Sacrificing to Azazel?


I am reading the Bible all the way through (or, trying to haha) and in Leviticus 16, God says, basically, to sacrifice two goats" one to God, and then to send another out into the wilderness “for Azazel”? The footnotes say that Azazel is some sort of Demon type of creature, but in Leviticus (chapter 17 maybe?) God forbids anyone to sacrifice anything to demons or devils, and later says not to sacrifice children to “Molech”? So I’m really confused as to who these are, and why God says to sacrifice one goat to Azazel then a chapter layer forbids anyone from doing it. Thank you for any help in clarifying this.


Interesting! I am pretty sure the goat for Azazel was not sacrificed, but “left alive and sent into the wilderness”.

Maybe this has some prophecy regarding Judas and His replacement Matthias???

Judas was given a share in the ministry of life, but also left to the devil. Remember the Lord’s Supper? And similarly, this goat was presented before the Lord, and left to go to Azazel.


What Bible are you reading? The footnotes are not correct. Aza’zel is not a demon.

Aza’zel literally means “for the complete removal” or “for absolute removal.” The scapegoat was sent into the wilderness on the day of atonement for the complete removal of sin.

It is also the name of a mountain in Israel. At times the scapegoat was brought to this mountain and thrown off a cliff.



Thanks Tim,

He may be using the NABRE, which says:

Azazel: a name for a demon (meaning something like “angry/fierce god”).


I apologize, yes I am reading the NABRE, I was just kinds confused when I first read it. So, if I understand it correctly, they’re still sacrificing it “to the Lord” but not giving it to the Lord in the way regular sacrifices are made? Because if it’s sent out into the wilderness for the removal of sin, it’s still technically a sacrifice to God or in honor of God? This is just what I get from reading your posts, it may be wrong, however, sorry.


Some Jewish sects used the word as the name of a fallen angel. This is related mostly to the Book of Enoch. In 1 Enoch Azazel is the chief of a bunch of fallen angels who marry women. The wikipedia article on azazel explains it but I think we can rule out fallen angels who marry women.

We have to understand sacrifice in terms of the covenant. God’s covenant demanded a death whenever anyone broke the rules of the covenant. The sinner and priests would lay their hands on the sacrifice and transfer the sins of the people to the animal. The animal would then be sacrificed in the place of the sinner. That is what sacrifice is. It is God’s mercy to not kill the sinner and it all prefigures Christ.

The scapegoat was sent into the wilderness on the day of atonement, when complete atonement was made for all the people’s sins (azazel, complete removal). The wilderness wasn’t a pretty forest where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs frolicked. It was a barren wasteland. Whether thrown off a cliff, killed by wild animals or starved to death, the goat was sure to die.

I don’t know why the NABRE has that note. It is odd.



I jumped to an unlikely conclusion, sorry.

Here is the Haydock commentary:

The emissary-goat: caper emissarius;*in Greek,apopompaios;*in Hebrew,*Hazazel.The goat to go off,or as some translate it, thescape-goat.*This goat, on whose head the high priest was ordered to pour forth prayers, and to make a general confession of the sins of the people, laying them all, as it were, on his head; and after that to send him away into the wilderness, to be devoured by wild beasts, was a figure of our Saviour, charged with all our sins, in his passion.

I think His Passion (Crucifixion) or even His Baptism is much more accurate.

Haydock is a good commentary to go to, if you search the passage and add “Haydock” it will bring you sites. :thumbsup:


It seems the NABRE has it right, although unclear; which is understandable because the word Azazel in Lv 16 seems to be full of meaning. Azazel is a demon who inhabits the wilderness. The scapegoat is sent back to Azazel with Isreal’s sins, never to return.

Azazel Personification of Impurity.
Far from involving the recognition of Azazel as a deity, the sending of the goat was, as stated by Naḥmanides, a symbolic expression of the idea that the people’s sins and their evil consequences were to be sent back to the spirit of desolation and ruin, the source of all impurity. The very fact that the two goats were presented before Yhwh before the one was sacrificed and the other sent into the wilderness, was proof that Azazel was not ranked with Yhwh, but regarded simply as the personification of wickedness in contrast with the righteous government of Yhwh.( Jewish Encyclopedia.)


There were two goats one offered as a sin offering to God, the second goat went to Azazel. The scape-goat is very important to the understanding of Calvins soteriology. I see a problem though, in the writings of the NT you will never ever ever see reference to the scape-goat for Christians, you will find the sin offering goat, you will not find the scape-goat. You will however find it in the Passion, Barabbas, you will however find it in the Jewish national Caiaphas statement “one man die for the people”. One man die so that Israel may carry on being Israel.

Jesus Christ was used as a scape-goat for the selfish, Jesus Christ was the other goat, the sin offering to God, for the believers.


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