Having shown in the post "Is Blood Necessary for the Atonement of Sin?" that it is NOT required, and that only two fairly minor forms of wrongdoing could be atoned for with blood sacrifices, the missionary may often retort "but although SOME sins may be atoned for with out blood you need blood to atone for the SOUL." At which point they quote Vayikra / Leviticus 17:11 (mistranslated):
" For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." King James Version translation.
Their point being that your immortal soul cannot be forgiven without blood (see Romans 9:22) -- even though the T'nach tells us time and again that the sin sacrifice ( חַטָאת קָרבָּן chatat qorban), teshuva (repenting of your sins and returning to G-d) and tzedakah (doing good for other people, aka "charity") atone for sins. The Torah also tells us that the חַטָאת קָרבָּן (sin sacrifice) only atoned for mistakes (a "missing of the mark" -- you tried to do the right thing and "missed." Intentional sins could be forgiven with acts of charity and repenting -- but not with blood (sin) sacrifices).
The only other type of blood sacrifice which atoned for wrongdoing was the אָשָׁם / asham (guilt / trespass) sacrifice.
A third sacrifice people think had to do with sin (but it did not) was the עֹלָ֖ה / olah.
An עֹלָ֖ה / olah was not a טָּאת / sin sacrifice or a אָשָׁם / guilt sacrifice. An עֹלָ֖ה / olah, translated as "burnt sacrifice," was a voluntary sacrifice generally brought to G-d as a donation to G-d or to seal a vow. . . but sometimes brought for impure thoughts, not deeds).
The חַטָּאת / cḥattat (accidental sins) and אָשָׁם / asham sacrifices were PRIVATE offerings brought by INDIVIDUALS, not “atonement” offerings on behalf of the entire nation. Also, no individual sacrifice could be brought for someone else or in advance. The type of offering was specified (female goat or lamb being the most common, but sometimes a bull, birds or flour) -- only domesticated (not wild) kosher animals were fit for sacrifice. Human sacrifices (Jesus anyone?) are totally forbidden by the Torah. Read Vayikra / Leviticus chapter 5 to learn about the אָשָׁם / asham (guilt / tresspass) qorbanot (sacrifices) and the very few things they covered:
Read Vayikra / Leviticus chapter 5 to learn about the אָשָׁם / asham (guilt / tresspass) qorbanot (sacrifices) and the very few things they covered:
The אָשָׁם / asham (guilt / tresspass) qorbanot also atoned for stealing things from the altar.
You also brought an אָשָׁם / asham if you weren't sure if you'd sinned -- or what sin you might have committed. If you weren't sure you'd sinnd you'd bring an asham, instead of a חַטָּאת / cḥattat (accidental sins). This is because a חַטָּאת / cḥattat (accidental sins) means an admission of the sin, and you'd be punished for it. If a person brought an asham (because they weren't sure they'd sinned) and later discovered that he had in fact committed the sin, he would have to bring a chatat at that time.
Those are IT as far as blood sacrifices for individual sins, so what about that claim mentioned in the first paragraph? What about the missionary assertion that ONLY blood atones for the soul?
First of all, the word in Vayikra / Leviticus 17:11 is not "soul." This is a mistranslation. Some more modern Christian translations are correcting this mistranslation. The NIV has "it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life" -- which is more accurate.
Not immortal soul, but rather the "life force." What is the life force? It is the blood coursing through your veins, carrying oxygen to your body -- it is the "stuff" that keeps your body alive -- in Hebrew this is the נפש / nefesh.
נפש / Nefesh translates to life force, not immortal soul. Yet most missionaries think that Leviticus (Vayikra) is speaking of the immortal “soul” since many of their translations do translate נפש / nefesh as "soul." This misleads innocent Christians into thinking that the atonement spoken of in Vayikra / Leviticus 17:11 is for the immortal soul, when in reality it is for your life-force.
