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Temple Sacrifices #1

Order and Meaning

                   THE TEMPLE - ITS MINISTRY AND SERVICE


CHAPTER V

SACRIFICES: THEIR ORDER AND THEIR MEANING


'There are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who
serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.' - Heb.
viii.4,5.


     IT is a curious fact, but sadly significant, that modern
Judaism should declare neither sacrifices nor a Levitical
priesthood to belong to the essence of the Old Testament; that,
in fact, they had been foreign elements imported into it -
tolerated, indeed, by Moses, but against which the prophets
earnestly protested and incessantly laboured. 1  The only
arguments by which this strange statement is supported are, that
the Book of Deuteronomy contains merely a brief summary, not a
detailed repetition, of sacrificial ordinances, and that such
passages as Isa.i.II, etc., Micah vi.6, etc., inveigh against
sacrifices offered without real repentance or change of mind. Yet
this anti-sacrificial, or, as we may call it, anti-spiritual,
tendency is really of much earlier date. For the sacrifices of
the Old Testament were not merely outward observances - a sort of
work - righteousness which justified the offerer by the mere fact
of his obedience - since 'it is not possible that the blood of
bulls and of goats should take away sins.' 2
......

1 We specially refer to Dr.A.Geiger, one of the ablest Rabbinical
writers of Germany, who makes this argument the substance of
Lect.v. is his "Judenth. u. s. Gesch." (Judaism and its Hislory).
2 Heb. x.4.
......

SYMBOLISM OF THE SACRIFICE

     The sacrifices of the Old Testament were symbolical and
typical. An outward observance without any real inward meaning is
only a ceremony. But a rite which has a present spiritual meaning
is a symbol; and if, besides, it also points to a future reality,
conveying at the same time, by anticipation, the blessing that is
yet to appear, it is a type. Thus the Old Testament sacrifices
were not only symbols, nor yet merely predictions by fact (as
prophecy is a prediction by word), but they already conveyed to
the believing Israelite the blessing that was to flow from the
future reality to which they pointed. Hence the service of the
letter and the work-righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees
ran directly contrary to this hope of faith and spiritual view of
sacrifices, which placed all on the level of sinners to be saved
by the substitution of another, to whom they pointed. Afterwards,
when the destruction of the Temple rendered its services
impossible, another and most cogent reason was added for trying
to substitute other things, such as prayers, fasts, etc., in room
of the sacrifices. Therefore, although none of the older Rabbis
has ventured on such an assertion as that of modern Judaism, the
tendency must have been increasingly in that direction. In fact,
it had become a necessity - since to declare sacrifices of the
essence of Judaism would have been to pronounce modern Judaism an
impossibility. But thereby also the synagogue has given sentence
against itself, and by disowning sacrifices has placed itself
outside the pale of the Old Testament.

SACRIFICES CENTER OF OLD TESTAMENT

     Every unprejudiced reader of the Bible must feel that
sacrifices constitute the centre of the Old Testament. Indeed,
were this the place, we might argue from their universality that,
along with the acknowledgment of a Divine power, the dim
remembrance of a happy past, and the hope of a happier future,
sacrifices belonged to the primeval traditions which mankind
inherited from Paradise. To sacrifice seems as 'natural' to man
as to pray; the one indicates what he feels about himself, the
other what he feels about God. The one means a felt need of
propitiation; the other a felt sense of dependence.
     The fundamental idea of sacrifice in the Old Testament is
that of substitution, which again seems to imply everything else
- atonement and redemption, vicarious punishment and forgiveness.
The firstfruits go for the whole products; the firstlings for the
flock; the redemption-money for that which cannot be offered; and
the life of the sacrifice, which is in its blood, 1  for the life
of the sacrificer. Hence also the strict prohibition to partake
of blood. Even in the 'Korban,' gift 2  or free-will offering, it
is still the gift for the giver. This idea of substitution, as
introduced, adopted, and sanctioned by God Himself, is expressed
by the sacrificial term rendered in our version 'atonement,' but
which really means covering, the substitute in the acceptance of
God taking the place of, and so covering, as it were, the person
of the offerer. Hence the Scriptural experience: 'Blessed is he
whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered ... unto
whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity;' 3  and perhaps also the
Scriptural prayer: 'Behold, O God, our shield, and look upon the
face of Thine  Anointed.' Such sacrifices, however,
......

