When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them: 36Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.— 1 Kings 8:35-36

If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near; 47Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; 48And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name: 49Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause, 50And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them: — 1 Kings 8:46-50

These passages are part of a prayer made by King Solomon at the dedication of the Temple. I heard a Jew say, under these passages, that a person could receive forgiveness for their sins without making sacrifices, and so Judaism could be practiced without the sacrificial system. Is there anything in the text that either supports or refutes this argument?

Thank you.

  • Forgiveness of (past) sins does not make one immune to (future) temptations.
    – Lucian
    Jan 2, 2019 at 23:02

1 Answer 1


I would agree with your Jewish friend but on the basis of different evidence. (However, I can understand why a Jew would cite such evidence.)

The evidence for being able to obtain forgiveness without sacrifice in the OT is quite shaky in Solomon's speech of dedication.

  • In 1 Kings 8:35, 36 the function of sacrifice is moot. That is, Solomon is neither including nor excluding sacrifice as part of forgiveness.
  • In 1 Kings 8:46-50 Solomon is discussing the situation of Jews who will be deported and so have no access to the temple and its ceremonial system, and thus cannot offer sacrifices.

The idea of forgiveness without sacrifice was present before and after Solomon's time.

  • Ps 51:16 - For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.
  • Isa 1:11-17 - … What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me? Says the LORD. I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. …
  • Ps 40:6-8 - Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. …
  • Sam 15:22 - But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
  • Prov 15:8 - The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.
  • Etc, see also, Hos 6:6, 21:3, Jer 6:20, Micah 6:6-8.

The OT in such passages, makes it clear that the ceremonial system was never intended as a sacrament to obtain propitiation of sins but was a symbol of he sacrifice of the coming Messiah. That is , the purpose of the Ceremonial System was a teaching aid for the plan of salvation and based around the Jewish agricultural year that pointed to the coming Messiah.

It is also clear that sacrifice was not required not given for all minor sins else the land would have been rapidly destroyed in sacrifice. (How many times for day do we find ourselves sinning in minor ways??) This, again, points to the more symbolic nature of the sacrifices. The book of Hebrews confirms this.

Heb 9:9 - [the sacrifices were] an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper.

Heb 10:4 - It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

  • Thank you for your answer. I agree with what you said. What do you think about his conclusion, though, that Judaism could be practiced without the sacrificial system?
    – CMK
    Dec 25, 2018 at 22:43
  • 1
    As stated in the opening sentence, I agree with his conclusion but for different reasons.
    – user25930
    Dec 25, 2018 at 23:17

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