Who Or What Is the “AZAZEL” Goat?
In the days of
the Tabernacle and
once a year on Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement
took two goats -- one for the Lord, and one for "Azazel"
-- the first goat was sacrificed, and the second goat carried
the sins of the people into the wilderness led away by a
"fit man" to perish in the desert. What was this second
goat, or "Azazel" goat, symbolical of -- what did it
represent? Was it a type of Christ? Was it a type of the
enemy of mankind, Satan the devil? Controversy rages
over this seemingly innocuous question. What is the
plain TRUTH? Here is new information never before
put together to reveal the incredible saga of the mystery
of the "scapegoat" -- or Azazel!
William F. Dankenbring
the book of Leviticus we read of an intriguing ceremony which was performed
every year on the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, in ancient
shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its
blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull's blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover
and in front of it. In this way he will
MAKE ATONEMENT for the
Aaron has finished making atonement for the
What is this mysterious "scapegoat" that carries the sins of all the people into the desert? What does this strange ceremony symbolize and foretell?
commentators are agreed that the first goat, which is sacrificed for a sin
offering, whose blood is sprinkled over the
Paul explained further, "When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place ONCE FOR ALL BY HIS OWN BLOOD, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb.9:11-12).
As Paul wrote, "For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place ever year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared ONCE FOR ALL at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, NOT TO BEAR SIN, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him" (Heb.9:24-28).
Notice! Jesus gave His life for our sins ONCE and for all time. His sacrifice COMPLETELY paid the penalty of our sins. This awesome event is portrayed by the first of the two goats, the one whose lot fell "to the LORD," the goat that was sacrificed by the high priest as a SIN offering for the people! As Paul explains to the Corinthians, "God made him who had no sin to BE SIN for us, so that in HIM we might become the righteousness of God" (II Cor.5:21).
Therefore, this first goat which was offered on the Day of Atonement every year, pictured to perfection the unique sacrifice of Jesus Christ who laid down His life for our sins, as our "sin offering." Jesus is also the "Passover Lamb" who was slain for us, that our sins might be covered by His blood, and we might be forgiven, and have peace and reconciliation with God. "For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed" (I Cor.5:7).
Why then, in the ancient yearly ceremony on the Day of Atonement, was there the unique feature of a SECOND GOAT -- one not "for the LORD," but for "Azazel"? The sacrifice of Jesus Christ PERFECTLY satisfied the requirement and symbolism of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. There would have been no need whatsoever for a second, additional goat to also represent Christ in His capacity as our "sin bearer." The first goat, who was SLAIN for our sins, fulfills this symbolism PERFECTLY! What, then, does this second goat really represent?
The "Azazel" Goat
Peake's Commentary on the Bible asserts, "Having thus
isolated the sin of the people from all holy things, Aaron now proceeds to get
rid of their sin altogether. He puts
both hands on the head of the live goat, recites over it all the sins of the
This Commentary continues:
"According to Hebrew tradition, as preserved in the Mishnah,
Yoma vi, 8, the goat was driven to a rocky terrace twelve miles
was driven over these jagged rocks to perish over this precipice
. . . G. R. Driver, 'Three Technical Terms in the Pentateuch,' . . .
shows that the 11th century Jewish commentator Rashi was right
when he understood AZAZEL to refer to the place to which the
goat was sent. It means, 'jagged rocks, precipice,' and only later
did the word come to refer to a desert demon . . . the Rabbis were
very clear that the goat was in no sense a gift to Azazel. Rabbi
Eliezer declared that the goat was not a gift to Semjaza (Sammael),
the chief of the Fallen Angels, nor a bribe to him not to make their
offerings void or falsely to accuse
since it was not slaughtered. It was SENT AWAY BY GOD'S
COMMAND. God chooses the goat that is sent away to Azazel.
Plainly and simply God himself is providing a means of getting
Notice carefully! This second goat was NOT A SACRIFICE! Therefore, it could NOT picture Jesus Christ, who as a sacrifice paid the penalty for all our sins. Secondly, this second goat was "sent away" to the desert by the COMMAND of GOD! Christ was never sent away to the desert, carrying our sins to the remote wilderness. This pictures some other altogether different event!
Notice once more: This second goat is chosen "by lot," as is the first goat. That is, God Himself choses which goat will represent Christ as our Saviour and Redeemer, and which goat will represent this other symbolism -- the "Azazel."
