Leviticus 16:20
When Aaron has finished purifying the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting, and the altar, he is to bring forward the live goat.
The Climax of Sacrificial Worship: the Day of AtonementR.M. Edgar Leviticus 16:1-34
The Great Day of AtonementR.A. Redford Leviticus 16:1-34
A Proffered SubstituteW. Thompson.Leviticus 16:3-34
Christ Typified by the Two GoatsJ. Burns, D. D.Leviticus 16:3-34
Christian's Confession of SinSpurgeon, Charles HaddonLeviticus 16:3-34
Christ's Anesthesia for the Remembrance of SinLeviticus 16:3-34
Hindrances to Repentance RemovedJ. Spencer.Leviticus 16:3-34
Intercession of ChristS. Thodey.Leviticus 16:3-34
LessonsA. Willet, D. D.Leviticus 16:3-34
Moral ObservationsA. Willet, D. D.Leviticus 16:3-34
Moses and Christ; the Day of AtonementW. Clarkson, B. A.Leviticus 16:3-34
Need for the Great AtonementJ. Hamilton, D. D.Leviticus 16:3-34
Sinners Always Ready to Conceal Their SinT. Adams.Leviticus 16:3-34
Spiritual Significance of the Ceremonies on the Day of AtonementT. M. Morris.Leviticus 16:3-34
The Annual AtonementSpurgeon, Charles HaddonLeviticus 16:3-34
The Ceremonies of the Day of AtonementF. E. Clark.Leviticus 16:3-34
The Climax of Sacrificial WorshipR. M.,Edgar, M. A.Leviticus 16:3-34
The Day of AtonementSpurgeon, Charles HaddonLeviticus 16:3-34
The Day of AtonementD. O. Mears.Leviticus 16:3-34
The Day of AtonementD. C. Hughes, M. A.Leviticus 16:3-34
The Day of AtonementH. Melvill, B. D.Leviticus 16:3-34
The Day of AtonementJ. A. Seiss, D. D.Leviticus 16:3-34
The Garments of the PriestF. E. Clark.Leviticus 16:3-34
The Two GoatsF. E. Clark.Leviticus 16:3-34
The Two Goats -- Various InterpretationsJ. Cumming, D. D.Leviticus 16:3-34
There Shalt be no Man in the TabernacleH. C. Trumbull.Leviticus 16:3-34
True RepentanceH. W. Beecher.Leviticus 16:3-34
Trusting in the SubstituteLeviticus 16:3-34
Value of RepentanceJ. Spencer.Leviticus 16:3-34
The Sacrifices of the Day of AtonementJ.A. Macdonald Leviticus 16:5-28
Type and Antitype - the OfferingW. Clarkson Leviticus 16:7-10, 15, 21, 22
And the Goat Shall Bear Upon Him All Their Iniquities unto a Land not InhabitedH. G. Trurnbull.Leviticus 16:20-22
Heathen Imitations of the ScapegoatBp. Babington.Leviticus 16:20-22
Man's Need of a ScapegoatT. M. Morris.Leviticus 16:20-22
The ScapegoatJ. Burns, D. D.Leviticus 16:20-22
The ScapegoatJ. C. Gray.Leviticus 16:20-22
The ScapegoatHomilistLeviticus 16:20-22
The Scapegoat a Type of ChristC. Bradley, M. A.Leviticus 16:20-22
The Solitary Sin-BearerW. Hay Aitken, M. A.Leviticus 16:20-22
The most striking feature of the whole service on the great Day of Atonement was the action of the high priest in regard to the two goats brought to the tabernacle door (verse 7). They clearly point to that "Lamb of God" who came to "take away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). That there were two goats rather than one presents no difficulty at all; there might well have been more than one to typify the Sacrifice which they foreshadowed. We learn -

I. THAT GOD ADMITS VICARIOUS SUFFERING INTO HIS RIGHTEOUS REALM. The innocent goat would shed its blood, would pour out its life, that the guilty human souls might not die, but live. It was a Divine appointment, and shows clearly that the propitiatory element was allowed by the Holy One of Israel. The vicarious principle has a large place in the kingdom of God on earth. Involuntarily and also voluntarily we suffer for others and others for us. Man bears the penal consequences of his brother's sin. He does so when he cannot avoid so doing; and he does so frequently with his own full consent; indeed, by going far out of his way on purpose to bear it. Vicarious suffering runs through the whole human economy. But there is only One who could possibly take on himself the penalty of the world's sin - only One on whom could possibly be "laid the iniquity of us all." That one is the spotless "Lamb of God," that Son of God who became sin for man; he, "for the suffering of death was made a little lower than the angels," and took on him a mortal form. "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows;... he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities," etc. (Isaiah 53:4, 5; 1 Peter 2:24).

II. THAT THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST AVAILS TO REMOVE COMPLETELY ALL CONDEMNATION. When the children of Israel saw the live goat, over whose head their sins had been confessed, being led away into the waste wilderness where it would never more be seen (verse 22), they had a very vivid assurance made through their senses to their soul that "their transgressions were forgiven, and their sins covered." No such dramatic assurance have we now, but we may have the utmost confidence that our sins are forgiven us "for his Name's sake;" that "there is no condemnation to us who are in Christ Jesus," to us "who have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins" (Acts 13:39; Romans 5:9). Trusting in the slain Lamb of God, we may see, by the eye of faith, all our guilt and all our condemnation borne away into the land of forgetfulness, where God will remember it no more for ever.

III. THAT NO SACRIFICE WILL AVAIL ANYTHING WITHOUT ACTIVE PARTICIPATION ON OUR PART. Useless and unavailing altogether the slaying of the one goat and the sending away of the other without the act of confession and the imposition of hands by the high priest (verse 21); this part of the solemn ceremonial was essential; apart from that everything would have been vain. And without our personal spiritual participation the sacrifice of the Lamb of God will be all in vain.

1. There must be the confession of our sin; a confession of sin which springs from contrition for sin, and is attended by a determination to put all sin away (repentance).

2. Faith in the Divine Redeemer. "Our faith must lay its hand on that dear head of his."

3. And this must be the action of our own individual soul. Whatever guidance and encouragement we may gain from the ministers of Christ, we ourselves must repent and believe. - C.

The goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities.

1. Appointed by God. Therefore an atonement fully equal to our guilt; a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice; an oblation which satisfies the unbending law and even the infinitely holy mind of the great Jehovah, which leaves justice nothing to ask for, and the redeemed sinner nothing to dread.

2. The efficacy of the sacrifice enjoined in it must be traced to the Divine appointment.

II. THE CONDUCT WHICH AARON WAS COMMANDED TO OBSERVE WITH RESPECT TO IT. The mere appointment of these two animals as a sin-offering was not sufficient to atone for the transgressions of the Israelites: the one must be slain, and the other must be presented before the Lord and have particular ceremony performed over it, before Israel can be pardoned.

1. A part of this ceremony consisted in the confession of guilt. We are called on to be very earnest in our efforts to become acquainted with the full extent of our depravity; to be often looking into our hearts and reviewing our lives, and to be particular and minute in acknowledging the sins which we discover there.

2. It tells us that the high priest, slier having confessed over the goat the sins of the people, was to transfer them to the victim before him; he was to put them on its head, thus intimating that their guilt no longer rested on them but on the devoted animal on which his hands were laid. The spiritual meaning of this part of the ceremony is plain. It was designed to teach us figuratively the same blessed truth which has now been revealed to us without a figure, and which constitutes the substance and glory of the gospel, that "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us"; that, "He bare our sins in His own body on the tree"; that the Lord hath laid on Him "the iniquities of us all."

III. THE BENEFITS WHICH RESULTED FROM AARON'S OBEDIENCE TO THE INJUNCTIONS GIVEN HIM. After the appointed confession had been made over it, and the sins of the people put upon its head, the goat was to be sent away into an uninhabited wilderness.

1. This was undoubtedly designed to show us the completeness of that pardon of sin which Christ has purchased by the sacrifice of Himself for the believing sinner. It is a pardon extending, not to a few iniquities, but to all.

2. But the pardon the believing penitent receives through Christ is an everlasting, as well as a complete pardon. This is strongly implied in the text. The goat was not only to bear away all the iniquities of the children of Israel, but it was to bear them away into "a wilderness," into "a land not inhabited"; a land cut off from all other countries; a desolate, unvisited, and almost inaccessible region, in which the devoted animal was to be let go, and where it would remain unseen and forgotten till it perished. The Israelites therefore had .not only the assurance that all their past iniquities were pardoned, but they were taught also by this ordinance that they had no reason to fear the return of them, or the revoking of this pardon.

(C. Bradley, M. A.)




1. Iniquities. Some say these refer to our original depravity.

2. Transgressions. The violations of the positive laws of God.

3. Sins. Neglect of His holy commands. Perhaps they are used to denote that the scapegoat bore away sins of every kind and description.



1. Faith is requisite.

2. Sins confessed and repented of.Application:

1. Man's criminal and dangerous condition. Laden with iniquities and sins.

2. The only way of avoiding the terrible results of transgression. "By Jesus Christ."

3. The only means by which the blessings of salvation are to be received. By true repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

4. Let all men thus avail themselves of the redemption that is in Christ.

(J. Burns, D. D.)


