From the book "The Temple"
Alfred Edersheim D.D. Ph.D.
THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
Continuing from Edersheim's book "The Temple"
....This i not the place to discuss the various views entertained
of the import of the scape-goat. But it is destructive of one and
all of the received interpretations, that the sins of the people
were confessed not on the goat which was killed, but on that
which was 'let go the wilderness,' and that it was this goat -
not the other - which 'bore upon him all the iniquities' of the
The blood sprinkled had effected this; but it had done no more,
and it could do no more, for it 'could not make him that did the
service perfect, as pertaining to conscience. (Heb.9:9). The
symbolical representation of perfecting was by the live goat,
which, laden with confessed sins of the people, carried them away
into 'the wilderness' to 'a land not inhabited' ....
Thus viewed, not only the text of Lev.16, but the language of
Heb.9 and 10, which chiefly refer to the Day of Atonement,
becomes plain. The 'blood,' both of the bullock and of the
goat which the high-priest carried 'once a year within 'the
sacred veil,' was 'offered for himself (including the priesthood)
and for the errors (or rather ignorances) of the people.' In the
language of Lev.16:20, it reconciled 'the Holy Pace, and the
tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar,' that is, as
already explained, it rendered on the part of priests and people
the continuance of sacrificial worship possible. But THIS LIVE
scape-goat 'let go' in the wilderness, over which, in the ex-
haustive language of Lev.16:21, the high-priest had confessed and
on which he had laid 'all the iniquities of the children of
Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins,' meant
something QUITE DIFFERENT....
After this it is comparatively of secondary importance to
discuss, so far as we can in these pages, the question of the
meaning of the term 'la-Azazel.' Both the interpretation which
makes it a designation of the goat itself (as 'scape-goat in our
Authorised Version), and that which would refer it to a certain
locality in the wilderness (Thus the book of Sifra paraphrases
it: 'rough place in the mountains') being, on many grounds,
wholly untenable, two other views remain, one of which regards
Azazel as a person, and denoting Satan; while the other would
render the term by 'complete removal.' .....
We may here at once state, that the later Jewish practice of
pushing the goat over a rocky precipice was undoubtedly an
innovation, in no wise sanctioned by the law of Moses, and not
even introduced at the time the Septuagint translation was made,
as its rendering of Lev.16:26 shows. The law simply ordained that
the goat, once arrived in 'the land not inhabited,' was to be
'let go' free, and the Jewish ordinance of having it pushed over
the rocks is signally characteristic of the Rabbinical perversion
of its spiritual type. The word Azazel, which only occurs in Lev.
16, is by universal consent derived from a root which means
'wholly to put aside,' or, 'wholly to go away,' Whether,
therefore, we render 'la-Azazel ' by 'for him who is wholly put
aside,' ... or 'put wholly aside or away,' the truth is still the
same, as pointing through the temporary and provisional removal
of sin by the goat 'let go' in 'the land not inhabited,' to the
final, real, and complete removal of sin ....
While the scape-goat was being led into the wilderness, the
high-priest proceeded to cut up the bullock and the goat with
whose blood he had previously 'made atonement,' put the 'inwards'
in a vessel which he committed to an attendant, and sent the
carcasses to be burnt 'outside the city,' in the place where the
Temple ashes were usually deposited. Then, according to
tradition, the high-priest, still wearing the linen garments,
went into the 'Court of the Women,' and read the passages of
Scripture bearing on the Day of Atonement, viz. Lev.16; 23:27-32;
also repeating by heart Numb.29:7-11. A series of prayers
accompanied this reading of the Scriptures.
The most interesting of these supplications may be thus summed up
:- Confession of sin with prayer for forgiveness, closing with
the words, 'Praise be to Thee, O Lord, Who in Thy mercy forgivest
the sins of Thy people Israel;' prayer for the permanence of the
Temple, and that the Divine Majesty might shine in it, closing
with - 'Praise be to Thee, O Lord, Who inhabitest Zion;' prayer
for the establishment and safety of Israel, and the continuance
of a king among them, closing - 'Thanks be to Thee, O Lord, Who
hast chosen Israel;' prayer for the priesthood, that all their
doings, but especially their sacred services, might be acceptable
unto God, and He be gracious unto them, closing with - 'Thanks be
to Thee, O Lord, Who hast sanctified the priesthood;' and,
finally (in the language of Maimonides), prayers, entreaties,
hymns, and petitions of the high-priest's own, closing with the
words: 'Give help, O Lord, to Thy people Israel, for Thy people
needeth help; thanks be unto Thee, O Lord, Who Hearest prayer.'
These prayers ended, the high-priest washed his hands and feet,
put off his 'linen,' and put on his 'golden vestments,' and once
more washed hands and feet before proceeding to the next minis-
try. He now appeared again before the people as the Lord's
anointed in the golden garments of the bride-chamber. Before he
offered the festive burnt-offerings of the day, he sacrificed
'one kid of the goats for a sin-offering,' probably with special
reference to these festive services, which, like everything else,
required atoning blood for their acceptance. The flesh of this
sin-offering was eaten at night by the priests within the
sanctuary. Next, he sacrificed the burnt-offerings for the people
and that for himself, and finally burned the 'inwards' of the
expiatory offerings, whose blood had formerly been sprinkled in
the Most Holy Place. This, properly speaking, finished the
services of the day.
But the high-priest had yet to offer the ordinary evening
sacrifice, after which he washed his hands and his feet, once
more put off his 'golden' and put on his 'linen garments,' and
again washed his hands and feet. This before entering the Most
Holy Place a fourth time on that day to fetch from it the censer
and incense-dish which he had left there. On his return he washed
once more hands and feet, put off his linen garments, which were
never to be used again, put on his golden vestments, washed hands
and feet, burnt the evening incense on the golden altar, lit the
lamps on the candlestick for the night, washed his hands and
feet, put on his ordinary layman's dress, and was escorted by the
people in procession to his own house in Jerusalem. The evening
closed with a feast.
If this ending of the Day of Atonement seems incongruous, the
Mishnah records something yet more strange in connection with the
day itself. It is said that on the afternoon of the 15th of Ab,
when the collection of wood for the sanctuary was completed, and
on that of the Day of Atonement, the maidens of Jerusalem went in
white garments, specially lent them for the purpose, so that rich
and poor might be on an equality, into the vineyards close to the
city, where they danced and sung. The following fragment of one
of their songs has been preserved:
'Around in circle gay, the Hebrew maidens see;
From them our happy youths their partners choose.
Remember! Beauty soon its charm must lose -
And seek to win a maid of fair degree.
When fading grace and beauty low are laid,
Then praise shall her who fears the Lord await;
God does bless her handiwork - and, in the gate,
"Her works do follow her," it shall be said.'
We will not here undertake the melancholy task of describing what
the modern synagogue has made the Day of Atonement, nor how it
observes the occasion chiefly in view of their gloomy thoughts,
that on that day man's fate for the year, if not his life or
death, is finally fixed. But even the Mishnah already contains
similar perverted notions of how the day should be kept, and what
may be expected from its right observance. Rigorous rest and
rigorous fasting are enjoined from sundown of one day to the
appearance of the first stars on the next. Neither food nor drink
of any kind may be tasted; a man may not even wash, nor anoint
himself, nor put on his sandals.
The sole exception made is in favour of the sick and of children,
who are only bound to the full fast - girls at the age of twelve
years and one day, and boys at that of thirteen years and one
day, though it is recommended to train them earlier to it. In
return for all this 'affliction' Israel may expect that death
along with the Day of Atonement will finally blot out all sins!
That is all - the Day of Atonement and our own death! Such are
Israel's highest hopes of expiation! It is unspeakably saddening
to follow this subject further through the minutiae of Rabbinical
ingenuity - how much exactly the Day of Atonement will do for a
man; what proportion of his sins it will remit, and what merely
suspend; how much is left over for after-chastisements, and how
much for final extinction at death. The law knows nothing of such
miserable petty misrepresentations of the free pardon of God. In
the expiatory sacrifices of the Day of Atonement every kind of
transgression, trespass, and sin is to be removed from the people
of God. Yet annually anew, and each time confessedly only
provisionally, not really and finally, till the gracious promises
should be fulfilled: I will forgive their iniquity, and I will
remember their sin no more.' Accordingly it is very marked, how
in the prophetic, or it may be symbolical, description of
Ezekiel's Temple all mention of the Day of Atonement is omitted
for Christ has come 'an high-priest of good things to come,' and
'entered in once into the Holy Place,' 'to put away sin by the
sacrifice of Himself.'
