Leviticus 16:10

But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.

Matthew 4:1

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Does Leviticus 16:10 foreshadow Matthew 4:1? Is Jesus the atonement goat?

4 Answers 4


Does [Leviticus 16:10] use the "scapegoat" Ha-Sa'iyr הַשָּׂעִ֔יר to foreshadow the NT Prophets (John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth) since [they] also went "in the wilderness"?

  • Matthew 3:1 "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea" ( Ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις παραγίνεται Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστὴς κηρύσσων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τῆς Ἰουδαίας )

  • Matthew 4:1 "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." ( Τότε ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀνήχθη εἰς τὴν ἔρημον ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος πειρασθῆναι ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου )

No. - Because the NT Prophets (John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth) were not sent into the wilderness carrying the guilt of Israel. | Jesus went "into the wilderness" to be tempted as stated in [Matthew 4:1], not to remove temptation.

The "scapegoat" Ha-Sa'iyr הַשָּׂעִ֔יר in [Leviticus 16:9-10] was initially sinless but burdened by Aharon with the guilt of Israelites when entering the wilderness. - Removing temptation, not to be tempted.

[Leviticus 16:9] "And Aharon shall bring the he goat upon which the lot, "For the Lord," came up, and designate it as a sin offering." ( וְהִקְרִ֤יב אַֽהֲרֹן֙ אֶת־הַשָּׂעִ֔יר אֲשֶׁ֨ר עָלָ֥ה עָלָ֛יו הַגּוֹרָ֖ל לַֽיהוָֹ֑ה וְעָשָׂ֖הוּ חַטָּֽאת )

[Leviticus 16:10] "And the he goat upon which the lot "For Azazel" came up, shall be placed while still alive, before the Lord, to [initiate] atonement upon it, and to send it away to Azazel, into the desert." ( וְהַשָּׂעִ֗יר אֲשֶׁר֩ עָלָ֨ה עָלָ֤יו הַגּוֹרָל֙ לַֽעֲזָאזֵ֔ל יָֽעֳמַד־חַ֛י לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָֹ֖ה לְכַפֵּ֣ר עָלָ֑יו לְשַׁלַּ֥ח אֹת֛וֹ לַֽעֲזָאזֵ֖ל הַמִּדְבָּֽרָה )

  • Leviticus 16:10 demonstrated our guilt goes "into the desert" to Remove our Temptations, Not to be Tempted.

Yes! Leviticus 16 does very much foreshadow Matthew 4. In this Matthew instance, it’s the location that provides the connection. The wilderness!

In Marks account we see some additional important information...

MARK 1:12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.* 13 And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.

The wilderness was seen as the location for evil entities, spirits. Many see [interpret] the reference to ‘wild beasts’ as literal. And although that’s [obviously] ‘right’, it goes much deeper. In ‘second temple thinking’ it was also an idiom for spiritual entities - and it’s these that tormented Jesus prior to the temptation. That’s why [and suggests ‘how’] the ‘angels’ ministered to him.

MAT 12:43 When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.

The scapegoat of Leviticus 16, azazel, was sent into the wilderness to be tormented, ravaged, by the ‘wild beasts’. ‘Azazel’ has a deep significance, far ‘deeper’ than the traditional explanation lays out, but I’ll leave that discussion out of this as it’s not required. But, Jesus is clearly ‘typecast’ as our ‘scapegoat’.

Important to note that this incident was a pre cursor, a ‘shadow’ of what is to ‘be’, a pre cursor to events outlined in the apocalyptic books/sections in the Bible. It was identifying, signalling that Jesus is the scapegoat. So the Leviticus 16 ‘picture’, Yom Kippur, has yet to be (fully) fulfilled.

And, importantly to note that this ‘signalling’ was combined with the temptation, that is, the temptation had other (separate) important significance to it.


The purpose and function of the Azazel/scapegoat is much debated in theological circles and there is almost no consensus. It has been interpreted as a type of the Devil to a type of Christ and everything between.

Recall that on the day of Atonement ("Yom Kippur") as described in Lev 16, there were two goats (V5, 6):

  • One goat, "the LORD's goat" (V9) was sacrificed - this is a clear type of Christ
  • The other goat (V10, 21, 22) is the scapegoat was sent into the wilderness to take the sins away into the wilderness

Thus, atonement for the sanctuary took two steps: one involving the death of the LORD's goat and the other involving the scapegoat/Azazel being lead into the wilderness and never returning. The closest we come to any Biblical explanation of this is found in:

  • Micah 7:19 - He will again have compassion on us; He will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast out all our sins into the depths of the sea.

it is also possible there may be a slight allusion to those who refuse to accept Christ's sacrifice and expiation in the following:

  • Eze 39:23 - And the nations will know that the house of Israel went into exile for their iniquity, because they were unfaithful to Me. So I hid My face from them and delivered them into the hands of their enemies, so that they all fell by the sword.

However, I would not press this point to heavily!

In the case of Jesus and His wilderness experience (Matt 4:1), I struggle to see a parallel with the Azazel of the Lev 16 for the following reasons:

  • Jesus bore our sins on the cross, not in the wilderness
  • Jesus returned from the wilderness, the Azazel did not.

I would rather see in the Azazel a symbolism for Israel's sins being permanently disposed of in a deserted wilderness where they do not return - permanently banish forever.


Lev 16:10 foreshadows what Jesus prophesied in the 3rd announcement of his Passion (Mt 20:18-19; Mk 10:33-34; Lk 18:31-33). Quoting from Mk:

“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests, and to the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles, and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him, and the third day He will rise again.”

Just as on the Day of Atonement the Chief Priest sent the scapegoat to the wilderness to be exposed to the blind and rough forces of nature in that region, on which God allowed the angel Azazel to have some degree of influence and which most probably (but not necessarily) would kill the scapegoat, the Chief Priest delivered Jesus to the Gentiles, who were spiritually blind and rough people on whom God allowed the devil to have some degree of influence and who killed Jesus (but could in principle not have done it).

The goat sacrificed to YHWH is not figure of Jesus because it was killed in obedience to a direct and explicit command from God. In contrast, God did not command anyone, either the Chief Priest or the Gentiles, to kill Jesus. Nor did God the Father command Jesus to kill Himself; rather, He commanded Jesus to allow the Chief Priests to deliver Him to the Gentiles and to allow the Gentiles to kill Him (Jn 10:18).

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