Definitions

Azazel

Azazel

[uh-zey-zuhl, az-uh-zel]
Azazel, in the Bible, an obscure term found in the ritual of the scapegoat in the Book of Leviticus. Azazel may be the place to which the scapegoat was sent, the scapegoat itself, or the desert demon to whom the scapegoat was sent. Most modern commentators prefer the last explanation. The name is later applied to a demon in 1 Enoch and to the devil in Islam.
Azazel (Aramaic: רמשנאל, Hebrew: עזאזל, Aze'ezel Arabic: عزازل Azazil) is an enigmatic name from the Hebrew scriptures and Apocrypha, where the name is used interchangeably with Rameel and Gadriel. The word's first appearance is in Leviticus 16, where a goat is designated "for Azazel" and outcast in the desert as part of Yom Kippur.

Meaning

Azazel (Sayan) (‘ăzaz’ēl) is believed to mean "God has been strong" or "God strengthens" from Hebrew ‘ăzaz, third person singular past participal form of ‘āzaz, "to be strong", and ’ēl, "God". Another theory uses ‘āzaz in its metaphorical sense of "impudent" (i.e., strengthened against someone) to mean "impudent to God". Azazel is also known by the variant spellings "Azael" "Aziel" and "Asiel." (These names also translate to "Angel of Death" (actually Azrael is the angel of death - Azael means "whom god has made" or "god strengthens"). Though they have been mistakenly mixed throughout history, Azael and Azazel are separate Angels mentioned in 1 Enoch. The difference in name between Azael and Azazel is only one letter, but this is very significant when considering the ramifications of gematria.

In the Hebrew Bible and Rabbinical literature

The first appearance of the name "Azazel" is in Leviticus 16:8, when God orders the high priest Aaron to "place lots upon the 2 goats, one marked for the Lord and the other marked for Azazel" on the Israelite's Day of Atonement. The goat designated by lot for the Lord is to be used as a sin offering, while the goat designated for Azazel "shall be left standing alive before the Lord, to make expiation with it and to send it off to the wilderness to Azazel" (Lev. 16:10). Aaron was to "lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat and confess over it all the iniquities and transgressions of the Israelites, whatever their sins, putting them on the head of the goat; and it shall be sent off to the wilderness by someone designated for the task. Thus the goat shall carry on it all their iniquities to an inaccessible region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness" (Lev. 16:21-22). Leviticus also says that "He who set the goat for Azazel free shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water; after that he may reenter the camp" (16:26). This is the origin of the term scape-goat (see below).

According to some scholars, the name Azazel may be derived from azaz meaning strong, rugged, or grandeur/majesty, and el meaning of God or strong, giving either strong one of God or referring to the rugged and rough mountain cliff from which the goat was cast down. Some theories propose that Azazel may have been derived from the Canaanite god 'Asiz, who caused the sun to burn strongly.

The Talmud (Yoma 67b) identifies Azazel as the name of a cliff over which the goat was driven in the atonement ritual for Yom Kippur. This version was cited by the Biblical commentator Rashi, who took "azazel" to mean "rough ground" or "cliff", and this meaning was accepted by many Jewish commentators. Thus Ibn Ezra took "Azazel" to refer to "a mountain near Sinai", while G. R. Disker took the "rough ground" to be Dudael, a rocky place where the fallen angel Azazel is imprisoned" (I Enoch 10:4-6). It has also been identified with Hudedun, "a rocky terrace in the wilderness, ten miles from Jerusalem." (The Torah, A Modern Commentary, p 1735, n. 4)

Azazel was translated as "scapegoat" in the King James Bible (1611). James I's translators derived the word scapegoat from William Tyndale's translation of the Bible about 1530, which split azazel into the component parts ez ozel: literally, the "goat that departs", hence "the goat that escapes", or, for short, "(e)scape goat. Since this goat, with the sins of the people placed on it, is then sent over a cliff or driven into the wilderness to perish (perhaps at the hands of the desert demon Azazel), the word "scapegoat" has come to mean a person, often innocent, who is blamed or punished for the sins, crimes or sufferings of others.

For more information see Azazel in Rabbinic Literature

In First Enoch

According to 1 Enoch (a book of the Apocrypha), Azazel (here spelled ‘ăzā’zyēl) was one of the chief Grigori, a group of fallen angels who married women. This same story (without any mention of Azazel) is told in Genesis 6:2-4:

That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. […] There were giants in the earth in those days; and also afterward, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

1 Enoch portrays Azazel as responsible for teaching people to make weapons and cosmetics, for which he was cast out of heaven. 1 Enoch 8:1-3a reads:

And Azazel taught men to make swords and knives and shields and breastplates; and made known to them the metals [of the earth] and the art of working them; and bracelets and ornaments; and the use of antimony and the beautifying of the eyelids; and all kinds of costly stones and all colouring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray and became corrupt in all their ways.

