What are the sacrifices in the Bible?

There are a variety of sacrifices mentioned in the Bible.

Zebhaḥ : a "slaughtered animal," a "sacrifice," general term for animals used in sacrifice, including burnt offerings, peace offerings, thank offerings, and all sacrifices offered to the Deity and eaten at the festivals. More particularly it refers to the flesh eaten by the worshippers after the fat parts had been burned on the altar and the priest had received his portion.

‛Olāh : a "burnt offering," sometimes whole burnt offering. Derived from the verb ‛ālāh , "to go up." It may mean "that which goes up to the altar" (Knobel, Wellhausen, Nowack, etc.), or "that which goes up in smoke to the sky" (Bahr, Delitzsch, Dillmann, etc.); sometimes used synonymously with kālı̄l (which see). The term applies to beast or fowl when entirely consumed upon the altar, the hide of the beast being taken by the priest. This was perhaps the most solemn of the sacrifices, and symbolized worship in the full sense, i.e. adoration, devotion, dedication, supplication, and at times expiation.

Ḥătā'āh , ḥattā'th : a "sin offering," a special kind, first mentioned in the Mosaic legislation. It is essentially expiatory, intended to restore covenant relations with the Deity. The special features were: (1) the blood must be sprinkled before the sanctuary, put upon the horns of the altar of incense and poured out at the base of the altar of burnt offering; (2) the flesh was holy, not to be touched by worshipper, but eaten by the priest only. The special ritual of the Day of Atonement centers around the sin offering.

'Āshām : "guilt offering," "trespass offering" (King James Version; in Isaiah 53:10 , the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) "an offering for sin," the American Revised Version margin "trespass offering"). A special kind of sin offering introduced in the Mosaic Law and concerned with offenses against God and man that could be estimated by a money value and thus covered by compensation or restitution accompanying the offering. A ram of different degrees of value, and worth at least two shekels, was the usual victim, and it must be accompanied by full restitution with an additional fifth of the value of the damage. The leper and Nazirite could offer he-lambs. The guilt toward God was expiated by the blood poured out, and the guilt toward men by the restitution and fine. The calling of the Servant an 'āshām (Isaiah 53:10 ) shows the value attached to this offering.

Shelem , shelāmı̄m : "peace offering," generally used the plural, shelāmı̄m , only once shēlem ( Amos 5:22 ). These were sacrifices of friendship expressing or promoting peaceful relations with the Deity, and almost invariably accompanied by a meal or feast, an occasion of great joy. They are sometimes called zebhāḥim , sometimes zebhaḥ shelāmı̄m , and were of different kinds, such as zebhaḥ ha -tōdhāh , "thank offerings," which expressed the gratitude of the giver because of some blessings, zebhaḥ nedhābhāh , "free-will offerings," bestowed on the Deity out of a full heart, and zebhaḥ nedher , "votive offerings," which were offered in fulfillment of a vow.

Minḥāh : "meal offering" (the Revised Version), "meat offering" (the King James Version), a gift or presentation, at first applied to both bloody and unbloody offerings ( Genesis 4:5 ), but in Moses' time confined to cereals, whether raw or roast, ground to flour or baked and mixed with oil and frankincense. These cereals were the produce of man's labor with the soil, not fruits, etc., and thus represented the necessities and results of life, if not life itself. They were the invariable accompaniment of animal sacrifices, and in one instance could be substituted for them (see SIN OFFERING ). The term minḥāh describes a gift or token of friendship (Isaiah 39:1 ), an act of homage (1 Samuel 10:27 ; 1 Kings 10:25 ), tribute (Judges 3:15 , Judges 3:17 f), propitiation to a friend wronged ( Genesis 32:13 , Genesis 32:18 (Hebrew 14:19)), to procure favor or assistance ( Genesis 43:11 ff; Hosea 10:6 ).

Ṭenūphāh : "wave offering," usually the breast, the priest's share of the peace offerings, which was waved before the altar by both offerer and priest together (the exact motion is not certain), symbolic of its presentation to Deity and given back by Him to the offerer to be used in the priests' service.

Ṭenūmāh : "heave offering," something lifted up, or, properly, separated from the rest and given to the service of the Deity. Usually the right shoulder or thigh was thus separated for the priest. The term is applied to products of the soil, or portion of land separated unto the divine service, etc.

