King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

Leviticus > Old Testament > Home

Leviticus 16

The great day of atonement. (1-14) The sacrifices on it, The scape-goat. (15-34)

Leviticus 16 Audio:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The great day of atonement

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

2 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.

3 Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering.

4 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.

5 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.

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

7 And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

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

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

10 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.

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:

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 within the vail:

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.

The sacrifices on it, The scape-goat

15 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:

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 have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation 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 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:

22 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.

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.

25 And the fat of the sin offering shall he burn upon the altar.

26 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.

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 without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung.

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

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 that 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.

« »

G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Fire. It was upon this occasion that the feast of expiation (kippurim) was instituted, to enforce the reverence due to holy things, and particularly to the tabernacle. Heb. adds, “before the Lord,” (H.) and does not specify strange fire; but the Chaldee and the Syriac do. C.

Ver. 2. Enter not. No one but the high priest, and he but once a year, could enter into the sanctuary: to signify that no one could enter into the sanctuary of heaven till Christ our high priest opened it by his passion, Heb. x. 8. Ch. — When the tabernacle was to be removed, and when he had to consult the Lord, he might also enter, arrayed in his pontifical attire. If the high priest was prevented by any legal uncleanness, the next priest was substituted to perform his office. Josep. xvii. 8. Adjutor vicarius propter cognationem ei datus est.

Ver. 4. Washed. On this day the high priest appeared in linen clothes, like one of the inferior priests, without the jewels; thought Josephus (de Bel. v. 15,) asserts the contrary. C. — This was a feast of sorrow and of penance. T. — Perhaps he put on his more costly attire before he entered the holy of holies, v. 23, 4. H.

Ver. 6. Calf, or young bull, which Aaron offered for himself and all the family of Levi, to expiate the sins which they might have committed during the year. If their sins were voluntary, they were obliged also to have perfect charity and contrition. The ram was offered for the sins of the people. Moses speaks of the red heifer, (Num. xix.) which was also offered, out of the camp, for the people. This solemn day was to be kept by all as a rigid “fast from meat, drink, washing, anointing, wearing shoes, or using marriage.” This is the idea which the Oriental nations generally have of a fast. They commence at midnight, and end with the following sun-set; after which they eat what they think proper. C. — On the day of expiation, the Jews made a tenfold confession of their sins. Morin. pÅ“nit. ii. 22.

Ver. 8. The emissary-goat: caper emissarius; in Greek, apopompaios; in Hebrew, Hazazel. The goat to go off, or as some translate it, the scape-goat. This goat, on whose head the high priest was ordered to pour forth prayers, and to make a general confession of the sins of the people, laying them all, as it were, on his head; and after that to send him away into the wilderness, to be devoured by wild beasts, was a figure of our Saviour, charged with all our sins, in his passion.

Ver. 11. After…celebrated. These words are not in the Hebrew.

Ver. 12. Censer, which resembled one of our chalices; without any chains, &c. Apoc. v. 8. C.

Ver. 13, 14. The cloud. — The blood, &c. This is to teach us, that if we would go into the sanctuary of God, we must take with us the incense of prayer, and the blood, that is, the passion of Christ. Where also note, that the high priest, before he went into the holy of holies, was to wash his whole body; and then to put on white linen garments; to signify the purity and chastity with which we are to approach to God. Ch. — The Sept. call this goat apopompaion, “the averter of evils, or the one sent away.” Hazazel is taken by Spencer Julian, the apostate, (ap. S. Cyr. 9. and ep. 39,) to mean the devil; as if the goat was sent or sacrificed to him, which is very foolish. C. — East. That is, the forepart of the mercy-seat, which was not to be touched with the blood, (M.) no more than the veil. Rabbins.

Ver. 15. Oracle. He probably took this blood at the same time with that of the calf. Heb. ix. 7. M. — Though some Rabbins assert, the high priest entered the holy of holies four times on that day. Drusius. Pausanias tells us, that the temples of Dindymenes and Orcus were opened only once a year. C.

Ver. 16. Filth. God deigned to have his tabernacle in the midst of the camp, where so many sins, and marks of disrespect, as well as legal uncleannesses, were found. H. — Sin so defileth the soul, that the most holy place is contaminated thereby. Theod. q. 22.

Ver. 17. Out. Even the other priests were excluded from the tabernacle. The high priest placed incense on the censer as soon as he entered within the veil, and prayed for all blessings, in few words, that the people might not be uneasy, fearing lest something had befallen him. This was the form: “Be pleased to grant, O Lord our God, that this year may be warm and rainy, that the sovereign power may abide in the house of Juda, that thy people may not be deprived of any of the necessaries of life; and hear not the petitions of travellers,” (which are commonly vain and selfish) of “of sinners,” as others translate. C. — Those who were forbidden to be present this occasion, might have made the same objections as Protestants do against the law of the Church which prescribes a language not commonly understood by all, in the administration of her sacraments. Have either any reason to be offended? H.

Ver. 18. Let him pray for himself. Heb. “he shall expiate or purify it,” the altar of incense. Josephus says he also sprinkled with blood the great altar of holocausts, v. 20. Ant. iii. 10.

Ver. 22. Desert, to be devoured by wild beasts, (M.) or hurled down a precipice.

Ver. 24. Flesh, which was, in some sort, defiled by touching the goat. — Garments, belonging to his office. — Come out of the holy of holies. C. — The remainder of the day was spent in joy. The priest washed himself, as a sign that he had obtained pardon. M.

Ver. 26. Camp. This was always required of those who had burnt the bodies of the victims out of the camp, as v. 28, and Num. xix. 7. Outram. — In some of the sacrifices for sin, the priests might eat part of the flesh. But here all was consumed, as the victim was offered for the sins of all.

Ver. 29. Tenth. Beginning on the evening of the ninth Tisri, which corresponds with part of our September and October, and is the first month of the civil year. C. xxxiii. 32. Afflict, by a rigid abstinence from all that might give delight to the body. Children of seven years old begin to join in this mortification. Boys of 13, and girls of 11 years old complete, were obliged to fast. See v. 6. The Samaritans pray all the day, and give no food even to infants during the 24 hours. C. — Moses was the first who shewed them the example; and this was the only day which he prescribed to be kept as a fast. The Jews afterwards appointed many more. H. — Maimonides says, this festival was instituted in memory of the descent of Moses from Mount Sinai the third time, when he came to announce to the people that God had pardoned their idolatry. Usher thinks it was in memory of Adam’s fall. The Jews still observe it in some degree. As they are not allowed to sacrifice, they kill a white cock, and the women a hen, on the 9th at evening. Those with child kill both. They confess their sins, receive 93 lashes, ask pardon of those whom they have offended, and generally spend the fore part of this month in acts of piety and of penance. Buxtorf. Syn. 20. — Stranger; a proselyte of justice, such as were bound to observe the law.

Ver. 31. Of rest. Heb. “of sabbaths;” that is, a day of most perfect rest; so that even meat is not allowed to be dressed on it, as it is on other festivals. C. xxiii. 27. C. — Religion. Fasting is therefore an act of religion. D.