Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Blood and the Bible
The verses about blood in the Bible imply that blood donations and blood transfusions are highly inappropriate. They constitute the giving away of soul on the one hand and the consumption of soul by somebody else. What is the difference between eating blood and transfusing it?
by Arnold Kennedy & John D. Keyser
"Blood," states Insight On the Scriptures, is "a truly marvelous fluid that circulates in the vascular system of humans and most multi-celled animals; in Hebrew, dam, and in Greek, hai'ma. Blood supplies nourishment and oxygen to all parts of the body, carries away waste products, and plays a major role in safeguarding the body against infection. The chemical makeup of blood is so exceedingly complex that there is a great deal that is still unknown to scientists" (Vol. 1, 1988, p. 344).
Peering into the microscope and looking at live blood, you can see a reflection of cause and effect. When you're not feeling well, your blood doesn't look good. Often, the worse you feel, the worse it looks. When you get better, the blood also gets to look better. Simple correlation. Make the blood look better and you will feel better. Clean the blood, clean your health.
But something else is going on. When you feel better, often your attitude is also better. Your state of mental health is closely aligned with your state of physical health. Change physical health, and you'll often impact mental heath. The reverse also holds true -- change the mental and you'll change the physical. Where is it often reflected? In the blood.
YEHOVAH God makes it plain that He is the source of life -- see Psalm 36:9 -- and that man cannot give back a life that he takes. In Ezekiel 18:4 we read:
"Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine..."
This being the case, to take life is to take YEHOVAH's property -- which constitutes theft! So someone who takes a life is a thief, as well as being a murderer (Exodus 20:13, 15). Every living thing has a purpose and a place in YEHOVAH's creation. Therefore, no man has the right to take life except when YEHOVAH God permits and in the way that He instructs.
The Importance and Power of Blood
YEHOVAH God intended that man enjoy the life that He gave them, and anyone who deprived man of that life would be answerable to YEHOVAH God. This was shown when YEHOVAH said to Cain after he murdered his brother Abel: "Your brother's blood is crying out to Me from the ground" (Genesis 4:10).
What is interesting is that in Genesis 1-3 YEHOVAH God, man, woman, and a snake all have speaking roles whereas, in Genesis 4, it is Abel's blood that speaks, or cries out, from the ground. Writes David Carr:
"Abel has never spoken in his short life in the text of Genesis, yet his blood cries out against his murderer, Cain. Moreover, his blood exerts power even after death, in that it prevents Cain from ever settling again to farm the ground. Cain and Abel's father, Adam, were created from the ground (adamah) to serve it (Gen. 2:7, Gen. 3:23), and Cain followed in his footsteps, serving the ground as well (Gen. 4:2). But now this same ground has opened its mouth to take Abel's blood, and the earth will not again yield its strength to Cain (Gen. 4:11). Cain will be a wanderer and his descendants city dwellers (Gen. 4:12-22). This blood of Abel's proves more powerful and influential in the human [Adamic] story than was Abel himself" (The Cry of Abel's Blood, p. 1).
When we take a closer look at the language of Genesis 4:10 it becomes apparent why this blood and its cry are so important and powerful. The blood that cries out from the ground to YEHOVAH God is in the plural in this passage, and should be rendered as follows: "Your brother's bloods [plural] are crying out to Me from the ground." When the plural of "blood" is used elsewhere in the Old Testament -- such as in Isaiah 4:4, Isaiah 26:21, or Hosea 1:4 -- it stands for violently shed blood that must be avenged, somewhat like the phrase "rivers of blood." Such blood in the Old Testament stains or even pollutes the land (i.e., Numbers 35:33).
In Genesis 4:10 this violently shed blood cries out to YEHOVAH God. The Hebrew word for "cry" is tsa'aq and is used for human expressions of the most desperate, extreme need. Paraphrased, YEHOVAH God tells Cain in Genesis 4:10 that "the rivers of your brother's blood desperately cry to Me from the ground for revenge." This helps explain why Cain then is "cursed from the ground" which has "opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand" (Genesis 4:11).
What is also interesting in this text is that YEHOVAH God, Who later demands blood for blood does not immediately put Cain to death but allows him to live, though cursed. Here I believe, YEHOVAH is pointing out just how precious blood actually is, in that He will not even exact His own penalty for murder at this time.