Ḳorbān : "an oblation," or "offering"; another generic term for all kinds of offerings, animal, vegetable, or even gold and silver. Derived from the verb ḳārabh , "to draw near," it signifies what is drawn or brought near and given to God.

'Ishsheh : "fire offering," applied to offerings made by fire and usually bloody offerings, but at times to the minḥāh , the sacred bread and frankincense placed on the tables as a memorial, part of which was burned with the frankincense, the bulk, however, going to the priest. The gift was thus presented through fire to the Deity as a sort of etherealized food.

Neṣekh : "drink offering," or "libation," a liquid offering of wine, rarely water, sometimes of oil, and usually accompanying the ‛ōlāh , but often with the peace offerings.

Kālı̄l : "whole burnt offering," the entire animal being burned upon the altar. Sometimes used synonymously with ‛ōlāh . A technical term among the Carthaginians.

Ḥagh : a "feast," used metaphorically for a sacrificial feast because the meat of the sacrifices constituted the material of the feast.

Lebhōnāh : "frankincense," "incense," used in combination with the meal offerings and burnt offerings and burned also upon the altar in the holy place. See INCENSE .

Ḳetōrāh , ḳetōreth : "smoke," "odor of sacrifice," or incense ascending as a sweet savor and supposed to be pleasing and acceptable to God.

Melaḥ : "salt," used in all sacrifices because of its purifying and preserving qualities.

Shemen : "oil," generally olive oil, used with the meal offerings of cakes and wafers, etc.

Sacrifice is thus a complex and comprehensive term. In its simplest form it may be defined as "a gift to God." It is a presentation to Deity of some material object, the possession of the offerer, as an act of worship. It may be to attain, restore, maintain or to celebrate friendly relations with the Deity. It is religion in action - in early times, almost the whole of religion - an inseparable accompaniment to all religious exercises.

Few or many motives may actuate it. It may be wholly piacular and expiatory, or an Offering of food as a gift to God; it may be practically a bribe, or a prayer, an expression of dependence, obligation and thanksgiving. It may express repentance, faith, adoration, or all of these combined. It was the one and only way of approach to God. Theophrastus defines it as expressing homage, gratitude and need. Hubert and Mauss define it as "a religious act which by the consecration of the victim modifies the moral state of the sacrificer, or of certain material objects which he has in view, i.e., either confers sanctity or removes it and its analogue, impiety."

Sacrifices before Moses

Out of the obscure period of origins emerged the dimly lighted period of ancient history. Everywhere sacrifices existed and sometimes abounded as an essential part of religion. The spade of the archaeologist, and the researches of scholars help us understand the pre-Mosaic period.

1. In Egypt:

In Egypt - probably from the beginning of the 4th millennium BC - there were sacrifices and sacrificial systems. Temples at Abydos, Thebes, On, etc., were great priestly centers with high priests, lower priests, rituals and sacrifices in abundance. Burnt, meal and peace offerings predominated. Oxen, wild goats, pigs, geese were the chief animals offered. Besides these, wine, oil, beer, milk, cakes, grain, ointment, flowers, fruit, vegetables were offered, but not human beings. In these offerings there were many resemblances to the Hebrew gifts, and many significant exceptions. Moses would be somewhat familiar with these practices though not with the details of the ritual. He would appreciate the unifying power of a national religious center. It is inconceivable that in such an age a national leader and organizer like Moses would not take special care to institute such a system.

2. In Babylonia:

In Babylonia, from the year 3000 BC or thereabouts, according to E. Meyer ( Geschichte des Alterthums ), there were many centers of worship such as Eridu, Nippur, Agade, Erech, Ur, Nisin, Larsa, Sippar, etc. These and others continued for centuries with elaborate systems of worship, sacrifices, temples, priesthoods, etc. Considerably over 100 temples and sanctuaries are mentioned on inscriptions, and several hundreds in the literature and tablets, so that Babylonia was studded with temples and edifices for the gods.

At all these, sacrifices were constantly offered - animal and vegetable. A long list of the offerings of King Gudea includes oxen, sheep, goats, lambs, fish, birds (i.e. eagles and doves), dates, milk, greens (Jastrow, in HDB , V, 580 f, under the word). The sacrifices provided an income for the priests, as did the Mosaic system at a later time. It had long passed the stage when it was supposed to furnish a meal for the god. A sacrifice always accompanied a consultation with a priest, and was really an assessment for the services rendered. It was not a voluntary offering or ritualistic observance.