To understand Vayikra / Leviticus 17:11 being with line 10 and ending at 14. "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, and I therefore told the Israelites, 'Let none of you eat blood.' A proselyte who joins you shall [likewise] not eat blood. If any man, whether of the family of Israel or a proselyte who joins them, traps an animal or bird that may be eaten and spills its blood, he must cover [the blood] with earth. [All this] is because every living creature has its blood associated with its life-force. Tell the Israelites not to eat any blood, since the life-force of all flesh is in its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off [spiritually]." Vayikra / Leviticus 17:11-14.
To paraphrase, it is saying that no one should eat blood because the thing that keeps you alive is the blood coursing through your body. Therefore the only use for blood is to bury it in the dirt or use it for one of the few blood sacrifices permissible in the Torah (none of which allow human blood or human sacrifice).
Did you notice that it says "only blood atones for the life force?"
Neither did I.
Because it does not say that at all.
Did you also notice to be [placed] on the altar ? This clearly says that a kosher animal's blood only "makes atonement" when it is "applied to the altar. Jesus was not a kosher animal and his blood was not placed on the altar (which is the only way blood can atone at all).
Hebrews 9:22 misleads Christians into thinking you need blood to atone because it says “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” This is not biblical -- Vayikra / Leviticus 17:11 isn’t speaking of the immortal soul, and it nowhere says that sins can’t be forgiven without blood.
Read most Christian translations and you’d never know this.
Jewelry atones (exact same word) for the life force (nefesh) as does blood. "We therefore want to bring an offering to G-d. Every man who found any gold article [such as] and anklet, a bracelet, a finger ring, and earring, or a body ornament [wishes to bring it] to atone for our souls (life force) before G-d." Bamidbar / Numbers 31:50.
Notice that Bamidbar / Numbers 31:50 uses the exact same word as Vayikra / Leviticus 17:11, לְכַפֵּ֖ר. Thus both the blood of a kosher animal on the altar and jewelry atone for the nefesh (the life force).
The Hebrew word that is translated as "atonement" is כַּפָּרָה, from the verb-stem כפר and is related to כִּפּוּר kippur and its plural כִּפֻּרִים kippurim (“atonement”), and also כֹּֽפֶר kofer (“atone,” “pitch”, “tar”, and “ransom”). The term occurs 18 times in Sh'mot / Exodus, 7 times in Vayikra / Leviticus, once in B'midbar / Numbers and once in Divrei Hayamim / Chronicles. The root כפר is usually used in the pi'él and pu'al conjugations in the sense of “to atone” or “to effect atonement”, but it also occurs occasionally with meaning of “to cover” (in the physical sense), e.g. in B'réshıt / Genesis 6:14.
The Hebrew verb כפר “atone” is related to כֹּֽפֶר kofer which is often translated as “ransom” (which occurs in Sh'mot / Exodus 21:30, 30:12; B'midbar / Numbers 35:31,32). "Ransom" in ancient times had a different meaning than it does today, and in modern English this is not a good translation for the term. Thus, most modern Jewish translations often translate it also as "atone."
Another related word is וְכָפַרְתָּ v'chafarta “and you are to cover it with a layer of...” in B'réshıt / Genesis 6:14; for this reason, the word כֹּֽפֶר kofer is also used for “pitch”, the tar-like substance formerly used for caulking (water-proofing) ships.
Translating כֹּֽפֶר kofer as “ransom” is very misleading -- the words are not really identical (translations rarely have an exact "match" in meaning). In modern English "atone" is a better translation for כֹּֽפֶר kofer than “ransom.” Take a look at the following Christian translations of Sh'mot / Exodus 30:12 (which use "ransom") and contrast them to two modern Jewish translations which use the word "atone."
"When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the L-RD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them." King James Versions Exodus 30:12.
"When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the L-RD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them." NIV Exodus 30:12.
Among the Christian translations reviewed only Young's Literal translation gets it right "atonement for his soul." Now here are some Jewish translations:.