1 Lev. xvii.11.     2 Mark vii.11. 
3 Psa, xxxii.1,2.
4 Psa. lxxxiv.9.
......


necessarily pointed to a mediatorial priesthood, through whom
alike they and the purified worshippers should be brought near to
God, and kept in fellowship with Him. Yet these priests
themselves continually changed; their own persons and services
needed purification, and their sacrifices required constant
renewal, since, in the nature of it, such substitution could not
be perfect. In short, all this was symbolical (of man's need,
God's mercy, and His covenant), and typical, till He should come
to whom it all pointed, and who had all along given reality to
it; He whose Priesthood was perfect, and who on a perfect altar
brought a perfect sacrifice, once for all - a perfect Substitute,
and a perfect Mediator. 1

THE PASCHAL LAMB

     At the very threshold of the Mosaic dispensation stands the
sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb connected with the redemption of
Israel, and which in many respects must be regarded as typical,
or rather anticipatory, of all the others. But there was one
sacrifice which, even under the Old Testament, required no
renewal. It was when God had entered into covenant relationship
with Israel, and Israel became the 'people of God.' Then Moses
sprinkled 'the blood of the covenant' on the altar and on the
people. 2  On the ground of this covenant-sacrifice all others
rested. 3  These were, then, either sacrifices of communion with
God, or else intended to restore that communion when it had been
disturbed or dimmed through sin and trespass: sacrifices in
communion, or for communion with God. To the former class belong
the burnt and the peace-offerings; to the latter, the sin and the
trespass offerings. But, as without the shedding
......

1 Heb.x.1-24.  
2 Ex.xxiv.     
3 Psa. 1 5.
......


of blood there is no remission of sin, every service and every
worshipper had, so to speak, to be purified by blood, and the
mediatorial agency of the priesthood called in to bring near unto
God, and to convey the assurance of acceptance.

BLOODY AND UNBLOODY OFFERINGS

     The readiest, but perhaps the most superficial, arrangement
of sacrifices is into bloody and unbloody. The latter, or
'Minchah,' included, besides the meat and drink-offering, the
first sheaf at the two loaves at Pentecost, and Unbloody and the
shewbread. The meat-offering was only brought alone in two
instances - the priest's offering 1  and that of jealousy, 2  to
which Jewish tradition adds the meat-offerings mentioned in Lev.
ii. If in Lev.v.11 a meat-offering is allowed in cases of extreme
poverty as a substitute for a sinoffering, this only further
proves the substitutionary character of sacrifices. From all this
it will be evident that, as a general rule, the meat-offering
cannot be regarded as separate from the other or bloody
sacrifices. In proof of this, it always varied in quantity,
according to the kind of sacrifice which it accompanied. 3

THE REQUISITES OF SACRIFICE

     The general requisites of all sacrifices were - that they
should be brought of such things, in such place and manner, and
through such mediatorial agency, as God had appointed. Thus the
choice and the appointment of the mode of approaching Him, were
to be all of God. Then it was a first principle that every
sacrifice must be of such things as had belonged to the offerer.
None other could represent him or take his place before
......

1 Lev.vii.12.  
2 Numb.v.15. 
3 Numb.xv.1-12; xxviii.1-12; xxix.I, ect.
......


God. Hence the Pharisees were right when, in opposition to the
Sadducees, they carried it that all public sacrifices (which were
offered for the nation as a whole) should be purchased, not from
voluntary contributions, but from the regular Temple revenues.
Next, all animal sacrifices were to be free of blemishes (of
which the Rabbis enumerate seventy-three), and all unbloody
offerings to be without admixture of leaven or of honey; the
latter probably because, from its tendency to fermentation or
corruption, it resembled leaven. For a similar reason salt, as
the symbol of incorruption, was to be added to all sacrifices. 1
Hence we read in Mark ix.49: 'For every one shall be salted with
fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt;' that is, as
the salt is added to the sacrifice symbolically to point to its
incorruption, so the reality and permanence of our Christian
lives will be brought out by the fire of the great day, when what
is wood, hay, and stubble shall be consumed; while that which is
real shall prove itself incorruptible, having had the fire
applied to it.

