Yom Kippur, the Day of Coverture?

by Ken Rank

A couple of years ago our Saturday morning bible study began the task of trying to define Kippur, as in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The picture being created in this Feast (see Lev. 23:27-32 and 16:7-26) does not align to how Kippur is generally taught within Christianity. The idea is that Yehoshua (Jesus) has taken on our sin in a manner depicted by the picture seen in the scapegoat. This bridges the gap between us and the Father making us “at one with” Him, where we were once separated because of sin. Tyndale when translating his bible in 1534, created the word “atonement” from the idea of being “at one with” God. Hence the “Day of Atonement” comes from that translation.

Most lexicons however, define Kippur as “to cover” or “a covering.” The idea being taught then is that we are covered by Messiah’s shed blood and our sins are forgiven. Some teachings take this to the degree of saying that “Messiah’s blood is so opaque, God can’t see our sin thus we are covered.” Well, we have a problem; God is all knowing and all seeing so how then can He not see through blood? We can’t hide anything from Him; we aren’t going to sneak something passed him. Nothing is so opaque that God can’t see through it, unless He is not all seeing! There is, of course, another issue here and that is in the understanding of what was his blood was shed for. He stated, “This is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matt. 26:28) The word for remission is aphesis, which means freedom, a pardon, a freeing from bondage.

When you take this Greek word back into the LXX, and then see where and how it is used in the underlying Hebrew, I believe you will see that how the word is used as compared to how it is commonly taught, differ to enough of a degree that we do not get the proper picture by reading this word only in English.

Maybe you can now see why we took this up as a topic of study; there are clearly issues here that need to be reconciled. The Feasts point at and teach us about the work of Messiah. If Yehoshua is Messiah, then the work he has done should be in line, the fulfillment of the pictures which prophesied of his coming, with the work he did at his first coming. Meaning, the spring Feasts speak “primarily” about his first coming. The fall feasts, of which Kippur is one, speak “primarily” about his return. The work he will do in fulfilling the pictures given to us about Kippur must remain in line with those very pictures. And the idea that his shed blood covered us in a blanket of red that God cannot see through, again, does not stand in harmony with an all knowing – all seeing God. Besides, in general, the fall Feasts have not been fulfilled. Trying to derive a complete picture concerning this fall Feast from his first coming is not possible. Aspects of his first coming will be applied to a day like Kippur, but the main emphasis of that work is yet to come.

After a month of Saturdays we could not pull this together. We finally decided to take a break and cover some other areas we wanted to get into. One of our elders (Frank Houtz, http://www.drybonesrestorationcompany.com/) had a hunch one afternoon, a hunch that led him to our public library. There he found an older Law Dictionary and looked up a word I personally had never heard of, coverture. Sure enough, there it was, preserved in a form that answered our questions. Older is the key seeing the Woman’s Right’s Movement had this law changed. It is no longer defined in the manner it once was. Here is a comment based on the older definition of “coverture:”

“By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law, that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband: under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs everything; and is therefore called in our law-french a ‘feme-covert,’ …and her condition during her marriage is called her coverture.” (Blackstone Commentaries, 442)

The idea here is that a wife is under the legal umbrella of her husband. When this law was written, if a wife was caught stealing, her husband had to answer for her in court. In other words, when it comes to being prosecutable, the buck stopped with the husband. He answered for her crimes. How is this related to Kippur? The word is defined as “covering,” but it isn’t a blanket that God can’t see through, it is a legal term defining the man as head of his home, of his bride. Israel is the bride of Messiah, she is guilty, she has whored around and committed all manner of sin… but the husband has already answered for her crimes. Sin has not been removed yet, but the work is done and Messiah now acts as advocate, as counselor, (notice the additional legal terms also found in scripture to describe his current work) before the Father. On that Yom Kippur after he returns, he will once and for all remove the sins from his bride and cast it from whence it came, onto Azazel. We will then be pure and spotless, with Torah written forever on the mind and heart.

Peace to you.

Ken Rank