On another occasion he healed two blind men at the same time. (Matt. 9:27-31) Again he cured a demon-possessed man who was both blind and dumb. (Matt. 12:22; compare Luke 11:14.) One man’s sight was restored gradually. This may have been to enable the man so used to being in darkness to accommodate his eyes to the brilliance of sunlight. (Mark 8:22-26) Another man blind from birth, on having his sight restored, became a believer in Jesus. (John 9:1, 35-38) In the latter two cases Jesus used saliva or saliva mixed with clay, but this purported resemblance to folk remedies does not diminish the miraculous aspect of the healings. In the case of the man blind from birth, he was told to go wash in the Pool of Siloam before he received his sight. This was undoubtedly for a test of his faith, just as Naaman was required to bathe in the Jordan River before he was freed from his leprosy.—2 Ki. 5:10-14.
Many times the groping about of the blind serves as a simile of helplessness. (Deut. 28:29; Lam. 4:14; Isa. 59:10; Zeph. 1:17; Luke 6:39) The Jebusites taunted David that their own feeble blind, weak though they were, could defend the fortress of Zion against Israel, so confident were they of the impregnable strength of the citadel.—2 Sam. 5:6, 8.
Miscarriage of justice through judicial corruption was symbolized by blindness and many are the exhortations in the Law against bribery, gifts or prejudice, as such things can blind a judge and prevent the impartial administration of justice. “The bribe blinds clear-sighted men.” (Ex. 23:8) “The bribe blinds the eyes of wise ones.” (Deut. 16:19) A judge, no matter how upright and discerning, may be consciously or even unconsciously affected by a gift from those involved in the case. God’s law thoughtfully considers the blinding effect, not only of a gift, but also of sentiment, as it states: “You must not treat the lowly with partiality, and you must not prefer the person of a great one.” (Lev. 19:15) So, for sentimentality or popularity with the crowd, a judge was not to render his verdict against the rich merely because they were rich.—Ex. 23:2, 3.
The Bible attributes far greater importance to spiritual sight than to the physical. Jesus used the occasion of healing the man blind from birth to point out the reprehensibility of the Pharisees because they professed to be those with spiritual sight and willfully refused to come out of their blind condition. They were like those who loved darkness rather than light. (John 9:39-41; 3:19, 20) The apostle Paul spoke to the Ephesian congregation about having the eyes of their heart enlightened. (Eph. 1:16, 18) Jesus points out that those who profess to be Christians but who are not conscious of their spiritual need are blind and naked, not discerning their pitiful, groping condition. (Rev. 3:17) Just as being in darkness for a long period of time will cause blindness to the natural eyes, the apostle John points out that a Christian who hates his brother is walking aimlessly in a blinding darkness (1 John 2:11), and Peter warns that one not developing Christian fruitages, the highest of which is love, is “blind, shutting his eyes to the light.” (2 Pet. 1:5-9) The source of such darkness and spiritual blindness is Satan the Devil, who, transforming himself into an angel of light, actually is “the god of this system of things” and the god of darkness who has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so that they do not discern the good news about the Christ.—Luke 22:53; 2 Cor. 4:4; 11:14, 15.
“The fluid which circulates in the principal vascular system of animals, carrying nourishment and oxygen to all parts of the body, and bringing away waste products to be excreted.” (Webster’s New International Dictionary, 2d ed., Unabridged) Thus the blood both feeds and cleanses the body. The chemical makeup of blood is so exceedingly complex that there is a great deal that to scientists is still in the realm of the unknown.
In the Bible, the soul is said to be in the blood because blood is so intimately involved in the life processes. God’s Word says: “For the soul of the flesh is in the blood, and I myself have put it upon the altar for you to make atonement for your souls, because it is the blood that makes atonement by the soul in it.” (Lev. 17:11) For like reason, but making the connection even more direct, the Bible says: “The soul of every sort of flesh is its blood.”—Lev. 17:14.
Life is sacred. Therefore, blood, in which the creature’s life resides, is sacred and is not to be tampered with. Noah, the progenitor of all persons today living on the earth, was allowed by Jehovah to add flesh to his diet after the Flood, but he was strictly commanded not to eat blood. At the same time he was commanded to show respect for the life, the blood, of his fellowman.—Gen. 9:3-6.
