Nubian Goat

Did Jesus believe in Sacrifice?

Two weeks ago it was Easter and greeting cards and emails were flying around the world, rejoicing in the death and the story of a resurrection of the Galilean Jew. Easter CardThese stories are based on the ideas of human sacrifice, universal sin, and vicarious atonement. These concepts are entirely pagan and against everything the Galilean Jews stood for. The movement that the historical Jesus belonged to rejected the cult of sacrifice and it is very possible that it was this rejection that led to the death of their leader. It seems ironic that the world celebrates ideas, which are the exact opposite to those held by the Jewish teacher and prophet by whose blood they expect to be saved from a damnation that exists only in the minds of their own priests. It is always the priests that warn us of an imagined catastrophe and then prescribe the means of our salvation. Why is it that their prescriptions always involve someone else’s blood?

Snowy Mountains

Snowy MountainToday, the mountains of Andalucía are capped with the last of the winter snow. Outside my window, I can see an eagle effortlessly hunting in the afternoon breeze. Not far away I can hear the cheerful clanging of goat bells. Any journey in the sierra will inevitably involve waiting for a herd of goats to get out of the road. As much as I love horses and dogs I have to admit I have a soft spot for goats. The most cheerful and carefree animal in the world has got to be the Nubian goat.

Goat of Azazel

This morning I watched Paco, our local Sheppard, whilst he tried to chase one of his Nubian goats out of the way of my car and back to the herd. The goat kept doubling back toward the bush he had set his mind on eating. Watching Paco valiantly trying not to lose his patience with his headstrong Nubian, it made me think of the Goat of Azazel.Goats in Andalucia

On Yom Kippur, the Torah commands the Jewish people to choose two identical goats. Dice are thrown to decide which one will be the ‘sin offering’ and which one will be the ‘Goat of Azazel’. The goat chosen for a ‘sin offering’ has its throat cut and its blood is used to purify the altar. It also is supposed to pay God back for all the sins of the people. That was the lucky goat.

The other goat, the Goat of Azazel, has a red string tied around its horns. The priest then lays his hands on the now slightly confused goat. Magically, by the power of his prayer, the priest transfers all the sins of the people into the goat. Later the goat is sent out into the desert alone loaded down by a year’s worth of sin. (Leviticus 16) “That’s not too bad,” I hear you say.

Unfortunately, the scribe who wrote Leviticus didn’t know much about goats. The first thing you need to know about goats is that they are sociable and friendly. They like human company. More often than not, the goat used to make its own way back into town bringing all that sin back with it. To prevent over friendly goats from returning, the High Priest decided that it would be a safer idea to throw them off a cliff. Sadly for the goat, Mount Azazel doesn’t have any really steep cliffs. Priests being ever resourceful, all they did was make sure that the goat had ‘shattered his limbs’. An agonising death was inevitable.

No Sacrifice, No Christianity

This begs the question, did Jesus support the idea of sacrifice and did he throw goats from cliffs? After all, sacrifice is the cornerstone of Christianity. 1 CorinthiansPaul based his cult on a dead Rabbi and without the idea of a sacrifice there is no Christianity, or so he says. (1 Corinthians 15:14) Most evangelical Christians revel in images of lambs, sacrifice and the blood of Jesus.

As we have explored elsewhere, Jesus was part of a movement and I will show that it was already at least 1500 years old when he joined his cousin. John the Baptist was the Rabbi to a Yeshiva that would be considered vegan today. He taught in the wilderness and did not make sacrifices. Most Christians seem to assume that this was just his personal preference or an eccentricity, but I suspect that these facts hint at a deeper story.

After Jesus died, for some thirty years, most of his students were Jewish and they continued this doctrine of loving kindness. They believed that the books of the Torah had been forged. They rejected the cult of animal sacrifice and would not eat meat. (The panarion of epiphanius of salamis – against Nazoreans.)

So why would Jesus and his Galileans be vegetarian and against animal sacrifice while the Priests in Jerusalem were rather fond of it? What was going on? None of this is explained in the Synoptic Gospels? In fact, it is rather obvious that the church was and remains quite keen on the idea of sacrifice, if not the actual goat throwing.

