Christian Churches of God
Azazel and Atonement
(Edition 1.1 19970911-19970913)
The significance of the goats at Atonement is often confused and the name Azazel is often mis-constructed or misused. There is a long-standing interpretation of the symbolism which stems from ancient Israel and is found embodied in the texts of the varying periods. That symbolism is examined here in its Messianic and end-time typology.
Azazel and Atonement
Instructions for Atonement
In Leviticus 16:1-34, we are given the instructions for the Atonement sacrifices. Among these are the two goats upon which lots are drawn to determine the sacrifice and the bearing of the sins of the people.
Leviticus 16:1-34 And the LORD spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the LORD, and died; 2 And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. 3 Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on. 5 And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. 6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house. 7 And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD'S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. 10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness. 11 And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself: 12 And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: 13 And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not: 14 And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times. 15 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: 16 And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17 And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel. 18 And he shall go out unto the altar that is before the LORD, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. 19 And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel. 20 And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: 21 And Aaron shall 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, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: 22 And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness. 23 And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there: 24 And he shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place, and put on his garments, and come forth, and offer his burnt offering, and the burnt offering of the people, and make an atonement for himself, and for the people. 25 And the fat of the sin offering shall he burn upon the altar. 26 And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp. 27 And the bullock for the sin offering, and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung. 28 And he that burneth them shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp. 29 And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: 30 For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. 31 It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. 32 And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments: 33 And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation. 34 And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses. (KJV)
The Day of Atonement is commanded and we see from Leviticus 23:26-32 that the day is from dark to dark.
Leviticus 23:26-32 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. 29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. 30 And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. 31 Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath. (KJV)
Thus, there is to be no work of any sort on this day and those who disobey are to be cut off from the people and from God.
Sequence of activities
The priests are to be consecrated and there are a series of set activities in regard to the sacrifices. We have seen elsewhere that a red heifer was sacrificed as a sin offering (see the paper Messiah and the Red Heifer (No. 216)). In this sequence it is a bullock.
The first activity in the text in Leviticus is that two sons of Aaron died for being presumptuous. This action parallels another action in the heavens where two beings rebelled and took a third of the Host. The primary of these beings was Satan the great Red Dragon of the Host (Rev. 12:3-17) who is the god of this world (2Cor. 4:4). The understanding of the Hebrews was that another of high rank was also involved. His name is not important. However, the Book of Enoch appears to name the leader as Semyaza. This symbolism seems to reflect itself throughout the ancient world as the man-headed and lion-headed beings. They are depicted as cherubim in the Hebrew texts (cf. Ezek. 41:19). They appear as the Aeons in the mystery cults (cf. David Ulansey The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries, Oxford, 1989). The understanding is nevertheless similar but viewed from different sides. The Hebrew system seems to depict their new standing from Ezekiel’s temple. This period is seemingly Messianic – thus, they are probably to be seen as replacements for the fallen beings.
In the Judaic system, Azazel is understood as the angel of the fallen Host we equate with Satan. Azazel is a member of the fallen Host identified in the Book of Enoch. The traditional view is that two beings were reflected by the two goats mentioned here in Leviticus 16 – one of these beings was identified with Yahovah and the second with Azazel. The rabbinic commentaries identify him with a member of the fallen Host.
Lots were cast on the goats. Each lot was inscribed – one for Yahovah and the other for Azazel (Rashi, Soncino, Lev. 16:8).
The Soncino commentary on Leviticus 16:8 shows that the word Azazel is understood by Judaism as meaning a strong or mighty el. (’Azaz SHD 5811 is held to be derived from SHD 5810 meaning: to harden, be impudent, to prevail, strengthen the self, hence be strong. This is hardly Messianic). Rashi says it denotes a precipitous cliff. Ibn Ezra explains that it was a cliff near Mt Sinai from which the goat was hurled. This practice of hurling the goat from the cliff is a later variation on the theme which is not part of the biblical instruction. No doubt this was to prevent the goat returning and hence the sins of the nation being revisited on Israel. However, it is not the Bible instruction and strikes at the very concept of the mercy of God.