The very name "Azazel" itself is very significant. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible points out that this term literally means "GOAT OF DEPARTURE." It comes from two roots: aze, "a she goat (as strong)," and azal, aw-zal -- "a primitive root, to GO AWAY, hence to DISAPPEAR, fail, gad about, go to and fro, BE GONE, SPENT."
This the term "scapegoat" in the English is an unfortunate translation and does not really convey the true meaning of the original Hebrew word "Azazel." Says the Companion Bible on this word, "Heb. for Azazel. 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." This goat was sent into the "wilderness." Says the Companion Bible, "wilderness, or desert, symbol of ABODE OF ALL EVIL THINGS . . . Azazel probably the personification of all that is 'great and terrible' there."
The desert, figuratively, is a type of the abode of the devil and his demons, or fallen angels. Isaiah 13:21-22 describes the desert, "But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there . . . doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and DRAGONS in their pleasant palaces . . ." The term "dragon" is also used to refer to Satan the devil, "that old dragon" (Rev.12:9). The desert is a type of the abode of Satan and his demons (Isa.34:14). Jesus Christ said, "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through ARID PLACES SEEKING REST and does not find it" (Matt.12:43). A man Jesus encountered, filled with demons, "abode in the tombs" (Luke ).
Concerning "Azazel," The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible states:
"The scapegoat dispatched on the Day of Atonement is described
as being consigned 'to/for Azazel.' There are three principal inter-
pretations of this term: a) It characterizes the animal itself, and
stands for . . . 'goat that departs' -- i.e. (e)scape-goat. This is the view
of the LXX (vs.8, 10; vs.26) . . . A variation of it connects the word
rather with Arabic 'azala,' 'banish, remove,' though the formation
would then be unusual.
b) It denotes the place to which the animal was dispatched. This is
the view of most of the rabbinic exegetes . . . 'azaz,' 'a rugged cliff.'
Some have sought to support it by connecting the name with Arabic
'azza' in the sense of 'be rugged,' and thus identifying it with the Beth
Huddudo, 'sharp place,' named in Yom.6.8 and Targ.Ps.Jon. on Lev.
as the destination of the scapegoat. This, in turn, is the Dudael
'in the desert' to which Azazel is consigned in Enoch 10:4.
c) It is the name of a demon inhabiting the desert. This view is adopted
by most modern commentators, and is anticipated in Enoch, where
Azazel appears as a RINGLEADER OF THE REBEL ANGELS, who
seduces mankind . . ." (p.325-326).
Similarly, A Dictionary of the Bible by James Hastings, says:
"Azazel. The name of the SPIRIT supposed to have its abode in the
wilderness, to whom, on the Day of Atonement, the goat laden with
the sins of the people was sent. Azazel is not mentioned elsewhere
is OT; but the name occurs in the Book of Enoch (2nd century B.C.)
as that of the LEADER OF THE EVIL ANGELS, who formed
unions with the daughters of men, and (as the legend is developed in
the Book of Enoch), taught them various arts, and whose offspring
the giants filled the earth with unrighteousness and blood. On account
of the wickedness wrought by Azazel upon earth, the four archangels
Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael, are represented as IMPEACHING
HIM BEFORE THE ALMIGHTY, who thereupon bids Raphael bind
him hand and foot, and secure him, under 'rough and jagged rocks,' at
a place in the desert called 'Dudael,' until on 'the great day of judgment'
he is to be cast into the fire" . . . there can be little doubt that the cere-
monial was intended as a symbolical declaration that the land and people
are now purged from guilt, their sins being handed over to the EVIL
SPIRIT to whom they are held to belong, and whose home is in the
desolate wilderness, remote from human habitations (v.22, 'into a land
cut off'). . . ." (volume 1, p.207).
