The sacrifice system was received after Exodus and is described in Leviticus. Also in Leviticus it is described what clean and unclean animals were.

  1. How could Job and Noah know that they should be doing sacrifices and in Noah’s case what clean animals are(Genesis 8:20–21)?
  2. How did Job know who the real(Jewish) God is, when he was not Jewish and God has not revealed his sacrificial commandments in Leviticus, yet?

It seems to me that this is good evidence that Jews invented these stories and put their current understandings in them, not realizing that the people in the stories would not have known about their current Jewish laws.

Argument from silence like "well, probably God did tell them somehow" is not a good argument.

  • A "formal" sacrifice system was delineated in Exodus and Leviticus. Recall that sacrifices are mentioned as earlier in Genesis with respect to Abel and Cain's sacrifices.
    – agarza
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 19:54
  • Did God said anything to Cain or Abel about that he wants a sacrifice? And moreover that the sacrifice is for forgiveness of sins?
    – CuriousGuy
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 19:58
  • The question shows lack of research, ignoring scripture and, thus, drawing false conclusions. Further clarity and detail is required.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 20:48
  • You're assuming that they should have made sacrifices, but the Biblical texts don't say that, only that they did.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented May 4, 2023 at 12:18
  • Some of the context in the answers to this question might be helpful: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/14859/… Commented May 5, 2023 at 3:12

3 Answers 3


Argument from silence like "well, probably God did tell them somehow" is not a good argument.

This is incredibly biased. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence; indeed, that claim is a well-known fallacy, which you are deliberately invoking.

Fortunately, we have plenty of positive evidence as well. In fact, God is explicitly recorded as talking to Adam (Genesis 2-3), Eve (Genesis 3), Cain (Genesis 4), Noah (Genesis 7-9), Job (Job), and many others. The idea that the only information God communicated to men is exactly what is recorded is simply absurd, and we see Cain and Abel offering sacrifices, and Noah doesn't seem to need to be told about clean and unclean animals.

So... why is this information missing?

A better question to ask is why do we expect it to be present? When telling a story, you generally don't fill in background information your audience already knows. It seems quite clear that people before Moses knew God, and knew at least some of what he expected in terms of laws and/or religious practice.

Another consideration is that Moses is generally credited for writing Genesis. That isn't to say that Genesis is fiction; rather, Moses took prior sources and compiled them into what we have today. Given that this likely happened at about the same time Leviticus was written (or at least at a time when Moses knew that Leviticus would be written), it's entirely plausible that he would have considered rehashing laws, practices and customs predating Leviticus to be superfluous.

It's true that Scripture is intended for us, today, but it was also intended for its contemporary audience... and for pre-Incarnation Jews, explaining the need and reasons to offer sacrifices would be as gratuitous as explaining the need and reasons to consume food or beverage. Thus, to them it would not be surprising that sacrifices are mentioned only occasionally, just as eating and drinking are mentioned only occasionally. Nor would it be any more surprising for no reason to be stated than for every instance of eating or drinking to omit "because he was hungry" or "because she was thirsty"; that information would be self-evident to the reader... just as it should be self-evident to us because we have the context of all of Scripture from which to infer such things. (It should be noted that there are many places in which understanding Scripture requires background knowledge; Genesis is hardly unusual in this respect.)

At any rate, the idea that God had not yet revealed Himself is clearly nonsense. The argument that people prior to Moses could not have known information that is not recorded prior to Leviticus is simply, and overtly, fallacious. It makes no sense when Scripture is considered in its original context, and it makes no sense when considered in our context today. In both cases, the "missing" information is either well known, or trivially inferred, from other sources.

  • Where is the need for sacrifices for atonement for sins first mentioned? People would not have known to do them except that God said it explicitly to them. At which point did he say it explicitly and clearly?
    – CuriousGuy
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 20:10
  • How would you prove that God said it and it was clear for the persons mentioned, if he did not do it in the recorded story before the sacrificial events? Why assuming that he did is more reasonable than that he didn't, when it is clear that he didn't?
    – CuriousGuy
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 20:16
  • 2
    "...when it is clear that he didn't", no, that's only "clear" in your imagination. Just as it's "clear" that Adam and Eve never drank a thing in their entire lives, because it's not recorded that they did. Now, I can't prove that they specifically drank anything, but I can infer from the evidence that they lived for more than a week (hundreds of years, in fact). Just as I can infer that people knew to offer sacrifices as evidenced by them doing so.
    – Matthew
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 20:20
  • Drinking is not as important topic as the sacrifice and forgiveness of sin is - which in fact is mentioned over and over in many places in OT. So, I don't think that your example is with the same weight as my question and argument. Then, if it is well known for the people and it worked as simple as it was described(just a simple sacrifice), why would we have so explicit descriptions in Leviticus of how the sacrifices should be done?
    – CuriousGuy
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 20:25
  • 2
    @CuriousGuy, you seem to have missed Genesis 3:21. Again, however, your entire case is based on the assertion that you know better what details are "important", and you appear impervious to reasons why you might be wrong. Therefore, I see little value in continuing this conversation. (Which is too long as it is. Take it to chat.)
    – Matthew
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 21:03

The sacrifice system was received after Exodus and is described in Leviticus.

