Sacred Texts  Bible  Critical Views  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel, by Julius Wellhausen, [1885], at

p. 52



With the Hebrews, as with the whole ancient world, sacrifice constituted the main part of worship. The question is whether their worship did not also in this most important respect pass through a history the stages of which are reflected in the Pentateuch. From the results already reached this must be regarded at the outset as probable, but the sources of information accessible to us seem hardly sufficient to enable us actually to follow the process, or even so much as definitely to fix its two termini.


1. The Priestly Code alone occupies itself much with the subject; it gives a minute classification of the various kinds of offerings, and a description of the procedure to be followed in the case of each. In this way it furnishes also the normative scheme for modern accounts of the matter, into which all the other casual notices of the Old Testament on the subject must be made to fit as best they can. This point accordingly presents us with an important feature by which the character of the book can be determined. In it the sacrificial ritual is a constituent, and indeed a very essential element, of the Mosaic legislation: that ritual is not represented as ancient use handed down to the Israelites by living practice from ancestral times: it was Moses who gave them the theory of it—a very elaborate one too—and he himself received his instruction from God (Exod. xxv. seq.; Lev. i. seq.). An altogether disproportionate emphasis is accordingly laid upon the technique of sacrifice corresponding to the theory, alike upon the when, the where, and the by whom, and also in a very special manner upon the how. It is from these that the sacrifice obtains its specific value; one could almost suppose that even if it were offered to another God, it would by means of the legitimate

p. 53

rite alone be at once made essentially Jehovistic. The cultus of Israel is essentially distinguished from all others by its form, the distinctive and constitutive mark of the holy community. With it the theocracy begins and it with the theocracy; the latter is nothing more than the institution for the purpose of carrying on the cultus after the manner ordained by God. For this reason also the ritual, which appears to concern the priests only, finds its place in a law-book intended for the whole community; in order to participate in the life of the theocracy, all must of course, have clear knowledge of its essential nature, and in this the theory of sacrifice holds a first place.

The Jehovistic portion of the Pentateuch also knows of no other kind of divine worship besides the sacrificial, and does not attach to it less importance than the Priestly Code. But we do not find many traces of the view that the sacrificial system of Israel is distinguished from all others by a special form revealed to Moses, which makes it the alone legitimate. Sacrifice is sacrifice: when offered to Baal, it is heathenish; when offered to Jehovah, it is Israelite. In the Book of the Covenant and in both Decalogues it is enjoined before everything to serve no other God besides Jehovah, but also at the proper season to offer firstlings and gifts to Him. Negative determinations, for the most part directed against one heathenish peculiarity or another, occur but there are no positive ordinances relating to the ritual. How one is to set about offering sacrifice is taken for granted as already known, and nowhere figures as an affair for the legislation, which, on the contrary, occupies itself with quite other things. What the Book of the Covenant and the Decalogue leave still perhaps doubtful becomes abundantly clear from the Jehovistic narrative. The narrative has much more to say about sacrifice than the incorporated law books, and this may be regarded as characteristic; in the Priestly Code it is quite the other way. But what is specially important is that, according to the Jehovistic history, the praxis of sacrifice, and that too of the regular and God-pleasing sort, extends far beyond the Mosaic legislation, and, strictly speaking, is as old as the world itself. A sacrificial feast which the Hebrews wish to celebrate in the wilderness is the occasion of the Exodus; Moses already builds an altar at Rephidim (Exod. xvii.), and, still before the ratification of the covenant on Sinai, a solemn meal in the presence of Jehovah is set on foot on occasion of Jethro's visit (Exod. xviii.). But the custom is much older still; it was known and practiced by Abraham, Isaac, and

p. 54

[paragraph continues] Jacob. Noah, the father of all mankind, built the first altar after the Flood, and long before him Cain and Abel sacrificed in the same way as was usual in Palestine thousands of years afterwards. Balaam the Aramæan understands just as well as any Israelite how to offer sacrifices to Jehovah that do not fail of their effect. All this brings out, with as much clearness as could be desired, that sacrifice is a very ancient and quite universal mode of honouring the Deity, and that Israelite sacrifice is distinguished not by the manner in which, but by the being to whom, it is offered, in being offered to the God of Israel. According to this representation of the matter, Moses left the procedure in sacrifice, as he left the procedure in prayer, to be regulated by the traditional praxis; if there was any definite origination of the cultus of Israel, the patriarchs must be thought of, but even they were not the discoverers of the ritual; they were merely the founders of those holy places at which the Israelites dedicated gifts to Jehovah, a usage which was common to the whole world. The contrast with the Priestly Code is extremely striking, for it is well known that the latter work makes mention of no sacrificial act prior to the time of Moses, neither in Genesis nor in Exodus, although from the time of Noah slaughtering is permitted. The offering of a sacrifice of sheep and oxen as the occasion of the exodus is omitted, and in place of the sacrifice of the firstlings we have the paschal lamb, which is slaughtered and eaten without altar, without priest, and not in the presence of Jehovah. 1

The belief that the cultus goes back to pre-Mosaic usage is unquestionably more natural than the belief that it is the main element of the Sinaitic legislation; the thought would be a strange one that God should suddenly have revealed, or Moses discovered and introduced, the proper sacrificial ritual. At the same time this does not necessitate the conclusion that the Priestly Code is later than the Jehovist. Nor does this follow from the very elaborately-developed technique of the agenda, for elaborate ritual may have existed in the great sanctuaries at a very early period,—though that, indeed, would not prove it to be genuinely Mosaic. On the other hand, it is certainly a consideration deserving of great weight that the representation of the exclusive legitimacy of so definite a sacrificial ritual, treated in the Priestly Code as the only possible one in Israel, is one which can have arisen only as a consequence of the centralisation of the cultus at Jerusalem. Yet by

p. 55

urging this the decision of the question at present before us would only be referred back to the result already arrived at in the preceding chapter, and it is much to be desired that it should be solved independently, so as not to throw too much weight upon a single support.

2. In this case also the elements of a decision can only be obtained from the historical documents dating from the pre-exilic time,—the Books of Judges, Samuel, and Kings on the one hand, and the writings of the prophets on the other. As regards those of the first class, they represent the cultus and sacrifice on all occasions as occupying a large place in the life of the nation and of the individual. But, although it would be wrong to say that absolutely no weight is attached to the rite, it is certainly not the fact that the main stress is laid upon it; the antithesis is not between rite and non-rite, but between sacrifice to Jehovah and sacrifice to strange gods, the reverse of what we find in the Priestly Code. Alongside of splendid sacrifices, such as those of the kings, presumably offered in accordance with all the rules of priestly skill, there occur others also of the simplest and most primitive type, as, for example, those of Saul (1 Sam. xiv. 35) and Elisha (1 Kings xix. 21); both kinds are proper if only they be dedicated to the proper deity. Apart from the exilian redaction of the Book of Kings, which reckons the cultus outside of Jerusalem as heretical, it is nowhere represented that a sacrifice could be dedicated to the God of Israel, and yet be illegitimate. Naaman (2 Kings v. 17), it is to be supposed, followed his native Syrian ritual, but this does not in the least impair the acceptability of his offering. For reasons easily explained, it is seldom that an occasion arises to describe the ritual, but when such a description is given it is only with violence that it can be forced into accordance with the formula of the law. Most striking of all is the procedure of Gideon in Judges vi. 19-21, in which it is manifest that the procedure still usual at Ophrah in the time of the narrator is also set forth. Gideon boils a he-goat and bakes in the ashes cakes of unleavened bread, places upon the bread the flesh in a basket and the broth in a pot, and then the meal thus prepared is burnt in the altar flame. It is possible that instances may have also occurred in which the rule of the Pentateuch is followed, but the important point is that the distinction between legitimate and heretical is altogether wanting. When the Book of Chronicles is compared the difference is at once perceived.

