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Chapter 4

Regulations concerning the two goats of the Day of Atonement : How they were slaughtered, sent away, etc.

Regulations concerning the two goats of the Day of Atonement : How they were slaughtered, sent away, etc.

MISHNA: He shook the box, and took out two lots. On one is written, "to Jehovah"; on the other is written, "to Azazel." The Segan is at his right, and the head of the family [see above] on his left. If that of Jehovah was taken up by his right hand, the Segan says to him, "My lord the high-priest, raise thy right hand." If that of Jehovah was taken up by his left hand, the head of the family addresses him: "My lord the high-priest, raise thy left hand." He placed them [the lots] on the two he-goats, and uttered: "To Jehovah a sin-offering." R. Ishmael says: It was not necessary for him to say "sin-offering," but "to Jehovah" sufficed. They responded: "Blessed be the name of His kingdom's glory for ever."

GEMARA: Why had he to shake the box? That he should not have intentionally taken that for Jehovah in his right hand (as it was a good omen if he took it up by chance). Rabh said: The box was of wood, and was not sacred, and could contain only the two palms of the hand. Rabbina opposed: It is right that it had only capacity for the two palms, that he might not intentionally take the lot for the Lord; but if it was profane, he should have sanctified it? The answer is: If he had sanctified it, it would have been a wooden sacred vessel, and in the Temple wooden sacred vessels were not used. Let them have made it of silver or gold? Because the Torah wished to spare the wealth of Israel. The Mishna is at variance with the Tana of the following Boraitha: R. Jehudah says in the name of R. Eliezer: The Segan and the high-priest both placed their hands in the box. When that for Jehovah was picked up by the high-priest, the Segan said to him: "My lord the high-priest, raise thy right hand." But if it was picked up by the Segan, the chief of the family said to him: "Speak thy words." Why not the Segan himself? The lot came into the hand of the Segan, and not of the high-priest; therefore the spirits of the latter would have been depressed. On what point do they differ? One thinks, the right hand of the Segan is better than the left hand of the high-priest, and therefore both should put into the box their right hand; whereas the other thinks that the left hand of the high-priest is as good as the right hand of the Segan, and therefore he ought to place both his hands in the box. And who is the Tana who differs from R. Jehudah? That is R. Hanina, the Segan of the priests. As we have learned in the following Boraitha: R. Hanina the Segan of the priests said: Why did the Segan ever walk on the right of the high-priest? In case the high-priest became unfit for service, the Segan should enter at once to do the service.

The rabbis taught: In the time of the forty years during which Simeon the Upright was high-priest, the lot for Jehovah always came into the high-priest's right hand, but thereafter it sometimes fell into his right, sometimes into his left hand. And the tongue of crimson wool, during the time of Simeon the Upright, always became white. But after Simeon the Upright, sometimes it became white, sometimes it remained red. In Simeon the Upright's time the western light ever burned, but after him it sometimes burned and sometimes went out. The fire of the altar ever waxed in strength, and except the two measures of wood prescribed they had not to add any wood, in Simeon the Upright's time; but after him, sometimes the fire persisted and sometimes wood had to be added. In his time a blessing was sent into the Omer, the two loaves of bread, and the showbread, and every priest who received only the size of an olive became satiated, and some was left over; but after him, these things were cursed, and every priest got only the size of a bean. And the delicate priests refused to take it altogether, but the voracious ones accepted and consumed. It once happened, one took his own share and his fellow's: he was nicknamed "robber" till his death.

The rabbis taught: The year when Simeon the Upright had to die, he told the sages: "Children, know ye that this year I am going to die." They asked him: "How dost thou know?" He said: "Every year when I entered and left the Holy of Holies, I was accompanied by one old man, dressed in white and enveloped in white; but this year it was an old man attired in black and in a black turban, and he entered with me but did not go out with me." And after the festivals, he got sick, and died. And thenceforth priests ceased to bless Israel with the name of Jehovah, but used "Adonai" (the Lord).

The rabbis taught: Forty years before the Temple was destroyed, the lot never came into the right hand, the red wool did not become white, the western light did not burn, and the gates of the Temple opened of themselves, till the time that R. Johanan b. Zakkai rebuked them, saying: "Temple, Temple, why alarmest thou us? We know that thou art destined to be destroyed. For of thee hath prophesied Zechariah ben Iddo [Zech. xi. 1]: 'Open thy doors, O Lebanon, and the fire shall eat thy cedars.'"

