The Scapegoat Question

A Reader Writes:

Hi Jacob, I hope your USA trip is going well.,   A friend of mine had a question they wanted me to ask you about the Azazel scapegoat.,   He was under the impression that the scapegoat and the sacrificial goat were types of Christ and what He did; one goat sacrificed and the other led to the wilderness, etc.,   He said he looked up the Azazel scapegoat in Encyclopedia Judaica and saw in the Book of Enoch that the Azazel name is demonic there and the sources call Azazel a demon.,   He’s not sure what the Azazel goat originally meant in its Mosaic context and when it began to be viewed as demonic by some Jewish sources.,   He wanted to hear your take on the Azazel scapegoat.,   If you have a teaching that deals with this that is recorded I can just make a copy of that to give him.,   I couldn’t think of a CD that specifically dealt with the scapegoat in depth.,   I hope all is well with you and that you are in good health.
God bless you and encourage you in these days.

Jacob Responds:

I have 26 pages of collected material on Ha Seir Azzazel from the rabbinic tractate YOMA. I could not even begin to explain it all by email.

While it is true the Seir Azzazel is generally held to be a mythological demon combining a goat and human form, the etymology of the term found only three times in Leviticus is much more complicated. The demonic association, while inherent in the term, was largely the product of a later post-scriptural rabbinic age. It is impossible to be absolutely definite at present.

For instance, “El” is a suffix denoting might of God and Azazz also denotes craggy edges of the mountain cliff face from where the goat was sacrificially pushed off. Additionally, Azza can be translated from the Hebrew root “zaz” meaning to move as in forcibly moved or sent away.

I do not have a recording for distribution but I have been planning to do one on “‘YOMA’ the Day of Atonement”. (Actually a pilot version exists somewhere, but I forget where – some local church may have recorded it. If they read this perhaps they can contact us). In any event, I will give you my own sense but don’t look for this in a commentary.

My own perspective (since your friend is asking) is that when they tried to throw Jesus off the cliff face in Nazareth in Luke 4 that it was a picture of him as the scapegoat – the Seir Azzazel. As in His crucifixion, they were at first favorably impressed with Him but quickly turned against to kill Him. The paschal typology of Him as the “Passover Lamb” is in the passion narrative, but the Seir Azzazel typology is in Nazareth because that is how the goat was killed. Thus a god-like figure is quickly rejected as a nefarious/evil one which is reflected in the ambiguity of both good and evil in the name of the scapegoat. In the Luke 4 narrative, immediately after His escape from Nazareth, we see Him in conflict with a demon but still identified as being from Nazareth (verse 34).

I trust this helps. But I really couldn’t go into any length about the various linguistic arguments.

In Jesus,

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