1 of 8
Ron Maimon
  • 1
  • 4
  • 16
  • 32

Why does the Bible call for child sacrifice?

Continuing the response to the meta call for contradiction. This one is a higher level contradiction than pure textual, but it needs to be expressed.

In several places in Exodus, we read an injunction to sacrifice firstborns. This is consistent with God striking down the firstborn of Egypt, and with other child-sacrifice cults in the Middle East, but not with the Elohist narrative of Genesis 22, which demands that animal sacrifice replace child sacrifice.

Assuming that the Elohist narrative is later, one might make sense of the following passages:

All that breaks opens a womb, and all your livestock remember, first birth a bull and a sheep. And first birth of donkeys you will redeem with a sheep, and if you will not redeem it, break its neck. All your firstborn sons, redeem, and they will not see my face devoid of these.

The call is to kill all that is firstborn, animal or human. The exception is donkeys, which one redeems with a sheep, and the word is "redeem" for a son, so one can interpret this as make an animal sacrifice.

But Exodus chapter 22:28 (with leading and trailing context) is not ambiguous:

You will not curse God, and a prince of your people, you will not smear. For your goods and your wine-pressings do not be late, your eldest son offer to me. Thus you will do for your oxen and your sheep: seven days it will be with its mother, on the eighth day, give to me. And a holy people thou shalt be to me, and predated carcasses in the field you will not eat, you shalt throw it to the dogs.

The context makes "give to me" clear--- it means sacrifice. This is a call for child sacrifice, although in the context of the rest of the Bible, this interpretation is, of course, impossible.

Does Exodus 22:28 call for killing firstborn sons in ritual child sacrifice, as it does in the most straightforward reading of the Hebrew, with the parallel context in the following verse?

Ron Maimon
  • 1
  • 4
  • 16
  • 32