Nachmanides quotes the Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer that the angel Sammael who had been assigned power over all the people except Israel complained to God who informed him he would have control over Israel on the Day of Atonement if they sinned. The second goat is understood by Judaism as being intended to be sent to Sammael [Azazel or the god of this world] but since it was not brought in to the sanctuary, it was let loose in the wilderness. This is a token of removal of the problem from the nation rather than the offering to idols. The removal of the being to which sin was attributed as entering the nation is the same concept as the removal or binding of Satan in the last days (Rev. 20:1-10).
The origin of this name Sammael is from the concept of desolation (SHD 8037) and, hence, enveloped by darkness and, thus, the north in the northern hemisphere or the left-hand side (SHD 8040). This is the left-hand side of God as opposed to the right-hand side. The name Shammai (SHD 8060) means destructive (cf. SHD 8073).
Christ was on the right-hand side of God. Azazel or Satan was on the left.
There is thus no doubt that Azazel was understood by rabbinical and second temple Judaism as referring to the being given power over the nations except Israel and that being was understood as the accuser of Israel, Satan. It was referred to as Sammael in the rabbinic literature. This name can be taken to mean A Name or The name of God, or God has named. He would thus be understood to have acted in God’s name or authority at one stage. The being given power over the Host in the Book of Enoch is Semyaza which may be a derivation from this concept. This name S[h]emyaza (hzhYmv) means He sees the name or the name has seen (cf. Knibb, p. 67-68). Noth (Die israelitischen Personnanamen im Rahmen der Gemeinsemitischen Namengebung, Stuttgart, 1928, p. 123 f.; cf. Knibb p. 68) links the name Shem (mv) with the divine name HaShem (svh) which is known from the Elephantine texts. This name, as HASHEM, is used in Stone’s Chumash for Yahovah. The names of both Semyaza and Asael appear to be altered in the early chapters of Enoch. In the Ethiopic text of 1Enoch 8.3 the name Semyaza is significantly altered. Knibb thinks the Ethiopic is corrupted (Knibb, p. 71). The word Shem means a name. HaShem means The Name. It is pronounced shame. The idea comes from the concept of a definite and conspicuous position. It is an appellation as a mark of individuality. The concept is that Shemyaza or He who saw the name fell from grace and thus suffered an alteration in status which is conveyed in the change of name. So, also, with Asael. Azazel is an alteration in the status of the leader or a leader of the fallen Host. This concept of alteration of status is not examined anywhere because it strikes at the accepted religious concepts of the mainstream system. Azazel is also featured in the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) at 4Q180-181 where the references in 4Q180 frag. 1 seem to be a reference to the text in 1Enoch 6-11 and Jubilees 4:22 (Gen. 6:1-2,4). This text (and esp. lines 5-9) is held to be related to 4Q181 frag. 2, lines 1-4 (Wise, Abegg and Cook The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation, Hodder and Stoughton, 1996, pp. 238-239). There is no doubt that Azazel is held to be the leader of the fallen Host in the DSS texts and responsible for the sins of mankind as we see in the Atonement ritual.
The use of HaShem as The Name instead of speaking the name Yahovah which represents the authority of God as an extended being seemingly comes from ancient pagan practice. The usage is recorded in the Elephantine works. The practice probably came from both the Egyptians and the Babylonians and entered the Greeks and Romans. It is connected with “Sacred Names” theology and primitive magic which asserts power over a deity by the correct use of the name. Thus, the patron deity of Rome was never mentioned and the secret was protected on pain of death. The idea being that the correct pronunciation of the name by an enemy could enable their magicians to override the protection of the deity and so they would be able to capture the nation in question. This idea is probably the basis behind the usage of HaShem for Yahovah among the Jews after the captivity.
The problem in understanding what is happening at Atonement derives from the inadequate theological framework of the authorities themselves. The he-goat designated for Azazel had the sins of the nation placed on his head and he was put under an appointed priest or scribe or wise man (depending on inference) and taken out into a barren land, i.e. the desert and a land devoid of produce. In other words, the fruit of this goat was desolation (cf. Lev. 16:21-23 Soncino and notes).
