First mention of a solution against death 7 Human sacrifice

In the previous articles about the solution for man and offerings, we talked about the way human beings looked for ways to restore their relationship with God and how they wanted to please God with offerings.

The first human beings had the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge, symbolizing potentialities or possibilities that God has made available to Man, who is free to choose and explore as much as he pleases, even to separate himself from God, like the Prodigal Son from his Father.

Man had made his choice and had to leave the Garden of Eden, trying to build up a decent life. Though now he had to work hard for everything and was aware he had disgusted or displeased God. First there was only the Most High Divine Creator of all things Who was above Adam and Eve and above all other living creatures, the plants and animals. There was no hierarchy.

Hierarchy (from the Greek ἱεραρχία hierarchia, “rule of a high priest”, from ἱεράρχης hierarkhes, “leader of sacred rites”); ranking of objects into grades, orders, or classes of increasing dominance or inclusiveness + specific type of social organization in which members are divided by status or especially authority – people on a “ladder”

The first story were we saw human beings ‘fighting’ for a place or rang order is the one of Cain and Abel. Slowly hierarchy entered the human system. From simple hunter-gatherer tribes to complex, modern industrial societies we can find a hierarchy which is loved by people. Some scholars argue that gender played a central role in the formation and functioning of stratification systems. They showed that women’s exclusion from social life placed them in an inferior position, resulting in lessened life chances and status. While women’s standing in social and economic life has improved over the past half-century, women are still restricted by gender roles and patriarchy. Rich literatures examine the impact of family structure, occupational segregation, devaluation of women’s work, and sex-based pay gaps.

We also can see that the colour of skin, the place of origin, became important to place people on a step of the ladder. One’s racial and ethnic background or ethnicity, also greatly came to influence one’s life chances. When not belonging to the troop it could well be that people saw the person suitable to be used as an offer to the gods.

Human life was looked at as something very special and was considered by many as the most valuable material for sacrifice. The killing of a human being, or the substitution of an animal in place of a person, has often been part of an attempt to effect communion with a god and participation in his divine life.

We may find two primary types of human sacrifice: the offering of a human being to a god and the entombment or slaughter of servants or slaves intended to accompany the deceased into the afterlife. The latter practice was more common.

The realisation of human sacrifice to the promotion of the earth’s fertility may explain why the phenomenon has been most widely adopted by agricultural rather than by hunting or pastoral peoples.

The region where the Austronesian languages are spoken spans over 200 degrees of longitude from Madagascar to Easter Island

In a study published in Nature1, Joseph Watts, a specialist in cultural evolution at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and his colleagues have analysed 93 traditional cultures in Austronesia (the region that loosely embraces the many small and island states in the Pacific and Indonesia) as they were before they were influenced by colonization and major world religions (generally in the late 19th and early 20th centuries).  {On Human Sacrifice (Article Nature)}

By mapping the evolutionary relationships between cultures, the team suggests that human sacrifice and social hierarchy co-evolved. Although societies can become more or less stratified over time, societies that practised sacrifice were less apt to revert to milder degrees of stratification.

Clearly there were different ways to look at the sacrificial bodies. They could be seen as something very special and very worthy but also as something they did not want in their community and found good enough to give to the gods. More than animal sacrifice human sacrifice helped to stabilize hierarchy, and conceivably, therefore, had a common role in the development of highly stratified societies that generally persist even today. Instead of killing the one in power a substitute was taken to receive for some time divine status and then was put to death. Sacral kings (considered to  embody gods of vegetation) were sacrificed when their vigour declined, in order to prevent reciprocal effects on soil fertility. In various places in Africa, where human sacrifice was connected with ancestor worship or veneration of the dead, some of the slaves of the deceased were buried with him, or they were killed and laid beneath him in his grave.

Aztec cosmogram in the pre-Hispanic Codex Fejérváry-Mayer—the fire god Xiuhtecuhtli is in the centre

There were also places were people thought the elements of nature, like the moon and the sun, needed human nourishment, which led to sacrifices in which thousands of victims perished annually in their rituals, like by the Aztecs. The Incas confined such wholesale sacrifices to the accession of a ruler.There were instances of human sacrifice in Peru and among tribes of North American Indians.

All human societies have been shaped by religion, leading psychologists to wonder how it arose, and whether particular forms of belief have affected other aspects of evolved social structure. According to one recent view, for example, belief in a “big God” — an all-powerful, punitive deity who sits in moral judgement on our actions — has been instrumental in bringing about social and political complexity in human cultures.

