Is there any case prior to Sinai in which we can identify a sacrifice as being for sin? There are instances of sacrifices of dedication or thanksgiving, but I can't seem to find any I can confidently point to as being specifically for sin.

If there are no cases of sacrifice for sin prior to Sinai, that emphasizes to me that sin sacrifice was part of the "added law" (Galatians 3:17, 19) -- which leads me to ask: What recompense for sin was there prior to Sinai?

  • Welcome to BH. I have up-voted your question as it is thought-provoking. However, it may be that it will be considered 'off-topic' as it is not, strictly speaking, about a particular text, but rather about a 'topic' which, paradoxically, means it is 'off-topic' on this particular site. If others start to vote it down, then I may attempt to assist (with your permission) by editing your question to bring it into site-conformance. By the way, I think you might consider the first sacrifice, made by God himself, which resulted in a covering of skins for Adam and for Eve. – Nigel J Sep 11 '19 at 19:13
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    Apologies, I'm new and learning. I'll try to edit to make it more acceptable to the site. – Iconoclast Sep 11 '19 at 19:26
  • Note that we have a sister site, Christianity for questions related to general Christianity but unrelated to a particular biblical text (which this site is about) at all :) – Andrew T. Sep 15 '19 at 6:20

A case can very much be made that Job predates Sinai, and that, in his day, priesthood was assumed by the father of the house, who, as the head of the house, functioned as the priest for his family. This no doubt was passed on from Abel and his children to Job's day as the norm (even though it's not certain the nature of the sacrifice Cain and Abel offer in Genesis 4 in particular); after all, Abel was not a Levitical priest, and of course well predates Sinai.

In the book of Job we find Job tentatively offering sacrifice for sin "in case [his children] have sinned and have scorned God in their hearts"—"sanctifying them" with "burnt offerings" (1:5); specifically, he offered this after each of their birthday feasts at their respective houses (1:4), in case, in the heat of the feasting, his children had committed sins (most likely the 'debauchery' to which excessive partying can lend itself all too readily). Notice that the sacrifice was (1) for sins, (2) to sanctify them (or make them holy [again]). This constitutes sacrifice for sins before Sinai.

As noted by Nigel, however, Christians have traditionally always seen the killing of the animal to cover Adam and Eve's nakedness to be an instance of sacrifice for sin, where the cost of covering the shame of Adam and Eve is the life of an animal, but which God paradoxically accepts—and in this instance, freely offers. If this doesn't have a spiritual overtone in Genesis, it most certainly does in Revelation 3:18-19 (DRB):

I counsel thee to buy of me gold fire tried, that thou mayest be made rich; and mayest be clothed in white garments, and that the shame of thy nakedness may not appear; and anoint thy eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. Such as I love, I rebuke and chastise. Be zealous therefore, and [repent].

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