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fundevogel's avatar

God requires blood for reckoning of people...and beasts?

Asked by fundevogel (15479points) May 10th, 2009

I’ve been reading my Good Book and I ran across this little morsel, Gen 9:3–5

3 Everything that lives shall be food for you; and I give you everything.

4 Only you shall not eat flesh with it’s life, that is, its blood.

5 For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life.

This is part of the blessing God gives Noah and his sons after the flood. What’s I’m not sure about is this reckoning. Up until this point there was no mention of any final judgment in the Bible and it’s introduction here doesn’t seem to distinguish between the reckoning of humans and animals. Am I right in thinking that this particular passage seems to hold the idea that both humans and animals will face a reckoning?

And what’s with the blood? This implies God somehow needs your blood to facilitate reckoning. Or is this a matter of him wanting you to reserve the blood because that should be sacrificed to him? Like some sort of blood tax you have to pay once you die?

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28 Answers

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Well, the Flemish have a wonderfully rich dish known as Blood Sausage, made from, you guessed it, blood. I guess none of us are going to heaven, despite the fact that we are mostly Catholic.

I wonder if that whole Biblical blood concept is part of the reason why Jehovah’s Witnesses are against blood transfusions?

arnbev959's avatar

So that’s where D.H. Lawrence got his ideas from.

That’s what I get out of that as well; I don’t see a distinction between human beings and the rest of the animal kingdom. I wonder what that would mean regarding vegetarian/carnivorous animals.

eponymoushipster's avatar

All blood is sacred to God. Because of this, He requires that it be poured out on the ground when an animal is slaughtered.

The sacrifices committed in pre-Christian times were incomplete. Only perfect blood could truly recompense their sins, so they had to constantly offer sacrifices. Once Jesus died, this was no longer necessary.

Jeruba's avatar

“Mostly Catholic”—not so, according to the figures I find. Christianity is the largest group worldwide, at something over 2 billion, and Catholics make up more than half of that; but the Islamic population is much larger than half of Christianity and hence larger than the number of Catholics. The number designated as “Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist” is about equal to the number of Catholics.
[ source 1 | source 2 ]

eponymoushipster's avatar

@eponymoushipster i believe Jehovah’s Witnesses do not accept blood transfusions, in part because of this, and in part, due to what it says in Acts 15:20 to abstain from blood. There it speaks about taking it in as food, but the application is made that taking something intravenously is the same as eating it.

fundevogel's avatar

@eponymoushipster the part I’m interested in is: “I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it”

This isn’t people sacrificing animals to atone for their sins, this is animals being personally held accountable, for what? Does God hold animals to a standard of behavior as he does man?

eponymoushipster's avatar

@fundevogel as far as i understand it, no. they’re not created in God’s image, nor do they have the ability for spirituality, or the understanding of right and wrong.

i believe the from every animal i will require it is talking about the pouring out of blood upon it’s death, for food or sacrifice. this makes sense, since, according to these words, if you kill someone, your blood is required in place of the blood you spilled.

fundevogel's avatar

But the set up is parallel to reckoning demanded of humans, if it’s simply a matter of pouring out blood as a sacrifice it should mean the same thing for people, at least in this passage. It wouldn’t involve any moral judgment at all, just giving God his due.

It which case, in your example of killing someone, your blood is not required for any wrong doing, but for robbing God of your victim’s blood.

And if that’s the case I’m really curious about what God thinks of embalming.

eponymoushipster's avatar

Well, as far as I can explain, it is required for wrongdoing. The Bible says that the life is in the blood. So, you shed someone’s blood (murder, for example), is literally the wasting of their life.

The important thing to God, I believe, is that the blood not be used for something else. It is sacred.

Since animals were given in subjection to man, this doesn’t apply as “wrongdoing” in the case of killing an animal (regardless of what someone’s personal opinion of eating meat, etc. is). However, their blood still has value in God’s eyes and therefore should not be used, eaten, etc.

i hope i’m understanding your question properly.

fireside's avatar

As I read it, God is offering his protection to humans. Here’s line 6:

6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made man.

In the preceding paragraph, God says animals will fear humans and be subject to them. If animals kill a person, God will hold them just as accountable (demand a reckoning) as if a person kills another person. But it is just as wrong for humans to not respect the lifeblood of animals. (which I guess means that we shouldn’t have our steaks cooked Rare)

eponymoushipster's avatar

rare does not mean eating blood.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Jeruba you misunderstand me, I meant that the Flemish, that is Belgians, are mostly Catholic. Or at least the ones in this part of the US are, if my Flemish relatives are any indication of typical Belgian Americans. As to who or what is the largest population of the religious minded, the links you posted are correct.

I’m curious to know what a mostly atheist world would be like.

Jeruba's avatar

Oh, sorry, @EPZ, I didn’t read it that way at all—I saw those two statements as entirely separate.

Interesting question about a mostly atheist world. Intuitively I have to think that if they are mostly true believers—as much committed to their convictions about the nonexistence of a deity as others are about the existence of one—it wouldn’t be much different because we’d still have people wanting to push their beliefs onto others. But it would serve nicely to isolate ethics and morality from religion. I find it hard not to get incensed by religionists who think that they own morality and that you can’t believe in or sincerely practice ethical behavior unless you also go to church.

ru2bz46's avatar

@fireside I believe “to not respect the lifeblood of animals” means to waste their lives by killing them for sport with no intention of eating them. They are given to us as food, not bloodsport.

oratio's avatar

@eponymoushipster According to the bible, yes, only the human is said to be created in god’s image. I don’t really know what that would mean though. Some people seems to think god is a perfect human and has testicles.