The priests on their own behalf offered a daily sacrifice, as in the Mosaic Law, and likewise on special occasions, to insure the good will of the gods they served. It seems certain that in some of the larger centers of worship animals were offered up twice a day, morning and evening. At these sacrifices certain portions were consumed on the altar, the rest belonging to the priest. The similarity of much of this to the Mosaic institutions is obvious. That the culture and civilization of Babylon was known to Egypt and Israel with other nations is shown clearly by the Tell el-Amarna Letters . Special sacrifices on special occasions were offered in Babylonia as in Israel.

As Jastrow says, "In the Hebrew codes, both as regards the purely legal portions and those sections dealing with religious ritual, Babylonian methods of legal procedure and of ritual developed in Babylonian temples must be taken into consideration as determining factors." We do not doubt that Moses made use of many elements found in the Egyptian and Babylonian systems, and added to or subtracted from or purified as occasion required. As sacrificial systems and ritual had been in use more than a millennium before Moses, there is absolutely no need to suppose that Israel's ritual was a thousand years in developing, and was completed after the exile. To do so is to turn history upside down.

3. Nomads and Tribes of Arabia and Syria:

Among the nomads and tribes of Arabia and Syria, sacrifices had been common for millenniums before Moses. The researches of Wellhausen and W. R. Smith are valuable here, whatever one may think of their theories. The offerings were usually from the flocks and herds, sometimes from the spoils taken in war which had been appropriated as their own.

The occasions were many and various, and the ritual was very simple. A rude altar of earth or stone, or one stone, a sacred spot, the offerer killing the victim and burning all, or perhaps certain parts and eating the remainder with the clan or family, constituted the customary details. Sometimes wild animals were offered. Babylonians, Phoenicians and Arabs offered gazelles, but the Hebrews did not. Arabs would sometimes sacrifice a captive youth, while the Carthaginians chose some of the fairest of the captives for offerings by night. Assyrian kings sometimes sacrificed captive kings. The Canaanites and others constantly sacrificed children, especially the firstborn.

4. The Offerings of Cain and Abel:

The account of the offerings of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:4 f) shows that the ceremony dates from almost the beginnings of the human race. The custom of offering the firstlings and first-fruits had already begun. Arabian tribes later had a similar custom. Cain's offering was cereal and is called minḥāh , "a gift" or "presentation." The same term is applied to Abel's. There is no hint that the bloody sacrifice was in itself better than the unbloody one, but it is shown that sacrifice without a right attitude of heart is not acceptable to God. This same truth is emphasized by the prophets and others, and is needed in this day as much as then. In this case the altars would be of the common kind, and no priest was needed. The sacrifices were an act of worship, adoration, dependence, prayer, and possibly propitiation.

5. Of Noah:

The sacrifices of Noah followed and celebrated the epochal and awe-inspiring event of leaving the ark and beginning life anew. He offered burnt offerings of all the clean animals (Genesis 8:20 ff). On such a solemn occasion only an ‛ōlāh would suffice. The custom of using domestic animals had arisen at this time. The sacrifices expressed adoration, recognition of God's power and sovereignty, and a gift to please Him, for it is said He smelled a sweet savor and was pleased. It was an odor of satisfaction or restfulness. Whether or not the idea of expiation was included is difficult to prove.

6. Of Abraham:

Abraham lived at a time when sacrifices and religion were virtually identical. No mention is made of his offering at Ur or Charan, but on his arrival at Shechem he erected an altar (Genesis 12:7 ). At Beth-el also (Hebrews 12:8 ), and on his return from Egypt he worshipped there (Genesis 13:4 ). Such sacrifices expressed adoration and prayer and probably propitiation. They constituted worship, which is a complex exercise. At Hebron he built an altar (Genesis 13:18 ), officiating always as his own priest. In Genesis 15:4 ff he offers a "covenant" sacrifice, when the animals were slain, divided, the parts set opposite each other, and prepared for the appearance of the other party to the covenant.