As we see in Genesis, this first death in the Adamic line -- Cain's murder of Abel -- anticipates widening violence in the line of Adam that will pollute the whole land. Eventually, the land becomes "corrupt" and "filled with violence" (Genesis 6:11), and YEHOVAH God floods the land to kill almost all living beings of the Adamic line (Genesis 7:7-23). Afterwards, YEHOVAH God makes a new start with Noah and his descendants, stressing, for the first time in Adamic line history, that humans must not kill one another (Genesis 9:5-6). If someone murders another (as Cain did) YEHOVAH God promises to "require a reckoning for" the blood of the slain (Genesis 9:5).
However, killing and violence did not stop in the biblical story -- nor have they stopped in the contemporary world. Writes David Carr, "Jewish and Christian interpreters across the centuries have seen in the Cain and Abel story a precursor to future murders of innocents up to the present day. For them, the plural of 'blood' in Genesis 4:10-11 and the present tense of the verb, 'is crying out,' in Genesis 4:10 point to the blood of later generations still crying out to God in a desperate plea for a reckoning" (The Cry of Abel's Blood, p. 2).
The Ingesting of Blood
Because YEHOVAH God places such an importance on blood -- both human and animal -- and since the Bible commands that we not ingest blood, we should not accept whole blood or its primary components in any form, whether offered as food or as a transfusion. Note the following scriptures:
Genesis 9:4. YEHOVAH God allowed Noah and his family to add animal flesh to their diet after the Flood but commanded them not to eat the blood. YEHOVAH God told Noah: “Only flesh with its soul -- its blood -- you must not eat.” This command applies to all those descended from Adam because all Israelites are descendants of Noah.
Leviticus 17:14. “You must not eat the blood of any sort of flesh, because the soul of every sort of flesh is its blood. Anyone eating it will be cut off.” YEHOVAH God viewed the soul, or life, as being in the blood and belonging to him. Although this law was given only to the nation of Israel, it shows how seriously YEHOVAH viewed the law against eating blood.
Acts 15:20. “Abstain...from blood.” YEHOVAH God gave Christians the same command that he had given to Noah. History shows that early Christians refused to consume whole blood or even to use it for medical reasons.
The regulation of verses 10-13 in Leviticus 17 seeks to prevent another way in which blood was misused in the ancient Near East -- by eating it.
The regulation of verses 10-13 forbids both the Israelite and the alien to eat the blood of any animal (not just the sacrificial animals). The reasons for this prohibition are given as well: (1) “the life of the flesh is in the blood,” and (2) the function of shed blood is divinely appointed for the atonement of man (v. 11). Thus, anyone who eats the blood of an animal will be “cut off” from his people, an expression which, at best, refers to one’s expulsion from the nation, and, at worst, execution, either by the hand of man or by a direct act of YEHOVAH God. This command includes the blood of wild game, as well as of domestic animals (v. 13). It makes sense that the blood of wild animals would be singled out here, since the previous regulations have required the animals from the Israelites’ flocks or herds to be offered at the tent of meeting, where the blood would have been disposed of by the priest. The blood of the wild animal must be poured out on the ground and covered, buried, if you would. Here (v. 13), as above (v. 10), the alien and sojourner must abide by YEHOVAH’s command not to eat blood.
When we today eat meat at home or in a restaurant, we should make sure that as much blood as possible is drained from the meat, and that it is "well done" (cooked until there is no sign of blood in the texture of the meat).
Does YEHOVAH’s Prohibition Include Human Blood?
Yes, and early Christians understood it that way. Acts 15:29 says to “keep abstaining from...blood.” It does not say merely to abstain from animal blood. (Compare Leviticus 17:10, which prohibited eating “any sort of blood.”) Tertullian (who wrote in defense of the beliefs of early Christians) stated: “The interdict upon ‘blood’ we shall understand to be (an interdict) much more upon human blood” (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV, p. 86).
Tertullian (c. 160-230 C.E.): “Let your unnatural ways blush before the Christians. We do not even have the blood of animals at our meals, for these consist of ordinary food....At the trials of Christians you [pagan Romans] offer them sausages filled with blood. You are convinced, of course, that the very thing with which you try to make them deviate from the right way is unlawful for them. How is it that, when you are confident that they will shudder at the blood of an animal, you believe they will pant eagerly after human blood?” (Tertullian, Apologetical Works, and Minucius Felix, Octavius (New York, 1950), translated by Emily Daly, p. 33).
Minucius Felix (third century C.E.): “So much do we shrink from human blood, that we do not use the blood even of eatable animals in our food.” (The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, Mich.; 1956), edited by A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, Vol. IV, p. 192).