p. 56

The impression derived from the historical books is confirmed by the prophets. It is true that in their polemic against confounding worship with religion they reveal the fact that in their day the cultus was carried on with the utmost zeal and splendour, and was held in the highest estimation. But this estimation does not rest upon the opinion that the cultus, as regards its matter, goes back to Moses or to Jehovah Himself, gives to the theocracy its distinctive character, and even constitutes the supernatural priesthood of Israel among the nations, but simply upon the belief that Jehovah must be honoured by His dependents, just as other gods are by their subjects, by means of offerings and gifts as being the natural and (like prayer) universally current expressions of religious homage. The larger the quantity, and the finer the quality, so much the better; but that the merit arising from the presentation depends upon strict observance of etiquette regarded as Jehovah's law is not suggested. Thus it is that the prophets are able to ask whether then Jehovah has commanded His people to tax their energies with such exertions? the fact presupposed being that no such command exists, and that no one knows anything at all about a ritual Torah. Amos, the leader of the chorus, says (iv. 4 seq.), "Come to Bethel to sin, to Gilgal to sin yet more, and bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days, for so ye like, ye children of Israel." In passing sentence of rejection upon the value of the cultus he is in opposition to the faith of his time; but if the opinion had been a current one that precisely the cultus was what Jehovah had instituted in Israel, he would not have been able to say, "For so ye like." "Ye," not Jehovah; it is an idle and arbitrary worship. He expresses himself still more clearly in v. 21 seq. "I hate, I despise your feasts, and I smell not on your holy days; though ye offer me burnt-offerings and your gifts, I will not accept them; neither do I regard your thank-offerings of fatted calves. Away from me with the noise of thy songs, the melody of thy viols I will not hear; but let judgment roll on like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. Did ye offer unto me sacrifices and gifts in the wilderness the forty years, O house of Israel?" In asking this last question Amos has not the slightest fear of raising any controversy; on the contrary, he is following the generally received belief. His polemic is directed against the praxis of his contemporaries, but here he rests it upon a theoretical foundation in which they are at one with him,—on this, namely, that

p. 57

the sacrificial worship is not of Mosaic origin. Lastly, if ii. 4 be genuine, it teaches the same lesson. By the Law of Jehovah which the people of Judah have despised it is impossible that Amos can have understood anything in the remotest degree resembling a ritual legislation. Are we to take it then that he formed his own special private notion of the Torah? How in that case would it have been possible for him to make himself understood by the people, or to exercise influence over them? Of all unlikely suppositions, at all events it is the least likely that the herdsman of Tekoah, under the influence of prophetic tradition (which in fact he so earnestly disclaims), should have taken the Torah for something quite different from what it actually was.

Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah are in agreement with Amos. The first mentioned complains bitterly (iv. 6 seq.) that the priests cultivate the system of sacrifices instead of the Torah. The Torah, committed by Jehovah to their order, lays it on them as their vocation to diffuse the knowledge of God in Israel,—the knowledge that He seeks truthfulness and love, justice and considerateness, and no gifts; but they, on the contrary, in a spirit of base self-seeking, foster the tendency of the nation towards cultus, in their superstitions over-estimate of which lies their sin and their ruin. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; ye yourselves (ye priests!) reject knowledge, and I too will reject you that ye shall not be priests unto me; seeing ye have forgotten the law of your God, so will I also forget you. The more they are, the more they sin against me; their glory they barter for shame. They eat the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity." From this we see how idle it is to believe that the prophets opposed "the Law;" they defend the priestly Torah, which, however, has nothing to do with cultus, but only with justice and morality. In another passage (viii. 11 seq.) we read, "Ephraim has built for himself many altars, to sin; the altars are there for him, to sin. How many soever my instructions (torothái) may be, they are counted those of a stranger." This text has had the unmerited misfortune of having been forced to do service as a proof that Hosea knew of copious writings similar in contents to our Pentateuch. All that can be drawn from the contrast "instead of following my instructions they offer sacrifice" (for that is the meaning of the passage) is that the prophet had never once dreamed of the possibility of cultus being made the subject of Jehovah's directions. In Isaiah's discourses the well-known passage of

p. 58

the first chapter belongs to this connection: "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord. I am weary with the burnt-offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts, and I delight not in the blood of bullocks and of lambs and of he-goats. When ye come to look upon my face, who hath required this at your hands?—to trample my courts!" This expression has long been a source of trouble, and certainly the prophet could not possibly have uttered it if the sacrificial worship had, according to any tradition whatever, passed for being specifically Mosaic. Isaiah uses the word Torah to denote not the priestly but the prophetical instruction (i. 10, ii. 3, v. 24, viii. 16, 20, xxx. 9); as both have a common source and Jehovah is the proper instructor (xxx. 20), this is easily explicable, and is moreover full of instruction as regards the idea involved; the contents of the Priestly Code fit badly in with the Torah of i. 10. Lastly, Micah's answer to the people's question, how a return of the favour of an angry God is to be secured, is of conspicuous significance (vi. 6 seq.): "Shall I come before Him with burnt-offerings with calves of a year old? Is the Lord pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body as atonement for my soul?—It hath been told thee, O man, what is good, and what Jehovah requireth of thee. Nay, it is to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly before thy God." Although the blunt statement of the contrast between cultus and religion is peculiarly prophetic, Micah can still take his stand upon this, "It hath been told thee, O man, what Jehovah requires." It is no new matter, but a thing well known, that sacrifices are not what the Torah of the Lord contains.

That we have not inferred too much from these utterances of the older prophets is clear from the way in which they are taken up and carried on by Jeremiah, who lived shortly before the Babylonian exile. Just as in vi. 19 seq. he opposes the Torah to the cultus, so in vii. 11 seq. he thus expresses himself: "Add your burnt-offerings to your sacrifices, and eat flesh! For I said nought unto your fathers, and commanded them nought, in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings or sacrifices. But this thing commanded I them: hearken to my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people, and walk ye in the way that I shall always teach you, that it may be well with you." The view indeed, that the prophets

p. 59

[paragraph continues] (who, from the connection, are the ever-living voice to which Israel is to hearken) are the proper soul of the theocracy, the organ by which Jehovah influences and rules it, has no claim to immemorial antiquity. But no stress lies upon the positive element here; enough that at all events Jeremiah is unacquainted with the Mosaic legislation as it is contained in the Priestly Code. His ignoring of it is not intentional, for he is far from hating the cultus (xvii. 26). But, as priest and prophet, staying continually in the temple at Jerusalem, he must have known it, if it had existed and actually been codified. The fact is one which it is difficult to get over.

Thus the historical witnesses, particularly the prophets, decide the matter in favour of the Jehovistic tradition. According to the universal opinion of the pre-exilic period, the cultus is indeed of very old and (to the people) very sacred usage, but not a Mosaic institution; the ritual is not the main thing in it, and is in no sense the subject with which the Torah deals. 1 In other words, no trace can be found of acquaintance with the Priestly Code, but, on the other hand, very clear indications of ignorance of its contents.

3. In this matter the transition from the pre-exilic to the post-exilic period is effected, not by Deuteronomy, but by Ezekiel the priest in prophet's mantle, who was one of the first to be carried into exile. He stands in striking contrast with his elder contemporary Jeremiah. In the picture of Israel's future which he drew in B.C. 573 (chaps. xl.-xlviii.), in which fantastic hopes are indeed built upon Jehovah, but no impossible demand made of man, the temple and cultus hold a central place. Whence this sudden change? Perhaps because now the Priestly Code has suddenly awakened to life after its long trance, and become the inspiration of Ezekiel? The explanation is certainly not to be sought in any such occurrence, but simply in the historical circumstances. So long as the sacrificial worship remained in actual use, it was zealously carried on, but people did not concern themselves with it theoretically, and had not the least occasion for reducing it to a code. But once the temple was in ruins, the cultus at an end, its personnel out

p. 60

of employment, it is easy to understand how the sacred praxis should have become a matter of theory and writing, so that it might not altogether perish, and how an exiled priest should have begun to paint the picture of it as he carried it in his memory, and to publish it as a programme for the future restoration of the theocracy. Nor is there any difficulty if arrangements, which as long as they were actually in force were simply regarded as natural, were seen after their abolition in a transfiguring light, and from the study devoted to them gained artificially a still higher value. These historical conditions supplied by the exile suffice to make clear the transition from Jeremiah to Ezekiel, and the genesis of Ezekiel xl.-xlviii. The co-operation of the Priestly Code is here not merely unnecessary, it would be absolutely disconcerting. Ezekiel's departure from the ritual of the Pentateuch cannot be explained as intentional alterations of the original; they are too casual and insignificant. The prophet, moreover, has the rights of authorship as regards the end of his book as well as for the rest of it; he has also his right to his picture of the future as the earlier prophets had to theirs. And finally, let its due weight be given to the simple fact that an exiled priest saw occasion to draft such a sketch of the temple worship. What need would there have been for it, if the realised picture, corresponding completely to his views, had actually existed, and, being already written in a book, wholly obviated any danger lest the cultus should become extinct through the mere fact of its temporary cessation?

