What is the Scapegoat (Lev. 16:8)?
It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these (Heb. 9:23 – emphasis mine, DWD).1
Leviticus 16 records the instructions concerning the Day of Atonement – the yearly “covering” of sins (Lev. 16:29-30) until such time as the offering and atonement of Christ, once “…to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26). The issue in this question seems to be the use of the term Azazel (as found in the ASV). Barnes notes concerning this term, “Azazel is the pre-Mosaic name of an evil personal being placed in opposition to Yahweh.”2 Commentators have many opinions on this term as seen in the following:
Commentators have differed widely in their opinions about the character and purpose of this part of the ceremonial; some considering the word “Azazel,” with the Septuagint and our translators, to mean, “the scapegoat”; others, “a lofty, precipitous rock” [Bochart]; others, “a thing separated to God” [Ewald, Tholuck]; while others think it designates Satan [Gesenius, Hengstenberg].3
Compounding the confusion around this term is the fact that the term Azazel occurs only three times in the Scriptures – Leviticus 16:8, 10, and 26.4 It is imperative then that we use only Leviticus 16 and those passages within the Scriptures that comment to us from God on Leviticus 16 to understand the term “scapegoat.”
The Two Goats: A Type of Christ
This material is taken in a grateful manner from the book Types and Shadows, by W. Gaddys Roy. The following eight points are set forth concerning the two goats:
GOAT TO BE SACRIFICED, DECIDED BY LOT THUS CONSIDERED THE CHOICE OF GOD (Lev. 16:7-10)
THE BLOOD OF THE GOAT WAS SPRINKLED ON MERCY-SEAT FOR ATONEMENT OF SINS OF THE PEOPLE (Lev. 16:15, 16)
NO MAN WAS TO IN TENT OF MEETING. HIGH PRIEST WENT IN WITH THE BLOOD TO MAKE ATONEMENT (Lev. 16:17)
PRIEST SPRINKLED BLOOD WITH FINGER SEVEN TIMES (NUMBER SIGNIFYING COMPLETENESS) FOR CLEANSING OF ISRAEL (Lev. 16:19)
OVER HEAD OF LIVE GOAT, SINS OF PEOPLE WERE CONFESSED (Lev. 16:20-22)
PRIEST LAYING BOTH HANDS ON HEAD OF SCAPEGOAT AND CONFESSING SINS OF THE PEOPLE SHOWED FAITH AND CONFIDENCE (Lev. 16:20-22)
THIS WAS DONE ONCE A YEAR (Lev. 16:31; Heb. 10:1-4)
THE TWO GOATS WERE ISRAEL’S SUBSTITUTE5
The following eight points concerning Christ are offered and provided for a comparison and contrast of the type to the antitype.
JESUS CHOICE OF GOD FOR A SACRIFICE FOR SIN (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 6:23; Acts 2:23)
JESUS MADE ATONEMENT WITH HIS BLOOD (I Pet. 1:18, 19; Heb. 9:12; Rom. 5:9-11; Matt. 26:28)
JESUS MADE ATONEMENT WITH HIS BLOOD BEFORE CHURCH WAS ESTABLISHED (Mk. 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4)
JESUS MADE COMPLETE ATONEMENT FOR US (Heb. 10:9, 10)
JESUS HAS BORNE OUR SINS (Isa. 53:4-6; Matt. 27:46; II Cor. 5:21)
WE MUST HAVE IMPLICIT FAITH THAT THROUGH SACRIFICE OF JESUS ALL OUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN FAITH AND OBEDIENCE (Mk. 16:16; Rom. 6:16-18; Heb. 5:9; Rev. 22:14)
JESUS MADE ONE ETERNAL SACRIFICE FOR US (Heb. 10:10)
JESUS IS THE CHRISTIAN’S SUBSTITUTE (Jn. 10:17; Rom. 6:23; Gal. 2:20)6
What Then is the Scapegoat?
The scapegoat was representative (a type), in conjunction with the slain goat, of that perfect sacrifice that only Christ (the antitype) could make in completeness. Notice how the two goats (and the high priest) correlate to Christ and His sacrifice: the high priest was to present the sacrifice to the Lord – Christ as the High Priest presented Himself; the one to be slain was offered – Christ was crucified on the cross, by His own choice (John 10:17-18); the live goat had the people’s sin confessed over its head by the high priest – the High Priest confessed (Luke 23:34) for the people; the scapegoat was sent into the wilderness – Christ was forsaken and sent to paradise apart from God (Mat. 27:46; Mark 15:34; Luke 23:43).
Christ is still the only one capable of carrying out the needed function of both offering blood (the slain goat) and removing sin (the scapegoat) in true perfection by His resurrection and ascension into heaven to present His own blood as atonement for our sins (John 10:17-18; Heb. 9:14, 26).
Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: (Heb. 9:6-7).
Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; (Heb. 9:9).
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb 9:12-14).
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20).
Which Day was the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29-30; 23:27-32)?
The clear indication from both passages is that the Day of Atonement fell on the tenth day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar (Lev. 16:29; 23:27). The question at hand seems to come from verse 32 of the 27th chapter of Leviticus where it states: “…in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even….” Is the Day of Atonement the ninth day or as Leviticus 16:29 and 23:27 indicate, the tenth day?
The answer to this confusion lies in a proper understanding of Jewish time telling. For the Jews the measurement of time was in the day and lunar month. The term “day” (Hebrew yo?m) is first found, and in fact the Jewish concept of the day falls into agreement with, in Genesis 1. In this grand chapter of creation God uses the phrase “the evening and the morning were the … day” (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). So, in the beginning of time God counted the day from sunset to sunset. The Jewish concept of the day was based on this same principle. The Jewish day started at sunset and continued until the next sunset.7
This leads us to the conclusion that Leviticus 23:32 indicates that the day of atonement was to begin at sunset (end) of the ninth day (the equivalent of our “midnight” – to which day does “midnight” belong?), which is the start of the tenth day, and lasted until sunset of the tenth day (the end of the tenth day and beginning of the eleventh day). As such it is evident that the Day of Atonement was the tenth day of the seventh month.
All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.
2 Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Taken from e-Sword computer program.
3 Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset and David Brown, A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Taken from e-Sword computer program.
4 M.G. Easton, Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Taken from e-Sword computer program.
5 W. Gaddys Roy, Types and Shadows, (Deatsville, AL: W. Gaddys Roy, 1992), p. 85.
6 Ibid, p. 86.
7 International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (ISBE), Taken from e-Sword computer program.