Human sacrifice

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God gave Abraham a loyalty test: sacrifice your only son. An angel stops it at the last second.

Human sacrifice is the ritualistic sacrifice of a human to a deity. It is normally done to please the god or gods or to avoid punishment from them.

Contents

Old Testament

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For more information, see the Skeptic's Annotated Bible article:
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For more information, see the Skeptic's Annotated Bible article:

According to the Old Testament, the Abrahamic God apparently approves of human sacrifice:

  • Binding of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-24 Bible-icon.png). Although Abraham is commanded by God to sacrifice Isaac at the mountaintop, and is willing to do so, an angel sent by God intervenes at the last moment. There is a corresponding story in Islam, which credits the son as Ismail instead of Isaac.
  • Jephthah ritually sacrifices his daughter to God (Judges 11:29-40 Bible-icon.png) after vowing to sacrifice the first thing that greets him when he returns from his military victory over the Ammonites.
  • After the Israelites violate God's commandments, God commands Joshua to instruct the people in ritual repentance, which includes the destruction by fire of those who violated the covenant. (Joshua 7:15 Bible-icon.png) It is ambiguous as to whether this is ritual sacrifice performed by the tribe or whether it is performed directly by God.
  • Jeroboam prophecies that Josiah will sacrifice pagan priests who use shrines to God. (1 Kings 13:2 Bible-icon.png) Josiah later executes them, and burns their bones. (2 Kings 23:20 Bible-icon.png)

There is separate and bizarre incident in which the army of Israel withdrew and apparently suffered defeat after the enemy king makes a human sacrifice. 2 Kings 3:27 Bible-icon.png

New Testament

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According to the dogma of substitutionary atonement, Jesus was a human sacrifice on behalf of humanity. It is unclear how guilt can be transferred or a ransom could be paid using such barbaric means.

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