December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- The LORD said to Moses,
- "Speak to Aaron and his sons, as well as to all the Israelites, and tell them: This is what the LORD has commanded.
- 1 Any Israelite who slaughters an ox or a sheep or a goat, whether in the camp or outside of it,
- without first bringing it to the entrance of the meeting tent to present it as an offering to the LORD in front of his Dwelling, shall be judged guilty of bloodshed; and for this, such a man shall be cut off from among his people.
- Therefore, such sacrifices as they used to offer up in the open field the Israelites shall henceforth offer to the LORD, bringing them to the priest at the entrance of the meeting tent and sacrificing them there as peace offerings to the LORD.
- The priest shall splash the blood on the altar of the LORD at the entrance of the meeting tent and there burn the fat for an odor pleasing to the LORD.
- No longer shall they offer their sacrifices to the satyrs to whom they used to render their wanton worship. This shall be an everlasting ordinance for them and their descendants.
- "Tell them, therefore: Anyone, whether of the house of Israel or of the aliens residing among them, who offers a holocaust or sacrifice
- without bringing it to the entrance of the meeting tent to offer it to the LORD, shall be cut off from his kinsmen.
- And if anyone, whether of the house of Israel or of the aliens residing among them, partakes of any blood, I will set myself against that one who partakes of blood and will cut him off from among his people.
- 2 Since the life of a living body is in its blood, I have made you put it on the altar, so that atonement may thereby be made for your own lives, because it is the blood, as the seat of life, that makes atonement.
- That is why I have told the Israelites: No one among you, not even a resident alien, may partake of blood.
- "Anyone hunting, whether of the Israelites or of the aliens residing among them, who catches an animal or a bird that may be eaten, shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth.
- Since the life of every living body is its blood, I have told the Israelites: You shall not partake of the blood of any meat. Since the life of every living body is its blood, anyone who partakes of it shall be cut off.
- "Everyone, whether a native or an alien, who eats of an animal that died of itself or was killed by a wild beast, shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening, and then he will be clean.
- If he does not wash or does not bathe his body, he shall have the guilt to bear."
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1 [3-5] The ancients considered blood the seat and sign of life, and therefore something sacred, even in animals. Cf Genesis 9:4-5. Hence, even the ordinary butchering of an animal for meat was looked upon as having a sacrificial character, so that it should be performed at the sanctuary. This law, however, could not be carried out without great difficulty when the Israelites were scattered throughout Palestine, and so was modified in Deut 12:20-22.
2  That atonement may thereby be made for your own lives: hence, the sacrifice of an animal was a symbolic act which substituted the victim's life for the life of the offerer, who thus acknowledged that he deserved God's punishments for his sins. This idea of sacrifice is applied in Hebrews 9-10 to the death of Christ, inasmuch as "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22).
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