Yom Kippur (Atonement): Leviticus 16

The Question before Christians is what do the two goats represent? Most would agree that the first goat represents Yeshua or Jesus, who is also the Logos, but many disagree what the second goat represents? There are two opposing views:

  • a) Satan;
  • b) Yeshua or Jesus, same as the first goat, Logos.

Although inconclusive, below are some pointers for thoughts . . .

The main chapter about the two goats is found in Leviticus 16:

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1 And the Lord spoke unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the Lord, and died;

and the Lord said unto Moses, “Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the Holy Place within the veil before the mercy seat which is upon the ark, that he die not; for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.

Thus shall Aaron come into the Holy Place: with a young bullock for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. — the bullock sacrifice were to be burnt outside the camp but the ram to be burnt inside the camp, verse 24

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 miter shall he be attired. These are holy garments. Therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.

And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering (Note: this verse says “two kids of the goats for a sin offering,” not “one goat for a sin offering.” The “two kids of the goats” together are a single sin offering) and one ram for a burnt offering.

Azazel painted as a goat-like demon

And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself and for his house.

And he shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. — note: that the ram in verse 5 isn’t included here

And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats — one lot ‘for the Lord’ and the other lot ‘for Azazel’ – many translated Azazel as ‘the scapegoat’. עֲזָאזֵל (H5799); from Strong (H5795 and H235; goat of departure; the scapegoat) But the Talmud says Azazel is a place, a rough place, not the name of the goat, the scapegoat. In fact the second goat (neither the first goat) has no name even though many translations mixed around name it the scapegoat, as Strong did. All such translations are giving any serious Bible student a wrong connotation and are thus misleading.

Also, if the live goat “for Azazel” is translated as Azazel; then the goat “for the LORD” should similarly be translated the LORD? – all this doesn’t make sense. “The LORD” and “Azazel” are not names for the goats! NEITHER goat haS any name.

Finally, if Strong is correct, then the second goat was led by a fit man into the wilderness “for the scapegoat” – a goat for the ‘scapegoat’? Or a goat for the ‘goat of departure’? – the second live goat for the ‘goat of departure’? Altogether there would be three goats? Does any of these make sense?

In this Verse, the Talmud says Azazel is a place, a rough place, not the name of the goat. In fact the second goat has no name even though many translations name it the scapegoat. The lot for the second goat was “for Azazel” and not Azazel itself. This is a vital distinction.

From a Talmud excerpt: § The Sages taught: The word Azazel indicates that the cliff the goat is pushed from should be rough and hard. I might have thought that it may be located in a settled area. Therefore, the verse states: “In the wilderness.” And from where does one derive that the goat is pushed from a cliff? The verse states “gezeira,” indicating an area that is sharp, like a cliff. It was taught in another baraita: Azazel is a reference to the hardest mountain, and so it says: “And the mighty [eilei] of the land he took away” (Ezekiel 17:13). Azazel is interpreted as azaz-el, with the term el connoting something rough and hard. (Yoma 67b)

Another excerpt: Rabbi Yosei says that the verse states: “And he that dispatched the goat to Azazel shall wash” (Leviticus 16:26), which indicates that his garments are not rendered impure until he has reached Azazel, i.e., the cliff. Rabbi Shimon says: His garments are rendered impure only when he pushes the goat from the cliff, as it says: “And he that dispatched the goat to Azazel shall wash his clothes” (Leviticus 16:26), to indicate that he throws it headlong and only then, once he has fulfilled the mitzva, his garments are rendered impure. (Yoma 67b) — again, Azazel is a place, a cliff-like place.

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Rashid’s Comment of Azazel in Lev 16:8 Azazel: This is a strong and hard mountain, [with] a high cliff, as the Scripture says [in describing Azazel] (verse 22 below),“a precipitous land (אֶרֶץ גְּזֵרָה),” meaning a cut-off land [i.e., a sheer drop]. — [Torath Kohanim 16:28; Yoma 67b]

— verse 22 מִדְבָּר (H4057) translated as “wilderness” in verse 21 and 22 (“midbar” in OJB)

In the book of Enoch, the name “Azazel” connoted as the bad angel or Satan in Hebrew is עזאל. But this word Azazel in Leviticus 16, the Talmud identifies it as a place is עֲזָאזֵל. Both are spelt the same in English but what a vital difference in Hebrew.

עזאל vs עֲזָאזֵל

And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which ‘for the Lord’s lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.

10 But the goat on which the lot fell ‘for Azazel’ shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with it [‘OVER it’ in RSV] and to let it go as a scapegoat (misleading translation) into the wilderness.

The RSV has a better translation: but the goat on which the lot fell for Aza′zel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Aza′zel.