"When you take the sum of the children of Israel according to their numbers, let each one give to the L-rd an atonement for his soul (nefesh - life force) when they are counted; then there will be no plague among them when they are counted." Judaica Press Translation Sh'mot / Exodus 30:12.
"When you take a census of the Children of Israel according to their numbers, every man shall give HaShem an atonement for is soul when counting them, so that there will not be a plague among them when counting them." Artscroll Stone Edition, Sh'mot / Exodus 30:12.
Translations are tricky things -- it is hard to translate something from Hebrew into English with accuracy -- but when a translator chooses a different word which changes the meaning for no good reason (other than to make a "proof text" appear to apply to their theology) it should make a bible reader question that particular translation, and perhaps begin to learn Hebrew to ensure they are not being misled (either by accident or purposefully).
The Christian concept of sacrifice is very different from what the Torah tells us and what Judaism teaches. Sacrifices did not begin with the Temple or at Mount Sinai -- they go much farther back than that. Noah brought more pairs of kosher animals to sacrifice to G-d on board the ark than he did non-kosher animals (not fit for sacrifice). Sacrifices are not a snare -- they are a gift from G-d to mankind.
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.
Stop thinking of קָרְבָּן - qorban (sacrifices) in terms of sin. 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.
When we speak of sins that qorban does atone for we must separate communal sins from individual sins (Jews are judged both as a nation and individually). Here is a short list of things that atone for wrongdoings.
2 Samuel 12:13-14 is a cheit (David admits to sin before Nathan the prophet and repents)
Jonah 3:10 has to do with the sins of Nineveh (unspecified, just identified as "evil" in 1:2), the people repented and G-d forgave
Leviticus 26:40-42 speaks of avon and repentence atoning for it
Ezikiel 18:21-32 speaks of chatat (21), pesha (22), chatat (24), pesha (28), pesha and avon (30) are all atoned through repentance
Proverbs 16:6 an avon is atoned for with kindness
Daniel 4:24 is chatat and avon by showing mercy and kindness
PRAYER (accompanied by repentance)
Hosea 14:2-3 teshuva (turning to G-d) and 1prayer atones for avon
1 Kings 8:46-50 include chatat, avon, rasha (wicked or evil) and pesha are atoned for by prayer
Daniel 9:5-19 include chatat, avon, and rasha are atoned by prayer
Isaiah 27:9 both chatat and avon are atoned by removing idolatry
Isaiah 40:1-2 avon is removed by punishment
Lamentations 4:22 avon is removed by punishment
Isaiah 22:14 avon will surely not be atoned until you die.
Leviticus 5:1-13 for specific ashams (guilts including not testifying honestly, touching something ritually unclean, if one makes an oath one doesn't keep, he must confess, and he must bring a guilt offering which should be a female sheep or goat, but if he can't afford it he may bring two turtle doves (one as a chatat and one as an olah). If he cannot afford the turtle doves he may bring flour as a chatat (sin offer)
Exodus 30:15-16 to atone for the life-force (similar to blood in Leviticus 17:11)
Numbers 31:50 to atone for the life-force (similar to blood in Leviticus 17:11)
Numbers 17:11-12 atonement for the Israelites "for there is wrath" Per Rashi (a Jewish sage) this secret was given over to him by the angel of death when he went up to heaven, that incense holds back the plague… as is related in Tractate Shabbath (89a).
Read King Solomon's dedication of the first Temple found in 1 Kings 8. King Solomon is dedicating the very place for sacrifices, and he mentions that there will be a time when the Temple will not exist, or Jews will not be near it and can not bring qorban (sacrifices) -- and says that without sacrifices HaShem will hear our prayers: "When your people Israel. . . turn back to you and confess your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel. . " Without blood. Without a Temple. . .
So, no blood is not needed for atonement of sins, and blood is not needed for the atonement of your immortal sou.
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.