Leviticus 16:8
And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.
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(8) And Aaron shall cast lots.—The lots consisted of two small tablets which at an earlier time were of box or ebony wood, but which during the later part of the second Temple were made of gold, and were kept in a wooden chest. On the one was engraved the words “For Jehovah,” and on the other “For Azazel,” the expression in the original, which is translated scapegoat in the Authorised Version. The high priest, after shaking the chest, put both his hands into the urn and simultaneously took out the two tablets, one in each hand. Hereupon he put the tablet which he had in his right hand upon the goat that was standing on his right side, whilst the tablet in his left hand he put on the goat on his left side. If the tablet with the in scription “For Jehovah was in his right hand the chief priest who stood at the right of the pontiff exclaimed “Hold up thy right hand on high!” and if it happened to be in the left hand, the chief of the principal household, who stood on his left, called out to him “Hold up thy left hand.” Hereupon the high priest laid the two lots on the two goats, the one in the right hand on the goat at his right, and the one in the left hand on the animal at his left, exclaiming at the same time, “To the Lord a sin offering!”

And the other lot for the scapegoat.—Better, and the other lot for Azazel. The word, which only occurs in this chapter, probably denotes the utterly banished demon, the prince of the evil spirits, who with his legions occupies the desert regions and desolated places. (Comp. Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:14; Matthew 12:43; Luke 11:24; Revelation 18:2.) As the removal or pardon of sin is often represented in the Bible by its being banished into the uttermost parts of the earth and seas (Micah 7:19; Psalm 103:12), nothing could be more striking or convey to the people the idea of absolute forgiveness better than this symbolical act of sending the goat laden with the sins of the congregation to the wilderness, the abode of the prince of darkness, back to the author of all sin. The rendering, scapegoat, is contrary to the manifest antithesis of the verse. If the one member “For Jehovah” denotes a person, the second member “For Azazel,” which forms the contrast, must, primâ facie, also denote a person. Besides, the translation scapegoat cannot be admitted in the next verse but one, where, if adopted, it would literally be “to send the goat to the scapegoat in the wilderness” .(see Leviticus 16:10), or in Leviticus 16:26, where it is, “and he who taketh away the goat to the scapegoat.”

Leviticus 16:8. One lot for the Lord — To be sacrificed to him upon his altar. Both this and the other goat typified Christ; this in his death and passion for us, that in his resurrection for our deliverance. The other lot for the scape-goat — The Jewish doctors tell us that this goat, on which the sins of the nation were transferred, was loaded with all marks of reproach, and imprecations, and that the people prayed that all those evils which they thought due to themselves might fall upon it. Thus was Christ made a curse for us, while on him was laid the iniquities of us all.

16:1-14 Without entering into particulars of the sacrifices on the great day of atonement, we may notice that it was to be a statute for ever, till that dispensation be at an end. As long as we are continually sinning, we continually need the atonement. The law of afflicting our souls for sin, is a statue which will continue in force till we arrive where all tears, even those of repentance, will be wiped from our eyes. The apostle observes it as a proof that the sacrifices could not take away sin, and cleanse the conscience from it, that in them there was a remembrance made of sin every year, upon the day of atonement, Heb 10:1,3. The repeating the sacrifices, showed there was in them but a feeble effort toward making atonement; this could be done only by offering up the body of Christ once for all; and that sacrifice needed not to be repeated.The two goats formed a single sin-offering, Leviticus 16:5. To bring out the meaning of the sacrifice it was necessary that the act of a living being should be performed after death. See Leviticus 16:22 note. As this could not possibly be visibly set forth with a single victim, two were employed, as in the case of the birds in the rite for the healed leper Leviticus 14:4-6.

For the scapegoat - Rather, for Azazel. The word occurs nowhere else in the Old Testament but in this chapter, and is probably derived from a root in use in Arabic, but not in Hebrew, signifying to "remove", or "to separate".

Azazel is the pre-Mosaic name of an evil personal being placed in opposition to Yahweh. Each goat, having been presented to Yahweh before the lots were cast, stood in a sacrificial relation to Him. The casting of lots was an appeal to the decision of Yahweh (compare Joshua 7:16-17; Joshua 14:2; Proverbs 16:33; Acts 1:26, etc.); it was therefore His act to choose one of the goats for His service in the way of ordinary sacrifice, the other for His service in carrying off the sins to Azazel (see the note at Leviticus 16:22). By this exppressive outward sign the sins were sent back to the author of sin himself, "the entirely separate one," who was banished from the realm of grace.

The goat itself did not lose the sacred character with which it had been endued in being presented before Yahweh. It was, as much as the slain goat, a figure of Him who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, on whom the Lord laid the iniquity of us all Isaiah 53:4, Isaiah 53:6, that we might become a sanctified Church to be presented unto Himself, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing Ephesians 5:26-27.

5-10. shall take of the congregation … two kids of the goats … and one ram—The sacrifices were to be offered by the high priest, respectively for himself and the other priests, as well as for the people. The bullock (Le 16:3) and the goats were for sin offerings and the rams for burnt offerings. The goats, though used in different ways, constituted only one offering. They were both presented before the Lord, and the disposal of them determined by lot, which Jewish writers have thus described: The priest, placing one of the goats on his right hand and the other on his left, took his station by the altar, and cast into an urn two pieces of gold exactly similar, inscribed, the one with the words "for the Lord," and the other for "Azazel" (the scapegoat). After having well shaken them together, he put both his hands into the box and took up a lot in each: that in his right hand he put on the head of the goat which stood on his right, and that in his left he dropped on the other. In this manner the fate of each was decided. One lot for the Lord; for the Lord’s use and service by way of sacrifice. Both this and the other goat typified Christ; this in his death and passion for us; that in his resurrection for our deliverance.