"He placed them on the two he-goats." The rabbis taught: Six times the high-priest pronounced God's name, as it is written (Jehovah), during the Day of Atonement: three times in the first confession and three times in the second confession, and the seventh time when he had drawn the lot. It happened, when the high-priest said, "I beseech thee, Jehovah," his voice was heard in Jericho, ten Parsas distant from Jerusalem, according to Rabba bar bar Hana. And the sound of opening the Temple gates was heard at the distance of eight legal limits of Sabbath (16,000 ells). The goats that were in Jericho used to sneeze at the incense offered at Jerusalem. A bride in Jerusalem had never to perfume herself, as the odor of the incense imbued them all with aromatic smells. R. Joel b. Diglai said: My father had goats on the mountains of Michmar. They sneezed at the incense. R. Hiya b. Abbin said in the name of R. Joshua b. Kar'ha: A certain old man has related to me, that since the time when he was walking in Shiloh, he still felt the smell of its formerly offered incense.

R. Janai said: To take out the lots from the box was obligatory, but to place them on the goats was not so. R. Johanan says: Even taking them out was not obligatory. An objection was made from the following Boraitha: The disciples asked R. Aqiba, If the lot came into his left hand, might he not put it into his right hand? He replied: Do not give the Sadducees opportunity to rebel (by declaring it unbiblical). Now here the reason is only that the Sadducees should not rebel; but otherwise, we would say, he may transfer it from one hand to the other. How, then, can R. Janai say that it was obligatory? Then the lots would not be changeable. Said Rabba: They mean to say, not that he may transfer the lot in his left hand to his right hand, but that when the lot has been placed on the goat for Azazel, whether he may transfer him to his right, and design him for the Lord? The answer to this was: Although one may use a thing appointed to a less holy purpose for a more holy, yet the Sadducees will rebel.

MISHNA: He tied a tongue of crimson wool to the head of the goat that was to be sent away [the scapegoat], and placed him opposite to the gate through which he was to be transferred; and the one to be slaughtered, opposite to the place of its slaughtering. He went to his bull a second time, putting his hands on him, and confessing in these terms: "I beseech thee, Jehovah, I have committed iniquities, transgressed, and sinned before Thee, I and my house, and the sons of Aaron, Thy holy people: I beseech Thee, Jehovah, forgive the iniquities, transgressions, and sins which I have committed, transgressed, and sinned, I and my house, and the sons of Aaron, Thy holy people, as it is written in the Torah of Moses Thy servant: 'For on that day shall he make atonement for you, to cleanse you from all your sins, that ye may be pure before Jehovah.'" They respond after him: "Blessed is the name of His kingdom's glory forever."

GEMARA: The schoolmen propounded a question: The Mishna states: He was placed opposite to the gate, and the one to be slaughtered opposite to the slaughtering-place. Were they to be tied in their places, or only placed there? Come and hear! R. Joseph taught: He tied a tongue of crimson wool to the head of the goat that was to be sent away, and placed him opposite to the gate, and the one to be slaughtered opposite to the slaughtering-place, for the purpose that they should not be confounded with one another, as with other goats. Now, if the Mishna means they were tied there, it is right; but if only placed, this can only prevent their being confounded with each other, as the one has the tongue of red wool tied to it, but with other goats the other may be confounded? It is meant, then, that they should be tied in their places.

R. Itz'hak said: I have heard a Halakha about two tongues of wool, one for the red cow and the other for the scapegoat, that one must be of a prescribed quantity and the other need not, and I do not know which it is. Said R. Joseph: Let us see. The wool for the goat which was sent away must be divided into two parts: one part tied to its horns, and one to the rack; therefore it seems that it must be of a prescribed quantity. But the wool for the red cow, which need not be divided, need be of no prescribed quantity. Rami b. Hama opposed: Even that for the red cow must have a certain weight (as will be explained). Rabha answered him: Concerning the weight, the opinions of the Tanaim are different; consequently, no prescribed quantity is needed. When R. Dimi came from Palestine, he said in the name of R. Johanan: I have heard of three tongues of wool: one for the red cow, one for the scapegoat, and one for lepers. I have heard, one must be of the weight of 10 Zuz, one must have the weight of 2 Selas, and one of 1 Shekel, but I cannot explain which. When Rabbin came from Palestine, he explained this in the words of R. Jonathan: That for the red cow must weigh 10 Zuz, for the scapegoat 2 Selas, and for lepers 1 Shekel. (For the red cow, which must have a certain weight, it is 10 Zuz; that of the goat, which must be divided, 2 Selas; and the leper's, which need be neither, it is a Shekel.)

