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understood. Herodotus tells of the rite of blood-covenanting among the Arabians, by cutting into the palms of the hands, in order that the blood of the two may be unalterably interchanged.1 Isaiah, writing not far from the time of Herodotus, uses this illustration of Jehovah's unfailing fidelity to his people: "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, these may forget, yet will not I forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon [I have cut thee into] the palms of my hands." 2 A mother and a child were for a time as one; but they may be separated and become mutually forgetful. They, however, who have become as one personality, through an intermingling of their life-blood at the palm of the hand, cannot be wholly separated. Jehovah has covenanted with his people in a covenant that will never be forgotten by him. The covenant relation which thus makes a friend nearer and dearer than brother, or son, or daughter, or wife, it is which is referred to in the climax of human relationships in the law of Moses, as " 'thy friend which is as thine own soul; "4 such a friend, made by the covenant of the pierced hands, will never be forgotten by his other self.
It has been already mentioned that there were indications of the bloodcovenant and its involvings in the sacred writing of the Zoroastrians, 5 and in the writings of Herodotus with reference to the Persian invasion of Egypt, and now, as the last pages of this volume go to press, there comes an illustration of the existence of this rite in Persia in its primitive form at the present time.
Mr. J. H. McCormick, now of Schenectady, New York, was, for
3 The attempts to explain this figure of speech (see Rosenmüller, Stolberg, Burder, Roberts, etc.) by a reference to the custom of tattooing pictures of sacred shrines on the arms and breasts of pilgrims, gives no such idea as this of loving unity between God and his people, as more enduring than that of mother and child. • See p. 365 f.
• Deut. 13: 6.
5 See p. 169.
a number of years, connected with the Royal Engineers' British Service, in India and Persia. It was while he was at Dehbeed, in Persia, in the early part of 1871 that he witnessed the consummation of this rite, and he gives this description of it: "Near Dehbeed there is a large cave where jackals frequent. On the 2d of February, 1871, a boy nine years old, who was the son of Alee Muhammad, wandered into this cave, and his cries attracted the notice of Jaffar Begg (one of my ghootans, or line policemen, who was in charge of the caravansary), who immediately armed himself, and, with two powerful dogs, entered the cave, and there in a far-away corner he found young Alee Muhammad crouched. He brought him out in safety, and handed him over to his father, who lived about half a mile away. The father's joy was so great, and he was so grateful to his son's deliverer, that he, being a Persian gentleman, proposed their entering into life-brotherhood, and Jaffar Begg joyfully accepted the proposition.
"Having procured two new pocket-knives, they both, that is, Jaffar Begg and Alee Muhammad, appeared at the place appointed, about three hundred yards from my office,-Jaffar having invited me to witness the ceremony. At 10 A. M., February 4, 1871, a large Persian carpet was spread out on the sand. The two men knelt down on it, placing a small stone in front of each. These stones were brought from the centre of Muhammadan worship at Mecca. Both men prayed to God. Each man touched his sacred stone with his forehead, his mouth, and his heart three times. Then they had a pipe together; then a cup of coffee without milk or sugar; then a second prayer; then a second pipe and a second cup of coffee; then a third prayer.
"After this Jaffar took out his pocket-knife and cut Alee Muhammad's right wrist on the inside, sucking the blood from the cut. Alee Muhammad drew his pocket-knife and cut Jaffar's right wrist on the inside, sucking the blood from the cut. Both wounds bleeding freely, the wrists were brought together, wound to wound, and the two men repeated together an invocation, calling God to witness that these two
persons were now made one by blood until death.
Then the hakeem,
or doctor, dressed their wounds. They had a final prayer together, in which all present, except myself, joined. They had another pipe, and another cup of coffee, after which they separated. The sacredness of this bond is greater than language can express."
In the modern observance of this rite in Persia, it will be seen that the main features of the rite in all the ages are preserved. The mutual tasting of the blood, the inter-transfusion of the blood, the stones of witness, the invoking of God's approval, the mutual smoking of the pipe, the drinking together, and the communion feast, all are here. The old rite and the new are one in the blending of two lives into one in God's sight.
In Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire there is an incidental suggestion of the survival of this rite along the passing centuries in Western Asia. During the struggle of Baldwin II. to preserve the waning power of the Latin Empire of Constantinople, about the middle of the thirteenth century, "the throne of the Latin emperor was protected by a dishonorable alliance with the Turks and Comans. To secure the former, he consented to bestow his niece on the unbelieving sultan of Cogni; to please the latter, he complied with their pagan rites; a dog was sacrificed between the two armies; and the contracting parties tasted each other's blood, as a pledge of their fidelity."1
Several Japanese students have informed me that there are survivals of the blood-covenant in Japan, in the custom of the signing of mutual covenants in the blood of the parties to the covenant.
The Rev. Dr. John G. Paton, the veteran Scotch missionary among the cannibals of the New Hebrides, testifies to the sacred character of cannibalism among that people. He informs me that they evidently seek inter-communion with the gods by partaking of the blood and the flesh of their victims. This testimony corresponds with that of other
1 Milman's Gibbon, Am. ed., Vol. VI., p. 121.
missionaries as to the basis of cannibalism in the root idea of divinehuman inter-communion in the blood and the flesh of substitute sacrifice.
And so all the gleanings from the world's field tend to show the unique importance of the idea of blood as the life, the offering of blood as the offering of life, the divine acceptance of blood as the divine acceptance of life, and the sharing of blood as the sharing of life. Here is the basal thought of sacrifice, in its true meaning in the sight of God and man.