Here again a way of escape is open by assuming a lifeless existence of the law down to Ezra's time. But if this is done it is unallowable to date that existence, not from Moses, but from some other intermediate point in the history of Israel. Moreover, the assumption of a codification either as preceding all praxis, or as alongside and independent of it, is precisely in the case of sacrificial ritual one of enormous difficulty, for it is obvious that such a codification can only be the final result of an old and highly developed use, and not the invention of an idle brain. This consideration also makes retreat into the theory of an illegal praxis impossible, and renders the legitimacy of the actually subsisting indisputable.

p. 61


At all times, then, the sacrificial worship of Israel existed, and had great importance attached to it, but in the earlier period it rested upon custom, inherited from the fathers, in the post-exilian on the law of Jehovah, given through Moses. At first it was naive, and what was chiefly considered was the quantity and quality of the gifts; afterwards it became legal,—the scrupulous fulfilment of the law, that is, of the prescribed ritual, was what was looked to before everything. Was there then, apart from this, strictly speaking, no material difference? To answer this question our researches must be carried further afield, after some preliminary observations have been made in order to fix our position.

1. In the Pentateuch the sacrificial ritual is indeed copiously described, but nowhere in the Old Testament is its significance formally explained; this is treated as on the whole self-evident and familiar to every one. The general notion of a sacrifice is in the Priestly Code that of ḳorban, in the rest of the Old Testament that of minḥa1 i.e., "gift;" the corresponding verbs are haḳrib and haggish, i.e., "to bring near." Both nouns and both verbs are used originally for the offering of a present to the king (or the nobles) to do him homage, to make him gracious, to support a petition (Judges iii. 17 seq.; 1 Sam. x. 27; 1 Kings v. 1 [A.V. iv. 21]), and from this are employed with reference to the highest King (Malachi i. 8).

Δῶρα θεοὺς πείθει, δῶῤ αἰδοίους βασιλῆας

[paragraph continues] The gift must not be unseasonably or awkwardly thrust upon the recipient, not when the king's anger is at white heat, and not by one the sight of whom he hates.

With respect to the matter of it, the idea of a sacrifice is in itself indifferent, if the thing offered only have value of some sort, and is the property of the offerer. Under ḳorban and minḥa is included also that which the Greeks called anathema. The sacred dues which at a later

p. 62

date fall to the priest were without doubt originally ordinary offerings, and amongst these are found even wool and flax (Deut. xviii. 4; Hos. ii. 7, 11 [A.V. 5, 9]). But it is quite in harmony with the naïveté of antiquity that as to man so also to God that which is eatable is by preference offered; in this there was the additional advantage, that what God had caused to grow was thus rendered back to Him. In doing this, the regular form observed is that a meal is prepared in honour of the Deity, of which man partakes as God's guest. Offering without any qualifying expression always means a meat or drink offering. On this account the altar is called a table, on this account also salt goes along with flesh, oil with meal and bread, and wine with both; and thus also are we to explain why the flesh, according to rule, is put upon the altar in pieces and (in the earlier period) boiled, the corn ground or baked. Hence also the name "bread of Jehovah" for the offering (Lev. xxi. 22). It is of course true that "in his offering the enlightened Hebrew saw no banquet to Jehovah:" but we hardly think of taking the enlightened Protestant as a standard for the original character of Protestantism.

The manner in which the portions pertaining to God are conveyed to Him varies. The most primitive is the simple "setting in order" (‏ארך‎, struere) and "pouring out" (‏שפך‎, fundere) in the case of the shewbread and drink offerings; to this a simple eating and drinking would correspond. But the most usual is burning, or, as the Hebrews express it, "making a savour" (‏הקטיר‎), to which corresponds the more delicate form of enjoyment, that of smelling. Originally, however, it is God Himself who consumes what the flame consumes. In any case the burning is a means of conveying the offering, not, as one might perhaps be disposed to infer from the "sweet savour" (‏ריח ניחח‎ Gen. viii. 21), a means of preparing it. For in ancient times the Hebrews did not roast the flesh, but boiled it; in what is demonstrably the oldest ritual (Judges vi. 19), the sacrifice also is delivered to the altar flame boiled; and, moreover, not the flesh only but also the bread and the meal are burnt.

As regards the distinction between bloodless and bloody offerings, the latter, it is well known, are preferred in the Old Testament, but, strictly speaking, the former also have the same value and the same efficacy. The incense-offering is represented as a means of propitiation (Lev. xvi., Num. xvii. 12 [A.V. xvi. 47]), so also are the ten thousands of rivers of oil figuring between the thousands of rams and the human

p. 63

sacrifice in Micah vi. That the cereal offering is never anything but an accompaniment of the animal sacrifice is a rule which does not hold, either in the case of the shewbread or in that of the high priest's daily minḥa (Lev. vi. 13 [A.V. 20]; Neh. x. 35). Only the drink-offering has no independent position, and was not in any way the importance it had among the Greeks.

When a sacrifice is killed, the offering consists not of the blood but of the eatable portions of the flesh. Only these can be designated as the "bread of Jehovah," and, moreover, only the eatable domestic animals can be presented. At the same time, however, it is true that in the case of the bloody offerings a new motive ultimately came to be associated with the original idea of the gift. The life of which the blood was regarded as the substance (2 Sam. xxiii. 17) had for the ancient Semites something mysterious and divine about it; they felt a certain religious scruple about destroying it. With them flesh was an uncommon luxury, and they ate it with quite different feelings from those with which they partook of fruits or of milk. Thus the act of killing was not so indifferent or merely preparatory a step as for example the cleansing and preparing of corn; on the contrary, the pouring out of blood was ventured upon only in such a way as to give it back to the Deity, the source of life. In this way, not by any means every meal indeed, but every slaughtering, came to be a sacrifice. What was primarily aimed at in it was a mere restoration of His own to the Deity, but there readily resulted a combination with the idea of sacrifice, whereby the latter was itself modified in a peculiar manner. The atoning efficacy of the gift began to be ascribed mainly to the blood and to the vicarious value of the life taken away. The outpouring and sprinkling of blood was in all sacrifices a rite of conspicuous importance, and even the act of slaughtering in the case of some, and these the most valued, a holy act.

2. The features presented by the various literary sources harmonise with the foregoing sketch. But the Priestly Code exhibits some peculiarities by which it is distinguished from the pre-exilian remains in matters sacrificial.

In the first place, it is characterised in the case of bloodless offerings by a certain refinement of the material. Thus in the meal-offerings it will have ‏סלת‎ (simila) not ‏קמח‎ (far). In the whole pre-exilian literature the former is mentioned only three times altogether, but

p. 64

never in connection with sacrifice, where, on the contrary, the ordinary meal is used (Judges vi. 19; 1 Sam. i. 24). That this is no mere accident appears on the one hand from the fact that in the later literature, from Ezekiel onwards, ‏קמח‎ as sacrificial meal entirely disappears, and ‏סלת‎ invariably take its place; on the other hand, from this that the LXX (or the Hebrew text from which that version was taken) is offended by the illegality of the material in 1 Sam. i. 24, and alters the reading so as to bring it to conformity with the Law. 1

So also a striking preference is shown for incense. With every meal-offering incense is offered upon the altar; in the inner sanctuary a special mixture of spices is employed, the accurately given recipe for which is not to be followed for private purposes. The offering of incense is the privilege of the higher priesthood; in the ritual of the great Day of Atonement, the sole one in which Aaron must discharge the duties in person, it occupies a conspicuous place. It has an altogether dangerous sanctity; Aaron's own sons died for not having made use of the proper fire. It is the cause of death and destruction to the Levites of Korah's company who are not entitled to use it, while immediately afterwards, in the hands of the legitimate high priest, it becomes the means of appeasing the anger of Jehovah, and of staying the plague. Now of this offering, thus invested with such a halo of sanctity, the older literature of the Jewish Canon, down to Jeremiah and Zephaniah, knows absolutely nothing. The verb ‏קטּר‎ there used invariably and exclusively of the burning of fat or meal, and thereby making to God a sweet-smelling savour; it is never used to denote the offering of incense, and the substantive ‏קטרת‎ as a sacrificial term has the quite general signification of that which is burnt on the altar. 2

In enumerations where the prophets

p. 65

exhaust everything pertaining to sacred gifts and liturgic performances, in which, for the sake of lengthening the catalogue, they do not shrink from repetitions even, there is not any mention of incense-offerings, neither in Amos (iv. 4 seq., v. 21 seq.) nor in Isaiah (i. 11 seq.) nor in Micah (vi. 6 seq.). Shall we suppose that they all of them forget this subject by mere accident, or that they conspired to ignore it? If it had really existed, and been of so great consequence, surely one of them at least would not have failed to speak of it. The Jehovistic section of the Hexateuch is equally silent, so also the historical books, except Chronicles, and so the rest of the prophets, down to Jeremiah, who (vi. 20) selects incense as the example of a rare and far-fetched offering: "To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the precious cane from a far country?" Thenceforward it is mentioned in Ezekiel, in Isaiah (xl.-lxvi.), in Nehemiah, and in Chronicles; the references are continuous. The introduction of incense is a natural result of increased luxury; one is tempted to conjecture that its use must have first crept into the Jehovah worship as an innovation from a more luxuriously-developed foreign cultus. But the importance which it has attained in the ritual legislation of the Pentateuch is manifest above all from this, that it has led to the invention of a peculiar new and highly sacred piece of furniture, namely, the golden altar in the inner tabernacle, which is unknown to history, and which is foreign even to the kernel of the Priestly Code itself.

