Where did the sages of blessed memory get this idea recorded in the Babylonian Talmud Rosh Hashana 31b of tying a red or crimson cord to the goat sent to azazel (last week's Torah reading), in order to see if this red crimson cord would turn white?

I have read other questions in regards to this goat here at Mi Yodeya, but not this particular question.

Did the rabbis ever talk about where the sages got this idea of tying a red cord on the goat, perhaps for example, from Isaiah 1:18? "Come now, let us debate, says the Lord. If your sins prove to be like crimson, they will become white as snow; if they prove to be as red as crimson dye, they shall become as wool." (I saw this verse from a Chabad Website, but it was not connected to the goat sent to Azazel.)

  • I would I assume they got it from reports of what has been done in the Temple. They were not far removed.
    – msh210
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 16:20

1 Answer 1


It's explicitly connected to that verse.

מִנַּיִן שֶׁקּוֹשְׁרִין לָשׁוֹן שֶׁל זְהוֹרִית בְּרֹאשׁ שָׂעִיר הַמִּשְׁתַּלֵּחַ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה א) אִם יִהְיוּ חֲטָאֵיכֶם כַּשָּׁנִים כַּשֶּׁלֶג יַלְבִּינוּ: ‏

How do we know that you tie a red string to the goat that gets sent away? From the pasuk "If your sins are like red, they will become white like snow.

Shabbos 9:3

  • It seems, from this source, the rabbis made this an explicit connection, between the crimson cord and the goat and Isaiah 1:18. From a peshat perspective, there is no goat mentioned in Isaiah 1:18. I wonder if other rabbis differ from this excellent source you pointed out.
    – ninamag
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 14:03
  • @nin yes also Talmud here on 89b
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 14:45
  • @Dr.Shmuel please put a link of this here. Thanks.
    – ninamag
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 15:05

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .