In this chapter of the day of atonement we are only told about the process of how Aaron should go about perfoming this ritual for himself and the Israelites

Leviticus 16:11 NASB

“Then Aaron shall offer the bull of the [q]sin offering which is for himself and make atonement for himself and for his household, and he shall slaughter the bull of the [r]sin offering which is for himself.

Leviticus 16:15 NASB

“Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the atoning cover and in front of the atoning cover.

There is no mention of any sign or symbol to show that the sacrifices and offerings had been successful or not

Was there a sign or symbol to show that atonement had been successful or not?

  • The figure is not 'successful' or 'unsuccessful'. It is merely a figure. It is a ritual to be performed in lieu of the only effective sacrifice - Jesus Christ. It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins Hebrews 10:4.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 29, 2022 at 12:11
  • the question seems limited to Lev. 16, for which the answer is "no." However in other cases it was clearly yes. Aug 29, 2022 at 14:56
  • Why do you believe that a sign of success was even necessary? It was accepted by faith.
    – Dottard
    Aug 29, 2022 at 22:33
  • @NigelJ, The question is about specific verses in Leviticus, not about Christian doctrine. (That comment is an example of why this site failed so badly at its original mandate. Steve Taylor's answer is an example of how such things should be handled.) Sep 13, 2022 at 14:30
  • @RayButterworth Hermeneutics is about examining the entire text of scripture with consistency and with balanced consideration of all its parts. I disagree with your view of hermeneutics generally and I disagree with your comment about this website.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 13, 2022 at 17:06

1 Answer 1


This text is part of the Covenant YHWH was making with his people. This covenant was met by their obedience to his word and statutes. By obeying YHWH, they would demonstrate their faith in His power to forgive - YHWH described how they ought to make atonement, and obedience to these statutes would have that effect.

"In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the tent of meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness. No one is to be in the tent of meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel." Leviticus 16:16-17

Similarly, the scapegoat passage that follows makes the assumption clear - if they obey YHWH in this way, their sins will be taken away:

"The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness." Leviticus 16:22

These actions would be powerless without the word of YHWH - it is not that these specific actions held any power in and of themselves, but their efficacy lay in the Covenant that they fulfilled. The miraculous sign that signifies the effectiveness of the Law was the giving of the Law itself - YHWH had declared what they should do, and in order to receive it all that was left to them was to obey.

So no, there is no sign given in Leviticus 16, but the text is clear that the atonement was always understood to be successful, so no sign was necessary.

Addendum: Christians have traditionally understood this type of model to prefigure what would take place through Christ - the sign of forgiveness was the miraculous coming, death and resurrection of Jesus; meeting this sign/covenant with faith and baptism into Christ caused believers to receive atonement and birth into the new life made available by Jesus' sacrifice.

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