331) and others, on the ground that such an origin represents too advanced a stage of ethical thought and reflection for primitive man. We question seriously whether this be an advanced stage of moral reflection. On the contrary, it represents a very simple and primitive stage. The feeling that sin of some kind is never absent from human life, and that its true penalty is death, has been inseparable from the human heart's sense of sin. What could be more simple and natural than to take an innocent animal and offer it in place of himself, hoping that the Deity would accept it instead? Nor is there much force in Professor Paterson's objection that sacrifices were preponderantly joyous in character and therefore could not be offered as an expiation. This joyous character belongs to such sacrifices as peace offerings and thank offerings, but does not belong to the ‛ōlāh and others. In most cases the joyous feast followed the killing of the animal by which the expiation was accomplished, and the feast was joyous because atonement had been made. In fact, many sacrifices were of the most solemn character and represented the deepest and most serious emotions of the heart.

(7) Originating in Religious Instincts.

Neither theory of an objective divine revelation, nor of a human origin will account for the universality and variety of sacrifices. The truth lies in a proper combination of the two. The notion of offering a gift to the Deity arose out of the religious instincts of the human heart, which in an early period had a consciousness of something wrong between itself and God, and that this something would mean death sooner or later. Added to these true instincts was the Omnipresent Spirit to guide men in giving expression. What could be more simple and primitive than to offer something possessing life? Of course the notion originated in simple and childlike ideas of God, and its real motive was not to gratify God by sharing a meal with Him, or to gain His favor by a bribe, but to present Him with something that represented a part of the offerer which might be accepted in his stead. Thus sacrifices became the leading features of the religious life of primitive man. Naturally other ideas would be added, such as a gift of food by fire to the Deity, the peace offerings, etc., to celebrate the friendly relations with God, the thank offerings, the sin offerings, etc., all of which naturally and logically developed from the primitive idea. It might be expected that there would be many corruptions and abuses, that the sense of sin would be obscured or lost among some peoples, and the idea of sacrifice correspondingly degraded. Such has been the case, and as well might we try to understand man at his best by studying the aboriginal tribes of Africa and Australia, or the inmates of asylums and penitentiaries, as to attempt to understand the Bible ideas in sacrifices by studying the cults of those heathen and savage tribes of Semites, etc.

III. Classification of Sacrifices.

1. Maimonides:

Maimonides was among the first to classify them, and he divided them into two kinds:

(1) Those on behalf of the whole congregation, fixed by statute, time, number and ritual being specified. This would include burnt, meal and peace offerings with their accompaniments. (2) Those on behalf of the individual, whether by virtue of his connection with the community or as a private person. These would be burnt offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings with their accompaniments.

2. W. R. Smith and Others:

Others, such as W. R. Smith, classify them as: (1) honorific, or designed to render homage, devotion, or adoration, such as burnt, meal and peace offerings; (2) piacular, designed to expiate or make atonement for the errors of the people, i.e. burnt offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings; (3) communistic, intended to establish the bond between the god and the worshipper, such as peace offerings.

3. Oehler:

Oehler divides them into two classes, namely: (1) those which assume that the covenant relation is undisturbed, such as peace offerings; (2) those intended to do away with any disturbance in the relation and to set it right, such as burnt, sin and guilt offerings.

4. Paterson and Others:

Professor Paterson and others divide them into three: (1) animal sacrifices, burnt offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings; (2) vegetable sacrifices, meal offerings, shewbread, etc.; (3) liquid and incense offerings; wine, oil, water, etc.

5. H. M. Wiener:

H. M. Wiener offers a more suggestive and scientific division ( Essays on Pentateuchal Criticism , 200 f): (1) customary lay offerings, such as had from time immemorial been offered on rude altars of earth or stone, without priest, used and regulated by Moses and in more or less general use until the exile, namely, burnt offerings, meal offerings, and peace offerings; (2) statutory individual offerings, introduced by Moses, offered by laymen with priestly assistance and at the religious capital, i.e. burnt offerings, peace offerings, meal offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings; (3) statutory national offerings introduced by Moses and offered by the priest at the religious capital, namely, burnt, meal, peace and sin offerings.

