Leviticus 16:21
And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) And Aaron shall lay both his hands.—With the imposition of “both his hands,” a phrase which only occurs in this ceremony, the high priest indicated in the most solemn manner possible that the animal was intended both for the priesthood and for the laity.

And confess over him all the iniquities.—This confession, which was at first extempore, was formulated during” the second Temple as follows: “O Lord, thy people, the house of Israel, have sinned, and done iniquity, and transgressed before thee. O Lord, I beseech thee, cover over the sins, the iniquities and the transgressions that thy people, the house of Israel, have sinned, have done iniquitously, and have transgressed before thee, as it is written in the Law of thy servant Moses” (Leviticus 16:30). The priests and the people who stood in the court when they heard the high priest utter the Ineffable name, Jehovah—which in the time of Christ was only pronounced on this day, and that by the pontiff—prostrated themselves, and with their faces to the ground responded, “Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever.”

Putting them upon the head of the goat.—By this imposition of hands, and the confession, the high priest transferred the sins of the nation to the goat. He then turned to the people, and declared, “Ye shall be clean.”

Send him away by the hand of a fit man.—The guilt-laden animal was then entrusted to a man previously appointed, to be conducted to the lonely region, the abode of Azazel, thus carrying back to him the sins which he enticed the people to commit during the year. The phrase which is here rendered by “a fit man,” and which occurs nowhere else in the Bible, denotes more properly a timely man, a man at hand, one appointed for the occasion. The marginal rendering, “a man of opportunity,” is still more objectionable.

Leviticus 16:21. All the iniquities — He mentions iniquities, transgressions, and sins, to denote sins of all sorts, and that a free and full confession was to be made, and that the smallest sins needed, and the greatest sins were not excluded from, the benefit of Christ’s death here represented. On the head — Charging all their sins and the punishment due to them upon the goat, which, though only a ceremony, yet being done according to God’s appointment, and manifestly pointing at Christ, upon whom their iniquities and punishments were laid, (Isaiah 53:5-6,) it was available for this end. And hence the heathens took their custom of selecting one beast or man, upon whom they laid all their imprecations and curses, and whom they killed as an expiatory sacrifice for their sins, and to prevent their ruin. A fit man — Hebrew, a man of time, that is, of years and discretion, who might be trusted with this work. Into the wilderness — Which signified the removal of their sins far away both from the people, and out of God’s sight. And here the goat being neglected by all men, and exposed to many hazards from wild beasts, which were numerous there, might further signify Christ’s being forsaken both by God and by men, even by his own disciples, and the many dangers and sufferings he underwent.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.Confess over him - The form of confession used on this occasion in later times was: "O Lord, Thy people, the house of Israel, have transgressed, they have rebelled, they have sinned before Thee. I beseech Thee now absolve their transgressions, their rebellion, and their sin that they have sinned against Thee, as it is written in the law of Moses Thy servant, that on this day he shall make atonement for you to cleanse you from all your sins, and ye shall be clean."

A fit man - literally, a timely man, or a man at hand. Tradition says that the man was appointed for this work the year before.

20-22. he shall bring the live goat—Having already been presented before the Lord (Le 16:10), it was now brought forward to the high priest, who, placing his hands upon its head, and "having confessed over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins," transferred them by this act to the goat as their substitute. It was then delivered into the hands of a person, who was appointed to lead him away into a distant, solitary, and desert place, where in early times he was let go, to escape for his life; but in the time of Christ, he was carried to a high rock twelve miles from Jerusalem, and there, being thrust over the precipice, he was killed. Commentators have differed widely in their opinions about the character and purpose of this part of the ceremonial; some considering the word "Azazel," with the Septuagint and our translators, to mean, "the scapegoat"; others, "a lofty, precipitous rock" [Bochart]; others, "a thing separated to God" [Ewald, Tholuck]; while others think it designates Satan [Gesenius, Hengstenberg]. This last view is grounded on the idea of both goats forming one and the same sacrifice of atonement, and it is supported by Zec 3:1-10, which presents a striking commentary on this passage. Whether there was in this peculiar ceremony any reference to an Egyptian superstition about Typhon, the spirit of evil, inhabiting the wilderness, and the design was to ridicule it by sending a cursed animal into his gloomy dominions, it is impossible to say. The subject is involved in much obscurity. But in any view there seems to be a typical reference to Christ who bore away our sins [Heb 10:4; 1Jo 3:5]. Both his hands. See on Exodus 29:10 Leviticus 1:4. And confess over him; confession of sin being a duty to accompany the sacrifice offered for it, as we see Leviticus 5:5 Numbers 5:7. All their transgressions in all their sins, or, with or according to all their sins; for so the Hebrew particle is oft used. He mentions iniquities, transgressions, and sins, to note sins of all sorts, and that a very free and full confession was to be made, and that the smallest sins needed, and the greatest sins were not excluded from, the benefit of Christ’s death here represented.

