This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I started this on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed blogging from that book on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. Since then, I have begun adding material from his Bible commentaries. I also re-blog many of the old posts.

Monday, May 22, 2023

The Ceremonial Function of the Blood

The most cursory reader of [Leviticus] must be impressed with the prominence that is given to the shedding of blood, and to the vast amount of blood which must have been poured out in the service of the tabernacle and temple, making them perpetually reek with streams of gore, like a slaughter-house whose floor is ever crimsoned by the ceaseless work of death.

The directions for the treatment of the blood are very minute and often repeated. It was the centre of the whole system of sacrificial rites. There must be some deep significance in this stream of blood flowing ever fresh through all the Hebrew worship. It is found in Leviticus 17:11, correctly translated, "For the life (נֶפֶשׁ, nephesh) of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that maketh an atonement by means of the life. (בַּנֶּפֶשׁ, banephesh.) In Genesis 2:7, we find that the immaterial principle breathed by Jehovah Elohim into the nostrils of the dust-made statue, constituting it a living soul, is this נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh). Here we find the importance attached to the blood. The blood is the נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh), and the human soul is the נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh). The substitutional atonement, נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh) for נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh), irrational soul for rational soul, is inevitable in the scheme of human redemption. In the treatment of the blood it was required to be sprinkled or spilled from the vessel, and cast abroad around the altar, to be scattered in drops by means of a bunch of hyssop, to be smeared with the finger upon the horns of the altar, not, as one fancifully suggests, because the horns were the highest part of the altar, and nearest to heaven, but because it was the refuge of the accidental man-slayer (Exodus 21:14,) and in clinging to the horns he must lay hold of blood. 1 Kings I:50; 2:28. Finally, the remainder was to be poured out at the base of the great altar, from which, in the temple of Solomon, there were sewers to conduct it away into the brook Kedron. There must have been something like this in the tabernacle in the wilderness, since, in addition to the sacrifices, every animal slain for food in or near the camp was to be slain at the door of the tabernacle.

The emphatic and reiterated prohibition of eating blood is expressly founded on the declaration that it is the
נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh), or animal soul. Leviticus 17:10, 11. So deeply was this interdict engraven on the heart of the Jews, that even the first Christian council in Jerusalem classify it with the violation of the law of purity contained in the seventh commandment. Acts 15:29.

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