The evidence of history is against the interpretation that the Azazel goat represents Messiah. Nevertheless, this view has arisen on a number of grounds which we will examine here in dealing with the subject. There is also a third explanation which we will also examine.
The duality of the symbolism
Bullinger, for example, holds that the two goats refer to Christ. However, the duality involves two lots – one for Yahovah and the other for al’Azazel. In order to justify the singular identification, the identity of the second name is concealed and allotted to mean dismissal or such like meaning which is impossible from the etymology.
It is worthwhile now going through the text verse by verse so as to deal with each concept.
Leviticus 16:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the LORD, and died; (KJV)
This is Yahovah speaking to Moses. The form Yahovah spake is used in Leviticus thirty-five different times and in ten diverse ways.
1. to Moses alone (Lev. 5:14; 6:1,19; 8:1; 14:1; 22:26 twice);
2. to Moses to speak to Aaron alone (Lev. 16:1);
3. to Moses to speak with Aaron and his sons (Lev. 6:8,24; 22:1);
4. to Moses to speak with the priests, the sons of Aaron (Lev. 21:1);
5. to Moses to speak to Aaron and his sons and all the children of Israel (Lev. 17:1; 21:16 cf. 21:24; 22:17);
6. to Moses to speak to the children of Israel (Lev. 1:1; 4:1; 7:22,28; 12:1; 18:1; 20:1; 23:1,9,23; 24:1,13; 25:1; 27:1);
7. to Moses to speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel (Lev. 19:1);
8. to Moses and Aaron conjointly (Lev. 13:1; 14:33);
9. to Moses and Aaron to speak to the children of Israel (Lev. 11:1; 15:1);
10. to Aaron alone (Lev. 10:8).
Each of these distinctions is understood from the context. Bullinger makes note of these same distinctions in his note to Leviticus 5:14.
Here in Leviticus 16, Moses is being given an order to give to Aaron so that he does not come into the Holy Place other than when he is instructed, i.e. on the day of Atonement so that he would not die, as Yahovah was to appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat or covering of the Ark (see the paper The Ark of the Covenant (No. 196)).
In verse 1 we see that Aaron’s sons died because they offered before Yahovah. The Hebrew is brought near (karab). The words strange fire are added to the ancient texts (Onk. Jon., LXX, Syriac, and Vulgate as noted also by Bullinger; n. to 16:1).
Leviticus 16:2 And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. (KJV)
Here the text means not just at any time. The Holy Place here is the Holy of Holies. This chapter does not use the term Holy of Holies but only the term Holy Place (vv. 3,16 twice,20,23,27; cf. Ex. 3:5, Bullinger’s note).
There is thus something being denoted here in the symbolism which is a transitional thing. The noun mercy is also used as an adjective. The term I will appear is I am wont to appear (cf. Ex. 25:22).
Leviticus 16:3 Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. (KJV)
The word thus is actually with this. Aaron is instructed to bring the blood of the bullock for a sin offering and the ram for a burnt offering. This was the act of purification of the Holy Place by the high priest. This was done in specific manner and the garments were of a specific type.
Leviticus 16:4 He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on. (KJV)
The plain linen of the high priest here symbolised the first advent as the Messiah of Aaron, or as the priest Messiah. He was not yet king Messiah. The king Messiah was represented by the royal robes of state and these represented the second advent, not the first. This dual function of the one Messiah as both king and high priest was understood by Judaism just prior to Christ.
It is now understood from the DSS at the Damascus Rule (VII) and the fragments from cave IV that the both Messiahs were understood to be the one Messiah (see G. Vermes The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, 2nd ed., Pelican, 1985, p. 49).
Leviticus 16:5 And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. (KJV)
The term translated kids of the goats here is shaggy he-goats.
Leviticus 16:6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house. (KJV)
Here we see that the bullock was to atone for the priesthood. This was the first phase. Messiah had to qualify as high priest before he could intercede.
This sacrifice of the bullock and the ram specified here was also used to determine the fate of a prophet in Israel as we now see from the DSS (Wise, Abegg and Cook, ibid., pp. 336-337). Josephus in Against Apion says (1.8; cf. Wise, Abegg and Cook, ibid., p. 336, wrongly cited as 1.41).
From the time of Artaxerxes until our own day a full history has been recorded, but it is not regarded as equally trustworthy with earlier records because of uncertainty about the exact succession of the prophets.
Thus, the prophets continued but there was dispute as to their authenticity and, thus, the canon was sealed from Ezra in the reign of Artaxerxes II and, in fact, at the death of Ezra in the same year as Alexander the Great (see Seder Olam Rabba 30 and the papers The Bible (No. 164) and The Oracles of God (No. 184)).
Leviticus 16:7-8 And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. (KJV)
This term scapegoat here is translated from the word based on the Hebrew which is alleged by some to mean complete removal. For example, Green (Interlinear Bible, p. 102) allocates the word as derived from SHD 5799. This word is identified as meaning both scapegoat and twice as meaning for complete removal (cf. p. 102). However, the one word is involved, namely al’Azazel lzazl. Clearly the one word is held to have two distinct meanings by the LXX, by the KJV and by Green to enable this translation. The DSS and the texts of the first century BCE hold Azazel to mean the leader of the fallen Host.
The Soncino Chumash renders the text:
And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel.
The RSV renders the text as:
and Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for Aza'zel. (RSV)
So also is it rendered in Stone’s edition of the Chumash.
Aaron shall place lots upon the two he-goats: one lot for “HASHEM” and the one lot for “Azazel.”
Leviticus 16:9-10 And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD'S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. 10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness. (KJV)
The word fell here in the Hebrew is came up. In other words, it came out of the pouch containing the Urim and the Thummin which was the means of taking Yahovah’s lot or judgment (cf. Ex 28:30).
This text is the troublesome piece. The people making claim for complete removal over Azazel have no word structure to which they can point in explanation. Stone renders the text:
9 Aaron shall bring near the he-goat designated by lot for HASHEM, and make it a sin-offering. 10 And the he-goat designated by lot for Azazel shall be stood alive before HASHEM, to provide atonement through it, to send it to Azazel in the wilderness.
There is no doubt that the word is held by the reputable rabbinical scholars to mean Azazel. The word used in each case is al’Azazel lzazl.
Stone says this name means strong z and mighty la. This view is held by the rabbinical authorities in the Soncino commentary also (cf. n. to p. 706). Thus, the Oxford Annotated RSV, the Soncino and the roots in Strong all agree. The dissenting view allocating it to SHD 5799 requires two distinct and different meanings for the same word which Strong does not really address. There is something wrong with the allocation of the words involved. SHD 5799 which is ’aza’zel listed as a combination of two words SHD 5795 and 235 and, hence, meaning goat of departure. This holds the combinations as meaning goat from SHD 5795 ’ez or aze meaning a strong she-goat in the singular but masculine in the plural meaning also goat’s hair. This word comes from SHD 5810 ’azaz the prime root to be stout, to harden, or be impudent to strengthen the self, or be strong. This self-reliance conveys with it the concept of being subject to one’s own laws. This word is held to be conjoined with SHD 235 ’azal being the prime root to go away, hence to disappear, to fall, gad about, go to and fro. The word is rendered in Ezekiel 27:19 by many as from Uzal and by others as yarn. It means to be gone or spent. Green renders it as going about. The KJV renders it going to and fro. The Soncino renders it as yarn on the basis that the me’uzzal in the text is rendered by identifying the root azal (with Aleph) with the Aramaic azal (with ain), to spin. Several Hebrew manuscripts and the LXX read me’uzzal, ‘from Uzzal.’ This name is in Genesis 10:27 and is the old designation of Sanaa, the capital of Yemen in southern Arabia. The translation would then be Vedan and Javan exported thy wares from Uzzal.
The use of the root azal is far from clear and the compound of the word ’azazel can mean the self-strengthened el and also the goat of the fall or the goat of the going to and fro in the wilderness. Al’Azazel places a specific prefix to the word. There seems to be two definite beings involved and they involve both goats – one for Yahovah and one for another purpose or place named al’Azazel. This would also further explain the use of the distinction of the sheep and goats in the parable of the separation of the nations (Mat. 25:31-34) when both are themselves clean animals.