As far as human blood goes, there are sound medical reasons to avoid blood transfusions. More important, though, YEHOVAH commands that we abstain from blood because what it represents is sacred to him (Leviticus 17:11; Colossians 1:20).
Eating blood of any kind also appears to do something adverse. We are not told about this being anything physical, and the medical evidence does not seem to be available. YEHOVAH God said, “...for it [blood] is the life of all flesh, its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, 'You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood'” (Leviticus 17-14). This is not a prohibition of eating meat because we are told a number of times about not eating unbled meat, e.g., 1 Samuel 32-34.
Why the eating-blood prohibition? It is because the “life” (or “soul” -- Strong's 5315) of an Israelite person is precious to YEHOVAH God. How precious? The Israelite man’s life exceeds the value of his ability to redeem himself by any of his own actions or assets. Nor can he offer himself. Consequently YEHOVAH God alone can redeem His people, even at great cost. The Blood of the Messiah is described as being “precious”. There are 65 usages we could look at that tell us that the word "precious" (Strong's 3365 “yaqar”) conveys the idea of “heavy”, “honour” and “dignity”, and is about something which is considered valuable because of its intrinsic worth and separateness. In Lamentations 4:2 we are told the “precious ‘sons of Zion’” are worth more than their weight in gold.
Speaking of Israel, Isaiah 43:1-7 says, “But now, thus says the LORD [YEHOVAH], who created you, O Jacob [Israel], and He who formed you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine…..Since you [Israel] were precious in My sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you; therefore I will give men for you, and people for your life...[Israel] whom I have created for my glory; I have formed him; yes, I have made him”. We do not ever read of other races being “precious”. In saying this there is no direct connection of blood with DNA mentioned in this passage, but DNA is in the blood as in all other cells. As to what happens exactly, we are not told, and medical science seems to have made no mention to date.
Blood Transfusions and Transplants
There is a steady trickle of reports coming through that claim people who have had blood transfusions, have a change in personality (and hence behavior). These changes are observable facts.
According to the February 2009 issue of Scientific American,
"Studies have shown that donor DNA in blood transfusion recipients persists for a number of days, sometimes longer...Red blood cells, the primary component in transfusions, have no nucleus and no DNA. Transfused blood does, however, host a significant amount of DNA-containing white blood cells, or leukocytes -- around a billion cells per unit (roughly one pint) of blood. Even blood components that have been filtered to remove donor white cells can have millions of leukocytes per unit.
"Investigators have detected donor DNA after transfusion with a process called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) that amplifies minuscule amounts of genetic material for detection and identification of specific genes. Studies using PCR to amplify male genes in female recipients of transfusions from male donors have demonstrated that donor DNA endures in recipients for up to seven days. And a study of female trauma patients receiving large transfusions showed the presence of donor leukocytes for up to a year and a half.
"All these results, however, were found using very sensitive techniques whereby donor DNA was selectively amplified over the more plentiful recipient DNA."
This begs the question -- what would more sensitive techniques reveal about the donor's DNA and how long it effects the recipient's behavior?
In an experiment undertaken in 1993 by the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), white blood cells (leukocytes) were scraped from the mouth of a volunteer, centrifuged and placed in a test tube. "A probe from a recording polygraph -- a lie (or emotion) detector -- was then inserted in the tube. The donor of the cheek cells was seated in a room separate from his donated cells [in the test tube] and shown a television program with many violent scenes. When the volunteer watched scenes of fighting and killing, the probe from the polygraph [in the test tube] detected extreme excitation in the mouth cells even though they were in a room down the hall...The donated cells remained energetically and non-locally connected with their donor and seemed to 'remember' where they came from" (Paul Pearsall, PhD, The Hearts Code, Broadway Books, New York, 1999, p. 43).
Are the Jehovah's Witnesses right to refuse to take the blood of another? Does blood also contain the life force or essence of the donor?
There is very little scientific evidence to support this hypothesis, but various examples of anecdotal evidence are available from a variety of different sources.
Our blood holds elements -- the DNA imprint, if you will -- of who we are. It contains the signature of our soul. Stories abound that correlate these truths.
A man mentioned at a seminar that he felt quite different after receiving a blood transfusion. This man said that he had had a few transfusions and that he definitely knew it when he had received his sister's blood because while in hospital he had the urge to get up and start cleaning. He also knew it when he got his brother-in-law's blood because all he felt like doing was sitting around watching TV!
