And the LORD spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the LORD, and died;
CHAPTER 16. THE CEREMONIAL PURIFICATION OF THE WHOLE CONGREGATION ON THE GREAT DAY OF ATONEMENT. This chapter, containing the account of the institution of the ceremonial to be used on the Day of Atonement, would take its place chronologically immediately after the tenth chapter, for the instructions conveyed in it were delivered to Moses "after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the Lord and died" (verse 1), when the fate of Nadab and Abihu would naturally have led Aaron to desire a more perfect knowledge than had as yet been imparted to him as to the manner in which he was to present himself before the Lord. Logically it might either occupy its present position, as being the great and culminating atoning and cleansing ceremony, or it might be relegated to a place among the holy days in chapter 23, where it is, in fact, shortly noticed. That it is placed here shows that the most essential characteristic of the Day in the judgment of the legislator is that of its serving as the occasion and the means of "making an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and making an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and for making an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation" (verse 33). Annually there gathered over the camp, and over the sanctuary as situated in the midst of the camp, a mass of defilement, arising in part from sins whose guilt had not been removed by the punishment of the offenders, and in part from uncleannesses which had not been cleansed by sacrifices and the prescribed ceremonial rites. Annually this defilement had to be atoned for or covered away from the sight of God. This was done by the solemn observance of the great Day of Atonement, and specially by the high priest's carrying the blood of the sacrifices into the holy of holies, into which he might enter on no other day of the year; while the consciousness of deliverance from the guilt of sin was quickened on the part of the people by their seeing the scapegoat "bear away upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited" (verse 22).
And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.
Verse 2. - Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not. Nadab and Abihu having died for their rash presumption in venturing unbidden into the tabernacle, it was natural that Aaron, who had as yet but once penetrated into the holy of holies, should be struck with fear, and that he should desire Divine instruction as to the times and manner in which he was to appear before the Lord, lest he should be struck dead like his sons. If the attempt to enter the outer chamber of the tabernacle had been so fatal to them, what might not be the result to him of entering within the vail which hung before the mercy-seat which is upon the ark? The mercy-seat - capporeth, ἱλαστήριον, propitiatorium - formed the top of the ark, and was the place where God specially exhibited his Presence, on the occasions of his manifestation, by the bright cloud which then rested upon it between the cherubim. It was this Presence which made it perilous for Aaron to appear within the vail unbidden or without the becoming ritual; for man might not meet God unless he were sanctified for the purpose (Exodus 19:14, 21-24; 1 Samuel 6:19). The words, for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat, refer to the Divine Presence thus visibly manifested (see 1 Kings 8:10-12), and not, as they have strangely been misinterpreted, to the cloud of smoke raised by the incense burnt by the high priest on his entrance. They do not, however, prove that the manifestation was constantly there, still less that it was continued, according to Jewish tradition, in later times. "The reason for the prohibition of Aaron's entrance at his own pleasure, or without the expiatory blood of sacrifice, is to be found in the fact that the holiness communicated to the priest did not cancel the sin of his nature, but only covered it over for the performance of his official duties; and so long as the Law, which produced only the knowledge of sin, and not its forgiveness and removal, was not abolished by the complete atonement, the holy God was and remained to mortal and sinful man a consuming fire, before which no one could stand" (Keil).
Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering.
Verse 3 - Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place. "Thus" would be translated more literally by With this. He must come supplied with the specified offerings, dressed in the appointed manner and using the ceremonial here designated. The efficacy of the acts of the high priest on this day and throughout his ministrations depended not upon his individual but on his official character, and on his obedience to the various commandments positively enjoined. Personal worthiness would not qualify him for his service, nor personal unworthiness hinder the effect of his liturgical acts (cf. Art. 26, 'Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacrament'). Aaron's special offerings for himself on this great day are to be a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering.
He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.
