Now we are going to talk about the Azazel from Yom Kippur. It is the goat that is taken to the wilderness, and very misunderstood in Christianity. It is mistranslated in Lev 16 as “scapegoat” but we are going to find out exactly what it really is. In the Jewish Encyclopedia it says that Azazel is “the name of a supernatural being mentioned in connection with the ritual of the Day of Atonement (Lev 16). After Satan, for whom he was in some degree a preparation, Azazel enjoys the distinction of being the most mysterious extra-human character in sacred literature. Unlike other Hebrew proper names, the name itself is obscure.”
In the Gesenius Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, Strongs #5799, p, 616-617, it says the name Azazel is used by the Arabs as that of an evil demon. The root “azal” means to remove or to separate. In short, Azazel is a picture of Satan and the False Messiah. It goes to the desert (dry places) which is seen as the habitation of demons in Isa 13. Yeshua goes to the wilderness and is tempted by Satan. In Lev 16.8, the single allusion to Azazael is seen.
On Yom Kippur, lots are pulled out of a box called the “kalphi” and these lots are two plates with the name of God (L’Adonai=”to Adonai) and the name of Azazel (L’Azazel). The goat for the sin offering will have the lot with God’s name on it placed on its forehead (Rev 14.1), to the right of the High Priest. The lot with L’Azazel is placed on the forehead (Rev 13.16) of other goat, to the left of the High Priest, and is taken to the wilderness and slain.
Christianity has interpreted this as the Adonai goat being a picture of Messiah, and so is the Azazel goat that is taken to the wilderness. Here is the problem with that interpretation. You can only work with the information that you have. Christianity only uses the information it has on the Messiah for the two goats. But, if you look at the Yom Kippur ceremony, Hebrew meanings and definitions, the Jewish writings (Talmud, Mishnah, Pseudo-Pigrapha, the Apocrypha, Dead Sea Scrolls) you will see every one of these is giving a different message than what Christianity is saying.
With all of the information that dates back to the time of Yeshua on how the people understood who Azazel was, which interpretation is going to be more correct? So, what we are going to do is go back to the article on Azazel in the Jewish Encyclopedia, where it says, “The goat that fell to Adonai was slain as a sin offering for the people. But, the goat of Azazel (now known as the scapegoat) was made the subject of a more striking ceremony. The High Priest laid his hands upon its head and confessed over it the sins of the people. Then the victim was handed over to a man standing ready for the purpose, and laden as it was with the imputed sins, it was led forth to an isolated region and then let go. The Rabbis, interpreting Azazel as “Azal” (rugged), and ‘El” (strong), refer it to the rugged and rough mountain cliff from which the goat was cast down (Yoma 67b; Sifra, Azazel 2.2; Targum Yerushalmi Lev 14.10 and most medieval commentators). Most modern scholars, after having for some time endorsed the old view, have accepted the opinion mysteriously hinted at by Ibn Ezra and expressly stated by Nahmanides to Lev 16.8, that Azazel belongs to the class of Seirim or goat-like demons haunting the desert, to which the Israelites were wont to offer sacrifice (Lev 17.7, KJV “devils”; compare the ‘roes and the hinds’, Canticles 2.7, 3.5, by which Sulamith administers an oath to the daughters of Jerusalem. The critics were probably thinking of a Roman fawn).”
“Far from involving the recognition of Azazel as a deity, the sending of the goat was, as stated by Nahmanides, a symbolic expression of the idea that the people’s sins and their evil consequences were to be sent back to the spirit of desolation and ruin, the source of all impurity. The very fact that the two goats were presented before the Lord before one was sacrificed and the other sent into the wilderness, was proof that Azazel was not ranked with Hashem, but regarded simply as the personification of wickedness in contrast with the righteous government of Hashem. The rite, resembling on one hand the sending off of the ephah with the woman embodying wickedness in its midst to the land of Shinar in the vision of Zechariah 5.6-11, and the other, the letting loose of the living bird into the open field in the case of the leper healed from the plague (Lev 14.7), was indeed viewed by the people of Jerusalem as a means of ridding themselves of the sins of the year. So would the crowd, called Babylonians or Alexandrians, pull the goats hair to make it hasten forth, carrying the burden of sins away with it (Yoma 6.4, 66b; Epistle of Barnabas, 7).”
The Epistle of Barnabas reference here indicates that early believers had the same beliefs. It was only at a later date that Christianity, because of Replacement Theology, missed the picture that God was trying to communicate. This is “sin” because people are misapplying what applies to the False Messiah to Yeshua. We are going to see as we work through this teaching that this will be a pattern that leads to a great delusion. The Jewish Encyclopedia goes on to say that “the arrival of the shattered animal at the bottom of the valley of the rock of Beit Chadudo, 12 miles away from the city, was signalized by the waving of shawls to the people of Jerusalem, who celebrated the event with boisterous hilarity and amid dancing on the hills (Yoma 6.6-8; Ta’an 4.8).”
Mishanh Yoma 4.1 to 6.8 gives the ceremony for L’Adonai and L’Azazel, the two goats. You will notice that the two goats must be alike in appearance and size (Yoma 6.1). Azazel is a type of the False Messiah who will come and “look like” the true Messiah in what the people expect. You will see that the Azazel goat is taken to the wilderness and slain (Yoma 6.3). Another good reference for this is the article “Day of Atonement” in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
The word “Chadudo” out of Jastrow’s Dictionary of the Targumim says the root is “hadad” and it means to “cut, to sharpen” and its root can also mean “joy.” This alludes to the sharp cliff Azazel was pushed off of, and it relates to the joy the people will feel once this goat is slain.
In Part 16, we are going to discuss a ceremony found in the Mishanh that was done after the news of the death of Azazel was received, and this will relate to Judges 21.1-21.