"The Goat That Disappears"
Unger's Bible Dictionary says the term "Azazel" means "an entire removal." The word "Azazel" occurs four times in the Bible, all in Leviticus 16 (verses 8, 10, 26). The spelling in the Massoretic text indicates the word is a combination of two root words meaning "goat" and "disappear." Hence, the term itself means "The Goat that Disappears."
whole ceremony of the Day of Atonement in ancient
On the Day of Atonement in ancient Israel, after the high priest had thrust his hands into an urn containing the two lots, he laid one on the head of each goat. The high priest then tied a tongue-shaped piece of scarlet cloth to the horn of the goat for Azazel, and another around the throat of the goat for Yahveh. The high priest now lay his hands on the remaining live goat, and confessed the sins of the people and the nation, intreating God's mercy on His people for their inquities, transgressions, and sins. And while the prostrate multitude worshipped, the high priest turned his face towards them as he uttered the last words, "You shall be cleansed."
Then a strange scene would be witnessed. The priests led the sin-burdened goat out through 'Solomon's Porch,' and, as tradition has it, through the eastern gate, which opened upon the Mount of Olives. Here an arched bridge spanned the intervening valley, and over it they brought the goat to the Mount of Olives, where one, especially appointed for the purpose, took him in charge. Tradition says that he should be a stranger, a non-Israelite. The Scriptures say that this goat is to be taken into the wilderness "by the hand of a fit man." At the edge of the wilderness, they halted, viewing afar off, while the "fit man" led the goat forward, tore off the scarlet ribbon, and then, leading the animal backwards, he pushed it over the edge of a cliff. Says the Mishnah, "He then pushed it over backward, and it rolled down the ravine. And it did not reach halfway down the mountain before it broke into pieces" (Yoma 6:6, p.275).
The arrival of the goat at the edge of the wilderness was immediately telegraphed by the waving of flags to the people and the priests back in the Temple precincts.
Thus this goat will finally carry the sins of the people, and be banished into the wilderness. Is this really a picture of the fate of Satan the devil?
The Book of Enoch
In the Book of Enoch, written in its final form in the second century before Christ, one of the apocalyptic books of Jewish literature, and a book quoted by the apostle Jude (Jude 14), we read more about the sin of the angels and their rebellion against God. In this book the evil angel who led the rebellion -- whom we call Satan, or the devil -- is identified as none other than "Azazel"!
"And AZAZEL taught the people (the art of) making swords
and knives, and shields, and breastplates; and he showed to their
chosen ones bracelets, decorations (shadowing of the eyes) with
antimony, ornamentation, the beautifying of the eyelids, all kinds
of precious stones, and all coloring tinctures and alchemy. And
there were many wicked ones and they commited adultery and
erred, and all their conduct became CORRUPT . . . . And the
people cried and their voice reached unto heaven . . .
"Then Michael, Surafel, and Gabriel observed carefully from the
sky and they saw much blood being shed upon the earth. . . . And
they said to the Lord of the potentates, for he is Lord of lords, and
the God of gods, and the King of kings . . . 'Everything is naked
and open before your sight, and you see everything; and there is
nothing which can hide itself from you. YOU SEE WHAT
AZAZEL HAS DONE, how he has taught all forms of oppression
upon the earth. And they revealed eternal secrets which are performed
in heaven and which man learned. . . .
"And then spoke the Most High, the Great and Holy One! And he
sent Asuryal to the son of Lamech saying, 'Tell him in my name, "Hide
yourself!" and reveal to him the end of what is coming; for the earth
and everything will be destroyed. And the Deluge is about to come
upon all the earth; and all that is in it will be destroyed. And now
instruct him in order that he may FLEE, and his seed will be preserved
for all generations.' And secondly the Lord said to Raphael, 'BIND
AZAZEL HAND AND FOOT and THROW HIM INTO THE
DARKNESS!' And he made a hole in the desert which is in Dudael
and CAST him there; he threw on top of him jagged and sharp rocks.
And he covered his face in order that he may not see light, and in order
that HE MAY BE SENT INTO THE FIRE ON THE GREAT DAY
OF JUDGMENT" (Book of Enoch, 8:1-10:7).
Although the book of Enoch is not considered Scripture, and the present version has no doubt suffered corruption, there is little doubt that the original text and manuscript goes back to the time of Enoch and before the Flood of Noah. This book was quoted by the apostle Jude, who says, "Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: 'See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him" (Jude 14-15).
Since Jude quotes from the book of Enoch, I find no reason why we cannot do so, today, if we are careful and judicious in its use and intepretation. This passage about the sins of the angels, and the naming of AZAZEL as the instigator of the angelic rebellion, and the one who led mankind into corruption, violence and wickedness, before the Deluge, parallels perfectly with the Scriptures, which tell us that it was Satan, the devil, who seduced and deceived Eve in the garden of Eden, and led mankind into rebellion against God.
The Devil's Part in All Our Sins
The apostle John writes of Satan the devil, "And there was WAR in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The GREAT DRAGON was hurled down -- that ancient serpent called the evil, or Satan, who LEADS THE WHOLE WORLD ASTRAY. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him" (Rev.12:7-9).
Satan is the "god of this world" (II Cor.4:4), the "prince of the power of the air" (Eph.2:2). He is the chief architect of all evil, wickedness, and violence. He is the author of confusion, the instigator of rebellion, the Originator of Apostasy!
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, said to the wicked religious leaders of His day, the Sadducees and Pharisees, who had plunged into apostasy and rejected the very Saviour Himself,
"You belong to your father, the DEVIL, and you want to carry
out your father's desire. HE WAS A MURDERER from the
beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.
When he LIES, he speaks his native language, for he is a LIAR
and the FATHER OF LIES" (John 8:44).
Through his cunning, subtlety and craftiness, the devil has deceived and pulled the wool over the eyes of ALL NATIONS. The entire world has turned away from the way of God because of the powerful delusions and deceptions of the devil. As Paul wrote of the Church of his day, "But I am afraid that just as Eve was DECEIVED BY THE SERPENT'S CUNNING, your minds may somehow be LED ASTRAY from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus OTHER than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you
accepted, YOU PUT UP WITH IT EASILY ENOUGH" (II Cor.11:3-4).
Satan has filled the earth with HIS churches, HIS denominations, HIS cults and sects -- one for every personality or inclination. As Paul warns, "For such men are FALSE APOSTLES, DECEITFUL workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve" (II Cor.11:13-15).
The Day of Atonement, then, pictures not only the pure cleansing and complete atonement God made for the sins of the world, through the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but it also has a DUAL meaning and significance -- it also pictures the final JUDGMENT ON SATAN and HIS ANGELS for their part in the wickedness and evil that has occurred in the world, under their wicked sway and influence! As the High Priest put both his hands on the head of the "live goat," and confessed all the sins of the people, putting them on that goat, it symbolized SATAN or AZAZEL receiving full responsibility and blame for HIS EVIL ROLE as the instigator and originator of Rebellion and Sin in the Universe! And just as the Day of Atonement pictures, his punishment will not linger. It is sure!
The Book of Enoch describes to some degree the punishment that will come upon Azazel, or Satan. The Scriptures also corroborate the FATE of Satan, and add much more detail than the book of Enoch gives. Notice!
The Great Abyss
Speaking of the time of the second coming of Christ, we read that after Jesus and His angels put down rebellion around the earth, and destroy the armies that come against Jerusalem in a final "Armageddon," and throws the evil leader of the world into the lake of fire (Rev.19:11-20), another strange event will take place -- an event pictured and foreshadowed by the ceremony of the Azazel goat on the Day of Atonement!
"And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the DRAGON, that ancient SERPENT, who is the DEVIL or SATAN, and bound him for a thousand years. He THREW him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from DECEIVING THE NATIONS ANYMORE until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. . . .
"When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his PRISON and will go out to DECEIVE the nations in the four corners of the earth -- Gog and Magog -- to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand of the seashore.
They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But FIRE came down from heaven and devoured them. And the DEVIL, who deceived them, was THROWN INTO THE LAKE OF BURNING SULPHUR, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev.20:1-10).
In this lake of fire, Satan the devil will finally PERISH. He and his demons will be consumed away into nothingness. Paul writes of the devil's fate, "Since the children have flesh and blood, he [Christ] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might DESTROY HIM who holds the power of death -- that is, the DEVIL" (Heb.2:14). The Greek word here is kartageo and means to "abolish, annul, destroy." It is the same word used in II Thessalonians 1, where Paul writes, "This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish them who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with EVERLASTING DESTRUCTION (kartageo)" (II Thess.1:7-9).
The lake of fire is actually designed for Satan and his wicked demons. Jesus said in the parable of the sheep and the goats, that the goats - who symbolize the wicked -- will go into eternal, age-lasting fire! His words were, "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal [aionian, "age-lasting"] fire PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS" (Matt.25:41).
