- The reception of the second set of Ten Commandments
- The three intercessory ascensions of Moses
- Three forty day periods atop the Mountain
- Forty days of exceeding Forgiveness and Grace
- Moses, Messiah and the Gift of Living Torah (the Second Tablets)
- Temple Service
- Universal Atonement
- Seven days prior (Tishri 3-9)
- Multiple garments, immersions, and washings of the hands and feet
- The precise order of services, sacrifices, and purifications
The reception of the second set of Ten Commandments:
Traditionally, Yom Kippur is considered the date on which Moses received the second set of Ten Commandments. It occurred following the completion of the second 40 days of instructions from the Almighty. At this same time, the Israelites were granted atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf; hence, its designation as the Day of Atonement.
The three intercessory ascensions of Moses:
The revelation of the Eternal One at Mount Sinai began on the third month and sixth day of the Hebrew ecclesiastical calendar (Sivan 6). 0n this day the entire people of Israel gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai to receive the Torah from the Almighty. There they experienced the revelation of the Eternal One and heard the Ten Commandments, which encapsulate the entire Torah.
FIRST ASCENSION: 0n the following morning of Sivan 7 Moses ascended up Mt. Sinai to receive the Two Tablets that were entirely the “work” (ma’aseh) of Adonai (the LORD) and to receive the Torah proper, the more detailed written rendition of Adonai’s communication to humanity. Forty days and forty nights later, on the sixteenth day of the fourth ecclesiastical month (Tammuz 16) the people grievously sinned. Our ancestors were already abandoning their newly made covenant with Adonai. Reverting to the paganism of Egypt, they had Aaron make for them a calf idol to worship made out of gold. With feasting and hedonistic displays of sexual misconduct the people blasphemously proclaimed the gold calf idol, the deity of Israel. As a result, Adonai said to Moses: “Descend,” for your people, which you have brought up from the land of Egypt, have been corrupted; they have quickly turned from the path that I have commanded them. Immediately: Moses turned and quickly went down from the mountain, with the two tablets of testimony in his hand. On Tammuz 17 Moses came down from Mount Sinai to find Aaron and the Israelites idolatrously worshiping the Egyptian golden calf deity (Exodus 32). When the prophet entered the camp and saw the calf and the dancing he threw down the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain. Thereafter, Moses ground up the calf idol into powder while the tribe of Levi violently disciplined the errant people. In righteous indignation the following seven prophetic acts were committed by Moses:
Righteous Act of Indignation #1. Moses threw down the Ten Commandment tablets and broke them (symbolizing the people’s breaking of the covenant).
Righteous Act of Indignation #2. He burned the idol (demonstrating the powerlessness of the gold calf idol and the LORD’s wrath).
Righteous Act of Indignation #3. Moses ground the golden calf idol to powder (though the burning did not demolish the gold idol, it was smashed until it was crushed into little tiny pieces).
Righteous Act of Indignation #4. He sprinkled the remains of the idol onto the mountain stream water.
Righteous Act of Indignation #5. Mose made the people drink the powdered remains of the idol (false deity) mixed with the stream water (symbolizing that the people had to bear the consequences of their sin).
Righteous Act of indignation #6. He called for his people to repent of their wickedness.
Righteous Act of Indignation #7. Moses instructed his fellow Levites to run through the camp and execute all the people they found who were not immediately responding to Moses’ call for Teshuvah (repentance). 3,000 men died that day as a result of the tribe of Levi obeying the instruction of Moses (also cf. the converse: 3,000 souls raised to new life). Thereafter Moses once again ascended up to the summit of the mountain to beg forgiveness for his people’s sin. It is at this historical juncture that we are introduced to the Book of Life when Moses asked the Holy One that his name be stricken from “the Book you have written” if the Eternal One Himself would not make an atonement for his people (Exodus 32:32).
SECOND ASCENSION: Moses then ascended Mt. Sinai where he remained for (a second) forty days, to plead before the Almighty for the forgiveness of Israel. Adonai acquiesced, and agreed to provide a second set of tablets to replace those which had been broken in the wake of Israel’s sin. These tablets, however, were not to solely be the handiwork of Adonai but would also be of human construction. The LORD said to Moses: “Carve yourself two tablets of stone, like the first; and I shall inscribe upon them the words that were on the first tablets which you have broken.” So Moses descended the Mountain (a second time). Thereafter he carved out two stone tablets from the Rock located at the base of Mt. Sinai. The second set of stone tablets originated from the Rock that had miraculously supplied water for the people of Israel. Then the LORD said to Moses, Come up in the morning to Mt. Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain.