A humorous story you might think, but it holds some truth. In Australia, stories are told of the Aboriginal people donating blood as urban life encroached upon their territory. When normal white people would get this blood during a transfusion, some have been known to wake up in the middle of the night sweating and grabbing the sides of their beds as they experienced night dreams beyond any they've ever had before.
When you receive someone else's blood or other organ tissue it tries to assert its DNA imprint upon your own. Like a giant human organic tape recorder it tries, over time, to erase your DNA and replace it with its own. When people have problems with blood transfusions and/or organ transplants, part of the problem lies in the DNA makeup of both the donor and the donee.
A forum post on the San Ramon Regional Medical Center website describes a personality change in a man who received a massive blood transfusion:
"Having served in both world wars, Dad was a very strict, military type," explains the user. "After the transfusion, his strictness was gone. As one might say, he had become like putty in your hand. You could twist him around your little finger."
Another post on a forum exploring cellular memory reads as follows:
"Two years ago I had major surgery and needed a blood transfusion a couple of days afterwards. Once I regained my appetite and was able to eat, I craved junk food and fast food. I was a very healthy person before that. I was not a red meat eater, but now I can't get enough BBQ ribs and bacon. I thought I was losing my mind! I have also lost my drive to do my daily jog like I used to and the really crazy thing is that I am now a 'football wife'. I never really liked sports before."
Another person added her own anecdote to these saying that she personally experienced some very strange effects after receiving blood --
"I have always been a non-smoker, yet after being the recipient of several pints of donated blood some years ago following the birth of my daughter, I suddenly developed intense cravings for cigarettes. I did not succumb to these cravings, but for many months following the transfusion, my desire to smoke was so strong that it took all of my willpower not to buy a packet and light up; I could even taste the smoke and the imagined sensation of drawing it into my body."
Another case, more extreme than those we have just covered, was found in another forum where the man posted the following:
"My now ex-wife had a transfusion about 11 years ago when she had a tubal pregnancy that ruptured and caused her to almost die. Once at the hospital the doctor quickly squeezed three bags of blood in her to save her life. After the surgery, she was a different person. We still had another child together, but she wasn't the same person I married. She, all of a sudden it seems, became very interested in tattoos when she wasn't at all before. She became very interested in motorcycles, strip clubs, hard core sex tapes, etc. This wasn't at all the woman I married. A lot of people say it [the blood transfusion] has no effect, but I don't believe it because I've lived through it. We divorced about three years ago because she was having an affair, again, not like her at all. I think blood does a lot more than simply giving life. I believe blood is programmed in some way to make the person who they are, and if we share blood we can reprogram our bodies to be better people, or worse."
Looking now at transplants, we find a similar pattern of occurrences. Similar stories are told of individuals who have had organ transplants. Having never liked certain foods, or doing certain things, or being proficient at specific tasks, they would suddenly find themselves -- after the transplant -- with cravings for food they hate and abilities they never before possessed. Why? The tissues of the body are fed by blood, which contains the DNA imprint of who we are.
Strange things are reported to follow organ transplantation -- causing many people to question the full implications of receiving another person's body part. The following was reported in a March 16, 2008 article in The Telegraph -- one of the U.K's leading newspapers:
"A woman claims to have undergone a complete 'personality transplant' after receiving a new kidney. Cheryl Johnson, 37, says she has changed completely since receiving the organ in May. She believes that she must have picked up her new characteristics from the donor, a 59-year-old man who died from an aneurysm. Now, not only has her personality changed, the single mother also claims that her tastes in literature have taken a dramatic turn. Whereas she only used to read low-brow novels, Dostoevsky has become her author of choice since the transplant. [Ms] Johnson, from Penwortham, in Preston, Lancs, said: 'You pick up your characteristics from your donor. My son said when I first had the transplant, I went stroppy and snappy -- that wasn't me. I have always loved books but I've started to read classics like Jane Austen and Dostoevsky. I found myself reading Persuasion.'"
This is one of many such reports appearing in newspapers and magazines around the world.
