Video: Passover Sacrifice in Jerusalem

Recently I noted an article about a planned animal sacrifice in Jerusalem.  This event was controversial because 1) there is no temple or altar in Jerusalem today; 2) killing an animal makes some people mad.

Friends in Jerusalem went to the Old City that day and saw a guy they suspected of carrying a ritual knife in his briefcase and followed the guy through a wild maze of streets in pursuit.  It turned out they followed the right guy.  They filmed the service.

We talked about the appropriateness of putting this online.  The 5-minute video is as graphic as it gets.  More and more people today don’t realize that meat doesn’t originate at a grocery store.  They have little concept of an animal being raised and then slaughtered.  Furthermore, almost no one in the Western world has ever sacrificed an animal for religious purposes.

I think, however, that is precisely why this *graphic* video should be shown.  We read about sacrifice in the Bible but we don’t really understand what that means.  We read passages that talk about the “life being in the blood,” but those are just words that we don’t really consider.  We “know” that the wages of sin are high, but we don’t get the life lesson that the ancient Israelites received every year.

The point of sacrifice was simply this: you deserve to die because of your sin.  This animal is dying in your place.  Watching the priest slice his throat and watching the blood drain out drove the point home much better than reading a chapter of Leviticus.

Today New Testament believers know that the blood of bulls and goats is not enough to take away sin.  But I think that we can often just take for granted Jesus’ death in our place.  We don’t think about his innocent blood draining away because we can’t conceptualize it.  We don’t always appropriate the idea of substitute because we’ve never seen a living object die in our place.  But our loss can be this: sin is easy because forgiveness (we think) is cheap.

The video was made by SourceFlix Productions.  Instead of dubbing over the scene with English commentary, they chose to include some explanatory text below.  Don’t watch this video while eating, and if you’re thinking about showing your children, watch it yourself first.

Passover begins Saturday at sundown.
Related: for photos and explanation of the Samaritan Passover, see BiblePlaces.com (modern photos) or LifeintheHolyLand.com (19th century photos and text).  Several years ago I wrote an article about a visit to the Samaritan Passover sacrifice (En Gedi Resource Center).

7 thoughts on “Video: Passover Sacrifice in Jerusalem

  1. First, let me say Thank God I live in under the New Covenant and don’t have to do that.

    Second, that truly is a cruel way to kill an animal and I can’t imagine how the world would react if the temple was rebuilt and sacrifice was reinstated.

    Third…OK, I’m not a biologist, but isn’t that a goat? Their web site says it’s a lamb, but it sure looks like a goat to me.

  2. Thanks for promoting this link, Todd. I thought I could watch it without becoming emotional, but I guess this proves there’s still a little bit of human being in me. I didn’t realize it took that long for the animal to die, or that it would make those sounds.

    I am curious about one thing I really didn’t understand though–it looked like they put that cup over its mouth so it could drink something just beforehand. Is that correct, or did I misinterpret it? I don’t recall reading anything about that in Leviticus, but it did remind me of the soldiers offering Jesus “vinegar … mingled with gall”.

    Al said that this is a cruel way to kill an animal, but this certainly puts a human crucifixion into perspective, doesn’t it? Oh my God! What He endured for us…

  3. Gesture of kindness? Yikes! I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time a Jewish person offers me a drink!

    As I continued reflecting on this video last night, trying to figure out why it had such a tremendous impact on me, I think it was the drama of unforeseen details such as the hair shaving. I don’t recall reading anything about that in Leviticus either. And then the seemingly eternal delay as they held the animal just before the deed. When I decided to watch it, I had imagined that it would just be quick–they’d immediately do it, then butcher it, & burn it. 30 seconds max. But those long moments beforehand, & longer moments after while it simply lay there … I wasn’t expecting that. I think that’s what got me. I’ve seen tons of gore-films in my teen years, so the blood didn’t bother me, & I’ve seen deer & dogs hit on the highway, so a real animal dying didn’t bother me too much (though I’m the type who regrets having to kill insects in my home). It had to have been the ritual of it all, which forced me to think that this is what I deserve. Then it hit home. Being forced to imagine myself standing bound before a righteous, judicious God, knowing I’m about to get what I deserve. That’s about as sick-to-the-stomach scary as it gets.

    What a contrast to what so many modern Christians experience at their ridiculously pagan Easter sunrise services!

  4. The video helps paint the picture of what full scale temple operations must have been like, orderly, sanctified and gory. Repulsion is natural for only a sadist would take ‘pleasure’ in watching an animal being sacrificed. But considering that the price for sin is the shedding of blood, I’ve taken from this viewing the conviction that I don’t take sin nearly as serious as I ought, especially keeping in mind the great once for all sacrifice. I trust we can all reflect a bit longer over the communion cup the next time it is passed.

  5. Todd, thanks for posting this. I agree with your comments about meat and animals. We live in an insulated world that believes chicken nuggets grow on trees. But, as you note, that’s not the point of this clip. It is the innocence and helplessness of the animal in the sacrifice that solicits the heart-wrenching pity. This clip illustrates how serious God was about picturing and foreshadowing His ultimate Lamb slain at Calvary. This post made me even more aware of the sacrifice of my Savior and my personal culpability in His death. Thanks for this vivid reminder of the cross.

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