Scapegoat September 22, 2009

Esau is a “hairy man” ( sa’iyr ), something we learn only when Jacob dresses himself in goat hair to approach his father (Genesis 27:11, 23). Jacob becomes a hairy one, subbing in for his brother. The only other use of the word in Genesis is in 37:31, where it describes the “kid” killed to fool into thinking that Joseph has died. Both passages involve substitution, and both involve deception of a father.

Leviticus 16 is the great chapter about hairy goats. The word is used 14x in the chapter to describe the two goats used in the day of atonement rite. On the day of “coverings,” Israel is covered with goat skin to receive the blessing of the firstborn; on the day of coverings, a hairy kid is killed in place of the beloved son.

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