Ask a Satanist

So why do people throw goats off cliffs? If you are lucky enough to know a Satanist, you could always ask them why they like to ritually kill things. Failing that, the anthropological answer posits three answers that spring to mind:

  • People sacrifice things in order to bridge the perceived gap between themselves and God. Killing can often make people feel closer to the divine.
  • The other most popular reason is to make up for a person’s feeling of inadequacy. To put balm on our existential angst. Or as they say in Essex, “To cheer us up!”
  • Grand ritual and ritual that is emotionally charged (animal sacrifice) is a great way to unite and manipulate people. If you can persuade people to bring all their sacrifices to you, it is also a great revenue stream, (more of that later). To this day, in India they have a kind of annual ‘world Olympics’ of animal sacrifice.

In my opinion the cult of sacrifice, be it human or animal, is a symptom of our relationship with God and an expression of what we perceive him/her to be. It is, therefore, an indication of the spiritual evolution of a people.

The Kingdom of Israel

The first archaeological evidence for the Kingdom of Israel is the Merneptah Stele. This was dated to 1205 BC. I would argue that the Hyksos expulsion was in fact the basis for the exodus story and this was in the time of Pharaoh Ahmose, several hundred years earlier. El was the God of Moses. (Exodus 3) El Shaddai in Aramaic means ‘The Lord of the Mountain’. The name was later pluralised and become ‘Elohim’, which hints at the idea that El was everything and everywhere. It is both singular and plural at the same time. Very similar to the Buddhist idea of ‘Lord of the House’.

(“It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here is Elohim, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 1 Kings 12:28).

The Kingdom of Israel extended from the Lebanon down to the northeast border of Egypt. It is hinted that Kind David and then his son worshiped in groves and burnt incense to this unseen God (Kings 21.3). This motif reoccurs within the Torah, in asides that have escaped the redacting pen of the scribes. Moses, King David, his son King Solomon and eventually Jesus are all, at some point, accused by the scribes of variations of ‘idolatry’, astrology, believing in Angels and Demons, praying in groves or in high places and offering incense.

When King Solomon’s son lost control of the kingdom, several tribes rebelled and the civil war divided the kingdom. The Tribe of Judah set up a rival kingdom in the south. They predictably called this new kingdom, Judah and its capital was Jerusalem.

The greatest threat to the kingdoms of Israel (North) and Judah (South) was Assyria (East). It was the superpower of that time. By this time, Israel and Judah had been at war for hundreds of years.

The Destruction of Israel

The Assyrians attacked Israel and King Hezekiah of Judah stood by and did nothing. Israel was destroyed and its people carried off into slavery. Hezekiah decided to reform his people’s religion. He destroyed the serpent staff of Moses (one of their greatest treasures) destroyed the groves and high places where the people prayed and offered incense. He instituted the cult of animal sacrifice. Despite the king’s best efforts, the Assyrians soon turned their attention to Judah. After a bit of a battle and lots of huffing and puffing, King Hezekiah took all of the gold from the temple, even going back for the gold off the doors and offered it as a tribute to the King of Assyria, obviously hoping he might go away.

Despite the amount of gold offered, the King of Assyria (who was no gentleman) was still dreadfully rude before he left. (2 Kings 18) Not surprisingly, King Hezekiah died not long after, probably of embarrassment. The worship of Elohim was reinstated and everybody jogged along nicely but then came Josiah and the sinister priest Hilkiah who began the worship of Yahweh and the sacrifices began again. Josiah began the rebuilding of a temple that Solomon had previously built. It was during these works that the priests conveniently ‘found’ the books of Moses (whose staff they had not long ago destroyed) Kings 2.22.

These books underpinned the sacrificial system and the rights of the priesthood to control the country. They effectively create a theocracy. Judah then set about what was left of Israel in an effort to force them to adopt their new cult. The Israelis were not very keen on the idea. Jerusalem was a long way to go to kill a goat.

The books of Moses talk of Yahweh, a God of judgement, fear, sacrifice and genocide and it was these books the Nazarene movement rejected, as has the modern West. The clues are in the Bible if you can read it with an open mind.

For the alternative to this God of sacrifice, there are clues in the words of the Prophets.

The Prophets

In Amos 5:25-27 there is an interesting quote that supports Jewish rejection of animal sacrifice and it substantiates the charge of the falsification of the books.

“Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You shall take up Sakkuth your king, and Kaiwan your star-god, your images, which you made for yourselves; therefore I will take you into exile beyond Damascus.”

From this text written around 700 BC we can assume that it was common knowledge in Israel that sacrifices had not been instituted by Moses.

