Images de page
[blocks in formation]

In fact, the very meaning of the primitive Chinese word, or character, for "sacrifice," a word which claims to show its use at least forty-five centuries ago,-gives a gleam of this universal heart yearning after divine-human inter-union as surely as the definition of "sacrifice." Dr. Legge says1 of the Chinese term for "sacrifice” (tsî): "The most general idea symbolized by it iss—an offering whereby communication and communion with spiritual beings is effected.” Says St. Augustine: 2 "A true sacrifice is every work which is done that we may be united to God in holy fellowship, and which has a reference to that supreme good and end in which alone we can be truly blessed." So it is that all sacrifice—whether under ethnic longings or under Bible teachings— was a reaching out after at-one-ment between the human and the divine; and this apart from any question as to the speculative philosophy of the at-one-ment.


Concerning the traditional view, in Arabia, of blood as a means of fellowship with divinities, Maimonides says:3 Although blood was very unclean in the eyes of the Sabeans, they nevertheless partook of it because they thought it was the food of the spirits; by eating it man has something in common with the spirits, which join him and tell him future events, according to the notion which people generally have of spirits. There were, however, people who objected to eating blood, as a thing naturally disliked by man; they killed a beast, received the blood in a vessel or in a pot, and ate of the flesh of that beast, whilst sitting around the blood. They imagined that in this manner the spirits would come to partake of the blood which was their food, whilst the idolaters were eating the flesh; that love, brotherhood and friendship with the spirits was established, because they dined with the latter at one place and at the same time; that the spirits would appear to them in dreams, inform them of coming events, and be favorable to them. Such ideas people liked and accepted in those days; they were general, 2 The City of God, X., 6.

1 The Religions of China, p. 66.

3 Guide of the Perplexed, Friedländer's Translation, III., 232.

and their correctness was not doubted by any one of the common people. The Law, which is perfect in the eyes of those who know it, and seeks to cure mankind of these lasting diseases, forbade the eating of blood, and emphasized the prohibition exactly in the same terms as it emphasized idolatry: 'I will set my face against that soul that eateth blood' (Lev. 17: 10). The same language is employed in reference to him, 'who giveth of his seed unto Molech;''then I will set my face against that man' (Lev. 20: 5). There is besides idolatry and eating blood no other sin in reference to which these words are used. For the eating of blood leads to a kind of idolatry, to the worship of spirits. . . The commandment was therefore given that whenever a beast or a bird that may be eaten is killed, the blood thereof must be covered with earth (Lev. 17: 13) in order that the people should not assemble round the blood for the purpose of eating there. The object was thus fully gained to break the connection between these fools and their spirits. This belief flourished about the time of our teacher Moses. People were attracted and misled by it. We find it in the Song of Moses (Deut. 32: 17): They sacrificed unto spirits, not to God.'"

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


On the same point Rabbi Moses bar Nachman says 1 of the ancient "heathens in their worship of their idol gods: "They gathered together blood for the devils their idol gods, and then they came themselves and did eat of that blood with them, as being the devils' guests, and invited to eat at the table of devils; and so were joined in federal society with them."


Strabo says, that the Persians reserved for the use of the offerers all the "flesh" of their sacrifices; “for they say that God requires the soul [vxh, psyche-the blood] and nothing else." And this idea, that the divinities were fed and nourished by the blood of sacrifices, while the worshipers were brought into communion and union with the divinities through this offering, seems to have prevailed among the Greeks and 1 Cited in Cudworth's Intellectual System of the Universe, Andover ed., II., 542. 2 Geographica, XVII., 13 (732).




Romans; and even many of the Christian fathers accepted its truth as applicable to the demons.1 For example, St. Basil says: "Sacrifices are things of no smail pleasure and advantage to demons; because the blood, being evaporated by fire, is taken into the compages and substances of their bodies: the whole of which [bodily substance] is throughout nourished with vapors."

[ocr errors]


It has already been shown, in this volume, that in all ages blood unjustly spilled has been supposed to have the power of making its voice heard against him who poured it out by violence. This is the Bible representation of the first blood which stained the hands of a murderer. "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground,' was the Lord's declaration to Cain. And down to the latest times, and in all lands, there have been vestiges of this primitive belief of mankind—as thus sanctioned in the inspired revelation of God.4 Yet, because of the sophisticated and conventional idea which has gradually come to possess the Occidental mind that in some way blood stands for death and not for life, the Oriental and Biblical idea of blood as in some sense voiceful even when separated from the body, has been so lost sight of as to be a means of shadowing and perverting various Bible texts and teachings.

