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Day of Atonement, The Scapegoat (Heb. Azazel)

By Chuck Henry



Lev 23:27-32

27 Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to Yahweh.

28 And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before Yahweh your Mighty One.

29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people.

30 And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.

31 You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.



Two (2) goats involved in the Day of Atonement process


Read entirety of Lev 16, then go back and re-visit the following.


Not only was the slaughtered goat a sin offering, but also the scapegoat (even though it was not offered in the usual way by slaughtering and placing on the altar) —


Lev 16:5

And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats [both goats] as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering.


Atonement was made not only with the slaughtered goat, but also with the scapegoat —


Lev 16:10

But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before Yahweh, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.


It is also interesting that we find a process similar to the Day of Atonement in the law of the cleansing of a leper —


Lev 14:1-7

1 Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,

2 This shall be the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought to the priest.

3 And the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall examine him; and indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper,

4 then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop.

5 And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water.

6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water.

7 And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose in the open field.


So, it is interesting that, by the time we come along to Leviticus 16 and the Day of Atonement, this type of process is not new.


Scapegoat Represents Satan (?)


Returning to the account of the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16, let us examine another factor. As some read this account; they may reason something like this—


  • Verse 8 mentions 2 goats and that lots were cast over these 2 goats—


·        One for Yahweh


·        The other for the scapegoat


  • Verse 9 mentions the goat upon which Yahweh’s lot fell was to be offered as a sin offering, while verse 10 mentions the scapegoat being let go


  • Opposites may begin to form in the mind about these 2 goats—


·        One is dead; one is alive


·        One lot was for Yahweh; the other for the scapegoat


Thus, the concept of the scapegoat can begin to take on a position which is opposite from Yahweh and thus equivalent to Satan; and that therefore, it is symbolic of laying the blame upon Satan.


But notice, this reasoning is not proper according to Scripture. Let us again consult verse 10 —


Lev 16:10

But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before Yahweh, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.


The scapegoat is presented alive before Yahweh, to make atonement.


I have a very important announcement: Satan does not make atonement for us.



Scapegoat (Heb. Azazel)


It may be that the English word scapegoat which appears in our English translations has fostered the idea that the scapegoat is representative of Satan. The term scapegoat occurs four times in the KJV, with every occurrence being in Leviticus chapter 16 [vv 8, 10 (twice), 26].


In all cases, it is translated from the Hebrew word azazel (H5799 in Strong’s).


Strong’s Dictionary:


H5799. 'aza'zel, az-aw-zale'; from H5795 and H235; goat of departure; the scapegoat.



I’m not sure that the English word scapegoat does justice to the idea of “goat of departure.” In the English language, we normally think of a scapegoat as simply “one that bears blame for others” (


But, let us beware, strictly speaking, the goat cannot be blamed for our faults – i.e., the goat certainly did not cause us to sin. This would be kind of like the old saying, “The Devil made me do it.”


We need to be aware of a trait of human beings – they tend to like to lay blame somewhere else for their faults, rather than themselves. And this may be the reasoning that is at the root of the idea that the scapegoat is representative of Satan. But Scripture says, “… a person shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deu 24:16).


So, regardless of whether we claim, “The Devil made me do it,” each person is responsible for their own sin – and that is why the atonement process is needed!


The function of the scapegoat, as the Hebrew azazel more clearly brings out, is that of our sins being atoned for and departing. Remember, azazel means “goat of departure.”


Let us dwell on something in particular here and of utmost importance —


Our sins are to be carried away, but we are not to be carried away in sin!


So the scapegoat, the azazel goat, represents the departing of our sins, not the cause.


Both goats are representative of what has been done for us through Yahshua


When Paul wrote Rom 5:10, he may have had the Day of Atonement process specifically in mind when he stated—


Rom 5:10

For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to Yahweh through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.


In Psalm 103:12, we may also find the Day of Atonement process being alluded to. When you read this, bear in mind the Azazel goat presented alive before Yahweh and then let go in to the wilderness and your sins departing. —


Psa 103:12

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.



Repentance, Atonement, & Continuance


When we repent and are atoned for, we must continue.


Rom 2:7 (speaking of our reward if we are faithful)

Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality.


Heb 3:6, 14

6 But Messiah as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.

14 For we have become partakers of Messiah if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.


2 Pet 1:10-11

10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;

11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Master and Savior Yahshua Messsiah.





Let us be glad on this Feast day for the opportunity of repentance and that atonement has been provided.


As we afflict our souls, we would do well to remember the sufferings of Messiah.


As we afflict our souls, our frailty and our need to trust in and rely on Yahweh becomes more apparent. Scriptures such as Psalm 37:5 can be a source of strength and comfort.


Psa 37:5

Commit your way to Yahweh, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.


Again, as we afflict our souls, our physical needs become more apparent. Let us remember that we have an even deeper spiritual need.


Let us again recall Leviticus 16:21-22 —


Lev 16:21-22

21 Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man.

22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.


Similarly, Yahshua is the agent by which Yahweh cleanses us from our own sin.


May Yahweh Bless,