Keith Hunt - The Feast of Atonement #2 - Page Two   Restitution of All Things

  Home Previous Page Next Page

The Feast of Atonement #2

More of the ceremonies in Jesus' day

                 From the book "The Temple"
                      Alfred Edersheim



The high-priest now faced the people, as, standing between his
substitute (at his right hand) and the head of the course on
ministry (on his left hand), he shook the urn, thrust his two
hands into it, and at the same time drew the two lots, laying one
on the head of each goat. Popularly it was deemed of good augury
if the right-hand lot had fallen 'for Jehovah.' The two goats,
however, must be altogether alike in look, size, and value;
indeed, 'so earnestly was it sought to carry out the idea that
these two formed parts of one and the same sacrifice, that it was
arranged they should, if possible, even be purchased at the same
time. The importance of this view will afterwards be explained.

The lot having designated each of the two goats the high-priest
tied a tongue-shaped piece of scarlet cloth to the horn of the
goat for Azazel -- the so-called 'scape-goat' -- and another
round the throat of the goat for Jehovah, which was to be slain. 
The goat that was sent forth was now turned round towards the
people, and stood facing them, waiting, as it were till their
sins should be laid on him, and he would carry them forth into 'a
land not inhabited.' .... And, as if to add to the significance
of the rite, tradition has it that when the sacrifice was fully
accepted the scarlet mark which the scape-goat had borne became
white, to symbolize the gracious promise in Isa.1:18; but adds
that this miracle did not take place for forty years before the
destruction of the Temple!

With this presentation of the scape-goat before the people
commenced the third and most solemn part of the expiatory
services of the day. 

The high-priest now once more returned towards the sanctuary, and
a second time laid his two hands on the bullock, which still
stood between the porch and the altar, to confess over him, not
only as before, his own and his household's sins, but also those
of the priesthood. The formula used was precisely the same as
before, with the addition of the words, 'the seed of Aaron, Thy
holy people,' both in the confession and in the petition for
atonement. Then the high-priest killed the bullock, caught up his
blood in a vessel, and gave it to an attendant to keep it
stirring, lest it should coagulate. Advancing to the altar of
burnt-offering, he next filled the censer with burning coals, and
then ranged a handful of frankincense in the dish destined to
hold it. Ordinarily, everything brought in actual ministry unto
God must be carried in the right hand-hence the incense in the
right and the censer in the left. But on this occasion, as the
censer for the Day of Atonement was larger and heavier than
usual, the high-priest was allowed to reverse the common order.
Every eye was strained towards the sanctuary as, slowly bearing
the censer and the incense, the figure of the white-robed
high-priest was seen to disappear within the Holy Place. After
that nothing further could be seen of his movements.

The curtain of the Most Holy Place was folded back, and the
high-priest stood alone and separated from all the people in the
awful gloom of the Holiest of All, only lit up by the red glow of
the coals - in the priest's censer. In the first Temple the ark
of God had stood there with the 'mercy-seat' overshadowing it;
above it, the visible presence of Jehovah in the cloud of the
Shechinah, and on either side the outspread wings of the
cherubim; and the high-priest had placed the censer between the
staves of the ark. But in the Temple of Herod there was neither
Shechinah nor ark - all was empty; and the high-priest rested his
censer on a large stone, called the 'foundation-stone.' He now
most carefully emptied the incense into his hand, and threw it on
the coals of the censer, as far from himself as possible, and so,
waited till the smoke had filled the Most Holy Place. Then,
retreating backwards, he prayed outside the veil as follows: 
'May it please Thee, O Lord our God, and the God of our fathers,
that neither this day nor during 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, and the God of our fathers, that want come not
upon us, either 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 our God, and 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 (Who
might pray against the fall of rain). And as to Thy people
Israel, may no enemy exalt himself against them. May it please
bee, O Lord our God, and the God of our fathers, that the houses
of the men of Saron may not become their graves' (This on account
of the situation of the valley, which was threatened either by
sudden floods or by dangerous landslips). The high-priest was not
to prolong this prayer, lest his protracted absence might fill
the people with fears for his safety.

