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Originally posted by correction at 2010-11-10 16:36
“…The ruler of China in every Chinese dynasty would perform annual sacrificial rituals to Shangdi at the great Temple of Heaven in the imperial capital. During the ritual a completely healthy bull would be slaughtered and presented as an animal sacrifice to Shangdi…”
Animal sacrifice has been a common practice throughout much of the world from the Hebrews to the Greeks, Romans, Hindus, Ancient Egyptians and not excluding the Chinese.
In many religions, it is a means of appeasing a god or gods or ancestors to perceive a method of communicating with the gods to change the course of nature. The worshiper hopes that the god or gods or ancestors to whom he is offering a sacrifice will reciprocate, bringing good fortune, good harvests or success in battle, etc. The sacrificial offerings are objects of great value and serve as symbolic significance given to the gods to earn their favour.
Henceforth, no one religion has the exclusive claim over another religion over animal sacrifice. Each sacrifice is unique to one’s culture and belief and the method in executing the offering. For example, there are great difference in the methods and objectives between the Christian Bible and Chinese State/Suburban Sacrifices and Offerings. The Bible rituals were usually performed to Bible God as sins offering and purification of the temple/place whereas the Chinese emperors asked the Gods and their ancestors to grant them good harvests and other special favours and blessings but not sin offering. The Chinese emperors used ox, pigs and goats and other animals as sacrificial offering but in the Bible, ox, goats, lamb and other animals were used but never pigs.
The question is, does Bible God desire animal sacrifices? The answer is 9 “yes” and 9 “no”. The 9 “yes” are in Genesis 4:4, Genesis 8:20-21, Genesis 15:9-10, Exodus 20:24,Exodus 29:11-37, Leviticus 1:5, Leviticus 23:12-18, Numbers 18:17-19 and Deuteronomy 12:27. The 9 “No” are Psalm 40:6, Psalm 50:13, Psalm 51:16, Isaiah 1:11, Isaiah 66:3, Jeremiah 6:20, Micah 6:6-7, Matthew 9:13 and Matthew12:7.
In Leviticus 16:8-22 of the Bible describe God’s rules for scapegoats for sin offering. Kill a bullock for sin offering. Bring two goats and kill one for sin offering. Wipe, smear and sprinkle the blood of the killed goat around seven times. Take of the blood of the bullock and the goat, and put them upon the horns of the altar round about. Then sprinkle the blood seven times. Lay the sins of all the people on the live goat and send the “scapegoat” off into the wilderness. The goat shall bear upon him all the people iniquities.
In the Chinese Sacrificial Offering, Terry Kleeman’s Licentious Cults and Bloody Victuals: Sacrifice … in Traditional China: http://www.ihp.sinica.edu.tw/~asiamajor/pdf/1994a/185.pdf ,
Terry Kleeman wrote:
“… The objects sacrificed were also subjected to sumptuary regulations of considerable details. The following passage from Discourse of the States records a discussion of this matter at the court of King Chao of Ch’u 楚昭王 (515-489 BC). When his younger brother, the great officer Tzu Ch’i 子期 sacrifices an ox to their father and presented the meat to King Chao, the king asked a minister about the restrictions on sacrifice. The minister replied:
“A sacrifice 祀 must be greater than a banquet 舉. The son of Heaven uses a t’ai-lao 太牢 (“large set of penned animals,” a set of pig, sheep (goat) or ox) for the banquet and a hui 會 (“collection,” or three sets of t’ai-lao) for the sacrifice. The feudal uses a single ox for the banquet and a t’ai-lao for the sacrifice. The minister of the state uses a shao-lao 少牢 (“small set of penned animals,” a set of pig and one sheep (goat)) for the banquet and an ox for the sacrifice. The great officer uses a single animal (that is, a pig) for the banquet and a set of shao-lao for the sacrifice. The shih eats fried fish and uses a single animal for the sacrifice. The common people eat vegetables and used a fish for the sacrifice”. Unquote
And in “ State sacrifices and music in Ming China…” by Joseph Sui Ching Lam: http://books.google.com/books?id ... e&q&f=false , Joseph Lam gave a comprehensive detailed description of State sacrifices and music in Ming China.
In pages 22 & 23, he wrote:
“…State sacrifices were traditionally ranked as great, middle, and small ceremonial according to three basic criteria: importance of the deities being worshipped; the court’s assessment of the ceremonials; and particular contextual considerations. As reported in Ming History, the Ming system included thirteen great state sacrifices, twenty-five middle ones and eight small ones. Such ranking of ceremonials was relatively consistent: great sacrifices were seldom demoted; ambiguities and fluctuations in ranking mostly involved the middle ceremonials and those performed irregularly. For example, ceremonials honoring Heaven were always great sacrifices, and the state sacrifice to Confucius was always a middle ceremonial.
The three ranks of state sacrifices were general classifications. Ceremonials belonging to the same rank could be further differentiated by the use of various ritual and musical elements, such as the types of sacrificial jade, the colors of the sacrificial silk, and the sizes of the escort for the celebrants. For example, the state sacrifices offered to the progenitors of agriculture and sericulture were both classified as middle ceremonials. However, the former ceremonial involved the sacrificial victims of an ox, a pig and a goat while the latter, only a pig, and a goat; the size of the altar proper for former was longer than that of the latter…” Unquote
It shall be noted that all the sacrificial animals were inspected by the emperor before the animals were slaughtered in the Slaughter Pavilion. They were then cooked or roasted before offered as sacrifices to the Gods and ancestors by the emperor.
During the Qing Dynasty, the tablets of 皇天上帝 Huangtian Shangdi (the emperor’s main ancestral tablet), former dead emperors, and other Gods were carried to the Circular Mound Altar of the Hall of Prayers for Good Harvests. During the presentation of the calf, the music began playing and the official poured boiling broth over the roasted calf in the container to offer sacrifice to the Heavenly Gods and the emperor’s ancestors.