Sin is not associated with the live goat until Aaron places his hands indicating all sin on its head. This couldn’t be a description of Satan because nowhere else in the Scriptures has there any indication that Satan ever atones for any of man’s sin.

A foundational principle of Bible study is that significant matters—especially doctrinal ones—must be established by “two or three witnesses.” But there is a deafening silence from every other part of the Scriptures ascribing any man’s sin to a fallen angel.

Second, if this second goat represents Satan, this goat is “for Azazel” then it logically appears that Satan presents himself in the wilderness as an atonement to another Satan (or to himself). This just doesn’t make sense.

Third, if Satan were to carry man’s sin as he was/is the ultimate culprit, then what of sin committed during the Millennium when he is to be bound? Sacrifices would continue and Satan is not even around for most of this period. Again all these don’t make sense.

11 “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. — note: no mention of the ram in verse 3

12 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 inside the veil.

13 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.

14 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.

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15 Then shall he kill the [first] goat of the sin offering that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil, 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.

“And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it [the incense altar has four horns, in front of the veil just outside the Holy of Holies] once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements. Once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations. It is most holy unto the Lord” Exodus 30:10

16 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.

17 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 has made an atonement for himself and for his household and for all the congregation of Israel. — atonements are for the High Priest family and for all the children of Israel

18 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.

19 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.

20 “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.

21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over it 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 it away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. — this atonement is again for all the iniquities of the children of Israel. Why doubling up?

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22 And the goat shall bear (h5375 נָשָׂא nasa’ same as Psalm 53:12 He bare h5375 נָשָׂא nasa’ the sins of many) upon itself all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited; and he [the fit man] shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

23 “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;

24 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. — are these burnt offerings the ram in verse 3 and another in verse 5? It seems so. And are these burnt offerings inside the camp?

25 And the fat of the sin offering shall he burn upon the altar. — this must be the bull and the first goat. Their flesh, skin and dung of the bullock and the fist goat are burnt outside the camp (verse 27) but their fats burnt on the alter.

26 And he that let go the goat as the scapegoat shall wash his clothes and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp. — Talmud Yoma 67b: Rabbi Yosei translates the verse as: “And he that dispatched the goat to Azazel shall wash . . .”

27 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 outside the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins and their flesh and their dung. — the bullock and the goat were burnt outside the camp (outside Jerusalem), not on the alter which were usually the case. What is the significance of this difference?

28 And he that burneth them shall wash his clothes and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp.

In one of the similar passages about cleansing, God instructs Moses and Aaron about the purification rites they are to apply to a leper that he maybe made clean (Lev 14:2-7). The priest cleanses the house by sacrificing a bird, and dipping cedar wood, hyssop, scarlet yarn, and a live bird in the blood of the dead bird, then sprinkling the blood on the house seven times. He then is to release the live bird into the open fields outside the town. Similarly two birds (one killed and one set free) were also applied to one suffering from a plague (normally an infectious skin disease; Lev 14:49-53). “In this way he will make atonement for the house, and it will be clean” ( Lev 14:53).

The full passage says:

Leviticus 14:“This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest. And the priest shall go forth out of the camp, and the priest shall look; and behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper, then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water. As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean and shall let the living bird loose into the open field.

The sacrificial death of the first goat showed clearly that the offense of sin requires an atonement for (Eze 18:4). Perhaps, the sending of the second goat into the wilderness with the sins laid on the top of its head emphasizes that the consequences of sin (pains, sufferings and griefs) will be removed from the person “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).

29 “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 who sojourneth among you;

30 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.

31 It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.

32 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;

33 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.

34 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.

Note: both goats are for the atonement for all the children of Israel, perhaps one goat is an atonement sacrifice as the Son of God and the other as the son of man; or perhaps, one goat as an atonement for the children of Israel and the other for the “daughters of men” who sinned with the evil “sons of God” (Genesis 6:2)?

Or even both?

“Most modern scholars, after having for some time indorsed the old view [that Azazel refers to a rugged place], have accepted the opinion mysteriously hinted at by Ibn Ezra and expressly stated by Naḥmanides to Lev. xvi. 8, that Azazel belongs to the class of “se’irim,” goat-like demons, jinn haunting the desert, to which the Israelites were wont to offer sacrifice (Lev. xvii. 7 [A. V. “devils”]” – (Jewish Encyclopedia, Azazel) – Nahmanides (1194-1272, Spain). But such idea that Azazel as a rugged place was evolving by “progressive revelation” to be the demon of the desert, or Satan as explicitly named, and finally redefining “Azazel as a deity”, originated right back at the time of the Talmud: The school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: Azazel is so called because it atones for the actions of Uzza and Azael” (Yoma 67b). But the very fact that the two goats were presented before God [YHVH], before the one was sacrificed and the other sent into the wilderness, was proof that Azazel was not ranked alongside God.

