Leviticus chapter 16 describes the annual ceremony by which the High Priest brings the blood of the atonement into the Most Holy Place, to make atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tabernacle, the altar, the priests, and all the congregation of Israel. In fact, really the entire first seventeen chapters of Leviticus is about the Day of Atonement:
1a) Lev 1:1-7:38, The law of the sacrifices;
1b) Lev 8:1-9:24, The week of consecration for the priests;
a) Lev 8:1-4, Gather the sacrifices to the door of the tent of meeting;
b) Lev 8:5-13, Aaron and sons washed with water, arrayed in linen garments, anointed with oil;
c) Lev 8:14-36, The sacrifices + Aaron and sons sprinkled with blood for consecration;
d) Lev 9:1-24, The eighth day of consecration for Aaron and sons;
1c) Lev 10:1-7, The death of Nadab and Abihu;
1d) Lev 10:8-11, Do not be intoxicated that you may distinguish between clean and unclean;
1e) Lev 10:12-15, The goat of the sin offering to be eaten;
central axis) Lev 10:16-18, Its blood was not brought inside the holy place;
2e) Lev 10:19-20, If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have been accepted?;
2d) Lev 11:1-15:33, The laws to distinguish between clean and unclean;
2c) Lev 16:1, After the death of the two sons of Aaron;
2b) Lev 16:2-34, The day of atonement for all Israel;
a) Lev 16:2-3, Gather the sacrifices to come into the Most Holy Place;
b) Lev 16:4, Aaron shall wash with water and array himself in his linen garments;
c) Lev 16:5-28, The sacrifices + The Most Holy Place etc. sprinkled with blood for atonement;
d) Lev 16:29-34, The day of atonement for the tabernacle, the priests, and all Israel;
2a) Lev 17:1-16, The law of slain animals for sacrifices.
The central axis of this chiastic structure, is Moses telling Aaron that since the blood of the goat was not brought into the holy place, the goat should have been eaten. We only find out in chapter 16, that the blood of the goat that Moses was talking about, was only brought into the Most Holy Place once per year, on the Day of Atonement. The central axis is about the Day of Atonement!
In fact, the law of the sacrifices had to be taught first, so that the proper sacrifice could be brought on the Day of Atonement. Aaron and his sons had to be consecrated first, so that the High Priest could be the one to bring the blood into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement. The laws to distinguish between clean and unclean had to be taught first, so that Israel would know what the LORD was talking about, when He said that the Day of Atonement ceremony was to make atonement for all of Israel’s uncleanness, as the LORD was in her midst.
“Atonement” is in Hebrew, kaphar, Strong’s H3722 (this is the same root that the Hebrew word for “mercy seat” comes from), kaph + pey + resh. The kaph is the open palm of blessing. The pey is the mouth, and can also mean open. The resh is the head of a man. The father lays his open palm on the head of his son to convey the blessing. The pey is also used in the Hebrew word for wound, as an opening of the body. The picture the ancient pictographs are painting of atonement, is of the man’s open wound (of the soul), being covered over by the Father’s open palm of blessing.
An English dictionary will reveal that the English word “atonement” comes from the Middle English “at one;” i.e. to bring two separate parties into harmony or unity!
For further study: Go back through the first seventeen chapters of Leviticus and note how often the word “atonement” appears. It is repeated over and over and over again. Does this focus on atonement provide any additional insight into the topics of God’s paragraphs?
Finding Messiah: Hebrews chapter 9, explaining Messiah as the High Priest of our Atonement, on the Day of Atonement!