THE PENTATEUCH PART III: LEVITICUS
Lesson 7: Chapters 15-16
The Rules Concerning Personal Uncleanness and
The Day of Atonement
The rituals of purification and blood sacrifice in the Old Covenant were models or patterns of what You intended to give mankind when You sent Your Son to expiate our sins and to wash us in the holy purification of His precious blood. The day He offered up His life on the altar of the Cross was our "Day of Atonement." We thank You, Lord, for the mercy You have extended to Your covenant people down through the ages. Guide us, dear Paraclete, as we study the patterns of rites and rituals that looked forward to fulfillment in the coming of the Redeemer-Messiah. We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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For from the beginning "the spirit of God moved over the waters," and over and again Scripture testifies to the fact that water is purifying. It was with water that God washed away the sin of the world in the time of Noah. It was with water that every one who was unclean was purified in accordance with the law, and even their garments were washed with water. St. John of Damascus (c. 650-750 AD), Orthodox Faith, 4.9
The Law of the Sinai Covenant was meant to train God's people both in holiness and in the obedience of faith, an attribute that St. Paul will stress is also necessary for New Covenant believers in his letter to the Romans (Rom 1:5; 6:16-17; 10:16; 15:18; 16:19, 26). The Church Fathers wrote that the Levitical rituals of purification that restored persons cured of contagious diseases (the result of sin in the world) through ritual washing and anointing prefigured Christian baptism in the forgiveness of the contamination of original sin and in the new birth consecration of the believer-body and soul-to God. They wrote that just as the Spirit of God moved over the waters in Creation and gave the waters of the Flood the power to cleanse the earth, so too, God the Holy Spirit cleanses, purifies, and re-news humanity in the Sacrament of Christian baptism (St. John Damascus, St. Clement of Alexandria, St. John Chrysostom, etc.)
Yahweh's instruction to Moses and Aaron concerning ritual impurities continues in Chapter 15, addressing defilement from:
This section of instruction follows this basic outline:
Please read Leviticus 15:1-12: Regulations Concerning the
Personal Impurities of Men
15:1Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron and said: 2'Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 3"When a man has a discharge from his body, that discharge is unclean. While the discharge continues, the nature of his uncleanness is as follows: Whether his body allows the discharge to flow or whether it retains it, he is unclean. 4Any bed the man lies on and anything he sits on will be unclean. 5Anyone who touches his bed must wash clothing and body and will be unclean until evening. 6Anyone who sits where the man has sat must wash clothing and body and will be unclean until evening. 7Anyone who touches the body of the man with the discharge must wash clothing and body and will be unclean until evening. 8If the man with the discharge spits on someone who is clean, that person must wash clothing and body and will be unclean until evening. 9Any saddle the man has ridden on will be unclean. 10All those who touch any object that has been under him will be unclean until evening. Anyone who picks up such an object must wash clothing and body and will be unclean until evening. 11All those whom the man with the discharge touches without having washed his hands must wash clothing and body and will be unclean until evening. 12The earthenware vessel he touches must be broken and any wooden utensil must be rinsed.
Most of this chapter addresses discharges from the sexual organs that are the result of illness or infection. Once again, illness is linked to sin in the world as related to ritual impurity, taking us back to the concept that in Eden there was no illness or impurities and the new Eden of the Sanctuary must reflect that same condition of perfection (Lev 11:44-45; 12:4). Sexually impure persons were prohibited from entering the center of worship, unlike all other ancient Near Eastern religious cults where everything that pertained to sexuality had a role in both cultic worship and the associated rituals.(1)
Leviticus 15:2 'Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 3"When a man has a discharge from his body, that discharge is unclean. While the discharge continues, the nature of his uncleanness is as follows: Whether his body allows the discharge to flow or whether it retains it, he is unclean. The literal translation is "from his flesh." This verse addresses two problems: an involuntary discharge or the inability to discharge semen due to disease or infection. The man is "unclean" and anyone or anything that comes in contact with him becomes "unclean" (JPS Commentary: Leviticus, page 93).
Leviticus 15:8: If the man with the discharge spits on someone who is clean, that person must wash clothing and body and will be unclean until evening. "Spit" probably refers to phlegm or drooling.
Question: For how long does a person coming in contact with an "unclean" man remain "unclean"? How many times is this instruction repeated in this passage?
Answer: Persons who are thus contaminated are "unclean" until sundown when the next day begins. This definition of the length of time for the defilement to be lifted is repeated seven times.
That someone thus contaminated is unclean until "evening" is the usual period of time ritual impurity lasts from contact with the "impure" and "unclean" (Lev 11:24, 25, 27, 28, 31, 32, 39, 40 (twice); 14:46; 15:5, 6, 7, 8, 10 (twice), 11, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 27; 17:15; Num 19:7, 8, 10, 19, 21, 22; Dt 23:11).
Please read Leviticus 15:13-15: The Ritual Purification
of a Man Cured of a Discharge
15:13"Once the man with the discharge is cured, he will allow seven days for his purification. He will wash his clothes and wash his body in running water and he will be clean. 14On the eighth day he will take two turtledoves or two young pigeons and come before Yahweh at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and give them to the priest. 15The priest will offer one of them as a sacrifice for sin and the other as a burnt offering. And in this way the priest will perform the rite of expiation for him before Yahweh for his discharge.
A seven day purification period is again followed by ritual washing of clothes and body.
Question: After he is cured, on what day is the man admitted to the Sanctuary?
Answer: On the eighth day.
Please read Leviticus 15:16-18: Normal Seminal
16"When a man has a seminal discharge, he must wash his whole body with water and will be unclean until evening. 17Any clothing or leather touched by the seminal discharge must be washed and will be unclean until evening. 18When a woman has had intercourse with a man, both of them must wash and will be unclean until evening.
The rabbis interpret verse 16 as referring to a nocturnal emission (JPS Commentary; Leviticus, page 96). Additional instruction is given in Deuteronomy 23:11/10: If any one of you is unclean by reason of a nocturnal emission, he must leave and not come back into camp, but towards evening wash himself, and return to camp at sunset. A nocturnal emission or any other such emission was the improper application of the gift of fertility.
Leviticus 15:18: When a woman has had intercourse with a man, both of them must wash and will be unclean until evening. Men and women washed after intimacy not because the act was considered defiling but because it was considered holy. Women did not become "unclean" because of contact between the semen and her body. A man's "seed" was intended for the gift of fertility and any spilled "seed" became impure, hence the contamination of clothing or other objects that came into contact with a man's "seed" (verse 17; also see Gen 38:9-10). The man and woman washed and became "pure" for the next encounter that promised the blessing of fertility.
