Articles: The Day

"A New Approach to Revelation" by Tricia Tillin (Part 15)

how the day of atonement Temple service sheds light on the book of revelation - Coming Home

The day has finally arrived! The day that we have all longed for, because it is the triumph of our Lord, and the wedding day for which we all prepared. And now yet another aspect of Yom Kippur dovetails into the prophecies of Revelation. After this high holy day of Yom Kippur comes TABERNACLES, which commemorates the presence of God with his people on earth during the wilderness wanderings. So we are not surprised to see this referred to in Revelation:

Rev 21:3 "And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, Behold the Tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them and be their God."

So very closely does Revelation follow the Yom Kippur feast day that aspects that have puzzled the Jewish Rabbis for centuries become clear in the light of the bible. One of these is the joyful nature of the procession that accompanies the High Priest out of the Temple and back to his home after the service has ended. Another is the custom of courtship and marriage connected to Yom Kippur.

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The Homecoming Procession

The High Priest has spent the day wearing very expensive special linen garments, which are now discarded never to be worn again. Having put on his golden vestments, washed his hands and feet, burnt the evening incense on the golden altar, lit the lamps on the candlestick for the night, and washed his hands and feet once more, he finally put on his ordinary layman's dress, and was escorted by the people in procession to his own house in Jerusalem.

Jesus Triumphantly Escorted to Jerusalem

At the conclusion of this awesome day, after all the service was completed and the day had waned, the High Priest was accompanied by the entire multitude of worshippers back to his own home. "When the High Priest exited from the holy place unharmed, he made a celebration for his loved ones" ((Yoma 7, 1). In the High Holiday Prayer Book for the Day of Atonement it says, "How radiant was the appearance of the High Priest, when he exited in peace from the holy place! Like flashes of light that emanate from the splendor of the angels - such was the appearance of the High Priest."

Like "flashes of light"! How very prophetic. Here is how Habakkuk described the coming of the Lord: "God comes from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise. His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand, and there is the hiding of His power. Before Him goes pestilence, and plague comes after Him.…" Hab 4:3-5

Revelation 19 And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia, and her smoke rose up for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, these are the true sayings of God.

Feasting and Dancing

Once again we can see how Revelation speaks of the festival of Yom Kippur, because these prophecies are portrayed in the time of the Second Temple as the joyful feasting and dancing that took place at the end of the day and the following day. Even the Marriage Supper of the Lamb finds a mirror-image in those first century traditions:

The evening closed with a feast. If this ending of the Day of Atonement seems incongruous, the Mishnah records something yet more strange in connection with the day itself. It is said that on the... Day of Atonement, the maidens of Jerusalem went in white garments, specially lent them for the purpose, so that rich and poor might be on an equality, into the vineyards close to the city, where they danced and sung. The following fragment of one of their songs has been preserved: Around in circle gay, the Hebrew maidens see; From them our happy youths their partners choose. Remember! Beauty soon its charm must lose - And seek to win a maid of fair degree. •When fading grace and beauty low are laid, Then praise shall her who fears the Lord await; God does bless her handiwork - and, in the gate, "Her works do follow her," it shall be said.' [Edersheim, The Temple p 327}

Notice above the intriguing similarity in this Yom Kippur song to Revelation 14:13 "And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them."

Firsthand Account

This letter was written by a man who actually witnessed the services at the Second Temple on the Day of Atonement. Here is an extract as it is translated in "Shevet Jehudah" by Solomon Aben Virga, who translated it from a letter written by Versovius to King Alfonso the Pious.


The second service [that I witnessed] was the entrance of the high-priest in the sanctuary. Of the service itself they did not tell me, but of the procession to and from the Temple. Some of it I have also seen with my own eyes, and it surprised me so greatly that I exclaimed: "Blessed be He who imparts His glory to His nation!"

At the corner of every street stood the heads of the colleges, who spoke to him thus: "High-priest, enter in peace. Pray to our Creator for our preservation, so that we may occupy ourselves with the study of His Law." When the procession reached the mount of the Temple they halted and prayed for the preservation of the kings of the house of David, then for the priests and the Temple, whereat the Amen exclamation, because of the great crowd, was so loud that the birds overhead fell to the ground.

All that took place at the procession to the Temple; but at the procession from the Temple his honor was double, for the entire population of Jerusalem marched before him, and most of them with burning candles of white wax, and all attired in white; all windows were draped with varicolored kerchiefs and were lighted dazzlingly, and, as the priests told me, the high-priest, during many years, because of the great crowds and rush, could not reach his house before midnight; for although all fasted, nevertheless they did not go home before they convinced themselves whether they could kiss the hand of the high-priest.

On the following day he prepared a great feast, to which he invited his friends and relatives, and made that day a holiday, because of his safe return from the sanctuary."

