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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Azazel

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AZAZEL . The name in Hebrew and RV [Note: Revised Version.] of the desert spirit to whom one of the two goats was sent, laden with the sins of the people, in the ritual of the Day of Atonement ( Leviticus 16:8; Leviticus 16:10; Leviticus 16:26 RV [Note: Revised Version.] , see Atonement [Day of]). Etymology, origin, and significance are still matters of conjecture. The AV [Note: Authorized Version.] designation scapegoat ( i.e. the goat that is allowed to escape, which goes back to the caper emissarius of the Vulgate) obscures the fact that the word Azazel is a proper name in the original, and in particular the name of a powerful spirit or demon supposed to inhabit the wilderness or ‘solitary land’ ( Leviticus 16:22 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). The most plausible explanation of this strange element in the rite is that which connects Azazel with the illicit worship of field-spirits or satyrs (lit. ‘he-goats’) of which mention is made in several OT passages ( Leviticus 17:7 , Isaiah 13:21 etc.). It may have been the intention of the authors of Leviticus 16:1-34 in its present form to strike at the roots of this popular belief and practice by giving Azazel, probably regarded as the prince of the satyrs, a place in the recognized ritual. Christianity itself can supply many analogies to such a proceeding. The belief that sin, disease, and the like can be removed by being transferred to living creatures, beasts or birds, is not confined to the Semitic races, and has its analogy in Hebrew ritual, in the ceremony of the cleansing of the leper ( Leviticus 14:53 ). In the Book of Enoch ( c [Note: circa, about.] . b.c. 180) Azazel appears as the prince of the fallen angels, the offspring of the unions described in Genesis 6:1 ff.

A. R. S. Kennedy.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Azazel'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdb/a/azazel.html. 1909.

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