For God's holy covenant people all aspects of sex between a man and a woman, conception and birth are sacred. Human fertility is a gift of God to men and women from the time of Creation-a gift that was restated after the Great Flood (Gen 1:28; 9:1). His gift to humanity is not to be abused or taken for granted. In modern society it is constantly stated that sex is "good." This is the wrong adjective. Sexual intimacy between men and women is "holy" and only remains "holy" and "sacred" when the gift is exercised in the way God intended from the beginning-as a act of self-giving between a man and wife who are open to God's gift of fertility (CCC 2360-63, 2367).
Please read Leviticus 15:19-24: Normal Bloody
Discharges of Women
15:19"Whenever a woman has a discharge and the discharge from her body is of blood, she will remain in a state of menstrual pollution for seven days. Anyone who touches her will be unclean until evening. 20Anything she lies on in this polluted state will be unclean; anything she sits on will be unclean. 21 Anyone who touches her bed must wash clothing and body and will be unclean until evening. 21Anyone who touches anything she has sat on must wash clothing and body and will be unclean until evening. 22If there is anything on the bed or where she is sitting, anyone who touches it will be unclean until evening. 23If a man goes so far as to sleep with her, he will contract her menstrual pollution and will be unclean for seven days. Any bed he lies on will be unclean.
This section begins by addressing a woman's normal menstrual period and then deals with abnormal bleeding that continues beyond the normal cycle.
Question: For how long is the woman considered to be ritually "unclean" during a normal menstrual cycle?
Answer: Seven days.
During the time of a woman's menstrual state normal sexual contact was not just discouraged; it was prohibited:
If a man insisted on his marital rights, he not only became unclean for seven days-he was essentially "cut off" from the Sanctuary and Israel. As in other cases of defilement, anyone or anything that came in contact with the "unclean" person also became "unclean."
Please read Leviticus 15:25-27: Abnormal Bloody
Discharges of Women
25If a woman has a prolonged discharge of blood outside the period, or if the period is prolonged, during the time this discharge lasts she will be in the same state of uncleanness as during her monthly periods. 26Any bed she lies on during the time this discharge lasts will be polluted in the same way as the bed she lies on during her monthly periods. Anything she sits on will be unclean as during her monthly periods. 27Anyone who touches it will be unclean and must wash clothing and body and will be unclean until evening.
Please read Leviticus 15:28-30: Ritual Purification of a
Woman Cured of a Discharge
28"Once she is cured of her discharge, she will allow seven days to go by; after that she will be clean. 29On the eighth day she will take two turtle doves or two young pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. 30The priest will offer one of them as a sacrifice for sin and the other as a burnt offering. And in this way the priest will perform the rite of expiation for her before Yahweh for the discharge which made her unclean.
Question: According to the Law for how long was a woman to refrain from sexual relations after her period began. When was the woman ritually clean again and able to resume normal sexual relations with her husband? What is significant about the date marital relations resume? See Lev 15:19 and 28.
Answer: She is to refrain from intimacy for a total of fourteen days. This means she will come to her husband again at the height of her fertility on the fifteenth day after her monthly period began.
|Bleeding = seven days (vs. 19)||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Day 4||Day 5||Day 6||Day 7|
|Additional seven days (vs. 28)||Day 8||Day 9||Day 10||Day 11||Day 12||Day 13||Day 14|
On the eighth day after the additional seven days, which is the fifteenth day from the time of her ritual separation, she is purified and may resume intimate relations with her husband. This is the most fertile part of a woman's monthly cycle. Doctors and scientists did not fully understand human reproduction until the 20th century AD. God, however, fully knew a woman's body and when in a monthly cycle a woman was most fertile, and this was the time, according to the commands given to the people, that a married couple was to resume their sexual intimacy.
Question: On what day was the woman restored to the Sanctuary?
Answer: On the significant "eighth day."
Please read Leviticus 15:31-33: Conclusion
31"Hence you will warn the Israelites against contracting a state of uncleanness, rather than incurring death by defiling my Dwelling which is among them. 32Such is the law governing a man with a discharge or who is made unclean by a seminal discharge, 33a woman in a state of pollution due to menstruation, a man or a woman with a discharge, or a man who sleeps with a woman when she is unclean."'
Leviticus 15:31: Hence you will warn the Israelites against contracting a state of uncleanness, rather than incurring death by defiling my Dwelling which is among them.
Question: What is the significance of this verse?
Answer: This is another major statement of policy concerning the reason for maintaining ritual purity: the Israelites must not defile the purity of the Sanctuary-the new Eden where heavenly and earthly liturgy are joined.
Yahweh's instructions for Moses and Aaron in chapters 11 through 15 have been concerned with four kinds of possible personal defilement for the covenant people that made them ineligible for worship in the Sanctuary. Included in the list of ritual impurities there was also instruction on the necessary rituals to re-instate the covenant member to the community and the Sanctuary after the person was cured of the impurity and/or had observed the prescribed period of separation:
Defilement from contagious disease resulted in being exiled from the camp of God until the person was cured of an infectious disease, an abnormal discharge or for those who have become ceremonially unclean by coming in contact with an animal carcase or a human corpse (Num 5:1-4). This was necessary in protecting the camp that encircles God's holy Sanctuary.(2)
The classes of defilement place a solemn emphasis on the nature of sin. Contamination by sin is more that a personal choice; the defilement of sin contaminates the world and penetrates far deeper that any human act of will. The distinction is made between the two different kinds of sin-sins of inadvertence and intentional rebellious sin (as in the sin of Aarons sons in Lev 10:1)-between the "root" and the "fruit" of sin that contaminates the world. The special emphasis on the double cure of cleansing and the purification rituals points to redeeming work of Jesus Christ in the cleansing power and "double cure" of the Word and the Spirit ( Ps 19:12; Jn 13:3-10; Eph 5:25-27; 1 Jn 1:9).
It is fitting that now Yahweh should provide instruction for the expiation of the covenant people's inadvertent ritual defilement and inadvertent personal sins during the year, providing for their restoration of fellowship through an annual communal penance ceremony where the ritual of blood sacrifice re-establishes reconciliation to Yahweh and the covenant.
Chapter 16: The Great Day of Atonement
Once a year, Aaron will perform the rite of expiation on the horns of the altar; once a year, on the Day of Expiation [Atonement], with the blood of the sacrifice for sin, he will make expiation for himself, for all your generations to come. It is especially holy for Yahweh. Exodus 30:10
Under these provisions, priests go regularly into the outer tent to carry out their acts of worship, but the second tent is entered only once a year, and then only by the high priest who takes in the blood to make an offering for his own and the people's faults of inadvertence. Hebrews 9:6-7
As Leviticus 15:31 states, the primary objective of both the priests and the people is to maintain a pure Sanctuary as a dwelling place for Yahweh. A Sanctuary that becomes contamination by impure people cannot be a place where a pure and holy God dwells (Lev 16:16, 19).