In the SDA narratives, the Great Satan is always on the verge of thwarting God’s plan (inspired by Ellen G White (1827-1915) in her numerous “visions” perhaps), hence Satan was given a large role as “the Azazel goat”, who ultimately carried all the sins of mankind and exiled into the wilderness.

Most likely when Herbert W Armstrong came along he just picked this concept from them. He only had six months study by himself in a Portland Public Library, unsupervised. But the Talmud indicates that the Azazel in Lev 16 isn’t the same as the bad angel in the book of Enoch. Although the spelling ‘Azazel’ in English is the same they are a slight vital differences in the original Hebrew. 

The Logos seems to have two roles to play while on earth, one as the Son of God (first goat) and second as the son of man (second goat). Most of his sufferings as depicted in Isaiah 53 and elsewhere could well be the fulfilled by Logos as the second goat, hence His death not only save us from our sins (first goat) but also “by His stripes we are healed” (second goat).

And about the ninth hour (bearing our griefs, carrying our sorrows, wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, afflicted and carrying all the sins and iniquities of man) Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is to say, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Isaiah 53; Matthew 27:46)

There are still lots to think about.

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Note also Yoma 39a says: § The Sages taught: During all forty years that Shimon HaTzaddik served as High Priest, the lot for God arose in the right hand. From then onward, sometimes it arose in the right hand and sometimes it arose in the left hand. Furthermore, during his tenure as High Priest, the strip of crimson wool that was tied to the head of the goat that was sent to Azazel turned white, indicating that the sins of the people had been forgiven, as it is written: “Though your sins be as crimson, they shall be white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). From then onward, it sometimes turned white and sometimes it did not turn white. Furthermore, the western lamp of the candelabrum would burn continuously as a sign that God’s presence rested upon the nation. From then onward, it sometimes burned and sometimes it went out.

39b: The Sages taught: During the tenure of Shimon HaTzaddik, the lot for God always arose in the High Priest’s right hand; after his death, it occurred only occasionally; but [some three hundred and fifty years later] during the forty years [around 31 AD to 70 AD] prior to the destruction of the Second Temple, the lot for God did not arise in the High Priest’s right hand at all [so all arose from his left hand? What does this signify?]. So too, the strip of crimson wool that was tied to the head of the goat that was sent to Azazel did not turn white [the strip remained red?], and the westernmost lamp of the candelabrum did not burn continually.

Shimon HaTzaddik is also known as Shimon the Just. Research shows that he lived during the time of Alexander the Great (356 BC – 323 BC).

Chabad wrote:

In 3448, Alexander marched through the land of Israel, bringing Persian rule to an end. Filled with trepidation, the Jews sent a delegation of Kohanim led by Shimon HaTzadik, all dressed in their priestly raiments. Upon approaching Alexander, they were astounded when the great conqueror prostrated himself before Shimon! When asked the reason for such inexplicable behavior, Alexander replied that before his battles a vision of Shimon appeared to him promising victory. After arising, Alexander promised to treat the Jews benignly. In appreciation, the Jewish people honored Alexander in two very special ways. First, all male Kohanim (according to some opinions, all male Jews) born that year would be named Alexander. Second, a new dating system for documents would be instituted, one based on Alexander’s rule. This system was known as Minyan Shtaros and lasted more than 1,000 years.

The Talmud relates that five miracles occurred in the Bais Hamikdash [the Temple in Jerusalem] during his tenure. First, the red string that was hung in the Bais Hamikdash during the Yom Kippur services turned white, symbolizing Israel’s purity. Second, on Yom Kippur two sacrificial goats were designated — one to be offered in the Kodesh HaKodoshim [the Holy of Holies], one to be cast off a cliff. The Kohen Gadol drew lots in each hand to determine which goat should be used for which purpose. During Shimon HaTzadik’s 40 year-tenure, the lot indicating the goat to be offered in the Kodesh HaKodoshim always turned up in his right hand, a sign of Divine favor. Third, every evening a full night’s supply of oil was put into each lamp of the Menorah. Miraculously, the oil put into the western lamp burned for 24 hours [as I understand there is only one Menorah in the Temple, so only the three eastern lamps died out?], demonstrating the constant presence of G‑d in the Bais Hamikdash. Fourth, although each Kohen received only a small portion of the Lechem Hapanim (the showbread), he felt satiated as if he had eaten a full meal. Fifth, the fire on the Altar burned steadily without constant addition of wood. Sadly, after Shimon HaTzadik’s death miracles of such magnitude [does this mean that such miracles continued but of a lesser magnitude?] were no longer manifest in the Bais Hamikdash.

~ by Joel Huan on October 16, 2020.

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