Day of Atonement (Part 2)
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Festivals of the Jewish Year by Theodor H. Gaster (New York, 1953)
Known among the Jews as Yom Kippur, this day is the holiest day of the Jewish year. Atonement may also be termed the Day of Purgation (Cleansing). Leviticus 16:31 describes it as "a sabbath of sabbaths." It is an opportunity, year by year, to obtain divine forgiveness of sin, and to cleanse oneself before the LORD, Leviticus 16:30, restoring oneself to a state of wholeness and holiness, Leviticus 20:26 that Israel is supposed to be. Atonement involves individual as well as collective purification.
The physical rites of purification shown in Leviticus 16, the washings, verses 4, 24, 26, 28; sacrifices, verses 5, 6, 11, 15; fumigations, verses 12-13; sprinkling sacrificial blood, verses 14-15, 18-19; and changes of clothes, verses 4, 23; culminated in the dispatch into the desert of the goat to whom the collective sins of Israel had been previously transferred.
During the period of the Temple, only on the Day of Atonement, could the high priest utter the pronunciation of YHVH, instead of substituting "the Lord (Adonai)."
The rigorous fast and total abstinence of work may only be broken in the case of serious illness or where life is imperiled. The preceding evening and the whole of the day are devoted to religious services.
Scriptures Read By Jews on Atonement
Besides Leviticus 16 and Numbers 29:7-11, Isaiah 57:14 through 58:14, and the Book of Jonah are read. The theme of these latter passages is true repentance.
One of The Book of Jonah's major points is the contrast between the instant trust and ready repentance of the heathen and the lack of confidence and infidelity of the servant of God. When the storm rages at sea, the idolatrous mariners immediately call upon their gods, but Jonah does not call on the true God. Instead, he goes inside the ship to sleep. When they find out that Jonah is responsible for the tempest, they acknowledge the LORD. The king and the whole city of Nineveh fast in sackcloth and do repent, but Jonah is displeased.
The "Atonement Lesson" of the Book of Jonah is that (1) God's people sometimes have a harder time repenting than heathens do, (2) fasting is necessary to really repent, (3) if God accepted the repentance of heathen Nineveh, He will certainly accept the genuine repentance of His people, (4) It is impossible to flee from God's presence. He sees all, and your sin shall find you out, Numbers 32:23.
The Hebrew word for Jonah means "dove," the symbol used in Song of Solomon as a representation of Israel. Thus, the story of Jonah is an allegory of Israel's constant disobedience to God's command and of its vain efforts to flee from His presence. The "great fish" symbolizes lawlessness or chaos, or exile and captivity, in which Israel finds itself "engulfed" until released by the mercy of God.
Jonah was used by God to encourage King Jeroboam II of Israel to restore the boundary of territory of Israel, because God had mercy on them, II Kings 14:25-27.
Further readings on the Day of Atonement include Leviticus 18, which says in verse 4, "Ye shall do My judgments and keep My ordinances . . . ," and continues with the account of forbidden marriages, warning one not to fall into (sexual) temptation.
Another passage is Micah 7:18-20, which emphasizes God's mercy.
According to Leviticus 25:9, the Jubilee Year began on the Day of Atonement. Regarded as a holy period, the Jubilee could not begin until after the annual purification and re-sanctification had taken place.
The fall festivals correspond to the spring festivals: Nisan 1 corresponds to Tishri 1 (Day of Trumpets), Nisan 10 (day Passover lamb selected) corresponds to Tishri 10 (Day of Atonement) and Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15-21) to the Feast of Tabernacles (Tishri 15-21).
The Jewish Festivals by Hayyim Schauss (Cincinnati, 1938)
During the time of the Second Temple, Jews referred to the Day of Atonement as "The Great Day," or "The Day." Jews in all lands fasted and spent the day entirely in the synagogue, earnestly praying. Philo notes that even backsliding Jews became "very pious" on that day. After destruction of the Temple, Atonement continued to be the greatest day of the Jewish year.
A Guide to Yom Kippur by Rabbi Louis Jacobs (London, 1957)
The Day of Atonement is an awesome and joyful day of repentance, a day of peace and harmony and reconciliation, of prayer and reverence and awe when man comes face to face with God.
Jewish Rabbis have noted that the numerical value of the letters for the Hebrew word for Satan totals 364, one less than the number of days in the year. And on that one day, the Day of Atonement, the Satan of strife, contention, coarseness and materialism, holds no sway over human affairs.
It is hypocritical to devote one day in the year to prayer, fasting and introspection, and forget all about these things during the rest of the year. Unless the Day of Atonement has an effect on those who observe it during the whole year, there is no meaning to the day. He who says, "I will sin and the Day of Atonement will atone for my sin," does not find atonement.
During Temple times, the day of Atonement was unique in that the High Priest discarded his garments of splendor, and wearing only the plain linen tunic and garments of the common priest, entered the Holy of Holies to atone for his own sins as well as those of all Israel.
In Rabbinical literature, Yom Kippur is the great and holy day Israel meets its God, the Judgment Day, the culmination of the Ten Days of Repentance beginning with the Day of Trumpets, when God is especially near, when Moses brought down the second tablets of the Ten Commandments, showing God had mercy and had pardoned them for the sin of worshipping the golden calf.
Jews believe that Atonement is only for sins committed against God. For offenses against one's neighbor, man does not find atonement on Yom Kippur until he has pacified (given restitution to) those he has offended.
Though a day of fasting and self-denial, Atonement is also a day of joy because sin is pardoned and man is reconciled to God.
Rabbis thought Atonement was a particularly fitting occasion for girls to dress up in finery, and young men to propose to them. Thus a proposal of marriage could be carried out in the right spirit, without the object of lust, because on Atonement we are striving to overcome the lust of the flesh, and because Atonement is the holiest day of the year and marriage is the holiest relationship God has ordained.
The Name "Yom Kippur"
Yom Kippur (literally, "Day Atonement") is the common Jewish form of the Biblical Yom Ha-Kippurim ("Day of Atonements," plural). We need atonements for the many sins we have committed. Kippurim and Kapparah mean "to scour," "to cleanse thoroughly," "to ease," or "to cover, hide out of sight."
From the earliest times, "afflicting the soul," Leviticus 16:29 was understood to mean fasting. Isaiah 58:3 proves this.
The Mishnah (code of Jewish interpretation) forbids eating, drinking, washing, anointing and marital intercourse on the Day of Atonement.
Four main reasons for the command to fast on the Day of Atonement:
(1) By fasting we show contrition for the wrong we have done and the good we have failed to do. It is not mashochism. Fasting fulfills the need to make a self-sacrifice in order to demonstrate that one has repented and not merely given lip service of sorrow for past sins. Fasting affirms a man's sincerity, and shows he knows he deserves to be punished for his sins.
(2) Self-discipline. Repentance must be preceded by an attempt at self-discipline. The ideal person is one who is hard on himself but indulgent towards others. Fasting on the Day of Atonement serves as a reminder for the need of self-discipline which leads to self-improvement.
(3) Fasting is a means of focusing the mind on the spiritual.
(4) Fasting is a means of awakening compassion for others. See Isaiah 58:6-7.
Customs Connected With Atonement
Before going to the Synagogue, the father of the house blesses the children. To sons, he says, "God make you as Ephraim and Manasseh," and the daughters, "God make you as Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah."
If possible, food should not even be handled on the Day of Atonement, except to give children their meals. Jews feel that children under nine should not be allowed to fast even for a few hours. But from this age on they should be trained to fast in gradually longer periods. It is believed that a sick person does not have to fast if he feels strongly that to fast may endanger his life.
After Yom Kippur, Jews have a minor feast, quoting Ecclesiastes 9:7, "Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, And drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works."
The Reality of Sin
The Day of Atonement drives home three points, (1) that sin is real, an offense against God, (2) that God, nonetheless pardons sin, and (3) that such pardon does not come unless man does something -- repents with fasting, rends his heart. There are three Bible Hebrew terms for sin:
(1) Pesha means rebellion. It is the attitude of mind in which a man sets himself up as the sole judge of his actions, recognizing neither God nor His law. Pesha signifies the refusal of man to consider himself accountable to God for his actions.
(2) Avon comes from a root meaning "to be twisted," or "to be crooked" (compare our word, "a crook"). An example is man who starts out right, but throws everything away in an act of folly.
(3) Het comes from a root meaning "to miss," used, for instance, when an archer fails to hit the target. Het denotes lack of character or staying power. It can also mean unwitting sin, and the careless driver, slack teacher, overindulgent or neglectful parent, and thoughtless son, are all guilty of het.
Teshubah, the Hebrew word for repentance, means "turning back." It involves, according to Jews, (1) contrition for the sin committed and (2) firm resolve not to repeat it.
Day of Atonement in the Talmud
After the Ten Commandments were given to Israel on Pentecost, Moses ascended Mt. Sinai and remained there 40 days to receive the Tablets. He descended on the 17th of Tammuz and broke the Tablets because the people worshipped the Golden Calf. For forty days Moses set up his tent beyond the camp of Israel, and the people mourned. On the 1st of Elul (sixth month), Moses ascended the mountain to receive the Second Tablets. During this period the Hebrews fasted daily from sunrise to sunset. On the 40th day they fasted from sunset to sunset. This was Tishri 10. On the morning of the 10th, the Hebrews wept when Moses came down with the tablets, and he wept when he beheld their repentance. Then God said, "Your repentance is accepted, and this day will remain the Day of Atonement throughout all generations." -- Tanna Eliyahu Zuta, 4
Why are there two goats, one a sacrifice on the altar, and one a sacrifice on the rock to Azazel? The goats represent Esau and Jacob, or the wicked and the righteous. Both were born in the same home; both were brought up in goodness. Yet one chose to labor for God, and the other against God. "Az" means "impudent." "Azal" means "departed." If Israel is impudent and disobedient, he shall be forced to take his departure into lands of exile. -- Abrabanel, Ahare
Rabbi Simi gave a Yom Kippur sermon based on Hosea 14:2 and Ezekiel 36:26. Satan is compared to a large rock in the middle of a highway where people stumbled over it, or even a rock in people's heart. God says, "Let each of you break off a piece by means of repentance, and resolve not to obey it. When the Evil Impulse is sufficiently crushed, I shall in the days-to-come remove Satan from your midst." -- Pesikta Shubah, Ruhn, page 165a
Things between thee and God are forgiven on Yom Kippur . . . . Satan accuses the Jews every day of the year except on the Day of Atonement. -- Sifra to Ahare, Yoma, 20a
Satan is locked up on Yom Kippur. -- Midrash Tehillim, 27
Rabbi Jose said: "He who repents is regarded by God as if he went up to Jerusalem and offered sacrifices to Him," Psalm 51:19. -- Pesikta Shubah Buber, 158
Jewish tradition also holds that Atonement was the day Adam both sinned and repented; and also the day on which Abraham was circumcised.
"Jesus' Ministry and the Jubilee Year," from The Sabbaths of God by James L. Porter (New York, 1966)
Jesus began His ministry in the fall of 27 A.D. He had been baptized a few months before the Passover in 27 A.D., then after the Temptation, calling disciples and the Cana wine miracle, He went to Jerusalem for Passover, then through Samaria, and began his public ministry in the fall, near his 30th birthday, Luke 3:23.
In Luke 4:16, when He came to Nazareth, He read "on the Sabbath day." This should be translated "Day of Weeks," or Pentecost. This was Pentecost of 28 A.D., during the Jubilee Year of 27-28 A.D. (Day of Atonement to Day of Atonement).
The portion He read, "He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, To set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" is cited from Isaiah 61:1-2, and clearly shows a Jubilee setting. Pentecost and Jubilee are both counted.
The prophecy in Isaiah is speaking of the time Israel will be resettled in their land forever, Isaiah 60:21, "Your people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land forever . . . ," and Isaiah 49:6, 8, 9, " . . . you should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved [desolations] of Israel . . . . Thus says the LORD, in an acceptable time have I heard you . . . and I will preserve thee and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages. That thou may say to the prisoners, Go forth, . . . "
In the future, Christ will force a Jubilee on all Israel. In 28 A.D., He was proclaiming a Jubilee for those who would accept it voluntarily. The Day of Vengeance [which portion of Isaiah 61:2 Jesus did not quote] is future and yet to be fulfilled. Isaiah 61:4, "And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations."
Israel entered the land in the year 1493-1492 B.C. The year of Jubilee when Sennacherib came against Judah (Isaiah 37:30-32 and II Kings 19:29) was 709-708 B.C., and when Christ read the prophecy from Isaiah, 27-28 A.D. Thus, 1987-88 and 2036-37 will be Jubilees.
COMMENT: Porter's calculations are incorrect according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, because if 27-28 A.D. was a Jubilee, 77-78 A.D. would be a Jubilee, and so on, so that 1927-28 and 1977-78 were Jubilees. It is interesting to note that Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong (WCG) was baptized and began preaching in 1927-28, a possible Jubilee year. [this author of the COG is determining the Jubilee with a count of 50 years (the 50th year), the year after being the first of the next 49] [MMr agrees with Porter; the 50th year is counted as the first year of the next 49]
The Jewish Encyclopedia, article "Sabbatical Year and Jubilee," says that the jubilee law came into force after the Israelites came into possession of Palestine, Leviticus 25. Jubilee was like a Sabbath rest year, with the addition that "ye shall return every man unto his possession," Leviticus 25:10. See Josephus, Antiquities vi., 8, 28.
"The majority of rabbis hold that the jubilee year was an intercalation, and followed the seventh Sabbatical year, making two fallow years in succession. After both had passed, the next cycle began. They adduce this theory from the plain words of the Law to 'hallow the fiftieth year,' and also from the assurance of God's promise of a yield in the sixth year sufficient for maintenance during the following three years, until the ninth year, until her fruits come in,' Leviticus 25:22, which, they say, refers to the jubilee year." The duration of the Sabbatical year was from Day of Trumpets to Day of Trumpets.
Maimonides notes in one of his writings that "the Sabbatical year occurred last year" which has been interpreted as 1507 of the Seleucidan era, 4956 of creation and 1195 C.E. Jews have been lax in observing the 7th and 50th years. As a result, the exact year of the sabbatical year is in dispute.
Talmudic sources state the entrance of Israel into Palestine occurred in 2489 after creation, and 850 years, or 17 jubilees passed between that and the destruction of the First Temple. The first cycle began after the conquest of the land and its distribution among the tribes -- which took 14 years -- so that the first 7th year observed was the 21st year of the cycle. Joshua celebrated the first jubilee, and died just before the second. The last jubilee was on the tenth of Tishri, when the city was smitten, Ezekiel 40:1.
The Samaritan "Book of Joshua" date the first month of the first Sabbatical cycle and of the first jubilee cycle beginning from the crossing of the Jordan and entrance of Israel into their possession, 2794 after creation.
Talmudic writers state both the First and Second Temples were destroyed "on the closing of the Sabbatical year." The sixteenth jubilee was in the 18th year of Josiah (who reigned 31 years) and the remaining 13 years of his reign, plus the 11 years of Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin and the 11 years of Zedekiah, fix the first exilic year as the 36th year of the jubilee cycle, or the 25th year of the captivity of Jehoiachin, or 14 years from the destruction of the holy city.
Babylonian captivity lasted 70 years. Ezra sanctified Palestine in the 7th year of the second entrance, when the Temple was dedicated, Ezra 6:15-16, 7:7. The first cycle began with Ezra's sanctification. The Second Temple stood 420 years, and was destroyed, like the First, in the 421st year, at the close of a sabbatical year.
Rule of Talmud for finding sabbatical year is to add one year and divide by seven the number of years since the destruction of the Second Temple, or add 2 for every 100 years and divide the sum by seven.
Maimonides's calculations have been accepted by most Jewish scholars. He gives a sabbatical year as 1175 C.E., and he begins the cycle by the year following the destruction of the Temple. Another fixed year has been 1552. These show that the destruction of the Second Temple was in a sabbatical year, 68-69 A.D., although it was not a jubilee year.
A Comparison of the Seventh and Jubilee Years, by Gary Sjordal
1. Begins at Feast of Tabernacles Deuteronomy 31:10.
2. Land rested at the beginning of the Seventh Year for the whole year; all crops including grapes and olives, except fruit trees, not harvested. Purpose: that the poor may eat, give a Sabbath to the land, Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 19:23.
3. At the beginning of the year, Hebrew bondservants are released, if they so desire. They serve six years, are released "in the seventh year," with plenty of food. If they won't be released, an aul was bored through one of their ears, they became servants for ever, Deuteronomy 15:12-18.
