Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18
"The red scarf symbolically represented one’s sins. If the goat came back, your sins found you out! So the ceremony had to be changed. We know this from a Jewish writing called “Kippurim,” the plural of “Kuppur,” meaning atonement.
So, they had two goats. The first goat was sacrificed and the blood from that goat was taken to the west end of the Temple, the Holy of Holies, and sprinkled on the symbolic mercy seat, presence of God. The sins of the people were confessed on the head of the second goat, the scapegoat (the Asazel).
The goat was led from Jerusalem over the Mount of Olives. At a certain point the priest would stop and look over the Temple wall, over the Court of Israel wall, through the open Nicanor Gate to the open door of the Temple. His eyes would look back to the symbolic presence of God as he confessed the sins of the people on the head of the goat while ascending the Mount of Olives.
The goat was then led to the top of the Mount of Olives where a man stood with a huge white flag, the size of a bed sheet. Men with flags were stationed on the hills due east of the Mount of Olives along the route the priest took the goat.
When they came to a cliff, the goat was blindfolded with the red scarf so it would not be frightened and was then pushed off the cliff to a sudden death. This was necessary so the goat would not find its way back to Jerusalem.
A piece of trivia, but the way to say, “go to hell” in Hebrew is to say, “join the scapegoat.” When the scapegoat was pushed over the cliff, the men stationed along the route raised the white flags and within a matter of seconds revealed the information that the ceremony had been completed. The people then gave thanks to God for forgiveness that their sins had been “separated as far as the east is from the west.”
Fleming, James W. 2002. Desert Spirituality. Biblical Resources Conference Lecture Series, June., pgs 86-87