Each year, on Yom Kippur, the High Priest of Israel made atonement for the nation, enabling G-d’s presence to live in their midst so enemies couldn’t attack, crops would be plentiful, joy would abound, people would stay healthy, and justice would prevail.
At the heart of the atoning process was a ritual involving two goats, described in Leviticus 16. One goat was sacrificed in the Temple to atone for the nation’s sin and/or transgressions. The second, called the scapegoat, was sent into the wilderness to atone for iniquity, or the carnal nature.
Most people who read about the scapegoat in the Bible think it was the fortunate goat. However, Jewish sources explain that this goat was not so fortunate. Instead of being humanely sacrificed, it was pushed off a high cliff and died a painful death. Of all the sacrifices in the Bible, it was the only inhumane one and the only sacrifice made for iniquity, showing that, in G-d’s economy, iniquity required a greater price than sin or transgression.