And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats,.... Which should be slain, and which should be kept alive, and let go: the manner of casting lots, according to the Misnah (a), was this; the high priest went to the east of the court, to the north of the altar, the Sagan (or deputy priest) at his right hand, and Rosh Beth Ab (or the chief of the house of the fathers) on his left hand, and the two goats were there; and there was a vessel (box or urn, called Calphi), and in it were two lots of box tree: the high priest shook the Calphi (or urn) and took out the two lots; one, on which was written, "for the Lord", and the other, on which was written, "for Azazel"; if that came up on the right hand, the Sagan said to him, my lord high priest, lift up thy right hand on high; and if that on the left hand came up, Rosh Beth Ab said to him, my lord high priest, lift up thy left hand on high: he put them upon the two goats and said, a sin offering for the Lord; and they answered after him, blessed be the Lord, may the glory of his kingdom be for ever and ever: now these lots, as Ben Gersom observes, were alike, not one greater than another; and they were of the same matter, for if one had been of stone and the other of wood, they might, have been known by feeling, and so the lots would not have been legal: and the same is observed by Maimonides (b), that though they might be of any matter, of wood, or stone, or metal, yet one might not be great, and the other small, and the one of silver, and the other of gold, but both alike, for the reason before given:

one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat: one had written upon it, as in the above account, "for the Lord"; and the other had written upon it, "for Azazel"; directing that the goat on which the lot for the Lord fell was to be slain and offered up for a sin offering to him; and the other, on which the lot for Azazel fell, was to be kept alive and let go: now, however casual and contingent the casting of a lot may seem to men, it is certain to God, the disposal of it is of him, and according to his determination, Proverbs 16:33; and this, in the mystical sense, here denotes, that the sufferings and death of Christ were according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, and so were foretold in the Scriptures, and came to pass according to his appointment, will, and command, as was also his resurrection from the dead, John 10:18; see Acts 1:23; and likewise his conflict with Satan, John 14:30.

(a) Misn. Yoma, c. 3. sect. 9. & c. 4. sect. 1.((b) Hilchot Yom Hacippurim, c. 3. sect. 1.

And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the {b} scapegoat.

(b) In Hebrew it is called Azazel, which some say is a mountain near Sinai, where this goat was sent. Rather it is called the scapegoat because it was not offered but sent into the desert, as in Le 16:11.

8. for Azazel] for the scapegoat, A.V. For this peculiar feature of the Day of Atonement see Appendix V, pp. 185 ff.

Leviticus 16:8With the bullock Aaron was to make atonement for himself and his house. The two he-goats he was to place before Jehovah (see Leviticus 1:5), and "give lots over them," i.e., have lots cast upon them, one lot for Jehovah, the other for Azazel. The one upon which the lot for Jehovah fell (עלה, from the coming up of the lot out of the urn, Joshua 18:11; Joshua 19:10), he was to prepare as a sin-offering for Jehovah, and to present the one upon which the lot for Azazel fell alive before Jehovah, עליו לכפּר, "to expiate it," i.e., to make it the object of expiation (see at Leviticus 16:21), to send it (them) into the desert to Azazel. עזאזל, which only occurs in this chapter, signifies neither "a remote solitude," nor any locality in the desert whatever (as Jonathan, Rashi, etc., suppose); nor the "he-goat" (from עז goat, and עזל to turn off, "the goat departing or sent away," as Symm., Theodot., the Vulgate, Luther, and others render it); nor "complete removal" (Bhr, Winer, Tholuck, etc.). The words, one lot for Jehovah and one for Azazel, require unconditionally that Azazel should be regarded as a personal being, in opposition to Jehovah. The word is a more intense form of עזל removit, dimovit, and comes from עזלזל by absorbing the liquid, like Babel from balbel (Genesis 11:9), and Golgotha from gulgalta (Ewald, 158c). The Septuagint rendering is correct, ὁ ἀποπομπαῖος; although in Leviticus 16:10 the rendering ἀποπομπή is also adopted, i.e., "averruncus, a fiend, or demon whom one drives away" (Ewald). We have not to think, however, of any demon whatever, who seduces men to wickedness in the form of an evil spirit, as the fallen angel Azazel is represented as doing in the Jewish writings (Book of Enoch 8:1; 10:10; 13:1ff.), like the terrible field Shibe, whom the Arabs of the peninsula of Sinai so much dread (Seetzen, i. pp. 273-4), but of the devil himself, the head of the fallen angels, who was afterwards called Satan; for no subordinate evil spirit could have been placed in antithesis to Jehovah as Azazel is here, but only the ruler or head of the kingdom of demons. The desert and desolate places are mentioned elsewhere as the abode of evil spirits (Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:14; Matthew 12:43; Luke 11:24; Revelation 18:2). The desert, regarded as an image of death and desolation, corresponds to the nature of evil spirits, who fell away from the primary source of life, and in their hostility to God devastated the world, which was created good, and brought death and destruction in their train.
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