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The Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, is the most holy and solemn day of the Jewish calendar. It is the only day when the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place within the Tabernacle and ancient temples. It was the only day when the high priest reconciled Israel with God and symbolically brought them back into the presence of the Lord. No other day, and no other ancient ritual comes closer to the full meaning and purpose of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
The word Atonement occurs 39 times in the Book of Mormon, approximately half as many times as the KJV of the Old Testament. This is remarkable because the Book of Mormon is about a third the size of the Old Testament, meaning that Nephite prophets used the word far more than the Old Testament prophets. Interestingly, the KJV of the New Testament only includes the word Atonement once in Romans chapter 5:11, though there are a few examples of words that could be translated as atonement. Remarkably, almost all of these occurrences of the word atonement in the Book of Mormon (except twice) occurs before the coming of the Savior. The significant fact is that though few of the Israelites in the old world saw the connection between the Day of Atonement and the Savior, there is little question that the Nephite writers well understood the symbolism.
King Benjamin is perhaps the best example of this understanding, as it appears that he gives his final discourse on or shortly after the Day of Atonement. He clearly connects his address to this significant Jewish holy day, and makes sure his people know the connection to the Savior. As modern readers, we sadly often miss these connections, and because of our lack of understanding of this most holy day, we miss many important insights. With the Day of Atonement occurring today, October 9th, we wanted to share a new video from Messages of Christ to hopefully help our followers better understand this important day. You can also read about some of the connections between the Book of Mormon and the Day of Atonement in our KnoWhys #82 and 479.