The subject of this study concerns the activities of the high priest on the Day of Atonement; in particular, confessing the sins of Israel upon the head of the goat that was sent away into the wilderness, “azazel” (Leviticus 16:21).

The Day of Atonement is one of Yahweh’s solemn feast days. On the tenth day of the seventh month of Yahweh’s Scriptural calendar the high priest (Aaron) was to make an atonement for the sins of Israel. To accomplish this Aaron selected two young goats from the congregation of the children of Israel (Leviticus 16:5). He was then instructed to cast lots to determine which goat would be “for Yahweh” and which for “the scapegoat” (KJV – from “escape goat”). According to Strong’s, the word “scapegoat” comes from the Hebrew “azazel” which literally means “goat of departure.” It is formed from the Hebrew “ez” meaning goat and “azal” meaning “to go away.”

The precise meaning has been greatly disputed. Some commentators believe “azazel” refers to the name of the region where the goat was sent. Others believe it to be the proper name of a spirit, demon, or Satan himself. The interpretation that Strong suggests occurs in both the Septuagint and the Vulgate and underlies the rabbinic view, “the goat that is dispatched,” in Mishnah Yoma 6:2.

In “Pentateuch & Haftorahs” by Dr.J.H. Hertz (Late Chief Rabbi of the British Empire), Soncino Press, 1990, pg.481, we read; “The Heb. Azazel, however, is not a proper name, but a rare Hebrew noun … meaning, ‘dismissal’ or, ‘entire removal’ (RV Margin, Gesenius, Hoffmann, and the Oxford Hebrew Dictionary). It is the ancient technical term for the entire removal of sin and guilt of the community, that was symbolized by the sending away of the goat into the wilderness.”

Since the word “azazel” is not used anywhere else in Scripture and since there are several opinions as to its meaning, we need to determine, via other Scriptures, its true meaning and interpretation.

The most important point concerning “azazel” (the scapegoat) is found in Leviticus 16:10; “But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before Yahweh, to make an atonement with him , and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.” If we choose to believe “azazel” represents Satan, this leads us to the question of whether or not Satan can make an atonement for Yahweh’s people. Nowhere in Scripture is there a reference to Satan having any part in the atonement. Instead, we read;

“And not only so, but we also joy in [Yahweh] through our Master Yeshua Messiah, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:11).

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).

“Who needs not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once , when he offered up himself” (Hebrews 7:27).

“For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself ” (Hebrews 9:26).

The Scriptures clearly state that Messiah made the atonement for us by himself . However, it is suggested by many that the first goat represented the atoning work of Yeshua, but the second goat represents Satan. It is believed that, since Satan was “the original cause” of all sin, “justice demands that [Elohim] place right back on the head of the devil his guilt – not our guilt, but his own guilt – for leading us into sin.” Pagan Holidays or God’s Holy Days – Which? by Herbert W. Armstrong, Worldwide Church of God, 1986, pg.36.

If that is true, where in Scripture is the fulfillment of Leviticus 16:21? The antitypical high priest (Yeshua) is to lay hands on Satan’s head and confess the sins of Israel upon him. Yet, we do not find that in Scripture. It can be said that the angel of Revelation 20:1 represents the “fit man” that sends the goat (Satan) into the wilderness (represented by the “bottomless pit”), but without the fulfillment of the actual laying on of hands or any other references to Satan making an atonement for us, it becomes total assumption, a mere theory.

Some may try to suggest that the angel is in fact Yeshua. Revelation 19:11-14 portray Yeshua coming down from heaven to earth to smite the nations, the beast, and the false prophet. Afterwards , the angel of Revelation 20:1 comes down from heaven to bind Satan. That angel is the only one who lays hands on Satan, not to confess sins on his head, but to cast him into the bottomless pit.

On the other hand, the Scriptures paint a beautiful picture of the fulfillment of Yeshua as the goat that was sent away bearing the sins of Israel. First read Leviticus 16:22; “And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.” Now consider the following;

Isaiah 53:6c – “And Yahweh hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” The sins of Israel were laid on Yeshua. They were placed upon him and him alone.

Isaiah 53:11c – “For he shall bear their iniquities .”

Isaiah 53:12d – “And he (Yeshua) bare the sin of many …” Yeshua is the one who bore our sins. He carried them away upon his own head which is what the Hebrew ‘cabal’ (bare) means.

Isaiah 53:4a – “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:” Yeshua is the sin-bearer, not Satan.