The corruption brought on by Azazel and the Grigori degrades the human race, and the four archangels (Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel) “saw much blood being shed upon the earth and all lawlessness being wrought upon the earth […] The souls of men [made] their suit, saying, "Bring our cause before the Most High; […] Thou seest what Azazel hath done, who hath taught all unrighteousness on earth and revealed the eternal secrets which were in heaven, which men were striving to learn."

God sees the sin brought about by Azazel and has Raphael “bind Azazel hand and foot and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert — which is in Dudael — and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there forever, and cover his face that he may not see light.”

Raphael's binding of Azazel on the desert rocks of Dudael in upper Egypt appears again in the Book of Tobit, which is found in Catholic and Orthodox bibles, but not in Jewish or most Protestant bibles. In that Book (the only place in Christian bibles where Raphael appears) he accompanies the young man Tobias on his perilous journey to marry his cousin Sarah, whose seven previous husbands had been killed on her wedding night by the demon Asmodeus (also known as Asmodai) (a variant of which story is possibly what the Sadducees are using to try to trap Jesus about marriage in the resurrection they disbelieved in, in Matt. 22:27-28, Mark 12:18-23, and Luke 20:29-32). Raphael saves Tobias from the same fate by showing him how to deal with that demon, too.

Azazel's fate is foretold near the end of 1 Enoch 2:8, where God says, “On the day of the great judgement he shall be cast into the fire. […] The whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin."

In 3 Enoch, Azazel is one of the three angels (Azza [Shemhazai] and Uzza [Ouza] are the other two) who opposed Enoch's high rank when he became the angel Metatron. Whilst they were fallen at this time they were still in Heaven, but Metatron held a dislike for them, and had them cast out. They were thenceforth known as the 'three who got the most blame' for their involvement in the fall of the angels marrying women. It should be remembered that Azazel and Shemhazai were said to be the leaders of the 200 fallen, and Uzza and Shemhazai were tutelary guardian angels of Egypt with both Shemhazai and Azazel and were responsible for teaching the secrets of heaven as well. The other angels dispersed to 'every corner of the Earth.'

In the Apocalypse of Abraham

In the extracanonical text the Apocalypse of Abraham, Azazel is portrayed as an unclean bird who came down upon the sacrifice which Abraham prepared. (This is in reference to Genesis 15:11: "Birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away" [niv]).

And the unclean bird spoke to me and said, "What are you doing, Abraham, on the holy heights, where no one eats or drinks, nor is there upon them food for men? But these all will be consumed by fire and ascend to the height, they will destroy you."

And it came to pass when I saw the bird speaking I said this to the angel: "What is this, my lord?" And he said, "This is disgrace — this is Azazel!" And he said to him, "Shame on you, Azazel! For Abraham's portion is in heaven, and yours is on earth, for you have selected here, [and] become enamored of the dwelling place of your blemish. Therefore the Eternal Ruler, the Mighty One, has given you a dwelling on earth. Through you the all-evil spirit [was] a liar, and through you [come] wrath and trials on the generations of men who live impiously.
— Abr. 13:4-9

He is also associated with the serpent (Satan) and hell. In Chapter 23, verse 7, he is described as having seven heads, 14 faces, "hands and feet like a man's [and] on his back six wings on the right and six on the left."

Abraham says that the wicked will "putrefy in the belly of the crafty worm Azazel, and be burned by the fire of Azazel's tongue" (Abr. 31:5), and earlier says to Azazel himself, "May you be the firebrand of the furnace of the earth! Go, Azazel, into the untrodden parts of the earth. For your heritage is over those who are with you" (Abr. 14:5-6).

Here there is the idea that God's heritage (the created world) is largely under the dominion of evil — i.e., it is "shared with Azazel" (Abr. 20:5), again identifying him with Satan, who is also "the prince of this world" (John 12:31, niv).

In Pagan Religions

According to Maxine Dietrich and the Joy of Satan website, which gave birth to what has come to be known as Spiritual Satanism, Azazel is viewed and acknowledged as a physical and spiritual being. Azazel is a master of Spiritual Alchemy, Astrology and Constellations. He is also highly adept in the arts of crafting jewellery and ornaments. Azazel has gone by many names including but not limited to Utu, Ashur, Shamash and Babbar. Azazel is an upholder of Justice and fights in the name of Truth. He is very dedicated. Azazel is capable of helping those who are loyal and dedicated to truth in achieving Spiritual Perfection. He is depicted having fair skin and golden flowing hair up to his shoulders he is also quite tall.

Dictionnaire Infernal

Collin de Plancy's Dictionnaire Infernal (1863) describes Azazel as the guardian of goats. On the 10th day of Tishri, on the feast of the Expiation, it was Jewish custom to draw lots for two goats: one for the Lord and the other for Azazel. The goat for the Lord was then sacrificed and its blood served as atonement. With the goat for Azazel, the high priest would place both of his hands on the goat's head and confess both his sins and the sins of the people. The goat ("scapegoate") was then led into the desert and set free. Azazel then returned the goat. Milton described Azazel as the first gate-teacher of the infernal armies. Azazel is also the name of the demon that serves Mark the heretic.

In popular culture

See also

References

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