While the incense was offering in the Most Holy Place the people
withdrew from proximity to it, and worshipped in silence. At last
the people saw the high-priest emerging from the sanctuary,
and they, knew that the service had been accepted. Rapidly he
took from the attendant, who had kept it stirring, the blood of
the bullock. Once more he entered into the Most Holy Place, and
sprinkled with his finger once upwards, towards where the
mercy-seat had been, and seven times downwards, counting as he
did so: 'Once' (upwards), 'once and once' (downwards), 'once and
twice' and so on to 'once and seven times,' always repeating the
word 'once,' which referred to the upwards sprinkling, so as to
prevent any mistake. Coming out from the Most Holy Place, the
high-priest now deposited the bowl with the blood before
the veil. Then he killed the goat set apart for Jehovah, and,
entering the Most Holy Place a third time, sprinkled as, before,
once upwards and seven times downwards, and again deposited the
bowl with the blood of the goat on a second golden stand before 
the veil. Taking up the bowl with the bullock's blood, he next
sprinkled once upwards and seven times downwards towards the
veil, outside the Most Holy Place, and then did the same with the
blood of the goat. Finally, pouring the blood of the bullock into
the bowl which contained that of the goat, and again the mixture
of the two into that which had held the blood of the bullock, so
as thoroughly to commingle the two, he sprinkled each of the
horns of the altar of incense, and then, making a clear place on
the altar, seven times the top of the altar of incense. Thus he
had sprinkled forty-three times with the expiatory blood, taking
care that his own dress should never be spotted with the
sin-laden blood. What was left of the blood the high-priest
poured out on the west side of the base of the altar of

By these expiatory sprinklings the high-priest had cleansed the
sanctuary in all its parts from the defilement of the priesthood
and the worshippers. The Most Holy Place, the veil, the Holy
Place, the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt-offering were
now clean alike, so far as the priesthood and as the people were
concerned; and in their relationship to the sanctuary both
priests and worshippers were atoned for. So far as the law could
give it, there was now again free access for all; or, to put it
otherwise, the continuance of typical sacrificial communion with
God was once more restored and secured. Had it not been for these
services, it would have become impossible for priests and people
to offer sacrifices, and so to obtain the forgiveness of sins, or
to have fellowship with God. But the consciences were not yet
free from a sense of personal guilt and sin. That remained to be
done through the 'scape-goat.' All this seems clearly implied in
the distinctions made in Lev.16:33: '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.'

Most solemn as the services had hitherto been, the worshippers
would chiefly think with awe of the high-priest going into the
immediate presence of God, coming out thence alive, and securing
for them by the blood the continuance of the Old Testament
privileges of sacrifices and of access unto God through them.

What now took place concerned them, if possible, even more
nearly. Their own personal guilt and sins were now to be removed
from them, and that in a symbolical rite, at one and the same
time the most mysterious and the most significant of all. All
this while the 'scape-goat,' with the 'scarlet-tongue,' telling
of the guilt it was to bear, had stood looking eastwards,
confronting the people, and waiting for the terrible load which-
it was to carry away 'unto a land not inhabited.' Laying both his
hands on the head of this goat, the high-priest now confessed and
pleaded: 'Ah, JEHOVAH! they have committed iniquity; they have
transgressed; they have sinned. Thy people, the house of Israel. 
Oh, then, JEHOVAH! cover over (atone for), I intreat Thee, upon
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 (atoned) for you, to make you clean from all your
sins before JEHOVAH ye shall be cleansed."' 
And while the prostrate multitude worshipped at the name of
Jehovah, the high-priest turned his face towards them as he
uttered the last words, 'Ye shall be cleansed!' as if to declare
to them the absolution and remission of their sins.

