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Leviticus 16:8 meaning...

This is a pivotal chapter in the Book of Leviticus, focusing on the ritual of the Day of Atonement, also known as Yom Kippur. The Day of Atonement was a crucial annual event in ancient Israel, during which the High Priest, in this case, Aaron, would perform specific rituals to seek forgiveness and purification for the people's sins.

  • Key Points:

Casting Lots: In this verse, Aaron, the High Priest, is instructed to cast lots for two goats. The casting of lots was a method used to determine which goat would be designated for a particular purpose. In this case, one lot would be "for Yahweh," meaning it was chosen for a sacred purpose, while the other lot was for the scapegoat.

Two Goats: The two goats represented a symbolic act of atonement. One goat was designated for a sin offering to God, signifying the cleansing of the people's sins through the shedding of blood. The other goat, the scapegoat, played a different role.

  • Significance in the following ways:

Atonement and Forgiveness: The casting of lots for the goats symbolized the people's desire for atonement and forgiveness for their sins. One goat's blood would serve as a sin offering, representing the purification of the people before God.

Scapegoat: The term "scapegoat" has become widely recognized in modern language to describe someone who bears the blame or punishment for the wrongdoings of others. In the biblical context, the scapegoat was not sacrificed but was used symbolically. The sins of the people were confessed over the scapegoat, and it was sent into the wilderness, signifying the removal of the people's sins.

Divine Ordinance: The casting of lots was seen as a way to seek God's guidance and approval in the process. It emphasized that the entire ritual was ordained by God and followed His prescribed method.

  • Application:

While the ritual described in Leviticus 16:8 was specific to the Israelites and their sacrificial system, it carries spiritual lessons for believers today:

Atonement Through Christ: Christians see the foreshadowing of Jesus Christ in the Day of Atonement. Christ is often seen as the ultimate sacrifice, whose blood provides atonement for the sins of humanity. In this perspective, the two goats can symbolize the dual aspects of Christ's work: His sacrificial death (sin offering) and His role in taking away our sins (scapegoat).

Confession and Repentance: The practice of confessing sins and seeking forgiveness remains essential in the Christian faith. Believers are encouraged to confess their sins, knowing that Christ's sacrifice provides forgiveness and purification.


Hebrews 9:7: "But into the second part the high priest went alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the errors of the people." This New Testament verse reflects on the role of the high priest and the annual Day of Atonement in the Old Covenant.

1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This verse underscores the importance of confession and God's forgiveness in the Christian faith.

Leviticus 16:8 is a part of the ritual instructions for the Day of Atonement, symbolizing the casting of lots for the two goats—one for Yahweh and the other as the scapegoat. It represents the people's desire for atonement and forgiveness of sins through a divinely ordained process. While specific to the Israelite sacrificial system, its themes of atonement, forgiveness, and divine guidance continue to hold spiritual significance in the Christian faith.

Leviticus 16:8. Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats; one lot for Yahweh, and the other lot for the scapegoat.


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