This fire,of course, will not burn forever -- but its results and effects will be everlasting, PERMANENT! None will survive it. None will be resurrected from it. Just as God says Sodom and Gomorrah "serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire" (Jude 7) -- the fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah is not still burning like a raging inferno at the southern and western region of the Dead Sea, today, where those cities once stood. However, the effect of that horrendous holocaust is still evident today -- Sodom and Gomorrah are still destroyed, a wasteland.
Satan's Awesome Fate
The Scriptures say, "The wages of sin is DEATH" (Rom.6:23). That applies to the sin of angels as well as the sins of man. There is not a different penalty for angels. They, too, will DIE -- be destroyed -- because of their wickedness! God is Creator, and the Creator is greater than the created objects He makes and fashions. If He chooses, He can destroy any part of His creation that He decides to destroy. Just as if you build a house, but then don't like the way the house turned out, you can demolish it -- either take a bull-dozer to it, and raze it to the ground, or burn it to the ground. Even so, God Almighty is perfectly able to destroy the devil and his demons, when the day of final retribution and judgment comes!
The demons know their fate. That is why they are so terror-stricken when they comtemplate it. When Jesus approached a man with a demon, the demon cried out to Him, "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to DESTROY US? I know who you are -- the Holy One of God!" (Mark 1:24). The Greek word for "destroy" here is APOLLUMI, and means literally, "TO DESTROY FULLY, PERISH, DIE."
A clue to the fate of the demons is found in the 82nd Psalm. The Psalmist David writes, "I have taken you for DIVINE BEINGS, sons of the Most High, all of you; BUT you shall DIE as men do, fall like any prince" (Psa.82:6-7). The Moffatt translation renders this verse with an unusual interpretation, translating "prince" as "demon" -- as the demons are regarded in the Scriptures as "princes" of the darkness. Paul writes, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the RULERS, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph.6:12). Says Moffatt: "Or, I say, though you are gods, all sons of the Most High, yet, like mere men, you shall die, you shall PERISH LIKE A DEMON" (Psalm 82:6-7).
The Final End of Azazel-Satan
In the book of Ezekiel, God describes the final fate of Azazel, or Satan. God Almighty says of this once celestial being, formerly known as Lucifer, "shining star of the dawn,"
"You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect
in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious
stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and
jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings
were made of gold; on the day you were CREATED they were
prepared. You were anointed as a GUARDIAN CHERUB, for
so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you
walked among the fiery stones. You were BLAMELESS in your
ways from the day you were CREATED TILL WICKEDNESS
was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were
filled with VIOLENCE, and you SINNED. So I drove you in
disgrace from the mount of God, and I EXPELLED you, O
guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became
PROUD on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendor, so I THREW you to the earth; I made a
spectacle of you before kings. By your many SINS and dishonest
trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a FIRE come
out from you, and it CONSUMED YOU, and I reduced you to
ASHES on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All
the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a
HORRIBLE END and will be NO MORE" (Ezek.28:12-19).
Peter describes that awesome day when the devil will be destroyed, and the very elements of the heavens will blaze and be consumed, and God will created a NEW heavens and a NEW earth wherein only righteousness will dwell or exist!
Peter writes "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a ROAR; the elements will be DESTROYED by FIRE, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the DESTRUCTION OF THE HEAVENS BY FIRE, and the ELEMENTS WILL MELT IN THE HEAT. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a NEW HEAVEN and a NEW EARTH, the home of righteousness" (II Pet.3:10-13).
The very heavens and galaxies will be destroyed by "fire." The very elements that comprise the Universe and every object in it, will "melt." The whole Universe will implode in a super-fiery ball of heat and incredible energy, like one gigantic "black hole" or "neutron star." In this fiery age-ending Holocaust, the devil and his angels will also PERISH and be DESTROYED! They, along with all the wicked, will be reduced to nothing -- the equivalent of random atoms and molecules or sub-atomic particles. Not even two atoms will cleave together in a molecular "element."
At that fiery judgment, the great Destroyer himself will be destroyed.
But, brethren, we the people of God look forward to a NEW heavens and a NEW earth, where no wickedness will exist -- where there will be therefore no evil, no Satan, no demons, no wickedness of any kind.
Let us look forward with eager hearts and thrilling excitement and anticipation of that great and glorious time! Let us pray more fervently, to God our Father,
"Thy Kingdom Come!"