The Wisdom of Israel, by Edwin Collins, , at sacred-texts.com
God needs no sacrifice, but the sacrificial worship had, for one of its objects, the weaning of Israel from idolatry and from temptation to the cruelty to animals practised by idolaters in sacrificing to devils and the supposed powers of evil. Rabbi Phineas said, in the name of Rabbi Levi:
"This may be likened to a king's son, who was greedy and who used to eat at the tables of all kinds of people, and learned their ways, and used to eat unclean food. Then the king said, He shall always eat at my table, and there he shall remain."
Thus, because the children of Israel were
yearning after the idolatry they had seen in Egypt, and "sacrificing unto devils," they were commanded to bring sacrifices to the God of life, and to Him alone; to kill only in a merciful manner, and not to shed the blood of animals at all without the solemnity of an offering.
But the heathen thought their gods required food, whereas even mortal man, when in close intercourse with God, requires neither eating nor drinking; for Moses was forty days in the mount without food. How much less can the Holy One of Israel be in need of the flesh of sacrifices! The idea is ridiculed in the Psalms. Rabbi Chiya bar Abba says: "Even the lowest of God's creatures are not in need of their own produce; how much less then is the Creator in need of what He has created. Have ye ever heard it said, 'Irrigate this vine with wine, so that it may produce much wine, or this olive-tree with oil, that it may produce much oil '? These plants are in no need of their own products to nourish them; shall, then, God be in need of what He has created?"