We expect to find the altar of incense in Exod. xxv.-xxix., but find it instead as an appendix at the beginning of Exod. xxx. Why not until now? why thus separated from the other furnishings of the inner sanctuary? and not only so, but even after the ordinances relating to the

p. 66

adornment of the priests, and the inauguration of the divine service? The reason why the author of chaps. xxv.-xxix. is thus silent about the altar of incense in the passage in which the furniture of the tabernacle, consisting of ark, table, and candlestick, is described, is, that he does not know of it. There is no other possibility; for he cannot have forgotten it. 1 And the phenomenon is repeated; the altar of incense occurs only in certain portions of the Priestly Code, and is absent from others where it could not possibly have been omitted, had it been known. The rite of the most solemn atoning sacrifice takes place in Leviticus iv. indeed on the golden altar, but in Exod. xxix., Levi. viii., ix., without its use. A still more striking circumstance is, that in passages where the holiest incense-offering itself is spoken of, no trace can be discovered of the corresponding altar. This is particularly the case in Lev. xvi. To burn incense in the sanctuary, Aaron takes a censer, fills it with coals from the altar of burnt-offering (ver. 12, 18-20), and lays the incense upon them in the adytum. Similarly in Lev. x., Num. xvi., xvii., incense is offered on censers, of which each priest possesses one. The coals are taken from the altar of burnt-offering (Num. xvii. 11; [A.V. xvi. 46]), which is plated with the censers of the Korahite Levites (xvii. 3, 4; [A.V. xvi. 38, 39]); whoever takes fire from any other source, incurs the penalty of death (Lev. x. 1 seq.). The altar of incense is everywhere unknown here; the altar of burnt-offering is the only altar, and, moreover, is always called simply the altar, as for example, even in Exodus xxvii., where it would have been specially necessary to add the qualifying expression. Only in certain later portions of the Priestly Code does the name altar of burnt-offering occur, viz., in those passages which do recognise the altar of incense. In this connection the command of Exod. xxvii. as compared with the execution in Exod. xxxviii. is characteristic.

The golden altar in the sanctuary is originally simply the golden

p. 67

table; the variation of the expression has led to a doubling of the thing. Ezekiel does not distinguish between the table and the altar in the temple, but uses either expression indifferently. For he says (xii. 21 seq.): "Before the adytum stood what looked like an altar of wood, three cubits in height, two cubits in length and breadth, and it had projecting corners, and its frame and its walls were of wood; this is the table which is before the Lord." In like manner he designates the service of the priests in the inner sanctuary as table-service (xliv. 16); table is the name, altar the function. 1 In 1 Kings vii. 48, it is true that the golden altar and the golden table are mentioned together. It seems strange, however, that in this case the concluding summary mentions one piece of furniture more—and that piece one of so great importance—than the preceding detailed description; for in the latter only the preparation of the golden altar is spoken of, and nothing is said of the golden table (vi. 20-22). As matters stand, nothing is less improbable than that some later transcriber should have interpolated the golden table in vii. 48, regarding it, in accordance with the Pentateuch, as distinct from the golden altar, and therefore considering its absence as an omission. From other considerations also, it is clear that the text of the whole chapter is in many ways corrupt and interpolated.

It is not to be wondered at if in the post-exilian temple there existed both a golden altar and a golden table. We learn from 1 Macc. i. 21 seq., iv. 49, that both were carried off by Antiochus Epiphanes, and renewed at the Feast of the Dedication. But it causes no small surprise to find that at the destruction of Jerusalem the Romans found and carried off table and candlestick only. What can have become, in the meantime, of the golden altar of incense? And it is further worth remarking that in the LXX the passage Exod. xxxvii. 25-29 is absent; that is to say, the altar of incense is indeed commanded, but there is no word of its execution. In these circumstances, finally, the vacillating statement as to its position in Exod. xxx. 6, and the supposed mistake of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, are important and intelligible. Compare also 2 Mac. ii. 5, where only the table, but not the altar, is hidden by Jeremiah.

So much for the offering of incense and its altar. We may in like manner venture to regard it as a kind of refinement, though rather a

p. 68

refinement of idea, that the flesh of the sacrifice in the Priestly Code is no longer boiled, but consigned to the altar flames in its raw condition. Such was not the ancient custom, as is seen, not only from the case of Gideon already cited (Judges vi.), but also from the procedure at Shiloh, described in 1 Sam. ii., where the sons of Eli will not wait until the flesh of the sacrifice has been boiled, and the altar pieces burnt, but demand their share raw for roasting. The meal which the Deity shares with men is prepared in the same way as for men. This naive conception gave way before advancing culture, and that at a comparatively early date. It is possible that another cause may also have co-operated towards this result. The old method of preparing flesh in general use among the people, at a later period also, was by boiling. The word ‏בשל‎ (to seethe in water) occurs with extreme frequency; ‏אלה‎ (to roast), on the other hand, only in Exod. xii. 8, and Isa. xliv. 16, 19. All sacrificial flesh (‏בשלה‎) was boiled, and there was no other kind. 1 But among persons of the upper class roasting must also have come into use at an early period. "Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not take sodden flesh of thee, but raw," says the servant of the sons of Eli in 1 Sam. ii. 15. The fact that in the interval the custom of boiling had gone generally somewhat out of fashion may accordingly have also contributed to bring about the abandonment of the old usage of offering the sacrificial portions boiled. In any case this is the explanation of the circumstance that the paschal lamb, which originally was boiled like all other offerings, could, according to the express appointment of the Priestly Code, be eaten roasted only. 2

The phenomenon that in the Law meal is by preference offered raw, while in the earlier period, even as an adjunct of the burnt-offering, it was presented baked, belongs to the same category. The latter is the case in Judges vi. 19 at least, and the statement of 1 Sam. i. 24 is also to be understood in the same sense; the sacrificer brings meal along with him in order to bake it into maççah on the spot (Ezek. xlvi. 20). But he may bring along with him common, that is leavened, cakes also (1 Sam. x. 3), which seem originally by no means to have

p. 69

been considered unfit to be offered as in Lev. ii. 11. For under this law of Lev. ii. even the presentation of the shewbread would be inexplicable, and moreover it is certain that at first the loaves of the feast of weeks were offerings, properly so called, and not merely dues to the priests. According, to Amos iv. 5, leavened bread was made use of precisely at a particularly solemn sacrifice, and a reminiscence of this usage has been preserved even in Lev. vii. 13, although of course without any practical weight being attached to it. 1 Moreover, maççah also means, properly speaking, only the bread that is prepared in haste and in the most primitive manner for immediate use, and originally implies no contrast with leaven, but simply with the more artificial and tedious manners of producing ordinary bread 2 In the Priestly Code the materials are finer, but they are as much as possible left in their raw condition; both are steps in advance.

3. There is another and much more important difference in the case of the animal sacrifice. Of this the older practice knows only two kinds apart from extraordinary varieties, which may be left out of account. These two are the burnt-offering (‘Olah) and the thank-offering (Shelem, Zebaḥ, Zebaḥ-Shelamim). In the case of the first the whole animal is offered on the altar; in the other God receives, besides the blood, only an honorary portion, while the rest of the flesh is eaten by the sacrificial guests. Now it is worth noticing how seldom the burnt-offering occurs alone. It is necessarily so in the case of human sacrifice (Gen. xxii. 2 seq.; Judges xi. 31; 3 2 Kings iii. 27; Jer. xix. 5); otherwise it is not usual (Gen. viii. 20; Num. xxiii. 1 seq.; Judges vi. 20, 26, xiii. 16, 23; 1 Sam. vii. 9 seq.;

p. 70

[paragraph continues] 1 Kings iii. 4, xviii. 34, 38); 1 moreover, all the examples just cited are extraordinary or mythical in their character, a circumstance that may not affect the evidence of the existence of the custom in itself, but is important as regards the statistics of its frequency. As a rule, the ‘Olah occurs only in conjunction with Zebaḥim, and when this is the case the latter are in the majority and are always in the plural, while on the other hand the first is frequently in the singular. 2

They supplement each other like two corresponding halves; the ‘Olah is, as the name implies, properly speaking, nothing more than the part of a great offering that reaches the altar. One might therefore designate as ‘Olah also that part of a single animal which is consecrated to the Deity; this, however, is never done; neither of the blood nor of the fat (‏קטר‎) is the verb ‏העלה‎ used, but only of the pieces of the flesh, of which in the case of the minor offering nothing was burnt. But the distinction is merely one of degree; there is none in kind; a small Zebaḥ, enlarged and augmented, becomes an ‘Olah and Zebaḥim; out of a certain number of slaughtered animals which are eaten by the sacrificial company, one is devoted to God and wholly given to the flames. For the rest, it must be borne in mind that as a rule it is only great sacrificial feasts that the historical books take occasion to mention, and that consequently the burnt-offering, notwithstanding what has been said, comes before us with greater prominence than can have been the average case in ordinary life. Customarily, it is certain, none but thank-offerings were offered; necessarily so

p. 71

if slaughtering could only be done beside the altar. Where mention is made of a simple offering in the Books of Samuel and Kings, that it is a thank-offering is matter of course. 1 Sam. ii. 12 seq. is in this connection also particularly instructive.

