« PrécédentContinuer »
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."
THE VOICE OF OUTPOURED BLOOD.
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.
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 "1—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 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 in the court of the priests of
1 Heb. 11: 4.
2 Heb. 12: 24.
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 (xpeίTTova) "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.
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.' 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.
which caused their martyrdom : "That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel, the righteous, unto the blood of Zachariah, son of Barachiah,1 whom ye slew between the sanctuary and the altar." 2
The blood is the life, and when the life is united to God by faith the death of the body cannot silence the voice of him who is in covenant oneness with God.
GLEANINGS FROM THE GENERAL FIELD.
In the study of this entire subject, of the relation of blood and of blood-covenanting to the primitive religious conceptions of the race, fresh material out of the rites and customs of different peoples in various ages is constantly presenting itself on every side. A few illustrations of this truth are added herewith, without regard to their special and separate classification.
The idea that transferred blood was transferred life, and that the receiving of the blood of a sacred substitute victim was the receiving of the very life of the being represented by that substitute, showed itself in the worship of Cybele, in the ancient East, in a most impressive ceremony. "The Taurobolium of the ancients was," as we are told, "a ceremony in which the high-priest of Cybele was consecrated; and might be called a baptism of blood, which they conceived imparted a spiritual new birth to the liberated spirit. The high-priest about to be inaugurated was introduced into a dark excavated apartment, adorned with a long silken robe, and a crown of gold. Above this apartment [which would seem to have represented a place of burial] was a floor perforated in a thousand places with holes like a sieve, through which the blood of a sacred bull, slaughtered for the purpose, descended in a copious torrent upon the inclosed priest, who received
1 As to the question concerning the identity of this martyr with the son of Jehoiada, see Lightfoot, as above.
2 Matt. 23: 35: Luke 11: 51.
the purifying [or re-vivifying] stream on every part of his dress, rejoicing to bathe with the bloody shower his hands, his cheeks, and even to bedew his lips and his tongue with it [thereby tasting it and so securing the assimilation of its imparted life]. When all the blood had run from the throat of the immolated bull, the carcass of the victim was removed, and the priest issued forth from the cavity, a spectacle ghastly and horrible, his head and vestments being covered with blood, and clotted drops of it adhering to his venerable beard. As soon as the pontifex appeared before the assembled multitude the air was rent with congratulatory shouts; so pure and so sanctified, however, was he now esteemed that they dared not approach his person, but beheld him at a distance with awe and veneration." 1
Here seems to be the idea of a burial of the old life, and of a new birth into the higher nature represented by the substitute blood; as that idea appears in the Norseland method, of entering into the blood-covenant under the lifted sod. 2 It also appears to represent the receiving of new life by the bath of blood.3
Even down to our own time in such a land as China, where the symbolism of blood seems to have as small prominence as in any portion of the world, there are vestiges of the primitive custom of partaking of the blood, and eating of the heart as the blood-fountain, in order to absorb the life of the victim; a custom which, as has been already noted, has prevailed in the primitive East and in the primitive West. Thus it
is recorded that, as late as 1869, one Aching and his brother, of Sinchew, in the province of which Canton is the capital, were engaged in various local conflicts and finally sought refuge in Fukien Province. There they were killed and mutilated, and "Aching's heart was cut out, boiled, and eaten by his savage captors, under the notion that they would
1 This is cited as from a classical authority, through Maurice's Indian Antiquities (v. 196), in a note to Burder's Whiston's Josephus (Antiq. III., 9).
2 See p. 41 f., supra. 3 See pp. 116-126; 324, supra. 4 See pp. 99-110; 126-133.