THE CREATURES APPOINTED

     In Scripture three kinds of four-footed beasts - oxen,
sheep, and goats; and two of birds - turtledoves and young
pigeons - are appointed for sacrifices. 2  The latter, except in
certain purifications, are only allowed as substitutes for other
sacrifices in case of poverty. Hence also no direction is given
either as to their age or sex, though the Rabbis hold that the
turtle-doves (which were the common birds of passage) should be
fully grown, and the domestic pigeons
......

1 The Rabbis speak of the so-called 'salt of Sodom,' probably
rock salt from the southern end of the Dead Sea, as used in the
sacrifices. 
2 'The birds' used at the purification of the leper (Lev.xiv.4)
cannot be regarded as sacrifices.
......


young birds. But, as in the various sacrifices of oxen, sheep,
and goats there were differences of age and sex, the Jews
enumerate twelve sacrifices, to which as many terms in Scripture
correspond. The Paschal lamb and that for the trespass-offerings
required to be males, as well as all burnt and all public
sacrifices. The latter 'made void the Sabbath and defilement,'
i.e. they superseded the law of Sabbath rest, 1  and might be
continued, notwithstanding one kind of Levitical defilement -
that by death.

THE ELEVEN SACRIFICES OF THE RABBIS

     The Rabbis, who are very fond of subtle distinctions, also
speak of public sacrifices that resembled the private, 2  and of
private sacrifices that resembled the public, in that they also 
'made void the Sabbath and defilement.' 3  Altogether they
enumerate "eleven public" sacrifices, viz. the daily sacrifices;
the additional for the Sabbath; for the New Moon; the Passover
sacrifices; the lamb when the sheaf was waved; the Pentecostal
sacrifices; those brought with the two first loaves; New Year's;
Atonement Day sacrifices; those on the first day of, and those on
the octave of 'Tabernacles.' Private sacrifices they classify as
those on account of sins by word or deed; those on account of
what concerned the body (such as various defilements); those on
account of property (firstlings, tithes); those on account of
festive seasons; and those on account of vows or promises. Yet
another division of sacrifices was into those due, or prescribed,
and those voluntary. For the
......

1 Matt.xii.5.
2 When the congregation had sinned through ignorance (Lev.iv.13;
Numb.xv.24-26).
3 The Paschal lamb, and the high-priest's bullock for a
sin-offering and ram for a burnt-offering on the Day of
Atonement.
......


latter nothing could be used that had previously been vowed,
since it would already belong unto God.

HOLY AND LESS HOLY

     But of far greater importance is the arrangement of
sacrifices into the most holy and the less holy, which is founded
on Scripture. 1  Certain meat-offerings, 2  and all burnt, sin,
and trespass, as well as all public peaceofferings, were most
holy. Such were to be offered or sacrificed in one of the more
holy places; they were slain at the north side of the altar 3
(the less holy at the east or south side); and they were either
not partaken of at all, or else only by the officiating priests,
and within the court of the Temple. The skins of the most holy
sacrifices, except such as were wholly burnt, belonged to the
priests; those of the less holy to the offerers. In the latter
case they also partook of their flesh, the only exception being
the firstlings, which were eaten by the priests alone. 
     The Rabbis attach ten comparative degrees of sanctity to
sacrifices; and it is interesting to mark that of these the first
belonged to the blood of the sin-offering; the second to the
burnt-offering; the third to the sin-offering itself; and the
fourth to the trespass-offering. Lastly, all sacrifices had to be
brought before actual sunset, although the unconsumed flesh might
smoulder on the altar till next dawn.
     The Rabbis mention the following five acts 
......