R. Itz'hak said: I have heard about the two slaughterings, of the red cow and of the high-priest's bull, one, if done by a layman, is valid, and the other is, in such a case, invalid; but I cannot explain which it is. It was taught: Concerning the slaughtering of the red cow and the high-priest's bull, Rabh and Samuel differed. One said, if the red cow was slaughtered by a layman, it is valid, and the bull, invalid; and the other says the reverse.

It may be ascertained that Rabh is the one who says that the red cow slaughtered by a layman is invalid, because (when Rabh heard) R. Zerah said that the red cow slaughtered by a layman is invalid, Rabh said: The reason is, that in connection with the red cow is mentioned Elazar (a priest) and "statute."

It was taught: Concerning the slaughtering of the red cow by a layman, R. Ammi said: It is valid; R. Itz'hak of Naph'ha said: It is invalid; Ulla said: It is valid; and others say: It is invalid. R. Joshua b. Abba objected to the statement that it is valid, and wanted to support Rabh from the following Boraitha: It is certain to us that the sprinkling of the water of the red cow is invalid, if a woman has done it instead of a man, or when it was not sprinkled in the daytime. But whence do we deduce further that the slaughtering of it, and receiving of the blood, and sprinkling of the blood, and burning it, and the putting in of the cedar-wood, hyssop, scarlet string, is invalid in such cases? Therefore it is written, "The law."

Shall we assume that to them shall be added the gathering of the ashes, and the drawing of the water, and the sanctification? Therefore it is written: "This" is the statute [Num. xix. 2]. But what is the reason of including those, and excluding these? Because we find here an extension and a limitation, we will say that we may deduce all the ceremonies from the sprinkling of the water. As the sprinkling of the water must be done by a male, not by a female, and is valid only in the daytime, we may add to it the slaughtering, the receiving and sprinkling of the blood, the burning, putting in of cedar-wood, hyssop, a scarlet string; as it is certain to us that all these things are invalid when done by a female, so we conclude it is valid only in the daytime; and we will exclude the gathering of the ashes, the drawing of the water, and the sanctification, as they may be done by a female, so we will conclude they may be done also in the night-time. What is the objection? If you will say: "Because it is prohibited to a female, it is also prohibited to a layman," you can infer from the sprinkling of the water, which is invalid when done by a female, but nevertheless is valid when done by a layman. Said Abayi: The objection is this, What is the reason that a female may not sprinkle it? Because it is written "Elazar," and we say Elazar, but not a woman. In the same manner, we say Elazar (i.e., a priest), but not a layman. Said Ulla: If you will read carefully the whole section about the red cow, you will see that one case cannot be compared with the other. Some apparently analogous inferences are yet in reality contradictory. And there are apparently analogous inferences which are really analogous. (Therefore care must be taken in making inferences.) Said R. Assi: (It is so), for when R. Johanan and Resh Lakish learned the section of the red cow, they carried away in their heads no more than a fox does earth when it runs across a ploughed field, for some apparently analogous inferences are really so, and some not.

One Tana taught in the presence of R. Johanan: All slaughterings may be done by a layman, except that of the red cow. Said R. Johanan to him: "Go and teach it outside of the college; for we find no single kind of slaughtering invalid when done by a layman." And R. Johanan not only disregarded this Tana's teaching, but even his own Master's; for R. Johanan said in the name of R. Simeon b. Jehozadak: "The slaughtering of a red cow by a layman is invalid." But I say it is valid, because we do not find any kind of slaughtering invalid when done by a layman.

"He went to his bull." Why did he not say in the first confession, "The sons of Aaron, Thy holy people," but does so in the second? The disciples of R. Ishmael taught: So is it right according to the law, for it is better that one guiltless should atone for the sinners than that one not yet purified from sins himself should atone for other sinners. (Before the first confession, he was not atoned for himself.)

MISHNA: He slaughtered it [the bull], and received in a basin its blood, giving (presenting) it to him who stirred (mixed) it, on the fourth row of marble stones in the Temple, that it should not become congealed. He took the censer, mounted the top of the altar, and cleared the coals on either hand: taking a censerful of the inner glowing coals, then he came down again, and placed it [the censer] on the fourth row of stones in the forecourt.

