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IMPORTANCE OF THIS RITE STRANGELY UNDERVALUED.
It seems strange that a primitive rite like the blood-covenant, with its world-wide sweep, and its manifold applications to the history of sacrifice, should have received so little attention from students of the latter theme. Nor has it been entirely ignored by them; although its illustrations have, in this connection, been drawn almost entirely from the field of the classic writers, where its religious aspects have a minor prominence; and, as a result, the suggestion of any real importance in the religious symbolism of this rite has been, generally, brushed aside without its receiving due consideration.
Thus, in The Speaker's Commentary, which is one of the more recent, and more valuable, scholarly and sensible compends of sound and thorough biblical criticism,-there are references to the rite of human blood-covenanting in its possible bearing on the blood-covenanting of God with Israel before Mount Sinai,1 after this sort: "The instances from classical antiquity, adduced, as parallels to this sacrifice of Moses, by Bähr, Knobel, and Kalisch, in which animals were slaughtered on the making of covenants, are either: those in which the animal was slain to signify the punishment due to the party that might break the covenant (Hom. I., III., 298; XIX., 252; Liv. Hist., I., 24; XXI., 45); those in which confederates dipped their hands, or their weapons, in the same blood (Æsch. Sept. c. Theb., 43; Xenoph. Anab., II., 2, 9); or those in which the contracting parties tasted 1 See pages 238-240, supra.
each other's blood (Herodot. [Hist.] I., 74; IV., 74; Tac. Annal., XII., 47). All these usages are based upon ideas which are but very superficially related to the subject; they have indeed no true connection whatever with the idea of sacrifice as the seal of a covenant between God and man."1
When the entire history of man's outreaching after an inter-union of natures with his fellow-man and with his God is fairly studied, in the light thrown on it by the teachings of the divine-human Being, who gave of his own blood for the consummation of the longed-for divine-human inter-union, it will be more clearly seen, whether it were the relation of the primitive rite itself to the idea of sacrifice, or the study of that relation, which was "very superficial," as a cause of its popular overlooking. The closest and most sacred form of covenant ever known in the primitive world, was that whereby two persons covenanted to become one, through being partakers of the same blood. At Sinai, when Jehovah would covenant with Israel, a common supply of substitute blood -proffered by Israel and accepted by Jehovah-was taken; and onehalf of it was cast upon the altar, Godward, while the other half of it was cast Israelward, upon the people. The declaration of Moses to Israel, then, was: "Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you;" or, as that declaration is repeated, in Hebrews: "This is the blood of the covenant which God covenanted to youward." And from that time forward, the most sacred possession of Israel,-above which hovered the visible sign of the presence of Jehovah, was the casket which contained the record of that blood-made covenant; and it was toward the mercy-seat cover of that Covenant Casket, that House of the Covenant, that the symbolic blood of atonement through new life was sprinkled, in the supreme renewals of that covenant by Israel's representative year by year.
Even the Speaker's Commentary says, of this mutual blood-sharing by Israel and Jehovah at Sinai: "The blood thus divided between the 1 Speaker's Comm., at Exod. 24: 8. 2 Exod. 24: 3-8. 3 Heb. 9: 20.