1 Lev.vi.17; vii.1; xiv.13.
2 Lev.ii.3,10; vi.17; x.12.
3 The reason of this is obscure. Was it that the north was
regarded as the symbolical region of cold and darkness? Or was it
because during the wilderness-journey the Most Holy Place
probably faced northtowards Palestine?
......


belonging to the offerer of a sacrifice: the laying on of hands,
slaying, skinning, cutting up, and washing the inwards. These
other five were strictly priestly functions: Catching up the
blood, sprinkling it, lighting the altar fire, laying on the
wood, bringing up the pieces, and all else done at the altar
itself.

THE ACTS OF SERVICE

     The whole service must have been exceedingly solemn. Having
first been duly purified, a man brought his sacrifice himself
'before the Lord' - anciently, to 'the door of the Tabernacle,' 1
where the altar of burnt-offering was, 2  and in the Temple into
the Great Court. If the sacrifice was most holy, he entered by
the northern; if less holy, by the southern gate. Next he placed
it so as to face the west, or the Most Holy Place, in order thus
literally to bring it before the Lord. To this the apostle refers
when, in Rom. xii. 1, he beseecheth us to present our 'bodies a
living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.'

LAYING ON OF HANDS

     But this was only the commencement of the service. Women
might bring their sacrifices into the Great Court; but they might
not perform the second rite 3 - that of laying on of hands. This
meant transmission and delegation, and implied representation; so
that it really pointed to the substitution of the sacrifice for
the sacrificer. Hence it was always accompanied by confession of
sin and prayer. It was thus done. The sacrifice was so turned
that the person confessing looked towards the west, while he laid
his hands
......
 
1 Lev.i,3; iv.4.    
2 Ex x1.6.
3 There is, however, one dissentient opinion on this point. See
Relandus, "Ant." p.277.
......


between the horns of the sacrifice, 1  and if the sacrifice was
brought by more than one, each had to lay on his hands. It is not
quite a settled point whether one or both hands were laid on; but
all are agreed that it was to be done 'with one's whole force' -
as it were, to lay one's whole weight upon the substitute. 2     
If a person under vow had died, his heir-at-law took his place.
The only public sacrifices in which hands were laid on were those
for sins of public ignorance, 3  when the 'elders' acted as
representing the people - to which some Rabbinical authorities
add public sin-offerings in general, 4--and the scapegoat on the
Day of Atonement, on which the high-priest laid his hands. In all
private sacrifices, except firstlings, tithes, and the Paschal
lamb, hands were laid on, and, while doing so, the following
prayer was repeated: 'I entreat, O Jehovah: I have sinned, I have
done perversely, I have rebelled, I have committed (naming the
sin, trespass, or, in case of a burnt-offering, the breach of
positive or negative command); but I return in repentance, and
let this be for my atonement (covering).'  According to
Maimonides, in peaceofferings a record of God's praise, rather
than a confession of sins, was spoken.  But, as the principle
prevailed that frequent confession even without sacrifice was
meritorious, another formula is also recorded, in which the
allusion to sacrifices is omitted.
     Closely connected with this was 'the lifting and
......

1 If the offerer stood outside the Court of the Priests, on the
topmost of the fifteen Levitical steps, or within the gate of
Nicanor, his hands at least must be within the Great Court, or
the rite was not valid.
2 Children, the blind, the deaf, those out of their mind, and
non-Israelites, were not allowed to 'lay on hands.'
3 Lev.iv.15; xvi.21.     
4 On the ground of 2 Chron.xxix.23
......


waving' of certain sacrifices. The priest put his hands under
those of the offerer, and moved the sacrifice upwards and
downwards, right and left; according to Abarbanel also 'forwards
and backwards.' The lamb of the leper's trespass-offering was
waved before it was slain; 1  private peaceofferings, only after
they had been slain; while in public peace-offerings, the
practice varied.

