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THE PARSEE SACRAMENT.
“There is a fine inscription, not yet fully translated, describing the soul in heaven, clothed in a white radiant garment, seated in the company of the blessed, and fed by the gods themselves with celestial food."1
Among the Parsees, or the Zoroastrians, who intervene, as it were, between the primitive peoples of Assyria and India, and the later inhabitants of the Persian empire, there prevailed the same idea of divinehuman inter-union through blood, and of divine-human inter-communion through sharing the flesh of the proffered and accepted sacrifice, at the altar, or at the table, of the gods, Ormuzd and Ahriman. The horse was a favorite substitute victim of sacrifice, among the Parsees; as also among the Hindoos and the Chinese. Its blood was the means of divine-human inter-union. "The flesh of the victim was eaten by the priest and the worshipers; the 'soul' [the life, the blood] of it only was enjoyed by Ormazd."2 The communiondrink, in the Parsee sacrament, as still observed, is the juice of the haoma, or hom. "Small bread [or wafers] called Darun, of the size of a dollar, and covered with a piece of meat, incense, and Haoma, or Hom," the juice of the plant known in India as Soma, are used in this sacrament. "The Darun and the Hom [having been presented to the gods] are afterwards eaten by
1 Rec. of Past, III., 135. 2 Sayce's Anc. Emp. of East, p. 266.
the priests," as in communion. This is sometimes called the "Sacrament of the Haoma."
It is recog
In ancient Egypt, it seems to have been much as in China, and India, and Assyria. Substitute blood was a basis of inter-union between man and the gods; and a divine-human inter-communion was secured as a proof and as a result of that inter-union. That it was human blood which was, of old, in Egypt, poured out as a means of this inter-union (in some cases at least) seems clear. It is declared by Manetho, and Diodorus, and Athenæus, and Plutarch, and Porphyry. nized as proven, by Kenrick and Ebers and other Egyptian scholars. Wilkinson, it is true, was unwilling to accept its reality, because, in his opinion, "it is quite incompatible with the character of a nation whose artists thought acts of clemency towards a foe worthy of record, and whose laws were distinguished by that humanity which punished with death the murder even of a slave ";" and he prefers to rest on the improbability of such a custom among a civilized people." Yet, a single item of proof from the monuments 1 Schaff-Herzog's Encyc. of Relig. Knowl., art. “ Parseeism." 2 Anc. Emp. of East, p. 266.
3 See Wilkinson's Anc. Egypt., III., 30, 400.
4 Kenrick's Anc. Egypt, I., 369 ff.
5 Ebers's Egypt. u. d. Büch. Mose's, p. 245 f.
COMMUNION IN EGYPT.
would seem sufficient to settle this question, if it were still deemed a question. The ideogram which was employed on the seal of the priests, authorizing the slaying of an animal in sacrifice, "bore the figure of a man on his knees, with his hands tied behind him, and a sword pointed at his throat."1
Herodotus, describing the magnificent festival of Isis, at Busiris, says that a bull was sacrificed on that occasion; and we know that in every such sacrifice the blood of the victim was poured out as an oblation, at the altar. When the duly prepared offering was consumed upon the altar, those portions of the victim which had been reserved were eaten by the priest and others. Herodotus says, moreover, that some of the Greeks who were present at this festival were in the habit of causing their own blood to flow during the consuming of the sacrifice, as if in proof of their desire for inter-union with the goddess, as precedent to their inter-communion with her. He says: “But as many of the Karians as are dwelling in Egypt, do yet more than these [native Egyptians], inasmuch as
1 Cited from Castor, in Plutarch, in Wilkinson's Anc. Egypt., III., 407. See also Ebers's Ægypt, u. d. Büch. Mose's, p. 246.
2 Hist., II., 59.
3 Wilkinson's Anc. Egypt., III., 409. See also page 102, supra. 4 Wilkinson's Anc. Egypt., III., 109; 410; Kenrick's Anc. Egypt., I., 373. See Herodotus, Hist., II., 47.
they cut their foreheads with swords; and so they are shown to be foreigners and not Egyptians."2
It would even seem that in Egypt, as in other parts of the primitive world, the prohibition of the eating of many sacred animals applied to the eating of them when not offered in sacrifice. Because those animals became, as it were, on the altar, or on the table, of the gods, a portion of the gods themselves, they must not be eaten except by those who discerned in them the body of the gods, and who were entitled to share them in inter-communion with the gods.3
The monumental representations of the other world show the gods sharing food and drink with the souls of the deceased. And the idea of a divine-human inter-communion through the partaking by gods and men of the food provided for, or accepted by, the former, runs all through the Egyptian record. A remarkable illustration of this idea is found in an extended inscription from the tomb of Setee I., whose daughter is supposed to have been the finder of the infant Moses. In this inscription, which is sometimes called the Book of Hades, or more properly the Book of Amenti, the Sun-god Rã is represented as passing through Amenti—or the under world-on his noctur1 Hist., II., 61. 2 See references to this custom at page 85 ff., supra. 3 See Wilkinson's Anc. Egypt., III., 404-406.
Renouf's The Relig. of Anc. Egypt, pp. 138-147.
HIS WORD IS BREAD.
nal circuit, and speaking words of approval to his disembodied worshipers there.1 "These are they who worshiped Ra on the earth,
They are [now] masters of
their refreshments; they take their meat; they seize their offerings in the porch of him, whose being is mysterious. Ra says to them, Your offerings are yours; take your refreshment." Again and again the declaration is made of "the elect," of those who are greeted by Ră in Amenti: "Their food is (composed) of Ra's bread; their drink [is] of his liquor tesher [a common word for "red," often standing for "blood" 2]. And yet again: "Their food is to hear the word of this god." "Their food is that of the veridical [the truth-speaking] ones. Offerings are [now] made to them on earth; because the true word is in them."4
Thus there was inter-communion between man and the gods in ancient Egypt, on the basis of a bloodmade inter-union between man and the gods; as there was also in primitive Assyria and Babylon, in primitive India, and in primitive China.
Turning now from the far East to the far West, we
1 See Rec. of Past, X., 79–134.
2 See page 102 f., supra.
3" Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live." (Deut. 8: 3. See, also, Matt. 4: 4; Job 23: 12; John 4: 34.)
See John 8: 31, 32; 16: 13; 17: 19.