A chief prominence attaches to Abel, even in the New Testament record, from the fact that his blood was voiceful after its spilling by his brother Cain. Where he appears, at the head of the martyr roll of the heroes of faith, in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, this it is which is named as a crowning consequence of his spirit of faith.

"By faith

1 See citations from Porphyry and Origen, and references to many other writers in Harrison's Cudworth's Intellectual System of the Universe, with Mosheim's Notes, III., 350-352.

2 In Commentary on Isaiah, cited in Harrison's Cudworth, as above.

[blocks in formation]


Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness in respect of [or over] his gifts; and through it [through this faith which gave him acceptance with God] he being dead yet speaketh" —even after he is dead his voice is heard as before his death. It is not Abel's memory but Abel's self-his soul, his life, his bloodwhich is here represented as speaking; and a reference to the Old Testament record shows how it was that Abel being dead yet spoke. So again, the contrast between the blood of Jesus and the blood of Abel 2 in the potency of their voices 3 gives emphasis to the fact that it was the speaking of Abel's spilled blood that marks Abel's place in the sacred record.

That this voicefulness of the outpoured blood of the proto-martyr Abel was, in the days of the New Testament writing, understood in a peculiar literalness on the part of the Jews, is evidenced not only in this reference to it in the Epistle to the Hebrews, but in a Talmudic reference to the traditional voicefulness of a later martyr's blood, and in a coupled reference by our Lord to the two martyrdoms-in the light of their traditional outspeaking. Both the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian tell of the irrepressible voice of Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, who was slain by King Joash 4 in the court of the priests of

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]


3 It is said that the blood of Jesus speaks better-not "better things" as our old version had it-than the blood of Abel. The Greek word here rendered "better is kreittona (KpEίTTova) "more mightily," more surpassingly,' ""more excellently" (comp. Heb. 1: 4; 7: 7), "not more satisfactorily," nor yet more lovingly." The voice of Abel (for the voice of Abel's blood is Abel's voice) was heard and heeded in its day. The voice of Jesus (for the voice of the blood of Jesus is the voice of Jesus (comp. Heb. 10: 29) is a voice more worthy than Abel's of being heard. Therefore-" see that ye refuse not him that speaketh" (see Heb. 12: 25). Not the memory but the very self of the martyr, in every instance, gives the voice which is to be heard and heeded as a witness to the truth.

4 2 Chron. 24: 17-25.


[ocr errors]

361 the first temple. His blood which was left there would not be quiet. "When therefore Nebuzar-adan [the captain of the Babylonian guard put in charge of Jerusalem by Nebuchadrezzar 1] went up thither, he saw the blood [still] bubbling; so he said to them, 'What meaneth this?' 'It is the blood,' say they, 'of calves, lambs and rams, which we have offered on the altar.' 'Bring then,' said he, 'calves, lambs and rams, that I may try whether this be their blood.' They brought them and slew them, and that blood still bubbled, but their blood did not bubble. [The one had a voice, the other had not.] Discover the matter to me,' said he, 'or I will tear your flesh with iron rakes.' Then they said to him, 'This was a priest, a prophet, and a judge, who foretold to Israel all these evils which we have suffered from you, and we rose up against him, and slew him.' 'But I,' saith he, 'will appease him.' [His voice shall not be unheeded.] He brought the rabbins and slew them upon that blood, and yet it was not pacified: he brought the children out of the school, and slew them upon it, and yet it was not quiet; he brought the young priests, and slew them upon it, and yet it was not quiet. So that he slew upon in it [in all] ninety-four thousand, 2 and yet it was not quiet. He drew near to it himself, and said, ‘O Zacharias, Zacharias! thou hast destroyed the best of thy people' [that is, they have been killed for your sake]; 'would you have me destroy all?' Then it was quiet, and did not bubble any more." 3

The question is not as to the truthfulness of this narration, but as to its existence as a Jewish tradition in the days of our Lord. Putting it, therefore, alongside of the Bible record of Abel's voiceful blood, as explained in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and what fresh force it gives to the declaration of Jesus concerning the reproachful outcry of the blood of all the martyrs, against those who in his day represented the spirit

1 Anachronisms of this sort are not uncommon in the Talmud.

2 These figures are quite in accordance with the exaggerations of the Talmud.

3 Citations from Jerusalem Talmud, Taaneeth, fol. 69: 1, 2; and Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedreen, fol. 96: 2 ; in Lightfoot's Hora Hebraica, II., 303–308.

« PrécédentContinuer »