The exact idea in the killing of these animals may be difficult to find, but the effect is to give the occasion great solemnity and the highest religious sanction. What was done with the carcasses afterward is not told. That animals were slain for food with no thought of sacrifice is shown by the narrative in chapter 18, where Abraham had a calf slain for the meal. This is opposed to one of the chief tenets of the Wellhausen school, which maintains that all slaughtering of animals was sacrificial until the 7th century BC. In Genesis 22 Abraham attempts to offer up Isaac as a burnt offering, as was probably the custom of his neighbors. That he attempted it shows that the practice was not shocking to his ethical nature. It tested the strength of his devotion to God, shows the right spirit in sacrifices, and teaches for all time that God does not desire human sacrifice - a beast will do. What God does want is the obedient heart. Abraham continued his worship at Beer-sheba ( Genesis 21:33 ).

7. Of Job:

Whatever may be the date of the writing of the Book of Job, the saint himself is represented as living in the Patriarchal age. He constantly offered sacrifices on behalf of his children (Job 1:5 ), "sanctifying" them. His purpose no doubt was to atone for possible sin. The sacrifices were mainly expiatory. This is true also of the sacrifices of his friends (Job 42:7-9 ).

8. Of Isaac:

Isaac seems to have had a permanent altar at Beer-sheba and to have regularly offered sacrifices. Adoration, expiation and supplication would constitute his chief motives (Genesis 26:25 ).

9. Of Jacob:

Jacob's first recorded sacrifice was the pouring of the oil upon the stone at Beth- el ( Genesis 28:18 ). This was consecration or dedication in recognition of the awe-inspiring presence of the Deity. After his covenant with Laban he offered sacrifices (zebhāḥim ) and they ate bread (Genesis 31:54 ). At Shechem, Jacob erected an altar (Genesis 33:20 ). At Beth-el (Genesis 35:7 ) and at Beer-sheba he offered sacrifices to Isaac's God (Genesis 46:1 ).

10. Of Israel in Egypt:

While the Israelites were in Egypt they would be accustomed to spring sacrifices and spring feasts, for these had been common among the Arabs and Syrians, etc., for centuries. Nabatean inscriptions testify to this. Egyptian sacrifices have been mentioned (see above). At these spring festivals it was probably customary to offer the firstlings of the flocks (compare Exodus 13:15 ). At the harvest festivals sacrificial feasts were celebrated. It was to some such feast Moses said Israel as a people wished to go in the wilderness (Exodus 3:18 ; Exodus 5:3 ff; Exodus 7:16 ). Pharaoh understood and asked who was to go (Exodus 10:8 ). Moses demanded flocks and herds for the feast (Exodus 10:9 ). Pharaoh would keep the flocks, etc. (Exodus 10:24 ), but Moses said they must offer sacrifices and burnt offerings (Exodus 10:25 f).

The sacrifice of the Passover soon occurs (Exodus 12:3-11 ). That the Hebrews had been accustomed to sacrifice their own firstborn at this season has no support and is altogether improbable (Frazer, Golden Bough3 , pt. III, 175 f). The whole ceremony is very primitive and has retained its primitiveness to the end. The choosing of the lamb or kid, the killing at a certain time, the family gathered in the home, the carcass roasted whole, eaten that night, and the remainder, if any, burned, while the feasters had staff in hand, etc., all this was continued. The blood in this case protected from the Deity, and the whole ceremony was "holy" and only for the circumcised. Frazer in his Golden Bough gives a very different interpretation.

11. Of Jethro:

As a priest of Midian, Jethro was an expert in sacrificing. On meeting Moses and the people he offered both ‛ōlāh and zebhāḥim and made a feast ( Exodus 18:12 ).

12. Summary and Conclusions:

From the above it is evident that sacrifices were almost the substance of religion in that ancient world. From hilltops and temples innumerable, the smoke of sacrifices was constantly rising heavenward. Burnt offerings and peace offerings were well known. Moses, in establishing a religion, must have a sacrificial system. He had abundance of materials to choose from, and under divine guidance would adopt such rules and regulations as the pedagogic plans and purposes of God would require in preparing for better things.

Sacrifices during the life of Moses

1. The Covenant Sacrifice:

The fundamental function of Moses' work was to establish the covenant between Israel and God. This important transaction took place at Sinai and was accompanied by solemn sacrifices. The foundation principle was obedience , not sacrifices ( Exodus 19:4-8 ).