IV. Sacrifices in the Pre-Mosaic Age.

Out of the obscure period of origins emerged the dimly lighted period of ancient history. Everywhere sacrifices existed and sometimes abounded as an essential part of religion. The spade of the archaeologist, and the researches of scholars help us understand the pre-Mosaic period.

1. In Egypt:

In Egypt - probably from the beginning of the 4th millennium Bc - there were sacrifices and sacrificial systems. Temples at Abydos, Thebes, On, etc., were great priestly centers with high priests, lower priests, rituals and sacrifices in abundance. Burnt, meal and peace offerings predominated. Oxen, wild goats, pigs, geese were the chief animals offered. Besides these, wine, oil, beer, milk, cakes, grain, ointment, flowers, fruit, vegetables were offered, but not human beings. In these offerings there were many resemblances to the Hebrew gifts, and many significant exceptions. Moses would be somewhat familiar with these practices though not with the details of the ritual. He would appreciate the unifying power of a national religious center. It is inconceivable that in such an age a national leader and organizer like Moses would not take special care to institute such a system.

2. In Babylonia:

In Babylonia, from the year 3000 Bc or thereabouts, according to E. Meyer ( Geschichte des Alterthums ), there were many centers of worship such as Eridu, Nippur, Agade, Erech, Ur, Nisin, Larsa, Sippar, etc. These and others continued for centuries with elaborate systems of worship, sacrifices, temples, priesthoods, etc. Considerably over 100 temples and sanctuaries are mentioned on inscriptions, and several hundreds in the literature and tablets, so that Babylonia was studded with temples and edifices for the gods. At all these, sacrifices were constantly offered - animal and vegetable. A long list of the offerings of King Gudea includes oxen, sheep, goats, lambs, fish, birds (i.e. eagles and doves), dates, milk, greens (Jastrow, in Hdb , V, 580 f, under the word). The sacrifices provided an income for the priests, as did the Mosaic system at a later time. It had long passed the stage when it was supposed to furnish a meal for the god. A sacrifice always accompanied a consultation with a priest, and was really an assessment for the services rendered. It was not a voluntary offering or ritualistic observance. The priests on their own behalf offered a daily sacrifice, as in the Mosaic Law, and likewise on special occasions, to insure the good will of the gods they served. It seems certain that in some of the larger centers of worship animals were offered up twice a day, morning and evening. At these sacrifices certain portions were consumed on the altar, the rest belonging to the priest. The similarity of much of this to the Mosaic institutions is obvious. That the culture and civilization of Babylon was known to Egypt and Israel with other nations is shown clearly by the Tell el-Amarna Letters . Special sacrifices on special occasions were offered in Babylonia as in Israel. As Jastrow says, "In the Hebrew codes, both as regards the purely legal portions and those sections dealing with religious ritual, Babylonian methods of legal procedure and of ritual developed in Babylonian temples must be taken into consideration as determining factors." We do not doubt that Moses made use of many elements found in the Egyptian and Babylonian systems, and added to or subtracted from or purified as occasion required. As sacrificial systems and ritual had been in use more than a millennium before Moses, there is absolutely no need to suppose that Israel's ritual was a thousand years in developing, and was completed after the exile. To do so is to turn history upside down.

3. Nomads and Tribes of Arabia and Syria:

Among the nomads and tribes of Arabia and Syria, sacrifices had been common for millenniums before Moses. The researches of Wellhausen and W. R. Smith are valuable here, whatever one may think of their theories. The offerings were usually from the flocks and herds, sometimes from the spoils taken in war which had been appropriated as their own. The occasions were many and various, and the ritual was very simple. A rude altar of earth or stone, or one stone, a sacred spot, the offerer killing the victim and burning all, or perhaps certain parts and eating the remainder with the clan or family, constituted the customary details. Sometimes wild animals were offered. Babylonians, Phoenicians and Arabs offered gazelles, but the Hebrews did not. Arabs would sometimes sacrifice a captive youth, while the Carthaginians chose some of the fairest of the captives for offerings by night. Assyrian kings sometimes sacrificed captive kings. The Canaanites and others constantly sacrificed children, especially the firstborn.