Another person, named Petra, comments on a kidney transplant she received three years earlier:
"Immediately after surgery I noticed changes. The music I listened to prior to my surgery was R&B and light jazz. Afterwards, country music that I knew all the words to. My breast had always been very small and after the transplant they have grown 2 sizes larger even though I was small in size. I was a supervisor in the computer field for over 30 years before the surgery and afterwards I know very little about what I used to do, but I [now] know other things such as building things and hard labor kind of work! This has really bothered me and it. I am lucky that I have a great family unit consisting of a great husband for over 30 years and 3 grown sons. They all love me no matter who's memories I have, but sometimes they do ask me if I feel like the same person, because I sometimes act like someone else."
In the Weekender (www.unknowncountry.com) we find more evidence of people taking on the traits of organ donors following transplant procedures --
"Jamie Sherman from southern Arizona was born with a heart defect and received a transplant in November 2001, after which she developed a craving for foods she had never eaten before, namely cheese enchiladas, bean burritos and soft tacos.
"Six months after the surgery Jamie met the family of her heart donor, Scott Phillips, who told her that, yes, he had loved cheese enchiladas! Jamie also reported having a deep sense of anger after the operation, an odd reaction that she could not understand at a time in her life when everything was going so well for her. 'I couldn't understand where it was coming from,' she said, but Scott's family were able to offer her an explanation. 'His mother told me, "Scott died in a fight,"' said Jamie, who felt certain that this was the reason for her odd feelings of rage.
"Scott's mother also reported feeling the essence of her dead son through Jamie: 'His mother said to me, "Even though you have different color eyes, I can still see him through you,"' reported Sherman" ("Organ Donations -- A Slice of Someone Else's Life?")
Are these perceptions merely borne of sentiment in the donor's family? Are the recipients' experiences simply the result of having life-changing surgery, or is there a more intriguing explanation?
"In the news today in the United Kingdom is a tale of a lady whose intuition led her to find the recipient of her son's heart five years after his death. Freda and John Carter lost their son, also named John, to a brain tumour in 2008 when he was just 33 years old. The family were told that organ donor John's heart was later successfully transplanted into a fourteen year old boy named Scott but they were not told any other identifying information, and potentially the donor could have lived anywhere in the country.
"Five years later, when Freda attended a memorial service for organ donors, she experienced a strange feeling when she read the order of service and saw that a man named Scott was speaking about his life-saving transplant. She knew without doubt that this was the man who had received her son's heart, and her intuition was proved to be right.
"'When I sat down and turned the page on the order of service and saw his name there a strange feeling came over me. I knew he was the recipient of John's heart,' she explained to The Daily Express, putting it down to 'maternal instinct'.
"Scott Rutherford's life had been saved by a last-minute heart transplant -- and the donor was indeed a man named John. Freda and Scott's first meeting was a profoundly moving experience for them both, and Freda was able to hear the sound of her son's heartbeat once more:
"'I asked him if I could feel John's heart beat and he let me,' Freda said. 'It was all I wanted.'
"'The day when we met was unbelievable, it was some sort of miracle,' reported Scott. 'I felt like I was in a film'" (ibid.).
This may have just been a happy coincidence, but so many inexplicable incidents have begun to occur post-transplant that scientists are beginning to question the full impact of transplant surgery. Donor families who do have the chance to meet the beneficiary of their loved one's organ often describe how they are able to detect and recognize familiar personality traits in the new host.
The Weekender goes on to say:
"Are these perceptions merely borne of sentiment in the donor's family? Are the recipients' experiences simply the result of having life-changing surgery, or is there a more intriguing explanation?
"There is a weight of evidence that suggests each one of our cells carries a mini-memory bank, a biological device that carries previously held memories from donors into the new recipient. Some scientists began to recognize and research the possibility of 'cellular memory' after heart transplant patients began to display strange cravings and mild personality changes. Major organs such as the heart, liver, kidney, and even muscles have been shown to contain large populations of neural networks, which can effectively function as self-contained 'brains' and which could theoretically hold memories.
"Biological theories for this favor the presence of neuropeptides that facilitate communication between the brain and other bodily organs and for other organs to relay information back; the discovery that neuropeptides exist in all tissues, has posed the question of whether they can store memories ("Organ Donations -- A Slice of Someone Else's Life").
Writes Dr. Paul Pearsall:
"Based on cellular biology, we know that certain molecules have very good memories because they are particularly good at storing complex coded information. For example, DNA is a nucleic acid found in all cell nuclei that contains genetic information that determines to a yet to be determined extent not only how we look but what diseases we might develop, whether or not we are grouchy or cheerful in temperament, and even how long we live. All cells have energy, so all cells contain and share information. All cells store info-energetic memories, and our heart, by nature of its immense power, millions of cells throbbing in unison, and central location in our body, is the central organ that constantly pulsates info-energy [in the form of blood] from between, and to all other organs and cells. Because of the heart's code and the cellular memories [in the blood] with which it deals, every cell in our bodies becomes a holographic or complete representation of our energetic heart" (The Heart's Code, p.14).
