Sacrifice is offered in either the bloody or the unbloody form.
1. A sacrifice of living animals, such as an ox, a lamb, or a dove, is a bloody sacrifice. A sacrifice of some food, such as fruit, wine, or wheat, is an unbloody sacrifice.
Among the Jews, the animals used to be slaughtered, their blood poured out upon the altar, and their flesh consumed by fire or eaten by the priests and those for whom the sacrifice was offered. The unbloody oblation was burned up or eaten by the priests after being offered; the wine was poured out on the altar.
2. Some heathens, with perverted ideas, offered human sacrifices to their idols.
The King of Moab (4 Kings 3:27) offered his own son as a sacrifice, to obtain help against the Israelites.
God gave to Moses detailed instructions on sacrificial offerings (Leviticus 1-7; 16; 22). Among the Jews, the high-priest, in the name of the people, offered morning and evening an unbloody sacrifice of incense, flour, oil, and frankincense. Then he offered a bloody sacrifice of a lamb, together with food and drink. On the Sabbath, two lambs, with bread and wine, were offered in addition as sacrifice.
On certain solemn feasts the Jews sacrificed hundreds of animals amidst impressive ceremonies. Their chief feasts were: (a) the Pasch or Passover, which commemorated their deliverance from Egypt; (b) the Pentecost, in remembrance of the Law received on Mount Sinai; (c) the Tabernacles, to commemorate their wanderings in the desert; and (d) the Expiation or Atonement, in which the priest sacrificed for his own and the people’s sins. These sacrifices typified the sacrifice of Christ.
Among the Jews there were different ranks or orders of priests, as the high-priest, the priests, and the Levites: These ranks were a figure or type of the different orders that were to be in the Church founded by Jesus Christ. The people faithfully obeyed their priests, and supported them with alms.
The Jewish sacrifices were merely types of the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, and ceased with the passing of the Old Law. In the New Law we have the True Sacrifice, the same that Christ offered on Calvary by His death. The High Priest is Christ Himself, and Christ, too, is the Victim. St. Paul said, “It is impossible that sins should be taken away with blood of bulls and of goats” (Hebrew 10:4).