Blood Ritual in the Hebrew Bible: Meaning and Power

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JHU Press, Oct 19, 2004 - Religion - 260 pages
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In ancient Israelite sacrifice as represented in the Hebrew Bible, the handling and use of the blood of sacrificed animals took many forms and served different functions. The Hebrew Bible refers to tossing sacrificial blood onto an altar or an assembly of people, daubing it on the altar's horns or parts of the human body, and sprinkling it on or in front of sacred objects.

William Gilders investigates the significance of these blood rituals. Offering a close reading of Leviticus 17:11, Gilders emphasizes the secondary and innovative character of this biblical text, which has often been treated as a key for understanding biblical blood ritual.

Focusing on the analysis of practice, Gilders finds that blood manipulation is regularly marked as elite activity, serving as an index of social relationships and hierarchies. Blood rituals also regulate access to sacred spaces and define the limits of such spaces. Drawing on recent theoretical approaches to ritual practices, this study offers a sophisticated new understanding of ancient rites.


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This is a must read for any student of Levitical rituals in the Israelite period.


An Entry
The Blood of the Burnt Offering
Blood Manipulation in the Sacrifice of WellBeing
The Hatta t Blood Manipulations in P
Blood Manipulation in Ezekiel and 2 Chronicles
11 and the Power of Blood
Index of Biblical Citations

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 240 - Historical and Critical Commentary on the Old Testament; with a New Translation.

References to this book

About the author (2004)

William K. Gilders is an assistant professor in the department of religion at Emory University.