Question: What are the two major threats to the Sanctuary's purity? See Lev 10:1 and chapters 11-15.
Please read Leviticus 16:1-4: The First Commands
Concerning Yom Kippur-Day of Atonement
16:1Yahweh spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when offering unauthorized fire. 2Yahweh spoke to Moses and said: 'Tell Aaron your brother that he may not enter the sanctuary inside the curtain in front of the mercy-seat on the ark whenever he chooses, in case he incurs death, for I appear in a cloud on the mercy-seat. 3This is how he must enter the sanctuary: with a young bull for a sacrifice for sin, and a ram for a burnt offering. 4He will put on a tunic of consecrated linen, wear linen drawers on his body, a linen waistband round his waist, and a linen turban on his head. These are the sacred vestments he will put on after washing himself.
Question: Is this the first time God has mentioned the Day of Expiation/Atonement to Moses? What was the context of the first reference to the Day of Expiation? Read Ex 30:1-10.
Answer: No, this was not the first time; the first time God mentioned the Day of Atonement was when he gave Moses the instructions for building the Altar of Incense and instructions on how the incense was to be burned on the altar.
Those instructions for the burning of the incense and the reference to the Day of Atonement were given prior to the sin of the Golden Calf (Ex 32). It is significant that the Day of Atonement is mentioned in association with the instructions for burning the incense.
Question: Why did Yahweh destroy Aaron's two elder sons?
Answer: Aaron's two sons died for failing to offering the incense properly.
It is significant that we are reminded of their act of rebellion and Yahweh's act of judgment in the first verse of this chapter: Yahweh spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when offering unauthorized fire. Many Bible scholars point out that this section of Leviticus is misplaced; suggesting the reference to Aaron's sons indicates that the chapter chronologically should be placed immediately after chapter ten. However, as we have noted previously, what seems to be "misplaced" in Scripture is put where it is for a reason.
The link between the sin of the Golden Calf and the sin of Aaron's sons is the threat to the Sanctuary's sanctity:
Leviticus 16:2 Yahweh spoke to Moses and said: 'Tell Aaron your brother that he may not enter the sanctuary inside the curtain in front of the mercy-seat on the ark whenever he chooses, in case he incurs death, for I appear in a cloud on the mercy-seat.
Not even Moses could see God face to face and live. When God revealed His glory to Moses He told him: I shall put you in a cleft of the rock and shield you with my hand until I have gone past. Then I shall take my hand away and you will see my back; but my face will not be seen (Ex 33:22-23). The presence of God appeared in the Glory Cloud above the Mercy-seat; the "Mercy-seat" is also called the "Seat of Atonement."
Question: The instructions concerning ritual impurity were given to both Moses and Aaron in chapters 11, 13, 14 (concerning defilement of houses) and 15 (Lev 11:1; 13:1; 14:33; 15:1). To whom are the instructions for the Day of Atonement given?
Answer: Yahweh spoke directly to Moses who was told to instruct Aaron (Lev 16:1).
Yahweh's command in Leviticus 16:2 is the first time we hear of restricted access to the Holy of Holies. Did Aaron enter the sacred space in the morning liturgy on the first day of the priest's liturgical service, prior to the afternoon tragedy of the death of Aaron's two elder sons? If this was the case, it would seem to suggest that it wasn't only the sin of the Golden Calf that limited access, but also the improper and rebellious actions of Aaron's priest-sons-whose deaths are alluded to in the opening passage on the instructions for the Day of Atonement. The reference to the deaths of Aaron's sons in Leviticus 16:1 has a direct bearing on limiting access to Yahweh's presence and for the very significant instruction in this chapter-instruction for an annual communal day of expiation and re-consecration of the Sanctuary that is necessary because of the two major threats to the sanctity of the "new Eden" and the threat to the continuation of the covenant between Yahweh and Israel that is maintained through Sanctuary worship.
Leviticus 16:3: This is how he must enter the sanctuary: with a young bull for a sacrifice for sin, and a ram for a burnt offering.
The instruction for the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur = "the day of covering" in Hebrew) were given to Moses in the month of Abib, the first month in the liturgical year (Ex 40:17; Num 9:1-5). The actual observance of the Day of Atonement will not take place until the tenth day of the seventh month in the liturgical calendar (Lev 16:29). The additional instructions for the Day of Atonement, including its placement in the liturgical calendar, are found in Leviticus 23:26-32 and Numbers 29:7-11. The priestly instructions for the liturgical service are found in the Mishnah: Yoma section of the Talmud.
The instructions for the Day of Atonement included the information that this was also to be a day of rest and fasting:
The communal ritual of expiation for the high priest and the community did not begin until after the offering of the perpetual sacrifice of the morning Tamid lamb and the morning burning of the incense in the Holy Place: On the tenth day of this seventh month, you will hold a sacred assembly; you will fast and do no work. As a burnt offering for Yahweh, as a pleasing smell, you will offer one young bull, one ram and seven yearling lambs, which you will choose as being without blemish. The accompanying cereal offering of fine flour mixed with oil will be three-tenths of an ephah of the bull, two tenths for the ram, and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs. And a goat will be offered as a sacrifice for sin. This in addition to the victim for sin at the feast of Expiation, to the perpetual burnt offering and its cereal offering, and their accompanying libations (Num 29:7-11; underlining my emphasis; also see Mishnah: Yoma 3:4). After offering the morning perpetual sacrifice of the Tamid lamb the High Priest changed out of his high priestly vestments, ritually immersed and changed into the prescribed vestments for the expiation ritual for the Day of Atonement (Mishnah: Yoma 3:5).
Leviticus 16:4: He will put on a tunic of consecrated linen, wear linen drawers on his body, a linen waistband round his waist, and a linen turban on his head. These are the sacred vestments he will put on after washing himself.
Question: What is significant about the way Aaron dressed after changed out of the high priest's vestments, after he washed himself, and before he entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement? See Ex 28:1-39 compared to the vestments described in verses 40-43 and the vestments the High Priest is instructed to wear in Lev 16:4.
Answer: He was not to wear his eight high priestly vestments. Instead, he was to dress in the four vestments of an ordinary priest: linen under drawers, linen tunic, waistband, and turban.