1. Innocent. Had no sins of its own to bear. Thus Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:24). With sins of its own how could it atone for the sins of others? No man selected who might ceremonially bear the sins of the people away, and then return after being ceremonially purified.

2. Divinely selected. Chosen by lot. "The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." Jesus was the Lamb of God. The lamb of Divine selection. Hence how great should be our confidence in this Saviour!

3. Representative. Goat generally regarded as representing evil propensities, and therefore as specially illustrating the wicked (Matthew 25:32-46). So Jesus took our nature. Likeness of men and of sinful flesh (Philippians 2:7; Romans 8:3).


1. Of all the people, and all their iniquities. Vast number, variety, &c., of their sins. Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all. Died for our sins.

2. Transferred from the people by the will of God. By the grace of God Jesus tasted death for us. Our sins laid upon Him according to the mercy of God.

3. Transferred by the priest with confession. They were to be acknowledged as the people's sins. Confession of sin a condition of our acceptance. Not that God does not know, but that the act of confession brings our guilt home more to our own heart, and tends to promote humility and an earnest desire for mercy. Besides, God has willed it (chap. Leviticus 5:5; Hosea 5:15), and added promises of mercy to such as obey (Leviticus 26:40-42; Proverbs 28:13). And pardon follows (Psalm 32:5; 1 John 1:9).

4. Bearing this burden, the goat was then lead away into the wilderness. Away from the camp, whither it might never return to defile it. The iniquity to be clean gone for ever. The people not to be punished for the sins thus "removed far" from them. Christ bore our reproaches, and was crucified outside the camp.


1. Deliverance from sin the greatest deliverance. Other deliverances being temporal, but this eternal; others bodily, &c., this spiritual.

2. It would promote happiness. They felt that a great load had been removed. Rejoiced in spiritual liberty. The joy of imputed innocence. Now looked upon with favour, their sins being borne away. "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us."

3. It would excite gratitude. Otherwise they would have had to answer for their sins. Apply this to Jesus, and those who are saved from wrath through Him.Learn —

1. Christ Jesus was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.

2. He made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made, &c.

3. The duty of confession and personal faith.

(J. C. Gray.)


1. The moral struggles of mankind show the necessity of man being separated from his sins.

2. The influence of sin on human nature shows this. It has mortalised our bodies, clouded our intellects, polluted our affections, burdened our consciences, enfeebled and enslaved our powers.

3. The intervention of Christ shows this.


1. Sin deserves death.

2. Through the death of another, the sinner's death may be avoided.



As soon as man sins, and his conscience becomes at all alive to the fact, and troublesome on account of it, he begins at once to look around for some "scapegoat." The sinner always feels, after the first flush and excitement of sin have passed away, and the fire of its passion has died out, that it would be an exceedingly desirable thing to put the guilt, burden, and consequences of sin as completely away from himself as possible. Now that the fleeting pleasure of sin has been extracted and only the bitter dregs remain, the sinner would willingly and by any means get quit of them, and so he casts around a glance of inquiry, hoping to discover some "scapegoat" with whom he may share the blame of sin, or upon whom he may put it altogether. The first sinners, in this matter, set an example which all sinners from that time to this have diligently copied. Adam shabbily put the blame upon his wife, and Eve foolishly put the blame upon the serpent, and both impiously sought to put the blame upon God. Do we not in the offering of these vain excuses see our first parents looking about for a "scapegoat," who shall at least share the burden of their recently contracted and still unacknowledged and unabsolved guilt? And thus has it been with all sinners from that time to this. Still do we find men seeking to explain the fact of sin, and to excuse the guilt of sin, by referring to something outside of themselves. A man, for instance, commits some sin: his conscience calls him to some kind of reckoning. And what, under such circumstances, does he do? He does not, it is to be feared, cry out in penitence before God, "Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight," but instead of this he looks about for some "scapegoat." His conscience charges him with having told a lie. Well, if it were a lie, it was a very white one; it was certainly told with the very best of intentions; it was to obviate some very unpleasant consequences which would have injuriously affected not only himself but others. A man gets drunk. He cannot but admit that he was "overtaken," or "overcome," but he would like all his friends to know that the circumstances were very peculiar, indeed, quite exceptional; it was the excitement of the company which led him on, and not the love of the drink. Another man takes some unfair advantage of his neighbour: Well, he dares to say that his neighbours have often taken advantage of him. He swears: 'Tis an old habit into which he unconsciously lapses. He indulges in ungovernable outbursts of anger: Well, he always had a hasty temper, and no one could know how much he had to annoy and provoke him. You remind a man that he is very seldom found in God's house on the Lord's day, and might be very often met in the fields, or on the river or rail: He knows it isn't altogether the right sort of thing to do; he certainly was brought up differently at home and at school; but then he is so pent up during the week that he wants a little fresh air on Sunday. You expostulate with another who, while rarely or never running into any actual excess, spends a great deal too much time and money in the public-house. He excuses himself by reminding you that persons in his station have not the same comforts at home which those have who live in larger houses and on larger incomes; and that those who expostulate or condemn would moderate their complaints if they knew more about the matter. And thus, but that time would fail us, I might go through a much longer catalogue, and show you how in every case men, as soon as their conscience becomes troublesome, look about instinctively for some scapegoat. They endeavour to discover something in their character, their temperament, their circumstances, their education, their companionship, their occupation — something, in short, outside of themselves, which shall bear in some degree the blame and guilt of sin, which all the while they are indulging and cherishing. All such attempts are vain. All such excuses empty and unavailing. These scapegoats break down under the burden imposed upon them, and have no power to carry the guilt, the bitterness, the clinging memory of one single sin into the wilderness of oblivion. It is my pleasing task to direct your attention to the true Scapegoat: the provision which God Himself has made for separating the sinner from his sins, and from all their terrible consequences, finally and for ever. A provision which in its Divine fulness is sufficient to meet, and more than meet, all the exigences of our sinful nature.

