Several years ago I read Roy Schoeman’s book Salvation is from the Jews. He tells the story of his conversion to the Catholic Faith. He was formerly a devout Jew. I was struck with his story about the Jewish Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur. I had never heard of this before and I was skeptical. So I contacted a university library and paid for copies of the references in the Talmud (Yoma 39) and Zohar ((Vayikra, Section 3). Mr. Schoeman’s quotes were absolutely accurate. I would like to share it with you on this Good Friday.
Excerpted from:Salvation is From the Jews by Roy Schoeman pp. 130-132.
Both the Talmud and Zohar contain accounts of how in the days of the Temple, the High Priest would once a year–on Yom Kippur, or the “Day of Atonement”–enter the Holy of Holies and offer sacrifice for the atonement of the sin of all Israel. Both mention the “miracle of the scarlet thread, in which a scarlet thread would miraculously turn white as the sign that God had accepted the sacrifice. From the account in the Zohar (Vayikra, Section 3, condensed)
All the sins are (taken) away…. on this day, the defilement of the soul and of the body…All that day…God makes atonement for Israel and purifies them from all their sins and they are not accused before Him…On this day the priest….makes atonement for himself and his house and the priests and the sanctuary of all Israel…They used to know by a certain thread of scarlet if the priest had been successful…It was known by the thread changing its color to white, when there was rejoicing above and below. If it did not, however, all were distressed, knowing that their prayer had not been accepted.
The scarlet thread turning white would be the sign that God had accepted the sacrifice and forgiven the Jewish people their sins (“though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be crimson red they may become white as wool”–Isaiah 1:18) Yet the Talmud itself reports that forty years before the Temple was destroyed, this great miracle, which gave divine confirmation that the High Priest’s sacrifice had been accepted taking away the sins of the Jewish people, ceased to occur. The passage from the Talmud reads (Rosh Hashanah 31b):
Originally they used to fasten the thread of scarlet on the door of the Temple court on the outside. If it turned white the people used to rejoice, and if it did not turn white they were sad…For forty years before the destruction of the Temple the thread of scarlet never turned white but it remained red.
The Temple was destroyed about 70 A.D.; hence the miracle ceased to occur at about 30 A.D., which is precisely when the crucifixion took place—the crucifixion that replaced the sacrifices of the Old Covenant with that of Jesus on the Cross. According to the New Testament at the very moment that Jesus died on the Cross the curtain of the Temple that separated off the Holy of Holies was rent in two, symbolizing the end of the efficacy of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. It is the Talmud itself that unwittingly confirms this when it recounts that from that time on—forty years before the desruction of the Temple in 70A.D.–the scarlet thread never again turned white.
And in the New Covenant we have the miracle of transubstantion at every celebration of the Sacrifice of Christ.
Below are two online sources of this practice and it’s extinction.
Tabernacle in Branson
Later on in Temple history a certain ritual was added to all of this, using three scarlet woolen ropes. One scarlet rope was tied to the horns of the sacrificial goat, one was tied to the horns of the scapegoat and one hung from the front of the temple. After all the Yom Kippur sacrifices were completed by the High Priest a mighty miracle took place. The scarlet rope hanging from the temple supernaturally turned “white”. This was God’s sign to the Israelites that their sins were forgiven, conforming to Isa. 1:18, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow”.
However, immediately after the crucifixion of Yeshua (Jesus) and for the next 40 years until the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., the scarlet cord never turned “white” again. This, too, was God’s answer to the Israelites – that there was no need for that to happen any longer because the sacrifice of Yeshua, the “blood of atonement” that He shed on the tree of sacrifice, put an end to the Mosaic sacrificial system.
The Talmud, the Jewish sacred writings second only in importance to the Tanach, record that one of the sacrificial animals had a scarlet cord tied around its neck, which turned white when GOD had accepted atonement for the people. This miracle occurred every nearly every year for around 1500 years but did not occur again from the year Jesus was crucified until the Temple was destroyed and all Temple worship ceased. (Talmud yoma 39a)