Then a strange scene would be witnessed. The priests led the
sin-burdened goat out through 'Solomon's Porch,' and, as
tradition has it, through the eastern gate, which opened upon the
Mount of Olives. Here an arched bridge spanned the intervening
valley, and over it they brought the goat to the Mount of Olives,
where one, specially appointed for the purpose, took him in
charge. Tradition enjoins that he should be a stranger, a
non-Israelite, as if to make still more striking the type of Him
who was delivered over by Israel unto the Gentiles! Scripture
tells us no more of the destiny of the goat that bore upon him
all the iniquities of the children of Israel, than that they
'shall send him away by the band of a fit man into the
wilderness,' and that 'he shall let go the goat in the
wilderness.' But tradition supplements this information. 

The distance between Jerusalem and the beginning of 'the
wilderness' is computed at ninety stadia, making precisely ten
intervals, each half a Sabbath-day's journey from the other.     
At the end of each of these intervals there was a station,
occupied by one or more persons, detailed for the purpose, who
offered refreshment to the man leading the goat, and then
accompanied him to the next station. By this arrangement two
results were secured: some trusted persons accompanied the goat
all along his journey, and yet none of them walked more than a
Sabbath-day's journey - that is, half a journey going and the
other half returning. At last they reached the edge of the
wilderness. Here they halted, viewing afar off, while the man led
forward the goat, tore off half the 'scarlet tongue,' and stuck
it on a projecting cliff; then, leading the animal backwards, he
pushed it over the projecting ledge of rock. There was a moment's
pause, and the man, now defiled by contact with the sin-bearer,
retraced his steps to the last of the ten stations, where he
spent the rest of the day and the night. But 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.'

What then was the meaning of a rite on which such momentous issue
depended ? Everything about it seems strange and mysterious - the
lot that designated it, and that 'to Azazel;' the fact,
that though the highest of all sin-offerings, it was neither
sacrificed nor its blood sprinkled in the Temple; and the
circumstance that it really was only part of a sacrifice - the
two goats together forming one sacrifice, one of them being
killed, and the other 'let go,' there being no other analogous
case of the kind except at the purification of a leper, when one
bird was killed and the other dipped in its blood, and let go
free. Thus these two sacrifices - one in the removal of
what symbolically represented sin, the other contracted guilt -
agreed in requiring two animals, of whom, one was killed, the
other 'let go.' This is not the place to discuss the various
views entertained of the import of the scape-goat......

End of quotes from Alfred Edersheim's book "The Temple."


The import of the "scape-goat" alive into a wilderness (the
throwing of the goat over a cliff was a Jewish addition, and
nowhere commanded in the Scriptures), is very significant. Of the
two goats ONLY ONE is "for the Lord" the other being a goat with
the sins of the collective people on its head and sent out into
the wilderness. This goat is NEVER said to be "for the Lord"
hence it CANNOT represent the Lord Jesus as some claim. The type
is really unmistakeable. This sent into the wilderness goat, must
represent Satan the Devil, who is the author of sin, who has in a
sense a part in every person who has lived and their sins. The
wilderness representing the time when Satan will be no longer
around any person, when he will be chained up from "people" to
influence them, a time when he will indeed be in a wilderness by
himself, a time when he will carry the sins of all humanity with
him into the wilderness, and be put away for 1,000 years from the
human race.
Then at that time (Revelation 20), the earth will have her
Sabbath rest in the Lord. 
The goat was not killed in the original instructions of Lev.16,
and so Satan will live on through the 1,000 year period to be
allowed back from the wilderness yet one more time to deceive the
people of earth, as we read in Revelations 20. 

With Satan in the wilderness of only himself and the demons with
him, the world can be brought from its affliction of sin and
death (which accumulates with all the plagues and destruction
foretold in the book of Revelation at the time of the end), and
be brought back to God and His Word and Way of life. The world
can then be AT ONE with God and His Son Christ Jesus.

What a glorious day that will be!!

Keith Hunt


  Home Previous Page Top of Page Next Page

Navigation List:

Word Search: