No small proof of the Divine origin of this sacrificial system is found in the kinds of animals prescribed for the altar. They were domestic, with the exception of the turtledove, which may be styled semi-domestic. This requirement involves two important elements of sacrifice: — that of property, and of affection. Wild animals are unappropriated. No man claims them as his peculiar possession. Hence Jehovah did not appoint for his altar even such wild animals as he pronounced clean. In the Orient there was a familiarity with his flock on the part of the shepherd-owner which amounted to tenderness and love. He individualized his flock and called each sheep by name. In the case of poor men the flock was often folded beneath the same tent or roof with his children, and the lambs were family pets. Nathan, in his reproof of David, spake of no unusual circumstance when he described the little ewe lamb which grew up with the children of the poor man, eating of his own meat, and drinking of his own cup, lying in his bosom, and which was unto him as a daughter. 2 Samuel 12:3. Hence when a Hebrew led a lamb or a kid to the tabernacle or the temple, he laid more than its money value upon the altar: the affections of his heart and of his family gave to the lamb a multiplied value in the eyes of Jehovah. We who are familiar only with the customs of western nations think of an animal given to sacrifice as one taken at random from a drove of ten thousand grazing on the pasturage of the wilderness, or on the hills of Bashan. Again, the animal must be clean, and hence all the more valuable to the owner, because it was the means of life — next in value to life itself. No swine's blood could atone for sin or be a thank offering pleasing to Jehovah, although the proud and polished Athenians crowding the Pnyx to legislate for the Demos would enter upon no business until pigs' blood had lustrated the place.
None but clean herbivorous and graminivorous animals were acceptable to Jehovah. These symbolize innocency of heart, a quality required in all acceptable worship; while the carnivorous animals, living by destroying the lives of other animals, and fitly representing the spirit of fraud, robbery, and oppression among men, were appropriately forbidden for sacrifice. Another reason for this prohibition was, that no portion of an unclean animal could be appropriated to the priest; nor could the offering be bestowed upon the offerer, to be eaten by him and his friends, as in the peace offering. Moreover, the animals prescribed for the altar are prophetic of the future occupation of the people. Until the sacrifice of the Lamb of God for the sins of the world they will always be a pastoral and agricultural nation. Though living on the seacoast, they will never, so long as their ritual retains its significance, abandon the fields and become sailors. Though the great lines of traffic from Egypt and Greece pass through Canaan to Arabia and India, the Israelites will never, while residents of their own land, become a mercantile nation. Though Tyre, and Sidon, and Damascus, close upon their borders, may enrich themselves by manufactures, the religion of the Hebrew will give an agricultural cast to the nation so long as it continues to slaughter bullocks, sheep, and goats on Mount Moriah. The census of modern nations among which Jews are scattered, shows that scarcely one is engaged in tilling the soil or in the care of flocks, Since there is no need of sacrificial animals to prefigure the Lamb of God, the tastes of the whole nation have been changed from bucolics to banking and brokerage, from olive-yards to pack-peddling, throughout the world. How curious, and yet cogent, this incidental proof that the Jew now needs no other sacrifice for sin than that made on Calvary.
The turtle-dove, prescribed for the offering of the poor man, is found in amazing numbers wherever the palm-tree flourishes, every tree being a home for two or three pairs of these elegant, semi-domestic birds. A recent traveller testifies that he has frequently, in a palm-grove, brought down ten braces or more without moving from his post. We adduce this witness to answer the objection that this requirement for sacrifice could not be met by the Israelites in the wilderness. The pigeon is to this day domesticated in the East in enormous numbers. They are kept in dovecots in all the towns and hamlets of Palestine. Before King Solomon imported gallinaceous fowls from India, they were probably the only domestic poultry known to the Hebrews. The only difficulty is in the supply of pigeons in the wilderness. It has been asserted that there was no such supply unless we suppose that the Israelites fled from Egypt with dove-cages in their hands. There is nothing absurd in this supposition. The declaration of Moses, "there shall not a hoof be left behind," is only another expression for the assurance that all their property should be brought with them out of Egypt. Exodus 10:26. The doves were the property of the poor as much as the herds and flocks were the wealth of the affluent.