Verse 4. - His special garments for the occasion are the holy linen coat,... the linen breeches,... a linen girdle,... and the linen mitre. In the original the definite article is not expressed. The reading should therefore be, He shall put on a holy linen coat, and he shall have linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with a linen mitre shall be attired. The clothing was white from head to foot, differing therein from the dress of the ordinary priest, inasmuch as the sash or girdle of the latter was of variegated materials, and differing also in the shape of the mitre. The white clothing was not intended to symbolize humility and penitence, as some have thought, for white is not the colour in which penitents are naturally dressed. Rather it was symbolical of the purity and holiness which the ceremonies of the day symbolically affected, and which was specially needed to be exhibited in the person of the high priest. In the visions of Ezekiel and Daniel, the angel of God is clothed in linen (Ezekiel 9:2, 3, 11; Ezekiel 10:2, 6, 7; Daniel 10:5; Daniel 12:6, 7). And the colour of the angelic raiment is described in the Gospels as white: "his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow" (Matthew 28:3); "they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment" (Mark 16:5); "two men stood by them in shining garments" (Luke 24:4); she "seeth two angels in white sitting" (John 20:12). So, too, the wife of the Lamb, in the Book of the Revelation, has it "granted to her that she should be arrayed in fine linen clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints" (Revelation 19:7, 8). The white linen dress of the high priest, therefore (which must have given the appearance of the English surplice tied in at the waist), was intended to symbolize the purity and brightness which forms the characteristic of angels and saints, and, above all, of the King of saints. "The white material of the dress which Aaron wore when performing the highest act of expiation under the Old Testament was a symbolical shadowing forth of the holiness and glory of the one perfect Mediator between God and man, who, being the radiation of the glory of God and the image of his nature, effected by himself the perfect cleansing away of our sin, and who, as the true High Priest, being holy, innocent, unspotted, and separate from sinners, entered once by his own blood into the holy place not made with hands, namely, into heaven itself, to appear before the face of God for us and obtain everlasting redemption (Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 7:26; Hebrews 9:12, 24)" (Keil). The symbolism of the holy garments as indicating holiness and purity, is strengthened by the command that Aaron is to wash his flesh in water, and so put them on. The high priest's acts on this day, so far as they are recounted in this chapter, were the following.
1. He bathed.
2. He dressed himself in his white holy garments.
3. He offered or presented at the door of the tabernacle a bullock for a sin offering for himself and his house.
4. He presented at the same place two goats for a sin offering for the congregation.
5. He cast lots on the two goats, one of which was to be sacrificed, the other to he let go into the wilderness.
6. He sacrificed the bullock.
7. He passed from the court through the holy place into the holy of holies with a censer and incense, and filled the space beyond the vail with a cloud of smoke from the incense.
8. He returned to the court, and, taking some of the blood of the bullock, passed again within the vail, and there sprinkled the blood once on the front of the mercy-seat and seven times before it.
9. He came out again into the court, and killed the goat on which the lot for sacrifice had fallen.
10. For the third time he entered the holy of holies, and went through the same process with the goat's blood as with the bullock's blood.
11. He purified the other part of the tabernacle, as he had purified the holy of holies, by sprinkling with the atoning blood, as before, and placing some of it on the horns of the altar of incense (Exodus 30:10).
12. He returned to the court, and placed the blood of the bullock and goat upon the horns of the altar of burnt sacrifice, and sprinkled it seven times.
13. He offered to God the remaining goat, laying his hands upon it, confessing and laying the sins of the people upon its head.
14. He consigned the goat to a man, whose business it was to conduct it to the border of the wilderness, and there release it.
15. He bathed and changed his linen vestments for his commonly worn high priest's dress.
16. He sacrificed, one after the other, the two rams as burnt offerings for himself and for the people.
17. He burnt the fat of the sin offerings upon the altar.
18. He took measures that the remainder of the sin offerings should be burnt without the camp. In Numbers 29:7-11, twelve sacrifices are commanded to be offered by the high priest on this day, namely, the morning and evening sacrifice; a burnt offering for the people, consisting of one young bullock, one ram (as already stated), and seven lambs; and cue goat for a sin offering; so that in all there were fifteen sacrifices offered, besides the meat and drink offerings. The punctiliousness of the Jews in later times was not content that the ceremonies should begin on the day itself. Preparations commenced a full week previously. On the third day of the seventh month, the high priest moved from his house in the city into the temple, and he was twice sprinkled with the ashes of the red heifer, by way of precaution against defilement. He spent the week in practicing and rehearsing, under the eye of some of the elders of the Sanhedrim, the various acts that he would have to perform on the great day, and on the night immediately preceding it he was not allowed to sleep. In case of his sudden death or disqualification, a substitute was appointed to fulfill his function.