The Mishnah records that the High Priest's white linen tunic was a special tunic woven for this special day (Mishnah: Yoma 3:7) and that he ritually immersed five times during the length of the liturgical ceremony and washed his hands and feet ten times (Mishnah: Yoma 3:3).
Please read Leviticus 16:5-10: The Animals Offered in
16:5'From the community of Israelites he will receive two he-goats for a sacrifice for sin and a ram for a burnt offering. 6After offering the bull as a sacrifice for his own sin and performing the rite of expiation for himself and his family, 7he will take the two he-goats and place them before Yahweh at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. 8Aaron will then draw lots over the two goats, one lot to be for Yahweh and the other lot for Azazel. 9Aaron will then take the goat on which the lot "For Yahweh" has fallen, and offer it as a sacrifice for sin. 10But the goat on which the lot "For Azazel" has fallen, will be placed alive before Yahweh, for the rite of expiation to be performed with it, and for it then to be sent to Azazel in the desert.
[Underlining is my emphasis].
The two goats were required to be "equivalent in appearance, height, and value" (Mishnah: Yoma, 6:1). According to the Mishnah there was a box containing two lots. On one lot was written "for YHWH" /"belonging to YHWH) and on the other was written, "For Azazel"/"belonging to 'aza'zel" (JPS Commentary: Leviticus page 102). Which ever lot was drawn for the first he-goat was placed on it as the High Priest made the announcement of the lot for each goat-calling out Yahweh's holy covenant name in the announcement "For Yahweh."(3) A scarlet thread was also tied on the head of the goat which was to be sent out (Mishnah: Yoma 6:6). The scarlet thread represented sin and was a symbol identifying the animal as carrying the sins of the people.
Most commentaries say this was the only time Yahweh's name was spoken in the Sanctuary/Temple (see CCC 433). However, the Mishnah records that God's divine name was pronounced in the final benediction for the twice daily Tamid liturgy in the Sanctuary "as it is written, but in the provinces by an epithet" (Mishnah: Tamid 7:2F). The Day of Atonement was the only time outside of the priestly benediction when God's covenant name was invoked. The divine name was spoken a second time in the Day of Atonement ritual when the High Priest made his confession over the second goat (Mishnah: Yoma 6:2).
There are two relevant questions that need to be raised:
As to why there are two goats, the same question could be asked about the two birds in the purification ritual of a person or a dwelling that had been infected with a contagious infection (Lev 14:4-7; 49-53). In those rituals one bird was sacrificed and the second was allowed to go free. According to verse five, both goats were to be a sin offering: From the community of Israelites he will receive two he-goats for a sacrifice for sin and a ram for a burnt offering. The instructions for the goat sin offering is in the singular, therefore the two goats were the requirement for the one communal sin-offering; they were not to be regarded as two sin-offerings but formed one sin offering together. This exceptional ritual required the symbolic representation of both death and life (Kurtz, Offerings, Sacrifices and Worship in the Old Testament, page 395).
The Church Fathers wrote that the two goats offered on the Feast of Atonement prefigured Jesus Christ. Tertullian, the third century AD Roman lawyer turned Catholic priest/apologist and Theodoret, Bishop of Cyr, wrote that the two goats represented the two natures of Jesus Christ-his humanity and divinity. Caesarius, Bishop of Arles; John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople and Jerome wrote that the goat that was rejected and sent away represented Christ in His Passion who was rejected by His people, while the second goat that was offered up in acceptable sacrifice represented Christ the unblemished Lamb of God offered as the acceptable sin sacrifice for the sins of the world.
Scholars have long debated what exactly is meant by Azazel. This Hebrew word is found nowhere else in the Bible except in Leviticus chapter 16 where it appears four times (Lev 16:8, 10 = twice and 26). There are at least four explanations:
Leviticus 16:10 seems to undermine the first interpretation since it is "to be sent to Azazel in the desert." The second interpretation suggests that the word describes the goat who is sent into exile "to a desolate place" (Lev 16:23). This is similar to the third interpretation that suggests it is an abstract noun meaning "to go away", or "entirely gone away," or "complete removal," or "the entirely separated one," hence the designation "scapegoat" (escape-goat) in some English Bible translations (Kurst, page 399, 403). This was the interpretation embraced by the Septuagint and by St. Jerome in the Latin Vulgate (Navarre Bible: Pentateuch, page 474). The fourth interpretation, that Azazel is a demonic spirit who inhabits the wilderness, is probably the most popular view. Those who embrace this view point out that the desert is its dwelling place (Lev 16:10), and the prophets (Is 13:21; Lev 17:7) and the Gospels represent the desert as the abode of demons (Mt 12:43; Lk 8:27; Rev 18:2). Post exile non-canonical literature identified Azazel as the demon ruler of the wilderness (i.e., 1 Enoch).
However, it is inconceivable that God would share a sacrifice with a demon. The JPS Commentary offers that the second goat was not being offered to Azazel but in carrying all the sins of the people upon its life it was being dispatched to his realm, where all such sins and sinners belong (JSP Commentary: Leviticus, page 103).
Please read Leviticus 16:11-14: The Sprinkling Rite
Inside the Tabernacle with the Bull's Blood
11'Having offered the bull as a sacrifice for his own sin and performed the rite of expiation for himself and for his family, and slaughtered the bull as a sacrifice for sin, 12Aaron will then fill a censer with live coals from the altar before Yahweh, take two handfuls of finely ground aromatic incense and bring this inside the curtain. 13He will then put the incense on the fire before Yahweh, so that the cloud of incense hides the mercy-seat which is on the Testimony and he does not incur death. 14He will then take some of the bull's blood and sprinkle it with his finger on the eastern side of the mercy-seat. He will sprinkle some of the blood seven times with his finger in front of the mercy-seat.
Leviticus 16:12-13: Aaron will then fill a censer with live coals from the altar before Yahweh, take two handfuls of finely ground aromatic incense and bring this inside the curtain. He will then put the incense on the fire before Yahweh, so that the cloud of incense hides the mercy-seat which is on the Testimony and he does not incur death. The Mishnah describes a fire pan with a handle upon which the High Priest placed the incense and then slid the fire pan under the curtain inside the Holy of Holies between the two bars of the carrying poles that were on each side of the Ark (Mishnah: Yoma 5:1; Ex 25:12-14)). The finely ground incense would immediately produce a dense white cloud to shield the High Priest and protect him from "incurring death." It is dangerous for sinful man to come into the presence of the pure and holy God (Ex 19:12, 21-24). This is the one time incense was not burned on the golden Altar of Incense.
The "live coals" from God's holy altar brings to mind the experience of the prophet Isaiah when he was called into the heavenly Sanctuary.
