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What is the meaning of Azazel / the scapegoat?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
"Azazel" or "the scapegoat" is mentioned in Leviticus 16 as part of God's instructions to the Israelites regarding the Day of Atonement. On this day, the high priest would first offer a sacrifice f...

July 01 2013 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Nils 1 Nils Jansma Missionary in San Diego California
The matter regarding Azazel involves two identical Goats both in appearance and value. The High Priest (HP) will draw two golden lots from a golden container sitting nearby. (Leviticus 16:8) The container was shaken and the HP randomly withdrew the two lots, one in each hand. He then placed them on the heads of the two goats and declared them to be “a sin offering to the LORD.” One of the lots is “for YHWH” and the other is for the people as a “scapegoat.” Some translations call the scapegoat, “Azazel” which literally means "for the complete removal" and is related to the Hebrew word “escape.” That is the reason the second Goat is called the “escape Goat” which has been shortened into “scapegoat.” This goat originally was to survive the sacrifice and in that way, “escape.”

If the Lot for the Lord’s Goat is in right hand of the HP, that is a good sign. Conversely, if the Lot is in his left hand, that is a bad omen. Tradition says the YHWH Lot was in the left hand 40 consecutive years before 2nd Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Think about that.

The Goat for the Lord had a red ribbon tied around its neck called a “Tongue” because of its shape. The Scapegoat had a similar red ribbon tied to one of its horns. The two Goats were considered a single sacrifice. A piece of the scapegoat’s red identification ribbon was also attached to a temple door. To verify that God had accepted the offering of the scapegoat, the portion of the red ribbon attached to the temple door miraculously turned white as described at Isaiah 1:18. However, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia: “... forty years before the destruction of the Second Temple, when the change of color was no longer observed (l.c. 39b).” Think about that. Http://

The Azazel Goat originally escaped death by being driven into the wilderness during the First Temple period. However, during the Second Temple period, as a precaution against the scapegoat wandering back into some inhabited area along with the people’s sins, it was actually put to death by the “fit man”. The Goat was taken to a particular high precipice about 12 miles away and pushed off backwards to its death. 

In light of the ministry of Jesus as our great High Priest of the New Covenant, a number of commentators understand the Goat "to the LORD" to represent the blood of atonement that was shed upon the cross for our purification from sin. The offering made "to Azazel" represents the additional aspect of removing our sins far "outside the camp." Just as both of the goats of the Yom Kippur ritual constituted a single offering made to God (Leviticus 16:5), so the sacrifice of Jesus represents two aspects of a single offering before God. The blood of the first goat was given "to the LORD" for atonement, but the exile of the second goat was given to banish sins from the Divine Presence. 

Likewise Jesus served as both our atoning sacrifice before the Father and as our "scapegoat" who "carries away our sins" (Isaiah 53:4, 5; Matthew 8:17; 1 Peter 2:24). The scapegoat then represents the separation from God that Jesus experienced on our behalf as He bore the wrath of God in our place. Because of the Messiah's sacrifice, our sins are now put away "as far as the east is from the west" and are forever buried in the bottom of the sea, never to be remembered again (Psalm 103:3,12; Micah 7:19; Jeremiah 31:34). Jesus who came in two natures, is both our heavenly High Priest whose blood cleanses us from sin as well as our human "Scapegoat" who forever banishes the sins of our flesh from God's holy Presence.

June 28 2017 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Al Mari Private practice as a cardiovascular & thoracic surgeon
Controversy continues as to what these 2 goats of the Day of atonement represent. 

What is undeniable is that these 2 goats are for the atonement of sins. But, whose sins? From the narrative in Leviticus 16, the goat for YHVH (Lord) was killed and the goat to Azazel was presented alive to YHVH (Lord). The 1st goat was for the atonement of sins of mankind. Could the atonement of the 2nd goat be for sins of the "fallen angels"? 

Notice that in v-15, the killed goat was a sin offering for the sins of Israel and by extension includes that of Gentiles. On the other hand, in v-10, the other goat was presented alive and was sent into the wilderness to Azazel. But why should Aaron after atonement of sins of Israel through the death of the first goat in v-16, again, in v-21, "lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins.."?

Looking back at creation, angels and humans were created by YHVH, the Word-Creator. Adam, representing humans, sinned and death came to all mankind. Similarly, Lucifer sinned and in fact took away with him a third of angelic beings. To be a substitute for humans, the second Adam (Jesus) has to be human as well. 

YYHVH has to incarnate as man-Jesus to die for mankind. The parallel here, is shared by many, that the 1st goat that was killed represented the atoning sacrificial death of Jesus to reconcile mankind to God. But, how about the sins of angelic beings? Notice in V-10 "...but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel". The purpose of the live-goat was also for atoning the sins of "fallen angels" and to reconcile them to God. 

As a goat that was killed, so was the man Jesus killed. But as a resurrected Jesus, "he went and preached unto the spirits(fallen angels) in prison" (I Pet. 3:19). These fallen angels are in "... chains of darkness,.."(2 Pet 2:4), "... everlasting chains..."(Jude 1:6). 

The live-goat (resurrected Jesus) with sins of mankind "upon the head of the goat" as proof, told these "fallen angels" about his atoning sacrifice for man. As Jesus reconciled mankind to God with his death, having been resurrected and alive he can also atone and reconcile the "fallen angels" as he will be sitting in "the right hand of God". 