And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.
Verse 5. - And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats. It was necessary that the sacrifice offered for a person or class of persons should be provided by the offerer or offerers. The two kids of the goats, or rather the two he-goats, constituted together but one sin offering. This is important for the understanding of the sequel.
And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.
Verse 6. - And Aaron shall offer his bullock... and make an atonement for himself, and for his house. The first step is an expiatory offering to reconcile the officiating priest and the remainder of the priestly house to God. This was necessary before his offerings for the people could be accepted. It indicates the defects inherent in a priest whose nature was only that of man, which is compassed about with infirmities. The offering here commanded is not the slaying, but the solemn presentation, of the bullock to the Lord. In after times the following form of confession was used by the high priest when he laid his hand upon the bullock: - "O Lord, I have committed iniquity; I have transgressed; I have sinned, I and my house. O Lord, I entreat thee, cover over the iniquities, the transgressions, and the sins which I have committed, transgressed, and sinned before thee, I and my house; even as it is written in the Law of Moses thy servant, 'For on that day will he cover over for you, to make you clean; from all your transgressions before the Lord ye shall be cleansed" (Edersheim, 'Temple Service').
And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
Verses 7, 8. - It must be carefully noted that. as the two goats made one sin offering (verse 5), so they are both presented before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. By this solemn presentation they became the Lord's, one as much as the other. After this, Aaron is to cast lots upon the two goats. The two goats, of the same size and appearance as far as possible, stood together near the entrance of the court. And by them was an urn containing two lots. These the high priest drew out at the same moment, placing one on the head of one goat, the other on the head of the other goat. According as the lot fell. one of the goats was taken and at once offered to the Lord, with a view to being shortly sacrificed; the other was appointed for a scapegoat, and reserved till the expiatory sacrifices had been made, when it too was offered to the Lord, and then sent away into the wilderness. After the lot had been chosen, the two goats were distinguished from each other by having a piece of scarlet cloth tied, the first round its neck, the second round its horn. One lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat. The last word is in the original la-azazel, and being found only in this chapter, it has caused a great discrepancy of opinion among interpreters as to its meaning. It has been diversely regarded as a place, a person, a thing, and an abstraction. The first class of interpreters explain it as some district of the wilderness; the second understand by it an evil spirit; the third take it as a designation of the goat; the fourth translate it, "for removal." The first interpretation may be summarily rejected. If a localized spot were meant, that spot would have been left behind by a people constantly on the move. The second hypothesis - that azazel was an evil spirit, or the evil spirit - has been embraced by so considerable a number of modern expositors, that it is necessary to dwell upon it at some length. But, indeed, it has little to recommend it. It has been argued that azazel must be a proper name, because it has no article prefixed to it, la-azazel. This is a grammatical error. When a noun expresses an office or a function, and has the preposition le or la prefixed to it, it does not take an article in Hebrew any more than in French; e.g., in the verse, "Jehu... shalt thou anoint to be king (or for king) over Israel; and Elisha... shalt thou appoint to be prophet (or for prophet) in thy room" (1 Kings 19:16), the Hebrew is le-melek and le-navi, without the article. The same idiom will be found in 1 Samuel 25:30; 2 Samuel 7:14. With greater plausibility it is argued that verse 8 contrasts Jehovah and Azazel, and that if la-Yehovah be translated "for Jehovah," or "for the Lord," la-azazel must be translated "for Azazel." It may be allowed that there is a prima facie likelihood that, where words are thus contrasted, if one designates a person, the other would designate a person. But it is an incredibly rash assertion that this is always the case. All depends upon the idea which the speaker or writer has in his mind and desires to express. As part of the same argument, it is urged that the preposition, being the same in both clauses of the sentence, must be translated by the same word. This is certainly not the case. The natural meaning of le with a proper name is "for," and with a word expressing the performance of some function (technically called nomen agentis) it means "to be" (see the passage quoted above from 1 Kings 19:16). Unless, therefore, azazel be a proper name (which has to be proved, not assumed)the preposition need not and ought not to be translated by "for" but by "to be." The word le is used with great latitude, and often in a different sense in the same sentence; e.g., Exodus 12:24; Leviticus 26:12. The objections to the theory that azazel means an evil spirit are of overwhelming force. It will be enough to name the following.