4. The Offerings of Cain and Abel:

The account of the offerings of Cain and Abel ( Genesis 4:4 f) shows that the ceremony dates from almost the beginnings of the human race. The custom of offering the firstlings and first-fruits had already begun. Arabian tribes later had a similar custom. Cain's offering was cereal and is called minḥāh , "a gift" or "presentation." The same term is applied to Abel's. There is no hint that the bloody sacrifice was in itself better than the unbloody one, but it is shown that sacrifice without a right attitude of heart is not acceptable to God. This same truth is emphasized by the prophets and others, and is needed in this day as much as then. In this case the altars would be of the common kind, and no priest was needed. The sacrifices were an act of worship, adoration, dependence, prayer, and possibly propitiation.

5. Of Noah:

The sacrifices of Noah followed and celebrated the epochal and awe-inspiring event of leaving the ark and beginning life anew. He offered burnt offerings of all the clean animals ( Genesis 8:20 ff). On such a solemn occasion only an ‛ōlāh would suffice. The custom of using domestic animals had arisen at this time. The sacrifices expressed adoration, recognition of God's power and sovereignty, and a gift to please Him, for it is said He smelled a sweet savor and was pleased. It was an odor of satisfaction or restfulness. Whether or not the idea of expiation was included is difficult to prove.

6. Of Abraham:

Abraham lived at a time when sacrifices and religion were virtually identical. No mention is made of his offering at Ur or Charan, but on his arrival at Shechem he erected an altar ( Genesis 12:7 ). At Beth- el also ( Hebrews 12:8 ), and on his return from Egypt he worshipped there ( Genesis 13:4 ). Such sacrifices expressed adoration and prayer and probably propitiation. They constituted worship, which is a complex exercise. At Hebron he built an altar ( Genesis 13:18 ), officiating always as his own priest. In  Genesis 15:4 ff he offers a "covenant" sacrifice, when the animals were slain, divided, the parts set opposite each other, and prepared for the appearance of the other party to the covenant. The exact idea in the killing of these animals may be difficult to find, but the effect is to give the occasion great solemnity and the highest religious sanction. What was done with the carcasses afterward is not told. That animals were slain for food with no thought of sacrifice is shown by the narrative in chapter 18, where Abraham had a calf slain for the meal. This is opposed to one of the chief tenets of the Wellhausen school, which maintains that all slaughtering of animals was sacrificial until the 7th century BC. In Genesis 22 Abraham attempts to offer up Isaac as a burnt offering, as was probably the custom of his neighbors. That he attempted it shows that the practice was not shocking to his ethical nature. It tested the strength of his devotion to God, shows the right spirit in sacrifices, and teaches for all time that God does not desire human sacrifice - a beast will do. What God does want is the obedient heart. Abraham continued his worship at Beer-sheba (  Genesis 21:33 ).

7. Of Job:

Whatever may be the date of the writing of the Book of Job, the saint himself is represented as living in the Patriarchal age. He constantly offered sacrifices on behalf of his children ( Job 1:5 ), "sanctifying" them. His purpose no doubt was to atone for possible sin. The sacrifices were mainly expiatory. This is true also of the sacrifices of his friends ( Job 42:7-9 ).

8. Of Isaac:

Isaac seems to have had a permanent altar at Beer-sheba and to have regularly offered sacrifices. Adoration, expiation and supplication would constitute his chief motives ( Genesis 26:25 ).

