What Does The Term "Scapegoat" Mean And Where Did It Originate?


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Christopher Adam Profile
The term "scapegoat" is of ancient Hebrew origins and it usually refers to someone who is unfairly punished or denounced for the errors and shortcomings of others. The term refers to a practice, once present among the Jewish people during the Old Testament times, whereby a village, or a tribe would invest in a goat, which would symbolically assume the sins and crimes of the community. The community elders would then smack the goat on the backside, thus encouraging it to run off into the forest, taking with it all the sins of the tribe.

A reference to this term can be found in the Book of Leviticus 16:8. It is believed that William Tyndale (1494–1536), an English Protestant scholar, was the first to introduce this term into the English language, in circa 1530. This was during the time of the Reformation, when Protestant theologians and leaders began translating the Bible into the vernacular.

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