A Scapegoat in the Bible is “the goat that goes away”

The act of wrongly blaming and punishing a specific person or group of people is known as scapegoating, and it is a common social behavior. In her insightful book The Goat That Escaped & Survived, Miss Kelly compares this human propensity to the scapegoat, a central notion in the Bible. This article delves into the symbolic meaning of the scapegoat in the Bible and how it relates to Miss Kelly’s own life experiences.

The Bible describes a scapegoat as the goat that goes away, which is meant to symbolize freedom and forgiveness. A combination of the words “escape” and “goat”, this noun means one who atones for or redeems another of their wrongful actions. The story of the scapegoat is given a dramatic setting in Leviticus 16:8–22. An unusual Jewish ritual employing a scapegoat is described here. Leviticus 16 is full of detailed rules that center on Aaron, the high priest in the Bible. Sin offerings, burned sacrifices, and the all-important choosing of two male goats and a ram were all part of the high priest’s duties. The atonement ritual centered on these animals, and the significance of this is underscored by the fact that two goats were sacrificed: one for the Lord and the other for Azazel —the scapegoat.

The defining moment occurs when the goat designated by the lot for Azazel is separated from the flock in order to take on the sins of the people. By laying his hands on the goat’s head, Aaron is symbolically admitting the people’s sins, iniquities, and trespasses. The core topic is the symbolic transfer of sins from one society to another, which ends with the release of a goat into the wilderness by an appointed man.

The idea of an outsider being sacrificed to appease a higher power is reminiscent of atonement. The law established what constitutes sin and required repeated atonement offerings to appease God. A flawless sacrifice that would satisfy the law and atone for human crimes was the end goal of this complex system.

Jesus’ death is the ultimate act of scapegoating, but not in the destructive way that the term is usually used. His death and resurrection created a connection between humans and God that will last forever. Believers in Christ are reconciled with God and granted eternal life as a result of His death on the cross. The idea of Jesus as a scapegoat conflicts with modern concepts of duty and accountability. As a culture, we tend to avoid admitting wrongdoing and instead look for ways to avoid its repercussions. But the biblical story and Jesus’s sacrifice highlight the need for addressing and admitting one’s misdeeds, letting the scapegoat bear the blame and humiliation.

Miss Kelly’s The Goat That Escaped & Survived connects the biblical notion of the scapegoat to the hardships experienced by individuals in the modern world. Incorporating the rich symbolism of the scapegoat into the story, the book demonstrates the transformational potential of repentance and forgiveness. Now available on Amazon and the official website.

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