Two Feasts

In Revelation we see not just a feast prepared for the Bride at her wedding (Rev 19:9) but also one for the birds (19:17) who are called to "the supper of the great God", the flesh of the slain in that last battle. Jesus referred to the last days feast a number of times.

Matt 8:11 "I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Matt 22:2-4 "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, 'Tell those who have been invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast."'

Courtship, Marriage and Dancing for Joy

Jewish weddings today are considered to be a kind of personal Yom Kippur, and both Bride and Groom may wear white. The Orthodox bride will wear white to symbolize that she has been to the mikvah in preparation for the wedding. The groom wears a kittel (a short white linen robe) over his suit to indicate his spiritual readiness for marriage. (The groom may also wear the kittel to Yom Kippur, Passover Seders, and finally as a shroud.)

So it is firmly established that there is a connection with courtship, feasting and marriage! When John wrote the book of Revelation he understood and revealed the PROPHETIC truths of these traditions, truths that later Jewish thinkers could not grasp. From we read:

If there was ever a surprising dimension to Yom Kippur the following Mishna wins the prize. In Tractate of Taanit, the Mishna describes a maidens dancing in the vineyards to attract the attention of  the unmarried men. (See text below) How are we to understand this very surprising form of celebration on Yom Kippur?

The Yerushalmi (Taanit 4:11) claims that it makes perfect sense to have a courting ritual on Yom Kippur, since this is the day of atonement. Although this statement seems almost inexplicable, the Chida (Rabbi Chaim Joseph David Azulai, 1724 – 1806) connects this statement with another one in the Yerushalmi (Bikkurim 3:3), that a bride and groom are forgiven for all their sins on their wedding day.

Rav Eliyahu Dessler in Michtav M'Eliyahu (vol. 4, 180-181) questions this astounding practice on Yom Kippur. How could Yom Kippur be a day of dancing and dating? ... Rabbi Israel Lipschitz, in his commentary on the Mishna, Tiferet Yisrael (ad loc. Yachin 63), finds the notion of maidens dancing/ singing in the vineyards on Yom Kippur to attract men to be ludicrous. Therefore, he explains the practice as, in fact, an allegory reflecting Israel singing to God.

Full text of Ta'anit Ch.4 Mishna 8:

Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said: Israel had no greater days of joy than the fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur. On these days the daughters of Israel would go out dressed in white which were all borrowed in order not to shame anyone who didn't have [a suitable white dress]. All the garments required ritual immersion [before being donned to ensure their purity from niddus]. The daughters of Jerusalem would go out and dance in the vineyards. And what would they say? Young man, lift up your eyes and see what you choose for yourself. Don't set your eyes upon beauty; rather, set your eyes upon family. [For] grace is false and beauty is vain; a woman who fears the Lord she will be praised. And the verse further states: "Give her from the fruit of her hands and let her deeds praise her in the gates" (Proverbs 31:30). So too, Scripture says: "Go forth O you daughters of Zion and gaze upon King Shlomoh [i.e., the Holy One, the King of Peace] crowned with the crown His nation made for Him on the day of His wedding and on the day of the gladness of His heart" (Songs 3:11). On the day of His wedding refers to [Yom Kippur] the [day of the] giving of the Torah [i.e., the second Tablets], and on the day of the gladness of His heart, refers to the building of the Holy Temple [inaugurated on Yom Kippur], may it be built speedily in our days (Soncino Translation).

Oh how wonderful to read that this joyful dancing and courtship (symbolic of the Wedding of Jesus to his Bride) also mentions at the same time the KINGSHIP of "The Holy One, the King of Peace" ..." crowned with the crown His nation made for Him on the day of His wedding..." and how sad, too, that this Jewish writer missed the whole point of what he was saying!

For it is granted to the Bride to be "arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." Rev 19:8

The Fate of the Beasts

The other significant activity relating to both Yom Kippur and Revelation at this time is the fate of the two beasts. In the Temple they are described as sin-offerings, a bullock and a he-goat, and in Revelation the two beasts stand for sin personified and incarnate, the very embodiment of sin, possessed by the Dragon who is Satan. Thus these two beasts are - at Yom Kippur - removed from the Temple precincts, carried to the place of the dead outside the city, and there burned. And, in Revelation we see the two beasts captured, and cast alive into the lake of fire (Rev 19:20)

It is as if all the rebellion and wickedness of the people of God has been personified, embodied, in the beasts of Revelation. They have all sin imputed to them, and they and the sin together are thrown down bodily into the pit of fire where they belong. This is almost exactly how the Jews saw the process of sin-removal at Yom Kipper. I quote:

Azazel as Satan. Most modern authors adopt the oldest Jewish interpretation of Azazel as a supernatural being opposed to God. This view is supported by both Biblical and extra-biblical evidences. ... The extra-biblical support for the identification of Azazel with Satan comes from both etymological considerations and literary sources. Etymologically, many authors see in the name Azazel the root 'el, which in Hebrew means "God." Various combinations have been proposed. One that is favored by several scholars is azaz+el, that is, "a fierce god." This interpretation harmonizes with the role of Azazel in Leviticus 16 as a being the antithesis of Yahweh.

