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YOM KIPPUR – DAY OF ATONEMENT by Beth Piepenburg

Moedim pic

The seventh moedim in the Torah is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The Feast of Trumpets announced in the beginning of the seventh month called Shebiy’iy, the coming of Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles. Celebrated on the tenth day of the seventh month, Yom Kippur was dedicated to afflicting one’s soul, confession, and prayer in the form of personal and national repentance. Although repentance played an important part of this special day, the main leitmotif of Yom Kippur was the atonement for the Tabernacle, in which a goat, gedi, was sacrificed for this purpose.

Yom Kippur was instituted after the two sons of Aaron had offered unconsecrated fire before the Lord, resulting in their deaths (Lev. 10). Chiastically structured like a dance movement, Leviticus 16 is choreographed so the central point of Leviticus 16 gives the purpose of the atonement, which is to atone for the Holy Sanctuary because of the sins of the Israelites.  Not only is the theme of Leviticus 16:16 depicted in literary style as the chiastic central point for the whole chapter, but the high priest physically entered the Holy of Holies, the central part of the Tabernacle, to make a yearly atonement.

Gedi – Capricornus
Yom Kippur

Because the heavens declare the glory of God and his righteousness, the central theme of Yom Kippur is about the atonement of the Holy Sanctuary by the atoning goat, which is offered as a sacrifice and is depicted in the heavens. WOW! Since the Israelites began the Chodesh, the new month, when the first sliver of the new moon was first sighted, then in the seventh month the evening when the ninth day ended and the tenth day began would inaugurate the Day of Atonement known as Yom Kippur.  What is amazing is the moon will be situated around the constellation of Capricornus on the tenth day of the seventh month. Wow! Capricornus is the constellation of the dying goat, and Gedi is the name of the the Hebrew constellation. In its announcement of Yom Kippur, the heavens display the moon in the constellation of the Gedi (Capricornus).

sackcloth and ashes 3Concerning repentance, Yom Kippur was a day of confession, of affliction of the soul, and of prayer. Crying, wearing sackcloth and ashes, and fasting were ways to afflict one’s soul. (Lev. 23:26-32 [1]; Num. 29:7-11 [2]) Repentance for personal and national sins were cried aloud in prayer (Est. 9:31, Neh. 9:2, Isa. 58.1). Crying was a form of intense prayer (Ps. 69:9-11, Joel 2:12). Wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes was a sign of mourning (Dan. 9:3-4a, Neh. 9:1-2). Sackcloth was made from black goat hair and would be somewhat coarse to the skin, itchy, smelly, and hot.  Any perspiration or tears mixing with the ashes would form lye, which would irritate the skin. Along with repentance, rest from work was mandatory; if one did not afflict their souls, they were to be cut off from among the people (excommunication, shunning, etc.).

Repentance of the people coalesced with the priest atoning the Tabernacle because of their sins. Afterwards, the people were spiritually prepared to celebrate the soon coming Feast of Tabernacles with purity.

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2013 All rights reserved.


[1] Lev 23:26-32  And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.  And you 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. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that does any work in that same day, the same soul I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a Sabbath of Sabbaths, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, you shall celebrate your Sabbath. (KJV modified)

[2] Num.29:7-11  And you shall have on the tenth day of this seventh month an holy convocation; and you shall afflict your souls: you shall not do any work therein: But you shall offer a burnt offering unto the LORD for a sweet savor; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year; they shall be unto you without blemish: And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals to a bullock, and two tenth deals to one ram, A several tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: One kid of the goats for a sin offering; beside the sin offering of atonement, and the continual burnt offering, and the meat offering of it, and their drink offerings. (KJV modified)