6.4) Azazel in Leviticus as the Seed of the Serpent

The strongest evidence that Azazel was not a Watcher, but rather the seed of the Serpent Lilith, comes from none other than the Bible.  Leviticus 16 specifies a peculiar role for Azazel in Israel’s Yom Kippur ceremony.  As we shall see, this ceremonial role identifies Azazel as the infamous seed of Serpent whom God cursed in the garden. 

As we have seen, First Enoch strongly hints that Azazel was not a fallen Watcher, but rather the firstborn seed of those fallen angels.  Certain other clues in First Enoch further hint that Azazel was specifically the firstborn seed of Semjaza, the leader of Watchers, mating with Lilith.  Besides Azazel’s proclivity to teach man evil ways, First Enoch provides little other insight into Azazel’s nature and role in mythology.  However, if First Enoch is silent on these issues, the Bible is not.  Leviticus 16 specifies Azazel’s amazing role in Israel’s Yom Kippur ceremony.  That role equates Azazel and his hosts as the counterpart to Israel as the sons of God in a bitter water trial.  As such, Azazel is none other the infamous seed of the Serpent, who is locked in eternal conflict with Eve’s promised Messianic seed.  Azazel would bruise the heal of that promised seed, but the Messiah would crush the head of Azazel and his mother, the Serpent. 

In Leviticus 16 Azazel plays a critical role in Israel’s Yom Kippur high holiday.  On this most important day, Jews believe they are cleansed of all their sins.  Their sins are “covered” from God’s sight, and thus they achieve atonement for their sins.[1]  In the ancient Temple ceremony outlined in Leviticus 16, the congregation brought two goats to the Temple.  There the high priest cast lots upon each to determine which one would be given “to Jehovah” and which would be given “to Azazel” (i.e. the “scapegoat” of the KJV).  The goat “to Jehovah” was sacrificed upon the Temple altar, and its blood was sprinkled upon the mercy seat to achieve atonement for the priest and then Israel.  However, the goat to Azazel suffered a very different fate.  The priest laid his hand upon its head and confessed, or literally placed, all the sins of Israel.  The priest then tied half a piece of red cloth to the goat’s horn and had the goat given to a ready man, who led it to a particular remote spot in the wilderness.  There the man pushed it backwards down a jagged cliff, killing it.  In the instant the goat died, the red cloth tied to its horns turned white, as well as the remaining half that remained at the Temple.  It was in this moment that the cloth turned white that the sins of Israel were cleansed. 

Azazel’s role in the Leviticus 16 is controversial.  Many scholars, both ancient and modern, refuse to accept the notion that the name in those passages refers to the popular demon.  This is because the religious implications become almost too terrible to fathom.  The passages would then seem to indicate that in offering the demon Azazel a sacrificial goat, Israel achieved atonement.  In an attempt to downplay the ceremony’s demonic aspects and to not confuse people with such seemingly idolatrous (and worse) notions, Talmudic writers apparently only referred to Azazel as a place in the desert (i.e. this place being Dudael were Azazel was bound in First Enoch).  The Sages described the commandment to send a goat to Azazel as a choq (qx), or a decree that is beyond human intelligence.[2]  Even modern Christian scholars, who view the Yom Kippur ceremony as a prophetic archetype of Christ’s sacrificial atonement, see equal difficulty in the goat to Azazel.  Alfred Edersheim, in scrambling to rectify the symbolism of the two goats in light of Christ’s redemptive act, concludes both goats symbolize Christ. 

However, all the disharmony brought about by the goat given to Azazel can be relieved by understanding how the Yom Kippur ceremony parallels the bitter water trial.  In doing so, the peculiar roles of Azazel and the goat given to him becomes clear.  Azazel mirrors the defiled Sotah, and Israel mirrors the innocent woman who undergoes the trial.  The goat given to Azazel mirrors the defiled seed of adultery in the trial, which is a rejected sacrifice that carries the woman’s defilement back to her and brings curses of death.  The goat given to Jehovah mirrors the mystical first promised seed of the trial, which is an accepted sacrifice that when slain brings atonement from the curses.  Edersheim’s confusion in assigning both goats’ roles to Christ stems from that the fact that he correctly identifies that the sins which the goat to Azazel bears are also the sins which the slain promised seed temporarily bears for Israel.  However, the slain promised seed is revised, and the sins it bore away from the people are permanently placed on the head of the Sotah’s adulterous seed, which is modeled by the goat given to Azazel in the Yom Kippur ceremony.  The goat to Azazel and the goat to Jehovah are very different and opposite creatures.  The one thing they share in common is that they bear the curses of the ceremony.  The goat to Jehovah bears the curses for but a brief time before it is revived and elevated to the seat of Jehovah, where it atones for all the sins of Israel.  The goat to Azazel bears the curses for eternity while bound in the pit of hell with its wayward Sotah, Azazel.

[1] Yom Kippur means “Day of Atonement”, or even more literally, the “Day of Covering.” 

[2] The Stone Edition Chumash, Vayikra 20-22.