Question: How was it that Isaiah was permitted to come before the throne of God? Read Is 7:1-7.
Answer: A live coal from the altar in the heavenly Sanctuary purified Isaiah's sins.
On the Day of Atonement, the live coals from God's earthly altar of sacrifice did not purify the high priest but provided the means for him to safely approach God under the cloud of holy incense. Yearly, the ruling High Priest risked his life on this solemn day.
Answer: No human being, stained with the corrupting power of sin, can stand uncovered in the Presence of God and live
Question: How was the Tabernacle to be re-consecrated and purified?
Answer: The purification of the Sanctuary was to be accomplished by bringing the sacrificial blood into the Holy of Holies-into the Divine Presence.
Question: What was the only other occasion when the high priest was permitted to bring the blood of sacrifice into the Tabernacle? How was that ritual different from this occasion? See Lev 4:1-7, 13-18.
Answer: The high priest took sacrificial blood into the Tabernacle when offering a sin sacrifice either for himself or for the entire community; however, on those occasions he only went so far as the curtain that covered the entrance to the Holy of Holies, and the sin sacrifice for the priest or for the people was a bull calf and not two goats.
The Day of Atonement was to be the one time during the year that the High Priest was permitted this degree of intimacy with God by entering the Holy of Holies and standing before God's presence above the Mercy-seat of the Ark of the Covenant. In the ritual of blood for the sin of a high priest or the community as a whole, to re-consecrate the Sanctuary the High Priest was only permitted to go as far as the curtain that covered the opening to the Holy of Holies but no further (Lev 4:5-7, 16-18 ). However, for this solemn occasion on the Day of Atonement, the high priest must risk death by entering into God's Divine Presence to make atonement for himself and the covenant community, just as Jesus, as the High Priest of the New Covenant people of God would one day risk death on the altar of the Cross in order to enter into God's Divine Presence with His sacrificial blood to atone for the sins of the world: But now Christ has come, as the high priest of all the blessings which were to come. He has passed through the greater, the more perfect tent, not made by human hands, that is, not of this created order; and he has entered the sanctuary once and for all, taking with him not the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkled on those who have incurred defilement, may restore their bodily purity. How much more will the blood of Christ, who offered himself blameless as he was, to God through the eternal Spirit, purify our conscience from dead actions so that we can worship the living God (Heb 9:11-14).
Leviticus 16:14: He will then take some of the bull's blood and sprinkle it with his finger on the eastern side of the mercy-seat. He will sprinkle some of the blood seven times with his finger in front of the mercy-seat. The Mishnah interprets this verse to mean that the High Priest sprinkled the sacrificial blood of the bull once over the Mercy-seat and seven times in front of it, making the first sprinkling in an upward motion and the other seven sprinklings in a downward motion (Mishnah: Yoma 5:3).
Please read Leviticus 16:15-17a: The Sprinkling Rite
Inside the Tabernacle with the Goat's Blood
15'He will then slaughter the goat for the sacrifice for the sin of the people, and take its blood inside the curtain, and with this blood do as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it on the mercy-seat and in front of it. 16This is how he must perform the rite of expiation for the sanctuary for the uncleanness of the Israelites, for their acts of rebellion and all their sins. And this is what he must do for the Tent of Meeting which remains with them, surrounded by their uncleanness. 17No one must be inside the Tent of Meeting, from the moment he enters to make expiation in the sanctuary until the time he comes out.
The High Priest left the Tabernacle to return to the courtyard where he sacrificed the first goat. He then returned to the Tabernacle and repeated the blood sprinkling ritual in the Holy of Holies as before with the goat's blood as he did with the bull's blood (Mishnah: Yoma, 5:4).
Leviticus 16:16:This is how he must perform the rite of expiation for the sanctuary [he shall atone for/ purge the sanctuary] for the uncleanness of the Israelites, for their acts of rebellion and all their sins. And this is what he must do for the Tent of Meeting which remains with them, surrounded by their uncleanness. The underlining is my emphasis and the literal translation is "he shall atone for/ purge the sanctuary" (The Interlineal Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, page 304). The verb is hitte' in the Hebrew, translated "expiate/atone/purge, literally means "to remove the sin" (JPS Commentary: Leviticus, page 105).
Question: How is it that the "uncleanness" of the Israelites requires such a solemn blood ritual?
Answer: According to the Biblical view, in Israel's relationship to Yahweh through the covenant "uncleanness" is equated with sinfulness. Sinfulness was to be regarded not only as personal sin but as a form of impurity that results from a sinful world. The Sanctuary, contaminated by the sins of the Israelites and the sin in the world that has made them impure during the past year, must be purged/atoned for if God is to continue to reside in the midst of the people who surround His sacred Sanctuary "by their uncleanness."
Leviticus 16:17: No one must be inside the Tent of Meeting, from the moment he enters to make expiation in the sanctuary until the time he comes out. The Mishnah interprets this verse to mean that just before the High Priest enters behind the curtain shielding the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy-seat for the sprinkling rite all other priests must withdraw from the Holy Place. An assisting priest, stirring the bowl of blood to keep it from congealing, had to help carry the bowl of sacrificial blood into the Tabernacle while the High Priest carried the live coals in a fire-pan in his right hand and the incense pan in his left hand (Mishnah: Yoma 5:1A-E, 5:3). Normally, the other anointed priests officiated in the Holy Place where the golden Menorah, the golden Table of the Bread of the Presence and the golden Altar of Incense stood, but on this day, when the High Priest risked his life by entering the Holy of Holies, the other priest's withdrew to safer ground.
Please read Leviticus 16:17b-19: The Ritual of Expiation
for the Altar of Burnt Offerings
17b'When he has made expiation for himself, for his family, and for the whole community of Israel, 18he must come outside, go to the altar before Yahweh and perform the rite of expiation for it. He will take some of the bull's blood and some of the goat's blood and put it on the horns at the corners of the altar all around it, 19and sprinkle some of the blood on it seven times with his finger, thus purifying it and setting it apart from the uncleanness of the Israelites.
The Jewish Mishnah, interprets "he must come outside, go to the altar before Yahweh" as meaning that the High Priest must step outside the Holy of Holies and go to the golden Altar of Incense that stood outside the curtain that shielded the Ark of the Covenant. The Mishnah is interpreting this passage in the light of the commands Yahweh gave for the Altar of Incense in Exodus 30:1-10. Referring to the Altar of Incense, Yahweh told Moses: Once a year, Aaron will perform the rite of expiation on the horns of he altar; once a year, on the Day of Expiation, with the blood of the sacrifice for sin, he will make expiation for himself, for all your generations to come. It is especially holy for Yahweh' (Ex 30:10).