The oldest extra-biblical source for the story of Azazel is found in the Ethiopic book of Enoch which was written sometimes during the two centuries preceding the Christian era. Asael (1 Enoch 6:1) or Azazel (I Enoch 9:4-6) is listed as the ninth of the fallen angels who eventually emerges as the leader and cause of evil and corruption (1 Enoch 13:1). Chapter 10 of 1 Enoch is of most interest to us because here God instructs the archangel Raphael to bind Azazel and cast him in the desert. Verses 4 to 8 read as follows: "And again the Lord said to Raphael: 'Bind Azazel hand and foot and cast him into darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein. And place him in rough and jagged rocks and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there forever, and cover his face that he may not see light. And on the day of the great judgment he shall be cast into the fire. And heal the earth which the angels have corrupted, and proclaim the healing of the earth, that they may heal the plague, and that all the children of men may not perish through all the secret things that the Watchers have disclosed and have taught their sons. And the whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin."

Similarities Between Azazel and Satan. Certain elements of this account, such as the binding and sending of Azazel to the desert, resemble the Biblical description of Azazel. Similarly the casting of Azazel into the fire looks very similar to the casting of the Devil in the lake of fire in Revelation 20:10. Several commentators have noted the similarities between the Jewish traditions regarding the fate of Azazel as found in 1 Enoch and in the Talmudic tractate Yoma, and the eschatological fate of Satan in Revelation 20.51

Ralph Levy offers the following concise summary of the literary correspondence between the two.

1. In 1 Enoch 10:4 and 13:1 Asael is bound, prior to his judgment, as is Satan in Revelation 20:2-3.
2. In 1 Enoch 10:4-5 Asael is sent through an opening in the desert referred to as 'Dudael,' and eventually to a place of rough and jagged rocks. Yoma 67ab has the Azazel goat thrown over a precipice in a rocky place. Revelation 20:3 has Satan the Devil dropped into a pit.
3. 1 Enoch 10:8 gives the reason for Asael's removal: to prevent his ongoing corruption of humanity. Revelation 20:3 provides a rationale for Satan's binding and removal as a measure to prevent his deceiving the nations any longer.
4. 1 Enoch 10:8 instructs that 'all sin' is to be ascribed to Asael, paralleling the Biblical Atonement ceremony in which all sins of Israel are confessed over the Azazel goat (Lev 16:21).
5. 1 Enoch 10:13 depicts the final fate of Semjaza and his companions (including Asael) as being led off into the abyss of fire for eternal torment, just as Satan is cast into the lake of fire and sulfur, together with the Beast and the false prophet, to be eternally tormented (Rev 20:10)."

The association of Azazel with Satan fits the scheme of Revelation 20 and provides a remarkable connection between the Jewish tradition of the fate of Azazel on the Day of Atonement, and its anti-typical fulfilment at the Return of Christ.

Objections to Equating Azazel with Satan. The two major objections to equating Azazel with Satan are derived from the two texts of Leviticus quoted earlier. The first text is Leviticus 16:5 where the people are instructed to present to the High Priest "two male goats for a sin offering." This is interpreted to mean that both goats constitute a single sin offering. This interpretation ignores the context which indicates that the two goats were presented before the Lord for the purpose of selecting which one would be the Lord's sin-offering goat. The second text is Leviticus 16: 10 which says: "Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it." The expression "to make Atonement over it" is interpreted to mean that Azazel atoned for the sins of the people. This interpretation ignores that in the Scripture Atonement can be made in a saving sense or in a punitive sense. In a saving sense when the sins of a penitent sinner are atoned for by the substitute's death of an animal (cf. Lev 4:35, ect.). In a punitive sense when the punishment (execution) of a guilty person atones for his offense (Num 35:33; 25:13). Just as punishment of those who shed blood rendered Atonement for the Israelite nation (Num 35:33), so the punishment of Azazel, as representative of Satan's role in human sinning, rendered Atonement in a punitive way. [Source]


We have reached the final hours of the DAY, both in the Temple and in Revelation. We have also reached the end of this rather long study and I pray you have been able to stay the course, and have learned something of interest.

I know that there will be many questions in your mind, as there are in mine. Since this is a difficult prophecy, the book of Revelation may never be completely unravelled. However, I do believe that John's references to Yom Kippur and Temple practises has opened the way to a much more profound understanding, both of the symbols themselves and the timescales involved.

God bless you all!

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© 2014 Tricia Tillin-Booth. All rights reserved. Birthpangs Website:  This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information.   One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.