This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I started this on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed blogging from that book on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. Since then, I have begun adding material from his Bible commentaries. I also re-blog many of the old posts.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Leviticus 16 - The Day of Atonement (Part 2)

 "3 Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on. 5 And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. 6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house. 7 And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. 10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness." — Leviticus 16:3-10 KJV.


3. Holy place — This is here used, not for the court of the priests, but for the holy of holies. Bullock — The high office of Aaron requires the greatest of the sin offerings. See chap. 4, concluding notes. (4.) Note the presumption, that this high official had so failed to keep the holy law of God that he annually needed an offering not only for his conscious and wilful sins, but also for his inadvertencies, ignorances, and errors. Hebrews 5:2. See concluding notes to chap. 4.

4. The holy linen coat —
This requirement, that Aaron should divest himself of his pontifical robes when he appears before the Lord as a penitent, teaches us that no worldly distinction, no ecclesiastical preferment, is of any avail to avert the wrath of God. When Aaron represents God to men he may well be clothed with splendour, but when as a sinner he stands before the divine holiness, that splendour pales. The day of atonement stained the glory of all flesh by the revelation of Jehovah’s holiness in contrast with man’s guilt. Breeches — Properly, drawers. See Leviticus 6:10, note. The high priest is required to appear in the apparel of a common priest, with the addition of a linen mitre, a distinctive badge of the pontificate. This change of raiment represents a humiliation as deep as does the wearing of sackcloth upon the common people. Wash his flesh — It became the typical high priest to be “holy, harmless, and undefiled,” that he might fitly prefigure the spotless Son of God. It was customary to remove him from his own house to a chamber in the temple seven days before, lest he should contract any defilement which might entail an uncleanness during those seven days, and he be disqualified for his duty on the great day of atonement. During this time he was exercised in all the various parts of the service, though not entering within the veil. The law relating to his duties was read to him again and again, lest he should make any mistake in his office on that day to his own destruction and the detriment of the people. The elders of the Sanhedrin solemnly adjured him in these words: “We adjure thee, O high priest, our delegate, by Him that caused his name to dwell in this house, that thou alter not any thing of what we have spoken unto thee.” — Delitzsch on the Hebrews, Appendix.

5. Two kids of the goats — This expression in the Hebrew is usually understood to mean” he-goats,” (R.V.,) which were used as sin offerings for princes and for the people on high festival seasons. See Leviticus 23:19, note. For a sin offering — It is worthy of note that both the goats are for a sin offering, though only one of them is to be slain.

6. Shall offer — R.V., “present.” The actual offering does not take place until verse 11. An atonement for himself — “An innocent man,” says Van der Waegen, “must come and make atonement for the guilty; but the guilty may not come and make atonement for the innocent.” Since innocence is not inherent in fallen man by nature or practice, only as one who had himself been atoned could the high priest make atonement for others. “Every reconciling and sanctifying effect of the sacrifices is dependent on the existence of a personally reconciling mediatorship before God; and here the old covenant proclaims its inadequacy to institute a real reconciliation, in the fact that even the high priest himself, through whose intercessions the defect which attaches to the offering is made good, himself in turn has need of reconciliation and purification, as one subject to sin and weakness.” Comp. Hebrews 5:3. — Oehler. Here the Antitype, Jesus, differs from his types. His priesthood was unique in its sinlessness, and his piety unique in its impenitence. When God acknowledges a high priest as well-pleasing in his sight, this is a real declaration that he graciously accepts the whole people. On the contrary, his error is the inculpation of the people. Leviticus 4:3, note. That this required atonement is for involuntary defects and inadvertencies arising from fallen nature, rather than for special cases of transgression, is evident not only from the provision made for the latter in Leviticus 4:3-12, but also from the presumption of sinfulness referred to in verse 3, note. Aaron’s confession of sin was in these words: “O, for Jehovah’s sake, do Thou expiate the misdeeds, the crimes, and the sins wherewith I have done evil, and have sinned before thee, I and my house, as is written in the law of Moses thy servant,” concluding with quoting verse 30. — Delitzsch on the Hebrews, Appendix. And for his house — Hence only a married high priest was permitted to officiate on the day of atonement.

