chapter  8
23 Pages

SACRIFICE AND PRAYER IN ISRAELITE RELIGION

For an Israelite, sacrificial performance led towards the transcendent. It was the way to be qadosh, a proper member of the nation that had been exhorted by its God to become ‘a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation’.1 To be eligible to offer voluntary or obligatory sacrifices required the ritual laundering of clothes and ritual immersions of the body itself. Sacrificial food was enjoyed by the priestly cohort and, in particular circumstances, also shared by those who provided the sacrificial offerings. The symbolic feeding of God took place every day at the Temple, so that he could enjoy ‘the sweet savour’ of the smoking flesh, fat and entrails; it was ‘the food of the offering made by fire to the Lord’.2