End of quotes from Edersheim
The Day of Atonement is probably not mentioned as such in Ezekiel
because in those last chapter we see the 1,000 reign, Jesus the
Messiah has come, Satan the goat to be sent into the wilderness,
has indeed been sent, chained up, to work his deception no more
till the thousand years is completed (Rev.20).
The proofs for the second goat, the one sent into the wilderness,
being representative of Satan the Devil is:
First and mainly, only one goat is said to be chosen "for the
Lord" and that the live goat is never killed and its blood never
enters the Temple, and especially the Holy of Holies, behind the
curtain of the Temple. The goat for the Lord is killed and its
blood enters the throne room of God. That goat and its blood is
fully the Messiah's sacrifice for the sins of the whole community
- the whole world, as put in a collective manner on that day of
Secondly, the very fitting symbolism of the live goat having a
part in all sins committed by ALL the collective people, having
sins therefore justly placed on his head, and sent out alive, but
into a wilderness, where nothing but sin so to speak, can he have
for company. It is fitting that Satan be chained up with the
guilt of his part in all sins ever committed, and to dwell with
those sins for a thousand years. With no contact with the human
race for a thousand years, we can see how a daily torment will be
agonizing for the originator of sin - Lucifer, the light bringer
who became the bringer of darkness.
Before Satan is chained and the world is at one with God, it
would seem (because there is not much hope for the world to
REPENT of its sins and rejection of the Lord and His word) all
the prophecies of the book of Revelation will come to pass, and
the people of earth will experience the GREATEST time of trouble
that they will have ever experienced, and such a time of
tribulation will never be the like again on earth. All this
foretold in the many prophecies of the Bible, and explained in
detail on this Website.
Part of the affliction that God's children feel on this special
day of fasting, the feast day of atonement, on the 10th day of
the 7th month in the Jewish calendar, is the sober reflections of
what the people of this earth will have to go through to bring
them to REPENTANCE, and into a mindset where they will be willing
to have God rule them.
This feast day is NOT so much a personal repentance feast as is
the Passover and days of Unleavened Bread, BUT as a time to FEEL
for the world at large and its sins, and how the world at large
needs to be at-one with the Eternal, and how it one day will be,
but what will lead up to that time of at-one-ment with God, will
be truly horrific.
Judaism and the so-called "days of Awe" (from Trumpets to
Atonement), 10 days of "repentance" was borrowed from the
Babylonians, when in their 70 year captivity in the 500 B.C.
time. The ancient heathen had a same period of time in the fall
of the year, a time of moaning and groaning. This custom the Jews
brought with them from Babylon and hence still observe this ten
day period. The time for God's children to have an extended
period of intra-spection is before and leading up to the Passover
service on the 14th day of Nisan (first month in Jewish calendar)
and on into the feast of Unleavened Bread. It is not at the time
from Trumpets to Atonement. The fall feasts of God are to
basically a JOYOUS period, for what those feasts proclaim in the
plan of salvation by God for mankind. There is a sober tone to
them of course. The Day of Trumpets and Jesus' return carries
with it some grave news for many people on earth. So then the
Feast of Atonement has an affliction part, but BOTH feasts carry
the main theme of the GOOD that lies ahead for the world.
Rejoicing in the GOOD should be the main theme of the fall
festivals of the Lord.
From Trumpets to Atonement should NOT be observed and practiced
as the orthodox Jews of today practice that period of time.
The feast of Atonement will come to pass.
For one thousand years the world will be AT ONE with the Creator,
the sacrifice of Jesus, and His office of High Priest, and His
blood to cover all sins, will shine forth as never before. The
sending of Satan and his deceptions into the nothingness of the
wilderness, away from the people of God, will accomplish the
prophecies that state the earth will be filled with the knowledge
of God as the waters cover the sea-beds.
God speed that day and age!!
For the revealed details of the age to come, see the studies on
the Feast of Tabernacles.
Entered on this Website, October 2003