The Jewish Blood-Obsession, by Thomas Dalton
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand?
—Shakespeare, Macbeth (Act II, sc. 2)
Blood is such a strange substance in human experience. We all have blood, of course, but it is hidden away, as it were, out of sight and out of mind. On the one hand, it is the very fluid of the living body, as necessary as air. Blood is life, energy, vibrancy, youth; we speak of “red-blooded,” “hot-blooded,” “flesh and blood,” “young blood.” By contrast, though, it also represents injury and death; the mere sight of blood makes some people faint dead away. The only time most of us actually see blood is when it is leaking out of a living (or perhaps recently dead) body, and thus—not good! Visible blood is a sign of danger, of pain, and perhaps of death. Unsurprising, then, that most people shun the very sight of it.
And yet, some people do not shun the sight of blood. Some, it seems, relish it. Some find glory in it, expiation, and even salvation. Indeed, some see it as their very linkage to God himself. In fact, the Jews are precisely such a people. From ancient times, the Hebrew tribe viewed blood as central to both their daily lives and their broader worldview. Blood was ever-present in ordinary (Jewish) human affairs, and it was a key element in Jewish religious ritual. So pervasive and so important was the use of blood that Judaism constituted a virtual blood-cult. Stephen Geller refers to the Hebrews’ “sanguinary sacrificial cult” that is well-documented in the Old Testament. Judaism was (and remains) a “mystery religion in which blood serves as a powerful physical substance,” according to David Biale. Blood is that by which Jews commune with God; in a way, blood is the material manifestation of God himself.
Perhaps most important, in the Jewish worldview, is the idea that blood is the means by which human sin is atoned and washed away. Evil is banished and the human soul is cleansed and restored through sacrificial blood. In a sense, the world itself, and even the very cosmos, is purified by the spilling of such blood. Lest we doubt this, we need only turn to the relevant Biblical passages—both Old Testament and New. As we read in (appropriately) the Book of Hebrews, “under [Jewish] Law, almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins” (9:22). This is a key point, and it has profound implications.
Nor should we believe that such ‘blood cults’ were commonplace at that time. All ancient human cultures, of course, dealt with blood in some form or another, but for nearly all of them, blood was merely of peripheral interest. Not so with the Jews; they seem to have had a unique fascination, even an obsession, with the concept and the use of blood. Concisely summarizing the situation, Biale (p. 10) writes, “the ancient Israelites were the only Near Easterners to make blood a central element in their religious rituals.” And: “the central role of blood in the priestly religion of ancient Israel remains highly persuasive.” Blood was uniquely essential to the Jewish religion and the Jewish worldview.
In the present essay, I will document some of the main elements of the Jewish blood-cult and then, at the end, draw some plausible inferences from this situation. Needless to say, the consequences are troubling.
Blood in Ancient Cultures
Let me start by outlining a few basic facts about the nature of blood in ancient societies. Having little detailed knowledge of human physiology, ancient peoples were naturally in awe of the “power” of blood. It was clearly necessary for life, and if, through some injury, sufficient blood escaped the body, death quickly followed. This was as true for animals as it was for humans; all living creatures clearly shared in this life-giving, life-sustaining fluid.
In daily human life, blood is generally hidden away and out of sight, as mentioned. But there are a number of occasions in which it becomes visible. One such instance, of course, is during a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle—which, notably, is the sign that a woman is fertile and physically able to bear children. Menstrual blood is a good thing; it signifies (potential) future life. Ancient peoples were generally unclear about the purpose of menstruation, but they knew that intercourse during such bleeding was generally unproductive, and that if the purpose of sex was procreation, that menstrual blood was a sign to abstain.
On the topic of sexual intercourse, blood can also appear during a woman’s initial act of copulation, upon the tearing of the hymen tissue. In the case of a married couple, such blood is a sign of successful consummation, and a good omen for the future family.
Animal blood was also a common sight in ancient times, at least for the farmer or butcher who regularly killed animals for meat. And surely most women, who did the majority of cooking, had to regularly work with bloody cuts of meat in the kitchen. As we will see, animal blood also came to hold a central role in Jewish religious life.