4. At the end of the seventh year, all debts are released to "brothers," but not to "foreigners." Purpose: to help the poor, Deuteronomy 15:1-11.
Jubilee, 50th Year
1. Begins on Day of Atonement, with the sound of the trumpet (after the goat ceremony is completed), Leviticus 25:9.
2. Follows the 49th year, and like it, the land is rested, making two consecutive years the land is rested. Purpose: to show that God will bless you, providing enough crops the 48th year to last for three years until the harvest of the crops planted in the 51st year, Leviticus 25:20-22.
3. Every man to be returned to his own possession. Purpose: so we will not oppress one another, Leviticus 25:10-17.
4. At end of 50th year, another 50-year cycle begins; 51st year is first year of a new seven year cycle. See Jewish Encyclopedia, Article, "Sabbatical Year and Jubilee."
Day of Atonement: Liberty Through Fasting
After Jesus Christ returns as a conquering king, there are events that must occur before the Kingdom of God can be set up. God must perform some unfinished business.
The tenth day of the seventh month is the fifth of God's seven annual Festivals, the Day of Atonement. This festival must be fulfilled before the Millennium can commence. What does this day of fasting have to do with the Fall Harvest?
The Day of Atonement also has a trumpet associated with it. This trumpet is sounded on the tenth day of the seventh month in the year of Jubilee: "Then shalt thou cause the TRUMPET of the JUBILEE to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the Day of Atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all the land," Leviticus 25:9.
Liberty For Israel
The epic up-coming Jubilee will probably represent the regathering of modern Israel from the various places on earth where they are imprisoned or in hiding, after being taken into captivity, either just before or during the Great Tribulation. After years of horror, Israel will again be free! What a wonderful occurrence that will be.
"Ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and PROCLAIM LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family," Leviticus 25:10.
First Goat: The Lord
Leviticus 16 is the Day of Atonement chapter. Here we find the High Priest going into the Holy of Holies before the Mercy Seat for a once a year special sin offering, Leviticus 16:2-3.
Then two goats are chosen and lots cast to determine which one of the goats will be representative of the Lord (type of Christ). This goat is to be offered as a sin offering, slaughtered as was Christ, with the blood brought inside the veil of the most holy place and sprinkled on the mercy seat, Leviticus 16:7-9, 15.
Second Goat: Azazel
What about the second goat, the one called "Azazel" which is translated "scapegoat" in the King James Version? This goat is not to be killed, but rather is presented alive to the Lord, later to be released into the wilderness. This in turn leads to other possible translations for azazel: "escape goat," "removed," "separated," Leviticus 16:8, 10.
But, there is controversy about this goat. There are two widely different views, each of which seems to have support from the Bible.
View 1: The "scapegoat" represents Satan the Devil who will have the sins of all mankind placed on him since he is the author and father of sin. He is then sent by an angel into the wilderness forever, Leviticus 16:20-22.
View 2: The "azazel" goat represents another aspect of Jesus Christ, the one who had all the sins of mankind placed on Him; He had to die in order to pay the penalty of sin. Christ carries our sins -- not the Devil.
A third view says that the first goat represents Christians faithful to their calling even unto death. The second goat is symbolic of Christians who left their calling and had to go through the Great Tribulation.
Jesus Christ died for our sins, and all our sins were borne by Him. This is the likely meaning of the two goats: two aspects of Christ. Although it might be poetic justice to place all sins on Satan's head, the fact is that it is Christ who will bring reconciliation with our heavenly Father.
"The goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat [azazel], shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an ATONEMENT . . ." Leviticus 16:10. It is Christ that makes atonement with God.
The Day of Atonement is the only festival of God which requires fasting by those observing it. No work including preparation of food is allowed on this day, Leviticus 23:27-28.
Why is there no work? "Ye shall do NO WORK in that same day: for IT IS A DAY OF ATONEMENT, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God," Leviticus 23:28. One of the best ways to get close to God is to "afflict your soul," Leviticus 23:27, which means to fast. David said, "I humbled [margin: afflicted] my soul with fasting" Psalm 35:13.
Fasting on a regular basis is an excellent way to tame your human nature and get close to God in prayer and study. It is only once a year that God names the specific day for you to fast (other fast days are on an individual choice basis). And this is so you can be more at one with Him.
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