From what has been said it results that according to the praxis of the older period a meal was almost always connected with a sacrifice. It was the rule that only blood and fat were laid upon the altar, but the people ate the flesh; only in the case of very great sacrificial feasts was a large animal (one or more) given to Jehovah. Where a sacrifice took place, there was also eating and drinking (Exod. xxxii. 6; Judges ix. 27; 2 Sam. xv. 11 seq.; Amos ii. 7); there was no offering without a meal, and no meal without an offering (1 Kings i. 9); at no important Bamah was entertainment wholly wanting, such a λέσχη as that in which Samuel feasted Saul, or Jeremiah the Rechabites (1 Sam. ix. 22; Jer. xxxv. 2). To be merry, to eat and drink before Jehovah, is a usual form of speech down to the period of Deuteronomy; even Ezekiel calls the cultus on the high places an eating upon the mountains (1 Sam. ix. 13,19 seq.), and in Zechariah the pots in the temple have a special sanctity (Zech. xiv. 20). By means of the meal in presence of Jehovah is established a covenant fellowship on the one hand between Him and the guests, and on the other hand between the guests themselves reciprocally, which is essential for the idea of sacrifice and gives their name to the Shelamim (compare Exod. xviii. 12, xxiv. 11). In ordinary slaughterings this notion is not strongly present, but in solemn sacrifices it was in full vigour. It is God who invites, for the house is His; His also is the gift, which must be brought to Him entire by the offerer before the altar, and the greater portion of which He gives up to His guests only after that. Thus in a certain sense they eat at God's table, and must accordingly prepare or sanctify themselves for it. 1 Even on occasions that, to our way of

p. 72

thinking, seem highly unsuitable, the meal is nevertheless not wanting (Judges xx. 26, xxi. 4; 1 Sam xiii. 9-12). That perfect propriety was not always observed might be taken for granted, and is proved by Isa. xxviii. 8 even with regard to the temple of Jerusalem; "all tables are full of vomit, there is no room." Hence also Eli's suspicion regarding Hannah was a natural one, and by no means so startling as it appears.

How different from this picture is that suggested by the Priestly Code! Here one no longer remarks that a meal accompanies every sacrifice; eating before Jehovah, which even in Deuteronomy is just the expression for sacrificing, nowhere occurs, or at all events is no act of divine worship. Slaying and sacrificing are no longer coincident, the thank-offering of which the breast and right shoulder are to be consecrated is something different from the old simple Zebaḥ. But, precisely for this reason, it has lost its former broad significance. The mizbéaḥ, that is, the place where the zebaḥim are to be offered, has been transformed into a mizbaḥ ha-‘olah. The burnt-offering has become quite independent and comes everywhere into the foreground, the sacrifices which are unconnected with a meal altogether predominate,—so much that, as is well known, Theophrastus could declare there were no others among the Jews, who in this way were differentiated from all other nations. 1 Where formerly a thank-offering which was eaten before Jehovah, and which might with greater clearness be called a sacrificial meal, was prescribed, the Priestly Code, as we shall afterwards see, has made out of it simple dues to the priests, as, for example, in the case of the first-born and of firstlings. Only in this point it still bears involuntary testimony to the old custom by applying the names Todah, Neder, and Nedabah, of which the last two in particular must necessarily have a quite general meaning (Lev. xxii. 18; Ezek. xlvi. 12), exclusively to the thank-offering, while Milluim and paschal sacrifice are merely subordinate varieties of it.

4. What the thank-offering has lost, the sin and trespass offering have gained; the voluntary private offering which the sacrificer ate in a joyful company at the holy place has given way before the compulsory, of which he obtains no share, and from which the character of the sacred meal has been altogether taken away. The burnt-offering, it is true, still continues to be a meal, if only a one-sided one, of which God alone partakes; but in the case of the sin-offering everything is kept far

p. 73

out of sight which could recall a meal, as, for example, the accompaniments of meal and wine, oil and salt; of the flesh no portion reaches the altar, it all goes as a fine to the priest. Now, of this kind of sacrifice, which has an enormous importance in the Priestly Code, not a single trace occurs in the rest of the Old Testament before Ezekiel, neither in the Jehovist and Deuteronomist, nor in the historical and prophetical books. 1 ‘Olah and Zebaḥ comprehend all animal sacrifices, ‘Olah and Minḥah, or Zebaḥ and Minḥah, all sacrifices whatsoever; nowhere is a special kind of sacrifice for atonement met with (1 Sam. iii. 14). Hos. iv. 8 does indeed say: "They eat the sin of my people, and they are greedy for its guilts," but the interpretation which will have it that the priests are here reproached with in the first instance themselves inducing the people to falsification of the sacred dues, in order to make these up again with the produce of the sin and trespass offerings, is either too subtle or too dull. 2 It would be less unreasonable to co-ordinate with the similarly named sin and trespass offering of the Pentateuch the five golden mice, and the five golden emerods with which the Philistines send back the ark, and which in 1 Sam. vi. 3, 4, 8 are designated asham, or, still better, the sin and trespass monies which, according to 2 Kings xii. 17 [A.V. 16], fell to the share of the Jerusalem priests. Only the fact is that even in the second passage the asham and ḥaṭṭath are no sacrifices, but, more exactly to render the original meaning of the words, mere fines, and in fact money fines. On the other hand, the ḥaṭṭath referred to in Micah vi. 7 has nothing to do with a due of the priests, but simply denotes the guilt which eventually another takes upon himself. Even in Isa. liii. 10, a passage which is certainly late, asham must not be taken in the technical sense of the ritual legislation, but simply (as in Micah) in the sense of guilt, borne by the innocent for the guilty. For the explanation of this prophetic passage Gramberg has rightly had recourse to the narrative of 2 Sam. xi. 1-14. "Upon Saul and upon his house lies blood-guiltiness,

p. 74

for having slain the Gibeonites" is announced to David as the cause of a three years' famine. When asked how it can be taken away, the Gibeonites answer, "It is not a matter of silver and gold to us with respect to Saul and his house; let seven men of his family be delivered to us that we may hang them up unto the Lord in Gibeah of Saul upon the mountain of the Lord." This was done; all the seven were hanged.

Asham and ḥaṭṭath as offerings occur for the first time in Ezekiel, and appear, not long before his day to have come into the place of the earlier pecuniary fines (2 Kings xii. 17 [16]), which perhaps already also admitted of being paid in kind; probably in the seventh century, which seems to have been very open to the mystery of atonement and bloodshedding, and very fertile in the introduction of new religious usages. 1 The sin and trespass offerings of the Pentateuch still bear traces of their origin in fines and penalties; they are not gifts to God, they are not even symbolical, they are simply mulcts payable to the priests, partly of fixed commutation value (Lev. v. 15). Apart from the mechanical burning of the fat they have in common with the sacrifice only the shedding of blood, originally a secondary matter, which has here become the chief thing. This circumstance is an additional proof of our thesis. The ritual of the simple offering has three acts: (1.) the presentation of the living animal before Jehovah, and the laying on of hands as a token of manumission on the part of the offerer; (2.) the slaughtering and the sprinkling of the blood on the altar; (3.) the real or seeming gift of the sacrificial portions to the Deity, and the meal of the human guests. In the case of the burnt-offering the meal in the third act disappears, and the slaughtering in the second comes into prominence as significant and sacred, inasmuch as (what is always expressly stated) it must take place in the presence of Jehovah, at the north side of the altar. In the case of the sin and trespass offering the third act is dropped entirely, and accordingly the whole significance of the rite attaches to the slaughtering, which of course also takes place before the altar, and to the sprinkling of the blood, which has become peculiarly developed

p. 75

here. It is obvious how the metamorphosis of the gift and the meal into a bloody atonement advances and reaches its acme in this last sacrificial act.