1. The name azazel is nowhere else mentioned. This could not be, if he were so important a being as to divide with Jehovah the sin offering of the congregation of Israel on the great Day of Atonement.
2. No suitable etymology can be discerned. The nearest approach to it is very forced - "the separated one."
3. The notion of appeasing, or bribing, or mocking the evil spirit by presenting to him a goat, is altogether alien from the spirit of the rest of the Mosaic institutions. Where else is there anything like it?
4. The goat is presented and offered to Jehovah equally with the goat which is slain. To take that which has been offered (and therefore half sacrificed) to God and give it to Satan, would be a daring impiety, which is inconceivable. That la-azazel means "for removal" is the opinion of Bahr, Tholuck, Winer, and others. There is nothing objectionable in this interpretation, but the form of the word azazel points rather to an agent than to an abstract act. Azazel is a word softened (according to a not unusual custom) from azalzel, just as kokav is a softened form of kay-kay, and as Babel is derived from Balbel (Genesis 11:9). Azalzel is an active participle or participial noun, derived ultimately from azal (connected with the Arabic word azala, and meaning removed), but immediately from the reduplicate form of that verb, azazal. The reduplication of the consonants of the root in Hebrew and Arabic gives the force of repetition, so that while azal means removed, azalzal means removed by a repetition of acts. Azalzel, or azazel, therefore, means one who removes by a series of acts. "In this sense the word azazel is strictly expressive of the function which is ascribed to the scapegoat in verses 21, 22; namely, that he be sent away, bearing upon him all the iniquities of the children of Israel into the wilderness.' It properly denotes one that removes or separates; yet a remover in such sort that the removal is not effected by a single act or at one moment, but by a series of minor acts tending to and issuing in a complete removal. No word could better express the movement of the goat before the eyes of the people, as it passed on, removing at each step, in a visible symbol, their sins further and further from them, until, by continued repetition of the movement, they were carried far away and removed utterly" (Sir W. Martin, 'Semitic Languages'). That it is the goat that is designated by the word azazel is the exposition of the LXX., Josephus, Symmachus, Aquila, Theodotion, the Vulgate, the Authorized English Version, and Luther's Version. The interpretation is founded on sound etymological grounds, it suits the context wherever the word occurs, it is consistent with the remaining ceremonial of the Day of Atonement, and it accords with the otherwise known religious beliefs and symbolical practices of the Israelites. The two goats were the single sin offering for the people; the one that was offered in sacrifice symbolized atonement or covering made by shedding of blood, the other symbolized the utter removal of the sins of the people, which were conveyed away and lost in the depths of the wilderness, whence there was no return. Cf. Psalm 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us;" and Micah 7:19, "He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." The eighth verse should be translated as it stands in the Authorized Version, or, if we ask for still greater exactness, And Aaron shall east lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and one lot for a remover of sins.
And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.
And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD'S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.
Verses 9, 10. - These verses might be translated as follows: - And Aaron shall bring in the goat upon which the lot for the Lord fell, and shall offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, upon which fell the lot for a remover of sins, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to send him away for a remover of sins into the wilderness. We are justified in inserting the words, "of sins," after "a remover," because "the use of the word azal, from which the word rendered by 'remover' is derived, is confined in the Hebrew dialect to the single purpose or institution which is here under consideration; so that this particular word must have conveyed to the mind of a Hebrew hearer or reader this notion of a removal of sins, and none other" (Sir W. Martin, 'Semitic Languages'). The goat is both presented before the Lord, and subsequently (verse 20) offered to him, the priest laying his hands upon him and making a confession of the sins of the people. After he has thus become the Lord's, how could he be given up to Satan? The purpose of his being set apart is to make an atonement with him (not for him, as some commentators explain it wrongly). As atonement was made by the blood of the sacrificed goat ceremonially covering sin, so it was also made by the live goat symbolically removing sin. But the atonement in both cases has reference to God. How could an atonement be made by an offering to Satan, unless Satan, not God, was the being whose wrath was to be propitiated, and with whom reconciliation was sought?
