The blood of the Lamb

I want here to look at the phrase "washed in the blood of the Lamb". Eating bread/body and drinking wine/blood are a different matter (e.g. Jn 6:52:59).

Rev 7:14 They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

RSV refers to Genesis 49. Jacob is speaking: of the days to come:

10. The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,

nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,

until he comes to whom it belongs,

and unto him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

11. Binding his foal to the vine,

and his ass’s colt to the choice vine,

he washes his garments in wine

and his vesture in the blood of grapes;

12. His eyes shall be red with wine,

and his teeth white with milk.

The only other reference of a like kind that I can find in the New Testament is 1 Peter 18-19:

18. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver and gold, 19. But with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

I am glad: I have always found washing in the blood of the Lamb a distasteful image (feeling with Heraclitus that those polluted with blood cannot be cleansed with blood). Rev 7:14 seems to me a paraphrase of Gen 49:10-12 which is okay in its foretaste even of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem of the True Vine, mounted on an ass, and on a colt the foal of an ass.


Malcolm Crowe, Glasgow, 11 June 1998.