"O L-RD, Who are my power and my strength and my refuge in the day of trouble, to You nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, 'Only lies have our fathers handed down to us, emptiness in which there is nothing of any avail! Can a man make gods for himself, and they are no gods? 'Therefore, behold I let them know; at this time I will let them know My power and My might, and they shall know that My Name is the L-RD".
Jeremiah 16:19-21

Sin and Atonement – is Jesus necessary for atonement?

May 23, 2011

in Idolatry,Judaism vs. Christianity,Judaism:,Noahide - The Ancient Path,Rabbi Tovia Singer,Saul/Paul of Tarsus

by Rabbi Tovia Singer

Refutation One:

Contrary to the missionary claim that blood-sacrifice is the only method of atonement in the Bible, there are three methods of atonement clearly defined in the Jewish scriptures:

1. The sin sacrifice, 2. repentance and 3. charity.  Moreover, the sin sacrifice (known in the Jewish scriptures as Korban Chatat) did not atone for all types of sin, but rather, only for man’s most insignificant iniquity: unintentional sins.  The sin sacrifice was inadequate to atone for a transgression committed intentionally.  The brazen sinner was barred from the Sanctuary, and had to bear his own iniquity because of his rebellious intent to sin against God.  The Torah teaches this fundamental principle in Numbers 15:27-31:

“If a person sins unintentionally, then he shall offer a one year old female goat for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement before the LORD for the person who goes astray when he sins unintentionally, making atonement for him that he may be forgiven….  But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people.  Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be on him.”

Refutation Two:

Contrary to the Christian claim that Leviticus 17:11 proves that man can only atone for his iniquity through the shedding of blood, this verse only explains the prohibition of eating blood.

Missionaries have conveniently severed this verse from its original context, effectively concealing and distorting its message.

In the immediate context of Leviticus 17:11 we find that the Torah is speaking of the prohibition of eating blood, not the subject of sin and atonement.  The Torah discusses blood atonement in this verse only as a byproduct of its central theme.  This crucial message is lost when missionaries quote Leviticus 17:11 alone, without the surrounding texts as its proper background.  Leviticus 17:11 begins with the conjunctive Hebrew word ki (pronounced kee), meaning “This is because….”  Whenever a verse begins with this word, it is explaining what has just been related in the previous verse.  The previous verse, Leviticus 17:10, reads,

“And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people.”

Leviticus 17:11 then continues this message and explains,

“This is because the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”

Thus, Leviticus 17:11 explains Leviticus 17:10 by revealing that consuming blood is forbidden because it may only be used in the act of sprinkling of the animal’s blood on the altar for an atonement.  It is a grievous sin to use it for anything else.

Leviticus 17:10-11 is therefore declaring two principles about blood: 1) you may not eat it 2) amongst all the various rituals associated with the sin sacrifice, such as the laying of the hands on the animal, slaughtering, collecting, carrying, sprinkling, placing of the animal on the altar, it is only the sprinkling the blood on the altar that brings about the atonement. You therefore may not eat the blood.  This verse does not state or imply that one cannot have atonement for sin without a blood sacrifice.  Such a message would contradict all of the Jewish scriptures which clearly outline two other methods of atonement more pleasing to God than a sacrifice – heartfelt repentance and charity.

Although the statement “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” is found nowhere in the Jewish scriptures, it does appear in the Christian scriptures.  In Hebrews 9:22 the author misquotes Leviticus 17:11 when he states “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”  Although this quote in Hebrews 9:22 is always cross referenced in a Christian study Bible to Leviticus 17:11, it is actually a stunning misquote of the original text.

Finally, if missionaries want to use Leviticus 17:11 to bolster their position that blood sacrifices are indispensable for procuring an atonement, they must use all of the verse, not just a part of it.  Leviticus 17:11 specifically says that the blood of the sacrifice must be placed “upon the altar to make atonement for your souls.”  That is to say, Leviticus 17:11 explicitly declares that blood can only effect atonement if it is placed on the altar. Jesus’ blood, however, was never placed on the altar. If the church is going to take the “blood” part of the verse literally, they must also take the “altar” part literally as well.  Jesus’ blood was never sprinkled on the altar, and therefore his death could not provide atonement for anyone.

Moreover, the Torah strictly prohibited the Jewish people from offering human sacrifices under any circumstances.  There is not one place throughout the entire corpus of the Jewish scriptures where human sacrifices are condoned.  Throughout the Book of Leviticus, only distinct species of animals are permitted for use in blood sacrifices.

Refutation Three:

The prophets declared that repentance and charity are more favorable than a blood sacrifice.

Throughout the Jewish scriptures, the prophets declared that repentance and charity are more pleasing to God for atonement than a blood sacrifice. They repeatedly forewarned the Jewish people from becoming obsessed with blood offerings. Other methods of atonement were more efficacious and would even replace animal sacrifices. For example, King David declares in Psalm 40:7 that

“Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; but my ears You have opened; burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.”

These words of the Bible hardly agree with the Christian doctrine that sin can only be expiated through the shedding of blood. Because the Psalmist’s words were deeply offensive to the early church, Hebrews 10:5-6 altered Psalm 40:7 to read instead

Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.”

Notice how King David’s original words, “but my ears You have opened” have disappeared entirely in the Hebrews quote. Instead, this New Testament author replaced this expunged clause with the words “But a body you have prepared for Me.” This is a startling alteration of the Jewish scriptures.



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