No mention is made of these at the time, as they were incidental - mere by-laws to the constitution. The center of gravity in Israel's religion is now shifted from sacrifices to obedience and loyalty to Yahweh. Sacrifices were helps to that end and without obedience were worthless. This is in exact accordance with Jeremiah 7:21 ff. God did not speak unto the fathers at this time about sacrifices; He did speak about obedience.

The covenant having been made, the terms and conditions are laid down by Moses and accepted by the people (Exodus 24:3 ). The Decalogue and Covenant Code are given, an altar is built, burnt offerings and peace offerings of oxen are slain by young men servants of Moses, not by priests, and blood is sprinkled on the altar (Exodus 24:4 ff). The blood would symbolize the community of life between Yahweh and Israel, and consecrated the altar.

The Law was read, the pledge again given, and Moses sprinkled the representatives of the people, consecrating them also ( Exodus 24:7 f). Ascending the mount, they had a vision of God, held a feast before Him, showing the joys and privileges of the new relationship. The striking feature of these ceremonies is the use of the blood. It is expiatory and consecrating, it is life offered to God, it consecrates the altar and the people: they are now acceptable to God and dare approach Him and feast with Him. There is no idea of God's drinking the blood. The entire ritual is far removed from the crass features of common Semitic worship.

2. The Common Altars:

In the Covenant Code, which the people accepted, the customary altars are not abolished, but regulated (Exodus 20:24 ff). This law expressly applies to the time when they shall be settled in Canaan. 'In the whole place where I cause my name to be remembered,' etc. ( Exodus 20:24 margin). No need to change the reading to "in every place where I cause," etc., as the Wellhausen school does for obvious reasons. All the land was eligible. On such rude altars sacrifices were allowed.

This same law is implied in Deuteronomy 16:21 , a passage either ignored or explained away by the Wellhausen school (see Wiener, Essays in Pentateuchal Criticism , 200 f). Moses commanded Joshua in accordance with it (Deuteronomy 27:5 ff). Joshua, Gideon, Jephthah, Samuel, Saul, David, Elijah and many others used such altars. There were altars at Shechem ( Joshua 24:1 , Joshua 24:26 ), Mizpah in Gilead (Judges 11:11 ), Gilgal (1 Samuel 13:9 ). High places were chiefly used until the times of Hezekiah and Josiah, when they were abolished because of their corruptions, etc.

All such altars were perfectly legitimate and in fact necessary, until there was a central capital and sanctuary in Jerusalem. The customary burnt offerings and peace offerings with the worshipper officiating were the chief factors. Heathen sacrifices and the use of heathen altars were strictly forbidden (Exodus 22:20 (Hebrew 19); Exodus 34:15 )

3. The Consecration of Aaron and His Sons:

The altar used at the consecration of Aaron and his sons was a "horned" or official altar, the central one. The offerings were a bullock, two rams, unleavened bread, etc. (Exodus 29:1-4 ), and were brought to the door of the sanctuary. The ritual consisted of Aaron laying his hand on the bullock's head, designating it as his substitute (Exodus 29:10 ), killing it before the tent of meeting (Exodus 29:11 ), smearing some blood on the horns of the altar, and pouring the rest at its base (Exodus 29:12 ).

The blood consecrated the altar, the life was given as atonement for sins, the fat parts were burned upon the altar as food for God, and the flesh and remainder were burned without the camp (Exodus 29:13 , Exodus 29:14 ). This is a sin offering - ḥaṭṭā'th - the first time the term is used. Probably introduced by Moses, it was intended to be piacular and to "cover" possible sin. One ram was next slain, blood was sprinkled round about the altar, flesh was cut in pieces, washed and piled on the altar, then burned as an offering by fire ('ishsheh ) unto God as a burnt offering, an odor of a sweet savor (Exodus 29:15-18 ).

The naive and primitive nature of this idea is apparent. The other ram, the ram of consecration, is slain, blood is smeared on Aaron's right ear, thumb and great toe; in the case of his sons likewise. The blood is sprinkled on the altar round about; some upon the garments of Aaron and his sons (Exodus 29:19-21 ). Certain parts are waved before Yahweh along with the bread, and are then burned upon the altar (Exodus 29:22-25 ). The breast is offered as a wave offering (tenūphāh ), and the right thigh or shoulder as a heave offering (terūmāh ). These portions here first mentioned were the priests' portion for all time to come, although this particular one went to Moses, since he officiated (Exodus 29:26-30 ).

