International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
blud (dam, probably from 'adham "to be red"; haima): Used in the Old Testament to designate the life principle in either animal or vegetable, as the blood of man or the juice of the grape (Leviticus 17:11, et al.); in the New Testament for the blood of an animal, the atoning blood of Christ, and in both Old Testament and New Testament in a figurative sense for bloodshed or murder (Genesis 37:26 Hosea 4:2 Revelation 16:6).
1. Primitive Ideas:
Although the real function of the blood in the human system was not fully known until the fact of its circulation was established by William Harvey in 1615, nevertheless from the earliest times a singular mystery has been attached to it by all peoples. Blood rites, blood ceremonies and blood feuds are common among primitive tribes. It came to be recognized as the life principle long before it was scientifically proved to be. Naturally a feeling of fear, awe and reverence would be attached to the shedding of blood. With many uncivilized peoples scarification of the body until blood flows is practiced. Blood brotherhood or blood friendship is established by African tribes by the mutual shedding of blood and either drinking it or rubbing it on one another's bodies. Thus and by the inter-transfusion of blood by other means it was thought that a community of life and interest could be established.
2. Hebrew and Old Testament Customs:
Notwithstanding the ignorance and superstition surrounding this suggestively beautiful idea, it grew to have more than a merely human significance and application. For this crude practice of inter-transference of human blood there came to be a symbolic substitution of animal blood in sprinkling or anointing. The first reference in the Old Testament to blood (Genesis 4:10) is figurative, but highly illustrative of the reverential fear manifested upon the shedding of blood and the first teaching regarding it.
The rite of circumcision is an Old Testament form of blood ceremony. Apart from the probable sanitary importance of the act is the deeper meaning in the establishment of a bond of friendship between the one upon whom the act is performed and Yahweh Himself. In order that Abraham might become "the friend of God" he was commanded that he should be circumcised as a token of the covenant between him and God (Genesis 17:10-11; see CIRCUMCISION).
It is significant that the eating of blood was prohibited in earliest Bible times (Genesis 9:4). The custom probably prevailed among heathen nations as a religious rite (compare Psalm 16:4). This and its unhygienic influence together doubtless led to its becoming taboo. The same prohibition was made under the Mosaic code (Leviticus 7:26; see SACRIFICE).
Blood was commanded to be used also for purification or for ceremonial cleansing (Leviticus 14:5-7, 51, 52 Numbers 19:4), provided, however, that it be taken from a clean animal (see PURIFICATION).
In all probability there is no trace of the superstitious use of blood in the Old Testament, unless perchance in 1 Kings 22:38 (see BATHING); but everywhere it is vested with cleansing, expiatory, and reverently symbolic qualities.
3. New Testament Teachings:
As in the transition from ancient to Hebrew practice, so from the Old Testament to the New Testament we see an exaltation of the conception of blood and blood ceremonies. In Abraham's covenant his own blood had to be shed. Later an expiatory animal was to shed blood (Leviticus 5:6; see ATONEMENT), but there must always be a shedding of blood. "Apart from shedding of blood there is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22). The exaltation and dignifying of this idea finds its highest development then in the vicarious shedding of blood by Christ Himself (1 John 1:7). As in the Old Testament "blood" was also used to signify the juice of grapes, the most natural substitute for the drinking of blood would be the use of wine. Jesus takes advantage of this, and introduces the beautiful and significant custom (Matthew 26:28) of drinking wine and eating bread as symbolic of the primitive intertransfusion of blood and flesh in a pledge of eternal friendship (compare Exodus 24:6, 7 John 6:53-56). This is the climactic observance of blood rites recorded in the Bible.
Trumbull, The Blood Covenant and The Threshold Covenant; Westermarck, The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas; Robertson Smith, Lectures on the Religion of the Semites.