The network of small and island states stretching from Madagascar to Easter Island  — challenges that theory. In these states, a more general belief in supernatural punishment did tend to precede political complexity, the research finds, but belief in supreme deities emerged after complex cultures have already formed 2.

Joseph Watts, a specialist in cultural evolution at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, who worked on the study, wanted evidence to examine the idea that “big Gods” drive and sustain the evolution of big societies. Psychologist Ara Norenzayan at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, has suggested that belief in moralizing high gods (MHGs) enabled societies to outgrow their limited ability to police moral conduct, by threatening freeloaders with retribution even if no-one else noticed their transgressions3, 4.

Watts says

“Austronesian cultures offer an ideal sample to test theories about the evolution of religions in pre-modern societies, because they were mostly isolated from modern world religions, and their indigenous supernatural beliefs and practices were well documented.”

The believers in moralizing high gods (MHGs) got in their system some people who got control by aligning themselves with those supreme deities and then making lists of things people could and could not do. We can imagine their way of getting more power by making the people afraid with ideas of suffering or torture (in the underground or hell) and by the possibility to become a target of offering. For centuries certain religious organisation or churches made their followers afraid of doomplaces and told them that they could buy themselves free from those torture chambers by giving money to their church. People could buy indulgences.

The granting of indulgences was predicated on two beliefs. First, in the sacrament of penance it did not suffice to have the guilt (culpa) of sin forgiven through absolution alone; one also needed to undergo temporal punishment (poena, from p[o]enitentia, “penance”) because one had offended Almighty God. Second, indulgences rested on belief in purgatory, a place in the next life where one could continue to cancel the accumulated debt of one’s sins, another Western medieval conception not shared by Eastern Orthodoxy or other Eastern Christian churches not recognizing the primacy of the pope. {Indulgence –
Roman Catholicism, encyclopaedia Britannica}

A Catholic bishop granting plenary indulgences for the public during times of calamity. Note the almsgiving in the background. Wall Fresco by Italian Artist Lorenzo Lotto, Suardi, Italy, circa 1524.

Certain faithgroups or churches wanted their believers to believe that offerings could reduce the the debt of forgiveness of sin. The offers could exist out of many gifts but also by the performance of good works in their life (pilgrimages, charitable acts, and the like) and if their offerings were not yet sufficient they would get a lesser penalty after they died, by temporarily suffering in purgatory instead of eternal suffering in hell. Indulgences could be granted only by popes or, to a lesser extent, archbishops and bishops as ways of helping ordinary people measure and amortize their remaining debt.

In different cultures an other way was less bloody, having the sacrifice taking place by going under water. Whilst in Mexico young maidens were drowned in sacred wells, others found it sufficient to have an immersion. As such we can find Celtic rituals. Whilst the burning of children occurred in Assyrian and Canaanite religions and at various times among the Israelites, it became a custom by the Israelites to be cleared of sins by immersion to enter a new life. John the Baptist as such came to immerse his cousin Jeshua, Jesus Christ, who was the long awaited Messiah. About 40 days after Jesus’ birth, his parents had brought the customary sin offering permitted in the case of the poor,

“a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:24; Leviticus 12:6-8)

The offerings and human sacrifice legitimises political authority and social class systems, functioning to stabilize social stratification. It was also an ideal way to get rid of unwanted people or to take care that those who stood in the way could disappear from the scene.

In this way the Nazarene Jeshua an annoying person and possible peril for the security and peace in the Roman empire and in the Jewish community. Though it was not thought him to be an offer, several thought it better to give him away to be killed instead of the vigilant or robber Barabbas. Pilate knew that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests and elders wanted Jesus out of the way, i.e. being killed.

“Give us Barabbas!”, from The Bible and its Story Taught by One Thousand Picture Lessons, 1910

The man being called to be crucified did not have his roots in the right soil because nobody thought anything good could come out of Nazareth. (John 1:46; 7:41, 52) Although he was a perfect man and a descendant of King David, his humble circumstances did not impart to him any “stately form” or “splendour” — at least not in the eyes of those who were expecting the Messiah to come from a more impressive background.
Spurred on by the Jewish religious leaders, many were led to overlook and even despise him. In the end the crowds saw nothing desirable in the perfect Son of God.

