In Leviticus 16, the requirements of the Day of Atonement are outlined. In the Old Testament Student Manual, the significance of this important day is explained:
"The Day of Atonement, which took place in the fall of the year, was the most sacred and solemn of all the Israelite festivals. In it we most clearly see the typology or symbolism of Christ's work for Israel. It was a national day of fasting and one that signified that the sins of Israel had been atoned for and that the nation and its people were restored to a state of fellowship with God."The manual outlines the following major items of the Day of Atonement.
- The high priest had to go through meticulous preparation to be worthy to act as the officiator for the rest of the house of Israel.
- The high priest put off the official robes he normally wore and clothed himself in simple, white linen garments.
- Two goats were chosen by lot for sacrifices. One, designated as the goat of the Lord, was offered as a sin offering.
The other goat, designated as the scapegoat, or in Hebrew, the goat of Azazel, was brought before the high priest, who laid his hands upon its head and symbolically transferred all of the sins of Israel to it. Then it was taken out into the wilderness and released where it would never be seen again.
"The day of atonement (Yom Kippur) is still observed by Jews throughout the world, although animal sacrifice has not been part of the observance since the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70," explained Daniel H. Ludlow in A Companion to Your Study of the Old Testament.
"The Lord indicated that the Day of Atonement should be
in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month' according to the calendar then in use. Changes in the Jewish calendar have placed Yom Kippur near Rosh Hashanah (literallyhead of the year') or New Year's Day, which usually occurs in September or October."