Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement

Today – Monday, 8th October, 2018 – is (at least in Australia) Yom Kippur – otherwise known in English as the Day of Atonement, one of the Biblical feasts mandated in the Torah, which still apply to us.

This feast is described in Leviticus as follows:

And YEHOVAH spoke to Moses, saying, “Also on the 10th day of this 7th month is Yom Kippurim; it shall be a set-apart assembly to you, and you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to YEHOVAH.  And you will do no work in that same day, for it is Yom Kippurim, to make an atonement for you before YEHOVAH your ELOHIM.  For whoever will not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.  And whoever does any work in that same day, I will destroy that same person from among his people.  You will do no manner of work; it will be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.  It will be a Sabbath of rest to you, and you will afflict your souls.  In the 9th day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your Sabbath.  (Leviticus 23:26-32)

OK, so one can see that this feast is super important.  There is some debate as to what the phrase “afflict your soul” actually means.  Many believe it means fasting, although others think it simply means to humble yourself.  I personally intend to fast.

You may have noticed that my date for Yom Kippur is different from the traditional Jewish one.  I explain my calendar in Yom Teruah – The Feast of Trumpets.

Now, what is the origin of Yom Kippur?  The Bible tells us:

And in the seventh year of this week [2149 A.M.] he sent Joseph to learn about the welfare of his brothers from his house to the land of Shechem, and he found them in the land of Dothan.

And they dealt treacherously with him, and formed a plot against him to slay him, but changing their minds, they sold him to Ishmaelite merchants, and they brought him down into Egypt, and they sold him to Potiphar, the eunuch of Pharaoh, the chief of the cooks, priest of the city of ‘Elew.

And the sons of Jacob slaughtered a kid, and dipped the coat of Joseph in the blood, and sent (it) to Jacob their father on the tenth of the seventh month.

And he mourned all that night, for they had brought it to him in the evening, and he became feverish with mourning for his death, and he said: ‘An evil beast hath devoured Joseph’; and all the members of his house [mourned with him that day, and they] were grieving and mourning with him all that day.

And his sons and his daughter rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted for his son.

And on that day Bilhah heard that Joseph had perished, and she died mourning him, and she was living in Qafratef, and Dinah also, his daughter, died after Joseph had perished.

And there came these three mournings upon Israel in one month. And they buried Bilhah over against the tomb of Rachel, and Dinah also. his daughter, they buried there.

And he mourned for Joseph one year, and did not cease, for he said ‘Let me go down to the grave mourning for my son’.

For this reason it is ordained for the children of Israel that they should afflict themselves on the tenth of the seventh month -on the day that the news which made him weep for Joseph came to Jacob his father- that they should make atonement for themselves thereon with a young goat on the tenth of the seventh month, once a year, for their sins; for they had grieved the affection of their father regarding Joseph his son.

And this day has been ordained that they should grieve thereon for their sins, and for all their transgressions and for all their errors, so that they might cleanse themselves on that day once a year.

(Jubilees 34:10-19, R.H. Charles’ translation)

So (probably to your surprise), Yom Kippur was instituted after Joseph was sold into slavery on the 10th day of the 7th month, which is the date of the Biblical festival.  And it was kept BEFORE Moses (as were most of the feasts; they weren’t simply Mosaic additions).

Have a happy Yom Kippur!

P.S.  In memory of this event, here is the movie Joseph, starring Paul Mercurio and Ben Kingsley:


6 thoughts on “Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement

  1. I read your title and went: “Wasn’t Yom Kippur a week, or two ago?” so, I went to check my calendar, and indeed, it was. So I was intrigued.
    Happy Yom Kippur to you.
    It was interesting to read the other post regarding the solar calendar.

    Liked by 1 person

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