9. Of Jacob:

Jacob's first recorded sacrifice was the pouring of the oil upon the stone at Beth- el (  Genesis 28:18 ). This was consecration or dedication in recognition of the awe-inspiring presence of the Deity. After his covenant with Laban he offered sacrifices ( zebhāḥim ) and they ate bread ( Genesis 31:54 ). At Shechem, Jacob erected an altar ( Genesis 33:20 ). At Beth- el ( Genesis 35:7 ) and at Beer-sheba he offered sacrifices to Isaac's God ( Genesis 46:1 ).

10. Of Israel in Egypt:

While the Israelites were in Egypt they would be accustomed to spring sacrifices and spring feasts, for these had been common among the Arabs and Syrians, etc., for centuries. Nabatean inscriptions testify to this. Egyptian sacrifices have been mentioned (see above). At these spring festivals it was probably customary to offer the firstlings of the flocks (compare  Exodus 13:15 ). At the harvest festivals sacrificial feasts were celebrated. It was to some such feast Moses said Israel as a people wished to go in the wilderness ( Exodus 3:18;  Exodus 5:3 ff;   Exodus 7:16 ). Pharaoh understood and asked who was to go ( Exodus 10:8 ). Moses demanded flocks and herds for the feast ( Exodus 10:9 ). Pharaoh would keep the flocks, etc. ( Exodus 10:24 ), but Moses said they must offer sacrifices and burnt offerings ( Exodus 10:25 f).

The sacrifice of the Passover soon occurs ( Exodus 12:3-11 ). That the Hebrews had been accustomed to sacrifice their own firstborn at this season has no support and is altogether improbable (Frazer, Golden Bough3 , pt. III, 175 f). The whole ceremony is very primitive and has retained its primitiveness to the end. The choosing of the lamb or kid, the killing at a certain time, the family gathered in the home, the carcass roasted whole, eaten that night, and the remainder, if any, burned, while the feasters had staff in hand, etc., all this was continued. The blood in this case protected from the Deity, and the whole ceremony was "holy" and only for the circumcised. Frazer in his Golden Bough gives a very different interpretation.

11. Of Jethro:

As a priest of Midian, Jethro was an expert in sacrificing. On meeting Moses and the people he offered both ‛ōlāh and zebhāḥim and made a feast (  Exodus 18:12 ).

12. Summary and Conclusions:

From the above it is evident that sacrifices were almost the substance of religion in that ancient world. From hilltops and temples innumerable, the smoke of sacrifices was constantly rising heavenward. Burnt offerings and peace offerings were well known. Moses, in establishing a religion, must have a sacrificial system. He had abundance of materials to choose from, and under divine guidance would adopt such rules and regulations as the pedagogic plans and purposes of God would require in preparing for better things.

V. The Mosaic Sacrificial System.

1. The Covenant Sacrifice:

The fundamental function of Moses' work was to establish the covenant between Israel and God. This important transaction took place at Sinai and was accompanied by solemn sacrifices. The foundation principle was obedience , not sacrifices (  Exodus 19:4-8 ). No mention is made of these at the time, as they were incidental - mere by-laws to the constitution. The center of gravity in Israel's religion is now shifted from sacrifices to obedience and loyalty to Yahweh. Sacrifices were helps to that end and without obedience were worthless. This is in exact accordance with  Jeremiah 7:21 ff. God did not speak unto the fathers at this time about sacrifices; He did speak about obedience.

The covenant having been made, the terms and conditions are laid down by Moses and accepted by the people ( Exodus 24:3 ). The Decalogue and Covenant Code are given, an altar is built, burnt offerings and peace offerings of oxen are slain by young men servants of Moses, not by priests, and blood is sprinkled on the altar ( Exodus 24:4 ff). The blood would symbolize the community of life between Yahweh and Israel, and consecrated the altar. The Law was read, the pledge again given, and Moses sprinkled the representatives of the people, consecrating them also (  Exodus 24:7 f). Ascending the mount, they had a vision of God, held a feast before Him, showing the joys and privileges of the new relationship. The striking feature of these ceremonies is the use of the blood. It is expiatory and consecrating, it is life offered to God, it consecrates the altar and the people: they are now acceptable to God and dare approach Him and feast with Him. There is no idea of God's drinking the blood. The entire ritual is far removed from the crass features of common Semitic worship.

2. The Common Altars:

In the Covenant Code, which the people accepted, the customary altars are not abolished, but regulated ( Exodus 20:24 ff). This law expressly applies to the time when they shall be settled in Canaan. 'In the whole place where I cause my name to be remembered,' etc. (  Exodus 20:24 margin). No need to change the reading to "in every place where I cause," etc., as the Wellhausen school does for obvious reasons. All the land was eligible. On such rude altars sacrifices were allowed. This same law is implied in   Deuteronomy 16:21 , a passage either ignored or explained away by the Wellhausen school (see Wiener, Essays in Pentateuchal Criticism , 200 f). Moses commanded Joshua in accordance with it ( Deuteronomy 27:5 ff). Joshua, Gideon, Jephthah, Samuel, Saul, David, Elijah and many others used such altars. There were altars at Shechem (  Joshua 24:1 ,  Joshua 24:26 ), Mizpah in Gilead ( Judges 11:11 ), Gilgal ( 1 Samuel 13:9 ). High places were chiefly used until the times of Hezekiah and Josiah, when they were abolished because of their corruptions, etc. All such altars were perfectly legitimate and in fact necessary, until there was a central capital and sanctuary in Jerusalem. The customary burnt offerings and peace offerings with the worshipper officiating were the chief factors. Heathen sacrifices and the use of heathen altars were strictly forbidden ( Exodus 22:20 (Hebrew 19);   Exodus 34:15 )

3. The Consecration of Aaron and His Sons:

The altar used at the consecration of Aaron and his sons was a "horned" or official altar, the central one. The offerings were a bullock, two rams, unleavened bread, etc. ( Exodus 29:1-4 ), and were brought to the door of the sanctuary. The ritual consisted of Aaron laying his hand on the bullock's head, designating it as his substitute ( Exodus 29:10 ), killing it before the tent of meeting ( Exodus 29:11 ), smearing some blood on the horns of the altar, and pouring the rest at its base ( Exodus 29:12 ). The blood consecrated the altar, the life was given as atonement for sins, the fat parts were burned upon the altar as food for God, and the flesh and remainder were burned without the camp ( Exodus 29:13 ,  Exodus 29:14 ). This is a sin offering - ḥaṭṭā'th - the first time the term is used. Probably introduced by Moses, it was intended to be piacular and to "cover" possible sin. One ram was next slain, blood was sprinkled round about the altar, flesh was cut in pieces, washed and piled on the altar, then burned as an offering by fire ( 'ishsheh ) unto God as a burnt offering, an odor of a sweet savor ( Exodus 29:15-18 ). The naive and primitive nature of this idea is apparent. The other ram, the ram of consecration, is slain, blood is smeared on Aaron's right ear, thumb and great toe; in the case of his sons likewise. The blood is sprinkled on the altar round about; some upon the garments of Aaron and his sons ( Exodus 29:19-21 ). Certain parts are waved before Yahweh along with the bread, and are then burned upon the altar ( Exodus 29:22-25 ). The breast is offered as a wave offering ( tenūphāh ), and the right thigh or shoulder as a heave offering ( terūmāh ). These portions here first mentioned were the priests' portion for all time to come, although this particular one went to Moses, since he officiated ( Exodus 29:26-30 ). The flesh must be boiled in a holy place, and must be eaten by Aaron and his sons only, and at the sanctuary. What was left till morning must be burned ( Exodus 29:31-34 ). Consecrated to a holy service it was dangerous for anyone else to touch it, or the divine wrath would flame forth. The same ceremony on each of the seven days atoned for, cleansed and consecrated the altar to the service of Yahweh, and it was most holy ( Exodus 29:35-37 ). The altar of incense is ordered ( Exodus 30:1 ), and Aaron is to put the blood of the sin offering once a year upon its horns to consecrate it.

