Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Need a scapegoat to help cover your latest "infraction"? There's an App for that.

Filed under- "You can't make this stuff up".

We are all familiar with the term "scapegoat." It is often used when a group of powerful people are accused of a crime, but escape the consequence by blaming it on some low level person. The aide or intern working for the senator or congressman is often referred to as the scapegoat, since they are the one who is blamed for the problem, usually without any basis.

Many will not be aware, however, that the term actually comes not form the political arena, but an ancient religious practice. In Leviticus 16:20-22 the goat is part of an elaborate Day of Atonement ceremony whereby the people of Israel receive forgiveness for their sins.

20 “When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. 21 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. 22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.

The passage of scripture and the ceremony it describes is among the more oddest one in the Bible.  How a wandering goat removes the sin from the community is not clear, although it is probably more symbolic in nature. We are not certain how often this ceremony was practiced in ancient Israel. While the Day of Atonement is still celebrated by Jews around the world, I am not aware of any that include the ritual of the scapegoat. 

But now we can bring back that ritual through the magic of technology. In a recent article The Jewish Week reports that a company has designed an eGoat app that can be used for private confession of sins. Go to, select your age range, type in your confession and then hit enter. On Yom Kippur the eGoat will be driven into the wilderness of the internet and your sins will be taken with it.

One wonders what kind of atonement theory this practice reveals? 


  1. Your link is not working. The correct link is
    You better change it quickly, because it could be a matter of spiritual life and death for those who need atonement for their sins.

    As far as atonement theories are concerned, I believe the egoat covers sins committed on the internet.

  2. I think In I Enoch, Azazel is an evil divine creature at war with Yahweh(a watcher) who would be among the bene elohim of Gen 6:1-4. I forgot where I read it, but, some theologians think the Leviticus 16 passage is dealing with Azazel as a divine creature, translated in English as "scapegoat".

    The "scapegoat" in that view represents Azazel I think, metaphorically wandering in "the wilderness" forever due to his rebellion against Yahweh. IF that's valid, it could explain the passage. Who knows?