Jeremiah 7:12 also echoes this idea in a rant against King Josiah and the sacrifices he and his priest Hilkiah have instigated. 600 BC

“But when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt, I gave no commands about whole-offerings and sacrifice, I said not a word about them.” Obviously Jeremiah hadn’t got Hilkiah’s memo!

Genesis can be read to imply that the pre flood diet was meat free.

‘And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”

Jesus himself, is reported as saying in the Pauline texts, “You have made the temple into an abattoir. The house of God will be a house of prayer.” (I paraphrase)

Eusebius recounts in his Ecclesiastical History 5:1.26, when a woman is invited, under torture, to save herself by denouncing Christians for eating babies she replies, “How, could those eat children who do not think it lawful to taste the blood even of irrational animals?”

Isaiah 66:3 “he that slaughters an ox is like him who kills a man.”

So much for sacrifice but what about the reason for it. John the Baptist, Rabbi Yeshua and then his brother James all taught, as had Solomon and King David, that El does not judge us; we judge ourselves. By the standard we judge, we will be judged. Bad things happen in life to those who pray and those who do not. Bad things happens to those who sacrifice and those who do not. Bad things happened before the flood and afterward.

Repentance

When your relationship with God is defined by a personal relationship and repentance there is no need for sacrifice. When Rabbi Yeshua says Abba in Aramaic, the father he is speaking of is Elohim, the God of Moses, of the mountains and high places, he is the God which animates all of us.

According to the Nazarenes, where there is sin only the guilty can pay and only repentance can restore the balance.

Every good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change nor shadow cast by turning.” Epistle of James, brother of Jesus.

John the Baptist taught that it is living water that purifies not blood. Repentance pays the price that no other man can pay.

So what of the Goat of Azazel? Our cheerful Nubian goat running rings around Paco is safe for the moment but it was upon the forged books of Moses that the Prophet Muhammad based Sharia law.

The Jews of Medina had outgrown the forged books of Moses and refused its barbaric punishments. Unfortunately, Muhammad was proud to reinstate the killing – Quran, surah 5 (Al-Ma’idah) ayat 43.

The Jesus of history and everything he taught was the opposite of such arbitrary punishments and the power of a blood stained theocracy. There is no logical support for the idea that Jesus supported sacrifice or viewed himself as being one. If people would only listen to him nobody would ever throw a goat off a cliff ever again. Problem is it would destroy the Easter greeting card business overnight!

The True Sayings of Jesus: The Jesus of History Vs. The Christ Myth

The True Sayings of Jesus

If you enjoyed this Blog, you might like to read: Animal Sacrifice is Evil

KARAPOT PRAYER

Animal Sacrifice is Evil

After the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, a recording of the Islamic Terrorist, Mohammad Sidique Khan, was played on the world’s media in which Mr Khan explains why he felt compelled to murder fifty-six innocent people.

He very eloquently and thoroughly quoted the passages in Islamic scripture in which Muslims are compelled to perform the exact acts of violence that Mr Khan and his team were, at the time, planning to do.

No matter how many ‘Re-education’ or ‘De-radicalisation’ courses that Mr Khan attended, he would still have believed that the only way to god was to murder the British. He knew it, because his religious scriptures demand it, his culture rewarded it and the ‘priests’ of his religion told him so.

In first century Judea, the Jesus of History was living in a country full of such people. In fact, some Jewish people still approach the concept of animal sacrifice in exactly the same way as they did two thousand years ago. This is a problem today and was an even bigger problem for the Jesus of History.

Cleansing the Temple

In order to understand why the Jesus of History might disrupt and ‘Cleanse’ the temple we must ask ourselves did he accept the principal of animal sacrifice? We know from contemporary records that he did not!

“And so, though they were Jews who kept all the Jewish observances, they would not offer sacrifice or eat meat; in their eyes it was unlawful to eat meat or make sacrifices with it. They claimed that these books are forgeries and that none of these customs were instituted by the fathers. This was the difference between the Nasaraeans and the others; and their refutation is to be seen not in one place but in many.”

Epiphanius of Salamis, The Panarion – on Nasaraeans.