Jews had, additionally, other occasions to deal with blood. One was during circumcision, when the male infant’s foreskin is surgically removed. On the face of it, circumcision is an unquestionably bizarre bit of male genital mutilation. It is the cutting-off of an evolved and biologically appropriate skin covering, for nothing but symbolic or ritualistic (cultic) reasons. According to Herodotus (circa 425 BC), the procedure originated in Egypt and then spread to other cultures: “Other people, unless they have been influenced by the Egyptians, leave their genitals in their natural state, but the Egyptians practice circumcision.” Somewhat later, he adds that “the Phoenicians and Palestinian Syrians”—which almost certainly include the Jews—“are the first to admit that they learned the practice from Egypt.” Today, around 90% of male Jews and an even higher proportion of Muslim men are circumcised. The rate for American men is about 70%, whereas in most nations of Western Europe, the figure is more like 5%.
Apart from several minor references, circumcision is mentioned in two significant contexts in the Old Testament: First, in Genesis (17:11), where it is “a sign of the covenant” between God and Abraham; and second, in Exodus (4:24), where Moses’s wife circumcises their son, takes the bloody foreskin, and touches Moses’ penis with it—euphemistically called his “feet” in most translations. She thereupon calls him her “bridegroom of blood”! Quite an achievement: sexual titillation and bloody perversity, all in one short incident.
In any case, the ancient Jews viewed circumcision as a physical mark of Jewishness, and the blood that was spilled during that process was part of the holy covenant with God. Over time, an entire ritual evolved around circumcision. The Jewish mohel (circumciser), after the surgery, would wipe his hands of the infant’s blood and then hang the bloody cloth on the door of the synagogue, as a sign of “success.” The mohel then placed a few drops of wine in the infant’s mouth, signifying the blood that was drawn. This is remarkable; the infant is compelled—forced—to “drink blood” in the form of drops of wine.
And worse still: In the Orthodox tradition known as metzitzah, still active today, the mohel himself sucks the blood from the infant’s penis, with his own mouth! And indeed, the Talmud mandates such a process. The rabbis supposedly believed that sucking the blood would prevent infection. This is bogus, on at least two counts: in reality, it increases the chance for infection, most notably from oral herpes, which can be fatal to an infant; and second, it’s hard to believe that the good rabbi doesn’t get some perverse sexual pleasure out of sucking the infant’s penis. Also, it is an open question whether the mohel actually swallows the blood that he sucks; apparently it is left to his own discretion. All in all, a truly demented procedure.
The Blood Covenant
Apart from these human biological considerations, there are two other circumstances in which blood plays a part in Judaism: in sacrifices and as a prohibited food. Both are related, but let me begin with the blood sacrifice. It was common Judaic practice to sacrifice one or more animals to God as a sign of piety, whether on a makeshift table, a simple altar, or in the main temple itself in Jerusalem. Such sacrifices appear virtually from the start of the Bible; in Genesis (4:3–4) we read that Cain brought offerings of fruit to God and Abel “brought the firstlings of his flock.”
Perhaps the first blood sacrifice of major importance occurs in the original “Passover” event. In Exodus 12 we read that God tells Moses to have his Jewish people sacrifice a lamb, one per family; then they must “take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the house.” Consequently, when God (or his divine agent) descends on Egypt to kill all the firstborn—even the firstborn of the animals! (12:12)—he will “pass over” the Jewish houses with blood on them: “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Here, the blood of the innocent lamb saves the Jews from God’s wrath.
Later on, we have a second consequential sacrifice. After Moses and the Jews escape from the Pharaoh and are living near Mt. Sinai—presumed to be somewhere on the present-day Sinai Peninsula—God tells Moses to build an altar and then sacrifice some oxen (plural, number unknown). As we read (Ex 24:6), Moses collects up the ox blood and divides it into two: half is thrown against the altar (which represents God), and half is scattered on the Jews: “Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you.’” This “blood covenant” is a hugely important milestone; it bonds the Jews to God, creating a sort of “blood brotherhood.” It attempts to make the anointed capable of contacting the divine, and it protects them from his awesome (and evidently indiscriminate) power. But here is the key point: Only via being drenched in blood are the Jews saved.
A similar bizarre process is repeated a bit later when Moses’ older brother, Aaron, and his sons, are anointed with blood in their role as Jewish high priests. In Exodus 29:15, Aaron and sons are instructed to kill one ram and scatter its blood on the altar, and then to slaughter a second ram. Moses is then directed to “take part of its blood and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron [and his sons].” Similarly dabbed are their right thumbs and right big toes. Blood and oil are then sprinkled upon Aaron and sons’ clothing. Once again, being marked by blood and doused in blood are the means by which the Jewish high priest is anointed.
