The First Priest
by Patrick Henry Reardon
The Bible's initial reference to sacrifice comes immediately after the Fall and the irruption of death into man's expectation. When Genesis 4 begins, no human being has actually died, as yet,in the physical sense, but the reader already knows that the inevitability of death now marks human existence.
In this context, at this precise point, the Bible introduces the idea of sacrifice—an offering (minchah)—to the Lord: "Now Abel was a shepherd of a flock, but Cain was a tiller of the soil. And in due course it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat."
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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
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