But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.
And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself:
Verse 11. - After having offered the bullock for his own sin offering, and presented the two goats, which constituted the sin offering of the people, and offered one of them, Aaron kills the bullock for the sin offering. A considerable interval had to elapse before he could make use of the bullock's blood for purposes of propitiation, and during this interval, occupied by his entrance into the holy of holies with the incense, the blood was held by an attendant, probably by one of his sons, and prevented from coagulating by being kept in motion.
And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail:
Verses 12, 13. - This is the first entry of the high priest into the holy of holies. He takes with him a censer - literally, the censer, that is, the censer that he was to use on the occasion - full of burning coals of fire from off the altar; and his hands are full of sweet incense beaten small; his object being to fill the holy of holies with the smoke of the incense which may serve as at least a thin vail between himself and the Presence of the Lord, that he die not (cf. Exodus 33:20, "Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live;" cf. also Genesis 32:30; Deuteronomy 5:24; Judges 6:22; Judges 13:22). Here we see taught the lesson of the vision of God, as he is, being impossible to the human faculties. He must be vailed in one way or another. After passing through the outer chamber of the tabernacle, the high priest found himself in the smaller chamber where stood the ark. Immediately he threw the incense on the coals of the censer, until the holy of holies was filled with the smoke, after which, according to later practice, he offered a prayer outside the vail. The following form of prayer, breathing, however, the spirit of ages long subsequent to the tabernacle, or even the first temple, is found in the Talmud: - "May it please thee, O Lord our God, the God of our fathers, that neither this day nor this year any captivity come upon us. Yet if captivity befall us this day or this year, let it be to a place where the Law is cultivated. May it please thee, O Lord our God, the God of our fathers, that want come not upon us this day or this year. But if want visit us this day or this year, let it be due to the liberality of our charitable deeds. May it please thee, O Lord, the God of our fathers, that this year may be a year of cheapness, of fullness, of intercourse and trade; a year with abundance of rain, of sunshine, and of dew; one in which thy people Israel shall not require assistance one from another. And listen not to the prayers of those who are about to set out on a journey (against rain). And as to thy people Israel, may no enemy exalt himself against them. May it please thee, O Lord our God, the God of our fathers, that the houses of the men of Saron (exposed to floods) may not become their graves" (Edersheim, 'Temple Service').
And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:
And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.
Verse 14. - The second entry of the high priest into the holy of holies took place very soon after the first entry. Immediately that he had returned after lighting the incense, and perhaps offering a prayer, he took of the blood of the bullock, which he had previously killed, went back without delay, and sprinkled it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward, that is, on the front of the ark beneath the Presence enthroned upon the mercy seat, and shrouded by the smoke of the incense; and before the mercy seat, that is, on the ground in front of it, he sprinkled of the blood with his finger seven times. In after times, when the ark was gone, the high priest sprinkled upwards once and downwards seven times.
Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:
Verse 15. - The third entry was made as soon as he had killed the goat which formed a moiety of the sin offering of the congregation, when he brought his blood likewise within the vail, and did with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, sprinkling it the same number of times as before. "By the entrance of the high priest into the holy of holies is set forth that atonement could only be effected before the throne of Jehovah" (Clark).
And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.
Verse 16. - The two sprinklings, first with the bullock's blood, then with the goat's blood, on the front of the ark and on the ground before it, effected the symbolical atonement which was required annually even for the holy of holies because it was pitched in the midst of sinful men. There remained the outer chamber of the tabernacle and the altar of burnt sacrifice to be atoned for. Accordingly, the high priest proceeds to do so for the tabernacle of the congregation, that is, to make a similar atonement by similar means outside the vail as he had made inside it. He would therefore have made one sprinkling with the blood upon the vail, and seven sprinklings before it, after which he placed the blood upon the horns of the altar of incense, according to the command given in Exodus 30:10. In later times it became customary also to sprinkle the top of the altar of incense seven times.