Putting them upon the head of the goat; charging all their sins and the punishment due to them upon the goat, which though only a ceremony, yet being done according to God’s appointment, and manifestly pointing at Christ, upon whom their iniquities and punishments were laid, Isaiah 53:5,6, it was available for this end. And hence the heathens took their custom of selecting one beast or man upon whom they laid all their imprecations and curses, and whom they killed as an expiatory sacrifice for their sins, and to prevent their ruin. A fit man; one that knows the wilderness, and the way to it, and what places in it are most convenient for that use. Heb. a man of time, i.e. of years and discretion, who may be trusted with this work. Into the wilderness; which signified the removal of their sins far away, both from the people, and out of God’s sight, or from the place of his presence. And here the goat being neglected by all men, and exposed to many hardships and hazards from wild beasts, which were numerous there, might further signify Christ’s being forsaken, both by God and by men, even by his own disciples, and the many dangers and sufferings he underwent. The Jews write, that this goat was carried to the mountain called Azazel, whence the goat is so called, Leviticus 16:10; and that there he was cast down headlong; and that the red string by which he was led turned white when God was pleased with the Israelites, otherwise it remained red; and then they mourned all that year. And the ancient Hebrews write, that forty years before the destruction of the temple, which was about the time of Christ’s death, this red string turned no more white. And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat,.... In this order as the Targum of Jonathan says, his right hand upon his left hand on the head of the live goat; this was done in the name of the people, hereby transferring their sins, and the punishment of them, to it:

and confess him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins; which takes in their sins, greater or lesser, sins of ignorance and presumption, known or not known (x), even all sorts of and all of them: the form of confession used in after times was this (y); O Lord, thy people, the house of Israel, have done perversely, have transgressed sinned berate thee, O Lord, expiate now the iniquities, transgressions, and sins, in which thy people, the house of Israel, have done perversely, transgressed, and sinned before thee, as it is written in the law of Moses thy servant (#Le 16:30;) and it is added, and the priests and people that stood in the court, when they heard the name Jehovah go out of the mouth of the high priest, they bowed, and worshipped, and fell upon their faces, and said, blessed be God, let the glory of his kingdom be for ever and ever:

putting them upon the head of the goat; that is, the iniquities, transgressions, and sins of the people of Israel before confessed, and that by confession of them, with imposition of hands; and which was typical of the imputation of the sins of the people of God to Christ, of the Lord laying, or causing to meet on him the iniquities of them all, and of his being made sin by imputation for them:

and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness; whether the wilderness of Judea, or what other is intended, is not certain. The Targum of Jonathan calls it the wilderness of Zuck; which, according to the Misnah (z), was three miles from Jerusalem, at the entrance of the wilderness; and whereas in another Misnah (a), instead of Bethchadudo, Bethhoron is mentioned, which is said also to be three miles from Jerusalem: it is not an improbable conjecture of Dr. Lightfoot (b), that the goat was sent in the way to Bethhoron, which was the same distance from Jerusalem as the other place was, in the northern coast of Judea, and had very rough hills about it, and a narrow passage to it. The man, by whom he was sent, was one fit for the purpose, that knew the way to the wilderness, and was acquainted with it; a man of years and understanding, and of a disposition suitable for such a service; the Septuagint version renders it one that was "ready"; and the Targums, one that was "prepared" to go, or "appointed", and got ready; Jarchi says, the day before; but the Targum of Jonathan a year ago: perhaps it designs one, that being once appointed, was continued, and so was used to it from time to time, and constantly did it: the phrase properly signifies "a man of time" or "opportunity" (c); Aben Ezra finds fault with those who render it a wise man, but observes, that some of their Rabbins say it was a priest that led the goat to the wilderness, which he approves of; according to the Misnah (d), all were fit for this service (formerly common and unclean), but what the high priest did (afterwards) was fixed, and they did not suffer an Israelite to lead him (i.e. a common Israelite, one that was not a priest); according to the Talmud (e), even a stranger, and an unclean person, was fit for this service. In the mystical sense, by this fit man, or man of opportunity, is not meant, according to Abarbinel, Nebuchadnezzar, who led the children of Israel into the wilderness of the people, into the Babylonish captivity; but rather, if it could be understood of Christ being sent, and carried into the wilderness of the Gentile world, upon his resurrection and ascension to heaven, the Apostle Paul might be thought of; who was a chosen vessel to carry his name there, and was eminently the apostle of the Gentiles: but seeing by Azazel, to whom this goat was let go, Satan seems to be meant; if, as some think (f), Christ was baptized on the day of atonement, and on that day was led by the Spirit to the wilderness of Judea, there to be tempted of the devil, that might be considered as a very singular accomplishment of the type; and the Jews seem to expect the Messiah on the day of atonement (g): or rather, as Witsius (h) observes, the hand of the fit man may denote the power that rose up against Christ, namely, the Gentiles and the people of Israel, and particularly Pilate, who took care that Christ, burdened with the cross, an emblem of the curse, should be led without the gate, where he had his last conflict with the devil; See Gill on Leviticus 16:10. This is applied to Pilate by Origen (i).

(x) Vid. Maimon. Hilchot Teshnbah, c. 1. sect. 2.((y) Misnah Yoma, c. 6. sect. 2.((z) Misnah Yoma, sect. 8. (a) Misn. Hieros. c. 6. sect. 9. fol. 43. 2.((b) Chorograph. Cent. on Matth. c. liv. Vid. ib. c. 6. xix. (c) "viri opportuni", Montanus; "viri tempestivi", Tigurine version. (d) Ut supra, (a)) sect. 3.((e) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 66. 1, 2.((f) Jackson & alii, apud Patrick in loe. (g) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 19. 2.((h) De Oeconomia Foeder. l. 4. c. 6. sect. 72. (i) In Levit. Homil. 10. c. 16. fol. 82.

And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them {g} upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:

(g) In this goat is a true figure of Jesus Christ, who bears the sins of the people, Is 53:9.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. The words of confession are given (p. 92) from the Mishna.

21. a man that is in readiness] a fit man, A.V., one appointed (as R.V. mg.) for the purpose. In the time of the second temple, one that was not an Israelite was usually chosen (Tal. Bab. Yoma, 66 a and b).After this he was to slay the he-goat as a sin-offering for the nation, for which purpose, of course, he must necessarily come back to the court again, and then take the blood of the goat into the most holy place, and do just the same with it as he had already done with that of the ox. A double sprinkling took place in both cases, first upon or against the capporeth, and then seven times in front of the capporeth. The first sprinkling, which was performed once only, was for the expiation of the sins, first of the high priest and his house, and then of the congregation of Israel (Leviticus 4:7, and Leviticus 4:18); the second, which was repeated seven times, was for the expiation of the sanctuary from the sins of the people. This is implied in the words of Leviticus 16:16, "and so shall he make expiation for the most holy place, on account of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and on account of their transgressions with regard to all their sins," which refer to both the sacrifices; since Aaron first of all expiated the sins of the priesthood, and the uncleanness with which the priesthood had stained the sanctuary through their sin, by the blood of the bullock of the sin-offering; and then the sins of the nation, and the uncleannesses with which it had defiled the sanctuary, by the he-goat, which was also slain as a sin-offering.

(Note: V. Hoffmann's objection to this rests upon the erroneous supposition that a double act of expiation was required for the congregation, and only a single one for the priesthood, whereas, according to the distinct words of the text, a double sprinkling was performed with the blood of both the sin-offerings, and therefore a double expiation effected.)

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