What is the concept being examined here? The word seems also to include the simple word tsav (SHD 6673) which means injunction, commandment or precept. Thus tsawlatsaw is precept upon precept from which the law is made up (see also the paper The Nicolaitans (No. 202)).
Here we seem to see that the word involves the precepts of God. The commandments of the law are thus placed on the goat. What then does ’Azazel really mean? We know that there was a tendency to confuse or merge the names of Asael las and Azazel lzaz in the ancient texts and Knibb makes note of this fact in his translation of the Ethiopic Book of Enoch (Vol. 2, Oxford, p. 73).
Asael means God has made. Azazel means something else again. Knibb holds the reference in the Ethiopic Enoch at chapter 8:1 is a corruption of Asael or God has made in the Ethiopic and the Greek texts. Thus ’Azael becomes ’Azazel here according to Knibb. The changes may not be corruptions but indication of changes in status. A change in status equals a change in name and vice versa. Christ is given a new name in Revelation because he underwent a change in status. In like manner, we are also given a new name indicating our new status. The Ethiopic Book of Enoch seems to refer to the text in Leviticus 16:21f. and embodies also a concept found in the Targum of Pseudo Jonathan on this text as referring to the place Dudael. The text reads at chapter 10:
4 And further the Lord said to Raphael: ‘Bind Azazel by his hands and his feet, and throw him into the darkness. And split open the desert which is in Dudael and throw him there. 5 And (2v,b20) throw on him jagged and sharp stones, and cover him with darkness; and let him stay there for ever, and cover his face that he may not see light. 6 And that on the great day of judgment he may be hurled into the fire. 7 And restore the earth which the angels have ruined, (2v, b25) and announce the restoration of the earth, for I shall restore the earth so that not all the sons of men shall be destroyed through the mystery of everything which the Watchers made known and taught to their sons. (Knibb holds that the meaning made known or revealed is necessary here).
The important thing to note is that this goat was not used for atonement but rather atonement was made for it. The Hebrew says for him not with him. Thus, the goat was then let free.
The concept here of Dudael is held by Dillman (Translation 100) to have been invented and derives it from the name cauldron of God. Charles (Translation 22 f) connects Dudael from the mention in Targum Pseudo Jonathan as the place to which the goat dedicated to Azazel was led. Milik at one time accepted this explanation and derived the name from the jagged mountains of God. The word play throw on him the jagged and sharp stones is held by Knibb to make this plausible (ibid., p. 87).
Thus, the concepts in the Book of Enoch and the Targum are derived from the concepts found in the Torah here in Leviticus 16. This view is confirmed by the DSS. The goat is, however, not killed but rather let go to wander.
We see that the later rabbinical authorities did not have the full benefit of the texts now available to us but they had the idea of the matter as contained in the Torah. More importantly, the name Azazel is specifically seen in Leviticus 16. It was, moreover, seen and understood to be there from the ancient Judaic system.
This leads us to the further examination of the progression of the names of the Host. How did Asael or even Semyaza come to be named Azazel? When did this happen and what does it mean?
It is evident that the name Azazel was written into the early forms of the Torah. The LXX translated the text into the Greek as referring to the scapegoat and the Greek is held to mean to send it away for the dismissal (see note to Brenton’s translation). However, the two different concepts are conveyed in the words translated as scapegoat in the LXX. This same concept is carried on into the translation of the KJV. Green conveys this also from the MT but allocates two completely different translations to the same word as does the KJV. Strong makes the construction based on the meaning in SHD 5799 as being from SHD 5795 and SHD 235 rather than simply from SHD 5810 and the more simple ’el. The combination of words does not lend itself to such a simple use of the word el (SHD 410). The word seems to be at best azel lza (to disappear or go up, or also Uzal or yarn cf. SHD 235, SHD 236). Thus, we seem to have the case of the disappearing goat.