With Jehovah is the source of life. (Ps. 36:9) Man cannot give back a life that he takes. “All the souls—to me they belong,” says Jehovah. (Ezek. 18:4) Therefore, to take life is to take Jehovah’s property. Every living thing has a purpose and a place in God’s creation. No man has the right to take life except where God permits and in the way that he instructs. When, after the Flood, God kindly allowed man to add flesh to his diet, God required that man acknowledge the life of the creature as belonging to God by pouring out on the ground the blood of any wild animal caught in hunting and covering the blood with dust. This was like giving it back to God, not using it for one’s own purpose. (Lev. 17:13) In the case of animals brought to the sanctuary as communion offerings, in which the priest and the one bringing the sacrifice (and his family) had a share as a meal, the blood was drained out on the ground. When Israel got settled in Palestine and the sanctuary was too far away, a man could slaughter an animal for food at home but had to pour the blood on the ground.—Deut. 12:15, 16.
Man was entitled to enjoy the life that God granted him and anyone who deprived him of that life would be answerable to God. This was shown when God said to the murderer Cain: “Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.” (Gen. 4:10) Even one hating his brother, and so wishing him dead, or slandering him or bearing false witness against him, so as to endanger his life, would bring guilt upon himself in connection with the blood of his fellowman.—Lev. 19:16; Deut. 19:18-21; 1 John 3:15.
The value of life is considered so sacred by God that the blood of a murdered person is viewed by Him as defiling the earth, and such defilement can be cleansed only by shedding the blood of the murderer. On this basis the Bible authorizes capital punishment for murder, through duly constituted authority. (Num. 35:33; Gen. 9:5, 6) In ancient Israel no ransom could be taken to deliver the deliberate murderer from the death penalty.—Num. 35:19-21, 31.
Even in cases where the manslayer could not be found on investigation, the city nearest the site where the body was found was counted bloodguilty. To remove the guilt, the responsible city elders had to perform the procedure required by God and to disclaim any guilt or knowledge of the murder and pray to God for his mercy. (Deut. 21:1-9) If an accidental manslayer was not seriously concerned over the taking of a life and did not follow God’s arrangement for his protection by fleeing to the city of refuge and remaining there, the dead man’s nearest of kin was the avenger authorized and obligated to kill him so as to remove bloodguilt from the land.—Num. 35:26, 27; see AVENGER OF BLOOD.
Some ancient pagan nations drank animal blood and, among certain peoples, warriors drank the blood of vanquished enemies in the belief that they would thereby appropriate the qualities of courage and strength possessed by the enemy. There was a religious significance attached to the act, much as cannibalism is a religious rite.
In the Law covenant made by Jehovah with the nation of Israel, he incorporated the law given to Noah. He made it clear that “bloodguilt” attached to anyone who ignored the procedure stipulated by God’s law even in the killing of an animal. (Lev. 17:3, 4) The blood of an animal to be used for food was to be poured out on the ground and covered with dust. (Lev. 17:13, 14) Anyone who ate blood of any sort of flesh was to be ‘cut off from among his people.’ Deliberate violation of this law regarding the sacredness of blood meant “cutting off” in death.—Lev. 17:10; 7:26, 27; Num. 15:30, 31.
Commenting on Leviticus 17:11, 12, M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopœdia, Volume I, page 834, column 1, reads: “This strict injunction not only applied to the Israelites, but even to the strangers residing among them. The penalty assigned to its transgression was the being ‘cut off from the people,’ by which the punishment of death appears to be intended (comp. Heb. x, 28), although it is difficult to ascertain whether it was inflicted by the sword or by stoning.”
Jehovah caused Israel to be extremely careful about things having to do with blood. A woman during menstruation was considered “unclean” to the touch, and anything she had sat on or lain on was unclean. The uncleanness continued throughout the duration of her flow of blood. (Lev. 15:19-27) If intercourse was indulged in deliberately during a period of blood flow, both the man and the woman were subject to the death penalty.—Lev. 18:19, 29.
ONE PROPER USE UNDER MOSAIC LAW
There was only one proper use of blood, one legally proper under the Law. That was its use for sacrifice. Since life belongs to God, the blood was his and it was offered as a sin atonement. (Lev. 17:11) Pouring out of blood of animals used for food prevented misuse of blood, such as eating it or offering it to other gods. The man pouring the blood on the ground thereby acknowledged God as the Giver of life and the need of sin atonement through the offering of a life.—Lev. 16:6, 11.
