With a fragrant offering of myrrh, Yeshua made covering between the cherubim/angels, with the cloud of His suffering.
An examination of Leviticus 16
The fast of Yom Kippur, its sacrifices and ancient practices, rooted in the Torah, are filled with Messianic symbolism and hope. An examination of Leviticus 16 will reveal the Messiah in a number of specific ways, it will also reveal some wonderful symbolism related to the deliverance of Israel and her escape from sin through the substitute (goat), sacrificed for the covering and cleansing of the people.
16:1 Now HaShem spoke to Moshe after the death of the two sons of A’haron, when they had approached the presence of HaShem and died.
It’s of great importance that these instructions were given following the tragic deaths of A’haron’s sons. They had attempted to offer secular fire, perhaps from the camp fires of Israel, before the presence of HaShem. The people of Israel were still coming to terms with the Holiness of G-d and the separation of holy and mundane things. Sin and uncleanness of any kind could not stand in the presence of HaShem. This meant that Israel needed to understand her need for covering and cleansing. Without a means of sanctification and purifying covering, no one could approach G-d. The death of the Kohen ha-gadol—high priest’s—sons is a poignant teaching moment for A’haron, Moshe and all of Israel. It’s on this foundation that G-d builds the instruction of covering.
2 HaShem said to Moshe: “Tell your brother A’haron that he shall not enter at just any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark (the mercy seat is the lid space between the cherubim), or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.
The Kohen ha-gadol—high priest—in this case A’haron, was only permitted entry to the holy of hollies inside the veil, once a year. This foreshadows the fact that Messiah would enter into the eternal heavenly holy of hollies once from within time, in order to allow humanity access to eternity, outside of time, through His covering and cleansing, sanctifying blood, we would be allowed the opportunity to be made holy, reconciled to G-d.
The mercy seat is a significant picture of future mercy, it is hallowed between the cherubim—messengers/angels. The reason for the death of the uncovered entrant would be the manifest presence of HaShem in a cloud above the mercy seat, between the cherubim. G-d is light and in Him there is no darkness. (1 John 1:5)
3 A’haron shall enter the holy place with this: with a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.
The bull symbolizes the male head of the herd, this makes covering for the priest. The ram is a symbol of Messiah, also a male head of the herd and a link to the foundational story of ha-akedah—the binding of Isaac.
4 He shall put on the holy linen tunic (linen in its raw state is a pail cream to white colour, this symbolizes purity, as seen throughout scripture), and the linen undergarments shall be next to his body (the private parts must be covered so as not to be exposed to the floor of the sacred place), and he shall be girded with the linen sash and attired with the linen turban (these are holy garments).
The linen garments were a symbol of the purity purchased by the covering sacrifice. Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool. (Isaiah 1:18) Note the turban, a head covering. Its pure foolishness and poor biblical interpretation that causes some Christian denominations to claim that male worshipers should not cover their heads.
Then he shall bathe his body in water and put them on.
The mikvah—full immersion pool—is a mainstay of Jewish practice. Immersion in water carries symbolism for death and resurrection, cleansing and purity. Our—high priest--Yeshua was immersed by Yochanan/John, the rightful high priest of Israel in the first century C.E. Through this immersion we see the unifying of the Davidic and Levitical lines in Messiah Yeshua, Priest and King.
“Yeshua came from Galilee to the Jordan to Yochanan, to be immersed by him. Yochanan would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be immersed by you, and do you come to me?" But Yeshua answered him, ‘Let it be so now, for it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’” (Mattitiyahu/Matthew 3:13-15)
Yeshua is our Kohen ha-gadol—high priest, “being designated by G-d as a kohen ha-gadol according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:10)
The order of Malki Tzedek--My King of Righteousness.
After victory in battle against his enemies our father Abraham was met by the King of Salem (Jerusalem) Malki Tzedek, Priest of El Elyon, that is G-d most High, who had brought matzah and wine as a sacrament for Abraham… (Genesis 14:17-20)
Unlike the priesthood of A’haron, Yeshua’s priesthood is eternal, just as Malki Tzedek is shown without beginning or end, so he stands as a prefigure of Yeshua our Messiah.
5 He shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering. 6 Then Aaron shall offer the bull for the sin offering which is for himself, that he may make covering for himself and for his household.
Note that the two male goats are taken as a singular offering, technically speaking, they should both die as a single sacrifice. They are male goats rather than lambs because a male goat is the leader of the herd and they are intended to make covering for all of Israel, therefore Israel is represented by a leader of the people. The ram, also a male leader of the heard, is linked to the binding of Isaac. The bull, yet another male leader of the herd, acts as a sacrifice for the priesthood.
7 He shall take the two goats and present them before the HaShem at the doorway of the tent of meeting.
Note: the goats are echad—one, a unity. They are a single sacrifice. They are both appointed for death at this point.
8 A’haron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for HaShem and the other lot for Azazel—goat that escapes.
By the hand of HaShem one goat is chosen for blood sacrifice, the other is allowed to escape, hence the combining of the Hebrew words aze—goat, and awzal—escape, which form the name Azazel.
“The lot is cast within the bosom but its entire outcome is with HaShem.” –Mishlei/Proverbs 16:33
HaShem has chosen the goat for blood sacrifice ahead of time.
9 Then A’haron shall offer the goat on which the lot for HaShem fell, and make it a sin offering.
The goat named, “for HaShem,” is the blood sacrifice that covers/cleanses Israel from sin. This can only represent Messiah Yeshua, whose sacrificial death brings not only covering and cleansing but also the complete erasing of sin.
10 But the goat on which the lot for the Azazel—goat that escapes—fell shall be presented alive before HaShem, to make covering upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the, Azazel—goat that escapes.
