The Seven Feasts of Jehovah: Day of Atonement

The Sixth Feast: Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)[1]
March/April May/June July Aug Sept/Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb
Early rain The long hot Summer Late rain        
Nisan Iyar Sivan Tamuz Ab Elul Tishrei Marches-van Kislev Tevet Shebat Adar
Abib Ziv Sivan Tammuz Av Elul Ethanim Bul Kislev Tebeth Shevat Adar
Passover (14)
Unleavened Bread (15-21)*
Firstfruits (16)
  Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) (6)*       Trumpets (Jewish New Year) (1)
Day of Atonement (10)
Tabernacles (15-21)*
*All men had to attend in Jerusalem (Deut 16:16, Ex 23:14)
Some alternative names/spellings for the months of the Hebrew calendar


Key Bible Passages

This Feast cannot be understood without reading Hebrews chapters 9 and 10 at least.

Leviticus 16 (verses 3-10 is an outline, the rest of the chapter gives specific details), 2326-32 (gives the importance and solemnity of the day), Numbers 297-11 (the general offerings of the day).

Leviticus 1711 the importance of blood (Also Genesis 94, Deuteronomy 1223), and figuratively John 653 etc. See also 2 Corinthians 18-11, Zechariah 1210-15, 13, 15 etc.

Relation to other feasts

This feast follows the Feast of Trumpets and is the second in the three of the "early rains", i.e. autumn (fall). It is the most solemn of the Feasts and traditionally was a fast, noting that the Lamb is the important element at Passover but blood is the important element at the Day of Atonement, also called "Yom Kippur". It was held on the 10th day of the seventh month, observed from the evening of the 9th day (Lev 2332).


Atonement means covering, and was the day the sins of the nation were covered, or atoned.

It deals with uncleanness (Leviticus 16 verses 16, 19), and is a day of confession.

It was (past tense, as Jesus Christ fulfils this feast) the means by which sin, especially sin of the conscious is dealt with. It portrays the futility of man and the perfection of Jesus who obtained eternal redemption (Heb 912) and cleansed our conscience from dead works (Heb 914), having sprinkled blood (Heb1224 etc) once for all.

Once a year Jehovah would "appear" in the cloud on the mercy seat (Lev 162).

"But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance made of sins every year" (Heb 103).

A slightest violation of the law, the people would be cut off, and more so on this day - it was a day of confession for 24 hours (Lev 2322).

Key Elements (See Leviticus 16, 23)

The tenet that the wages of sin is death underscored all these activities (Romans 623) - sin has to be dealt with by the shedding of blood (see also Gen 49, Lev 1711).

A holy convocation, a day of rest (commanded three times).

Performed in the 10th day of the 7th month (which prior to the exodus was the first month).

All men required to report to Jerusalem.

Souls had to be afflicted (Lev 2327, 29) - i.e. a solemn occasion - sin confessed over 24 hours.

The offerings (3 kinds) - See Leviticus 16

The usual daily and evening sacrifices, with meat and drink offerings.

The festive sacrifices:

For the high-priest and priesthood: a ram for a burnt offering

For the people: a young bullock, a ram, seven lambs of the first year as burnt-sacrifice (with their meat offerings), and a kid goat for a sin-offering.

The expiatory sacrifices of the day - for atonement:

A young bullock as a sin-offering for the high priest, his house and the sons of Aaron (purchased out of his own money).

Another sin-offering for the people:

One goat whose blood is sprinkled

One goat that was sent into the wilderness, bearing "all the iniquities of the children of Israel.."

Put another way, two sets of sacrifices (except the usual morning and evening sacrifices) were made:

One for the while priestly family (speaks of the church) with the bullock and ram,

One for the nation (speaks of an earthly people), two kid goats, separated by lot, one for Jehovah, and the other a scapegoat (Azazel).

With the morning and evening sacrifices a total of 15 animals were sacrificed

500 priests were employed, but unlike other days, during the atonement offerings the high-priest alone stood in the temple.

The importance here is the blood rather than the lamb, which has prominence in the Passover.

Aaron (or high priest) offers young bullock for a sin offering (man's need) and a ram for a burnt offering (God's glory) (163). The blood is sprinkled on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat seven times. The blood makes the atonement (covering).

High priest prepared:

Began preparation a week before: tradition has it he was sprinkled twice with the ashes of a red heifer during the week in case he defiled himself with a dead body, which was not hard to do in the temple, which sacrificed animals twice daily at least. (See Numbers 191-10, 13).

Bathing was a necessary part of the ritual - in all he bathed fully five times and washed his hands and feet ten times.

A plain linen tunic, rather than priestly garment (164), was worn. His own sin had to be place into perspective and therefore could show no glory in himself - hence the plain tunic. However, usual activities were carried out while wearing the high priest's garment - golden vestments.

Required to purchase and offer a bull as a sin offering - for himself and his house (166,24).

The holy place inside the veil i.e. most Holy place (162,12,15)[2] is entered

The holy place is mentioned at verses 2, 3, 16, 17, 20, 23, 24 & 27, and veil (or curtain) at verses 2, 12 & 15. A description is made in Exodus 26 (e.g. v 31) and Hebrews 91-5. Note the meaning of holiness, as demonstrated in verse 2.

Aaron alone makes the atonement - no man (person) could be within the tabernacle (Lev 1617) - as it depicted Christ alone on the cross for us "all the disciples forsook Him and fled" (Matt 2656).

With the censer full of burning coals of fire and sweet incense, he created a cloud of smoke (Lev 1612) - need to prevent death (162) - then and exits. Sin clearly offends righteousness and excludes glory. The cloud of incense (pleasing to the beholder), from the fire (judgement), covers the mercy seat, in which Jehovah appears. Note the words "he die not" is mentioned at verse 2 and 13: this innate object thence secures the life of Aaron - without it he dies. This speaks of the covering beauty of Christ that God the Father views of us, the perfect work of Christ that glorified the Father.