The Levitical Bloodbath
This brings us to the next “Book of Moses,” Leviticus. This, the shortest of the five books of the Torah, is a literal bloodbath. Blood appears constantly throughout the text; in all, there are some 90 explicit references to blood in this single, short book. Here, the Jewish blood-cult is in its full glory. Already in the first chapter, Moses is told to sacrifice a bull, “and Aaron’s sons the priests shall present the blood, and throw the blood round about against the altar” (1:5)—in other words, blood splattered everywhere. And they’re only getting warmed up.
Chapters 4 and 5 expend much effort discussing the chatat, or “sin offering.” The term appears over a dozen times, each connected to blood sacrifice. The lesson here, once again, is that, for the Jews, their sin can only be expiated via blood. Chapter 16 is likewise filled with references to “sin offering” and the subsequent “sprinkling of blood.” Of special interest in Chapter 17 is the proscription on the eating of blood, repeated briefly in Chapter 19; I will address that issue momentarily. Apart from this, I haven’t the space here to examine the details of the dozens of blood-citations in Leviticus; the reader is invited to peruse that book for himself, in order to get a flavor of the Jewish obsession.
The final two books of the Torah are Numbers and Deuteronomy. Neither talks much about blood sacrifice—at least, of the animal variety. Here, in these two books, we turn to human slaughter. Numbers (31) is famous for the so-called Midianite Massacre: At God’s command, Moses’ army kills the five Midian kings and all the adult men. They then capture all the women and children, and march them back to the Israelite camp. Moses decides it was bad policy to hold all these captives, so he orders his men to kill all the women, all the boys, and all the non-virgin girls—the virgins, they keep for themselves. And no small number, either; at 31:32, we read that the intrepid Israelites have claimed 32,000 (!) virgins. Hence the slaughtered must have exceeded 100,000 by a fair number. Nothing like another good bloodletting.
But perhaps there is a valuable lesson here for the Jews after all: Slay and kill the innocent goyim—who are little more than animals—and splatter their blood upon the sands. God will be most pleased. Then claim their young girls as your sexual prize. I think we can see many echoes here in the modern day.
Deuteronomy is similarly filled with assorted massacres and slaughters. The word ‘destroyed’ appears more than two dozen times, along with a variety of colorful synonyms. Surely the Judean desert sands ran red with blood. Of particular note is the slaughter of the Canaanites in Book 7: “you must utterly destroy them; you shall make no covenant with them, and show no mercy to them.” This, from an “all-good” God.
Wait a minute, some may say. What about that “Thou shalt not kill” thing? Yes indeed—what about that? It is the famous item #6 in the Big Ten of commandments, which appears in Exodus 20. Notoriously, there is no elaboration; just the bare four words, “Thou shall not kill.”
Many people, including very many smart people, have spent a long time puzzling over the apparent contradiction of a Bible in which “Thou shall not kill” is followed shortly by stories of mass slaughter of animals and humans. But in fact, there is no contradiction here at all. On this count, the Bible is perfectly consistent. One need only realize that the Old Testament was written by Jews, about Jews, and for Jews. It is the “Jewish Bible,” after all. Everything in it pertains to interactions with other Jews, unless specifically stated otherwise. The prohibition on killing applies (selectively) only to other Jews: to “your brother,” “your neighbor,” the Jew. The commandment does not apply (obviously) to animals, and it does not apply to the non-Jews: the gentiles, the ‘goyim,’ the stranger, the “nations,” as the case may be. In this sense, gentiles are no better than animals; and in fact, there are many Talmudic passages that implicitly and explicitly equate non-Jews with animals. For such beings, no commandments apply. They can be used, abused, bought, sold, exploited, beaten, or killed—all in the service of Jewish needs and Jewish interests.
A common retort to all this by Jews and their sympathizers is that, after all, Christians are “saved” and cleansed by blood too—the blood of Jesus. We all do it! So, it must be ok—or so they imply. And in fact, it is true that Christians claim salvation via Christ’s blood. But this situation only further implicates the Jews, not to mention condemning Christian foolishness.
The issue, of course, is that the early “Christian” movement was entirely conceived and conducted by ethnic Jews. Presuming he existed, Jesus himself was an ethnic Jew, as were his 12 disciples. His most famous advocate, Paul of Tarsus, was an ethnic Jew, as were the later anonymous writers of the Gospels. As Nietzsche rightly observed, in the New Testament, “we are among Jews.”