Every day he scooped up with a silver censer, and emptied into a golden vessel. On this day he filled a golden censer, and also carried it in. Every day he used to scoop [the coals] up in one measuring 4 Kabs, and poured them into one Of 3 Kabs; but on this day he filled one Of 3 Kabs, and also carried them in it. R. Jose says: Every day he filled one of a Seah [6 Kabs], and emptied it into one Of 3 Kabs; but on this day he filled one Of 3 Kabs, and carried them in it. 1 On all days it was a heavy (massive) one, but on this day he took a light one. Every day its handle was short, on this day long; all days its gold was yellow, but on that day red. This is according to R. Mena'hem. On all days he used to offer half a Mina [50 Dinars in weight] of incense in the morning, and one half in the evening; but on this day added a handful more. Every day it was pounded finely, but on this day it was the finest [Lev. xvi. 12]. On all days priests went up on the eastern staircase [of the altar], and descended on the western. On this day the high-priest went up on the middle one, and came down on the same. R. Jehudah says: The high-priest ever mounts and descends on the middle one. All days the high-priest washed his hands from the laver, and on this day from the golden pitcher [cyathus]. R. Jehudah says: The high-priest ever washes his hands and feet from a golden pitcher. All days there were four fires [on the altar]; on that day five: this is according to R. Meir. R. Jose says: Every day three, and on this day four. R. Jehudah says: Every day two, on this day three.

GEMARA: The Mishna states: He gave it to one who stirred it, on the fourth row of the marble stones. Is it not written [Lev. xvi. 17]: "And there shall not be any man in the tabernacle"? Said R. Jehudah: Read not "of the Temple, but "from the Temple"--the fourth row of stones away from the Temple.

The rabbis taught: It is written: "There shall not be any man in the tabernacle." Shall we assume, that one may not be in the corridors either? Therefore it is written, "in the tabernacle" (but outside one may). All this has been said of the tabernacle in Shiloh. How is it known that it applied also to the Temple in Jerusalem? Therefore it is written [ibid.], "in the holy place." All this is said of the time when he offers the incense. How is it known that when he sprinkles the blood no man should be in the holy place either? Therefore it is written, "when he goeth in." But how is it known that no man is to be found there till he comes out? Because it is written, "until he come out." After that it is written, "shall he make an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for the whole congregation of Israel"; from this is seen that first he must atone for himself, then for his household, then for the priests, and then for Israel.

The Master says: It only applies to the time when he offers the incense. Whence is this inferred? Said Rabba, and so said also R. Itz'hak b. R. Dimi, and also R. Elazar: It is written: "He shall make an atonement for himself, for his household, and for the whole congregation of Israel." What atones for all these at once? Only the incense. But how is it known that incense atones at all? Yea, for R. Hanania has taught: How is it known that incense atones? Because it is written [Num. xvii. 12]: "And he put on the incense, and made an atonement for the people." And the disciples of R. Ishmael have taught: For what does the incense atone? Slander. Why? Slander is (quietly) done, so incense is (quietly) offered.

"Every day he scooped up with a silver censer," etc. What is the reason (why not a golden one)? Because the Torah has been sparing of Israel's wealth.

"On this day he filled a golden censer," etc. Why did he not do on this day as on all days? Because of the high-priest's weakness (from fasting).

"One measuring four Kabs," etc. We have learned in a Boraitha: If one Kab of coals was spilled on the ground, he swept them into the trench. In one Boraitha we have learned one Kab, and in another, two Kabs? It is right, one. This is according to the rabbis, who say he emptied one of four Kabs into one of three; but this is neither according to the rabbis nor R. Jose (according to whom three Kabs were left over). Said R. Hisda: The Boraitha is according to R. Ishmael the son of R. Johanan b. Beroqa of the following Boraitha, who says that he carried them into the Holy of Holies only in a censer of two Kabs. R. Ashi says this Boraitha can be according to R. Jose, and can be explained thus: Every day he used one of a Seah of the desert, which is one-sixth less than a Seah of Jerusalem, and emptied it into one of three Jerusalem Seahs.

"It was a massive one," etc. We have learned in a Boraitha: On all days its sides were thick, but on that day thin. Every day the handle was short, and this day long? That the high-priest should not need to make such an effort to hold it.

In another Boraitha we have learned: Every day the censer was without a bell, and on this day with a bell ("His sounds shall be heard when he goeth in into the holy place" [Exod. xxviii. 38], since he carried it in in his white garments devoid of bells), so said the son of the Segan.

