English III Honors
18 November 2014
The Indefinite Origin of Blood Sacrifice
The majority of Earth’s people recognize the existence of sacrifice. In all the world there are an estimated 4,200 different religions, and in almost every single one, sacrifice is performed. Most religions changed the way they went about performing these sacrifices in their earliest years, therefore the origin is unknown. Sacrifice is defined as a religious rite in which an object is offered to a divinity in order to establish, maintain, or restore a right relationship of a human being to the sacred order. Blood sacrifice is the oldest and widest-accepted form of rituals known to man. The earliest found forms of blood sacrifice were used to cleanse the body of all sins, but eventually were adopted by different religions and manipulated in order to fit their own preferences. Blood sacrifices cross many religious, geographic, and cultural aspects, but they all have one thing in common; they serve as a purifying system to the believer`s soul.
One of the earliest groups to use blood sacrifices were the Hittites. Despite being one of the first to use sacrifices, they shared a common purpose with other religions, they used it as a cleansing ritual. In the Hittites earliest years they used a purification ritual that involved the use of blood to cleanse those tainted with “bloodguilt”. From an ancient Hittite purification ritual it recites, “I have just buried their sickness, bloodguilt, evil, and fear for the king, the queen, and their children in Ḫattuša.” (Beckman 97). Although no text exists that mentions it, there is another ritual, “The Ritual of Blood”, which details a ceremony that must be performed upon the murder of a prince. The Hittites’ rituals used for cleansing ranged between the social classes with rituals for those of royalty and rituals for the lower and common people. Multiple instances of blood sacrifice occurred in Hittite culture. One of the most famous examples is their induction ceremony for new recruited soldiers, this ritual involved the symbolic use of wine for blood. “This is not wine; it is your blood. And [as] the Earth has swallowed it, so may the Earth in the same way swallow [your blood] and […] (if you betray your oath)” (Beckman 96). It not only represent the strength and vigor but it represents how before joining the army in this ceremony the guilt and sin of each soldier will be taken away by the earth itself and make them pure. Hittites and Mesopotamians shared the same ideas of sacrifice rituals as a donation to their polytheistic Gods. However, unlike the Mesopotamians who neglected blood in their rituals, the Hittites emphasized it (McCarthy 206). The Hittites were the first to use blood sacrifice as a cleansing ritual, but the Hebrew were the first to adopt and manipulate this practice in order to use it as an offering to god to maintain a certain relationship.
Hebrews derived blood sacrifices from other religions and manipulated it in a way that allowed them to keep a better relationship with their deity. Like other ethnicities, Hebrews needed a way to purify and create a relationship with a greater source. “Abraham, a Hebrew man, is considered the father of the Jewish faith because he promoted the central idea of the Jewish faith: that there is one God” (URI Kids). Religions before Judaism worshipped deities and gave offerings, such as sacrifice. This fresh idea transformed history. Hebrews would now give blood offerings to one god. Through sacrifice the god lives, and, therefore, man and nature live (Faherty). This caused people to have the mindset that they had to perform sacrifice in order to have a pure life. In Hebrew sacrifices there is a reminder of sins, but sacrificing is a way to get free from them.
Freeing oneself is the main reason why blood sacrifices are executed. Jews used sacrifice as a religious