There are some 10 passages in the New Testament where it is explicitly stated that Christians are saved by Jesus’s blood. Three such citations can be found in the letters of Paul: In Romans, he writes of salvation “through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (3:25). And again: “Since, therefore, we are now justified by [Jesus’s] blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (5:9); this, incidentally, is an exact transposition of the Jews’ Passover myth into Christian terms. Then in Colossians, Paul explains how we all can live in “peace by the blood of his [Jesus’s] cross” (1:20).
Elsewhere in the New Testament, the anonymous writer of Ephesians promises that “you who were once far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ” (2:13). And the equally anonymous Hebrews (9:6–18) offers an extended discussion on the matter, indicating a clear knowledge of Jewish practices:
These preparations having thus been made, the [Jewish] priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties; but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people. …
But when Christ appeared as a high priest…he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ…purify your conscience.
Our author then summarizes the events of Leviticus, for the benefit of the non-Jewish reader:
Hence even the first covenant was not ratified without blood. For when every commandment of the Law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship.
“Indeed,” he adds, “under the [Jewish] Law, almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” As I mentioned above, this hits the nail on the head: no blood, no salvation. Christians have the nominal advantage of not having to spill more blood, because Jesus (allegedly) covered everyone for all time; but the Jews must repeat their ritual sacrifice on a regular basis. No blood, no salvation.
So, we can see what is happening here: A group of Jews, led by Paul, transposed the Jewish custom of ‘salvation through blood’ into a Christian context, using the very real blood of the (likely) real crucifixion of a mortal Jewish rabbi, Jesus, in place of the blood of animals. Paul used the bizarre and sadistic Jewish practice of blood-salvation to draw in the naïve and superstitious Gentiles, and to cruelly promise them release from all sins and an eternal life that could never be confirmed. In a sense, he imposed the Jewish blood-obsession on the rest of non-Jewish humanity—or at least, on those who could be duped into believing him.
This brings us to perhaps the most contentious blood-issue with the Jews: the notion of the Jewish ritual slaughter of people, also called “blood libel.” That the Jews would ritually slaughter animals was commonplace knowledge, but the idea that they might also slaughter humans was a uniquely troubling assertion, one that dates back over two millennia. The earliest such reference comes from 300 BC when the philosopher Theophrastus wrote that the Jews “now sacrifice live victims…both of other living beings [i.e. animals and non-Jews] and of themselves.” Later, in 168 BC, the Seleucid king Epiphanes sacked the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, only to find a captive Greek man being held for sacrifice. Around the year 100 AD, Damocritus wrote that the Jews “caught a foreigner and sacrificed him” once every seven years. And Cassius Dio’s Roman History (115 AD) explains that the Jews “would eat the flesh of their victims, make belts for themselves of their entrails, [and] anoint themselves with their blood”—which by now should sound familiar. The Jews would also “wear [human] skins for clothing, and many they sawed in two, from the head downwards” —to be expected, I suppose, from a blood cult.
By the 300s AD, leading Christians were openly condemning the Jewish fixation on blood and sacrifice. John Chrysostom, in 387, wrote, “Do you not shudder to come into the same place with men possessed [i.e., Jews], who have so many unclean spirits, who have been reared amid slaughter and bloodshed?” As the Middle Ages descended over Europe, Jews increasingly moved into Christian territory, developing a reputation for exploiting and abusing their hosts. As also occurred in the Roman Empire, many Jews were also involved with White slave-trading, something that particularly incensed many Christians.
But it was the blood libel—that is, the murder of Christians, especially youth—that produced an uproar. The first such case occurred in 1144 in Norwich, England, where a young boy, William, was allegedly murdered by some local Jews. A Benedictine monk, Thomas of Monmouth, later argued that the Jews collectively chose to ritually slaughter one child per year, as a sort of offering to God, in exchange for his returning them to their Holy Land. Notably, in William’s case, there was no accusation of any use of the boy’s blood.
