Tuesday, May 13, 2014


HAARETZ: Word of the Day / Azazel: What the hell does it mean? Israelis use this word all the time but have no idea that it’s a name of an ancient desert goat-demon worshiped by their ancestors (Elon Gilad).
Israelis use the word a-za-ZEL all the time, but they don’t know what it really means.

It appears in phrases like “le'azazel eem zeh” which translates to “the hell with it” and “lekh le'azazel” which translates as to “go to hell” - but azazel doesn’t actually mean hell. There's also “sa'ir le'azazel,” which means scapegoat, but azazel doesn’t mean scape either. It is a very mysterious word indeed.

There is, of course, the goat offered to Azazel on the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16, but there is much more. Just one comment:
We learn more about Azazel from the Book of Jubilees and the Book of Enoch, where it says :“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.” (8:1-3)
Maybe. The Ethiopic text reads Azazel, but the Aramaic fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls and the ancient Greek translation (both of the Book of the Watchers, the first section of 1 Enoch in chapters 1-36) read Asael (עשאל), which is a different name that means "God has done." The latter is a perfectly good name for an angel. It looks as though the demonic name Azazel has been substituted in the Ethiopic for the angelic name Asael. That said, an Aramaic fragment of the Book of the Giants (4Q203 frag. 6, again, from the Dead Sea Scrolls) does refer to Azazel, apparently as one of the Watchers, so the name confusion seems to pre-date the Ethiopic translation. The second section of 1 Enoch, the Similitudes or Parables, has Azazel throughout, but we have nothing but the Ethiopic for this section and it is entirely possible that here too the original was Asael.