Images de page
[blocks in formation]

which the contracting parties became one by actually drinking or tasting one another's blood. The seven stones in Herodotus are of course sacred stones, the Arabic ansâb, Hebrew massêbôth, which, like the sacred stones at the Ka'ba were originally Baetylia, Bethels or god boxes. So we find in Tâj. iii. 560, a verse of Rashêd ibn Ramêd of the tribe of 'Anaza, 'I swear by the flowing blood round 'Aud, and by the sacred stones which we left beside So'air.' So'air is the god of the 'Anaza (Yacût iii. 94) and 'Aud [is the god] of their allies and near kinsmen Bakr-Wâil (Bakri p. 55). We see then that two groups might make themselves of one blood by a process of which the essence was that they commingled their blood [or a substitute therefor], at the same time applying the blood to the god or fetish so as to make him a party to the covenant also. Quite similar is the ritual in Exod. xxiv., where blood [the blood of the ox] is applied to the people of Israel and to the altar."

In added illustration of the gradations of substitution in the symbolism of blood-covenanting, Professor Smith shows, by various citations, that among the early Arabians fruit-juice and wine-dregs were sometimes "taken to imitate blood." 1 This is an incidental verification of the position taken in this volume (at pages 191-202) concerning “symbolic substitutes for blood;" a position which finds added proof in Plutarch's De Iside (6).

Is it, indeed, really true that "there is a wide step between a union made by the inter-transfusion of blood and the union made by substitute blood, whether [in the case of the blood of the substitute ox in Madagascar, of the substitute sheep or goat in Arabia, or of the substitute ox] sprinkled on both parties, as at Sinai [or by which they are anointed as in China and Borneo], or poured in the sacrifice of a victim whose flesh is eaten as a symbol of sharing the life and the nourishment of Deity [as in India, in Assyria, in Arabia, in Egypt, in Europe, and in America]"? Or, however wide this step may be, is it not shown to have been taken so early in the history of the race as to

1 Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, note 5, at p. 260 ff.

have left its traces in the terminology of the Bible-written in the light of these primitive customs?


It is having a common blood, not partaking of food in common, that makes unity of life between two parties who are brought together in covenant. Yet the sharing of food is often a proof of agreement, or even of agreed union; and all the world over and always the act of eating together accompanies, or rather follows, the rite of covenanting by blood. Never, however, is the mere eating in common supposed to perfect a vital union, or an organic unity, between the parties to a mutual feast; while the sharing a common blood, or an accepted substitute for blood, through its tasting or by being touched with it, is supposed to perfect such a unity. So far biblical and extra-biblical symbolisms agree.

A "covenant union in sacrifice" is an indefinite and ambiguous term. It may mean a covenant union wrought by sacrifice, or a covenant union accompanied by sacrifice, or a covenant union exhibited in sacrifice. But, in whatever sense it is employed, the fact remains true, that, wherever a bloody offering is made in connection with sacrifice and with covenanting, it is the blood-drinking, the blood-pouring, or the blood-touching, that represents the covenant-making; while eating the flesh of the victim, or of the feast otherwise provided, represents the covenant-ratifying, or the covenant-showing.3

Thus at Sinai the formal covenanting of the Lord with his people was accompanied by sacrificing. Representatives of the people of Israel "offered burnt-offerings, and sacrificed peace-offerings of oxen unto the Lord." Nothing is here said of the technical sin-offering, but the whole burnt-offering and the peace-offering are included. The blood-outpouring and the blood-sprinkling preceded any feasting. And as if to make it clear that "by sprinkling the blood” and not “by eating the flesh of

1 See pp. 41, 148-190, 240, 268 f.

3 See pp. 147-190.

2 See p. 345, supra.

Exod. 24: 1-11.

[blocks in formation]

the victim," the "covenant union in [this] sacrifice was represented," Moses took a portion of the blood and “ 'sprinkled [it] on the altar," and another portion "and sprinkled it on the people," saying as he did so, "Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you." It was not until after this covenanting by blood, that the people of Israel, by their representatives, “did eat and drink "in ratification, or in proof, or in exhibit, of the covenant thus wrought by blood.

The Babylonian Talmud finds in the prohibitions of blood-eating, in Leviticus 17: 3–14, a command “not to eat any portion of a sacrifice before its blood is sprinkled upon the altar." 1 Professor Robertson Smith shows from Arabic authorities that of old in Arabia "it required a casâma [or a covenanting sacred rite] to enable two tribes to eat and drink together." And this casâma he shows to have included ordinarily among Arabians a common blood-drinking or blood-sprinkling, similar to that described at Mount Sinai. This custom indeed would seem to have a trace in the common Oriental mode of hastening to kill a lamb, or a calf, as the first act in receiving a guest; pouring out the covenanting blood and then sharing the flesh of the peace-offering. Any one familiar with Oriental customs can testify to the prevalence of this method of receiving a guest. Thus with Arabs, as with Hebrews, the real covenant-union in sacrifice was represented by the blood-sharing, and was celebrated by the feast-partaking.

