The Scapegoat, Jesus and Crimson Red

Torah reading from (Leviticus 16:1-34). Every year during the Jewish Yom Kippur (יוֹם כִּפּוּר) and in the morning service (avodah), the traditional reading focuses on the offerings that Aaron will bring before God as atonement. He is to first make expiation for himself and for his household. Only then, an offering for the entire community. Thus, in the day of Atonement, Aaron the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins and putting them on the head of the goat for Azazel “also referred to as the scapegoat” (Lev. 16:20-22). For this was the ritual of bringing two identical goats before the High Priest, in which “One is for the LORD”, the other for “Azazel”. Then he shall send the goat away into the wilderness under the care of someone appointed for the task. The goat shall then later be pushed over the cliff to its death. The scapegoat would represent the carried away sins of the people of Israel into the wilderness, and took on the sins of God’s people and removed them.  

A Mishnah later explains that once the goat died, a crimson thread that was tied to the door of the sanctuary would turn to white color. Affirming to the priest that their sins had been forgiven and that the sacrifice accepted by the Lord. After all, sin was represented by the red color of the cloth, which was tied on the head of the goat (the color of blood).

As a believer in Yeshua (יֵשׁוּעַ), we all know that the “scapegoat” foreshadowed our Messiah who was crucified and died for our sins once and for all. For the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isa.53:6). It was through the laying of Aaron’s hand; the sins of the people were passed on to the offering – the goat. But now Christ became the subject of the offering himself, willfully and in obedience to the voice of the Heavenly Father to take upon Himself the sins of us all. The Prophet Isaiah also made mention of the coming Messiah who would one day remove all our transgression, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool” (Isa.1:18). Only through Him, we are as white as snow and free from all sin. Just as the scapegoat was sent out into the wilderness, Jesus was also being brought outside the city wall to be crucified. “… that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate” (Heb.13:12).

Interestingly in the Babylonian Talmud, it states; “During the forty years prior to the destruction of the second temple, the strip of the crimson wool did not turn white.” We learned that this is one of the four miracles that took place as indicative of the Talmudic evidence of the presence of our risen Messiah. Since the second Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, which was around 40 years after the resurrection of our Yeshua (יֵשׁוּעַ). It is believed that our Messiah had taken the place of the temple sacrifice in which the ritual of animal sacrifice is no longer necessary. Thus explaining why the crimson threat no longer turns white.