Multiple meanings: multiple answers
There is another answer which might combine the meanings. The self-strengthened goat is also the self-reliant el. The problem is that the goats are males and not female. Thus, the word selected is not appropriate simply as a single goat with no other meaning. The goat can be female in the singular as the church and male in the plural as the sons of God. The goat is given to the wilderness of the forty Jubilees after the sacrifice of Messiah, the goat for Yahovah. Both Messiah and the church were predestined before the foundation of the world. So, too, the plan encompassed the entire Host and their redemption and reconciliation (cf. the paper Lost Sheep and the Prodigal Son (No. 199)). The dragon pursued the woman in the wilderness (Rev. 12:10-17).
Also, the adversary has sinned from the beginning (1Jn. 3:8) yet he was perfect from the time he was created until iniquity was found in him (Ezek. 28:15). Thus, the beginning here is not the beginning of creation.
There are also other considerations. The LXX was written in Alexandria under the patronage of Ptolemy Philometor. The Greco-Roman system would not tolerate a concept of rulership from Yahovah at Jerusalem under the law, and the binding of the rule of the nations. For the same reason, we see that the trinitarian Christian system – whether from Rome or Canterbury – would not accept that the rule of Messiah was not the church under its current system of law-order but rather was yet to be implemented and Azazel put away for a thousand years. Millennialism (or Chiliasm as it was called in the early church) had been eliminated as a concept because it struck at the very rule of Rome and the church from Rome. For the same reason, the rabbinical authorities would not take it on to the next phase of the interpretation as they would then have to acknowledge Messiah as coming in two phases and the second phase would be as per the Book of Revelation which they had already rejected.
Thus, the matter was never fully explained. It was not yet revealed in its entirety as a mystery of God. When it was revealed with Messiah, it then came to be hidden as cleverly as possible by Judaism. If the goat is involved, it involves also the concept of going to and fro and, thus, the killing of the goat is against the very concepts involved here. Atonement is made for the goat and it is set free, not killed (see above cf. Bullinger, Companion Bible, n. to v. 10).
The rabbinical hiding of the meaning in the concept of the goat being killed (when the LXX does not indicate that at all) may also indicate a later Jewish mysticism rather than simple anti-Messianic zeal.
We now know beyond doubt that the concepts found in Revelation 20:4 ff were also understood from the DSS as was the resurrection and restoration in the Millennium (cf. 4Q521 frag. 7 and frag. 5 col. 2; Wise, Abegg and Cook, p. 421). The concepts found in Revelation 21:12-13 are also found in 4Q554 frag. 1 col. 1 line 9 to col. 3 line 10, ibid., pp. 180-182).
Thus, the Old Testament was able to be understood in this fashion as being necessary to the plan even though the gospels (here Mat. 22:30-32), 1Corinthians 15:12 ff and Revelation had not as yet been given.
There is another concept in the goat being given to ’Azazel in the wilderness. Messiah was killed and used in the atonement. The Holy Spirit in the church was left to wander in the wilderness for forty Jubilees or two thousand years and in this fashion was given to Azazel for complete dismissal of the sins of the world. We then have a duality of meanings in the sacrifice and in the allocation of sin and dispersal to the wilderness. The wilderness was the symbol of sin and evil (cf. Isa. 13:21; 34:14; Mat. 12:43; Lk. 8:27; 11:24; Rev. 18:2). ’Azazel was the personification of all that is great and terrible there (cf. Deut. 1:19; 8:15; Jer. 2:6). Thus, the atonement was three-fold: to Azazel, for Azazel, as Azazel. The son of God, here, is Azazel or the fallen goat.
In this way also, we see the Atonement system take up at a later period from the Passover sacrifice of Messiah. The later dressing of the king Messiah after this atonement ritual shows a duality of Messiahs and of advents. Bullinger says of the meaning here in his note to verse 8 that:
This ‘for’ looks like a personality answering to ‘for Jehovah’. If it be the Evil one who is meant then it is for his defiance. For in v. 10 atonement is made for this goat, and he is to go free. Where there is atonement there must be forgiveness. (We will continue this examination in v. 22).
This illustrates the notion of the mercy and goodness of God. The atonement, in the end, is extended to the fallen Host as a function of the grace of God and the adequacy of the sacrifice of Christ in that exercise of God’s omniscience (cf. the paper The Judgment of the Demons (No. 80)).
