The Christian bible seems to think that you need blood for your sins to be forgiven. At the Last Supper Jesus says: "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins," Matthew 26:28. See also Luke 22:20 and John 6:54.
"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them." John 6:56. Also see 1 Corinthians 11:25. The Christian bible speaks of drinking Jesus' blood - something totally forbidden to a Jew. The Torah strictly forbids consumption of blood at any time to Jews and proselytes (Vayikra / Leviticus 3:17, 17:10-12, and D'varim / Deuteronomy. 12:23).
Drinking blood is forbidden because blood is identified with life - it is the "life force" in all living creations. Some of our Sages (e.g., in the Talmud and also the commentator Sforno) explain that there was a belief that, through eating blood, one could cultivate the companionship of demons (the demons are invisible beings who get their sustenance from consuming blood). Thus pagan religions often drank blood as part of their religious observance -- but it is strictly forbidden in the T'nach (Jewish bible).
Justin Martyr (early church father 100 - 165 CE) wrote in "First Apology" that the drinking of blood was a rite performed by the pagan Mithraites (the pagan god Mithra had many similarities to Jesus). He wrote " He (Jesus) said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done."
The idea of eating blood, forbidden in the Torah, was common to the pagans and the Christians seem to have incorporated this practice into their worship.
Romans says "G-d presented (Jesus) as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness." Romans 3:25. and "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of G-d’s grace." Ephesians 1:7.
Blood, blood, blood.
Repeatedly the Christian bible insists that without blood there is no remission of sins. It goes on to say that this is found in the T'nach -- the Jewish bible. "the law (Torah) requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." Hebrews 9:22.
This is totally false -- 100% incorrect.
Even in bringing a sacrifice there were many things that added up in the atonement process. Sacrifice without obedience was useless. Obedience without sacrifice when sacrifice was required and possible, was useless. Obedience without sacrifice when sacrifice was never required or when sacrifice wasn't possible - was and is sufficient in and of itself, since it's all that G-d requires when sacrifices cannot be offered (see Hoshea / Hosea 14:2-3, Yechezkel / Ezekiel 18/33).
There were both communal sacrifices for the entire nation of Israel and individual sacrifices for personal wrongdoings. The Christian bible ignores the fact that the worse individual sins could not be atoned for with blood sacrifice. Only the חַטָּאת chatat (a mistake, a "missing of the mark" -- you tried to do good but missed) and the אָשָׁם asham (guilt / tresspass sacrifice) could be brought as a sacrifice for sins / guilt. The asham was for:
More serious wrongdoings could NOT be atoned for with a blood sacrifice -- totally refuting Hebrews 9:22 which says that "nearly everything" needed a blood sacrifice for atonement.
Wrongdoings which could not be resolved with a blood sacrifice include the עוון avon (iniquity) or the פֶּֽשַׁע pĕsha (transgression, willful rebellion against G-d).
עוון Avon (translated by Christians as iniquity) is an impulsive act of lust or uncontrollable urges (could not be atoned for with a sacrifice). An avon (unless it falls under the asham talu or asham g'zelot) cannot be rectified with a qorban, and neither can a pesha. Repentance and turning to G-d to seek forgiveness for sins against G-d and seeking forgiveness to any person that might have been harmed from that person are the methods of atonement;
פֶּֽשַׁע pĕsha' is usually translated by Christians as "transgression." It means to willfully go against G-d. It means "rebellion" (could not be atoned for with a sacrifice) -- but other things in this life do atone for them. 1 Kings 8:46-50 include chatat, avon, rasha (wicked or evil) and pesha are atoned for by prayer.
Yechezkel / Ezekiel 18:21-32 speaks of sin, iniquity and willful rebellion against G-d all being forgiven through repentance. chatat (18:21), pesha (18:22), chatat (18:24), pesha (18:28), pesha and avon (18:30) are all atoned through repentance."By loving kindness and truth iniquity is atoned for..." (Proverbs 16:6).
"If you return to G-d you will be restored; if you remove unrighteousness far from your tent...then you will delight in G-d..." (Iyov / Job 22:23-27).
