Human sacrifice?

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Artwork by Elhanan ben-Avraham

“Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.”

“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

One of the main objections of the religious Jew to the atonement idea in the crucifixion of Yeshua is that human sacrifice is deemed forbidden, not part of Judaism. It is said that a man cannot atone for the sins of another.  Often cited is the divine condemnation of the sacrificing of children to Baal in the Hinnom Valley of Jerusalem. But are there other examples or precedents seen in the Torah?

The Torah does speak very clearly of incidences of human sacrifice that were sanctified by YHVH. One is when Pinchas drove a lance thru the fornicating couple before the tabernacle, which stilled the plague, and it was considered for him as righteousness, and his act “made atonement for the children of Israel.” Another is the command by YHVH to impale (crucify) the leaders of the rebellion, as written in Numbers chapter 25:

“And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.

And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.

And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor.

And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

And when Pinchas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;

And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.

And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Pinchas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.

Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace:

And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.

And so understood the High Priest in the first century CE, declaring prophetically, “But one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all. Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.’ Caiaphas did not say this on his own. Instead, as high priest that year, he was prophesying that Jesus would die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also for the scattered children of God, to gather them together into one.” – John 11:49-52

Furthermore, the Jewish Prophet Isaiah wrote of one man, “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken…Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” – Isaiah 53

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Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published five illustrated books of poetry, painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, and most recently produced THE JERUSALEM ILLUSTRATED BIBLE, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.