And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.
Verse 17. - There shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation. From the first entry until the work of atonement was completed, both for the holy of holies and for the tabernacle, no one but the high priest was to be allowed within the door of the tabernacle, not only that there might be no witness of the withdrawal of the awful vail, but also that the rite of purification might not be interfered with by an impure presence. Even on the Day of Atonement the dwelling-place of God, typical of heaven, was closed to the eye and foot of man, "the way into the holiest of all being not yet made manifest" (Hebrews 9:8), until the Divine High Priest opened the way for his people by his own entrance.
And he shall go out unto the altar that is before the LORD, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about.
Verses 18, 19. - The holy of holies and the outer chamber of the tabernacle having been reconciled, the high priest shall go out unto the altar that is before the Lord - that is, the altar of burnt sacrifice in the court, standing in front of the tabernacle, not the altar of incense, as has been supposed by some - and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times. This completes the ceremony of "making an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and making an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar" (verse 33.)
And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.
And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat:
Verses 20, 21. - The second part of the ceremonies of the day now commences. It was not enough that the defilement of the sanctuary should be covered, and the sins of the priests and people atoned for by the blood of the sacrifices. There remained a consciousness of sin. How was this to be taken away? To effect this, Aaron proceeds to the unique ceremony of the day by which the utter removal of sin from the reconciled people is typified. He shall bring the live goat; this should be translated offer the live goat. It is the word used above for the offering of the goat that was slain, and it is the word always used for offering sacrifices to the Lord. The first goat had been offered in the usual manner, the offerer laying his hand on his head and perhaps praying over him. Now the second goat is offered, the high priest having to lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel,... putting them upon the head of the goat. The confession of sins, at first extempore, would naturally, as time progressed, become stereotyped into a liturgical form, as it is found in the Mishna: "O Lord, they have committed iniquity; they have transgressed; they have sinned, - thy people, the house of Israel. O Lord, cover over, I entreat thee, their iniquities, their transgressions, and their sins, which they have wickedly committed, transgressed, and sinned before thee, - thy people, the house of Israel. As it is written in the Law of Moses thy servant, saying, ' For on that day shall it be covered over for you, to make you clean; from all your sins before the Lord ye shall be cleansed'" (Edersheim, 'Temple Service '). During this confession of sins the people remained prostrate in humiliation and prayer in the court of the tabernacle, and it was the custom of the high priest to turn towards them as he pronounced the last words, "Ye shall be cleansed." At the conclusion of the confession, the high priest handed over the goat to a fit man, that is, to a man who was standing ready to take charge of him, and sent him away by his hand into the wilderness.
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 upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.
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).
And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there:
Verses 23, 24. - In later times another scene was interposed at this point. The high priest, having sent away the man with the goat, recited the passages of Scripture which commanded the observance of the Day of Atonement (chapters 16; 23:27-32; Numbers 29:7-11), and offered prayers in which the people might mentally join. Then he went back into the tabernacle of the congregation (not into the holy of holies), and, as all the special atoning and purifying services of the day were now over, he there took off his linen dress, and put it away; and after bathing in the holy place, that is, in that part of the sanctuary set apart for that purpose, he put on his ordinary high-priestly garments, and sacrificed first a goat for a sin offering (Numbers 29:16), next his own burnt offering of a ram, and then the burnt offering of the people, which was also a ram and other victims (Ibid.).
And he shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place, and put on his garments, and come forth, and offer his burnt offering, and the burnt offering of the people, and make an atonement for himself, and for the people.
And the fat of the sin offering shall he burn upon the altar.
Verse 25. - After the flesh of the burnt sacrifice had been placed in order on the altar, the fat of the sin offering, that is, of the bullock (verse 6) and of the goat (verse 15) and of the other goat (Numbers 29:16), is placed upon it, and burnt upon the altar, according to the regular practice.
And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp.
Verse 26. - The man that let go the goat which served for a remover of sins is to wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh before he comes into the camp. This is not ordered on account of any special defilement attaching to the scapegoat, but only because it had been the symbolical sin-bearer, and therefore conveyed legal uncleanness by its touch. The man who bore the flesh of the ether goat to be burnt had to do exactly the same thing (verse 25).