The next part of the blood ritual inside the Tabernacle is recorded in Mishnah: Yoma, 5:4-5:5.
This final act of the blood ritual purifies and restores the Tabernacle to its required sanctity as the dwelling place of Yahweh.
Please read Leviticus 16:20-28: The Ritual for the
Scapegoat and the Conclusion of the Liturgical Service
20Once expiation for the sanctuary, the Tent of Meeting and the altar is complete, he will bring the goat which is still alive. 21Aaron will then lay both his hands on its head and over it confess all the guilt of the Israelites, all their acts of rebellion and all their sins. Having thus laid them on the goat's head, he will send it out into the desert under the charge of a man waiting ready, 22and the goat will bear all their guilt away into some desolate place. When he has sent the goat into the desert, 23Aaron will go back into the Tent of Meeting and take off the linen vestments which he wore to enter the sanctuary and leave them there. 24He will then wash his body inside the holy place, put on his vestments and come outside to offer his own and the people's burnt offering. He will perform the rite of expiation for himself and for the people, 25and burn the fat of the sacrifice for sin on the altar. 26The man who led the goat away to Azazel will wash his clothes and body before entering the camp. 27The bull and the goat offered as a sacrifice for sin, the blood of which was taken into the sanctuary for the rite of expiation, must be taken outside the camp, where their skin, meat and offal are to be burnt. 28The man who burns them will wash his clothes and body before entering the camp.
The scapegoat bears all the nation's sins. The Mishnah adds that atonement is only given if confession is accompanied by true repentance (Mishnah: Yoma 8:8-9).
Question: In what three ways was confession offered for the people?
Answer: He confessed the people's sins in three ways:
The High Priest invoked the sacred name for the second time in the laying-on-of-hands ritual for the second goat. The High Priest's confession over the second goat is recorded in the Mishnah: O, Yahweh, your people, the house of Israel, has committed iniquity, transgressed, and sinned before you. Forgive, O Yahweh, I pray, the iniquities, transgressions, and sins, which your people, the house of Israel, have committed, transgressed, and sinned before you, as it is written in the Torah of Moses, your servant, "For on this day shall atonement be made for you to clean you. From all your sins shall you be clean before Yahweh" (Lev 16:30; M: Y, 6:2). And the priests and people standing in the courtyard, when they could hear the Expressed Name [of the Lord] come out of the mouth of the high priest, would kneel and bow down and fall on their faces and say, "Blessed be the name of the glory of his kingdom forever and ever" (M:Y 6:2B-D; the Mishnah substitutes "Lord" for Yahweh).
Tertullian (c. 155/160-225/250), the brilliant Roman lawyer who became a Christian priest and who laid the foundations of Christology and Trinitarian theology in the West, referred to the goat who was sent away and the goat that was sacrificed on the altar as a sin sacrifice as a "type" of Jesus Christ: May I offer, moreover, an interpretation of the two goats which were presented on "the great day of atonement"? Do they not also prefigure the two natures of Christ? They were of like size and very similar in appearance, owing to the Lord's identity of aspect. He is not to come in any other form. He had to be recognized by those by whom he was also wounded and pierced. One of these goats was bond with scarlet and driven by the people out of the camp into the wilderness, amid cursing, spitting, and pulling and piercing, being thus marked with all the signs of the Lord's own passion. The other by being offered up for sins... (Against Marcion, 3.7.7). Tertullian's point is that the two goats represent Christ's two natures in that the one goat was rejected, as Jesus in His humanity was rejected in His Passion, but the other goal was taken up in sacrifice, as Jesus was taken up in sacrifice into the order of grace in His divine nature.
The two goats were a single sin sacrifice (Lev 16:5), representing both death and life to the people, a foreshadowing of Jesus' self-sacrifice on the Cross which became death transformed into life in the Resurrection. The Israelites rejected the live goat bearing the sins of the people, not just sending it away but actually assigning someone to execute it outside the camp-an instruction not given by God (Mishnah: Yoma 6:6), just as Jesus was rejected by His people and was executed by another party (the Romans) outside "the camp" of Jerusalem (Jn 19:20).
Leviticus 16:24-25: He will then wash his body inside the holy place, put on his vestments and come outside to offer his own and the people's burnt offering. He will perform the rite of expiation for himself and for the people, 25and burn the fat of the sacrifice for sin on the altar. The High Priest then re-entered the Tabernacle's Holy Place to remove his garments, to ritually immerse, according to the Mishnah for the fifth time (Mishnah: Yoma 3:3B), and to dress in his eight high priestly vestments. He then offered the burnt offerings, including the whole burnt offering of the afternoon Tamid lamb and the fat from the sin offerings on the courtyard altar (Mishnah: Yoma 7:3). Next he sanctified his hands and feet and entered the Holy Place to burn the afternoon incense on the golden Altar of Incense. His final act was to come out and to stand with his two priestly sons before the people to offer the final benediction (Lev 9:23; Mishnah: Yoma 3:5B; 7:4E; M: Tamid 7:2F; Num 6:24-26).
Leviticus 16:26-27:The man who led the goat away to Azazel will wash his clothes and body before entering the camp. 27The bull and the goat offered as a sacrifice for sin, the blood of which was taken into the sanctuary for the rite of expiation, must be taken outside the camp, where their skin, meat and offal are to be burnt. 28The man who burns them will wash his clothes and body before entering the camp.
Having been contaminated by the sin-bearing goat, the man charged with leading the scapegoat into the wilderness must bathe and the man responsible for burning the carcases of the sin sacrifices outside the camp will remain unclean until sundown (Lev 11:30-40). The fat of the sin sacrifices were to be burned on the altar as in the instructions for such sin offerings (Lev 4:8-12, 19-21; 6:23 and 10:18).
Please read Leviticus 16:29-34: The Concluding
16:29'This will be a perpetual law for you. On the tenth day of the seventh month you will fast and refrain from work, both citizen and resident alien; 30for this is the day on which the rite of expiation will be performed for you to purify you, to purify you before Yahweh from all your sins. 31It will be a sabbatical rest for you and you will fast. This is a perpetual law. 32The rite of expiation will be performed by the priest who has been anointed and installed to officiate in succession to his father. He will put on the linen vestments, the sacred vestments, 33and perform the rite of expiation for the holy sanctuary, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and will then perform the rite of expiation for the priests and all the people of the community. 34This will be a perpetual law for you; once a year the rite of expiation will be made for the Israelites for all their sins.' And as Yahweh ordered Moses, so it was done.
