first Parasha opening verse: "Now YHVH spoke to Moses after the death
[“acharey mot”] of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew close to YHVH,
and died" (Lev. 16:1, literal translation, emphasis added) underscores the
combination of "drawing close" to YHVH and "death".
Thus, in verse 2 we read: "Tell Aaron… not to come [just] at any time into
the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest
he die…” (italics added). This is the solemn introduction to the long
and detailed account of the necessary preparation and sanctification process of
the High Priest’s entrance to the Holy of Holies, culminating with: “This shall
be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the
month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all… For on that day the
priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you that you may be clean from
all your sins before YHVH. It is a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you
shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever… This shall be an everlasting
statute for you, to make atonement for the children of
Without actually pronouncing the term it is, of course, the description of Yom haKippurim. But rather than commence with that special day, its purpose, timing, and varying procedures, the text first deals with the needed course of action in relation to the High Priest, while the theme of Yom haKippurim unfolds gradually and inductively, ultimately bringing to light its goal. What is more, as we saw above, in this particular context the instructions are mentioned against the backdrop of the death of Ah’aron’s two sons, which enhances the seriousness and solemnity of the day, albeit without calling it by its explicit name.
“atonement” in its various forms (which includes “kaporet” – translated “mercy
sit”, but in Hebrew is rooted in k.p.r – “to atone” or “cover” as we saw in Ex.
25:17), is repeated many times over in chapter 16, as is the blood of the
atonement, with which many of the items mentioned were to be sprinkled. What is
the purpose of sprinkling blood on inanimate objects? “So he shall make
atonement for the Holy [Place], because
of the uncleanness of the children of
In 16:2 we encounter the expression “inside the veil - parochet - before the mercy seat - kaporet". The veil – parochet - is made up of the same letters as “kaporet”. The rest of verse 2 says, "I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat - kaporet". Thus, the rendition of the mercy seat and the veil in the same verse makes for an alliteration (kaporet and parochet), highlighting the connection of these two articles and the position of the mercy seat within the veil, where the High Priest may enter only under very strict and special conditions. “Parochet”, stemming from p.r.ch (pey, resh, kaf), means both “separating” and “covering” and together with “kaporet” points to the ‘cure’ for sin by the provision of the covering and the requirement of separation.
After readying himself and making a sin offering as atonement for his own person and household, the High Priest was to take two male goats, which he was to obtain from the congregation. These two were to be placed "in front of YHVH" at the opening of the Tent of Meeting where lots had to be cast for them, "one lot for YHVH and one lot for Aza'zel" (ref. 16:5-10). The goats mentioned here are “s'eerim” ("hairy ones," s'eer = "hairy"). The casting of lots is "goral", which is of the root g.r.l. (gimmel, resh, lamed), meaning "stone” or “stony place", since the lots are comprised of stones shaken after being put into a piece of cloth or a container . Thus, in Matthew 27:35 we read the following about Yeshua: "Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, 'They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots'" (Ps. 22:18). In the same chapter of Matthew (v. 15-17 and 21b) we read the following: "Now at the Feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Yeshua Bar Abba (Barabbas). Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, 'Whom do you want me to release to you? Bar Abba, or Yeshua who is called Messiah?'… They said, 'Bar Abba!'" The verdict was pronounced. The goat on which YHVH's lot fell was to be a sin offering, as it is written: "Elohim by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3b).
