Monday, March 30, 2015


Meester van de Inzameling van het Manna (active c 1460 - 1470)
The Offering of the Jews
1460 - 1470
Oil on panel
69,5 x 51,5 cm
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

This painting was part of a larger altar piece, of which two sections have been found

The painting depicts people of the Jewish faith sacrificing a lamb during the passover in a synagogue. 

The red illustration on the altar  shows the murder of Abel by his brother Cain

The death of the innocent Abel prefigures the sacrificial death of Christ on the Cross

The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia on the term "Sacrifice" (or "Offering") is most instructive:

"[Sacrifice is] the act of offering to a deity for the purpose of doing homage, winning favour, or securing pardon; that which is offered or consecrated. ... 
Under Moses, according to the Pentateuch, this freedom to offer sacrifices anywhere and without the ministrations of the appointed sacerdotal agents disappears. The proper place for the oblations was to be "before the door of the tabernacle," where the altar of burnt offerings stood (Ex. xl. 6), and where Yhwh met His people (ib. xxix. 42; Lev. i. 3; iv. 4; xii. 6; xv. 14, 29; xvi. 7; xvii. 2-6; xix. 21), or simply "before Yhwh" (Lev. iii. 1, 7, 12; ix. 2, 4, 5), and later in Jerusalem in the Temple (Deut. xii. 5-7, 11, 12). ... 
The sacrifices treated of in the Law were, according to tradition, the following: (1) the holocaust ("'olah"); (2) the meal-offering ("minḥah"); (3) the sin-offering ("ḥaṭat"); (4) the trespass-offering ("asham")—these four were "holy of holies" ("ḳodesh ha-ḳodashim"); (5) the peace-offerings ("shelamim"), including the thank-offering ("todah") and the voluntary or vow-offering ("nedabah" or "neder"). 
These shelamim, as well as the sacrifice of the first-born ("bekor") and of the tithe of animals ("ma'aser" and "pesaḥ"), were less holy ("ḳodashim ḳallim"). 
For the 'olot, only male cattle or fowls might be offered; for the shelamim, all kinds of cattle. The ḥaṭat, too, might consist of fowls, or, in the case of very poor sacrificers, of flour. For the trespass-offering, only the lamb ("kebes") or the ram ("ayil") might be used. Every 'olah, as well as the votive offerings and the free-will shelamim, required an accessory meal-offering and libation ("nesek"). To a todah were added loaves or cakes of baked flour, both leavened and unleavened.... 
To bring peace to all the world is the purpose not merely of the peace-offerings, but of all sacrifices (Sifra, Wayiḳra, xvi. [ed. Weiss, p. 13a]). It is better to avoid sin than to offer sacrifices; but, if offered, they should be presented in a repentant mood, and not merely, as fools offer them, for the purpose of complying with the Law (Ber. 23a). 
God asked Abraham to offer up Isaac in order to prove to Satan that, even if Abraham had not presented Him with as much as a dove at the feast when Isaac was weaned, he would not refuse to do God's bidding (Sanh. 89b). 
The sacrificial ordinances prove that God is with the persecuted. Cattle are chased by lions; goats, by panthers; sheep, by wolves; hence God commanded, "Not them that persecute, but them that are persecuted, offer ye up to me" (Pesiḳ. de R. Kahana 76b; Lev. R. xxvii.). 
In the prescription that fowls shall be offered with their feathers is contained the hint that a poor man is not to be despised: his offering is to be placed on the altar in full adornment (Lev. R. iii.). 
That sacrifices are not meant to appease God, Moses learned from His own lips. Moses had become alarmed when bidden to offer to God (Num. xxviii. 2): all the animals of the world would not suffice for such a purpose (Isa. xl. 10). But God allayed his apprehension by ordaining that only two lambs (the tamid) should be brought to him twice every day (Pes. 20a, 61b). "

See also the Encyclopaedia on the Passover Sacrifice and the Seder 

"[Seder (The Passover at Jerusalem): 
The term used by the Ashkenazic Jews to denote the home service on the first night of the Passover, which, by those who keep the second day of the festivals, is repeated on the second night. 
The Sephardic Jews call this service the "Haggadah" (story); and the little book which is read on the occasion is likewise known to all Jews as the "Haggadah," more fully as "Haggadah shel Pesaḥ" (Story for the Passover). 
The original Passover service, as enjoined in Ex. xii. 1 et seq., contemplates an ordinary meal of the household, in which man and wife, parents and children, participate. 
The historical books of Scripture do not record how and where the Passover lamb was eaten during the many centuries before the reform of King Josiah, referred to in II Kings xxiii.; it is related only that during all that long period the Passover was not celebrated according to the laws laid down in the Torah. 
In the days of the Second Temple, when these laws were observed literally, the supper of the Passover night must have lost much of its character as a family festival; for only the men were bidden to attend at the chosen place; and the Passover lamb might not be killed elsewhere (Deut. xvi. 5-6). 
Thus, only those dwelling at Jerusalem could enjoy the nation's birthday as a family festival. There is no information as to how the night was celebrated during Temple times by the Jews outside the Holy Land, who did not "go up to the feast." 
The destruction of the Temple, while reducing the Passover-night service into little more than a survival or memorial of its old self, again brought husbands, wives, and children together around the same table, and thus enabled the father to comply more closely with the Scriptural command: "Thou shalt tell thy son on that day."

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