(T. M. Morris.)

From this law of God, no doubt, did spring that custom among the heathen who, offering sacrifices, used to ban and curse the head of the beast offered in sacrifice with these words, "That if any evil be so come, either upon the sacrificers themselves, or upon the whole country of Egypt, it would please the gods to turn all upon that head." The Massilians also yearly used to make an atonement or expiation for their city with some holy man, whom, decked and set out with holy garments and with garlands, after the manner of a sacrifice, they led through the city, and putting all the evils upon his head that might anyway hang over their city, they cast him into the sea, sacrificing of him so unto Neptune, speaking these words with great solemnity, "Sis pro nobis piaculum" ("Be thou an expiation for us"). Thus the heathen caught at things, but not in a right manner, whereby we may well see what a darkness it is to be deprived of the light of the Word of God. In like manner receiving it from the doctrine of the old Fathers, by the tradition of Noah's sons, that there should in time come a Man who, taking upon Him the sins of all men, should become a sacrifice for the salvation of all men; and notwithstanding the manner how this should be, they used in great extremities and perils — as plagues, famine, wars, &c. — to offer up men to their gods to appease their wrath thereby. So in Livy we read Quintus Curtius did in a time of pestilence; the Decii, father and son, in a time of hard war with the Latines and Samnites; Codrus, king of the Athenians, in Lycurgus; Menceceus in Euripides, and the daughters of Erecteus offered themselves to be sacrificed for their country. So Ahaz (2 Kings 16.); Manasseh (chap. 2 Kings 21.), and the King of Moab (chap. 2 Kings 3.), their own sons. This was a great mistaking you plainly see, and therefore let it move you to send up thankful thoughts to God for your better knowledge and understanding.

(Bp. Babington.)

The solitude of the sin-bearer is something altogether distinct from the solitude of the Holy One. The solitude of holiness separated Him from sinners; but that separation, which made Him lead in His humanity a strange, lonesome life, yet brought Him into such full contact with all the glorious beings and the realities of the spirit-world, that such a solitude could hardly be looked upon with any considerable regret, or be the source of actual pain. The solitude of the sin-bearer is different from that of the representative of holiness and purity. Consider the causes of this solitude.

1. Wherever sin exists it is an isolating principle. Its tendency is to induce seclusion and separation, to shut the person who is possessed of it from all connection with that which is outside itself.

2. The scapegoat was to bear upon its head all the confessed iniquity of the children of Israel, and to bear it into a land of separation. Christ was the Scapegoat of the human family. In the Epistle to the Hebrews we read that He, by the Eternal Spirit, offered Himself to God. The scapegoat finds the land of separation at last, all alone in the darkness. He bore our sins into the land not inhabited. No witnessing spirit can find them there; no denizen of those dreary regions can rediscover them. They are lost sight of by man; the angels find them obliterated from their view; and God Himself has turned His back upon them, and left them in the land of separation.

(W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)

When confessed sins are fairly laid upon Him who is appointed to bear them, they will never come back to those who confessed them. He will carry them "unto a land not inhabited" — a land where there are no talebearers or gossips to keep the story of those sins alive. Forgiven sins will be also forgotten sins: in the day of final account, not one of them will appear against the transgressor. Sins which are not laid upon the Scapegoat must be faced by the sinner in the presence of the universe. Sins which the Scapegoat has borne away into the land not inhabited cannot then be found in all the universe. God Himself will have forgotten them: for His promise is that those sins and those iniquities He will remember no more for ever,

(H. G. Trurnbull.).

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