Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Yom Kippur—Day of Atonement

Daily Readings
Psalm 43, Exodus 35:1-36:1, Leviticus 16, II Timothy 1

Daily Text: Leviticus 16

Yom Kippur—Day of Atonement
Leviticus 16 is the first biblical reference to Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement, the highest and holiest of the Jewish days of religious observance. On this day of fasting and rest, the celebration’s object is that each person be brought into harmony with God and her fellow humans.

The scapegoat of 16:10 was defined in English by William Tyndale, the first great English Bible translator. Tyndale defined a scapegoat as an animal, a person or an object upon which guilt was transferred and then removed (185:860). Today that meaning has been altered to suggest that the scapegoat is responsible for someone else’s misbehavior or misfortune. But originally it included not blame, but transference of publicly acknowledged transgression to the back of another.

This reading suggests the danger to human beings, even the High Priest, to be encountered in the Holy of Holies. In addition to seeing the face of God the High Priest, folklore suggested, would also encounter Satan. Jacob Z. Lauterbach suggested that the smoke of incense was intended to protect the high priest by obscuring the face of God from his gaze and by driving Satan away with the same smoke (Plaut 185:860).

Atonement itself, a unique English word derived from ‘at’ and ‘one’ suggested bringing man and God together in harmony. The Hebrew root, kippurim, meaning ‘to cover up’ suggested that guilt was cancelled or made to be nonexistent. The two meanings achieve the same end. However, the prophets were not satisfied with ritual atonement, but required ‘return’ or teshuvah as well. The English word ‘repentance’ refers to an emotional component whereas teshuvah suggests action. The Day of Atonement in combination with teshuvah continues to provide an atoning, and life changing effect for those who celebrate it.

Yom Kippur
George Alexander Kohut

O Lord of Hosts, Thou Only One,
Art radiant in star and sun,
“Thy Will be done!”

All life is Thine ere life’s begun,
All life is Thine when life is run,
“Thy Will be done!”

The scarlet thread of sin is spun,
Forgive us, Gracious, Holy One,
“Thy Will be done!”

Collect for the Day
God of mercy, deliver those who are weighed down by fear and depression, and give them joy and gladness in your presence. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord. [476:760:43]


Blogger chika said...

ok so are you jewish?
yom kippur/? umm thats in like september......
so i finished readin the thing...obviously yo uarent jewish so why are yo utalking about yom kippur/???

7:40 PM  
Blogger Fr. James said...

I'm a Christian writing about these ancient texts one chapter at a time. At the moment, I am in Leviticus. Read the chapter of Leviticus 16 and the blog will make more sense.

6:33 PM  

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