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According to the Hebrew calendar, the Day of Atonement, known as Yom Kippur in the book of Leviticus chapter 16, was the holiest day of worshiping God according to the Hebrew calendar (Berlin and Brettler 26). This ceremonial ritual day depicts a compelling image in which the symbol and the represented thing corresponded. It was also one of the most difficult days in Jewish culture, especially in terms of ritual performance. There used to be a relationship between the ritual pieces and the spiritual implications associated with the ceremony on this day.Two features used to make the Day of Atonement unique from other days. First, it was the only day of the year that the high priest could enter the holiest place of the tabernacle. After reaching the holy place, the high priest could present the sacrificial blood as an atoning sacrifice for the purification of the tabernacle and the sins of the Israel (Berlin and Brettler 32).
Inside the Holy of Holies (the holiest place) was a rectangular box known as the Ark of the Covenant that represented the presence of God. Therefore, the high priest could sprinkle blood on the lid of the covenant ark to achieve the forgiveness of the sins of the Israelites and of himself as well. Next, after reaching the holiest place, the high priest could sprinkle blood in the outer room of the tabernacle. Such blood would decontaminate the impurities that had been accumulated by the uncleanness and the sins of the Israelites. The purification of the tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) was a national scope that could give a comprehensive removal of impurities and sins.
The second feature that could make the Day of Atonement unique was that it included the ceremony for the expulsion of a living animal from the game, which is translated as the scapegoat. There are various impacts of the ritual of scapegoat. This ritual provides a multidimensional understanding and makes us appreciate that fact that we have Jesus Christ. The New Testament illusions of the atonement day gave peculiar anticipation of the meditational role and the anticipation death of Christ whose blood was sacrificed to achieve our salvation and sanctification (Berlin and Brettler 25).
The meaning of the scapegoat ritual reflects the role of such a goat in the ceremony. Thus, when the high priest placed his hands on the goat’s head and confessed the sins and impurities of the Israel nation, the priest symbolized the transference of the sins of people into the goat. Therefore, the living scapegoat and the sacrificed one showed that the goat substituted the penalties of sin that were planned for humankind. The scapegoat is a representation of Christ who accepted to take up our sins and freed us from the guilt.
The Relevance of the Atonement Day
The topological significance of the atonement day is reflected in the Book of Hebrews chapter 9 and 10. The book refers to Christ’s role as an eternal high priest, a perfect animal that was sacrificed and the perpetual purging of sin by his blood and conquering of the heavenly tabernacle by sprinkling his own blood depending on the one-time act of his death and ascension into the throne room of the father (Berlin and Brettler 30). The Book of Hebrews does not talk about the scapegoat. However, the provisions that Christ made has enabled us to enter the holiest place of heaven where our prayers are offered to God through charts the high priest.
Berlin, Adele and Marc Zvi Brettler, editors. The Jewish Study Bible. Oxford University Press, 2004.
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