This ritual seems to betray its novelty even within the Priestly Code itself by a certain vacillation. In the older corpus of law (Lev. xvii.-xxvi.) which has been taken into that document, all sacrifices are still embraced under one or other of the two heads ‏זבח‎ and ‏עלה‎ (xvii. 8, xxii. 18, 21); there are no others. The asham indeed occurs in xix. 21 seq., but, as is recognised, only in a later addition; on the other hand, it is not demanded 1 in xxii. 14, where it must have been according to Lev. v. and Num. v. And even apart from Lev. xvii.-xxvi there is on this point no sort of agreement between the kernel of the Priestly Code and the later additions, or "novels," so to speak. For one thing, there is a difference as to the ritual of the most solemn sin-offering between Exod. xxix., Lev. ix. on the one hand, and Leviticus iv. on the other; and what is still more serious, the trespass-offering never occurs in the primary but only in the secondary passages, Lev. iv.-vii., xiv.; Num. v. 7, 8, vi. 1, xviii. 9. In the latter, moreover, the distinction between asham and ḥaṭṭath is not very clear, but only the intention to make it, perhaps because in the old praxis there actually was a distinction between ‏כסף חטאות‎ and ‏כסף אשם‎, and in Ezekiel between ‏חטאת‎ and ‏אשם‎. 2

p. 76


The turning-point in the history of the sacrificial system was the reformation of Josiah; what we find in the Priestly Code is the matured result of that event. It is precisely in the distinctions that are characteristic of the sacrificial law as compared with the ancient sacrificial praxis that we have evidence of the fact that, if not all exactly occasioned by the centralisation of the worship, they were almost all somehow at least connected with that change.

In the early days, worship arose out of the midst of ordinary life, and was in most intimate and manifold connection with it. A sacrifice was a meal, a fact showing how remote was the idea of antithesis between spiritual earnestness and secular joyousness. A meal unites a definite circle of guests, and in this way the sacrifice brought into connection the members of the family, the associates of the corporation, the soldiers of the army, and, generally speaking, the constituents of any permanent or temporary society. It is earthly relationships that receive their consecration thereby, and in correspondence are the natural festal occasions presented by the vicissitudes of life. Year after year the return of vintage, corn-harvest, and sheep-shearing brought together the members of the household to eat and to drink in the presence of Jehovah; and besides these there were less regularly recurring events which were celebrated in one circle after another. There was no warlike expedition which was not inaugurated in this fashion, no agreement that was not thus ratified, no important undertaking of any kind was gone about without a sacrifice. 1

When an honoured guest arrives, there is slaughtered for him a calf, not without an offering of the blood and fat to the Deity. The occasion arising out of daily life is thus inseparable from the holy action, and is what gives it meaning and character; an end corresponding to the situation always underlies it. Hence also prayer must not be wanting. The verb ‏העתיר‎, to "burn" (fat and minḥa), means simply to "pray," and conversely ‏בקש את יהוה‎, "to seek Jehovah," in point of fact not unfrequently means to "sacrifice." The gift serves to reinforce

p. 77

the question or the request, and to express thankfulness; and the prayer is its interpretation. This of course is rather incidentally indicated than expressly said (Hos. v. 6; Isa. i. 15; Jer. xiv. 12; 1 Kings viii. 27 seq.; Prov. xv. 8); we have a specimen of a grace for the offering of the festival gift only in Deuteronomy xxvi. 3 seq.; a blessing is pronounced when the slaughtering takes place (1 Sam. ix. 13). The prayer of course is simply the expression of the feeling of the occasion, with which accordingly it varies in manifold ways. Arising out of the exigencies and directed to the objects of daily life, the sacrifices reflect in themselves a correspondingly rich variety. Our wedding, baptismal, and funeral feasts on the one hand, and our banquets for all sorts of occasions on the other, might still be adduced as the most obvious comparison, were it not that here too the divorce between sacred and secular destroys it. Religious worship was a natural thing in Hebrew antiquity; it was the blossom of life, the heights and depths of which it was its business to transfigure and glorify.

The law which abolished all sacrificial seats, with a single exception, severed this connection. Deuteronomy indeed does not contemplate such a result. Here, in marked opposition to what we find in the Priestly Code, to eat and be merry before Jehovah is the standing phrase for sacrificing; the idea is that in concentrating all the worship towards Jerusalem, all that is effected is a mere change of place, the essence of the thing remaining unaltered. This, however, was a mistake. To celebrate the vintage festival among one's native hills, and to celebrate it at Jerusalem, were two very different things; it was not a matter of indifference whether one could seize on the spot any occasion that casually offered itself for a sacrificial meal, or whether it was necessary that one should first enter upon a journey. And it was not the same thing to appear by oneself at home before Jehovah and to lose oneself in a large congregation at the common seat of worship. Human life has its root in local environment, and so also had the ancient cultus; in being transplanted from its natural soil it was deprived of its natural nourishment. A separation between it and the daily life was inevitable, and Deuteronomy itself paved the way for this result by permitting profane slaughtering. A man lived in Hebron, but sacrificed in Jerusalem; life and worship fell apart. The consequences which lie dormant in the Deuteronomic law are fully developed in the Priestly Code.

This is the reason why the sacrifice combined with a meal, formerly

p. 78

by far the chief, now falls completely into the background. One could eat flesh at home, but in Jerusalem one's business was to do worship. Accordingly, those sacrifices were preferred in which the religious character came to the front with the utmost possible purity and without any admixture of natural elements, sacrifices of which God received everything and man nothing,—burnt-offerings, sin-offerings, and trespass-offerings.

If formerly the sacrifice had taken its complexion from the quality of the occasion which led to it, it now had essentially but one uniform purpose—to be a medium of worship. The warm pulse of life no longer throbbed in it to animate it; it was no longer the blossom and the fruit of every branch of life; it had its own meaning all to itself. It symbolised worship, and that was enough. The soul was fled; the shell remained, upon the shaping out of which every energy was now concentrated. A manifoldness of rites took the place of individualising occasions; technique was the main thing, and strict fidelity to rubric.

Once cultus was spontaneous, now it is a thing of statute. The satisfaction which it affords is, properly speaking, something which lies outside of itself and consists in the moral satisfaction arising out of the conscientiousness with which the ritual precepts, once for all enjoined by God on His people, are fulfilled. The freewill offering is not indeed forbidden, but value in the strict sense is attached only to those which have been prescribed, and which accordingly preponderate everywhere. And even in the case of the freewill offering, everything must strictly and accurately comply with the restrictions of the ordinance; if any one in the fulness of his heart had offered in a zebaḥ shelamim more pieces of flesh than the ritual enjoined, it would have been the worse for him.

Of old the sacrifice combined with a meal had established a special relation between the Deity and a definite society of guests; the natural sacrificial society was the family or the clan (1 Sam. i. 1 seq., xvi. 1 seq., xx. 6). Now the smaller sacred fellowships get lost, the varied groups of social life disappear in the neutral shadow of the universal congregation or church (‏קהל‎, ‏עדה‎). The notion of this last is foreign to Hebrew antiquity, but runs through the Priestly Code from beginning to end. Like the worship itself, its subject also became abstract, a spiritual entity which could be kept together by no other means except worship. As now the participation of the "congregation of the children of Israel" in the sacrifice was of necessity always mainly ideal, the consequence

p. 79

was that the sacred action came to be regarded as essentially perfect by virtue of its own efficacy in being performed by the priest, even though no one was present. Hence later the necessity for a special sacrificial deputation, the anshe ma‘amad. The connection of all this with the Judaising tendency to remove God to a distance from man, it may be added, is clear. 1

Two details still deserve special prominence here. In the Priestly Code the most important sacrifice is the burnt-offering; that is to say, in point of fact, the tamid, the holocaustum juge, consisting of two yearling lambs which are daily consumed upon the "altar of burnt-offering," one in the morning, another in the evening. The custom of daily offering a fixed sacrifice at a definite time existed indeed, in a simpler form, 2 even in the pre-exilian period, but alongside of it at that

p. 80

time, the freewill private offerings had a much more important place, and bulked much more largely. In the law the tamid is in point of fact the fundamental element of the worship, for even the sacrifices of Sabbaths and feast days consist only of its numerical increase (compare Num. xxviii., xxix.). Still later, when it is said in the Book of Daniel that the tamid was done away, this is equivalent to saying that the worship was abolished (viii. 11-13, xi. 31, xii. 11). But now the dominant position of the daily, Sabbath day, and festival tamid means that the sacrificial worship had assumed a perfectly firm shape, which was independent of every special motive and of all spontaneity; and further (what is closely connected with this), that it took place for the sake of the congregation,—the "congregation" in the technical sense attached to that word in the Law. Hence the necessity for the general temple-tax, the prototype of which is found in the poll-tax of half a shekel for the service of the tabernacle in Exod. xxx. 11 seq. Prior to the exile, the regular sacrifice was paid for by the Kings of Judah, and in Ezekiel the monarch still continues to defray the expenses not only of the Sabbath day and festival sacrifices (xiv. 17 seq.), but also of the tamid (xlvi. 13-15). 1 It is also a mark of the date that, according to Exod. xxx., the expenses of the temple worship are met directly out of the poll-tax levied from the community, which can only be explained by the fact that at that time there had ceased to be any sovereign. So completely was the sacrifice the affair of the community in Judaism that the voluntary ḳorban of the individual became metamorphosed into a money payment as a contribution to the cost of the public worship (Mark vii., xii. 42 seq.; Matt. xxvii. 6).