And the bullock for the sin offering, and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung.
Verses 27, 28. - As the blood of the bullock and the goat which had been offered in the special expiatory sacrifices of the day had been carried within the sanctuary (verses 14, 15), their bodies had to be burnt without the camp (Leviticus 4:12). Our Lord being the antitype, not only of Aaron as the Great High Priest, but also of the expiatory sacrifices as the Great Sin Offering, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews notices that the fact of Christ's having "suffered without the camp" serves as an indication that his blood had in its atoning effects been carried by him into heaven, the antitype of the holy of holies (Hebrews 13:12). The flesh of the other goat, offered as a sin offering, would have been eaten by the priests in the evening, at a sacrificial meal (Leviticus 10:17, 18).
And he that burneth them shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp.
And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you:
Verses 29-31. - The ceremonies of the Day of Atonement are not appointed for once only, but they are to be of annual observance. This shall be a statute for ever unto you, as long as the nation should exist, that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all. The seventh is the sacred month, in which the first, the tenth, the fifteenth, and following days are appointed as holy seasons. The Day of Atonement is the single fast of the Jewish Church occurring once a year only. On it all the members of that Church were to afflict their souls, on pain of death (Leviticus 23:29). The fast began on the evening of the ninth day, and ended on the evening of the tenth, when it was succeeded by general feasting. During the whole of the twenty-four hours no work at all was to be done. In this respect the Day of Atonement was put on a level with the sabbath, whereas on the annual festivals only "servile work" was forbidden (see Leviticus 23:7, 21, 25, 35). On this day, therefore, as on the weekly sabbath, it was not permitted to collect manna (Exodus 16:26), or to plough or reap (Exodus 34:21), or to light a fire (Exodus 35:3), or to gather wood (Numbers 15:32-36), or to carry corn or fruit (Nehemiah 13:15), or to sell food or other goods (Nehemiah 13:16), or to bear burdens (Jeremiah 17:22, 23), or to set out grain for sale (Amos 8:5). And these regulations applied to strangers that sojourned among them as well as to themselves. It was a sabbath of rest; literally, a sabbath of sabbatism. The purpose of the abstinence from food and labour was to bring the soul of each individual into harmony with the solemn rites of purification publicly performed not by themselves, but by the high priest.
For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.
It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.
And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments:
Verses 32, 33. - That there may be no mistake, it is specifically enjoined that not only Aaron, but the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate - meaning, the high priest that shall be anointed, and shall be consecrated - to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead - that is, to succeed from time to time to the high priesthood - shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments. Again it may be noticed that the white robes are termed, not the penitential, but the holy, garments.
And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation.
And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.
Verse 34. - This shall be an everlasting statute unto you. It lasted as long as the earthly Jerusalem lasted, and until the heavenly Jerusalem was instituted, when it had a spiritual fulfillment once for all. "Of old there was an high priest that cleansed the people with the blood of bulls and goats, but now that the true High Priest is come, the former priesthood is no more. It is a providential dispensation of God that the city and temple of Jerusalem have been destroyed; for if they were still standing, some who are weak in faith might be dazzled by the outward splendor of the literal types, and not drawn by faith to the spiritual antitypes. If there are any, therefore, who, in considering the Levitical ritual of the great Day of Atonement, and in looking at the two he-goats - the one sacrificed, the other let go, charged with sins, into the wilderness - do not recognize the one Christ who died for our sins and took away our sins, and do not see there the 'everlasting statute' of which God here speaks by Moses, let him go up thrice a year to Jerusalem, and there search for the altar which has crumbled in the dust, and offer up his victims there without a priest. But no; thanks be to God, the earthly priesthood and temple are abolished, that we may raise our heart to the heavenly, and look up with faith and love and joy to him who offered himself once for all, and who ever liveth to make intercession for us" (Origen, 'Hom.' 10, as quoted by Wordsworth). And he did as the Lord commanded Moses; that is. Moses announced to Aaron the Law which was to be carried out about five months later.