Walter G. Clippinger
BLOOD AND WATER
(haima kai hudor): The remarkable passage (John 19:34) from which this expression is taken refers to the piercing of the Savior's side by the soldier. The evangelist notes here what he, as an eyewitness of the crucifixion, had seen as a surprising fact. Whereon this surprise was founded cannot now be more than guessed at. Nor is it necessary here to discuss the reason or reasons why the apostle mentions the fact at all in his report, whether merely for historical accuracy and completeness, or as a possible proof of the actual death of Christ, which at an early date became a subject of doubt among certain Christian sects, or whether by it he wished to refer to the mystical relation of baptismal cleansing ("water") and the atonement ("blood") as signified thereby. Let it suffice to state that a reference often made to 1 John 5:6, 8 is here quite out of place. This passage, though used by certain Fathers of the church as a proof of the last-named doctrine, does not indeed refer to this wonderful incident of the crucifixion story. The argument of 1 John 5:8 concerns the Messiahship of Jesus, which is proved by a threefold witness, for He is the one whom at the baptism of John ("water") God attested as the Messiah by the heavenly voice, "This is my beloved Son," who at the crucifixion ("blood") had the testimony that the Father had accepted His atoning sacrifice, and whose promise of sending the Comforter fulfilled on Pentecost ("spirit") presented us with the final proof of the completed Messianic task. The same expression in 1 John 5:6 refers probably to the same argument with the implied meaning that Jesus came not only by the merely ceremonial water of baptism, but also by the more important, because vivifying, blood of atonement.
The physiological aspect of this incident of the crucifixion has been first discussed by Gruner (Commentatio de morte Jesu Christi vera, Halle, 1805), who has shown that the blood released by the spear-thrust of the soldier must have been extravasated before the opening of the side took place, for only so could it have been poured forth in the described manner. While a number of commentators have opposed this view as a fanciful explanation, and have preferred to give the statement of the evangelist a symbolical meaning in the sense of the doctrines of baptism and eucharist (so Baur, Strauss, Reuss and others), some modern physiologists are convinced that in this passage a wonderful phenomenon is reported to us, which, inexplicable to the sacred historian, contains for us an almost certain clue to the real cause of the Savior's death. Dr. Stroud (On the Physiological Cause of the Death of Christ, London, 1847) basing his remarks on numerous postmortems, pronounced the opinion that here we had a proof of the death of Christ being due not to the effects of crucifixion but to "laceration or rupture of the heart" as a consequence of supreme mental agony and sorrow. It is well attested that usually the suffering on the cross was very prolonged. It often lasted two or three days, when death would supervene from exhaustion. There were no physical reasons why Christ should not have lived very much longer on the cross than He did. On the other hand, death caused by laceration of the heart in consequence of great mental suffering would be almost instantaneous. In such a case the phrase "of a broken heart," becomes literally true. The life blood flowing through the aperture or laceration into the pericardium or caul of the heart, being extravasated, soon coagulates into the red clot (blood) and the limpid serum (water). This accumulation in the heart-sac was released by the spear-thrust of the soldier (which here takes providentially the place of a postmorten without which it would have been impossible to determine the real cause of death), and from the gaping wound there flow the two component parts of blood distinctly visible.
Several distinguished physicians have accepted Dr. Stroud's argument, and some have strengthened it by the observation of additional symptoms. We may mention Dr. James Begbie, fellow and late president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Sir J. Y. Simpson, professor at the University of Edinburgh, and others (see Dr. Hanna, Our Lord's Life on Earth, Appendix I). The latter refers to the loud cry, mentioned by the Synoptists (Matthew 27:50 Mark 15:37 Luke 23:46), which preceded the actual death of Jesus, as a symptom characteristic of cases of "broken heart." He adds that Dr. Walshe, professor of medicine in University College, London, one of the greatest authorities on the diseases of the heart, says that a "piercing shriek" is always uttered in such cases immediately before the end.
While we may never reach a state of absolute certainty on this subject, there is no valid reason to deny the probability of this view of the death of Christ. It certainly gives a more solemn insight into Christ's spiritual anguish, "the travail of his soul" on our behalf, which weighed upon Him so heavily that long before the usual term of bodily and therefore endurable suffering of crucified persons Christ's loving heart broke, achieving the great atoning sacrifice for all mankind.
H. L. E. Luering
ISSUE (OF BLOOD)
(zobh, zubh; rhusis, haimorrhoos): When used as a description of a bodily affection the word signifies:
(1) A discharge, the consequence of uncleanness and sin (Leviticus 15:2 Numbers 5:2). As such it was one of the judgments which were to afflict the family of Joab (2 Samuel 3:29);
(2) a hemorrhage, either natural (Leviticus 12:7, where the word used is maqor, literally, a "fountain"), or the consequence of disease (Matthew 9:20 Mark 5:25 Luke 8:43).
BLOOD, AVENGER OF
BLOOD, ISSUE OF
See BLOODY FLUX.
FLESH AND BLOOD
See FLESH, 5.