Maimonides calls attention to the fact that in the Mishnah there is a suggestion of a commingling of two bloods in a covenant-rite between the Lord and his people, at the time of the exodus. This is quite in accord with the suggestion in this volume that in the rite of circumcision it was Abraham and his descendants who supplied the blood of the covenant, while in the passover-sacrifice it was the Lord who commanded the substitute blood in token of his blood-covenanting. Refer

1 Cited in Friedländer's Guide of the Perplexed of Maimonides, note at p. 233Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, note at p. 262.

Ibid., pp. 48-50.

* See Gen. 18: 1-8; 1 Sam. 28: 21-24.

ring to the command, in Exodus 12: 44-48, for the circumcision of the Israelites as precedent to their partaking of the passover (the covenanting by blood to precede the exhibit of the covenant in sharing the flesh of the sacrifice), Maimonides says of the Mishnah teachings: "The number of the circumcised being large, the blood of the Passover and that of the circumcision flowed together [thus perfecting a blood-covenant]. The Prophet Ezekiel (16: 6), referring to this event, says, 'When I saw thee sprinkled with thine own blood, I said unto thee, Live because of thy blood,' i. e., because of the blood of the Passover and that of the circumcision [thus commingled]." The question of the correctness of this exegesis of Ezekiel's words is, of course, unimportant as affecting the proof here given of the rabbinical recognition of the blood-covenanting idea in the Exodus narrative.

Another Jewish teacher, cited by Cudworth,' said of the influence of the Old Testament sacrifices, that "the blood of beasts offered up in sacrifice had an attractive power to draw down Divinity, and unite it to the Jews." Yet again, Hamburger, one of the foremost rabbinical authorities of the present day, insists that the very word for "atonement," in the Hebrew, commonly taken to mean "a cover," or "a covering," has in it more properly the idea of a compassed union, or an "at-onement." He says: "I hold the word kaphar, in the sense to pitch ' [to overlay with pitch, Gen. 6: 14] to fill up the seam' ['to close up the chasm'], as a symbolic expression for the reunion of the sinner with God." And it is not the flesh of the sacrifice, but the blood, that God counts the atonement, or the means of at-one-ment between the sinner and himself.4

That "sprinkling the blood" toward the altar in the Jewish sacrifices as preliminary to "eating the flesh of the victim," represented the idea

1 Friedländer's Guide, p. 232.

See, also, Lightfoot's Hor. Heb., IV., 241.

2 See citation from "that learned Hebrew book Cozri," in Cudworth's Intellec

tual System of the Universe, Am. Ed., II., 537.

3 Hamburger's Real Encyclopädie f. Bibel u. Talmud, I., 804, note.
4 See Lev. 17: II.

[blocks in formation]

of blood-drinking, as in the primitive mode of blood-covenanting, would seem to be indicated by the words of the Lord in Psalm 50: 12, 13:—

"If I were hungry, I would not tell thee:

For the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.

Will I eat the fresh of bulls,

Or drink the blood of goats?"

"For though it be here denied," says Cudworth, "that God did really feed upon the sacrifices, yet it is implied that there was some such allusive signification in them" in the minds of their offerers; and that the bloodsprinkling represented the covenant blood-drinking, as surely as the fleshsharing represented the covenant-celebrating. Why should the Lord say that he does not care to drink the blood of goats, if no one of his worshipers ever thought of his doing so?

Every gleam of the old religions goes to show that it was blood-sharing, and not food-sharing, that made a vital union-for the life that is or for the life that is to come. Thus "for the significance which the Arabs down to the time of Mohammed attached to the tasting of another man's living blood, there is an instructive evidence in Ibn Hishâm, p. 572. Of Malik, who sucked the prophet's wound at Ohod and swallowed the blood, Mohammed said, He whose blood has touched mine cannot be reached by hell-fire.' " 2 Not he who shared a meal with the prophet, but he who had become a partaker of his blood, which was his life, was in vital union with the prophet-so that not even death could finally separate the two.

Whether all bloody sacrifices included the idea of covenant-union as immediately accomplished, or whether, again, they sometimes merely looked toward covenant-union through atonement as their ultimate fruition, may indeed be a point in question; but that "covenant-union in [bloody] sacrifice" as finally accomplished was represented in its accomplishing not by the flesh, but by the blood, would seem to be a fact

1 Intellect. Syst., II., 537.

W. Robertson Smith's Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, p. 50.

« PrécédentContinuer »