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It is fascinating to read footnotes such as the following: “The meaning of Azazel is uncertain; possibly the name of a place or a demon, traditionally a scapegoat; also verses 10, 26.” Uncertain? Mystery impetrates curiosity. Well, what do the Sages suggest?

1“Ibn Ezra and Naḥmanides both interpret Azazel as the name of the goat and this view is also found in the Talmud: “The school of Rabbi Ishmael explained it is called Azazel because it atones for the acts of the fallen *angels *Uzza and Azael” (Yoma 67b, cf. Targ. Jon., Gen. 6:1; Deut. R. 11:10).”

2“According to the sages and Rashi it meant “a steep, rocky or hard place,” in other words a description of its destination. According to Ibn Ezra (cryptically) and Nahmanides (explicitly), Azazel was the name of a spirit or demon, one of the fallen angels referred to in Genesis 6:2, similar to the goat-spirit called Pan in Greek mythology, Faunus in Latin. The third interpretation is that the word simply means “the goat [ez] that was sent away [azal].” Hence the English word “(e)scapegoat” coined by William Tyndale in his 1530 English translation of the Bible.”

Regardless of which interpretation suits your preference the Bible deliberately provides no explanation. During the service in which the goat for azazel is used an additional verse incited my curiosity.

“And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.” Leviticus 16:21

The last phrase is particularly puzzling. “By the hand of a man who is in readiness.” Further more the word for “readiness” in Hebrew is itti (עִתִּי) and this is the only time it is used in the whole Tanach. Here, I believe is a parallel to Yeshua. All of the people’s sins were affixed to the goat which meant there was need to expel the goat and thereby remove the sin. One of the most significant responsibilities rested on the man willing to contaminate himself to send the goat away into the wilderness. This action was the final step in removal of sin. Our Messiah Yeshua was also willing to bear the sin of the world, contaminate himself, and become the final step in removal of sin. He was a man who was in readiness. Gesenius’s lexicon suggests “opportune, at hand” as a suitable translation for itti. The following verse occurred right before Yeshua’s capture and contains Yeshua’s declaration that His time was at hand.

He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, “The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.”’ Matthew 26:18

To follow the previous rumination and conclude with an additional parallel to Yeshua the following verse demonstrates why Yeshua had to suffer and die for our sins.

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” Leviticus 17:11

Ultimately it is the life that substantiates the blood to be sufficient for atonement. The animals that were sacrificed to atone for ritual impurity must die for the blood to function. Messiah Yeshua died for us so that by His life His blood would provide atonement. He taught His disciples this truth:

“for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.’” Mark 9:31

For such incredible grace and such humble sacrifice we should have His salvation on our lips daily. (1 Chr. 16:23) Praise the L-RD that this was His will that we might be saved!

“Yet it was the will of the L-RD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the L-RD shall prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:10


1 http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0002_0_01741.html

2 http://www.chiefrabbi.org/author/ben/#.T6MsSo7GU3g

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