The second point is this: Just as the special purposes and occasions of sacrifice fall out of sight, there comes into increasing prominence the one uniform and universal occasion—that of sin; and one uniform and universal purpose—that of propitiation. In the Priestly Code the peculiar mystery in the case of all animal sacrifices is atonement by blood; this appears in its purest development in the case of the sin and trespass offerings, which are offered as well for individuals as for the congregation and for its head. In a certain sense the great day of atonement is the culmination of the whole religious and sacrificial

p. 81

service, to which, amid all diversities of ritual, continuously underlying reference to sin is common throughout. Of this feature the ancient sacrifices present few traces. It was indeed sought at a very early period to influence the doubtful or threatening mood of Deity, and make His countenance gracious by means of rich gifts, but the gift had, as was natural then, the character of a tentative effort only (Micah vi. 6). There was no such thought as that a definite guilt must and could be taken away by means of a prescribed offering. When the law discriminates between such sins as are covered by an offering and such sins as relentlessly are visited with wrath, it makes a distinction very remote from the antique; to Hebrew antiquity the wrath of God was something quite incalculable, its causes were never known, much less was it possible to enumerate beforehand those sins which kindled it and those which did not. 1 An underlying reference of sacrifice to sin, speaking generally, was entirely absent. The ancient offerings were wholly of a joyous nature,—a merrymaking before Jehovah with music and song, timbrels, flutes, and stringed instruments (Hos. ix. 1 seq.; Amos v. 23, viii. 3; Isa. xxx. 3). No greater contrast could be conceived than the monotonous seriousness of the so-called Mosaic worship. Νόμος παρεισῆλθεν ἵνα πλεοιάσῃ τὸ παράπτωμα.

In this way the spiritualisation of the worship is seen in the Priestly Code as advancing pari passu with its centralisation. It receives, so to speak, an abstract religious character; it separates itself in the first instance from daily life, and then absorbs the latter by becoming, strictly speaking, its proper business. The consequences for the future were momentous. The Mosaic "congregation" is the mother of the Christian church; the Jews were the creators of that idea.

We may compare the cultus in the olden time to the green tree which grows up out of the soil as it will and can; later it becomes the regularly shapen timber, ever more artificially shaped with square and compass. Obviously there is a close connection between the qualitative antithesis we have just been expounding and the formal one of law and

p. 82

custom from which we set out. Between "naturaliter ea quæ legis sunt facere" and "secundum legem agere" there is indeed a more than external difference. If at the end of our first section we found improbable precisely in this region the independent co-existence of ancient praxis and Mosaic law, the improbability becomes still greater from the fact that the latter is filled with a quite different spirit, which can be apprehended only as Spirit of the age (Zeitgeist). It is not from the atmosphere of the old kingdom, but from that of the church of the second temple, that the Priestly Code draws its breath. It is in accordance with this that the sacrificial ordinances as regards their positive contents are no less completely ignored by antiquity than they are scrupulously followed by the post-exilian time.


54:1 With regard to sacrifice, Deuteronomy still occupies the same standpoint as JE.

59:1 That the priests were not mere teachers of law and morals, but also gave ritual instruction (e.g., regarding cleanness and uncleanness), is of course not denied by this. All that is asserted is that in pre-exilian antiquity the priests’ own praxis (at the altar) never constituted the contents of the Torah, but that their Torah always consisted of instructions to the laity. The distinction is easily intelligible to those who choose to understand it.

61:1 Gen. iv. 3-5, Num. xvi. 15; 1 Sam. ii. 17, 29, xxvi. 19; Isa. i. 13; Mal. i. 10-13, ii. 12, 13, iii. 3, 4. In the Priestly Code minḥa is exclusively a terminus technicus for the meal-offering. The general name in the LXX and in the New Testament is δῶρον (Matt. v. 23-24, viii. 4, xv. 5, xxiii. 18, 19). Compare Spencer, "De ratione et origine sacrificiorum" (De Legibus Hebræorum ritualibus, iii. 2), by far the best thing that has ever been written on the subject.

64:1 Ezekiel xvi. 13, 19, xlvi. 14; 1 Chron. ix. 29, xxiii. 22; Ecclus. xxxv. 2, xxxviii. 11, xxxix. 32; Isaiah i. 13 (LXX); lxvi. 3 (LXX). In the Priestly Code ‏סלת‎ occurs more than forty times.

64:2 The verb is used in piel by the older writers, in hiphil by the Priestly Code (Chronicles), and promiscuously in both forms during the transition period by the author of the Books of Kings. This is the case, at least, where the forms can with certainty be distinguished, namely, in the perfect, imperative, and infinitive; the distinction between ‏יקטר‎ and ‏יקטיר‎, ‏מקטר‎ and ‏מקטיר‎ rests, as is well known, upon no secure tradition. Compare, for example, ḳaṭṭer jaḳṭirun, 1 Sam. ii. 16; the transcribers and punctuators under the influence of the Pentateuch preferred the hiphil. In the Priestly Code (Chronicles) ‏הקטיר‎ has both meanings alongside of each other, but when used without a qualifying phrase it generally means incensing, and when consuming a sacrifice is intended ‏המזבחה‎ is usually added, "on the altar," that is, the p. 65 place on which the incense-offering strictly so called was not offered. The substantive ‏קטרת‎ in the sense of "an offering of incense" in which it occurs exclusively and very frequently in the Priestly Code, is first found in Ezekiel (viii. 11, xvi. 18, xxiii. 41) and often afterwards in Chronicles, but in the rest of the Old Testament only in Proverbs xxvii. 9, but there in a profane sense. Elsewhere never, not even in passages so late as 1 Sam. ii. 28; Ps. lxvi. 15, cxli. 2. In authors of a certainly pre-exilian date the word occurs only twice, both times in a perfectly general sense. Isaiah i. 13: "Bring me no more oblations; it is an abominable incense to me." Deut. xxxiii. 10: "The Levites shall put incense (i.e., the fat of thank-offerings) before thee, and whole burnt-offerings upon thine altar." The name ‏לבנה‎ (frankincense) first occurs in Jeremiah (vi. 20, xvii. 26, xli. 5); elsewhere only in the Priestly Code (nine times), in Isa. xl.-lxvi. (three times), in Chronicles and Nehemiah (three times), and in Canticles (three times). Compare Zeph. iii. 10; 1 Kings ix. 25.

66:1 There is a peculiar perversity in meeting the objection by alleging other singularities in the ordinance as for example, that the vessels of the tabernacle are appointed (chap. xxv.) before the tabernacle itself (chap. xxvi.). This last is no eccentricity; the order in commanding is first the end, and then the means; but in obeying, the order is reversed. In like manner, it is not at all surprising if subsidiary implements, such as benches for slaughtering. or basins for washing, which have no importance for the cultus, properly so called, should be either passed over altogether, or merely brought in as an appendix. The case is not at all parallel with the omission of the most important utensil of the sanctuary from the very passage to which it necessarily belongs.

67:1 Malachi, on the other hand, designates the so-called altar of burnt-offering as a table.

68:1 Accordingly one must understand ‏עשה‎ also of boiling (Judges vi. 19). Compare the boiling-houses of the temple still found in Ezek. xlvi. 20-24. In 1 Sam. i. 9 pronounce beshéla instead of beshilo, and delete ‏ואהרי שתה‎.

68:2 Compare the polemical ordinance of Exod. xii. 9 with Deut. xvi. 7.

69:1 The loaves are passed over in silence in Leviticus vii. 29 seq., although it is in this very place that the matter of presenting on the part of the offerer is most fully described. And when it is said (vii. 12), "If he offer it for a thanksgiving (Todah), then he shall offer with it unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil and fine flour (LXX), mingled with oil;" vii. 13, "[With] leavened cakes shall he offer as a gift with the thank-offering of the Todah," the suspicion very readily occurs that verse 12 is an authentic interpretation prefixed, to obviate beforehand the difficulty presented by verse 13, and that similarly the first ‏על‎ in verse 13 is also a later correction, which does not harmonise well by any means with the second. Verse 13 connects itself better with verse 11 than with verse 12.—Exod. xxxiv. 25.

