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Azazel

(Lev. 16:8, 10, 26, Revised Version only here; rendered “scape-goat” in the King James Version)

This word has given rise to many different views:

Some Jewish interpreters regard it as the name of a place some 12 miles east of Jerusalem, in the wilderness.

Others take it to be the name of an evil spirit, or even of Satan.

But when we remember that the two goats together form a type of Christ, on whom the Lord “laid the iniquity of us all,” and examine into the root meaning of this word (viz., “separation”), the interpretation of those who regard the one goat as representing the atonement made, and the other, that “for Azazel,” as representing the effect of the great work of atonement (viz., the complete removal of sin), is certainly to be preferred. The one goat which was “for Jehovah” was offered as a sin-offering, by which atonement was made. But the sins must also be visibly banished, and therefore they were symbolically laid by confession on the other goat, which was then “sent away for Azazel” into the wilderness.

The form of this word indicates intensity, and therefore signifies the total separation of sin: it was wholly carried away. It was important that the result of the sacrifices offered by the high priest alone in the sanctuary should be embodied in a visible transaction, and hence the dismissal of the “scape-goat.” It was of no consequence what became of it, as the whole import of the transaction lay in its being sent into the wilderness bearing away sin. As the goat “for Jehovah” was to witness to the demerit of sin and the need of the blood of atonement, so the goat “for Azazel” was to witness to the efficacy of the sacrifice and the result of the shedding of blood in the taking away of sin.