8. Cast lots upon the two goats — The lots were first of boxwood, afterwards of gold, with an inscription on one “for the Name” — Jehovah was too sacred to write — and on the other, “for Azazel.”Delitzsch on the Hebrews, Appendix. These were put into an urn and shaken, and drawn out with both hands of the high priest; that in the right hand was laid upon the goat standing at his right, and that in the left upon its corresponding goat. Divine Providence was supposed to direct the lots. Proverbs 16:33. The scapegoat — The עֲזָאזֵֽל, Azazel, occurs but four times in this chapter, and nowhere else in the Holy Scriptures. It is the puzzle of the Book of Leviticus, over which the most erudite scholars have uttered the despairing groan of “locus vexatissimus.” Bochart, the chief of Hebraists, notwithstanding his profound learning, frankly makes the following humiliating confession: “I have nothing certain to offer in regard to this word;” and Fairbairn admits that “its exact and determinate import is not to be pronounced on with certainty.” The chief theories are, 1.) That it is a place, a rough mountain in the vicinity of Mount Sinai: but no such mountain has ever been found. Besides this, the place is described indefinitely as any “land not inhabited — the wilderness.” 2.) That it is an appellation of God. This is sustained by the Syriac version of Azazel — “the mighty God.” The objection to this view is, that then the lot is a useless formality, since each goat would be allotted to the Deity, either as Jehovah or as the mighty God. 3.) That the word is a personal name for Satan or for one of his satellites. This is favoured by the Book of Enoch, in which Azazel is named as an evil spirit, and by the rabbinical writings, where it occurs as the appellation of one of four demons. The theory that the sins of Israel were confessed over the head of the devil, or over an animal devoted to him, thus making his Satanic majesty co-ordinate with the holy God in the sanctification of his people, so shocks our sense of propriety that we should dismiss it without further comment if the names of modern exegetes as celebrated as Bush, Oehler, Keil, and Ewald, had not given to it the weight of their authority. “The idea that it is a sacrifice to the devil is at utter variance with the whole Levitical system, not to speak of the incongruity of a sin offering to that wicked spirit; this is accordingly generally abandoned. The notion is spun from the interpreter’s own brain, without anything in the text to suggest it, that sin is hereby sent back to Satan as the source from which it has proceeded, or the one to whose realm it properly belongs; or that it is intended as an act of scorn and defiance. This malignant accuser may take these sins and do his worst with them, he can never bring Israel into condemnation for offences which have been expiated and forgiven. 4.) The word ‘Azazel’ is derived from a root meaning ‘to remove;’ and may with greater propriety, as it seems to me, be regarded as an abstract term, meaning, as the British revisers render it in their margin, ‘dismissal,’ or, as the American company prefer, as more descriptive of the function discharged by the goat, ‘removal.’” — Dr. W. Henry Green. “We must be very careful in the application of this term. It is one of the terms liable to abuse. The image has always been accepted as one symbolical of the work of Christ in bearing away the sins of the world. Considered strictly as a figure, it is full of beauty and helpful suggestiveness. It has, nevertheless, been open to the most mischievous perversion.” — Joseph Parker.

9. Lot fell — Hebrew, came up out of the urn. Sin offering — All the sins of Israel, without exception, were atoned for this day by the offering of the two goats on the condition of repentance, even sins not committed inadvertently, and therefore excluded from atonement by sacrifice on other days of the year. See Leviticus 4:2, note. The man who had sinned “with a high hand” — that is, defiantly, with open contempt of Jehovah and his law — was either suddenly cut off (Numbers 16:30) before the day of atonement or hardened himself beyond repentance. See chap. iv, including note 3.

10. To make atonement with him —
R.V. “for him.” In Leviticus 1:4 the same Hebrew words are translated “to make atonement for him.” Bahr says, that the means of atonement is never marked by ל, upon or for, but always by ב, with, and that the former regularly marks the object of the atonement. Hengstenberg also concurs with this view, and remarks that by the live goat being said to be atoned for, “he was thereby identified with the first, and the nature of the dead was transferred to the living;” so that “the goats stand here in a relation entirely similar to that of the two birds in the purification of the leper, of which the one let go was first dipped in the blood of the slain.” Leviticus 14:7. Into the wilderness — Wilderness, with the article, as here, signifies either the desert lying next to the speaker, or the well-known Arabian desert, or that about Petra.

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