"The gold was yellow," etc. Said R. Hisda: Seven kinds of gold there are: Gold, and good gold, gold of Ophir, best gold [Muphaz], beaten gold [Sha'hut], pure gold [Sagur], and gold of Parvaim. Gold and good gold, as it is written [Gen. ii. 12]: "And the gold of that land is good"; gold of Ophir, which comes from Ophir; best gold, which is scintillating [1 Kings x. 18]; beaten gold, which is ductile like wire; pure gold-when this gold is exhibited all other wares are locked up; that of Parvaim is like blood of bulls in redness. R. Ashi says: There were only five, only there was gold of each kind of good and bad quality; hence "gold" and "good gold" are deducted. We have learned also in a Boraitha: All days the gold was yellow; this day it was of Parvaim, which is red like the blood of a cow.

"Finely pounded, but this day finest." The rabbis taught (whence do we deduce this?): Because it is already written [Ex. xxx. 36]: "Thou shalt pound some of it fine." Why has it to be repeated, "finely pounded"? That means, on this day it must be finest.

"Washed his hands from the laver, on this day from the golden pitcher." Why so? For the honor of the high-priest.

"All days there were four fires," etc. The rabbis taught: All days were two, this day three; namely, one, the ordinary large fire, the second for the incense, one for this special day (for the extra incense of the Holy of Holies). So says R. Jehudah. R. Jose says: All days were three, this day four; namely, those enumerated by R. Jehudah, and one to keep the fire perpetual, as it is written: "A perpetual fire shall be burning upon the altar, it shall not go out" [Lev. vi. 6], and one specially for this day. Rabbi says: "On all days four, this day five." The four above mentioned, and one for the unconsumed sacrifices which had not yet been burned in the evening.

Now, we see that all agree that this day a special fire was made. Whence do they deduce this? From the expression, "and the fire" [ibid. 5]. And even he who does not deduce it from the "and," deduces it from "and the." What? As we have learned in the following Boraitha: It is written, "a perpetual fire, it shall not go out." This is to teach that the second fire shall be on the outer altar. But how do we know there had to be fires for the censer and lamps? Therefore it is written, "perpetual fire shall be burning on the altar, it shall not be extinguished." This signifies, the perpetual fire of the lamps which, I have taught you, shall be taken only from the outer altar. From this we know that on the altar must be kept fire for the lamps, but whence do we deduce that fire for the incense must be kept also? Therefore it is written [Lev. xvi. 12]: "He shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar, from before the Lord." When do we find an altar which was partly before the Lord, and partly away from the Lord? We must say that was the outer altar, which was in part outside in the forecourt.

R. Elazar said in the name of Bar Qapara: R. Meir said, if members of the burnt-offering were left from the day before, he made a separate fire, and had them consumed, even on Sabbath. What does he come to teach us? We have learned in the Mishna that there were four fires? Said R. Abhin: He informs us, that even the members of a burnt-offering which had become invalid, were burnt by a separate fire, provided that they had been already attacked by the fire of the day before, but not those not touched by the fire. This we have also learned in the Mishna; namely, this day five? Says R. A'ha b. Jacob: He had to teach this to us. We might think all this applies to a Day of Atonement which falls on a Sunday, as we had learned somewhere else, that the fat left over from Sabbath should be burnt on the Day of Atonement next to it; but we might think, if it fell on other days of the week he had not to do so. Therefore he tells us.

Says Rabba: Who is this man, that hears not what he speaks? In the Mishna it is said: "Every day." So it is all days of the week. The objection remains.

It was taught: If one extinguishes the fire of the censer, and of the lamps, Abayi says he is culpable. Rabba says: He is guiltless. If he has taken it from the altar to light it and has dropped it on the ground, and it is extinguished, all agree, he is not culpable; but if he took it from off the altar, and extinguished it there, Abayi says he is culpable, since it is the fire of the altar, of which it is written, "It shall not go out." Rabba says he is guiltless: the moment he has removed it from the altar, the fire is not regarded any more as that of the altar. Now, what R. Na'hman has said in the name of Rabba b. Abahu, that he who has taken a coal from the altar, and extinguished it, is culpable, will be neither according to Abayi nor to Rabba? What comparison is there? In that case he took it for a religious purpose, to light the lamp, or so, and it was extinguished, but in this case he removed a coal and extinguished it wantonly.


64:1 The reason is, because the coals must be live coals, so as to give a flame. As the top ones become somewhat dull, he drops them on the floor and only the middle ones are used, They differ, however, as to the measure of coals extinguished. According to the rabbis, no more than one quarter of the amount extinguishes, while according to R. Jose about one half extinguishes.

Sources: Sacred Texts