THIRD ASCENSION: On Rosh Chodesh Elul, Moses ascended the mountain with the tablets he carved for a third period of forty days. Therefore, on the sixth month and first day of the ecclesiastical calendar (Elul 1) Moses ascended Mount Sinai for the third and final time, where he remained for another forty days atop the mountain. During these forty days a new and invigorated relationship between Adonai and His people was rebuilt on the ruins of the old. On the Tenth day of Tishri Moses received the Divinely-inscribed second Tablets that were inscribed by the finger of Adonai. With full assurance of complete forgiveness of Israel’s sin, Moses descended the Mountain on Tishri 10. This day was Yom Kippur.
The Three Ascensions of Moses up Mount Sinai illustrate the Spirit of Yom Kippur that emphasizes ‘confession of sin’ (repentance and prayer) and restoration of a right relationship with the heavenly Father through the mediatorial role of the Messiah, who Moses “foreshadowed,” and the Unbreakable Living Torah of the Spirit of Holiness (the everlasting Oral Law of the Spirit) that is represented in the “Second” set of unbroken tablets that were carved out of the Rock located at the base of Mount Sinai. This Second Rock (the First Rock was located at the summit of Mount Sinai) and the miraculous water supply that flowed out of it is a prophetic type of the Presence of the Mashiach and the Spirit of Holiness who freely provide us with an unending supply of Living Water through the Unbreakable Second Covenant. The Second set of unbroken tablets represent the Unbreakable Second Covenant of Grace (chen and chesed) of the Messiah that follows the First set of broken tablets that represent the Broken Covenant of the Law of Moses. Compare this to the “Unbroken” Seal of the High Priest, cf. our document, “Messiah in Chanukkah, Chapter 19.”
Three forty day periods atop the Mountain:
Thus, in summary, we have three forty-day periods, and three corresponding states of Torah:
State of Torah #1. This involved the first tablets, the broken tablets that originated from the First Rock located at the Summit of Mount Sinai.
State of Torah #2. This involved the second unbroken tablets that originated from the Second Rock that was located at the foot of one of the slopes of the mountain range of Mount Sinai. This Second Rock, the source of the Unbroken Tablets, embodied the forgiving nature, patience and Graciousness of Adonai. The initial state of the Second Rock was such that it was stricken once by Moses bringing forth an abundance of the Living Water of the Word of Cleansing (Exodus 17:1-7). This is a witness to the once-in-eternity sacrifice of the Mashiach to atone for our sin (past, present, and future).
State of Torah #3. In the third and final state that involved the Second Rock, Adonai ordered Moses to only *Speak “once” to the Rock to bring forth the final Living Water of the Word of Righteousness ( Numbers 20:2-13). This act of orally Speaking to the Rock is a witness to the Tenth day after the resurrection and ascension of the Messiah when the gift of the Father, the Indwelling Presence of the Spirit of Holiness, came to indwell a remnant of believing Jews who were worshiping Adonai in Jerusalem during Shavuot. This symbolic – Speaking to the Rock – to bring forth the permanent work of Living Water symbolizes the Oral Living Torah (Law of the Spirit) that assures us that on the day of resurrection we will all be raised to a final permanent state of perfect righteousness; then will we rightfully ascend to the summit of the Mount that is in Heaven to meet Avinu Shebashamayim, Face to face!
*Moses failed to speak to the Rock and disobediently struck the Rock two times. Consequently, Moses was forbidden to enter the Promised Land of Israel. This was a sign that at the first our ancestors (the people of Israel) would fail to exercise faith in the Messiah and receive the cleansing water of the Word (of HaShem) and the Oral Living Torah (the gift of eternal life). Later, however, it is understood from both the Prophets (Nevi’im) and the Writings (Ketuvim) that all Israel will come to faith in the Messiah and receive the gift of the Indwelling Presence of the Spirit (our everlasting Oral Law). This reception of Living Torah will of necessity require that its false substitute, the present ever-growing hyper-complex of rabbinic oral law, be completely re-edited, if not replaced entirely.
Is it any wonder that in the two prophetic enactments (in the ordered striking of the Rock and in the intended speaking to the Rock) the prophet Moses identified the location of the Rock at the foot of the slopes of Mount Sinai by the two names, Massah and Meribah? (מַסָּה – מְרִיבָה, meaning “testing” and “quarreling“).
Forty days of exceeding Forgiveness and abundant Grace:
These hundred and twenty days (the First to the Third Ascension of Moses) have left a lasting imprint on Israel’s experience of the Holy One. The Third Ascension, the sixth month of Elul plus the first ten days of the seventh month of Tishri that is Moses’ final forty day stay on Mount Sinai remains the final three-fold proof of Adonai’s persevering love of the nation and people of Israel.
Ever since the day that Adonai gave the Second Tablets to the people of Israel, ‘His’ people have possessed the capacity to apply their human deficiencies of the past as fuel for the altar, to be thoroughly cleansed for reconciliation with Him by the waters of His forgiveness and forgetfulness, and to enjoy a permanent state of peaceful relations with the Most Holy One by exercising a sincere faith in His abundant Graciousness, Love, and Mercy.
