Leviticus 16:1-34: The Scapegoat Ritual

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The traditional reading for Yom Kippur morning focuses on the offerings that Aaron is to bring before God as atonement.  He must make expiation for himself, then his household, and only after this is an offering brought for the entire community.  The Yom Kippur Avodah service is based on the ritual that the priest performed in the ancient Temple on Yom Kippur.  That ritual, in turn, is reflected in this Torah reading.

This English translation is reprinted with permission from Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures published by the Jewish Publication Society.

16:1.         The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they drew too close to the presence of the LORD.

16:2.         The LORD said to Moses:

Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come at will into the Shrine behind the curtain, in front of the cover that is upon the ark, lest he die; for I appear in the cloud over the cover.

16:3.         Thus only shall Aaron enter the Shrine: with a bull of the herd for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.

16:4.          He shall be dressed in a sacral linen tunic, with linen breeches next to his flesh, and be girt with a linen sash, and he shall wear a linen turban. They are sacral vestments; he shall bathe his body in water and then put them on.

16:5.         And from the Israelite community he shall take two he-goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.

16:6.         Aaron is to offer his own bull of sin offering, to make expiation for himself and for his household.

16:7.         Aaron shall take the two he-goats and let them stand before the LORD at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting;

16:8.         and he shall place lots upon the two goats, one marked for the LORD and the other marked for Azazel.

16:9.         Aaron shall bring forward the goat designated by lot for the LORD, which he is to offer as a sin offering;

16:10.     while the goat designated by lot for Azazel shall be left standing alive before the LORD, to make expiation with it and to send it off to the wilderness for Azazel.

16:11.     Aaron shall then offer his bull of sin offering, to make expiation for himself and his household. He shall slaughter his bull of sin offering,

16:12.     and he shall take a panful of glowing coals scooped from the altar before the LORD, and two handfuls of finely ground aromatic incense, and bring this behind the curtain.

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