Friday, May 9, 2008

Penalties and Blood

I am at a loss of how to exactly say what I want to convey in this post. I understand it, but it is a little hard to put into words. Here is my best attempt.

The plan of salvation is administered unto us by covenants, including; baptism, sacrament, priesthood, and of course the temple. These covenants come with blessings, and with penalties if the covenant is not kept.

Pre-messiah circumcision, the cutting, was a sign of the covenant of Abraham, and an illustration of the penalty. Modern folk don’t care much to be reminded of penalties. While a reminder of the possible penalties may not be an essential part of the covenant, historically the gospel has included such reminders. In the 84th. section of the Doctrine and Covenants, known as the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood we read:

“But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.” (D&C 84:41)

Circumcision is an outward sign of the covenant, and a penalty. Many Old Testament covenants where attached to or received by the killing of an animal, usually by cutting. In Old Testament times a priesthood covenant may be attached to the ritual of cutting an animal in two, then walking the path between the parts. When we “cut” a deal, we have made a two way promise.

The Hebrew word for “covenant" is “brit.”

“ [brit] ברית ... [C]ovenant, treaty, compact, agreement, an association between two parties with serious responsibilities, benefits, and penalties; ‘to cut a covenant’ is to ‘make a covenant,’ a figure of the act of ceremonially cutting an animal into two parts, with an implication of serious consequences for not fulfilling the covenant...” [1 - also see this LINK]

In Hebrew, “covenant” literally means “cut-where-blood-flows.” In times past, when a covenant of blood was made, a cup, or cupping hand, sometimes by a priest, would be held underneath to catch the blood. This blood in the cup would sometimes be mixed with wine and consumed by the participants. The wine and the blood are often interchanged in gospel themes (the rite of the Sacrament for example - see LINK). I find it interesting that American Indians practiced this Hebrew custom or rite.

“According to Pirḳe R. El. xxix., it was Shem who circumcised Abraham and Ishmael on the Day of Atonement; and the blood of the covenant then shed is ever before God on that day to serve as an atoning power. According to the same Midrash, Pharaoh prevented the Hebrew slaves from performing the rite, but when the Passover time came and brought them deliverance, they underwent circumcision, and mingled the blood of the paschal lamb with that of the Abrahamic covenant, wherefore (Ezek. xvi. 6) God repeats the words: ‘In thy blood live!’”(LINK)

The blood of the covenant is taken upon each of us in true temples, in a symbolic way. Ancient Israel also symbolically received the covenant by being sprinkled with blood. This sprinkling conveyed the blessings, responsibilities, and the penalties associated with the covenant.

“The animal was slain on the eve of the Passover, on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan, after the Tamid sacrifice had been killed, i.e., at three o'clock, or, in case the eve of the Passover fell on Friday, at two. The killing took place in the court of the Temple, and might be performed by a layman, although the blood had to be caught by a priest, and rows of priests with gold or silver cups in their hands stood in line from the Temple court to the altar, where the blood was sprinkled. These cups were rounded on the bottom, so that they could not be set down; for in that case the blood might coagulate. The priest who caught the blood as it dropped from the victim then handed the cup to the priest next to him, receiving from him an empty one, and the full cup was passed along the line until it reached the last priest, who sprinkled its contents on the altar.” (LINK)

All these covenants we make are just renewing the covenants of creation, upon which heaven and earth rest. We need to remember our blessings, rights, privileges, responsibilities, and the associated penalties.

The promise of the Abrahamic Covenant is that our seed will continue forever.
[1 - The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible, 21st Century Edition, page 1483.)


David Littlefield said...

In case one of the points was missed, the location of a sign of the Abrahamic Covenant, Circumcision, conveys what the penalty for breaking the covenant is. A loss of future eternal seed.

David Littlefield said...

And one last thing. If we grasp all this, and understand it in light of the three degrees of glory, it opens fantastic doors of understanding.


Bryce Haymond said...

Great post! As assuredly as there are blessings associated with covenants, there are penalties for not walking up to them. Nibley gave this insight:

"The last four chapters of Deuteronomy are devoted to the most harrowing, detailed, prophetic descriptions of what will happen to Israel if the people do not walk up to all the covenants. The Lord insists on a viable equation: the promise on the land is equal to the curse; the greater the blessing if the laws are kept, the greater the curse if they are broken... For there is no contract without a penalty clause. A blessing, if ye obey, and a cursing, if ye will not obey (Deut. 11:26-28)... and after each blessing and cursing, all the people cry 'Amen!' formally accepting the conditions (Deut. 27:12-14)... After listing all the blessings in the first half of chapter 28, Moses turns to the second half, beginning, 'but...if thou will not hearken,...these curses shall come upon thee' (Deut. 28:15); then he lists the same blessings, but in reverse" ("How to Get Rich," Approaching Zion).