According to the Weekender, one Gary E. Schwartz, PhD, University of Arizona scientist and co-author of The Living Energy Universe, has documented cases of cellular memory in 74 patients, 23 of whom were heart transplant recipients:
"One of the most astonishing examples concerned an eight-year-old girl who received a heart from a ten-year-old female murder victim. The recipient child suffered dramatic post-operative nightmares about the murder of a young girl. The dreams recurred and were taken seriously by her psychiatrist, who perceived them to be genuine 'memories' from the donor. The detail in the dreams proved to be so accurate that the information eventually resulted in the arrest of the murderer."
The murderer was easily convicted with evidence that the eight-year-old girl provided. "The time, the weapon, the place, the clothes he wore, what the little girl he killed had said to him -- everything the little heart transplant recipient reported was completely accurate."
Despite these amazing and thought-provoking cases, only a few broad-minded doctors embrace the concept, and this field of research is generally disputed by mainstream medicine who attribute the behavioral changes in patients after transplants to surviving in the face of death and being given a new chance at life. There could certainly be some truth in this, but some of the very specific effects described by recipients of donated organs continue to baffle doctors.
"Bill Wohl almost died from cardiac disease in 2000, and was given a heart transplant at the University of Arizona medical center. A few weeks after the operation, Wohl heard a song on the radio by British star Sade, an artist whose music he had never previously encountered.
"'I just started crying and rocking,' said Wohl who, prior to his operation had been a hard-hitting top executive with a tight hold on his emotions. He later contacted his donor's family who were able to inform him that his donor, Michael Brady, had been a huge fan of Sade. Wohl was stunned.
"'It was really, really freaky,' he reported."
The common denominator in all these transplant cases is the blood. While in the donor's body, the various organs are diffused with blood that carries the DNA-containing white blood cells, or leukocytes. So when a particular organ is transplanted to another person, it carries with it the DNA-carrying leukocytes that try to overpower the leukocytes of the donee.
The Blood Is the Soul
The stricture concerning blood is also a matter of belief. Either we accept who and what we are and we accept the symbolism for what blood represents at the level of the mind and spirit or we reject it. This is just the same as accepting the Passover wine and unleavened bread as representing something different from the ordinary use of wine and matzos. It is the same as dealing with circumcision -- it has practical relevance, but its symbolical relevance is by far away more important.
Genesis 9:4: "But you shall not eat flesh with [Hebrew: beth -- with, of accompaniment] its life [Hebrew: nephesh] that is, its blood." The two phrases, "its soul" and "its blood" are substantives in Apposition and hence require "that is" in the translation to show the relationship.
Ellicott's Commentary on the Whole Bible states:
“The words are remarkable. "Only flesh in its soul, its blood, ye shall not eat." The Authorized Version is probably right in taking blood as in apposition to soul, which word means here the principle of animation, or that which causes an animal to live. This is God’s special gift; for He alone can bestow upon that [particular] aggregation of solids and fluids which we call a body the secret principle of life. Of this hidden life the blood is the representative, and while man is permitted to have the body for his food, as being the mere vessel which contains this life, the gift itself must go back to God, and the blood as its symbol, treated with reverence”.
Hence this verse gives the explicit statement that the blood IS the soul, meaning it is the seat of the soul and hence of life. The next verse continues: “And surely your blood, which is for your souls, will I require [that is, avenge]; from every beast will I require it and from man: even from a man’s brother will I require the soul of man”.
The last clause literally is…“at the hand of man, at the hand of one that is his brother, will I require the soul of man”. This has nothing to do with the avenger of blood for accidental death.
: "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul."
This verse tells us several things. Firstly, it defines a soul as having two parts, the blood and the flesh -- which makes sense because neither can exist independently (in the normal physical sense). Secondly, it states that it is the animal’s soul that makes the “atonement” for our souls. Thirdly, we are told that the visible blood (as the seat of the soul) represents the soul in these ceremonies.
Solomon notes in Ecclesiastes 3, "Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of beasts that goeth downward to the earth?" (v. 21). The Revised Standard Version has this passage:
Solomon speaks of "the spirit of man." What is this?
