|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
16:15-34 Here are typified the two great gospel privileges, of the remission of sin, and access to God, both of which we owe to our Lord Jesus. See the expiation of guilt. Christ is both the Maker and the Matter of the atonement; for he is the Priest, the High Priest, that makes reconciliation for the sins of the people. And as Christ is the High Priest, so he is the Sacrifice with which atonement is made; for he is all in all in our reconciliation to God. Thus he was figured by the two goats. The slain goat was a type of Christ dying for our sins; the scape-goat a type of Christ rising again for our justification. The atonement is said to be completed by putting the sins of Israel upon the head of the goat, which was sent away into a wilderness, a land not inhabited; and the sending away of the goat represented the free and full remission of their sins. He shall bear upon him all their iniquities. Thus Christ, the Lamb of God, takes away the sin of the world, by taking it upon himself, Joh 1:29. The entrance into heaven, which Christ made for us, was typified by the high priest's entrance into the most holy place. See Heb 9:7. The high priest was to come out again; but our Lord Jesus ever lives, making intercession, and always appears in the presence of God for us. Here are typified the two great gospel duties of faith and repentance. By faith we put our hands upon the head of the offering; relying on Christ as the Lord our Righteousness, pleading his satisfaction, as that which alone is able to atone for our sins, and procure us a pardon. By repentance we afflict our souls; not only fasting for a time from the delights of the body, but inwardly sorrowing for sin, and living a life of self-denial, assuring ourselves, that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. By the atonement we obtain rest for our souls, and all the glorious liberties of the children of God. Sinner, get the blood of Christ effectually applied to thy soul, or else thou canst never look God in the face with any comfort or acceptance. Take this blood of Christ, apply it by faith, and see how it atones with God.
Verse 22. - Then the goat went forth, bearing upon him all their iniquities. The slain goat had symbolized and ceremonially wrought full atonement or covering of sins; but in order to impress upon the mind of the nation a joyful sense of entire liberation from the burden of sin, the second symbol of the disappearing goat is used; so that not only sin, but the consciousness and the fear of the taint and presence of sin, might be taken away from the cleansed and delivered people. The goat is to bear the iniquities of the people unto a land not inhabited. The latter words - in the original, eretz gezerah - would be more correctly translated, a laud cut off, that is, completely isolated from the surrounding country by some barrier of rock or torrent, which would make it impossible for the goat to come back again. Thus the sins were utterly lost, as though they had never been, and they could not return to the sanctified people. The Hebrew word gazar, to cut (1 Kings 3:25; Psalm 136:18), is represented in Arabic by jazara, and the substantive gezerah by jaziruh, which means an island, or an area surrounded by rivers. The word is still in use in countries where Arabic is spoken, as the designation of a district divided from the neighbouring territories by rivers cutting it off, and making it a sort of island or peninsula. Into such a district as this, the man who led the goat was to let him go. In later times, contrary to the spirit of the Mosaic appointment, the goat was pushed over a projecting ledge of rock, and so killed, a device of man clumsily introduced for the purpose of perfecting a symbolism of Divine appointment. It was more in accordance with the original institution that "the arrival of the goat in the wilderness was immediately telegraphed by the waving of flags, from station to station, till a few minutes after its occurrence it was known in the temple, and whispered from ear to ear, that the goat had borne upon him all their iniquities into a land not inhabited" (Edersheim, 'Temple Service'). Both the goat that was sacrificed and the goat that served as remover of sins typified Christ. The first presents him to our faith as the Victim on the cross, the other as the Sin-bearer on whom the Lord laid "the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:4; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13). "The reason for making use of two animals is to be found purely in the physical impossibility of combining all features that had to be set forth in the sin offering in one animal" (Keil).
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And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited,.... Where it would never be seen, and from whence it would never return more; and so was a proper type of Christ, who has borne all the sins of all his people in his own body on the cross, and all the punishment due unto them; and so has made full satisfaction for them, and has removed them from them, as far as the east is from the west, and out of the sight of avenging justice; so that when they are sought they shall not be found, nor shall they ever return unto them, or be brought against them any more; see Isaiah 53:12,
and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness; that is, the man that was appointed to have him thither; and so the Targum of Jonathan,"and the man shall let go the goat into the wilderness of Zuck; and the goat shall go upon the mountains of Beth Chadure (or Chadudo), and a tempestuous wind from the Lord shall drive him down, and he shall die.''The manner of conducting this whole affair was this; they made for him a causeway (i.e. for the man that had the goat committed to his care, to have it out of the court, and out of the city), because of the Babylonians, who would pluck him by the hair, and say, Get out, begone, get out, begone. The nobles of Jerusalem accompanied him to the first booth, for there were ten booths from Jerusalem to Zuck, which were ninety furlongs, seven and a half to every mile; at every (i.e. twelve miles) at every booth they said to him, Lo food, lo water, and they accompanied him from booth to booth, excepting the last of them; for there was not one went with him to Zuck, but stood afar off, and observed what he did: what did he do? he parted a scarlet line, half of it he bound to the rock, and half of it he bound between his horns (the goat's), and pushed him backwards, and he rolled and went down, but before he came half way down the mountain he was dashed to pieces; then he (the man) went and sat under the last booth until it was dark--they said to the high priest, the goat is got to the wilderness; but from whence did they know that the goat was got to the wilderness? they made watchtowers or beacons, and they waved linen cloths, and so knew when the goat was come to the Wilderness (k). But the Scripture is entirely silent about the death of this goat, though it no doubt died in the wilderness, only says that it was let go, and was at liberty to go where it would; intimating that the people of Israel were free from all their sins, and they should be no more seen nor remembered; typical of the deliverance and freedom of the people of God from all their sins by Christ. This affair was imitated by Satan among the Heathens, particularly the Egyptians, as has been observed by many out of Herodotus (l); who relates, that they used to imprecate many things upon the head of a beast slain for sacrifice, and then carried it to market, where were Grecian merchants, to whom they sold it; but if there were none, they cast it into the river, execrating the head after this manner, that if any evil was to befall either themselves that sacrificed, or all Egypt, it might be turned upon that head. And on account of this custom, which obtained among all the Egyptians, no one among them would ever taste the head of any animal; which Plutarch (m) also affirms, who says, that having made an execration upon the head of the sacrifice, and cut it off, formerly they cast it into the river, but now they give it to strangers. And a like custom obtained among other nations, as the Massilians and Grecians (n).
(k) Yoma, c. 6. sect. 4, 5, 6, 8. (l) Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 39. (m) De Iside & Osir. (n) Vid. Outram. de Sacrificiis, l. 1. c. 22. sect. 14.
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