The forty days of Selichot that is a reoccurring invitation to return to the Mighty One of Israel is a testimony to the Spirit of Grace and Truth (chen and emet), who calls us as one body to ‘confess’ our individual and collective sin, in an attitude of sincere repentance and prayerful, reverent worship, so that we might be restored to a right relationship with our estranged heavenly Father who greatly loves us and who dwells in heaven.
Moses, Messiah and the Gift of Living Torah (the Second Tablets):
The gift of the Second Tablets is symbolic of the Unbreakable Living Torah of the Holy Spirit.
This Living Torah is born witness to in the “Second” set of Unbroken Tablets that were carved out of the Rock. This Rock was located at the base of Mount Sinai. It is this Rock that gave forth Living Water. The Second set of unbroken tablets represents the Unbreakable Covenant of Grace that necessarily had to follow after the first Covenant of the Law had been thoroughly, completely and permanently broken. The First Covenant is represented in the Two “Broken” Tablets made by the Hand of the Almighty alone. The Second Unbroken Tablets is represented as being made by the Hand of the Almighty and Man Together. The latter covenant testified to by Moses bears witness to the saving work of the Messiah.
Accounts of the Temple service are based solely on the authority of the Scriptures and secondarily (as an historical reference) the traditional Jewish religious accounts described in the Mishnah (tractate Yoma) that are referenced in the traditional Jewish prayer books for Yom Kippur, and is consulted during various parts of the Jewish Yom Kippur worship services.
While the Temple in Jerusalem was standing (from Biblical times through 70 CE) the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) was mandated by the Torah to perform a complex set of special services and sacrifices for Yom Kippur to attain Divine atonement, the word “kippur” meaning “atone” in Hebrew. These services were considered to be the most important parts of Yom Kippur because through them the Kohen Gadol made atonement for all Jews and the all the Gentiles of the world. During the service, the Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies in the center of the Temple, the only time of the year that anyone went inside. Doing so required special purification and preparation, including five immersions in a mikvah (ritual bath), and four changes of clothing.
Seven days prior (Tishri 3-9):
Seven days prior to Yom Kippur (throughout the Intermediate Days of Yamim Noraim) the Kohen Gadol was sequestered in the Palhedrin chamber in the Temple, where he reviewed (studied) the service with the sages familiar with the Temple, and was sprinkled with spring water containing ashes of the Red Heifer as purification. The Talmud (Tractate Yoma) also reports that he practiced the incense offering ritual in the Avitnas chamber.
Multiple garments, immersions, and washings of the hands and feet:
On the day of Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol wore five sets of garments (three golden and two white linen), was immersed in the mikvah five times, and washed his hands and feet ten times. Sacrifices included two (daily) lambs, one bull, two goats, and two rams, with accompanying mincha (meal) offerings, wine libations, and three incense offerings (the regular two daily and an additional one for Yom Kippur). The Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies three times. The Name of Adonai (the LORD) was pronounced three times, once for each confession.
The precise order of services, sacrifices, and purifications:
The precise order of services, sacrifices, and purifications and their meanings is as follows (20 Steps):
1. Morning (Tamid) Offering:
The Kohen Gadol first performed the regular daily (Tamid) offering—usually performed by ordinary priests—in special golden garments, after immersing in a mikvah and washing his hands and feet.
2. Garment Change One:
The Kohen Gadol immersed in a special mikvah in the Temple courtyard and changed into special linen garments, and washed his hands and feet twice, once after removing the golden garments and once before putting on the linen garments.
3. Bull as Personal Sin-Offering:
The Kohen Gadol leaned (performed Semikha) and made a confession over the bull on behalf of himself and his household, pronouncing the Tetragrammaton. The people prostrated themselves when they heard. He then slaughtered the bull as a chatat (sin-offering) and received its blood in a bowl.
4. Lottery of the goats:
At the Eastern (Nikanor) gate, the Kohen Gadol drew lots from a lottery box over two goats. One was selected “for the Lord,” and one “for Azazel.” The Kohen Gadol tied a red band around the horns of the goat “for Azazel.”
5. Incense Preparation:
The Kohen Gadol ascended the mizbeach (altar) and took a shovel full of embers with a special shovel. He was brought incense. He filled his hands and placed it in a vessel. (The Talmud considered this the most physically difficult part of the service, as the Kohen Gadol had to keep the shovelful of glowing coals balanced and prevent its contents from dropping, using his armpit or teeth, while filling his hands with the incense).
6. Incense Offering
Holding the shovel and the vessel, he entered the Kadosh Hakadashim, the Temple’s Holy of Holies. In the days of the First Temple, he placed the shovel between the poles of the Ark of the Covenant. In the days of the Second Temple, he put the shovel where the Ark would have been. He waited until the chamber filled with smoke and left.