This whole fixation on blood, blood, blood by missionaries is not supported by the Jewish bible. The missionaries take the statement that blood can atone for SOME sins and somehow morph it into "you need blood for sins to be forgiven." This is akin to eating a slice of pizza because you are hungry and then insisting that the only type of food that exists in the world is pizza. How crazy is that?
The idea that you need blood to atone for your sins is part of Christianity's pagan roots. It is NOT Judaism. It is NOT Torah for all that missionaries keeps trying to force fit the angry evil pagan god who delights in blood onto the Jewish G-d.
The prophet Amos wrote "Did you offer Me sacrifices and meal-offerings in the desert forty years, O house of Israel?" Amos 5:25.
Yet Moses, Aaron, Miriam -- they were loved by G-d. Contrary to the Christian bible they did not need blood for their sins to be forgiven.
"Son of man, if a land sins against Me by trespassing grievously, I shall stretch forth My hand upon it and break its staff of bread, and I shall send famine upon it and cut off from it [both] man and beast. 14. Now should these three men be in its midst-[namely] Noah, Daniel, and Job-they would save themselves with their righteousness, says the L-rd G-d." Yechezkel / Ezekiel 14: 13.
Daniel was righteous without a Temple or sacrifices. He lived in exile and could not bring sacrifices.
Yet the T'nach (bible) tells us that Daniel saved himself with his righteousness.
This mistake that atonement of sin requires a blood sacrifice comes from a mis-reading of Vayikra / Leviticus 17 where Jews are forbidden from EATING blood and told its only purpose is on the altar or to be thrown away into the dirt. Read the entire chapter of Leviticus and the order to not eat blood is repeated time and time again (again, the exact opposite of the Christian bible telling Jesus' followers to drink his blood, even symbolically).
Vayikra / Leviticus 3:17
This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live: You must not eat any fat or any blood.
Vayikra / Leviticus 7:26
And wherever you live, you must not eat the blood of any bird or animal.
Vayikra / Leviticus 7:27
If anyone eats blood, that person must be cut off from his people.' "
Vayikra / Leviticus 17:10-11
If any person, whether of the family of Israel or a proselyte who joins them, eats any blood, I will direct My anger against the person who eats blood and cut him off [spiritually] from among his people. This is because the life-force of the flesh is in the blood; and I therefore gave it to you to be [placed] on the altar to atone for your lives. It is the blood that atones for a life,
Vayikra / Leviticus 17:12
Therefore I say to the Israelites, "None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood."
Vayikra / Leviticus 17:13
Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth,
Vayikra / Leviticus 17:14
because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, "You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off."
So the Christian bible says you need blood and there is no atonement without blood -- but Torah and G-d disagrees.
The biggest mistake in the Christian bible is thinking G-d is a pagan god that needs blood (e.g. is "blood thirsty"). G-d needs nothing and He is loving, not cruel. קָרְבָּן / Qorban aka "sacrifice" (and prayer for that matter) is for US, not for G-d. G-d needs nothing.
Humans began giving gifts to G-d as early as B'reshit / Genesis chapter 4 when Cain and Abel bring sacrifices to G-d. Very few sacrifices had to do with sin -- most were a way to connect closer to Him by turning our focus away from the mundane to the holy.
The false idea that only blood atones gives the excuse Christians need to explain how their all powerful man-god (Jesus) could be killed. Not only does it explain that he could be killed, but it explains that Jesus HAD to be killed to be the "perfect" sacrifice.
This is pagan nonsense, the opposite of what the Torah teaches us.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of G-d are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O G-d, you will not despise. [T'hillim / Psalm 51:16-17]
To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Eternal than sacrifice. [Mishlei / Proverbs 21:3]
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. [T'hillim / Psalm 40:6]
He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. [Mishlei / Proverbs 28:13]
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. [Divrei Hayamim II 7:14 / 2 Chronicles 7:14]
But if from there you seek the Eternal your G-d, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. [D'varim / Deuteronomy 4:29]
He prays to G-d and finds favor with him, he sees G-d's face and shouts for joy; he is restored by G-d to his righteous state. [Iyov / Job 33:26]
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. [T'hillim / Psalm 34:14]
Take words with you and return to the Eternal. Say to him: "Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may we will pay oxen [with] our lips." [Hoshea 14:2 / Hosea 14:2]
Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Eternal a man avoids evil. [Mishlei / Proverbs 16:6]
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of G-d rather than burnt offerings. [Hoshea / Hosea 6:6]
With what shall I come before the Eternal and bow down before the exalted G-d? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Eternal be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Eternal require of you? Only to do Justice, and to love Mercy and to walk humbly with your G-d. [Micah 6:6-8]
The key to atoning for our sins is sincere repentance and trying our best not to repeat the mistake, willful disobedience, etc. Isaiah puts it very well in the very first chapter of the book of Isaiah. Isaiah tells us that G-d is sick and tired of empty, insincere prayers and the endless parade of “sacrifices” offered by people just "going through the motions" -- sinners who have not really repented, but who insincerely offer sacrifices or even prayers, but without true repentance in their hearts--
“What use to Me is the huge number of your sacrifices?” says Hashem; “I am fed up with olah-offerings (burnt / elevation offers) of rams and the offals of fattened calves, and the blood of oxen, lambs and goats does not give Me any pleasure. When you come to appear before Me—who asked this of you, to come trampling through My courtyards? Do not bring your meaningless mincḥah-offerings (A mincha is a gift to G-d, not a sin or atonement sacrifice. It is not life, it is just flour and oil. It signifies food and sustenance, or the fruits of a person’s labor, but it is not intrinsically powerful) any more—I find it a disgusting stench... Rosh Ḥodesh (the new month), Shabbat (Sabbath), even the Festival assemblies—I cannot tolerate crookedness mixed with service. And when you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you, even when you pray at length, I do not hear; your hands are full of blood. Wash, cleanse yourselves, remove the evil of your deeds from before My eyes, cease to do evil. Learn to do good, seek justice, strengthen the robbed, perform justice for the orphan, plead the case of the widow. “Come, please, let’s discuss this rationally,” HaShem says; “even if your sins are like bright crimson, I will bleach them as white as snow—even if they are as red as crimson dye I will make them [as white as] wool!” (Y'shayahu / Isaiah 1:11-18).
Back in 2010 UriYosef, administrator at Messiah Truth, wrote a very succinct sentence worth repeating: Atonement is a process that must be initiated by the one who commits the sin/offense/transgression, the purpose of which is to obtain forgiveness; whereas forgiveness is one in a set of optional one-time actions by the party on the "receiving end" of the sin/offense/transgression.
The purpose of sacrifice is to give up something of value and feel badly about what we did. The PROCESS of sacrifice brings us to a realization and a cleansing. In other words -- sacrifices are a gift from G-d to us as ONE way to atone. Sacrifices are not 'magic' and one life does not substitute for another (as such). Rather it is the emotional act of bringing this sacrifice -- as a gift, or an atonement -- what have you -- that creates that emotional link FOR THE PERSON to G-d.
Christians tend to think of קָרְבָּן - qorban (sacrifices) in terms of sin. In reality sin and atoning for sin has very very little to do with sacrifices. Start reading the Jewish bible about sin, repentance and atonement for what IS there and you will see for yourself that what I've told you is true. Most qorban is given as an offer to G-d (it actually means drawing nearer to G-d), and has nothing to do with sin or atoning for sin. There is nothing magical in blood. There is nothing magical in incense or flour either. Human sacrifices are forbidden (so Jesus could never have been a "sacrifice").
Prayer, repentance -- all these things have always been available to us. Keep in mind that after the Exodus and prior to Sinai there were NO sacrifices yet G-d forgave the sins of the Israelites many, many times during that period. G-d also forgave our sins during the Babylonian exile. Likewise there were no sacrifices in Egypt prior to the paschal lamb (although Moses asks to bring them).
So, no, blood is not necessary for the remission of sins. Sacrifices, when they were brought had very detailed rules around different forms of sacrifices -- and if the offer was an animal it had to be a kosher, domestic animal without blemish. Human sacrifices were forbidden. Jesus' death was not and could not have been an atoning sacrifice. In D'varim / Deuteronomy 12:30-31, G-d calls human sacrifice something that He hates, and an abomination to Him, Link.
Sophiee Saguy has been countering false missionary claims about Judaism and the T'nach (Jewish bible) for nearly twenty years. You may find her on FaceBook and at the Messiah Truth forum.