Judaism and Human Sacrifice
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr
Lev. 18:21 (NIV) Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.
Deut. 18:10a (NIV) Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire.
The Torah is clear regarding the prohibition against human sacrifice which is still prevalent in many pagan and tribal religions world wide including the extreme expression of underground Satanism. Therefore the sacrificial death of Yeshua (Jesus) on the Roman execution stake (cross) is problematic for many people including Jews, regardless of the analogy of Him being the Pascal (Passover) Lamb. They see Yeshua’s death as a human sacrifice which to them is a clear violation of Torah and thus concludes that he cannot be the Jewish Messiah.
The first thing that must be pointed out is that publicly Yeshua was executed by agreeance of people under Roman rule and law and not as a human sacrifice unto the G-d of Israel. Even though in Rome’s ancient past they sacrificed unto pagan Roman deities, which the cross was once a symbol thought to be associated with the Roman god Mithra, Yeshua was executed by a secular irreligious Roman government and upon the demand of the peoples under their rule and not by any pagan priest to a pagan god(s).
Unbeknownst to many Gentiles and suppressed or even ignored and denied by Jews, is the ancient Jewish concept regarding the death of the righteous atoning for the sins of the people.
Orthodox Jewish Historian and Rabbi, Berel Wein in his book “The Triumph of Survival: The Story of the Jews in the Modern Era 1650-1990” said,
“It was an old Jewish tradition that the death of the righteous and innocent served as an expiation for the sins of the nation or the world… Jews nurtured this classic idea of death as an atonement, and this attitude towards their own tragedies was their constant companion throughout their turbulent exile… unreasoning slaughter was somewhat relieved by the fact that the innocent did not die in vain and that the betterment of Israel and humankind somehow was advanced by their “stretching their neck to be slaughtered.””
Before you think this Orthodox Rabbi was a radical or touched in the head, let me show you that this concept was common in Rabbinic literature.
Yeven Metzulah tells us that since the destruction of the Temple, the righteous were “seized by death for the iniquities of their generation.”
Zohar 2:212a “As long as Israel dwelt in the Holy Land, the rituals and the sacrifices they preformed [in the Temple] removed all those diseases from the world; now Messiah removes them from the children of the world.”
The Babylonian Talmud Mo’ed Qatan 28a connects the death of Miriam (Moses’ sister) to the prior chapter regarding the red heifer and states that the death of the righteous has atoning power. Rashi and Siftey Hakhamim agree that just as the red heifer, though not a real sacrifice atones, so does the death of the righteous.
The Talmud also points out the connection of the power of the priestly garments in the process of atonement and Aaron’s death and its power to atone because he was righteous. Rabbinic literature even sites the death of Nadab and Abihu due to their well intended disobedience of offering strange fire had atoning quality.
The Talmud states in many places that the death of the righteous atones (Shabbat 32a, 33b, Leviticus Rabbah 20:12, Yoma 2:1, Pesikta deRav Kahana 26:16, Exodus Rabbah, Terumah 35:4, b. Sotah 14a, b. Berakhot 32a, Mekhilta 2a, m.Negaim 2:1)
In the Tanak we see in II Samuel 21 that David killed some of Sha’ul’s act of killing the Gibeonites and after that G-d answered prayer on behalf of the Land.
Modern Judaism downplays the righteous death of Messiah and the Messianic Redemptive overtones of Isaiah 53 despite the Zohar connecting Isaiah 53 to one man, a redeeming Messiah (Zohar pt. III, fol. 218a, Amsterdam edition).
Other Rabbinic citation connects a man, the Messiah and His death to atonement as found in the Midrash Asseret Memrot. Jewish Apocryphal literature also speaks of the Jewish tradition of the death of the righteous atoning for the people (4th Maccabees 6:28-29, 13:12, 16:20, 17:22).
The famous Akeidah (Binding of Isaac) in Judaism is seen as having atoning power and this has obviously been connected to Yeshua and his death by Christians, Messianic and Natsari Jews is seen as having atoning power ( 4th Maccabees 13:12, 16:20, Tanhuma, Vayyera, sec. 18, Sifra 1o2c, b.Ta’anit 16a, Mekhilta d’Rashbi, p.4, Tanh. Vayerra, sec. 23).
In like manner the Passover and its blood atonement of the Passover Lamb from the death angel also has been connected to Yeshua’s death by Christians, Messianics and Natsari Jews.
Although we see Messiah’s atoning death typified in every offering on the Brazen Altar of Sacrifice, we know He was sacrificed on Passover; but why Passover instead of Yom Kippur? Why Passover and not Sukkot when the Sacrifice were made with 70 Bulls on behalf of the 70 Nations? Also, why a human sacrifice, seeing as YHWH abhors such a sacrifice?
The simple answer is that Yom Kippur is only for the National Atonement of Israel, the descendants of the 12 sons of Jacob and the 70 Bulls sacrificed at Sukkot is only for the Nations, whereas Passover, all the world is included because not only Israel received their deliverance and freedom, but so did the 70 Nations, for they, in the guise of the “mixed multitude” that left with and Israel received the Torah with them at Mount Sinai. This typifies our outer physical and spiritual freedom to worship YHWH, but Messiah’s Passover Sacrifice gives us our inner spiritual freedom from the effects of the Fall of Mankind from sin which all plays a role in the ultimate redemption and restoration of all things.
So the death of Messiah Yeshua is not a human sacrifice in violation against Torah but the acceptable atoning death of a righteous man on behalf of the people which is a clear common concept in Judaism and Rabbinic literature. We even see this in the Brit Chadasha (New Testament):
John 11:49-53 And one of them, [named] Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.
John 18:12-14 Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
Yeshua could atone for the world once and for all because…
Yeshua Ha Moshiach of the Branch is the prophesied Messiah of Israel. That He was FULLY YHWH to be able to redeem us from our sins, and FULLY man to have the right to redeem us from our sins, to be our Kinsmen Redeemer (Ruth, Jer.17:5-7, Jn.1). Yeshua is the perfect, holy, sinless Messiah, the figurative Son of YHWH, who is the Word that became flesh dwelt among us (Jn.1:14) who came to dwell in a mortal body that never saw corruption (Ps.14:10), a pure deity manifest in the flesh. He was not an incarnation, which would denote that 100% of YHWH came in the flesh. Yeshua was FULLY YHWH in the flesh, but not 100% YHWH. YHWH is so infinite that He is everywhere and fills everything, so it would be impossible for ALL of YHWH to be limited to a mortal body. In the words of Dr. Friedman, “If we were to go to the Mediterranean Sea and fill a glass with sea water, we can say that all the water in the glass is truly sea water. However we cannot call the glass, “The Mediterranean Sea.” There is much more to the Mediterranean Sea than the glass. Yet nonetheless, the water in that glass is truly Mediterranean Sea water through and through.” I believe that Yeshua is the Kohen Ha Gadol (High priest) who became the ultimate, once and for all atoning sacrifice Himself, for all mankind (Heb.4:14-5:10; 6:19-8:2). I believe salvation is only available through Him. I believe Yeshua came first as Messiah ben Yosef (Joseph) the Suffering Servant, and will be returning as Messiah ben David the Kingly Messiah. I believe that these two pictures of the Messiah, given in Scripture are one and the same.