Leviticus 16

Listen to Leviticus 16

The Day of Atonement

1 The LORD spoke to Moses after 1the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the LORD and died,
2 and the LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron your brother not to 2come at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat that is on the ark, so that he may not die. For 3I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.
3 But in this way Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: 4with a bull from the herd for a sin offering and 5a ram for a burnt offering.
4 He shall put on 6the holy linen coat and shall have the linen undergarment on his body, and he shall tie the linen sash around his waist, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy garments. 7He shall bathe his body in water and then put them on.
5 And he shall take from 8the congregation of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.
6 "Aaron shall 9offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall 10make atonement for himself and for his house.
7 Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting.
8 And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for 11Azazel.[a]
9 And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the LORD and use it as a sin offering,
10 but the goat on which the lot fell for 12Azazel shall be presented alive before the LORD to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to 13Azazel.
11 "Aaron shall present 14the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. He shall kill the bull as a sin offering for himself.
12 And he shall take 15a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the LORD, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small, and he shall bring it inside the veil
13 16and put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover 17the mercy seat that is over the testimony, so that he does not die.
14 And 18he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.
15 19"Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood 20inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat.
16 Thus he shall 21make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. And so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which dwells with them in the midst of their uncleannesses.
17 22No one may be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters to make atonement in the Holy Place until he comes out and has made atonement for himself and for his house and for all the assembly of Israel.
18 Then he shall go out to the altar that is 23before the LORD and 24make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around.
19 And he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it and consecrate it from the uncleannesses of the people of Israel.
20 "And when he has made an end of 25atoning for the Holy Place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat.
21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall 26put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.
22 The goat shall 27bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and 28he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.
23 "Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting and 29shall take off the linen garments that he put on when he went into the Holy Place and shall leave them there.
24 And he shall bathe his body in water in a holy place and put on his garments and come out and 30offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make atonement for himself and for the people.
25 And 31the fat of the sin offering he shall burn on the altar.
26 And he who lets the goat go to 32Azazel shall wash his clothes and 33bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp.
27 34And the bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. Their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be burned up with fire.
28 And he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp.
29 "And it shall be a statute to you forever that 35in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall 36afflict yourselves[b] and shall do no work, either 37the native or the stranger who sojourns among you.
30 For on this day shall atonement be made for you 38to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the LORD from all your sins.
31 39It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall 40afflict yourselves; it is a statute forever.
32 41And the priest who is anointed and 42consecrated as priest in his father's place 43shall make atonement, wearing the holy linen garments.
33 He shall make atonement for 44the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for 45the altar, and he shall make atonement for 46the priests and for 47all the people of the assembly.
34 And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel 48once in the year because of all their sins." And Moses did as the LORD commanded him.

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.

Cross References 48

  • 1. Leviticus 10:1, 2
  • 2. [Exodus 30:10; Heb. 9:7, 12, 24, 25; Hebrews 10:19-22]
  • 3. Exodus 25:22; Exodus 40:34, 35; [1 Kings 8:10-12]
  • 4. Leviticus 4:3
  • 5. Leviticus 1:10; Leviticus 8:18
  • 6. Leviticus 6:10; Leviticus 8:7; Ezekiel 44:17, 18; See Exodus 28:39-43
  • 7. Leviticus 8:6, 7; Exodus 30:20
  • 8. Leviticus 4:14; Numbers 29:11; 2 Chronicles 29:21; Ezra 6:17
  • 9. Ezekiel 45:22
  • 10. ver. 17, 24; Hebrews 9:7">ch. Hebrews 9:7; Hebrews 7:27, 28; Hebrews 9:7
  • 11. ver. 26
  • 12. [See ver. 8 above]
  • 13. [See ver. 8 above]
  • 14. [See ver. 6 above]
  • 15. Leviticus 10:1; Numbers 16:46; Revelation 8:3-5
  • 16. Ex. 30:1, 7, 8
  • 17. Exodus 25:21
  • 18. Hebrews 9:13, 25; Hebrews 10:4; See Leviticus 4:5, 6
  • 19. Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 5:1; Hebrews 9:7
  • 20. ver. 2; Hebrews 6:19; Hebrews 9:3, 7
  • 21. ver. 18; [Exodus 29:36; Ezekiel 45:18; Hebrews 9:22, 23]
  • 22. [Luke 1:10, 21]
  • 23. Leviticus 1:5; Leviticus 4:24
  • 24. ver. 16; Leviticus 4:7, 18; Exodus 30:6, 10
  • 25. ver. 16, 18; Ezekiel 43:20; Ezekiel 45:20
  • 26. [Isaiah 53:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21]
  • 27. [Isaiah 53:11, 12; John 1:29; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 2:24]
  • 28. [Leviticus 14:7]
  • 29. See Leviticus 6:11
  • 30. ver. 3, 5
  • 31. Leviticus 4:8-10; Exodus 29:13
  • 32. ver. 8, 10
  • 33. [Leviticus 15:5; Leviticus 17:15]
  • 34. Leviticus 4:11, 12, 21; Leviticus 6:30; Hebrews 13:11, 12
  • 35. Leviticus 23:27; Numbers 29:7
  • 36. Leviticus 23:32; Psalms 35:13; Isaiah 58:3, 5; Daniel 10:12
  • 37. Leviticus 17:15; Leviticus 18:26; Leviticus 19:34; [Exodus 12:49]
  • 38. Psalms 51:2; Jeremiah 33:8; Hebrews 10:1, 2; 1 John 1:7, 9
  • 39. Leviticus 23:32
  • 40. [See ver. 29 above]
  • 41. [Leviticus 21:10]
  • 42. Exodus 29:29, 30; [Numbers 20:28]
  • 43. ver. 4
  • 44. ver. 16
  • 45. ver. 18
  • 46. ver. 6
  • 47. ver. 24
  • 48. Exodus 30:10; Hebrews 9:7, 25

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. The meaning of Azazel is uncertain; possibly the name of a place or a demon, traditionally a scapegoat; also verses 10, 26
  • [b]. Or shall fast; also verse 31

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

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.