The primary religious rituals of Israelite religion involved sacrifices and offerings. The ritual system within the Israelite cult evolved around gifts and offerings that were presented before Yahweh. In examining the book of Leviticus, the sacrificial system of the Israelites can be identified. It is this sacrificial system that was handed down by God through Moses that allowed the people of Israel to cross over the gap between their own weaknesses and corruption to the expectations presented by God. Sacrifices symbolized an acknowledgement of guilt and a need for divine grace and forgiveness.
Understanding the Israelite Cult
The Israelite cult is set apart from other cults in that the people were bound together to worship one God. “The distinctiveness of the Israelite cult is nothing other than the limitation of cultic activity to one particular patron deity” (Anderson, 1987;3). The cult’s foundation of worship centered on those sacrificial gifts and offerings that were given to Yahweh. In addition, the Israelite cults were village centered. In the beginning of the 12th century BC, settlements on the hill country of Judea and Ephraim began to increase in number and density. The farming that took place on these hills allowed Israelites to gain an independent economy from surrounding cult economies (Anderson, 1987;23).
Sacrifice within the social context can be transgressed into two aspects, one relating to the offender, and the other being the offended one, God. “If individuals entered a state incongruent with good relations with God, they had to undergo rites to restore them to a normative status” (Davies, 1985;155). Thus the sacrifice encompassed this social dimension. The part played by God in the social ...
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1996. “Sacrifices and Offerings in Ancient Israel” in Community, Identity, and Ideology: Social Science approach to the Hebrew Bible., ed. Charles E. Carter.
1985. “An Interpretation of Sacrifice in Leviticus” in Anthropological Approaches to the Old Testament. Ed., Bernhard Lane.
Gerstenberger, Erhard S.
1996. Leviticus. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.
1985. “The Logic of Sacrifice” in Anthropological Approaches to the Old Testament. Ed., Bernhard Lane.
1993. Raising Up a Faithful Pries: community and Pristhood in Biblical Theology. Louisville: Westminster/John Know Press.
Smith, William Robertson
1996. “Sacrifice: Preliminary Survey” in Community, Identity, and Ideology: Social Science approach to the Hebrew Bible., ed. Charles E. Carter.
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