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The Talmud, by Joseph Barclay, [1878], at

p. 119


On the Day of Atonement.

Preparations of the High Priest—Cleansing the Altar—Casting Lots—Daybreak—Offerings—Dress—Prayer—The Goats—Monobazus—Helena—Azazel—the Golden Censer—the Vail—Holy of Holies—"Foundation"—Sprinkling the Blood—Sending forth the Goat into the Wilderness—High Priest burning the Bullock and Goat—Reading—Ceremonial—Rules and Exceptions—Repentance and Atonement.


1. Seven days before the Day of Atonement the High Priest was removed from his house to the chamber 1 Parhedrin, and the council prepared for him another priest, 2 lest there happen to him any defilement. R. Judah said, "they prepared also another wife, lest his wife die;" as is said, 3 "And he shall atone for himself and for his house;" for his house, i.e. for his wife. The Sages said to him, "if so, there is no end to the matter."

2. All these seven days, he (the high priest) sprinkled the blood, burned the incense, and trimmed the lamps, and offered the head and the foot. On the remainder of all the days, if he wished to offer, he offered; since the high priest first offered part, and first took part (in the sacrifices).

3. The elders from the elders of the great Sanhedrin delivered to him, and read before him, the ceremonial of the day; and they said to him, "My Lord High Priest, read with thy mouth, perchance thou hast forgotten, or perchance thou hast not learned." 4 On the eve of the day of atonement, towards dawn, they placed him in the eastern gate (of the Temple), and they caused to pass before him bullocks,

p. 120

rams, and lambs, that he might be skilled and expert in his ministry.

4. All the seven days they did not withhold from him food and drink; the eve of the day of atonement, with the beginning of darkness, they did not permit him to eat much, since food induces sleep.

5. The elders of the great Sanhedrin delivered him to the elders of the priesthood, who brought him to the upper chamber of the house Abtinas. And they administered to him the oath, 1 and they left him and departed. And they. said to him, "My Lord High Priest, we are ambassadors of the great Sanhedrin, and thou art our ambassador, and the ambassador of the great Sanhedrin. We adjure thee by Him, whose Name dwells in this house, that thou wilt not change aught of all which we have said to thee." He went apart and wept. They went apart and wept. 2

6. If he were a learned man, he expounded; but if not, the disciples of the learned expounded before him. If he were skilled in reading, he read; but if not, they read before him. "And in what did they read before him?" "In Job, and in Ezra, and in Chronicles." Zachariah, the son of Kebutal, said, "I often read before him in Daniel."

7. If he desired to sleep, the young priests filliped with the first finger 3 before him, and said to him, "My Lord High Priest, stand up and refresh thyself 4 once on the pavement," and they kept him occupied 5 until the time approached for slaying (the victims).

8. Every day they cleansed the altar at cockcrow, or at its approach, intermediate before or after it; and on the day of atonement 6 at midnight; and in the three great feasts, at the first watch. And before cockcrow the court was crowded with Israel.


119:1 Where the counsellors sat.

119:2 Called Sagan (suffragan) (2 Kings xxv. 18; Jer. lii. 24).

119:3 Lev. xvi. 6.

119:4 As might occur from the frequent changes during the second Temple.

120:1 That he would incense "within" the vail (Lev. xvi. 12, 13), in opposition to the Sadducees, who maintained that the incense should be burned "without."

120:2 That such an oath was necessary.

120:3 Or the "index" finger; other trans. the "middle" finger.

120:4 Or change thyself.

120:5 Singing to him "Unless the Lord build the house, they labour but in vain that build it, etc." (Psalm cxxvii.)

120:6 The Jews think that the day of atonement was the day on which Adam sinned, on which Abraham was circumcised, and on which Moses offered atonement for the sin of the golden calf.

Next: Chapter II