Jacqueline C.R. De Roo, «Was the Goat for Azazel Destined for the Wrath of God?», Vol. 81 (2000) 233-242
This article is a proposal to read the enigmatic word lz)z(, occurring in Lev 16,8.10.26, as a metathesized form of l)zz( on the basis of textual, semantic and contextual evidence, and to interpret it as a reference to the powerful wrath of God. This interpretation of the expression Azazel fits its biblical context, because the goat for Azazel evidently had an atoning function (Lev 16,10), it was a means to atone for sin (vv. 21-22). Elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, making atonement for sin is equated with appeasing Gods wrath (Num 16,46-48; 25,6-13). Likewise, the goat for Azazel, carrying the sins of the people, is for the powerful wrath of God, to placate his anger. The proposed interpretation of the goat for Azazel ritual may also have been in the mind of some post-biblical interpreters, both Jewish and Christian.
of the Israelites29. In Leviticus 16 it is clear that the carrying away of sin for Azazel, for the powerful wrath of God has a remedial function: it is a way to atone for (to cover) the sins of the people by destroying them through death in order to appease Gods anger. Likewise, in Enoch the punishment Azazel will receive for the sin ascribed to him will redeem the earth, that is, humanity:
The Lord said to Raphael: Bind Azazel hand and foot [and] throw him into the darkness! And he made a hole in the desert which was in Dudael and cast him there; he threw on top of him rugged and sharp rocks. And he covered his face in order that he may not see light; and in order that he may be sent into the fire on the great day of judgment. And give life to the earth which the angels have corrupted. And he will proclaim life for the earth: that he is giving life to her [Greek fragments read: that he may heal the plague]. And all the children of the people will not perish through all the secrets [of the angels] which they taught to their sons (10,4-8)30.
Azazel and his hosts will be consumed, destroyed by fire on the day of judgment (10,12-14). Ascribing the sins of the people to Azazel and punishing him and his followers for them on the day of judgment will get rid of iniquity and injustice and cleanse the land (10,15-22). So the destruction of the cause and symbol of evil, that is, Azazel, will destroy sin and its detrimental effects. The wrath of God is poured out on Azazel and his hosts in the form of fire and torment (10,13-14), so that his anger toward humanity may subside. As mentioned above, in its original biblical context the goat for Azazel is likely to be the goat for the powerful wrath of God. By identifying Azazel with the leader of the demons, Jewish interpreters took the goat for Azazel to be the goat carrying Gods wrath by carrying away the peoples sin, bringing them back to their author, the demon Azazel. According to this interpretation, the name Azazel signifies the demons destiny, which is that the wrath of God will be poured out on him, rather than his identity, his fierce nature.
The Identification of the Goat for Azazel with Jesus Christ
Nowhere in the New Testament is the goat for Azazel identified with Christ. However, two early Christian interpreters, the author of the Epistle of Barnabas and Tertullian, make this identification. They believe that both goats referred to in Leviticus 16 are representations of Christ31. Tertullian explicitly states: The two goats which were offered at the Fast, are not these also figures of Christs two activities? The goats have to be alike, because