USE UNDER CHRISTIAN LAW
The lifesaving application of Christ’s blood was constantly prefigured in the Hebrew Scriptures, since the entire Law given through Moses foreshadowed and pointed to the Messiah. (Heb. 10:1; Gal. 3:24) At the time of the first Passover, in Egypt, the blood on the upper part of the doorway and on the doorposts of the Israelite homes protected the firstborn inside from death at the hand of God’s angel. (Ex. 12:7, 22, 23) The Law covenant, which had a typical sinremoving feature, was validated by the blood of animals. (Ex. 24:5-8) The numerous blood sacrifices, particularly those offered on the day of atonement, were for typical sin atonement, pointing to the real sin removal by the sacrifice of Christ.—Lev. 16:11, 15-18.
The legal power that blood has in God’s sight as accepted by him for atonement purposes was illustrated by the pouring of blood at the base or “foundation” of the altar and the putting of it on the horns of the altar. The atonement arrangement had its basis or foundation in blood and the power (represented by horns) of the sacrificial arrangement rested in blood.—Lev. 9:9; Heb. 9:22; 1 Cor. 1:18.
In the Christian arrangement, the sanctity of blood was even more strongly emphasized. No longer was animal blood to be offered, for those animal offerings were only a shadow of the reality, Jesus Christ. (Col. 2:17; Heb. 10:2-4, 8-10) The high priest in Israel took a token portion of the blood into the Most Holy of the earthly sanctuary. (Lev. 16:14) Jesus Christ as the real High Priest entered into heaven itself, not with his blood, which was poured out on the ground (John 19:34), but with the value of his perfect human life as represented by blood. This life right he never forfeited by sin, but retained it as usable for sin atonement. (Heb. 7:26; 8:3; 9:11, 12) For these reasons the blood of Christ cries out for better things than the blood of righteous Abel. Only the blood of the perfect sacrifice of the Son of God can call for mercy, while the blood of Abel as well as the blood of martyred followers of Christ cries out for vengeance.—Heb. 12:24; Rev. 6:9-11.
The visible governing body of the first-century Christian congregation, including the apostles, the secondary foundations of the temple of God, ruled on the matter of blood. (Rev. 21:14) Their decree states: “For the holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you, except these necessary things, to keep yourselves free from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication. If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper. Good health to you!” (Acts 15:6, 20, 28, 29; 21:25) The prohibition included flesh with the blood in it (“things strangled”). Such decree rests, in turn, on God’s command to Noah and, therefore, to all mankind, not to eat blood.—Gen. 9:4.
Some argue that this prohibition does not include human blood. However, if animal blood is sacred, how much more is that of a human, and how much more reprehensible is cannibalism! The Law given to Israel forbade the eating of “blood of any sort of flesh,” which includes the blood of human flesh. (Lev. 17:14) The value of human life is far superior to that of animal lives. (Matt. 10:31; Luke 12:7) When David’s men risked their lives to bring him a drink of water, he poured it out on the ground, for, in his eyes, to drink that water would be like drinking the human blood of his soldiers, which drinking of human blood he knew would violate God’s law.—2 Sam. 23:16, 17.
Others claim that the prohibition on blood was only temporary because of the Jews in the Christian congregation who, having been under the Law, would be offended or would have their susceptibilities hurt if Gentile Christians, unused previously to such a law, should eat blood or a blood preparation. This would prompt one to ask, Why, then, did the governing body not recommend circumcision for Gentile Christians, which was a much more burning and divisive issue of that day? The circumcision issue was the cause for the conference of the governing body in Jerusalem and the moving cause for writing the letter. There was strong opposition to the governing body’s decree about circumcision, by the Jews and even by Judaizers, Jews who falsely claimed to be Christians and who insisted on staying under the Law. Why would the apostles conciliate them on one point and raise greater opposition on another?—Acts 15:1, 2, 4-6; compare Galatians 5:3-6, 11, 12; 6:12-15; Rom. 2:25-29; 4:9-12; Phil. 3:2-4.
Moreover, if the blood issue was only a matter of conciliation with regard to the Jews’ feelings, why did the apostles classify eating blood along with idolatry and fornication, things extremely offensive to God? Furthermore, the governing body did not make the decision alone, but it was “the holy spirit and we ourselves.” The holy spirit here acted in harmony with what had been stated by Almighty God centuries before the Law covenant came into existence, namely, the law to Noah (Gen. 9:4), which is universal, applying to mankind at all times and places since it was given. The Mosaic law was