Leviticus Chapter 16  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Leviticus 16
Lev 16:1

“when they drew near before Yahweh and died.” Nadab and Abihu offered unauthorized fire before Yahweh and died (Lev. 10:1).

Lev 16:2

“Holy Place.” This holy place behind the inner veil of the Temple is often called “the Holy of Holies,” (cp. Exod. 26:33).

“appear in the cloud.” The bright glory that surrounds God was often described as a cloud. See commentary on Ezekiel 1:28.

[Leviticus 16 is about the Day of Atonement. For more information and a more complete list of the feasts and sabbaths in Israel, see commentary on Lev. 23:2.]

Lev 16:3(top)
Lev 16:4(top)
Lev 16:5(top)
Lev 16:6

“and for his house.” In this context, Aaron’s “house” refers to his household and dynasty, all the other priests.

Lev 16:7

“set them before Yahweh at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.” So the goats would be in the courtyard of the Tabernacle, at the entrance to the Holy Place in the Tabernacle, and at that place they would be “before Yahweh,” who was in the Holy of Holies.

Lev 16:8

“Azazel.” This is almost certainly a name of the Devil, and many scholars believe it likely means “Mighty Goat.” “Mighty Goat” would fit the Hebrew etymology well, and also fit with both experiences from the spiritual world and with the teachings of the Bible. Practitioners of the black arts, such as Satanists, have long known that Satan is worshiped in the form of a goat or goat man being, and also that demons sometimes manifest themselves as goats or goat men (cp. the “Goat of Mendes,” “Baphomet,” “Sabbatic Goat,” etc.). This is very ancient, and also is true across many cultures.

The different theories for what Azazel means are discussed at length in many commentaries on Leviticus, but the most common ones are: that “Azazel” is a basically combination of “goat” and “go away,” and thus the “scapegoat,” or “goat that is sent away.” Or, as many Jewish commentators believe, “Azazel” is the name of a place and the goat for the sin offering is sent away to the place called Azazel. However, most commentators now lean toward the interpretation that Azazel is the proper name of the Devil (some say a ruling demon of the desert), and that it comes from the word for “goat” combined with the Hebrew word el, or “mighty,” such that the name means “Mighty Goat” (see text note on Lev. 16:8 in the NET Bible; First Edition).

The term “Mighty Goat” would fit with what we see in the spiritual world and also what the Bible says. The Devil would be the “Mighty Goat.” Some of his demons would appear and be represented in art, and be worshiped as goat demons, even as they were in the ancient world (Lev. 17:7; 2 Chron. 11:15). Evil leaders would be known as “he-goats” (Isa. 14:9; Zech. 10:3), and unbelievers are known as “goats” (Matt. 25:33).

[For more on goats and ungodly leaders being called he-goats,” see commentary on Isa. 14:9.]

Lev 16:9(top)
Lev 16:10

“Azazel.” See commentary on Leviticus 16:8.

Lev 16:11(top)
Lev 16:12

“and bring it inside the curtain.” The censer with the incense would produce a large amount of smoke and hide the ark and mercy seat from sight. The spices that made up the incense are described in Exodus 30:34-38.

Lev 16:13

“the testimony.” That is, the Ark of the Covenant, which was sometimes called “the testimony” by metonymy because the ark held the tablets with the Ten Commandments, to which the people of Israel had testified that they would keep them.

[See figure of speech “metonymy.”]

Lev 16:14

“before the mercy seat he is to sprinkle some of the blood.” So after sprinkling blood on the Mercy Seat itself, the High Priest would sprinkle blood on the ground in front of the Mercy Seat.

Lev 16:15

“and bring his blood inside the curtain.” This is the second time the High Priest is entering the Holy of Holies.

Lev 16:16

“that dwells with them in the midst of their uncleanness.” God does not like sin, but He understands human weakness and sin, so here we see the text making the point that God, who dwells in the Tent of Meeting over the ark of the covenant between the cherubim, lives in the midst of His people in spite of their sin. People should never feel that God abandons them because of their sin and weakness. Sin can cause God to limit His interaction with us, and continued purposeful sin can cause Him to withdraw from us, but His arms are always open to welcome us back to Him if we want to come back to Him. It is sometimes taught that God had to forsake Jesus because he “became sin,” but that is not accurate (see REV commentary on Matt. 27:46). One of the comforting messages in Scripture is that God loves people and continues to love and support us in spite of our sin and shortcomings.

Lev 16:17(top)
Lev 16:18(top)
Lev 16:19(top)
Lev 16:20(top)
Lev 16:21

“a man appointed for the job.” The Hebrew text could also be understood to mean a man who was waiting, or a man who was ready for the task. But the man did not just happen to be ready, he had been appointed to do that job and take the goat into the desert.

Lev 16:22(top)
Lev 16:23

“and is to leave them there.” That is, leave them there in the Tent of Meeting, not in the Holy of Holies.

Lev 16:24(top)
Lev 16:25

“burn into smoke.” See commentary on Exodus 29:13.

Lev 16:26

“Azazel.” See commentary on Leviticus 16:8.

Lev 16:27

“must be carried outside the camp, and they must burn their skins, their flesh, and their dung with fire.” There were three altars associated with the Tabernacle and Temple: the golden altar of incense, the bronze altar of sacrifice, and a third altar east of the camp where certain parts of sacrifices were burned, and that altar is closely connected to the death of Christ (see commentary on Heb. 13:10).

Lev 16:28(top)
Lev 16:29

“forever.” The Hebrew word olam (#05769 עוֹלָם), often translated “forever,” could mean “forever” or it could simply mean for a long time. We now know that it means for a long time, but the Israelites did not necessarily know that at the time.

“afflict your souls.” This was an idiomatic phrase that, when used in the context of the Day of Atonement, meant to fast, to go without food. On the Nisan Calendar of Israel, the seventh month was Tishri and the tenth day of the seventh month was the Day of Atonement. It was on that day, and that day only, that the High Priest was commanded to go into the Holy of Holies, which he did twice that day. The first time he went in to make atonement for himself, and the second time he went in he made atonement for the people (Lev. 16). God commanded the people “afflict their souls” that is, afflict themselves on that day by not eating. This was so strictly observed in Israel that the Day of Atonement was simply referred to as “the Fast” (cp. Acts 27:9).

Lev 16:30(top)
Lev 16:31

“It is a Sabbath of complete rest.” The Hebrew is shabbath shabbathon, more literally, “a Sabbath of Sabbath observance.” As with any regular Sabbath, the affliction of the Day of Atonement was to last from sunset one day to sunset the next (cp. Lev. 23:32).

[For more information on shabbath shabbathon, see commentary on Leviticus 25:4.]

“you are to afflict your souls.” In the context of the Day of Atonement, which was the tenth day of the seventh month (Nisan calendar) the primary meaning of the phrase “afflict your souls” is to go without food, to fast (see commentary on Lev. 16:29).

Lev 16:32(top)
Lev 16:33(top)
Lev 16:34(top)

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