SACRIFICES SLAIN BY PRIESTS ONLY

     Under ordinary circumstances all public sacrifices, and also
always that of the leper, were slain by the priests. 2  The
Talmud declares the offering of birds, so as to secure the blood,
3  to have been  the most difficult part of a priest's work.     
For the death of the sacrifice was only a means towards an end,
that end being the shedding and sprinkling of the blood, by which
the atonement was really made. The Rabbis mention a variety of
rules observed by the priest who caught up the blood - all
designed to make the best provision for its proper sprinklings. 4
Thus the priest was to catch up the blood in a silver vessel
pointed at the bottom, so that it could not be put down, and to
keep it constantly stirred, to preserve the fluidity of the
blood. In the sacrifice of the red heifer, however, the priest
caught the blood directly in his left hand, and sprinkled it with
his right towards the Holy Place: while in that of the leper one
of the two priests received the blood in the vessel; the other in
his hand, from which he anointed the purified leper. 5
......

1 Lev.xiv.24.
2 The Hebrew term used for sacrificial slaying is never applied
to the ordinary killing of animals.
3 In the case of birds there was no laying on of hands.
4 The Rabbis mention five mistakes which might render a sacrifice
invalid, none of them the least interesting, except, perhaps,
that the gullet might never be wholly severed.    
5 Lev.iv.25.
......

THE APPLICATION OF THE BLOOD

     According to the difference of sacrifices, the blood was
differently applied, and in different places. In all burnt,
trespass, and peace-offerings the blood was thrown directly out
of the vessel or of vessels in which it had been caught, the
priest going first to one corner of the altar and then to the
other, and throwing it in the form of the Greek letter T, so that
each time two sides of the altar were covered. Any blood left
after these two 'gifts,' as they were called (which stood for
four), was poured out at the base of the altar, whence it flowed
into the Kedron. In all sin-offerings the blood was not thrown,
but sprinkled, the priest dipping the forefinger of his right
hand into the blood, and then sprinkling it from his finger by a
motion of the thumb. According to the importance of the
sinoffering, the blood was so applied either to the four horns of
the altar of burnt-offering, or else it was brought into the Holy
Place itself, and sprinkled first seven times towards the veil of
the Most Holy Place, 1  and then on the four horns of the golden
altar of incense, beginning at the north-east. Finally, on the
Day of Atonement the blood was sprinkled within the Most Holy
Place itself. From all sin-offerings the blood of which was
sprinkled on the horns of the altar of burnt-offering certain
portions were to be eaten, while those whose blood was brought
into the Holy Place itself were wholly burnt. But in the
sacrifices of firstlings, of tithes of animals, and of the
Paschal lamb, the blood was neither thrown nor sprinkled, and
only poured out at the base of the altar.
     On the shedding of blood, which was of the greatest
......

1 Lev.iv.6,17.
......


importance-since, according to the Talmud, 'whenever the blood
touches the altar the offerer is atoned for' - followed the
'flaying' of the sacrifice and the 'cutting up into his pieces.' 

THE FLAYING

     All this had to be done in an orderly manner, and according
to certain rules, the apostle adopting the sacrificial term when
he speaks of 'rightly dividing the word of truth.' 1  The
'inwards' and 'legs' having been washed, 2  and dried with
sponges, the separate pieces of the sacrifice were brought up by
various priests: the calculation of the Rabbis being, that in the
case of a sheep or a she-goat six priests carried the sacrifice,
one more the meat, and another the drink-offering (in all eight);
while in that of a ram twelve, and in that of a bullock
four-and-twenty priests were needed for the service. Next, the
sacrificial salt was applied, and then the pieces were first
confusedly thrown and then arranged upon the fires 3  This latter
part of the service requires explanation.
     The common idea that the burning either of part or the whole
of the sacrifice pointed to its destruction, and symbolised the
wrath of God and the punishment due to sin, does not seem to
accord with the statements of Scripture. The term used is not
that commonly employed for burning, but means 'causing to smoke,'
and the rite symbolises partly the entire surrender of the
sacrifice, but chiefly its acceptance on the part of God. Thus
the sacrifice consumed by a fire which had originally come down
from God Himself - not by strange fire-would - would
......