Leviticus 16:11-12 And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself: 12 And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: (KJV)
This fire was taken from the altar where the sacrifices of Atonement had been made. Only that fire was suitable to light the incenses on the golden altar in the Holy Place (cf. Lev. 10:1,7 and also Bullinger’s notes to 10:1,7). This fire was symptomatic of the fire of the Holy Spirit. All other fire was strange fire. Remember Aaron’s sons were killed over this offering. We see also that the baptism of John the Baptist was not to salvation. The Holy Spirit was conferred by God directly after baptism and He chose to isolate it to the new priesthood entirely. John was the son of the high priest of Abijah and a Levite, yet his baptism did not lead to salvation. So, too, this symbolism points to that event.
Leviticus 16:13 And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not: (KJV)
No man has ever seen God (Jn. 1:18; 1Tim. 6:16; 1Jn. 5:20). Only the high priest could remain in the Holy Place and then only on Atonement once a year. This pointed to Christ as high priest and to the resurrection of the dead. Messiah was a son of God in power from his resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4).
Leviticus 16:14 And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times. (KJV)
Here we have the bullock killed – first to atone for the priesthood to sanctify the high priest and then the goat is killed to sanctify the congregation. This, then, is sequential. Messiah also fulfilled all of these requirements. The sequence is mirrored in the activities in the Passover which lasts from 14 Nisan to 15 Nisan and then through to the Wave-sheaf on the Sunday morning at 9 a.m. This is then measured to the 9 a.m. on the Sunday at Pentecost exactly fifty days later and the church is then harvested. This process continues up until the end and the second resurrection. The fallen Host and the congregation in the wilderness are the group for which the second goat makes atonement. We then have the concepts of the right- and the left-hand of God – the reconciliation of sin. The blood of the goat for Yahovah is brought into the Holy Place in the same manner as the blood of the bullock. This is for the children of Israel which is the church.
Leviticus 16:15-16 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: 16 And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. (KJV)
We see from this verse that there is to be no man, i.e. no ’adam or human being, in the tabernacle until the high priest comes out and has made an atonement for himself. Thus, the priesthood is totally subordinate to this activity and there is no effective priesthood while the anti-type is within the veil (cf. Heb. 4:14; 6:20; 9:24).
Leviticus 16:17-19 And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel. 18 And he shall go out unto the altar that is before the LORD, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. 19 And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel. (KJV)
The concept of holy means separated or set apart. Only God is holy. The use of the term relates to that which is set apart for His service. In the next verse reconciling means making atonement.
Leviticus 16:20-21 And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: 21 And Aaron shall 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, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: (KJV)
The laying of both hands is for solemnity and is used only here. It symbolises the completeness with which Messiah undertakes the task as high priest and the totality of the placement of the church and Host in his hands.
In this way, both goats can represent the totality of Christ and also the totality of the reconciliation of the human and spiritual Host. By this means also, the judgment of the fallen Host is completed as they have the atonement made for them and yet they are given the church and structure to hand so that by their dealing they may be measured and we also tested. Christ can thus live as and with the two types of goats even though the second was given to ’Azazel and atonement was also made for him. The contradiction is thus resolved. As one goat, Christ was put to death to the flesh but was made alive as to the spirit. This was through the resurrection where he became son of God in power (Rom. 1:4; 1Cor. 15:45; 1Pet. 3:18). This was the first goat. He was made sin for us that we might become divinely righteous in him (2Cor. 5:21). In this way, we were reconciled to God and sent out as sheep among wolves. So, too, were the entire Host reconciled to God and hence ’Azazel was also atoned for, as we were, even though it is not yet in effect.
Azazel will be bound for 1,000 years for the millennial system and reconciled after it.
Leviticus 16:22 And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness. (KJV)
The term shall bear goes to bearing away (cf. Isa. 53:4). The land not inhabited in Hebrew is a land cut off. The wilderness of sin is a land cut off from God. The atonement has occurred in the first goat. Here, there are mixed problems. The being is at liberty but wandering in the wilderness which is under the name of ’Azazel who himself has had atonement made for him. As the church, we wandered this wilderness for forty Jubilees as Israel wandered the wilderness of sin for forty years before they inherited the promised land. When they entered and it was time for the nations to be subjugated, they were reconciled from the Passover at Gilgal. Messiah joined them as captain of the Army of the Lord and in seven days they had destroyed Jericho (see the paper The Fall of Jericho (No. 142)).
