Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, July 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 16

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-5


Verses 1-5:

Verse I refers to Le 10:1, 2, the death of Nadab and Abihu, when they offered "strange fire" upon the altar. The sin and death of these two sons did not disqualify Aaron from ministering in the office of high priest.

God placed severe restrictions upon the high priest’s appearance in the Holy of Holies. This was limited to an annual occasion, described in this text and designated as "The Day of Atonement," Yom Kippur, the "Day of Covering," see Heb 9:7-25; 10:19-22.

To officiate in his capacity in the Yom Kippur ceremonies, Aaron must first be clothed in proper garments. These differed from the ceremonial garments of the high priest described in Ex 28:1-39. On the occasion of the text, he was to wear white linen garments: coat, breeches, girdle (belt), and mitre (turban). This symbolized the holiness and purity necessary to appear before God, Ps 24:3, 4; Heb 12:14. This symbolism is strengthened by the requirement that the high priest must bathe before he donned these garments.

Aaron was to bring certain sacrifices to the brazen altar. One was a bullock for a Sin Offering, Le 4:3-12, and a ram for a Burnt Offering, Le 1:3-9. This was to be offered for his own sin, see Heb 5:1-4.

The second offering consisted of two kids (young goats) for a Sin Offering, Le 4:27-31. This was to be offered for the sins of "the common people (through) ignorance" (Le 4:27).

Verses 6-14

Verses 6-14:

Aaron was first to offer the bullock as his own offering for sin, see Le 1:3-9. Then he was to dispose of the two goats as follows:

1. Lots were cast to determine the disposition of each of the twelve young goats.

2. One goat was to be slain, as a Sin Offering, Le 4:17-35.

3. The other goat was to be a "scapegoat," azazel. This term occurs only four times in Scripture, all in this chapter, verses 8, 10, 26. It is from the root word azal, meaning "removal." The reduplication form azael means "removal by a series of acts." The ideas that azazel is the name of a specific location, or symbolic of a demon spirit or Satan himself, or the symbolic designation fo the goat itself, may all be rejected as contrary both to laws of grammar, and to Scripture principles.

After this selection, Aaron was to offer the bullock for himself and his "house." He was then to fill a censer, machtah, with coals from the brazen altar. He was to take sweet incense with him into the Holy of Holies, where he would immediately place the incense on the coals, as a kind of veil of covering before the presence of Jehovah.

In addition to the censer and incense, Aaron was to carry a portion of the blood of his offering into the Holy of Holies, where he was to sprinkle it seven times upon the mercy seat covering the ark.

The incense and the blood assured Aaron of his own acceptance, to serve as the mediator between Jehovah and the people. This is in contrast to Christ, the High Priest of the New Covenant, who has no need to offer sacrifice for Himself, for He is without sin, Heb 5:1-4.

Verses 15-19

Verses 15-19:

The first of the two goats was slain according to the ritual requirements. Aaron then took the blood into the Holy of Holies, where he followed the same procedure as with the blood of the bullock. This was as an atonement for the "holy place," the outer sanctuary of the Tabernacle. The reason: its defilement by contact with the congregation. Israel was an "holy nation," a sanctified nation, but this does not mean they were without sin. They had the sin nature inherited from Adam, Ro 5:12; 6:23; Ga 3:22.

Next, Aaron brought a portion of the blood of the bullock and the goat into the holy place, where he smeared it upon the "horns" of the Altar of Incense. He then sprinkled the blood seven times upon the altar, as he had done before the Mercy Seat within the Holy of Holies.

"Atonement," kaphar, "to cover." The blood of the sacrifices on this solemn occasion was "to cover" the sins and transgressions of the people from the sight of Jehovah.

During the entire procedure, no one except Aaron was allowed in the sanctuary. This pictures the solitary work of Christ, the High Priest of the New Covenant, who alone did what was necessary to reconcile the Holy God with fallen man, Isa 63:3; 1Ti 2:5.

Verses 20-22

Verse 20-22:

Following the sprinkling of the blood of the first goat upon the Mercy Seat before Jehovah, the holy place, tabernacle, congregation, and altar, Aaron then came outside to where the second goat waited. Then began the second part of the ritual of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).

Aaron laid both his hands upon the head of this second goat,

symbolically transferring the sins of the people upon it. He confessed the sins of the people. This confession later developed into a liturgical form, found in the Mishna. (In his book, "The Temple, Its Ministry and Services," Eerdman’s, Alfred Edersheim devotes a chapter to the Day of Atonement, giving the full liturgy of the sacrifice, both in its inception and as it came to be at the time of Christ.)

Then, Aaron delivered the "scapegoat," azazel, to a "fit man," itti, one who was ready to carry out the duty assigned. This man led the azazel into an uninhabited region, and there left it. This is symbolic of Christ’s removal of our sins "as far as the east is from the west," Ps 103:12; Jer 31:34; Heb 8:12; 10:17.

The entire ritual of Yom Kippur shows the fullness of salvation. The blood of the slain goat, sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat, covers the sins of the people from the sight of God. This symbolizes the full payment of sin by the sacrifice of Christ. The "scapegoat," azazel, pictures the complete removal of all sin, 1Jo 1:7-9; 1Pe 1:18, 19; Ps 103:12.

Verses 23-28

Verses 23-28:

As the azazel was led away, Aaron returned to the Holy Place, where he put off the white linen garments, bathed, and then put on the traditional vestments of the high priest (Ex 28:1-30). He returned to the brazen altar where he completed the ritual of the Burnt Offering and the Sin Offering.

The man who led the azazel, (the scapegoat) into the wilderness then purified himself according to the prescribed ritual, and then returned to the camp.

Those Levites who attended at the altar then took the remaining portion of the sacrificial offerings outside the camp, where they were burned completely. Following this, they observed the ritual for cleansing before returning to the camp.

The precise instructions for ceremonial cleansing of all who participated in the rituals shows the necessity of purity and holiness in order to stand before God and be accepted of Him, Ps 24:3-6.

Verses 29-34

Verses 29-34:

"Statute," choq, "a decreed limit, portion." The term denotes a written law, a permanent rule adopted by a recognized authority. Yom Kippur is established as a perpetual ordinance.

The time of year: Tisri, the seventh month. This is the sacred month, during which the first, tenth, fifteenth days were appointed as solemn and holy seasons.

The ritual requirements were strict. Complete fasting from sunset on the ninth to sunset on the tenth must be observed, under penalty of death (see Le 23:29). No work must be done, either by Israeli citizens or by those not citizens in the land.

Aaron was instructed to pass to his son who would succeed him as high priest, the rituals and ceremonies of this solemn observance. In like manner, each high priest passed on to his successor the same. In God’s plan, this was to continue until he would come who would be the High Priest after the order of Melchizedec and not Aaron, and who would be the fulfillment of this symbol: Jesus Christ, Heb 4, 5, 7-9.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Leviticus 16". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/leviticus-16.html. 1985.
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