That changed in 1235, when three dozen Jews were accused of the ritual murder of five boys in Fulda, Germany. Locals claimed that the Jews extracted and consumed their blood. In the end, 34 Jews were executed for the crime, and true “blood libel” was on its way to public notoriety. This was followed by a similar incident regarding a young girl in Pforzheim, Germany in 1267, and with young Rudolph of Bern (Switzerland) in 1294, who was beheaded and drained of blood. Such crimes recurred periodically over the years, roughly once per decade, on average, culminating in the particularly notorious case of Simon of Trent (now, Trento, Italy), in 1475. In such cases, Christian blood was claimed to be required for mystic Jewish rituals, for Jewish medicines, and in the preparation of sacramental foods like matza.
Blood libel accusations continued, off and on, for the next four centuries, only to accelerate in the late 1800s. Biale (126) explains that some 100 such accusations occurred just in the 30 years between 1880 and 1910. Blood libel, it seems, had truly struck a chord with the common man.
The Jews, of course, always denied such crimes, at least initially; many later ‘confessed’ under torture. Their central argument was this: Jews are prohibited from eating blood. And they could cite scripture to justify their defense. In Genesis 9:4, we read that God gives Noah and his family every living thing as food, except “you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” Then in the infamous Leviticus, God says to Moses, “you shall eat no blood whatever, whether of fowl or of animal, in any of your dwellings. Whoever eats any blood, that person shall be cut off from his people.” (‘Cut off’ is generally taken as a euphemism for ‘killed.’) It is also found in Lev 19:26: “You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it.” But the most emphatic statement comes at Lev 17:10, where God speaks as follows:
If any man of the house of Israel or of the strangers that sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood. … For the life of every creature is the blood of it; therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.
The same proscription is briefly repeated later, in Deuteronomy (“Only be sure that you do not eat the blood; for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh”; 12:23).
So far, so good—except for one small problem: none of this applies to human blood. The Genesis and Deuteronomic passages clearly pertain to animal flesh. In Leviticus, the whole context is around sacrificial animals, typically birds, sheep, or cattle. The blood, as we have seen, was used for ceremonial purposes, but it would have been natural for someone—the priests, perhaps, or their families—to eat the sacrificed animal; unless the corpse was to be burned, it would have simply gone to waste. But the blood was off limits, to be used only for sacramental, if bizarre, purposes.
This elemental point seems to be lost on everyone who, even today, attempts to defend Jews against the “antisemitic canard” of blood libel. But there have been a few perceptive (and brave) intellectuals who understood this issue correctly and spoke out about it. One was the German scholar of religion and Hebrew, Erich Bischoff (1867–1937). Bischoff’s 1929 book The Book of the Shulchan Aruch was the first, and still only, learned critique of the core Jewish text known as the Shulchan Aruch, which is a condensed version of the much-larger Talmud. In an examination of one part of the Shulchan—the “Orach Chayim”—we encounter the following nonchalant passage:
If one eats something that you dip into one of the following liquids as a condiment—namely, Jàjin [wine], debâsch [honey], schèmen [oil], chèleb [milk], tal [dew], dâm [blood] and màjjim [water]—then one must wet the hands… (Orach Chayim 158,4)
In his commentary that follows (66), Bischoff is emphatic: “The consumption of blood is allowed in the Shulchan Aruch!” He notes that the Shulchan author, Joseph Karo, “seems to think nothing of it”—almost like it was a run-of-the-mill event. Bischoff continues: “The Old Testament…only forbids the consumption of the blood of cattle and birds—primarily those used for sacrifices. … The Old Testament allows for other consumption of blood” (ibid.).
As further support, Bischoff quotes the influential Jewish scholar Maimonides:
Whoever deliberately eats as much blood as an olive, has forfeited his salvation. … The guilt occurs only with the blood of animals and birds, whether domestic or wild, whether clean or unclean. On the other hand, there is no indebtedness in the blood of fish, locusts, reptiles, amphibians, and human blood. (Jad Chasakah, VI,1)
There is no “indebtedness” in those last creatures precisely because they are not mentioned in the OT; whatever is not prohibited is allowed—an ancient Jewish precept.