7. Sprinkling of Bull’s Blood in the Holy of Holies:
The Kohen Gadol took the bowl with the bull’s blood and entered the Most Holy Place again. He sprinkled the bull’s blood with his finger eight times, before the Ark in the days of the First Temple, where it would have been in the days of the Second. The Kohen Gadol then left the Holy of Holies, putting the bowl on a stand in front of the Parochet (curtain separating the Holy from the Holy of Holies).
8. Goat for the Lord as Sin-Offering for Kohanim:
The Kohen Gadol went to the eastern end of the Israelite courtyard near the Nikanor Gate, laid his hands (semikha) on the goat “for the Lord,” and pronounced confession on behalf of the Kohanim (priests). The people prostrated themselves when he pronounced the Name of the LORD. He then slaughtered the goat, and received its blood in another bowl.
9. Sprinkling of Goat’s Blood in the Holy of Holies:
The Kohen Gadol took the bowl with the goat’s blood and entered the Kadosh Hakadashim, the Temple’s Holy of Holies again. He sprinkled the goat’s blood with his finger eight times the same way he had sprinkled the bull’s blood. The blood was sprinkled before the Ark in the days of the First Temple, where it would have been in the days of the Second Temple. The Kohen Gadol then left the Kadosh Hakadashim, putting the bowl on a stand in front of the Parochet (curtain separating the Holy from the Holy of Holies).
Sprinkling of blood in the Holy Standing in the Hekhal (Holy), on the other side of the Parochet from the Holy of Holies, the Kohen Gadol took the bull’s blood from the stand and sprinkled it with his finger eight times in the direction of the Parochet. He then took the bowl with the goat’s blood and sprinkled it eight times in the same manner, putting it back on the stand. Smearing of blood on the Golden (Incense) Altar The Kohen Gadol removed the goat’s blood from the stand and mixed it with the bull’s blood.
Starting at the northeast corner, he then smeared the mixture of blood on each of the four corners of the Golden (Incense) altar in the Haichal. He then sprinkled the blood eight times on the altar.
10. Goat for Azazel
The Kohen Gadol left the Haichal and walked to the east side of the Azarah (Israelite courtyard). Near the Nikanor Gate, he leaned his hands (Semikha) on the goat “for Azazel” and confessed the sins of the entire people of Israel. The people prostrated themselves when he pronounced the Tetragrammaton (YHWH). While he made a general confession, individuals in the crowd at the Temple would confess privately. The Kohen Gadol then sent the goat off “to the wilderness.” In practice, to prevent its return to human habitation, the goat was led to a cliff outside Jerusalem and pushed off its edge.
11. Preparation of sacrificial animals:
While the goat “for Azazel” was being led to the cliff, the Kohen Gadol removed the insides of the bull, and intertwined the bodies of the bull and goat. Other people took the bodies to the Beit HaDeshen (place of the ashes). They were burned there after it was confirmed that the goat “for Azazel” had reached the wilderness.
12. Reading the Torah
After it was confirmed that the goat “for Azazel” had been pushed off the cliff, the Kohen Gadol passed through the Nikanor Gate into the Ezrat Nashim (Women’s Courtyard) and read sections of the Torah describing Yom Kippur and its sacrifices.
13. Garment change Two:
The Kohen Gadol removed his linen garments, immersed in the mikvah in the Temple courtyard, and changed into a second set of special golden garments. He washed his hands and feet both before removing the linen garments and after putting on the golden ones.
14. Offering of Rams:
The Kohen Gadol offered two rams as an olah offering, slaughtering them on the north side of the mizbeach (outer altar), receiving their blood in a bowl, carrying the bowl to the outer altar, and dashing the blood on the northeast and southwest corners of the Outer Altar. He dismembered the rams and burned the parts entirely on the outer altar. He then offered the accompanying mincha (grain) offerings and nesachim (wine-libations).
The Kohen Gadol then offered the Musaf offering.
16. Burning of Innards:
The Kohen Gadol placed the insides of the bull and goat on the outer altar and burned them entirely.
17. Garment change Three:
The Kohen Gadol removed his golden garments, immersed in the mikvah, and changed to a new set of linen garments, again washing his hands and feet twice.
18. Removal of Incense from the Holy of Holies:
The Kohen Gadol returned to the Holy of Holies and removed the bowl of incense and the shovel.
19. Garment Change Four:
The Kohen Gadol removed his linen garments, immersed in the mikvah, and changed into a third set of golden garments, again washing his hands and feet twice.
20. The Tamid (Evening) Offering:
The Kohen Gadol completed the afternoon portion of the regular (tamid) daily offering in the special golden garments. He washed his hands and feet a tenth time.