Leviticus 16

The Day of Reconciliation

1 After the death of Aaron's two sons, which happened when they approached the LORD and died, the LORD spoke to Moses:
2 Tell your brother Aaron that he cannot come whenever he wants into the holy area inside the inner curtain, to the front of the cover that is on the chest, or else he will die, because I am present in the cloud above the cover.
3 No, but Aaron must enter the holy area as follows: with a bull from the herd as a purification offering and a ram as an entirely burned offering.
4 Aaron must dress in a holy linen tunic and wear linen undergarments on his body. He must tie a linen sash around himself and wrap a linen turban around his head. These are holy clothes—Aaron will first bathe his body in water and then put them on.
5 He will take from the Israelite community two male goats for a purification offering and one ram for an entirely burned offering.
6 Aaron will offer the bull as a purification offering to make reconciliation for himself and his household.
7 He will take the two male goats and place them before the LORD at the meeting tent's entrance.
8 Aaron will cast lots over the two goats: one lot labeled "the LORD's" and the other lot labeled "Azazel's."
9 Aaron will present the goat selected by the LORD's lot and perform a purification offering with it.
10 But the goat selected by Azazel's lot will be left standing alive before the LORD in order to make reconciliation upon it by sending it away into the wilderness to Azazel.
11 Aaron will offer the bull for his purification offering to make reconciliation for himself and his household. He will slaughter the bull for his purification offering.
12 Then he will take an incense pan full of burning coals from the altar, from before the LORD, and two handfuls of finely ground perfumed incense and bring them inside the inner curtain.
13 He will put the incense on the fire before the LORD so that the cloud of incense conceals the cover that is on top of the covenant document, or else he will die.
14 He will take some of the bull's blood and sprinkle it with his finger on the cover from the east side. He will then sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times in front of the cover.
15 Then he will slaughter the goat for the people's purification offering, bring the blood inside the inner curtain, and do with it as he did with the bull's blood: he will sprinkle it on the cover and in front of the cover.
16 In this way, he will make reconciliation for the inner holy area because of the pollution of the Israelites and because of their rebellious sins, as well as for all their other sins. Aaron must do the same for the meeting tent, which is with them among their pollution.
17 No one can be in the meeting tent from the time Aaron enters to make reconciliation in the inner holy area until the time he comes out. He will make reconciliation for himself, for his household, and for the whole assembly of Israel.
18 Aaron will then go to the altar that is before the LORD and make reconciliation for it: He will take some of the bull's blood and some of the goat's blood and put it on each of the altar's horns.
19 He will sprinkle some of the blood on the altar with his finger seven times. In this way, he will purify it and make it holy again from the Israelites' pollution.
20 When Aaron has finished reconciling the inner holy area, the rest of the meeting tent, and the altar, he will bring forward the live goat.
21 Aaron will press both his hands on its head and confess over it all the Israelites' offenses and all their rebellious sins, as well as all their other sins, putting all these on the goat's head. Then he will send it away into the wilderness with someone designated for the job.
22 The goat will carry on itself all their offenses to a desolate region, then the goat will be released into the wild.
23 After this, Aaron will enter the meeting tent, take off the linen clothes he was wearing when he entered the inner holy area, and will leave them there.
24 He will bathe his body in water in a holy place and dress in his priestly clothing. Then he will go out and perform the entirely burned offerings for himself and for the people. In this way, he will make reconciliation for himself and for the people.
25 He will completely burn the fat of the purification offering on the altar.
26 The one who set the goat free for Azazel must wash their clothes and bathe their body in water; after that they can return to the camp.
27 The bull and the goat for the purification offerings, whose blood was brought in to make reconciliation in the inner holy area, will be taken outside the camp. Their hides, flesh, and dung will be burned with fire.
28 The person who burns them must wash their clothes and bathe their body in water; after that, they can return to the camp.
29 This will be a permanent rule for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month, you must deny yourselves. You must not do any work—neither the citizen nor the immigrant who lives among you.
30 On that day reconciliation will be made for you in order to cleanse you. You will be clean before the LORD from all your sins.
31 It will be a Sabbath of special rest for you, and you will deny yourselves. This is a permanent rule.