The other goat was to be for Aza'zel (sometimes translated as “scapegoat”). “Aza’zel” is a compound word, made up of the word “az” (ayin, zayin), meaning “strong”, but can also be read as “ez” – goat, and “azal” (alef, zayin, lamed) - “that which is used up”, or “is no more”. The goat that was “to be no more” was sent to the wilderness by the hand of a suitable ("eeti”, meaning “timely”; "et" = the "right or appointed time") person (ref. 16:21). Thus, Yeshua Bar Abba the criminal and counterfeit of Yeshua the Son of the Father, stood in proxy, as it were, for the goat that was allowed to live for the purpose of being sent to the wilderness, or “eretz grzera” ("land of separation" or “verdict” 16:22) with all the sins and iniquities. The root g.z.r (gimmel, zayin, resh) is literally “to cut off, remove, decreed”. And while it was decreed that the unrepentant Bar Abba would be cut off and removed from the Father with his sins (see Is. 59:2), Pilate was the timely person who facilitated the whole process and scenario. Yet, it also says about the “Suffering Servant” of Yishayahu (Isaiah) 53:8: “For He was cut off [nigzar] from the land of the living” (emphasis added). We see, therefore, that in spite of our above comparison of Yeshua and Bar Abba, respectively, to the two goats, Yeshua also fulfilled the role of the second goat, as is confirmed by 16:21: “Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat...” (italics added). Yeshua Bar Abba, although partially fitting the role of the goat that was sent to the wilderness, definitely did not act the part of carrying vicariously sins and iniquities for the purpose of their removal.
And just as Pilate washed his hands after having succumbed to the demand to crucify Yeshua (Mat. 27:24), so was it commanded that the person who was to send the goat of azazel, would have to “wash his clothes and bathe his body in water” (Lev. 16:26).
16 began with a strong exhortation and command to the High Priest regarding
time, place, and procedures of coming before YHVH, chapter 17 enjoins the
ordinary people not to sacrifice according to their own whims, lest they should
be suspected of sacrificing to idols or be even led astray and carry out such
acts. And so, we read in 17:7: "They shall no more offer their sacrifices
to demons, after whom they have played the harlot…" "Demons"
here is “s'eerim”, being the word that we have just encountered in the previous
chapter for “male goats”. Goat worship prevailed in
Mot is made up of four sections. Aside from the part which leads up to Yom
haKippurim, and the section regarding the right place for the offerings (most
of chapter 17), there are two more sections concerning the prohibitions of
eating meat with blood (17:10-16), and incest (
here is “ger”, and originates from the root “gur” (gimmel, vav, resh),
meaning "to dwell, tarry, sojourn", as well as
“to fear (see Ps. 22:23 for example: “fear Him all you offspring of
The last section of Parashat Ahcarey Mot deals, as mentioned, with the prohibitions against incest and other sexual offenses. It is sandwiched between statements regarding the practices of the dwellers of the land which the Israelites have just left, and the practices in the land which they were about to enter (see 18:3, 24-25). Presently we observed that YHVH’s people were enjoined to include the strangers living among them, while here they are solemnly warned not to defile themselves with that which their neighbors were defiling themselves (v. 27). We see here a fine line between including the ones who choose to come into the household of Yisrael, and between keeping firm and clear boundaries of separation from other non-Israelites.
According to Torah, when one comes in contact with anything which is (ritually) unclean, one is contaminated by it. The converse, however, is not true; i.e. coming in contact with that which is holy does not make one holy. The land, therefore, by reason of the practices of its inhabitants would be subject to spiritual contamination with the resulting consequences that “… the land [will] vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you" (18:28). The following Parasha (Kdoshim) closes off with the same warning, as part of the command to stay separate (ref. 20:22).
Finally, in 16:30 we read: "For on this day He [some translations replace “He” with “the priest”] shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you; for all your sins, before YHVH you shall be cleansed," or “before YHVH you shall be purified”, or “before YHVH you shall purify yourselves”. Here is a fervent call to appropriate by faith the atonement enacted by the Almighty, and thus to receive the fulfillment of His promise. However, without the High Priest, first and foremost, complying implicitly with all of YHVH’s instructions this could not be achieved.
 Notice the "k" and "ch" here denote the same letter, i.e. "kaf".
 The New Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon, Francis Brown Hendrickson. Publishers, Peabody, Mass. 1979.
 Online Bible, Gill Commentary
 Thirty verses relay the High Priest’s orders, versus one verse with instructions for the people.
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