So why would a normal rational person believe that ‘god’ would want them to sacrifice the life of an animal? We have already touched upon the foundational concepts of such a belief:

  • To regard life as a material commodity
  • God is seen as separate from the appellant
  • God is seen as separate from nature
  • God is seen as separate from the animal
  • Sacrifice is offered in order to change the mind of God — to get ‘right’ with God by way of a bribe or as a payment

Looking at the concept of sacrifice, divorced from scriptural justification, it is obvious that only a deeply damaged and troubled mind would be able to even conceive of such an idea. Unfortunately, animal sacrifice is still common today.

Rabbinical Jews argue that animal sacrifice creates a kind of spiritual telephone to god. They sacrifice chickens every year on the eve of Yom Kippur. It is clear from the Kapparot prayer that the very basis of animal sacrifice for Rabbinical Jews is the magical idea of transferring ‘sin’ or ill fate to an innocent.

“This is my substitute, this is my exchange, this is my atonement. This fowl will go to death, and I will enter upon a good and long life.”

Rabbinical Jewish Animal Sacrifice – Kapparot prayer

The Process of Animal Sacrifice

When we choose an animal to sacrifice we have to close our heart to the life of the innocent we are going to kill. Most normal people are repulsed by the idea of animal sacrifice and, in order to embrace it, we have to close off a part of our soul. We have to become deaf to our own empathy. Rather than connecting to the divine, we can’t help but view the world through the prism of our sense of self (2). Offering an animal for sacrifice is primarily a cultural exhibition of status – both a status symbol and a sign of cultural belonging. Inevitably then, animal sacrifice locks us within our ‘idea’ of our self.

Conversely, Nazarene Judaism, like Buddhism, is a spiritual practice that connects us to the ‘Eternal’ through our sense of connection to the world. The entire object of the ‘Narrow Gate’ system is to change oneself through returning to the core of who we are (Teshuvah). It was for this reason that ‘prayer’ is carried out in private and external shows, which inflate the ego, are avoided. Later on in the book, we discuss the Hebrew concepts of ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ so I won’t go into it too deeply here but it is important to note that the concept of ‘Evil’ is really a discussion of the direction of one’s intention. Within the matrix of Nazarene belief, the act of ‘other’ sacrifice is an act of substitution and is therefore an act of choosing the ‘Self’ over the ‘Other’. Animal sacrifice, therefore, cannot avoid creating ‘Evil’.

I suggest that it would have been for this reason that the Jesus of History would have risked his life to protest against the Judean cult of animal sacrifice.

The Judean Cult of Animal Sacrifice

Even today people all over the world claim ‘scripture’ as their justification for actions that normal people regard as evil – for them, scripture is their moral datum.

The books of Kings and Chronicles are full of stories about the kings of Israel and of Judah. Each of these men were judged by the Judean scribes based on the datum of who did, or did not, sacrifice. Kings were also judged ‘bad’ if they refused to kill innocent women and children without hesitation. If they refused, they were considered to have done ‘what was wicked in the eyes of God’.

“But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded.”

Deuteronomy 20:16-17

“And we captured all his cities at that time and devoted to destruction every city, men, women, and children. We left no survivors.”

Deuteronomy 2:34

A people – a culture – a community is the sum of the stories its people believe! The Jesus of History would therefore argue that it is our duty to question the evil we are asked to do!

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites…. They brought the captives, spoils and plunder to Moses and Eleazar the priest… Moses was angry with the officers of the army, ‘Have you allowed all the women to live?’ Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

Numbers 31:13 (Abridged)

As you can see the deuteronomist scribes, through Moses, demand that the Hebrew people slaughter prisoners of war and take children as sex slaves as the will of god and an act of piety. But it’s not all bad news! It is obvious from the later texts that the scribes were constantly being disappointed. The fact was that the Hebrew people were not genocidal maniacs. They kept reverting to their own understanding of who god was and what he wanted of them.

“The children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against Yahweh, their God, and they built high places in their cities. And they set up images and groves in every high hill and under every green tree and they burnt incense in all the high places.”

Kings 2: 17:9

As a reaction against this disobedience, various pogroms against the Galileans are described in the Old Testament. Hezekiah, a Judean King, didn’t hesitate to use violence, even on his own people.

“We trust in Yahweh, our God: [is] not that He (El), whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and hath said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?”

2 Kings 18:22

Despite the redactions and the insertions of the Judean priests, you can still clearly see that animal sacrifice was not popular with the people. We can also see that offering incense and olive oil was the normal form of worship.