Conclusion concerning the Day of Reconciliation

32 The priest who is anointed and ordained to serve as priest after his father will perform the reconciliation, wearing the holy linen clothes. It was done just as the LORD commanded Moses.
33 He will reconcile the holiest part of the sanctuary and will do the same for the meeting tent and the altar. He will make reconciliation for the priests and for all the people of the assembly.
34 This will be a permanent rule for you, in order to make reconciliation for the Israelites from all their sins once a year.

Leviticus 16 Commentary

Chapter 16

The great day of atonement. (1-14) The sacrifices on it, The scape-goat. (15-34)

Verses 1-14 Without entering into particulars of the sacrifices on the great day of atonement, we may notice that it was to be a statute for ever, till that dispensation be at an end. As long as we are continually sinning, we continually need the atonement. The law of afflicting our souls for sin, is a statue which will continue in force till we arrive where all tears, even those of repentance, will be wiped from our eyes. The apostle observes it as a proof that the sacrifices could not take away sin, and cleanse the conscience from it, that in them there was a remembrance made of sin every year, upon the day of atonement, ( hebrews 10:1 hebrews 10:3 ) . The repeating the sacrifices, showed there was in them but a feeble effort toward making atonement; this could be done only by offering up the body of Christ once for all; and that sacrifice needed not to be repeated.

Verses 15-34 Here are typified the two great gospel privileges, of the remission of sin, and access to God, both of which we owe to our Lord Jesus. See the expiation of guilt. Christ is both the Maker and the Matter of the atonement; for he is the Priest, the High Priest, that makes reconciliation for the sins of the people. And as Christ is the High Priest, so he is the Sacrifice with which atonement is made; for he is all in all in our reconciliation to God. Thus he was figured by the two goats. The slain goat was a type of Christ dying for our sins; the scape-goat a type of Christ rising again for our justification. The atonement is said to be completed by putting the sins of Israel upon the head of the goat, which was sent away into a wilderness, a land not inhabited; and the sending away of the goat represented the free and full remission of their sins. He shall bear upon him all their iniquities. Thus Christ, the Lamb of God, takes away the sin of the world, by taking it upon himself, ( John 1:29 ) . The entrance into heaven, which Christ made for us, was typified by the high priest's entrance into the most holy place. See ( Hebrews 9:7 ) . The high priest was to come out again; but our Lord Jesus ever lives, making intercession, and always appears in the presence of God for us. Here are typified the two great gospel duties of faith and repentance. By faith we put our hands upon the head of the offering; relying on Christ as the Lord our Righteousness, pleading his satisfaction, as that which alone is able to atone for our sins, and procure us a pardon. By repentance we afflict our souls; not only fasting for a time from the delights of the body, but inwardly sorrowing for sin, and living a life of self-denial, assuring ourselves, that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. By the atonement we obtain rest for our souls, and all the glorious liberties of the children of God. Sinner, get the blood of Christ effectually applied to thy soul, or else thou canst never look God in the face with any comfort or acceptance. Take this blood of Christ, apply it by faith, and see how it atones with God.

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. Or mercy seat or perhaps reconciliation cover (Heb kapporet)
  • [b]. Or I am seen or I appear
  • [c]. Or scapegoat
  • [d]. Or over it or for it or with it
  • [e]. Heb uncertain
  • [f]. September–October, Tishrei

Chapter Summary


This chapter treats of the day of atonement, and of the rites, sacrifices, and services of it, directs when Aaron should come into the holy of holies, Le 16:1,2; and in what habit he should then appear, and with what offerings both for himself, and for the people, Le 16:3-10; and that having slain his own sin offering, and that for the people, he should offer incense before the mercy seat, and sprinkle that with the blood of both, Le 16:11-15; and by these offerings make atonement for the holy place, the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, Le 16:16-19; and having done this, he was to take the live goat, lay his hands on it, confess over it, and put upon it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and then send it away by a fit man into the wilderness, Le 16:20-22; upon which he was to put off his linen garments, wash his flesh, and put them on again, and offer the burnt offering for himself, and for the people, Le 16:23-25; also he that let go the goat, and he that carried and burnt the sin offerings without the camp, were to wash themselves and clothes also, Le 16:26-28; the observance of this day, once a year, which was on the tenth of the seventh month, as a day of affliction and atonement, was to be a statute for ever to the children of Israel, Le 16:29-34.

Leviticus 16 Commentaries

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