The date for the Day of Atonement is set on the tenth day of the seventh month. It is a day that is to be observed like a Sabbath with no work for Israelites or for the people living among them (Ex 35:1-3), but it is also to be a day of fasting and prayer.(4) Once a year on this day atonement was made for the covenant people-atonement that had to be repeated. The repetition of animal sacrifice points to the inadequacy of the sacrifice of animal blood. In contrast, Jesus Christ, our superior High Priest of a superior covenant, ministers continually at the heavenly altar where He offers up His own blood once and for all time as He continually makes intercession for His people (Heb 7:25-27).
Leviticus 16:30-31: for this is the day on which the rite of expiation [for on this day atonement = yom ha-kippurim] will be performed for you to purify you, to purify you before Yahweh from all your sins. 31It will be a sabbatical rest [shabbat shabbaton] for you and you will fast. This is a perpetual law. This verse suggests the name Yom Kippur for this solemn day of expiation, as does Lev 23:27-28. The word "Sabbath" means rest, therefore verse 31 has the force of a superlative in the words translated "sabbatical rest." Commenting on the use of the same words in Exodus 31:15, Rabbi Rashi writes: Scripture doubled its wording to indicate that it [= the Sabbath] carries the prohibition of all manner of labor, even the preparation of food necessary for subsistence. The same is true of the Day of Atonement, of which it is also said: Shabbat shabbaton-for all forms of labor are prohibited on that occasion, as stated in Leviticus 23:32 (JPS Commentary: Leviticus, page 109-10).
Leviticus 16:34: This will be a perpetual law for you; once a year the rite of expiation will be made for the Israelites for all their sins.' And as Yahweh ordered Moses, so it was done.
Question: How many times is the phrase "this is a perpetual law" repeated in verses 29-34? What does it mean?
Answer: That this is a "perpetual law" is repeated three times in verses 29, 31 and 34. It means that this is not a command to be obeyed only in the desert period of Israel's history but is a command that is to be obeyed so long as the Sinai covenant endures.
The day Jesus Christ was crucified was the New Covenant "Day of Atonement" as he took upon Himself not only the sins of the Old Covenant people but the sins of all mankind. His sacrificial death encompassed what all the animal sacrifices could only point to-atonement, redemption, and salvation. The blood of sacrificial animals could not completely remove the sins of the people (Heb 10:1-4), but the rites of animal sacrifice could give the Israelites subjective efficacy for their sins even though they had to wait for the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the objective efficacy. The blood sacrifices of the Old Covenant were only the models or patterns of what was promised (Ex 25:9, 40; Col 2:16-18).
Christ's death is both the Paschal sacrifice that accomplishes the definitive redemption of men, through "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world," and the sacrifice of the New Covenant, which restores man to communion with God by reconciling him to God through the "blood of the covenant, which was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (CCC 613).
Review of the ritual of sacrifice for the Day of Atonement:
Animal Sacrifice on
the Feast of Atonement-Yom Kippur (10th of Tishri)
Ex 30:10; Lev 16:1-34; 23:26-32; Num 29:7-11; Heb 9:6-14, Mishna:Yoma
|Sacrifice||Purpose||Sacrifice and Blood Ritual to Expiate the Sanctuary|
|1. bull calf||After the morning Tamid service: the bull was offered as the High priest's sin sacrifice for himself and his family (Lev 16:6).||
Expiation for the Tabernacle:
-Sprinkled on the east side of the Mercy-seat in the Holy of Holies (Lev 16:14).
-Sprinkled 7 times in front of the Mercy-seat (Lev 16:14).
-Fat burned on the Altar and the animal's body entirely burned outside the camp (Ex 29:14; Lev 4:11-12; 16:27).
|2. he-goat #1||Confession of the people's sin and sacrifice for the sins of the people (Lev 16:15). Goat #1 and #2 were considered to be a single sacrifice representing both life and death (Lev 16:5)||
Expiation for the Tabernacle:
-Sprinkled on the east side of the Mercy-seat in the Holy
of Holies (Lev 16:15).
-Sprinkled in front of the Mercy-seat 7 times (Lev 16:15).
-Smeared on the horns of the Altar of Incense and sprinkled 7 times with the bull's blood also (Ex 30:10).
Expiation for the Courtyard Altar:
-Remaining blood of the bull and goat poured out at the base of the Altar (Lev 4:18).
-Fat burned on the Altar and the animal's body entirely burned outside the camp (Lev 16:25, 27).
|3. he-goat #2||
-Confession of the people's sin and laying the sins of the
people upon the life of the goat (Lev 16:20-22).
-The live goat bears away the sins of the people into the wilderness (Lev 16:23).
|4. ram #1||Whole burnt offering for the High priest (Lev 16:24).||According to the ritual in Lev 1:10-13: the animal's blood splashed around the courtyard Altar and the entire animal burned on the Altar.|
5. ram #2
also a young bull and seven yearling sheep with grain offerings
|Whole burnt offerings for the community (Lev 16:24; Num 29:8-9).||According to the ritual in Lev 1:10-13: the animal's blood splashed around the courtyard Altar and the entire animal burned on the Altar. The whole burnt offerings were sacrificed at the same time as the afternoon Tamid.|
|M. Hunt © copyright 2010|
This list does not include the daily Tamid; see the order of the liturgical service on the Day of Atonement in the Second Temple period as recorded in the Jewish Mishnah in the appendix to this lesson.
Question: When the High Priest made atonement for the sins of the community and re-consecrated the Sanctuary as he sprinkled the blood of the victim against the Ark of the Covenant and across the Mercy-seat/Seat of Atonement, did he have visible proof-did the people have visible proof that God had accepted their sacrifice and the miracle of atonement had taken place?
Answer: The Mercy-seat/Seat of Atonement was obscured by the clouds of incense. The High Priest had no visible sign of God's invisible presence nor did the people.
Yahweh promised in Exodus 20:24 that He would come down to Israel at the moment of sacrifice at the bronze Altar of Burnt Offerings in the courtyard of the Tabernacle/Temple and would, in the cloud of smoke that rose from the burning sacrificial victim, receive the offerings of the covenant people both individually and collectively and recompense them by His blessings. But on the altar of the "Mercy-seat/Seat of Atonement" He did not appear in the form of the visible rising cloud. Instead He came invisibly in a manner that could not be seen in the natural world but in a manner that required the faith of the covenant people to believe that He had accepted their sacrifices and that atonement had been made. This is the same way He comes to us today in the sacrifice of the Eucharist. He comes invisibly to transform what we have offered Him into a visible reality through the miracle of transubstantiation. What was bread and wine become the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Belief in the miracle of His coming in the sacrifice of the Mass still requires the obedient faith of covenant believers just as it did for the first generation of believers on the Day of Atonement. For the Old Covenant people of God on the Day of Atonement, and for the New Covenant believers in the miracle of the Eucharist-the just must live by faith.