He then enters the second time and sprinkles the blood of the bull on the mercy seat once and before the mercy seat seven times (Lev 1614), and exits. Blood speaks of life surrendered, hence death. Before the mercy seat, it is towards man, on his behalf and for his satisfaction, repeated seven times. On the gold (once), testifies of God's satisfaction, and on the earth (seven times) testifies of the Christ's obedience unto death (See Phil 2):

"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honour and glory and praise!" (Revelation 512

He then kills the goat, re-enters the veil and sprinkles its blood of one of the goats (chosen by lot) as for the blood of the bull (Lev 1615), and exits.

Mixing the remaining blood of the goat and bull he then sprinkles the horn of the altar of incense (1617-19).

The sprinkling cleansed the sanctuary and all its parts from the defilement of the priesthood and the worshippers (1616). The Most Holy Place, the veil, the Holy Place, the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering were also all cleansed from defilement (1633). The priests and the people, in terms of their relationship to these were atoned for.

Next the conscience needed to be dealt with. Indeed this was the problem with the entire ordinance (Heb 99). This symbolically was performed with the scapegoat.

Heb. 9:13-14 (NKJV) For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Blood of the sin offerings

On the mercy seat (14)

Before the mercy seat (14)

Before the veil (Lev 4: 6,17 i.e. ordinance of sin offering)

On the horns of the golden altar, Ex 1510

On the horns of the brazen altar, (18)

On the brazen altar itself, (19)

The remainder poured out (Lev 4: 7&18)

The Two goats

Two goats are taken as a sin offering. They are presented at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. He then lots were cast - one goat became the Lord's, the other the scapegoat (Azazel). The Lord's goat was offered for a sin offering. The scapegoat was presented live. Symbolically, by placing his hands on the scapegoat and confessing the sins of the people over the goat Aaron passed the sin of the people onto the goat, which was borne away, lead by a fit man (21).

Once completed, his conscience being purged, his guilt being cleared, Aaron puts off his garments, baths and puts on his high priest garments of beauty and splendour.

The trumpet of jubilee was sounded to proclaim their sin had been judged and covered, and then the entire nation told that God's requirements had been fully met, for a year. Compared with Christ atonement, God's requirements were fully met, once for all.

The principal antitypes

Unlike the first 4 feasts, this one is not fulfilled by the Church - it does not need atonement because Christ has paid it all ("it is finished", from the Greek that means teleo: paid in full) (John 1930). It speaks of the coming day when Jews will seek forgiveness, but to Israel it will tell of the bitter sorrow when their eyes will be opened to the fact that their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, has already come to them and they received Him not (In that day there shall be great mourning in Jerusalem. (Zechariah 1210 & Rom 1126).

The Lord's goat speaks of Christ dying for the sin of the word (not any specific sin). That is, the sin that entered the world through Adam and hence "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (John 129). The scapegoat speaks of sin done away with, witnessing the efficacy of the sacrifice - the iniquity of all was laid upon Him; he becoming sin for our sake.

In the death of Christ, spoken of as a shadow here, the sinner obtaining salvation finds that Christ glorified God because he atones for sin. He was made a curse, and so redeemed this world from the curse. He conquered Satan. This act was not the forgiveness of any individual, but the dealing with sin, its guilt and defilement. To effect this, individual needs to confess with his mouth (Rom 109).

Note that Aaron had to deal with his own sin (bullock) before offering the goats (Lev 1611-14), while Christ was sinless, and offered one sacrifice, once for all (Heb 10) and therefore God could say "This is my beloved son in whom I am well please" which could never be said of Aaron.


Atonement is mentioned 49 (7x7) times in the book of Leviticus (i.e. the book of priests) and is a foreshadow of Christ.

Christ fully met the needs of atonement on the cross.

We see the worthiness of the Lord Jesus Christ in this sacrifice.

We see that the guilt of sin is entirely dealt with by Christ.

It is the blood of Christ that ensures salvation of the Church. All rests on the blood He shed at the cross. It is the blood which speaks peace to our heart and to our conscience.

The blood has been sprinkled before God's throne.

The Day of Atonement speaks of rest to Israel when they mourn Him they pieced.


End Notes

Sin entered the world by one man: Romans 5:12

  • Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned

Wages of sin is death: Romans. 6:23 (NKJV)

  • For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Death came by man: 1 Cor. 15:21- 22 (NKJV)

  • For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

Blood is life: Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 17:11 (Also John 6)

  • For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.'

Death will be destroyed 1 Cor. 15:26 (NKJV)

  • The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.

Creation waits for Christ - groaning Romans 8:19-22

  • For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

The Gospel is needed by all creatures Mark 16:15 (NIV)

  • He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation [creatures].

Salvation brings the wolf and the lion together: Isa. 65:25 (NKJV)

  • The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox

The victory: 1 Cor. 15:56 - 58 (NKJV)

  • The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord



[1] These are but very brief notes: other worthy scholars have made available considerable descriptions of these activities. One notable scholar is CHM Mackintosh whose "Notes on the Pentateuch" is a valuable and worthy study.

[2] Note that it is only the New International Version of the Bible that renders this phrase the "Most Holy Place" in Leviticus 16. The better rendition is the "Holy Place (or sanctuary - see verse 33) inside the veil". However, the term is used on Exodus 2634 in the KJV and elsewhere.


David L Simon (October 2005, CCC)
\Seven feasts of Jehovah\The seven feasts of Jehovah - Day of Atonement.doc (Adopted from handout notes)