I wonder if there is a connection between the cupping hands to catch the blood, including the gold or silver blood cups, and the incense cups or "golden spoons" (Ex. 25:29) which were fashioned "in the form of a cupped hand." As Nibley points out, "the 'filled hand'... is the widespread sign of offering sacrifice" ("Sacred Vestments," Temple and Cosmos).

David Littlefield said...



Actually, I was looking for a picture in the public domain that I could use of that bowl in the form of a hand. Nibley has a great picture in his book "The Joseph Smith Papyri an Egyptian Endowment.," but I could not find it elsewhere.


David Littlefield said...

I guess it was Temple and Cosmos.

Thanks again.

Bryce Haymond said...

Here is one in the public domain, link.

A photo of an Egyptian incense offering burner can also be seen at this link. Notice the sculpted hand at the end where the incense was placed. You can see how this burner was used in the image at this link. You can see a bunch of pictures of a recreation of this censer here. This image is particularly interesting because of the vestments being worn.

This incense burner looks very much like the "mizrak" used to collect the sacrificial blood. See here, and here.

You can also see an Egyptian offering incense from the hand here, or another illustration of the burner with the cupped hand at the end, here. See the description here, the Daily Temple Liturgy of Karnak, which describes the censer as a "shape of a human arm, with a cupped hand at the end."

Here is another image of Ramesses using such a censer, with a cupped hand at the end. Here is another. Offering incense to the Gods in cupped hands, here. And again.

Here are some other Egyptian examples of censers with cupped hands.

molly said...

You explained this well. Thought provoking.

molly said...

Do you happen to have any thoughts on polygamy? Does it relate to mysticism?

David Littlefield said...


Thank you. These are fantastic links.


David Littlefield said...



My thoughts on polygamy are that the world now, and for most of history is not prepared for polygamy. If we had polygamy today, it would resemble, or be worse that the type of polygamy that is prohibited in the Book of Mormon.

Peoples hearts are set upon the things of the world, they are carnal and devilish. In this state we have no business messing around with polygamy.

It is an eternal principle that was given to us to understand, but like most celestial laws, we can't live them now. IMHO


Anonymous said...

Isa. 1: 11
11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.

22 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and NOT be called after the order of Aaron?

26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did conce, when he offered up himself.
28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the aoath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

Anonymous said...

What do you think of Cupped hands as in Prayer?

and after each blessing and cursing, all the people cry 'Amen!' formally accepting the conditions (Deut. 27:12-14)... After listing all

Is it a Carry over and perhaps a Devilissssh Tradition of Using
"Amen" in Prayers as Amen Amun Amon-RA and in his Name We Pray
"Amen-RA" or "Amen" for Short?

"You can also see an Egyptian offering incense from the hand here, or another illustration of the burner with the cupped hand at the end, here. See the description here, the Daily Temple Liturgy of Karnak, which describes the censer as a "shape of a human arm, with a cupped hand at the end."

Can you all say and give me an AMEN?

David Littlefield said...


Thank you for your comments.

Regarding “amen” being derived from an Egyptian source, Wikipedi a says:

“Popular among some theosophists and adherents of esoteric Christianity is the conjecture that amen is a derivative of the name of the Egyptian god named Amun (which is sometimes also spelled Amen).[12][13][14] There is no academic support for this view.”

The real etymology of Amen is from the Hebrew אָמֵן “YMN” which just means “so be it” and is mandated in scripture. So unless you are a Theosophists and have some reason to cling to this unfounded notion, you may be suffering from a disorder known as “Clanging”. The medical description is mentioned here: LINK. Check it out with a doctor.

See my post on Clinging here: LINK.

Good luck.


Bryce Haymond said...

It is also interesting to note that Amen is another name for Christ. See Revelations 3:14.

Anonymous said...