"For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and the man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down to the earth?" (Ecclesiastes 3:19-21, RSV).
The patriarch Job wrote, "There is a spirit in man" (Job 32:8). What is this "spirit"? The word for "spirit" in the Hebrew is ruach, number #7307 in Strong's Concordance. The word ruach is defined as
"wind; by resemblance breath, i.e. a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; fig. life, anger, insubstantiality...by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being..."
The Greek New Testament equivalent of this word is the Greek word pneuma, number #4151, which also means
"a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by anal. or fig. a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by impl.) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy Spirit."
What then is this "spirit," as it is applied to mankind? Clearly, from the words of both Solomon and Job, we know that mankind does have a "spirit" in him. What is that spirit? That spirit is what we might call "human spirit" -- or that special "essence" which distinguishes mankind from animals in general. This "spirit" is the part of man's mind, which gives him cognitive, thinking, creative powers -- like the very powers of YEHOVAH God. It is given to us by YEHOVAH, and is from Him, and is therefore part of YEHOVAH's essence, which causes us to literally be "in his image, after his likeness" (Genesis 1:26). It is what sets us apart from beasts. This spirit is in mankind from birth and may affect the blood in some fashion that has not been revealed.
What is this "spirit"? It is a spiritual essence which gives man his distinctiveness, his originality and creativity. At death, it returns to YEHOVAH God.
The spirit itself has no consciousness, no knowledge, doesn't think, or create, or do anything, of itself. It is comparable to a "tape" recording of a person's life, attributes, character, memory, mind, and "essence." It must be "activated" in order to "play." But it has no consciousness of its own. That is why Solomon could write, "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything" (Ecclesiastes 9:5). Solomon also wrote: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest" (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
The spirit in man is a form of energy, power, like the spirit of YEHOVAH God (compare Luke 1:35). It is a spiritual component of man's brain, or mind-power. It has or reflects human emotions.
This spirit essence is invisible, and is therefore also eternal. As Paul declared, "for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (II Corinthians 4:18). When the spirit of man returns to YEHOVAH God, it is kept in storage, as it were, for possible future use.
There is another "spirit": One that sets apart the Adamic man from those created in Genesis 1. We read about this in Genesis 2:
"And the LORD God formed man [Adam] of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man [Adam] became a living being" (verse 7).
The Hebrew word for "breath of life" is the same word used for "holy spirit." We read elsewhere in Job, "The spirit [ruach] of God hath made me" (Job 33:4). In the Psalms, David declared, "take not thy holy spirit from me" (Psalm 51:11), and, "Whither shall I go from thy spirit?" (Psalm 139:7).
It is variously translated in the King James Bible as "ghost, life, spirit, mind." This word is the same as the Greek word used in John 4:24, where Yeshua said that YEHOVAH God Himself IS "spirit," and those who worship Him must do so in "spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Man, then, at this time, is not "spirit," nor is he a "spirit being." Nor does he have an immortal "soul" in him. But he does have "breath" of life, AND a spirit within him which imparts "life," as well as "mind" power, and rationality -- the ability to think!Paul discusses the "breath of life" in man, when he writes to the Corinthians,
"But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew...But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so, the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
"But the natural [non-Adamic] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Corinthians 2:7-14).
YEHOVAH's "breath of life" unites with our human spirit, or spirit essence within us, and imparts to us spiritual wisdom, knowledge and understanding. But the carnal, natural mind of the non-Adamic man cannot discern or understand these spiritual truths -- they seem like "rubbish" to him. He is completely blinded to the real spiritual world, and the spiritual dimension revealed to those of us descended from Israel by the spirit of YEHOVAH God. Notice what Paul says:
"...that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit [of YEHOVAH God]" (2 Corinthians 5:4-5).
This earnest of the Spirit gives us the potential of becoming literal "sons of God" and divine children of the Almighty (II Corinthians 6:14-17).
Now there is a difference between Adam’s descendants to Abraham and the descendants of Abraham to Isaac, and that is the manner in which their spirit or breath of life is incorporated into each generation. In Adam’s line the amount of the breath of life present in Adam and Eve was spread across each generation (each individual receiving less as the number of people increased). In Isaac’s descendants, the same amount of spirit or breath of life was conceived in each child and hence the pool was inexhaustible, irrespective of the number of people born.