I have some questions. @fireside is welcome to respond. How do you mean by that animals have no spirituality? Do you mean a soul? What is a soul? Does god have a soul or is he nothing but? Does that mean that humans being created in gods image pertains to our soul and not our body? Do you have the slightest idea about what the holy ghost is? I asked a catholic priest when I went to bible studies. He had no answer to give.

This I know. You are mistaken about animals not knowing right and wrong. You are talking about moral. We humans have very different moral depending on culture, time period and situation. It changes. There is no one moral, and right and wrong changes. We are the most complex animal on the planet, and we need to adapt when we change our ways. Humans are herd animals, and as any such animal, we have rules and right and wrong. Horses have it, sheeps, dolphins… They all have it, and they are quite aware when they step over the lines. Just study a dog.

fireside's avatar

@oratio – did you get all of that out of my post? Or are these just random questions about the Bible that you want me to answer? When you say “You are mistaken” do you mean me in particular, or are you just speaking about religious people in general?

@ru2bz46 – That’s how I read it too, also as a beginning of Kosher laws about how the animals were to be treated. (The rare steaks bit was just a joke.)

oratio's avatar

@fireside No, my dear fellow, I just wanted your opinion, since I know your interest in the matter. The comment is not about you at all. It was a response to @eponymoushipster.

fireside's avatar

@oratio – That makes sense now. I should have a “No Fluthering before Coffee” rule.

Answering for me, I would say that God is all soul. Individual souls are really our experience of connecting to that Oneness of God. I would say that animals did have a soul and were connected to the Oneness. Probably more so than humans who seem to be constantly caught up in logic and emotion.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

It’s an old book that’s been translated more than one away from the language it was originally written in. A lot of these cryptic passages were just sensible rules at one time. We still exsanguinate animal carcasses before butchering them. Seems to me that’s what He’s saying there. The prohibition against pork was practical in 1000 B.C., too. Undercooked pork can kill you.

I kinda like that it’s OK to eat meat if you’re a believer (or even if you’re not). You just can’t make a good cheeseburger out of tofu.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@oratio i’ll have to come back to this, as I don’t have much time right now, but I think you’re under the impression that spirit and soul are the same thing. “Spirit” is it’s life force. God is a spirit (John 4:24). All living things are souls (Genesis 1:20). Psalm 104:29 says that if you take the spirit away, the soul dies. So, in essence, the spirit is the life-force of an individual; it’s like batteries in your flashlight. No batteries, no light. So, to answer what you said in brief, God is not a soul, He is a spirit. There’s a difference. (1 Corinthians 15:44)

As regards your asking of the Catholic priest, his lack of knowledge is unsurprising. “The Holy Ghost”, or holy spirit, is God’s active force. It’s not an individual or sentient. There are instances all over the Bible of this force having an effect on people, not in some wild, shout out loud and speak in tongues way, but in a positive way. For example, Luke 4:18, 31–35 – Jesus states that God’s spirit is on him, then he speaks with authority.

This is what I believe.

tinyfaery's avatar

Since when does a soul have a penis? And I believe those blood laws were to deter disease and parasites.

galileogirl's avatar

And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.

But leave the cooking to Mom!

fundevogel's avatar

There was no concept of a soul, or afterlife as we understand them now in Judaism until Hellenistic Greeks started dominating the Jews.

There was only Zuul—I mean Sheol.

That kinda undermines the whole idea of reckoning as a final judgment as I had been thinking.

fireside's avatar

I don’t understand reckoning in that verse to mean a final judgment of the soul. He says that men shall be the ones to dole out the punishment, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed”

This seems to indicate Divine Authority to enforce the laws.
Not so much of a threat for the afterlife.

fundevogel's avatar

@fireside Perhaps judgment on earth then? Am I just repeating what you meant?

fireside's avatar

@fundevogel – I’m just not sure where “the whole idea of reckoning as a final judgment” came from, but I guess technically if they are being sentenced to death for breaking the law that judgment would be final.

repentee's avatar

I think in order to understand this text we must look at the entire context of the Bible and the Gospel – The good news as many of you know is that Jesus shed his blood and died for sinners. He being God is the central figure of the text, because of this I believe the Spirit wants us to look at the story of Noah, this text specifically, in light of such a wonderful truth. Before the Gospel, such a story would seem weird and out of place, but now considering the text in light of the Gospel it makes great sense.

Through this text God reveals the preciousness of our lives and reckoning that he would require for it. This is a great mystery indeed. The preciousness of one’s life is in their blood. Sheep and bulls could not atone for such preciousness, but only the spotless lamb. He would give his exceedingly great blood as a blood transfusion for all who believe fulfilling God’s “reckoning.” Peep John 6: 35— 59. I think we need to look at this text as preparation, God is cooking up something grand and he is drawing our attention to it. “Do you smell it?” I believe this text is definitely getting at atonement. Remember the very first persons God atoned for by shedding blood were a few chapters back. The whole bible is laced with atonement and Gods desire to reconcile men to himself. Through it God is glorified and shows his mastery of all things.

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