Azazel -- The Goat of Leviticus 16, Who is He?
Who Are The Mysterious Goats of Leviticus 16?
By: Ed J. Szalankiewicz
In the Fall Holy Day season among the Churches of God, we observe the annual fast and High Holy Day we call “The Day of Atonement.” We find the basis for this commanded observance in Leviticus chapter 16. We read of a ceremony, which was part of the Levitical Priesthood ceremonial law where two goats were taken from within the camp of Israel. Lots were cast upon them – one for the LORD and the other is referred to (in the King James version) as the “scapegoat”. This term “scapegoat” is an unfortunate translation. The original Hebrew word in the text is Azawzale – pronounced ah-zah`-zell.
STRONGS -- H5799
From H5795 and H235; goat of departure; the scapegoat: - scapegoat.
The contemporary meaning of the term “scape-goat” has come to identify a person or entity as being held responsible or blamed for something they did not do. If the present day use of the word is ascribed to the meaning of these passages --- it completely changes the intended inspired thought communicated from the original Hebrew text. The true and inspired meaning here in scripture is quite different and quite the opposite of how the word is used in our day. The intended purpose of the goat in this ceremony is to symbolize the one upon whose head the sins of mankind are retained precisely because of his very incitement of people to commit sin. This goat is then called the “goat of departure” – in the Hebrew – the Azawzale.
Who is this Azawzale? Let’s look at the scriptural references that help us to sort-out the identities of these two goats.
Certainly, we know that our choices are either CHRIST or Satan. It can be easy to get confused as CHRIST is usually depicted as the “LAMB” of GOD and not as a goat. We also know that CHRIST was crucified and died and had all the sins of man laid upon HIM. At that moment, THE FATHER turned away from HIM and CHRIST said, “My GOD, My God, why hast THOU forsaken me?” But Christ did not become a sinful being nor did He “retain” a sinful nature. However we know the He accepted and paid the penalty in our place for all the sins of mankind. So, without a careful look at these scriptures it can be easy to get confused (as I did) about just who is represented by which goat.
Some may erroneously conclude that GOD would not have a Holy Day with any representation of Satan. However, we know that argument is NOT valid BECAUSE the entire Day of Atonement foreshadows a time when Satan will be bound and taken away. This itself depicts the very definition of the “goat of departure” which is the meaning of the name “Azawzale”. Following are the scriptures where this ceremony is depicted. .
Lev 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.”
Lev 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”.
Lev 16:7 “And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation”.
Lev 16:8 “And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.”
Lev 16:9 “And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’s lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.”
Lev 16:10 “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.”
Lev 16:15 “Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that for the people and bring his blood within the veil, 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:”
Lev 16:16 “And he shall make an atonement for the holy place because for the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of heir transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness.”
Lev 16:20 “And when he has made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat:”
Lev 16:21 “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;”
Lev 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”
In verse 8 we see Aaron (the high priest) cast lots on the two goats. This shows that the selection of the two animals for the different symbols is actually made by GOD Himself. Goats were commonly used in the Levitical priesthood for sin offerings – this ceremony stays true to the tradition and practice of the Levitical Priesthood in using goats for this ceremony. One might ask why wasn’t a lamb chosen to depict the sin offering, which would portray Christ. If one was a lamb and one was a goat then there would have been no need to cast the lots and GOD Himself would not have made the choice. Also, Christ had not come yet and lived a perfect life as depicted by the Passover lamb without spot or blemish.
As we review verse 10 we notice that this goat (the Azawzale) is NOT sacrificed but is taken out of the way and “banished” for a time. This goat is not sacrificed for anyone but bears the sins of all on his head. He carries these sins with him into the wilderness and they remain “on his head” until the penalty for them is paid – which penalty will be ultimately paid by him. We also notice in verse 20 that the process of confessing these sins on the goat’s head is not done until AFTER the sacrifice of the goat chosen by GOD as the sin offering. Therefore we can begin to accurately identify that this live Azawzale goat is representative of Satan as he is banished for a time – first from heaven to the earth and then chained in the bottomless pit for a thousand years. But ultimately, he pays the penalty for the sins that he must bear in his destruction in the lake of fire.
Rev 20:9 “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
Rev 20:2 “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand yeas”.
Rev 20: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever”
It is therefore clear that in Lev 16:9 that the goat here is the sin offering. This is the goat, which is “for the LORD” and associated with GOD -- This goat clearly represents Christ. In this ceremony we see that one goat (the Azawzale) bears the sins – they remain with him while the other goat (the sin offering goat) serves to cover or remove the sins from others but does not retain the sins. He is sacrificed to “pay for” the sins & transgressions but they are placed upon the Azawzale goat and sent away. Notice scriptural representations of CHIRST as our sacrifice paying the penalty for our sins and even those of the entire world.
Rom 6:910 “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he lives, he lives unto God”
Gal 1: 4 “Who gave himself for our sins, that HE might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of GOD and our FATHER”.
1John 2:22 “And HE is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Conclusion: The two goats are brought forward. Lots are cast and GOD chooses which goat will represent CHRIST and become the sin offering which symbolically pays the penalty for sin and which goat will represent Satan and become the “Azawzale” goat retaining the sins and cast out into the wilderness. The sin offering is made first. Then the live Azawzale goat appears before the high priest and has the sins of all confessed over him and he is released into the wilderness. ~~~~~~~~~~