Animal Soul Versus the Israelite's Soul
Returning now to the theme of this article, we read in the Old Testament:
"For a soul [is] the flesh with [Hebrew: beth -- with, of accompaniment] the blood. And I have given it [separate pronoun, for emphasis, referring to the animal’s soul] to you on the altar to atone for lives souls of you. For the blood, it [separate pronoun, for emphasis, referring to the animal’s blood] by means of [Hebrew: beth -- by means of, denoting the thing which is supposed to be the means] the soul will atone."
Deuteronomy 12:23: "For the blood, it [is] the life soul and ye shall not eat the life soul together with the flesh."
In total, these three verses show that the animal’s soul is not a substitute for our soul or our life -- because if it were, it would mean an animal’s soul was acceptable to YEHOVAH God. Rather, it is the belief associated with performing the sacrifice that provides the atonement. The animal’s blood was required to ceremonially sanctify the person so he could approach YEHOVAH God in worship. As no one can approach YEHOVAH in human form, the blood of the animal represented the death of the person, family or nation, (depending on the type of animal), so that the person could symbolically rise to the spirit plane. Thus the sacrifice reminds the person that, but for the Grace of YEHOVAH God in allowing this means of reconciliation, his own soul would face eternal death. The fact that the person lives on after the sacrifice points to eventual resurrection and eternal life. That is why each and every offering (with one exception for the poor) required blood to be shed as the first step. (The sin offerings of Leviticus were specifically for sins of ignorance and were distinct from the other burnt sacrifices).
When we look at the New Covenant, we find that the Messiah laid down his soul (Greek: psuche) when he shed his blood for us (John 10:15,17). The expression, "shedding blood" means to die by other than natural causes, that is, to die early, of non-natural causes. This means it is our souls that are doomed to die because of our sin and it is our souls that the Messiah’s early death redeemed (because of his perfect life). We also know that the Messiah became a spirit containing Abundant Life (Greek: zoe) -- His soul (psuche) took on Abundant Life to live in its spirit form.
Hence, before his fall, Adam had four things:
(1). Soul -- Hebrew: nephesh, Greek: psuche -- his individual human body.
(2). Spirit -- Hebrew: ruach, Greek pneuma -- his individual spirit in man.
(3). The Breath of Life -- Genesis 2:7 -- which enabled Adam to be included in the Book of Life.
(4). Abundant Life -- Hebrew: neshamah chyim, Greek: pneuma zoe.
When Adam sinned:
(1). He lost his Abundant Life.
(2). He became flesh (Genesis 6:3), as if he were of natural (Genesis 1) mankind, with his soul trapped by its dependency on blood.
(3). He retained his individual spirit in man.
(4). He retained the Breath of YEHOVAH God in his nostrils.
When the flood came, those with the Breath of YEHOVAH God in their nostrils were drowned (except for 8 people -- Noah and his family).
Leviticus 17:11 refers to “atonement”. This word, together with words such as expiation, oblation, remission and propitiation are used interchangeably and hence too loosely to understand what they mean in English. Without going into the Hebrew of the words (which is the subject of a separate study concerning sin itself), it is worth appreciating at least the English meaning of these words:
"Only be sure that you do not eat [ingest] the blood, for the blood, it [separate pronoun, for emphasis, referring to the blood] [is] the life; you may not eat the life with [Hebrew: am -- with, in the sense of the same origin] the meat."
It seems apparent that the Jehovah's Witnesses are right after all in refusing blood transfusions. The verses and information that we have looked at imply that blood donations and blood transfusions are highly inappropriate. They constitute giving away of soul on the one hand and the consumption of soul by somebody else. What is the difference between eating blood and transfusing it?
If you, as a descendant of Israel with the Breath of Life, were to receive a blood transfusion -- how would you know if the blood also came from someone with the Breath of Life? You may be getting blood from someone descended from the Genesis One creation -- from someone NOT having the Breath of Life! Since YEHOVAH God condemns sexual liaisons with those who are not of the line of Adam, it seems obvious that He would condemn blood transfusions from those of the Genesis One creation.
Alternately, those of us of Israel should not be giving blood when it could end up in the body of someone NOT intended to have the Breath of Life by YEHOVAH God.
Apart from that, the Israelite person's blood contains genetic markers -- and other markers that science is not yet aware of -- which identifies that blood as belonging to a certain body or person. The blood is precious to that particular body or person and should NOT be given away to someone else! Nor should our particular, individual blood be contaminated by someone else's particular, individual blood -- especially if that person is not of the line of Adam!
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