It's true that it was recorded by Moses in Leviticus, but there is no reason to believe that sacrifices didn't exist before that time, nor even that there wasn't some form of priesthood.

Genesis records that sacrifices were being offered right from the beginning:

Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.
And the LORD respected Abel and his offering,
— Genesis 4:4 (NKJV throughout)

Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
— Genesis 8:20

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.
— Genesis 14:18

Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns.
So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.
— Genesis 22:3

Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his brethren to eat bread.
And they ate bread and stayed all night on the mountain.
— Genesis 31:54

What Moses did was to make a formal written record of how the Levitical priesthood should administer sacrifices.

This may have included new procedures and ceremonies specific to the covenant with Israel, but it would also have included the knowledge of sacrifices to God that had previously been passed down as traditional practice.

The same applies to God's commandments:

And I will make your [Isaac's] descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.
— Genesis 26,4–5

  • " but there is no reason to believe that sacrifices didn't exist before that time, nor even that there wasn't some form of priesthood." Why is it more reasonable that they existed without previous God commandments about them? If God have commanded them to the mentioned persons, how hard could it be to be mentioned and explained what and why he commanded?
    – CuriousGuy
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 20:20
  • 3
    @CuriousGuy. There are two obvious possibilities: 1) God told people about his laws, commandments, requirement for sacrifices, etc. but while this is implied, it wasn't explicitly recorded; or 2) Moses, or whoever wrote the Torah, made up a lot of stuff, like parting the Red Sea and getting tablets carved personally by God himself. ¶ Many people do believe the second alternative, but for them to discuss it on this site is a waste of everyone's time, just as it would be to talk about miracles on the Physics.SE or Chemistry.SE sites. Commented May 3, 2023 at 20:27
  • 1
    @CuriousGuy, it isn't "assumptions", it's conclusions from deductive and abductive reasoning. There's a choice between trusting the data and making use of it, and disbelieving the data and ignoring it. Many people believe the Bible is mostly fairy tales, and they don't trust the data. Other people make a single assumption, that the Bible is true. I can respect both positions, but I can't respect people that decide to pick and choose which of the supernatural parts of the Bible they want to believe in. Commented May 3, 2023 at 21:05
  • 1
    @CuriousGuy, statements like "this is good evidence that Jews invented these stories", or your apparent resistance to reasonable explanations, don't give the impression of being "without presuppositions". While your actual question may be valid, the way in which you approach it does not seem neutral. From a standpoint of neutrality, 'are such details necessary' would be an equally valid question... and we propose that the answer to that is 'no'.
    – Matthew
    Commented May 4, 2023 at 13:59
  • 2
    @CuriousGuy, as to the question of whether Genesis is fabrication, consider this. There are hundreds of flood legends spanning nearly every culture, making it likely that there is some truth to them. Also, while it's often claimed that the Jews copied the Babylonian myth (which was written down earlier), the boat in that one (and many others) is patently absurd, whereas Noah's Ark is of a nearly-optimal design. Which is more likely; a bunch of ancient, dumb nobodies copied a fictional story and made it much more plausible, or the Noahic story was the original?
    – Matthew
    Commented May 4, 2023 at 14:03

It was God himself who instituted sacrifice :

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. [Genesis 3:21 KJV]

The source of the skins is not revealed. Therefore the implication is that a source is to be revealed in the future.

After this event, Abel follows the example :

And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: [Genesis 4:4 KJV]

Following the divine example, Abel sacrificed of his flock and brought the fat. And God respected that Abel had taken note of His own action and had followed that example.

Noah follows the precedents set previously.

Job also follows these precedents.

These are obedient, faithful people who notice what God has done and who notice what their forebears have done and they humbly follow the way that has been shown them.

  • That is interesting idea. But there is 1 problem - if God didn't mention that the sacrifice that Cain and Abel did is needed for atonement for sins, then why would Noah and Job follow them? Are they just copying without understanding? Seems that only Job understands the purpose. The text does not explain why Noah did the sacrifice - he just did it(with clean animals). How does he know what a clean animal is? Job on the other hand is doing the sacrifices for the correct reason(which would be described much much later in the OT) - for forgiveness of sins. Isn't this fishy?
    – CuriousGuy
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 20:59
  • 1
    @CuriousGuy You are not following the text of the scripture. Adam confessed his sin. God promised a 'seed' would rise above the serpentine Spirit and would (from above) bruise his head. An ascension. God slaughtered and provided skins. The man and the woman were clothed in another kind of nature than that in which they had been created. All these things are pregnant with spiritual allusion and truth. (But only if one is penitent and believing ; and only if God reveals these things to one's longing soul : the rich, he sends empty, away.)
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 21:06

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