The flesh must be boiled in a holy place, and must be eaten by Aaron and his sons only, and at the sanctuary. What was left till morning must be burned (Exodus 29:31-34 ). Consecrated to a holy service it was dangerous for anyone else to touch it, or the divine wrath would flame forth. The same ceremony on each of the seven days atoned for, cleansed and consecrated the altar to the service of Yahweh, and it was most holy (Exodus 29:35-37 ). The altar of incense is ordered (Exodus 30:1 ), and Aaron is to put the blood of the sin offering once a year upon its horns to consecrate it.

4. Sacrifices Before the Golden Calf:

When the golden calf was made an altar was erected, burnt offerings and peace offerings were presented. From the latter a feast was made, the people followed the usual habits at such festivals, went to excess and joined in revelry. Moses' ear quickly detected the nature of the sounds. The covenant was now broken and no sacrifice was available for this sin. Vengeance was executed on 3,000 Israelites. Moses mightily interceded with God. A moral reaction was begun; new tables of the Law were made with more stringent laws against idols and idol worship (Exodus 32:1-35 ).

5. The Law of the Burnt Offering ('Olah):

At the setting-up of the tabernacle burnt and meal offerings were sacrificed (Exodus 40:29 ). The law of the burnt offering is found in Lev 1. Common altars and customary burnt offerings needed no minute regulations, but this ritual was intended primarily for the priest, and was taught to the people as needed. They were for the statutory individual and national offering upon the "horned" altar before the sanctuary. Already the daily burnt offerings of the priests had been provided for (Exodus 29:38-42 ). The burnt offering is here called ḳorbān , "oblation."

(1) Ritual for the Offerer (Leviticus 1:3-17 ).

This may have been from the herd or flock or fowls, brought to the tent of meeting; hands were laid (heavily) upon its head designating it as the offerer's substitute, it was killed, flayed and cut in pieces. If of the flock, it was to be killed on the north side of the altar; if a fowl, the priest must kill it.

(2) Ritual for the Priest (Leviticus 1:3-17 ).

If a bullock or of the flock, the priest was to sprinkle the blood round about the altar, put on the fire, lay the wood and pieces of the carcass, wash the inwards, legs, etc., and burn it all as a sweet savor to God. If a fowl, he must wring the neck, drain out the blood on the side of the altar, cast the crop, filth, etc., among the ashes, rend the wings without dividing the bird and burn the carcass on the altar.

(3) General Laws for the Priest.

The burnt offering must be continued every morning and every evening (Exodus 29:38 f; Numbers 28:3-8 ). At the fulfillment of his vow the Nazirite must present it before God and offer it upon the altar through the priest (Numbers 6:14 , Numbers 6:16 ): on the Sabbath, two lambs (Numbers 28:9 ); on the first of the month, two bullocks, one ram and seven lambs (Numbers 28:11 ); on the day of first-fruits, the same (Numbers 28:27 ); on the 1st day of the 7th month, one bullock, one ram, seven lambs (Numbers 29:8 ); on the 15th day, 13 bullocks, two rams, 14 lambs, the number of bullocks diminishing daily until the 7th day, when seven bullocks, two rams, 14 lambs were offered (Nu 29:12-34); on the 22nd day of this month one bullock, one ram and seven lambs were offered (Numbers 29:35 , Numbers 29:36 ). Non-Israelites were permitted to offer the ‛ōlāh , but no other sacrifices (Leviticus 17:8 ; Leviticus 22:18 , Leviticus 22:25 ).

(4) Laws in Deuteronomy 12:6 , Deuteronomy 12:13 , Deuteronomy 12:14 , Deuteronomy 12:27 ; Deuteronomy 27:6 .

Anticipating a central sanctuary in the future, the lawgiver counsels the people to bring their offerings there (Deuteronomy 12:6 , Deuteronomy 12:11 ); they must be careful not to offer them in any place (Deuteronomy 12:13 ), but must patronize the central sanctuary (Deuteronomy 12:14 ). In the meantime common altars and customary sacrifices were allowable and generally necessary (Deuteronomy 16:21 ; Deuteronomy 27:6 ).


International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, which is in the public domain (with minor edits).