The blood of the bullock and goat that the high priest carried once a year within the sacred veil was offered for himself, the whole priesthood, and for the errors of the people.
The whole exhaustive process of laying ‘all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins’ meant that the law made nothing perfect in itself, but was the symbol of the bringing in of a better hope for mankind.
By the great mercy of God, guilt and sin were removed from the people and taken away from them. This was only a temporary fix, though, until Jesus came to blot sin out entirely with His own Precious Blood. The provision which the Israelites had was only preparatory and temporary.
After Jesus’ reformation, there could be real and true forgiveness of sins, and with it the spirit of adoption that could only be obtained after His death. So it was very true when the Bible said that all the great “fathers” of the Israelites ‘received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.’
It was totally impossible that the goat that was let go into the wilderness each year could totally blot out the people’s sins. They were just removed from them until the next year. God Himself is the only one who can totally remove sins.
The Term ‘La-Azazel’
The interpretation of this word makes it a designation of the goat itself, and that which would refer it to a certain locality in the wilderness. It was supposed to be let go at a place that was totally uninhabitable by any man.
It seems that the practice of pushing the goat over a rocky precipice was a later innovation of the Israelites, and was in no wise sanctioned by the law of Moses. It was not even introduced at the time the Septuagint translation was made.
The law of Moses simply said that when the goat arrived in ‘the land not inhabited,’ it was to just be let go free. It might be that the Jewish ordinance of having it pushed over the rocks is characteristic the Rabbinical perversion of how the pure things that God had set forth had gone so downhill over the years.
The Carcasses Burnt Outside the City
While the scape-goat was being led into the wilderness, the high-priest started cutting up the bullock and the goat with whose blood he had previously ‘made atonement’ for the people with. He put the ‘inwards’ into a vessel and gave it to attendant. The carcasses were sent outside of the city to be burned in the same place where the Temple ashes were usually deposited.
According to tradition, the high-priest then went into the Court of the Women while he was still wearing his linen garments. He read the passages of Scripture that were set aside for the Day of Atonement. He also repeated by heart Numbers 29: 7-11.
A series of prayers accompanied the reading of the Scriptures. ‘Praise be to Thee, O Lord, Who in Thy mercy forgivest the sins of Thy people Israel;’
prayer for the permanence of the Temple, and that the Divine Majesty might shine in it, closing with: ‘Praise be to Thee, O Lord, Who inhabitest Zion;
prayer for the establishment and safety of Israel, and the continuance of a king among them, closing with: ‘Thanks be to Thee, O Lord, Who hast chosen Israel;’
prayer for the priesthood, that all their doings, but especially their sacred services, might be acceptable unto God, and He be gracious unto them, closing with: ‘Thanks be to Thee, O Lord, Who hast sanctified the priesthood;’
and finally (in the language of Maimonides), prayers, entreaties, hymns, and petitions of the high-priest’s own, closing with the words: ‘Give help, O Lord, to Thy people Israel, for Thy people needeth help; thanks be unto Thee, O Lord, Who hearest prayer.’
The High Priest in Golden Garments
After the prayers had ended, the high-priest washed his hands and feet, pulled off his linen garments, and then put on his ‘golden vestments.’ He once more washed his hands and feet before proceeding to the next part of the ceremony.
He now appeared again before the people as God’s anointed in all the ‘golden vestments.’ Before he offered the festive burnt-offerings of the day, he sacrificed a kid goat for a sin-offering. Just like everything else, the festive burnt-offerings probably required atoning blood for their acceptance. The flesh of this sin-offering was eaten at night by the priests within the sanctuary.
Next, he sacrificed the burnt-offerings for the people and himself, and finally burned the innards of the expiatory offerings. Their blood had already been sprinkled in the Most Holy Place.
All this finished the services of the day. The high-priest had yet, though, to offer the ordinary evening sacrifice. After it, he washed his hands and his feet, pulled off his ‘golden vestments’ and put back on his linen garments. With this, he had to was his hands and feet yet again.
Now he entered into the Most Holy Place a fourth time to fetch from it the censer and incense-dish which he had left there. When he came out, he had to once more wash his hand and feet, and pull off his linen garments, which would never be used again. He put back on his golden vestments, washed his hands and feet, burned the evening incense on the golden altar, lit the lamps on the candlestick for the night, washed his hands and feet, put on his ordinary layman’s dress, and was escorted by the people in procession to his own house in Jerusalem. The evening closed with a feast.