Note: covering is made upon the second goat, not by it. The first goat makes covering for the second goat. Therefore the second goat cannot represent Messiah. The second goat is allowed to go free because covering has been made for it. Who does the second goat represent?
11 “Then A’haron shall offer the bull of the sin offering which is for himself and make covering for himself and for his household, and he shall slaughter the bull of the sin offering which is for himself.
This sacrifice is not required on behalf of our great Kohen ha-gadol, Yeshua, because He is sinless.
“Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
12 He shall take a fire pan full of coals of fire from upon the altar before HaShem and two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, and bring it inside the veil. 13 He shall put the incense on the fire before HaShem, so that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the ark of the testimony, otherwise he will die.
The incense cloud makes covering for the protection of the priest. Without this covering he would die. In the first century C.E. there was no ark in the Holy of holies, it had not been seen since the diaspora following Solomon’s temple. A singular distinctive feature in the floor of the Holy place would receive the covering, this feature was the capstone of the Temple which stood out approximately 4 inches above the floor in the centre of the Holy place.
Speaking of Yeshua, the psalmist says, “The stone the builders rejected has become the head of the pinnacle.”—Tehilim/Psalm 118:22
The mercy seat upon which Yeshua made His fragrant offering is in the heavens, however at His resurrection He left a representation of it on earth in the Holy place of His tomb.
“Miryam saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Yeshua had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.” –Yochanan/John 20:12
With a fragrant offering of myrrh, Yeshua made covering between the cherubim/angels, with the cloud of His suffering.
14 Moreover, he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; also in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times. 15 “Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. 16 He shall make covering for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities. 17 When he goes in to make covering in the holy place, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out, that he may make covering for himself and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel.
The blood of both the bull and the goat were sprinkled firstly at the front--keh’dem, (not east), and then on the faces--pawneem—top surface, of the mercy seat (The lid space between the cherubim). The blood was sprinkled seven times on the faces--pawneem, of the mercy seat, signifying the sevenfold spirit of HaShem. This denotes intensity, not plurality.
The scripture says that the priest makes covering for the Holy place: this means he is covering the Holy place for his own protection and the protection of Israel. The Holy place needs no covering against the priest.
No one could aid the priest in this function, he must enter alone. Yeshua our high priest did this very thing when He entered alone into death carrying the punishment that was rightfully ours.
18 Then he shall go out to the altar that is before HaShem and make covering for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and of the blood of the goat and put it on the horns of the altar on all sides. 19 With his finger he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it seven times and cleanse it, and from the impurities of the sons of Israel consecrate it.
The horns of the altar, like the ram’s horn, represent strength and anointing. The priest is again, making covering, not for the altar but for himself and the people.
20 “When he finishes the covering for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall approach with the live goat.
Many English versions of the Bible mistranslate the Hebrew ka-rab as, “offers.” This is entirely inaccurate. The goat named for HaShem has been offered, whereas the goat named for escape is approaching.
21 Then A’haron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. 22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.
The laying on of hands signifies an identification with a sacrifice. In this case the priest, representing the people, is identifying the goat as Israel. The former goat (Yeshua) named for HaShem has already been sacrificed in the latter goats place. Therefore the latter goat, identified for Israel, goes free. This goat cannot be the devil, as some foolishly claim, nor can he represent Messiah, Who clearly didn’t go free. The goat that escapes is Israel and in a more universal sense, you and I.
It is interesting to note that tradition holds to a practise of tying a scarlet cloth to the horn of the escaping goat prior to sending it out. It is said that if the sins of Israel were forgiven, the goat would return with the scarlet cloth having turned white. It is also said that this is exactly what happened up until approximately 30 C.E. Following this the goat began to return with the cloth having remained scarlet.
23 “Then A’haron shall come into the tent of meeting and take off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there. 24 He shall bathe his body with water in a holy place and put on his clothes, and come forth and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make covering for himself and for the people. 25 Then he shall offer up in smoke the fat of the sin offering on the altar.26 The one who released the goat as the Azazel—goat that escapes—shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water; then afterward he shall come into the camp. 27 But the bull of the sin offering and the goat of the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make covering in the holy place, shall be taken outside the camp, and they shall burn their hides, their flesh, and their refuse in the fire. 28 Then the one who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water, then afterward he shall come into the camp.
The hide, flesh and refuse of the goat named for HaShem is taken outside the camp, this correlates to the death of Messiah taking place outside of Jerusalem at Golgotha.
29 “This shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you;
This is called a permanent statute because, “the life is in the blood,” there is no other way to atone for sin. We understand that this convocation has been made truly permanent/eternal through the sacrifice of Yeshua.
“Humble/afflict your souls,” is a euphemism for fasting. Both the native Israelite and the foreigner living among them were required by HaShem to keep this day holy according to these instructions.
30 for it is on this day that covering shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before HaShem.
This day was to be for both covering and cleansing. Yeshua did more than just cover sin, He cleansed it and erased it for all who would receive the gift of G-d. This day is for the sake of Israel and those that dwell with her as aliens living in her midst.
31 It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute. 32 So the priest who is anointed and ordained to serve as priest in his father’s place shall make covering: he shall thus put on the linen garments, the holy garments,33 and make covering for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make covering for the tent of meeting and for the altar. He shall also make covering for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 Now you shall have this as a permanent statute, to make covering for the sons of Israel for all their sins once every year.” And just as HaShem had commanded Moshe, so he did.
It was the rightful Kohen ha-gadol of Yeshua’s day, Yochanan/John, who immersed Yeshua, identifying with Him and recognising in Him the heavenly role of covering and cleansing that Yeshua would perform. Yeshua, our Kohen ha-gadol, has offered Himself once for all, so that salvation could come, first for the Jews and also for the nations.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,