Second TempleIn the context of these facts, the reaction of the Jesus of History to centuries of his people being forced to participate in such a barbaric ritual as animal sacrifice is totally understandable.

“It is written that this should be a house of prayer but you have turned it into a (Spelaion Leston) cave of robbers.”

Mathew 21:13 and Luke 19:46

‘Cave of Robbers’ doesn’t really work as a translation. In the Hebrew it would have had the implication of a ‘violent predator’. A more accurate modern day translation might be: “…You have turned it (the temple) into a ‘Crime Scene’.

Of course, it is entirely possible to find hundreds of passages in the Old Testament that demand animal sacrifice – a hundred and thirty commandments actually. And, to be honest, only a very few quotations remain in the Hebrew Bible that prohibit it. It would be possible to play scriptural poker all day and never really get anywhere.

I believe it was for this reason that the Jesus of History and the Nazarene Yeshiva (School) decided to take direct action at the temple in Jerusalem to call attention to the fact that animal sacrifice is inherently evil.

The Judean Cult of Human Sacrifice

There really is no difference, in principal, between animal sacrifice and human sacrifice, only one of price! In order to illustrate the point, let me tell you a modern Jewish joke:

In the course of his business, a billionaire meets a poor young couple. The young wife is exceptionally beautiful. The billionaire invites them to dinner, and over drinks, the billionaire asks the husband if he will allow him to sleep with his wife for a million dollars.

They looked shocked so he tells them to sleep on the offer and promises to phone the next day. When he gets home, he gets a telephone call from the young man who agrees to donate his wife for a million dollars. The billionaire says

“That’s great news! Now that we’ve agreed the principal, let’s discuss the price.”

The Carthaginians and their child sacrifice, the Aztec and their human sacrifice – all of them – used the same arguments to justify human sacrifice as do Rabbinical Jews to justify the resumption of animal sacrifices today.

Those religions and cultures, which use animal sacrifice, assume that God desires appeasement – that in itself is an anthropomorphic concept. To assume that God wants his ‘Cut’ is to see God as a king. It is evident then that in order to participate in animal sacrifice one needs to be entirely morally and spiritually ignorant.

There are strong indications in the Old Testament that the Judeans themselves  had a long history of human sacrifice:

“You must give me the firstborn of your sons. Do the same with your cattle and your sheep. Let them stay with their mothers for seven days, but give them to me on the eighth day.”

Exodus 22:9

The ‘binding of Isaac’ is not the only instance where Yahweh asks for a human sacrifice. Jephthah sacrificed his daughter:

And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.” Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands.

He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon. When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of tambourines! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter.

When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break.”

“My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the LORD. Do to me just as you promised, now that the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”

“You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and the girls went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. After the two months, she returned to her father and he did to her as he had vowed.

Judges 11:30

Many Jews who are against enforcing circumcision on religious grounds believe that male circumcision is the remains of the ‘deal’ that Moses made with God:

“And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the YAHWEH met Moses (at the inn) and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah (Midianite wife of Moses) took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her baby son and cast it at Yahweh’s feet, and said, ‘Surely you are a husband of blood to me!’ So YAHWEH let them go.”

Exodus 4:24

It should be noted that every time in history a culture embraces ‘other’ sacrifice (animal or human) that culture is nearly always wiped from the face of the Earth.

  • Phoneticians/Carthaginians
  • Maori
  • Aztec
  • Romans
  • Judeans (First and Second temple)

It is also strange that the Jewish people found themselves, during the holocaust, being treated by the Germans just as they had treated sacrificial animals for hundreds of years. It is also strange that the similar treatment of wild animals in China has historically created a series of viruses that claim the lives of millions of innocent people. It’s as if the universe seeks balance.

I am not saying that the Hebrew people deserved such a fate but I am speculating that perhaps the Jesus of History was right when he said that the Judeans were committing a crime. Maybe when we indulge in animal sacrifice, we create a wave of evil that cannot help but rebound and destroy everything we hold dear?

Reinstatement of SacrificeOn September 26th 2019, Rabbinical Jews sacrificed a goat on the Mount of Olives in preparation for the rebuilding of the temple. I predict that if the Jewish people rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and again dedicate it to the cult of animal sacrifice, Israel itself will fall and the Jewish people will be wiped from the face of the Earth forever.

Was the Jesus of History the first Prophet to speak against animal sacrifice? No, but he was the last!

“For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.”

Jeremiah 7:22