Leviticus 16:23-28 And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there: 24 And he shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place, and put on his garments, and come forth, and offer his burnt offering, and the burnt offering of the people, and make an atonement for himself, and for the people. 25 And the fat of the sin offering shall he burn upon the altar. 26 And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp. 27 And the bullock for the sin offering, and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung. 28 And he that burneth them shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp. (KJV)
Here we see that the flesh and the clothes (excluding the high priest’s which remain in the Temple) and the entire apparel of these sacrifices were consumed by fire and those entrusted with this duty were required to bathe. Thus, we see that the blood of the sacrifice of Messiah atoned for us and that through this we are able to put away the flesh in entirety and, through baptism, aspire to the resurrection to the spirit. All beings will be given the spirit and the opportunity for repentance, even ’Azazel. This sequence is in an order and within the wilderness that is still cut off from God. The uncleanness of the individual does not extend to the high priest who is already sanctified when he confesses the sins over the second goat. From Leviticus 10:17, we see that God has given it to you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them. Thus, the appointment of the charge appears to involve the requirement for purification and this can only be done by baptism in water. Even the high priest must put off his clothes and then bathe in the Holy Place before he returns.
This wilderness has a dual symbolism. Firstly, it is cut off from God being under the adversary but, also, it symbolises the action of the removal of sin. The wilderness of forgetfulness is the action of remembering our sins no more (Isa. 43:25; Jer. 31:34). In this action he destroyed the power of the adversary as we see from Hebrews 2:14. Luke 13:1-9 shows the requirement for repentance in all. This involves the confession of sin. In this sense we are set free from the condemnation of the adversary as it is God that justifies (Rom. 8:33-34). Thus we are placed back free from the condemnation that was placed upon us before the atonement of Christ took us free from the fact of our repentance. We now are placed within the structure of the adversary and we can say (as noted by Bullinger (n. to v. 22)) who dares to kill us for in this we are justified by God.
Without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness. Thus death has taken place for the redemption of the transgression. These concepts are found in Hebrews 9:15-22,26.
Bullinger takes the analogy of the two birds in Leviticus 14:51-53 as another example of this process as applied to the whole nation. In the case of the birds, the house was cured of the plague. The blood of the first bird was shed and the living bird was dipped in running water and the blood of the first bird. Then the house was sprinkled seven times and the house was cleansed with this and with cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet. The seven times indicated the sanctification of the seven churches. The living bird was then set free in the open fields. The house was then clean. In the same way, the nation is also cleansed in the goats. The entire house is cleansed in this case as all beings, human and heavenly, will come into the one nation and shall rule as God which is the sense of the name Israel.
Only when every rule and power and authority is subjugated will Messiah then hand back the kingdom to God who alone remained above the authority He gave Messiah (1Cor. 15:22-28).
When that happens Messiah and the Host will be reconciled.
’Azazel (or Satan) will exist no more. In his place will be a new being with a new name, reconciled to God. There will be no more death, false prophecy or lies, or the beast and its system. As concepts, they will be dead– burnt in the lake of fire (see Rev. 19:20; 20:14).
Leviticus 16:29-34 And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: 30 For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. 31 It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. 32 And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments: 33 And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation. 34 And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses. (KJV)
Only through this process can we enter the body of Israel. That is why a person who does not keep the Day of Atonement and the symbolism of the sacrifice of Christ and the reconciliation through baptism in the Holy Spirit is cut off from God. It is through this atonement and symbolic baptism that we are given our garments.
The sacrifice of Messiah reconciled all beings to God. Messiah made atonement for every being including ’Azazel or Satan, and that is why in the two goats we can see the activities of Messiah and yet still see the sequential plan of God as embracing all of His sons. His plan is complete and perfect through His omniscience and in His omnipotence. His mercy and goodness are complete and endure forever.