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Scapegoat (Leviticus 16:8)

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bible verse


A person who takes the blame for the crime of others.

origin and application

In the Old Testament times, not everyone could enter the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle, only the chosen priests. If the prophet is to enter this area, he has to offer two goats, one to be used as a sin offering, the other as the scape goat (i.e. an old word for escape), which escapes from death but is presented alive before God. The prophet is to lay both hands on the head of the scapegoat and confess all the sins of the Israelites and put the sins on the goat’s head. He then must send the goat away into the desert, which will carry on itself all their sins. The scapegoat presented in the Old Testament foreshadows the sacrifice of Jesus, who will atone for all men’s sins.
Scapegoat in today’s sense takes on another meaning, rather than being able to escape from the scene, it refers to a person who takes the blame for the crime of others. It is usually when a senior person sacrifices a junior to take the blame for his own errors.


A prime minister made a scape goat of the minister for health.


blame    sacrifice    scapegoat   

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