Should we desire more recent confirmation, we can turn to a renegade Jewish scholar, Ariel Toaff. His highly contentious book Passovers of Blood (2007, original edition) makes a very strong case that the use of human blood, both wet and dried, was a regular Jewish practice in the Middle Ages—and perhaps is still so today. His Chapter 6 is especially relevant here; Toaff examines the use of blood during circumcision and comments on numerous instances, even “recipes,” involving the use of human blood. In one Jewish compendium, he says, “we will find a broad range of recipes providing for the oral ingestion of blood, both human and animal” (156). Other formulations refer to such things as “a chicken feather soaked with menstrual blood,” “dried rabbit’s blood,” “dried blood from a virgin having her first menstrual period,” and the generic “blood of children” (ibid). Toaff’s subject compendium “furthermore stressed the prodigious properties of human blood, naturally, always dried and prepared in the form of curdles or powder, as the main ingredient of aphrodisiacal elixirs.” And finally, Toaff quotes one Jewish defendant in the Simon of Trent trial, Israel Wolfgang, who stated, for the record, “there is no [rabbinic] prohibition against usefully benefiting from the dead bodies of Gentiles” (159). Of course not—they are mere animals, after all.
And in the New Testament
But as with the blood sacrifice, the Jewish apologist has one other defensive tactic here: ‘the Christians do it, too.’ That is, Christians also eat blood—the blood of Christ. This procedure has a name: the Eucharist. It is a sacrament in Catholicism and most Protestant denominations, something of highest importance. In it, parishioners metaphorically consume (eat) Christ’s body, in the form of bread or a wafer, and drink his blood, in the form of wine or juice. Again, on its face, this is a bizarre and even pathological ceremony: to “eat the body” and “drink the blood,” even symbolically, of your long-dead savior. How sick is this?
Where could such a revolting idea have come from? Oh, wait, we know: from the Jews. We don’t know if the Jew Jesus actually created it, or if it was concocted in the warped mind of the Jew Paul, but regardless, it was clearly of Jewish origin. And now we can see why—the longstanding Jewish tradition of using sacrificial blood (here, the “Lamb of God”) to anoint oneself, to bind with God, and to form a covenant. It all fits in with the Jewish soteriology. Jews were prohibited from drinking sacrificial (animal) blood, but now, with the Gentiles, they could consume (human) sacrificial blood, symbolically. Leave it to the Jews to turn the gullible Gentiles into (symbolic) cannibals and (symbolic) blood-drinkers.
The Eucharist, as a part of the Last Supper, has a scriptural basis, appearing twice with Paul (both times in 1 Corinthians) and once in each of the four Gospels. The first, and chronologically earliest, occurrence is in Paul; at 1 Cor 10:16, where he writes, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” Then in the next chapter, we find the one and only direct quotation of Jesus anywhere in Paul:
[Jesus] said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (11:24–25)
Thus Jesus explicitly calls it a “covenant of blood,” exactly as we would expect from a Jewish rabbi.
The Eucharist then appears in almost identical form in the three earliest Gospels:
Mark 14:26: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”
Matt 26:28: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Luke 22:20: “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”
Short and to the point. But the last-written Gospel, John, inexplicably has a much more extended quotation:
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. (Jn 6:53-56)
How is it that this Gospel, written around the year 95 AD, some 65 years (!) after the crucifixion, could cite in such detail the words of Christ, when neither Paul nor the other Gospels could do so? It makes one highly suspicious, to say the least. In any case, we no longer find any explicit “covenant” here; now, it is just an orgy of flesh-eating and blood-drinking, accompanied by vague promises of eternal life.
In sum: In the Eucharist we see how the Gentile Christians got hoodwinked into adopting a Jewish tradition of blood-covenants and blood-recipes, even though the Gentiles had no cultural history of such a thing. Granted that blood is not nearly as central in Christianity as it is in Judaism, but still, it is highly important. Within Catholicism, the Eucharist has been officially called “the fount and apex of the whole Christian life.” Good Christians everywhere: Drink that blood!
Several important points follow from all this. First, we should not think that the Jewish blood-cult was something that only existed in ancient times, or that the blood sacrifices ceased when the Jerusalem temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. The keepers of Judaism are nothing if not fixated on the past. For them, for the Orthodox Jews, the Haredi and the Dati, they are literal followers of the Old Testament, the Talmud, and the Shulchan Aruch. If you think fundamentalist Christians are hard-nosed absolutists, you haven’t yet run into a Haredi Jew. Orthodox Jews treat their sacred documents like they were written yesterday, and they fully expect such writings to hold for eternity. Animal sacrifice, treating Gentiles like dogs, exploiting non-Jews, cheating and killing them, child sexual abuse, blood-aphrodisiacs, oral circumcision, blood-splattering…the whole package. The Jewish blood-cult is here to stay—as long as there are Jews.