The prophet Habakkuk wrote that the Old Covenant people must persevere in faith in waiting for the fulfillment of God's promises. The Hebrew translation of Habakkuk 2:4 reads: Though it linger, wait for it... But in the Septuagint this verse is translated into the Greek: If he tarry, wait for him (Hab 2:4). Speaking in the name of his people, Habakkuk complained to God about his people's suffering at the hands of the ungodly, asking how long until the promised salvation. God answered Habakkuk's cry: And the Lord answered me and said, 'Write the vision, and that plainly on a tablet, that he that reads it may run. For the vision is yet for a time, and it shall shoot forth at the end, and not in vain: though he should tarry, wait for him; for he will surely come, and will not tarry. If he should draw back [the covenant member who is waiting], my soul has no pleasure in him: but the just shall live by my faith (Hab 2:2-4 LXX; underlining and bold are my emphasis).
In Hebrews 10:37 the inspired write of the Letter to the Hebrews linked God assurance to Habakkuk of salvation for the Old Covenant Church to Jesus Christ, the Redeemer-Messiah. The inspired writer of the Letter to the Hebrews begins (NJB translation): You will need perseverance if you are to do God's will and gain what he has promised..., referring to the promise of a Redeemer-Messiah who will bring salvation to the Old Covenant people of God. Next he quoted from Isaiah 26:20: Only a little while now, a very little while, followed by a quote from the Septuagint translation of Habakkuk 2:3c... for come he certainly will before too long [referring to the Messiah]. Then skipping a line from the Habakkuk passage, he quoted the next line from Habakkuk 2:4b: My upright person will live through faith but if he [the professing believer] draws back, my soul will take no pleasure in him. And then the writer of Hebrews concluded by writing: We are not the sort of people who draw back, and are lost by it; we are the sort who keep faith until our souls are saved (Heb 10:36-39; see Is 26:20 LXX, Hab 2:3-4 LXX; and Rom 1:17).
Through the commands and obligations of the Sinai Covenant, God was training the members of the Old Covenant faith to be the "sort who keep faith," and teaching them to be "people of perseverance" "living through faith" and not drawing back but waiting faithfully for the fulfillment of God's promises. Those who persevered, believing that "come he certainly will" were those like the Apostles, the disciples and the thousands who "lived through faith" and came to believe Jesus was the Messiah, but those who drew back and denied the Christ were those who were lost. In our individual faith journeys each of us must decide what "sort of people" we will be-the "sort of people who draw back, and are lost by it" or the "sort who keep faith until our souls are saved" by believing in what we cannot see and keeping faith as we await the return of the Redeemer-Messiah for come he certainly will before too long.(5)
Questions for group discussion:
Jesus came in contact with a woman suffering from an abnormal discharge of blood. She was suffering from the kind of abnormal blood discharge covered in Leviticus 15:25-27. Please read about her life altering encounter with the Savior in Matthew 9:18-22 and Mark 5:21-34.
Question: For how long had she been living in an "impure" state and how did the condition impact her life?
Answer: She had been suffering for twelve years, and in her state of impurity she had not been able have a normal life and she could not attend worship at the Temple.
Question: How was she healed?
Answer: When she reached out and touched the edge of Jesus' cloak, the emanation of His power coupled with her faith healed her.
Question: Continue with the rest of the story by reading Matthew 9:23-26 and Mark 5:35-43. How old was the little girl Jesus raised from the dead? What is the significance of her age and the length of time the woman with the issue of blood suffered? Notice that both the girl and the woman are called "daughter"-by the father and by Jesus (Mt 9:18, 22; Mk 5:23; 34). What is the significance of these encounters with the "daughters" of Israel to Jesus' mission?
Answer: The girl was twelve years old and the woman suffered for twelve years. Twelve, in the significance of numbers in Scripture, is the number of Israel. Both the girl and the woman represent Israel-Jesus came to heal Israel of all impurity and to restore Israel to "new" life in a New Covenant with Yahweh.
+ Five acts of immersion, and ten acts of sanctification of the hands and feet, does the high priest carry out on that day (Mishnah: Yoma, 3:3B).
* This was the only time of the year that incense was not burned on the Altar of Incense in the Holy Place. Incense was burned twice daily on the Altar of Incense in association with the morning and afternoon Tamid sacrifice. When the priest Zechariah was chosen by lot to offer the incense in Lk 1:8-9 it was for the Tamid sacrifice since there was only one high priest and he preformed the burning of the incense not only the golden Altar of Incense but in a fire pan inside the Holy of Holies in front of the Ark on the Day of Atonement. Only the priest who burnt the incense in association with the Tamid was chosen by lot (Mishnah: Tamid 5:2).
**The Ark was lost to Israel when Jeremiah hid it in a cave on Mt. Nebo just before the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 587/6BC (2 Mac 2:4-8). When the Temple was rebuilt the Holy of Holies was an empty space. From then, on the Day of Atonement the High Priest sprinkled the sacrificial blood on the foundation stone in the Holy of Holies; it was called the Shetiyyah (M:Y 5:2).
1. The Moabites, for example, lured the Israelites into participating in their lurid religious observances in worship Baal of Peor (Num 25:1-15). Ritual sexuality was a central part of Canaanite rituals and fertility was celebrated in sexual demonstrations and in dramatizing the myths of the mating of the gods (JPS Commentary: Leviticus, page 96; Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. I, "Canaanite Religion," page 833-35).
2. When King David conquered Jerusalem, the city became the center of worship for Yahweh (2 Sam 6:12; 2 Chr 3:1) and the "camp of God" from which the defiled were outlawed (2 Kngs 7:3). This rule applied to those who were condemned to death. Golgotha, Jerusalem's execution site, was outside the gates of the city (Jn 19:19-20).
3. The casting of lots is not uncommon in the Bible. Lots were cast for the allocation of land, in the decision to go to war, for determining guilt, for the delegation of Temple duties and for the selection of a replacement (Num 26:55; Judg 20:9; Joh 1:7; 1 Chr 24:5; Lk 1:9Acts 1:26).
4. The Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur is still observed universally by all branches of Judaism. In the absence of the Temple and altar of sacrifice the day is observed in prayer and fasting. Synagogue worship consists of Scripture readings from Leviticus and the prophets. Prayers in the Synagogue are directed to the confession of sins and pleas for forgiveness.
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Catechism references for this lesson (* indicates Scripture is quoted or paraphrased in the citation):
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