1 2 Tim.ii.15. 
2 Lev.i.9.
3 Whatever was laid upon the altar was regarded as 'sanctified'
by it, and could not be again removed, even though it should have
become defiled. This explains the words of Christ in Matt.xxiii.
19.
......


ascend 'for a sweet savour unto the Lord.' 1  Even the
circumstance that the fire for the altar of incense was always
taken from that on the altar of burnt-offering, shows that, while
that fire might symbolise the presence of a holy Jehovah in His
house, it could not refer to the fire of wrath or of punishments
As already stated, those parts of the sin, trespass, and public
peace-offerings, which were allowed to be eaten, could only be
partaken of by the priests (not their families) during their
actual ministry, and within the Temple walls. The flesh of these
offerings had also to be eaten on the day of the sacrifice, or in
the night following; while in other offerings the permission
extended to a second day. The Rabbis, however, restrict the
eating of the Paschal lamb to midnight. Whatever was left beyond
the lawful time had to be burned.

NEW TESTAMENT VIEW AND THE SYNAGOGUE

     It is deeply interesting to know that the New Testament view
of sacrifices is entirely in accordance with that of the ancient
Synagogue. At the thres hold we here meet the principle: 'There
is no atonement except by blood.'  In accordance with this we
quote the following from Jewish interpreters. Rashi
says: 4 'The soul of every creature is bound up in its blood;
therefore I gave it to atone for the soul of man - that one soul
should come and atone for the other.' Similarly Aben
......

1 Lev.i.9; iv.31.
2 Compare the article in Herzog's Encyc. vol. x. p.633. Some of
the sacrifices were burned on the altar of burnt-offering, and
some outside the gate; while in certain less holy sacrifices it
was allowed to burn what was left anywhere within the city.
3 Except those for the whole people and for the high-priest,
which had to be burned outside the gate.
4 On Lev.xvii.11.
......


Ezra writes; 'One soul is a substitute for the other.' And Moses
ben Nachmann: 'I gave the soul for you on the altar, that the
soul of the animal should be an atonement for the soul of the
man.' These quotations might be almost indefinitely multiplied.
Another phase of Scriptural truth appears in such Rabbinical
statements as that by the imposition of hands: 'The offerer, as
it were, puts away his sins from himself, and transfers them upon
the living animal;' and that, 'as often as any one sins with his
soul, whether from haste or malice, he puts away his sin from
himself, and places it upon the head of his sacrifice, and it is
an atonement for him.' Hence, also, the principle laid down by
Abarbanel, that, 'after the prayer of confession (connected with
the imposition of hands) the sins of the children of Israel lay
on the sacrifice (of the Day of Atonement).' This, according to
Maimonides, explains why every one who had anything to do with
the sacrifice of the red heifer or the goat on the Day of
Atonement, or similar offerings, was rendered unclean; since
these animals were regarded as actually sin-bearing. In fact,
according to Rabbinical expression, the sin-bearing animal is on
that ground expressly designated as something to be rejected and
abominable. The Christian reader will here be reminded of the
Scriptural statement:
'For He has made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we
might be made the righteousness of God in Him.'

     There is yet one other phase on which the Synagogue lays
stress. It is best expressed in the following quotation, to which
many similar might be added: 'Properly speaking, the blood of the
sinner should have been shed, and his body burned, as those of
the sacrifices. But the Holy One--blessed be He! - accepted our
sacrifice from us as redemption and atonement. Behold the full
grace which Jehovah blessed be He - has shown to man!  In His
compassion and in the fulness of His grace He accepted the soul
of the animal instead of his soul, that through it there might be
an atonement.'  Hence also the principle, so important as an
answer to the question, Whether the Israelites of old had
understood the meaning of sacrifices? 'He that brought a
sacrifice required to come to the knowledge that that sacrifice
was his redemption.' 1