Second, it’s no use to argue that such orthodox Jews comprise just 10 percent or 20 percent of the total Jewish population, and that therefore all this bloody religious stuff does not apply to the secular majority. Not so. The sentiments described above apply, to a greater or lesser degree, to nearly all Jews. Judaism, as documented in the various texts, is not like an ordinary religion. It is more like a guide for living as a Jew in a largely non-Jewish world. This is absolutely true for the Talmud and the Shulchan, which are explicitly manuals for daily life. These in turn rely on the Old Testament, which is, itself, mostly about social interactions (Jew and Gentile), with a little ‘theological frosting’ on the top. Yes, much of the Old Testament involves words that “God says,” but this is little more than literary shorthand for “words by which good Jews should live their lives.” As has been argued elsewhere, Jehovah is really just a stand-in for the Jewish people themselves. It’s like the little voice sitting on your shoulder, telling you what to do. Judaism’s holy texts are just a distillation, fixed for all time, of Jews telling themselves how to act in order to thrive and prosper.
Because of this, it is “baked in” to all Jews, no matter how secular and enlightened they claim to be. There is a real sense, I think, in which it is effectively genetic: Jewish values and mindset inculcated so deeply that they resonate with all Jews, at a biological level, and are passed along to future generations. The fixation with blood is one major aspect of this Jewish biological heritage.
So what? some may say. Why do we care what religious Jews do in their synagogues, or what secular Jews think in their hearts? Actually, it makes a huge difference, precisely because of the influence that such Jews have in American, and Western, society.
This is not the place to elaborate—I would refer readers to the recent compilation of my own writings, The Steep Climb: Essays on the Jewish Question (2023)—but let me simply state the obvious: Jews, Jewish interests, Jewish values, and Jewish thinking utterly dominate large sectors of Western society. We need only mention high finance; Hollywood; media generally; the federal government; and academia. Jews own or control up to 50 percent of the estimated $140 trillion in personal wealth in the US. They provide 25 percent to 50 percent, or more, of campaign funding at the federal level; unsurprisingly, Jews are highly overrepresented in Biden’s cabinet and cabinet-level position, including the most powerful and influential positions (Departments of State, Justice, Homeland Security, Treasury; Chief of Staff. (Biden also has Jewish in-laws and grandchildren, and Kamala Harris is married to a Jew.) Not more than a handful of Democratic and Republican congressmen have the nerve to stand up to AIPAC and the Jewish Lobby generally. Jews also have a stranglehold on Hollywood, American film production, the music business, and the news media; look at the reaction to Ye (Kanye West). As for academia, forget about it; at last check, the eight Ivy League schools had seven Jewish presidents. And nearly all major American universities, public or private, have Jewish regents, Jewish chancellors, Jewish contributors, and/or Jewish deans, not to mention massive over-representation in many disciplines, especially in the social sciences and humanities.
Consider this: Why, for example, do we have so much blood and gore in our popular films? Gratuitous violence is omnipresent in American films, in virtually all genres. It is rarely necessary to tell a story; so, why is it there? We know why: Jewish writers, directors, and producers. The Jewish fixation on blood materializes in their storytelling on the big screen. For Jews, this is somehow fulfilling, satisfying, pleasurable—whereas for most normal people, the blood and gore is repulsive and grotesque. And worse: Jews are adjusted to all the blood deep down, and thus are unbothered by it; but ordinary non-Jews are sickened and appalled. For many people, especially children, teens, and youth, all this blood is psychologically damaging. Normal people are not psychically able to process such profuse depictions of bloody violence; they become desensitized, withdrawn, and depressed. It damages interpersonal relations and harms their ability to openly communicate. It makes them fearful, distrustful, and suspicious.
Why do we in the United States find it so easy to initiate aggressive and violent military action around the world? Why do our political and media establishments apparently take such glee in the slaughter of people in distant lands? Why did the Jewish-American Secretary of State Madeline Albright state in 1996 that the American sanctions on Iraq, which killed some 500,000 Iraqi children, was “worth it”? Why does the present American military budget exceed $1.25 trillion per year, taking into account all aspects of our supposed “defense”? We know why.
Why are the Palestinians put in an impossible and intolerable situation by their Israeli overlords? Why are they periodically slaughtered like sheep? Why is the pointless and unwinnable war in Ukraine being promoted and sustained, spilling profuse amounts of Gentile blood? We know why.
The Jewish bloodlust and blood-fascination has endless implications. We must always remember the core Jewish truth here: no blood, no salvation. For most people, the spilling of blood is an evil; for Jews, it is a necessary precursor to salvation and “success.” For most people, killing is wrong; for Jews, killing—as long as it’s not a Jew—is a good thing. “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness,” said the Jewish writer of Hebrews. As long as Jews are in charge, as long as they call the shots, blood will be spilled. This is one constant in an otherwise turbulent world.
When contemplating the Jewish bloodlust and blood-obsession, I cannot help but recall Shakespeare’s warning in Macbeth:
Where we are,
There’s daggers in men’s smiles. The near in blood,
The nearer bloody. (Act II, sc. 3)
“Where we are,” in the world today: the Jews are smiling; they are on top. Sadly, “there’s daggers in [such] men’s smiles.” They are all smiles, niceties, and good humor. But don’t let them get too close—“the near in blood, the nearer bloody.”
I close with the words of Macbeth himself: “Get thee back; my soul is too much charged / With blood of thine already” (Act V, sc. 8). How appropriate. We might recast these words today as follows: “Get thee back, Jews; our souls are too much charged with blood of thine already.”
Thomas Dalton, PhD, has authored or edited several books and articles on politics and history, with a special focus on National Socialism. His latest works include Classic Essays on the Jewish Question, The Steep Climb, and a new translation of For My Legionnaires. He has also recently published the definitive critique Unmasking Anne Frank, and a new edition of political cartoons, Pan-Judah! Volume Two. All these books are available at www.clemensandblair.com. See also his personal website www.thomasdaltonphd.com.
S. Geller (1992), “Blood cult,” Prooftexts 12(2): 101.
Blood and Belief (2007), p. 9.
Optimal chances for pregnancy occur in the middle of a woman’s cycle rather than at the end, when the blood appears. It is not impossible for conception to occur during menstruation, but it is very unlikely.
Histories, Bk II, 36 and 104.
“We learned in the Mishnah that one sucks blood from the wound after the circumcision was performed on Shabbat. Rav Pappa said: ‘A craftsman who does not suck the blood after every circumcision is a danger to the child undergoing circumcision, and we remove him from his position as circumciser’.” Seder #2 (Moed), Tractate Shabbat, 133b,14 (text from www.sefaria.org).
The phrase ‘blood covenant’ occurs one other time in the Bible, in Zechariah (“As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your captives free from the waterless pit”; 9:11)
For an elaboration, see my various essays in The Steep Climb: Essays on the Jewish Question (2023).
Antichrist, sec. 44.
For this and following citations, see my book Eternal Strangers (2020).
Homilies on the Jews, I.VI.7.
Long out of print in German, the book has recently been released in a first-ever English translation: The Book of the Shulchan Aruch (2023; Clemens & Blair). Cited quotations refer to this new edition.
The original 2007 edition, in its original Italian language, was quickly pulled from circulation, to be replaced by a softer, “revised edition” the following year. However, an English translation of the original 2007 edition was published in 2020 by Clemens & Blair; the following quotations refer to this edition.
The word ‘Eucharist’ derives from the Greek eukharistos, meaning ‘good’ (eu-) + ‘favor’ (kharistos)—in other words, a ‘thanksgiving.’ It has nothing to do with the word ‘Christ,’ incidentally.
We would do well to recall that Paul’s letters are traditionally dated to between 50 and 70 AD. First Corinthians would likely have been composed around 53 AD, whereas the Gospels were written between 70 (Mark) and 95 AD (John). Paul knew nothing of the Gospels because they did not exist in his lifetime.
The fact that this is the only quotation of Jesus in all of Paul’s letters is astonishing. It is almost as if Paul had no idea what Jesus actually said during his ministry. But this is inconceivable if Paul’s life story is true. He is happy to quote and reference the Old Testament ad nauseum, but quote Jesus? No, not necessary…
Lumen Gentium (1964), II.11.
There is abundant research on this. For a few examples, see: Browne and Hamilton-Giachritsis (2005), “The Influence of Violent Media on Children and Adolescents: A public-Health Approach.” Lancet, vol. 365, pp. 702-710. Anderson, C. et al (2003). “Exposure to violent media: The effects of songs with violent lyrics on aggressive thoughts and feelings.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 84, No. 5. And Krahe, B., et al (2011). “Desensitization to media violence: Links with habitual media violence exposure, aggressive cognitions, and aggressive behavior.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 100, No. 4.