Azazel or Scapegoat?

Who in the world, or some other world, is Azazel?

If you are reading through The Daily Message with me this year, you may have wondered about that while reading in Leviticus 16 about the Day of Atonement and the sending of a goat into the wilderness. “Then he will set the two goats before God at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and cast lots over the two goats, one lot for God and the other lot for Azazel.” “The goat on which the lot for Azazel falls will be sent out into the wilderness to Azazel to make atonement.”That sounds like God is telling Aaron to send a goat to someone, or something, named Azazel as an act of atonement.

As I often do when reading a different translation or paraphrase, I immediately went to my reliable NASV to see what the text really says. As expected, it simply speaks of one goat being made into a scapegoat to bear the iniquities of the people into a solitary land. It does, however, note in the margin that the word “scapegoat” may be translated as a name Azazel. And that, of course, led to a quick internet study.

I soon discovered that the word “azazel”is a Hebrew word that the seventy-two scholars who originally translated the Bible into Greek understood to mean “the sent away.” They translated it as “scapegoat”, and that has been the accepted translation in most Bibles until recently.

Now several contemporary translations and paraphrases have decided to follow the lead of the apocryphal Book of Enoch, and view it as a proper name. Why the unknown authors of what became the Book of Enoch decided to use the unusual word as a name is not known, but they created quite a mythology about him. They pictured him a fallen angel who taught men how to make weapons of war, and women how to use makeup to seduce angels. He has now become a demonic X-Men character in comic books.

I find it very sad that a beautiful ceremony God ordained to picture sins being carried away into the wilderness, a type of what the Lamb of God would do for us, has been so tarnished under the guise of modern scholarship.

God Bless, Rick

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