As YHVH, and the Word-Creator being the incarnate Jesus, these 2 goats foreshadow what Jesus will do in the future. He has provided a mechanism for atonement of all sins to reconcile all to God.

November 06 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Data Steven Best Former mil intel analyst, chiropractor & Bible Teacher
Azazel (Lev 16:8) is the biblical name often translated "scapegoat," though it means so much more. On the day of atonement, according to Leviticus 16:5, the high priest would take two young goats, one for Yahweh and one for Azazel. The 1st was to be killed as an offering for the people's sins, to cleanse their Tabernacle (Lev 16:15-16). The high priest would then lay hands upon the head of the goat for Azazel, while confessing the many sins of the people. Those sins were then transferred to the goat, which was then led into the uninhabited wilderness, thus removing the sins of the people (Lev 16:20-22). But if the 1st goal was for the Lord, who was Azazel?

According to ancient The apocryphal texts of Enoch, jubilees, and others, Azazel was a Seraphim angel, who led 200 watcher/guardian angels to leave their 1st estate in heaven, after binding them together by mutual imprecations (oaths/curses). These were sworn upon Mt. Hermon, which, in Hebrew, means "curse," and at whose base we find The Cave of Pan, also known as "The Gates of Hell." There they took human wives as described in Genesis 6, thus bringing upon this earth the Nephilim (Gen 6:1-4, Num: 13:33), which were breeds of pre-flood giants. (Josephus, Clement, and others equated these with the Titans of Greek lore.) In return for receiving human wives, Azazel taught mankind weapons, metallurgy, cosmetics, antimony, and jewelry. 

The pseudo-pedigrapha further states that he "taught all unrighteousness on earth and revealed the eternal secrets, which were in heaven." Thus, the teachings of witchcraft, alchemy, astrology, sexual perversion, abortion and every other evil practice was laid at the feet of Azazel, who, in turn, blamed mankind, saying "his every thought is evil." As punishment for his wicked actions, Azazel was taken into the wilderness, where he is held in chains beneath the earth, under sharp, craggy rocks, where he will remain until the final day of judgment.

The goats of Leviticus 16 provided an excellent illustration of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. For He, who knew no sin, took on himself the sins of the world. This was an offering specifically for the Lord. By dying and shedding his blood, like the 1st goat, he cleansed these human temples, that we might once again have fellowship with him, despite our unworthiness. But the 2nd offering was for Azazel, demonstrating that all earthly sins, which the accuser of the brethren continues to blame upon mankind, will ultimately return to him at the final judgment. No longer will mankind be his scapegoat, for they have been placed upon Azazel, by our high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jewish tradition has relegated Azazel to a demon spirit of the wilderness, but this is not at all in keeping with the pseudo-pedigraphal texts of Jubilees and Enoch. Demon spirits, as a result of Yahweh's judgment, are simply what remains of the Nephilim, once they have died. Their spirits cannot ascend to heaven (Enoch 15:4-11). Many scholars believe Azazel to be another name for Satan/Lucifer. Others believe the Genesis 6 event to be separate from the fall of Lucifer, and see him as having led a 2nd angelic rebellion. In either case, he is usually equated with the serpent in the garden, who tempted mankind with evil knowledge, and brought so much suffering upon the earth. For him and his fallen ones, there will never be any atonement or salvation (1 Pet 3:19, Jude 6)

January 06 2017 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Kenneth Heck
The ritual of the two goats is highly symbolical. It comes from the idea that individuals and peoples can’t be partly good and partly evil forever. Either the good tendency or the evil tendency must be eliminated, so they are totally good or totally evil. The two goats represent two types of Jews – those who become ultimately free of sin, including original sin, and ultimately accept the sacrifice of Christ - and those who become totally evil by rejecting the prescribed sacrifices, Judaism, and ultimately Christ’s sacrifice. 

The sacrifice of the goat separated the people from their sins. The sins themselves (from the tendency to sin) were then transferred to the scapegoat. Normally, the Lord would determine where sins were transferred for any animal sacrifice, but a record of them would remain for the final judgment. Christ was the final sacrifice for sins for those who become entirely free of sin, and the fulfillment of the goat sacrifice. 

The scapegoat didn’t simply bear the sins as if they were a burden around his neck, but the sins entered into the goat’s nature. (This is reminiscent of satan entering into Judas so he could betray Christ.) The scapegoat is ultimately manifested in all the false prophets and false Christs - ending with the final Antichrist - coming into Israel from the wilderness to seduce the Jews and persuade them to sin, reject their religion, and become as evil as they are. They all arise from the second beast of Rev 13:11. These false miracle workers constitute the last temptation before Christ’s second coming to judge the nations. At that time there will be the final separation of the wheat from the chaff, and making an end to sins (Dan 9:24).

Unfortunately, the Old Testament has no inkling of the Antichrist, and barely mentions the Messiah. This leaves the Jews particularly vulnerable to impostors who do false signs and miracles. The two goats may imply that half of all the Jews from the beginning will be saved and half be rejected. We know that all Israel will be saved, but not all Jews are of Israel (Rom 9:6).

July 01 2017 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
The 1st goat was killed and his blood was shed (Lev. 16:15), representing the substitutionary death of Christ and the shedding of His blood for our sins. Norm Geisler & Thomas Howe

The 2nd goat, the scapegoat or azazel as it is in Hebrew, being released symbolized the sins of the people being carried away and never to be held against them again. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us’’ (Ps. 103:12 NKJV). “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’’ (John 1:29NKJV) 

--Warren Wiersbe

December 20 2021 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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