Matthew 27:11-26 NHEBME  (11)  Now Yeshua stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Yeshua said to him, “So you say.”  (12)  When he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.  (13)  Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?”  (14)  He gave him no answer, not even one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.  (15)  Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release to the multitude one prisoner, whom they desired.  (16)  They had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.  (17)  When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Yeshua, who is called the Messiah?”  (18)  For he knew that because of envy they had delivered him up.  (19)  While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.”  (20)  Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes to ask for Barabbas, and destroy Yeshua.  (21)  But the governor answered them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They said, “Barabbas!”  (22)  Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do to Yeshua, who is called the Messiah?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!”  (23)  But he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the louder, saying, “Let him be crucified!”  (24)  So when Pilate saw that nothing was being gained, but rather that a disturbance was starting, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this man. You see to it.”  (25)  All the people answered, “May his blood be on us, and on our children!”  (26)  Then he released to them Barabbas, but Yeshua he flogged and delivered to be crucified.

In the time before Jeshua the ancient temple courtyard was the altar for offering sacrifices. This foreshadowed God’s provision, according to His will, for a perfect human sacrifice to ransom the offspring of Adam. (Heb 10:1-10; 13:10-12; Ps 40:6-8)

This man, born in Bethlehem, at his immersion was proclaimed by God Himself to be the “Only begotten beloved son of God“. Nobody had managed to fully do the will of God neither could have brought a perfect sacrificial body in front of the Most Divine God. This time that man managed to put aside his will and managed to keep all the time to God’s Will. He was the living proof that man, if he wanted, could keep to God’s Commandments. Still to today there are religious groups in Christendom who want others to believe no man would ever be capable to keep God’s commandments, and therefore Jesus would have to be God himself. This idea makes of God a very cruel God Who imposed Laws to man which He knew they would never be able to keep. But God is a God of love and order Who does not asks more of people than they can endure or do. That what God asks of mankind Jesus managed to fulfil and by doing God’s Will all the time, not going against the Will of God, he was not at any time an opposer or adversary of God.  Jesus him being a perfect human being made the sacrifice of his life acceptable in the eyes of God to be the best ransom that could be paid for making an end to the curse of death.

God even expanded the gift of Christ to mankind by declaring all those who have faith in Christ’s sacrifice, righteous on the basis of their faith. By believing in Jesus Christ and following his teachings, when they after their immersion try to keep to the commandments of God,  they are viewed by God as sinless while in the flesh.

Romans 3:20-26 NHEBME  Because by the works of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight. For through the law comes the knowledge of sin.  (21)  But now apart from the law, a righteousness of God has been revealed, being testified by the Law and the Prophets;  (22)  even the righteousness of God through faith in Yeshua the Messiah to all those who believe. For there is no distinction,  (23)  for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;  (24)  being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Messiah Yeshua;  (25)  whom God set forth to be an atoning sacrifice, through faith in his blood, for a demonstration of his righteousness through the passing over of prior sins, in God’s forbearance;  (26)  to demonstrate his righteousness at this present time; that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him who has faith in Yeshua.

Romans 5:1-2 NHEBME  Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah;  (2)  through whom we also have our access by faith into this grace in which we stand. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Differently than in other religions where every time a new sacrifice is needed, the blood of Christ is for ever and makes that no other sacrifices have to be made.

Romans 5:9-10 NHEBME  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we will be saved from God’s wrath through him.  (10)  For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we will be saved by his life.

Romans 8:1-7 NHEBME  There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Messiah Yeshua.  (2)  For the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua made you free from the law of sin and of death.  (3)  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh;  (4)  that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  (5)  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  (6)  For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace;  (7)  because the mind of the flesh is hostile towards God; for it is not subject to God’s law, neither indeed can it be.

 

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References:

  1. Watts, J., Sheehan, O., Atkinson, Q. D., Bulbulia, J. & Gray, R. D. Nature http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature17159 (2016).
  2. Watts, J. et al. Proc. R. Soc. B 282, 20142556 (2015).
  3. Norenzayan, A. Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict (Princeton Univ. Press, 2013).
  4. Norenzayan, A. & Shariff, A. F. Science 322, 5862 (2008).

Please find also to read:

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Preceding articles:

Gone astray, away from God

Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden 3

Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden 4

Creation of the earth and man #3 Of the Sabbath day #1 the Seventh day

Necessity of a revelation of creation 5 Getting understanding by Word of God 3

Creation of the earth and man #6 Of the Sabbath day #4 Mosaic codes, Sabbaths and Sunday

Creation of the earth and man #17 Man in the image and likeness of the Elohim #1 In the image and after the likeness

First mention of a solution against death 1 To divine, serpent, opposition, satan and adversary

First mention of a solution against death 2 Harm or no harm and naked truth

First mention of a solution against death 3 Tempter Satan and man’s problems

First mention of a solution against death 4 A seed for mankind

First mention of a solution against death 5 Evil its law of death

First mention of a solution against death 6 Authority given to the send one from God coming out of the woman

Not trying to make the heathen live like Jews #2

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Additional reading

  1. People Seeking for God 3 Laws and directions
  2. Seeing or not seeing and willingness to find God
  3. Displeasures and Actions of the Almighty God
  4. Being Religious and Spiritual 1 Immateriality and Spiritual experience
  5. Counterfeit Gospels
  6. Disobedient man and God’s promises
  7. Redemption #2 Biblical solution
  8. Not about personal salvation but about a bigger Plan
  9. Religious people and painful absence of spring of living water
  10. An unblemished and spotless lamb foreknown
  11. Sayings of Jesus, what to believe and being or not of the devil
  12. For the Will of Him who is greater than Jesus
  13. Trusting, Faith, calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #3 Voice of God #3 A voice to be taken Seriously
  14. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #8 Prayer #6 Communication and manifestation
  15. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #10 Prayer #8 Condition
  16. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #18 Fulfilment
  17. Bad things no punishment from God
  18. Thought for the third day of the Omer
  19. How is it that Christ pleased God so perfectly?
  20. Wishing to do the will of God
  21. Worship and worshipping
  22. Solstice, Saturnalia and Christmas-stress
  23. Be an Encourager
  24. Expenses, costs – Onkosten, uitgaven
  25. Actions to be a reflection of openness of heart
  26. Thanksgivukkah and Advent
  27. Purify my heart
  28. Immortality, eternality – onsterfelijkheid, eeuwigheid
  29. A concrete picture of what is to come in the future
  30. Phoenicians sacrificed infants
  31. A Living Faith #6 Sacrifice
  32. Self-preservation is the highest law of nature

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Further reading

  1. Animal Sacrifice in Ancient Cultures
  2. The Ceremony of the Goddess of Knowledge in Bali
  3. River Ganges ‘The Offering’
  4. Bali Religious Ceremonies to Invoke the Safety, Gratitude and Protection of God
  5. Human Sacrifice In The Ancient Mysteries, Paganism, Druidism and Satan The Founder of
  6. King Killers of Ancient Ireland
  7. Human Sacrifice, Ancient Gods and Lady Fern
  8. Bible 2016: 13 June Daily Bible Reading
  9. II Kings 23
  10. A Reflection of the Heart
  11. Ark First, Altar Next
  12. Numbers 7
  13. Leviticus 4; The Sin Offering
  14. Leviticus 6:14-23; The Priests Grain Offering
  15. Parasha Naso (an accounting of)
  16. A Story of Two Fathers and Two Sons
  17. Showdown
  18. A Living sacrifice before God
  19. Giving All
  20. Jesus as an Offering
  21. Ascended, offered life
  22. His Witness
  23. Is it important to tithe?
  24. Please God
  25. Hoping God is Pleased, While Knowing He Is Not
  26. Who Are You Trying to Please?
  27. The need to please!
  28. Man of Faith
  29. Regaining Soulfulness
  30. Pray to Receive Forgiveness (Repost)
  31. God or Man Pleasers
  32. Suffering Is Not For Nothing
  33. Trusting God’s Promise
  34. Kingdom Economy
  35. Relationship, Better than Choice
  36. When All You Have Is Enough
  37. Is the Bible fact or fiction? Yes!
  38. Empty Oaths or Missing the Real God
  39. Are there two Gods in the Bible?
  40. Two Gods and Two Countries
  41. Watchtower Study June 5, 2016—Being Faithful Leads to God’s Approval
  42. An Offering Prayer
  43. Did Jesus believe in sacrifice?
  44. Bible 2016: 13 June Daily Bible Reading
  45. The Vedic rituals, their innovative nature and contribution to the early knowledge
  46. Vayikra: Offering
  47. Animal Sacrifice, Leviticus, and Penal Substitution
  48. Despite naysayers, archaeologists assert thesis about child sacrifice in ancient #Carthage
  49. It’s not just ancient Roman propaganda: Carthaginians really did sacrifice children
  50. Ancient Greek stories of ritual child sacrifice are true, study claims
  51. Carthaginians sacrificed own children, archaeologists say
  52. Bakra Eid – A Religious Ritual or Calories to Waste?
  53. Irfiction: Payback
  54. Holi Mubarak*
  55. When my mother was a Voodoo priestess, animal sacrifices and my broken heart
  56. A Mosque, Some Mosaics, and a Whole Lot of Raw Meat: the streets of Istanbul
  57. Sacrificing in the city
  58. Anthropology Friday: Animal Souls
  59. The Politics of Sacrifice
  60. Ode to Eternal Justice
  61. বলি কি সত্যি দরকার ?
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