Amen RA, RA, Ray ,Sun RA, Sun RAY,
Dec 25 th Birth Day of the Sun or is that Christmas

Surley "WIKI" knows that Christmas is the Birth Day of the SUN GOD and the SUN of GOD, on December 25 as this is the Birth Day of the New Sun/Son
He is Risen as is Horus Rising on the Horizen, Borrow Amen on Dec 25 th,
Too much Egyptian False God Mysticism has found its way into Jewish/ Christian traditions that it is now called Mysteries or Mysticism .

WIKI should also tell you that the Root and Trunk of the word
"mysticism" Goes directly back to
Osiris-ISIS-Horus and the retelling of The Sun gods of the Egyptians
Like Amun Amon Amen Amen RA RAY Sun
with all their Temples and Masonry and all of the Mason Brothers Being
"SONs of THE WIDOW" and the blood tie on the Point of the Compass Pressing the Left Breast.
KSSHTWS So mote it Be, AMUN

Anonymous said...

Thank you for finding me on Hubpages and redirecting me over to this post. I can’t wait to read more of your thoughts on your Blog.

I love the insights that you have shared here. First, IMHO, you are so correct in that circumcision was a “penalty” per se as it was given as a “reminder” (Ouch!) to help them remember the proper age at which one should be “baptized” and enter into the covenant. I believe it was a priesthood ordinance at the time, what do you think?... isn’t it interesting that Zipporah was the one who performed that ordinance on her son by Moses... Do you have any insights on that?

Just as the blood was struck over the lintel and the two side posts of the door of the house where the destroying angel would “pass over” and allow all who resided within the house live, the blood of circumcision would mark the lintel and the run down the legs or the side posts protecting literally everyone who sprung from that house. (Covenant person) I think this is such a beautiful symbol really.

Also, your description of the cut animals, dividing them in two parts, and walking down the path between the parts making the covenant “sure” is described again beautifully in Genesis 15. IMHO this is given to Abraham allowing him to be tested further, and progress further along the path, as he “walked with God.” This is another great example pointing to the condescension of God.

“And one last thing. If we grasp all this, and understand it in light of the three degrees of glory, it opens fantastic doors of understanding.” Expound more if you can please!

This was a fantastic post! Thanks for sharing!

David Littlefield said...

Hey, In The Dog House!

Nice to see you, welcome!

Thanks for the kind words. I had not even thought about the door post. That should have been obvious to me. Thanks.

On the levels of degrees of penalties, I am afraid I can’t comment on that further. But let me direct you to a few of my earlier posts:

Wind, Water, and Fire

Shin, Aleph, and Mem



Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the post. You make a good point of not forgetting about the penalties which are incorporated into the covenant, something we rarely think about, or at least generally avoid talking about and emphasizing. Unless we are hell and damnation preachers, that is...

Anonymous said...

There were no penalties in the temple covenants I made.

JayFlow22 said...

Then you didn't really make them.

Anonymous said...

In our tradition do we pick and choose what we can think and not think?
Do we question or dare ask such questions?
Does the "Spirit" reside in the Blood?
Do we eat our "God" do we Partake?
Do we Drink the Blood of our God?
"the emblems of the flesh and blood of Christ"
"that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; Spirit to be with them"
may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son"
26 ¶ Jesus took abread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
27 Drink ye all of it;
28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
57 As the living Father hath asent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

On a primitive level, ritually eating part of the slaughtered enemy is a way of assuming the life-spirit of the departed. In a funeral ritual this may also be done with a respected member of one's own clan, ensuring immortality. Cannibal ogresses appear in folklore around the world, the witch in 'Hansel and Gretel' being the most immediate example. The opening of Hell, the Zoroastrian contribution to Western mythology, is a mouth. According to Catholic dogma, bread and wine are transubstantiated into the real flesh and blood of Jesus, ...

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molly said...

oh, thank you for this response. I just found it.

Referring to polygamy.. I am starting to think that nothing validates a homemaker/career woman more then that principle. I could sure use the support and helping hands anytime. It could allow some time for education, community, and understanding. I don't know if our society values that so much as industry..

David Littlefield said...

Over at Temple Study, Bryce did a very good job on a related topic to this one, take a look HERE.

And, check out this PDF over at , download it HERE.


(Please forgive the few attempts to get the html right)

Anonymous said...

Oaths and covenants explained under oath -
what really happened

Mitt Romney Harry Reid is the devil gaining POWER?

Anonymous said...

Do not worry about going to hell because it is coming for you and me.

Stand in Holy places.