Page:Guideforperplexed.djvu/433

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even that they may bring them unto the Lord. . . . And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar, . . . and they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto the spirits" (Lev. xvii. 5-7). Now there remained to provide for the slaughtering of the beasts of the field and birds, because those beasts were never sacrificed, and birds did never serve as peace-offerings (Lev. iii.). The commandment was therefore given that whenever a beast or a bird that may be eaten is killed, the blood thereof must be covered with earth (Lev. xvii. 13), in order that the people should not assemble round the blood for the purpose of eating there. The object was thus fully gained to break the connexion between these fools and their spirits. This belief flourished about the time of our Teacher Moses. People were attracted and misled by it. We find it in the Song of Moses (Deut. xxxii.): "They sacrificed unto spirits, not to God" (ibid. 17). According to the explanation of our Sages, the words lo eloha imply the following idea: They have not only not left off worshipping things in existence; they even worship imaginary things. This is expressed in Sifri as follows: "It is not enough for them to worship the sun, the moon, the stars; they even worship their babuah. The word babuah signifies "shadow." Let us now return to our subject. The prohibition of slaughtering cattle for common use applied only to the wilderness, because as regards the "spirits" it was then the general belief that they dwelt in deserts, that there they spoke and were visible, whilst in towns and in cultivated land they did not appear. In accordance with this belief those inhabitants of a town who wanted to perform any of those stupid practices, left the town and went to woods and waste places. The use of cattle for common food was therefore allowed when the Israelites entered Palestine. Besides, there were great hopes that the disease would become weakened, and the followers of the doctrines would decrease. Furthermore, it was almost impossible that every one who wanted to eat meat should come to Jerusalem. For these reasons the above restriction was limited to the stay of the Israelites in the wilderness.

The greater the sin which a person had committed, the lower was the species from which the sin-offering was brought. The offering for worshipping idols in ignorance was only a she-goat, whilst for other sins an ordinary person brought either a ewe-lamb or a she-goat (Lev. iv. 27-35), the females bring, as a rule, in every species, inferior to the males. There is no greater sin than idolatry, and also no inferior species than a she-goat. The offering of a king for sins committed ignorantly was a he-goat (ibid. vers. 22-26), as a mark of distinction. The high priest and the Synhedrion, who only gave a wrong decision in ignorance, but have not actually committed a sin, brought a bull for their sin-offering (ibid. ver. 3-21), or a he-goat, when the decision referred to idolatry (Num. xv. 27-26). The sins for which guilt-offerings were brought were not as bad as transgressions that required a sin-offering. The guilt-offering was therefore a ram, or a lamb, so that the species as well as the sex were superior in this latter case, for the guilt-offering was a male sheep. For the same reason we see the burnt-offering, which was entirely burnt upon the altar, was selected from the superior sex; for only male animals were admitted as burnt-offerings. It is in accordance with the same principle that luxury and incense were absent from the oblations of a sinner (Lev. v.11), and of a sotah, i.e., a woman suspected of adultery (