The book of Leviticus chapter 16

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The Day of Atonement: A Holiest Day of Worship

The Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur as it is known to Hebrews, is described in the book of Leviticus chapter 16 as being the holiest day of worshiping God according to the Hebrew calendar (Adu-Gyamfi 1). This ceremonial ritual day presents a potent illustration of a relationship between the symbol and the thing it represents. In terms of performing rituals, it was also one of the most challenging days in Hebrew tradition. On this day, there used to be a relationship between the ritual's physical components and its spiritual connotations.

Entering the Holiest Place of the Tabernacle

The atonement day differs from other days in two ways. 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 (Adu-Gyamfi 16).

The Ark of the Covenant and the Sprinkling of Blood

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 Ritual of the Scapegoat

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 (Adu-Gyamfi 14).

The Symbolic Meaning of the Scapegoat

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 confess the sins and impurities of the Israel nation, the priest symbolized the transference of the sins of people into the goat according to the book of Hebrews chapter 10:20-22. 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. Hebrews chapter 10:8-10 says the sacrificed goat perished and the scapegoat took away the sins and impurities to the wilderness.

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 (Heb. 9:1-10:18). 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.

Source Cited

Yaw Adu-Gyamfi; The live goat ritual in Leviticus 16; Department of Religion and Theology University of the Western Cape, Scriptura 112 (2013:1), pp. 1-50

April 13, 2023


Subject area:

Judaism Religious Beliefs God

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