4. Sacrifices Before the Golden Calf:

When the golden calf was made an altar was erected, burnt offerings and peace offerings were presented. From the latter a feast was made, the people followed the usual habits at such festivals, went to excess and joined in revelry. Moses' ear quickly detected the nature of the sounds. The covenant was now broken and no sacrifice was available for this sin. Vengeance was executed on 3,000 Israelites. Moses mightily interceded with God. A moral reaction was begun; new tables of the Law were made with more stringent laws against idols and idol worship ( Exodus 32:1-35 ).

5. The Law of the Burnt Offering ('Olah):

At the setting-up of the tabernacle burnt and meal offerings were sacrificed ( Exodus 40:29 ). The law of the burnt offering is found in Lev 1. Common altars and customary burnt offerings needed no minute regulations, but this ritual was intended primarily for the priest, and was taught to the people as needed. They were for the statutory individual and national offering upon the "horned" altar before the sanctuary. Already the daily burnt offerings of the priests had been provided for ( Exodus 29:38-42 ). The burnt offering is here called ḳorbān , "oblation."

(1) Ritual for the Offerer ( Leviticus 1:3-17 ).

This may have been from the herd or flock or fowls, brought to the tent of meeting; hands were laid (heavily) upon its head designating it as the offerer's substitute, it was killed, flayed and cut in pieces. If of the flock, it was to be killed on the north side of the altar; if a fowl, the priest must kill it.

(2) Ritual for the Priest ( Leviticus 1:3-17 ).

If a bullock or of the flock, the priest was to sprinkle the blood round about the altar, put on the fire, lay the wood and pieces of the carcass, wash the inwards, legs, etc., and burn it all as a sweet savor to God. If a fowl, he must wring the neck, drain out the blood on the side of the altar, cast the crop, filth, etc., among the ashes, rend the wings without dividing the bird and burn the carcass on the altar.

(3) General Laws for the Priest.

The burnt offering must be continued every morning and every evening ( Exodus 29:38 f;   Numbers 28:3-8 ). At the fulfillment of his vow the Nazirite must present it before God and offer it upon the altar through the priest ( Numbers 6:14 ,  Numbers 6:16 ): on the Sabbath, two lambs ( Numbers 28:9 ); on the first of the month, two bullocks, one ram and seven lambs ( Numbers 28:11 ); on the day of first-fruits, the same ( Numbers 28:27 ); on the 1st day of the 7th month, one bullock, one ram, seven lambs ( Numbers 29:8 ); on the 15th day, 13 bullocks, two rams, 14 lambs, the number of bullocks diminishing daily until the 7th day, when seven bullocks, two rams, 14 lambs were offered (Nu 29:12-34); on the 22nd day of this month one bullock, one ram and seven lambs were offered ( Numbers 29:35 ,  Numbers 29:36 ). Non-Israelites were permitted to offer the ‛ōlāh , but no other sacrifices ( Leviticus 17:8;  Leviticus 22:18 ,  Leviticus 22:25 ).

(4) Laws in  Deuteronomy 12:6 ,  Deuteronomy 12:13 ,  Deuteronomy 12:14 ,  Deuteronomy 12:27;  Deuteronomy 27:6 .

Anticipating a central sanctuary in the future, the lawgiver counsels the people to bring their offerings there ( Deuteronomy 12:6 ,  Deuteronomy 12:11 ); they must be careful not to offer them in any place ( Deuteronomy 12:13 ), but must patronize the central sanctuary ( Deuteronomy 12:14 ). In the meantime common altars and customary sacrifices were allowable and generally necessary ( Deuteronomy 16:21;  Deuteronomy 27:6 ).

6. The Law of the Meal Offering (Minchah):

The term "meal offering" is

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [20]

Anything of value given away to secure the possession of something of still higher value, and which is the greater and more meritorious the costlier the gift.