69:2 Compare Gen. xviii. 6 with xix. 3.

69:3 It is probable that Jephthah expected a human creature and not an animal to meet him from his house.

70:1 In the above list of passages no notice is taken of the sacrificium juge of 2 Kings xvi. 15. The statement in 1 Kings iii. 4 is perhaps to be taken along with iii. 15, but does not become at all more credible on that account. Of course it is understood that only those passages are cited here in which mention is made of offerings actually made, and not merely general statements about one or more kinds of offering. The latter could very well fix attention upon the ‘Olah alone without thereby throwing any light upon the question as to the actual practice.

70:2 Exod. x. 25, xviii. 12, xxiv. 5, xxxii. 6; Joshua viii. 31; Judges xx. 26, xxi. 4; 1 Sam. vi. 14 seq., x. 8, xiii. 9-12; 2 Sam. vi. 17 seq., xxiv. 23-25, 1 Kings iii. 15, viii. 63 seq.; 2 Kings v. 17, x. 24, 25. The zeugma in Judges xx. 26, xxi. 4 is inconsistent with the older usus loquendi. The proper name for the holocaust appears to be ‏כליל‎ (Deuteronomy xxxiii. 10; 1 Samuel vii. 9) not ‏עלה‎. It is impossible to decide whether the sacrificial due in all sorts of Zebaḥ was the same, but most probably it was not. Probably the Shelamim are a more solemn kind of sacrifice than the simple Zebaḥ. The word 'fat' is used in Gen. iv. 4; Exod. xxiii. 18 in a very general sense. It is not quite clear what is meant by the blessing of the Zebaḥ in 1 Sam. ix. 13; perhaps a kind of grace before meat.

71:1 In order to appear before Jehovah the guest adorns himself with clothes and ornaments (Exod. iii. 22, xi. 2 seq.; Hos. ii. 15 [A.V. 13]; Ezek. xvi. 13; compare Koran, Sur. xx. 61), sanctifies himself (Num. xi. 18) and is sanctified (1 Sam. xvi. 5; Exod. xix. 10, 14). The sacrificial meal is regarded as Kodesh (hallowed) for not only the priests, but all the sanctified persons eat Kodesh (1 Sam. xxi. 5 seq. On what is meant by sanctification light is thrown by 1 Sam. xxi. 5; 2 Sam. xi. 2. Compare ‏לא לפנו חנף יבא‎ (Job xiii. 16; Lev. vii. 20; Matt. xxii. 11-13). Jehovah invites the armies of the nations to His sacrifice, for which He delivers over to them some other nation, and calls the Medes, to whom He gives Babylon over, His sanctified ones, that is, His guests (Zeph. i. 7 seq.; Jer. xlvi. 10; Ezek. xxxix 17; Isa. xiii. 3).

72:1 Porphyry, De Abstin. ii. 26. Compare Joseph., C. Ap., ii. 13: ὀ͂υτοι εὔχονται ύειν ἐκατόμβας τοῖς θεοῖς καὶ χρῶνται τοῖς ἰερείος πρὸς εὐωχίαν.

73:1 How great is the difference in Deut. xxi. 1-9; how very remote the sacrificial idea!

73:2 The sin and guilt are the sacrificial worship generally as carried on by the people (viii. 11; Amos iv. 4); in the entire section the prophet is preparing the way for the here sharply accentuated reproach against the priests that they neglect the Torah and encourage the popular propensity to superstitious and impure religious service. Besides, where is there any reproach at all, according to the Pentateuch, in the first section of iv. 8? And the second speaks of ‏עונם‎, not of ‏אשמם‎.

74:1 Consider for example the prevalence of child sacrifice precisely at this time, the introduction of incense, the new fashions which King Manasseh brought in, and of which certainly much survived that suited the temper of the period, and admitted of being conjoined with the worship of Jehovah, or even seemed to enhance its dignity and solemnity.

75:1 Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the asham here, in the case of property unlawfully held, is simply the impost of a fifth part of the value, and not the sacrifice of a ram, which in Lev. v. is required in addition. In Num. v. also, precisely this fifth part is called asham.

75:2 The three sections, Lev. iv. 1-35 (ḥaṭṭath), v. 1-13 (ḥaṭṭath-asham), and v. 14-26 (asham), are essentially not co-ordinate parts of one whole, but independent pieces proceeding from the same school. For v. 1-13 is no continuation of or appendix to iv. 27-35, but a quite independent treatment of the same material, with important differences of form. The place of the systematic generality of chap. iv. is here taken by the definite individual case, and what is analogous to it; the ritual is given with less minuteness, and the hierarchical subordination of ranks has no influence on the classification of offences. In this section also asham and ḥaṭṭath occur interchangeably as synonymous. In the third section a ram as an asham is prescribed (v. 17-19) for the very case in which in the first a he-goat or a she-goat is required as ḥaṭṭath (iv. 22, 27). The third section has indeed in form greater similarity to the second, but cannot be regarded as its true completion, for this simple reason, that the latter does not distinguish between ḥaṭṭath and asham. If Lev. v. 13-16, 20-26 be followed simply without regard being had to vers. 17-19, the asham comes in only in the case of voluntary restitution of property illegally come by or detained, more particularly of the sacred dues. The goods must be restored to their owner augmented by a fifth part of their value; and as an asham there must be added a ram, which falls to the p. 76 sanctuary. In Num. v. 5-10 the state of the case is indeed the same, but the language employed is different, for in this passage it is the restored property that is called asham, and the ram is called ‏איל הכפרים‎. Comp. Lev. xxii. 14.

76:1 Sacrifice is used as a pretext in 1 Sam. xvi. 1 seq.; 1 Kings i. 9 seq. Compare Proverbs vii. 14.

79:1 It is not asserted that the cultus before the law (of which the darker sides are known from Amos and Hosea) was better than the legal, but merely that it was more original; the standard of judgment being, not the moral element, but merely the idea, the primary meaning of worship. Nor is it disputed further that the belief in the dependence of sacrifices and other sacred acts upon a laboriously strict compliance with traditional and prescriptive rites occurs in the case of certain peoples, even in the remotest antiquity. But with the Israelites, judging by the testimony of the historical and prophetical books, this was not on the whole the case any more than with the ancient Greeks; there were no Brahmans or Magians in either case. Moreover, it must be carefully noted that not even in the Priestly Code do we yet find the same childish appreciation of the cultus as occurs in such a work as the Rigveda, and that the strict rules are not prescribed and maintained with any such notion in view as that by their observance alone can the taste of the Deity be pleased; the idea of God is here even strikingly remote from the anthropomorphic, and the whole cultus is nothing more than an exercise in piety which has simply been enjoined so once for all without any one being in any way the better for it.

79:2 See Kuenen, Godsdienst van Israel, ii. 271. According to 2 Kings xvi. 15, an ‏עלה‎ in the morning and a ‏מנחה‎ in the evening were daily offered in the temple of Jerusalem, in the time of Ahaz. Ezekiel also (xlvi. 13-15) speaks only of the morning ‏עלה‎. Compare also Ezra ix. 4; Neh. x. 33. In the Priestly Code the evening minḥah has risen to the dignity of a second ‘olah; but at the same time survives in the daily minḥah of the high priest, and is now offered in the morning also (Lev. vi. 12-16). The daily minḥah appears to be older than the daily ‘olah. For while it was a natural thing to prepare a meal regularly for the Deity, the expense of a daily ‘olah was too great for an ordinary place of worship, and, besides, it was not in accordance with the custom of men to eat flesh every day. The offering of the daily minḥah is already employed in 1 Kings xviii. 29, 36, as a mark of time to denote the afternoon, and this use is continued down to the latest period, while the tamid, i.e., the ‘olah, is never so utilised. The oddest custom of all, however, was doubtless not the daily minḥah, but the offering of the shewbread, which served the same purpose, but was not laid out fresh every day.

80:1 Compare LXX. The Massoretic text has corrected the third person (referring to the princes) into the second, making it an address to the priests, which, however, is quite impossible in Ezekiel.

81:1 When the wrath is regulated by the conditions of the "covenant," the original notion (which scorns the thought of adjustment) is completely changed. What gave the thing its mysterious awfulness was precisely this: that in no way was it possible to guard against it, and that nothing could avail to counteract it. Under the pressure of Jehovah's wrath not only was sacrifice abandoned, but even the mention of His name was shunned so as to avoid attracting His attention (Hos. iii. 4, ix. 4; Amos vi. 10).

Next: Chapter III. The Sacred Feasts.