Scapegoat and Goat Sacrifices
Use of goats for sacrifices. The Levitical Code often allowed the Hebrews a choice of a sheep or of a goat for the offering. "If his offering be of the flocks, namely, of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt sacrifice" (Leviticus 1:10). On the Day of Atonement, it was required that a goat be sacrificed by the high priest, and that another goat should be "the scapegoat." "And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness" (Leviticus 16:22). Moses had ordered that the scapegoat should be taken out into the wilderness and turned loose. But in order to prevent its return to Jerusalem, it became customary to lead the creature to the height of a mountain, where it was pushed over and would be certainly killed.
This was the symbol of the forgiveness of sin through the sacrifice of CHRIST. Although John the Baptist spoke of JESUS as the Lamb of GOD, he may have had in mind also the picture of the scapegoat when he said: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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