JEWISH LITURGIES

     In view of all this, the deep-felt want so often expressed
by the Synagogue is most touching. In the liturgy for the Day of
Atonement we read 'While the altar and the sanctuary were
in their places, we were atoned for by the goats, designated by
lot. But now for our guilt, if Jehovah be pleased to destroy us,
He takes from our hand neither burnt-offering nor sacrifice.'    
     We add only one more out of many similar passages in the
Jewish prayer-book: 'We have spoken violence and rebellion; we
have walked in a way that is not right ... Behold, our
transgressions have increased upon us; they press upon us like a
burden; they have gone over our heads; we have forsaken Thy
commandments, which are excellent. And wherewith shall we appear
before Thee, the mighty God, to atone for our transgressions, and
to put away our trespasses, and to remove sin, and to magnify Thy
grace? Sacrifices and offerings
......

1 David de Pomis. On the whole subject see Wiinsche's interesting
tractate, "Die Leiden des Messias", where the quotations are
given at length.
......


are no more; sin-and trespass-offerings have ceased; the blood of
sacrifices is no longer sprinkled; destroyed is Thy holy house,
and fallen the gates of Thy sanctuary; Thy holy city lies
desolate; Thou hast slain, sent from Thy presence; they have
gone, driven forth from before Thy face, the priests who brought
Thy sacrifices!'  Accordingly, also, the petition frequently
recurs: 'Raise up for us a right Intercessor (that it may be
true), I have found a ransom (an atonement, or covering).'  And
on the Day of Atonement, as in substance frequently on other
occasions, they pray: 'Bring us back in jubilee to Zion, Thy
city, and in joy as of old to Jerusalem, the house of Thy
holiness ! Then shall we bring before Thy face the sacrifices
that are due.'

THE EVE OF THE DAY OF ATONEMENT

     Who shall make answer to this deep lament of exiled Judah?
Where shall a ransom be found to take the place of their
sacrifices? In their despair some appeal to the merits of the
fathers or of the pious; others to their own or to Israel's
sufferings, or to death, which is regarded as the last expiation.
But the most melancholy exhibition, perhaps, is that of an
attempted sacrifice by each pious Israelite on the eve of the Day
of Atonement. Taking for males a white cock, 1  and for females a
hen, the head of the house prays 'The children of men who dwell
in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in misery and iron
- them will He bring forth from darkness and the shadow of death,
and break their bonds asunder Fools, because of their
transgressions and because of their iniquities, are afflicted;
their soul abhorreth all
......

1 Because the Hebrew word for 'man' (Gever) is used in the Talmud
for 'a cock,' and 'white,' with reference to Isa.i.18.
......


manner of meat, and they draw near unto the gates of death. Then
they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, that He save them out of
their distresses. He sends His word and heals them, and delivers
them from their destruction. Then they praise the Lord for His
goodness, and for His marvellous works to the children of men.   
If there be an angel with Him, an intercessor, one among a
thousand, to show unto men his righteousness, then He is gracious
unto him, and saith, Let him go, that he may not go down into the
pit; I have found an atonement (a covering).'  Next, the head of
the house swings the sacrifice round his head, saying, 'This is
my substitute; this is in exchange for me; this is my atonement.
This cock goes into death, but may I enter into a long and happy
life, and into peace!'  Then he repeats this prayer three times,
and lays his hands on the sacrifice, which is now slain.
     This offering up of an animal not sanctioned by the law, in
a place, in a manner, and by hands not authorised by God, is it
not a terrible phantom of Israel's dark and dreary night? and
does it not seem strangely to remind us of that other terrible
night, when the threefold crowing of a cock awakened Peter to the
fact of his denial of 'the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin
of the world'?

     And still the cry of the Synagogue comes to us through these
many centuries of past unbelief and ignorance: 'Let one innocent
come and make atonement for the guilty!' To which no other
response can ever be made than that of the apostle: 'Such an High
Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from
sinners, and made higher than the heavens!' 1
......

1 Heb.vii.26.

                         ........................


To be continued 


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