Hebrews 9:28a – “So Messiah was once offered to bear the sins of many;”

1 Peter 2:24a – “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” There is no other sin-bearer.

The act of laying on of hands (vs.21; also; Leviticus 1:4; 3:2; 4:4,15,29,33) symbolizes the transference of sins from the guilty party (the children of Israel) to the innocent (azazel). The innocent then becomes the sin-bearer. Yeshua undeniably fulfills the type (Isaiah 53:4,6,11,12). Satan, however, cannot fulfill the type because he is not innocent. It will not satisfy the justice of Yahweh to transfer the sins of the guilty to another guilty party. Since lots were used to decide which goat was “for Yahweh,” it meant that both goats had to be unblemished. The antitype of an unblemished goat was the sinlessness of Messiah. Can it be said that Satan is sinless and was to be represented by an unblemished goat?

“Azazel” was to bear the iniquities of the children of Israel unto a land “not inhabited.” We have just read how Scripture undeniably teaches that Messiah is the only sin bearer. Therefore, he is the only person that fulfills the type of “azazel.” But how does Yeshua fulfill being sent to a land not inhabited and let go in the wilderness?

The Scriptures make several clear statements concerning the act of carrying away sin.

John 1:29 – “The next day John seeth Yeshua coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of [Yahweh], which taketh away the sin of the world.”

Hebrews 9:26b – “But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

1 John 3:5 – “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”

Yeshua is the goat that carried away the sins of Israel. He took them upon himself and “was made to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Therefore he fulfills the antitypical “azazel.” There is no need for Satan to bare anyone’s sins. He has his own sins to bare and they will prove to be unbearable.

The Hebrew for “not inhabited” is “gezerah” meaning “a desert (as seperated).” It comes from the root word “gazar” meaning “to cut down or off.” Messiah was certainly cut off and separated from not only the land of the living, but from his Father Yahweh as well. When Yeshua cried out, “My El, my El, why hast thou forsaken me?” it was because at that moment he was seperated from Yahweh having taken upon himself the sins of the world. Sin clearly causes a separation from Yahweh as Isaiah wrote; “But your iniquities have separated between you and your Elohim, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). Yeshua’s disciples also seperated themselves from him by forsaking him and denying him. Yeshua was even seperated by “suffering without the gate” and without the camp (Hebrews 13:11-13). He was sent into the wilderness of total separation as he bore our sins away.

What about that “fit man” that escorted the goat to the edge of the wilderness? If the angel of Revelation 20:1 is not the fulfillment, then who is? Does there even need to be a fulfillment of the fit man? Since, in either view, there is no fulfillment of the man in verse 28 that burns the carcasses of the bullock and Yahweh’s goat, there need not be a fulfillment to the fit man. The following is offered as a possible antitype to the fit man.

“Fit” comes from the Hebrew meaning “timely, opportune, at hand.” Some translations render it, “a timely man,” “a man of opportunity,” or “an appointed man.” The Scriptures reveal there was a man who was at hand at the right time, appointed by Yahweh to lead Yeshua to his wilderness separation. That man was Judas. Acts 1:16 says Judas was “guide to them that took Yeshua.” It also says in Matthew 26:24, “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” Yeshua was “going” to the wilderness bearing our sins upon him. Judas was the man appointed to lead and guide Yeshua on that journey into the wilderness of total separation.

Some may object to Yeshua fulfilling “azazel” based on the fact that the Day of Atonement falls in the seventh month between two Feasts that have not been fulfilled yet. Therefore, the Day of Atonement cannot be totally fulfilled by Messiah. They reason, therefore, that its future fulfillment must be accomplished by Satan.

Although Yeshua has fulfilled both typical goats, there remains one major aspect of the Day of Atonement that remains unfulfilled. The antitypical Jubilee trumpet marking the beginning of the Jubilee year (which was typically blown on Atonement Day) has yet to be blown. When Yeshua returns at the sound of that trumpet to set the captives free from death, the Day of Atonement will see its total fulfillment.

It is, I believe, the erroneous view that Yeshua returns on the Day of Trumpets that has led to the belief that Satan fulfills azazel. It is reasoned that if the Day of Trumpets depicts Messiah’s return and if Tabernacles depicts the Millennium, then there can only be one event in between that depicts the goat sent into the wilderness, the casting of Satan into the bottomless pit.

The truth of the matter is, when Yeshua returns, only one trumpet is blown whereas the Day of Trumpets (plural) involves more than one trumpet. The Day of Trumpets depicts the beginning of the “Day of Yahweh” when the trumpets of Revelation 8 begin to sound. Yeshua will return at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet which is also the Jubilee trumpet marking the resurrection of the dead (Revelation 11:15-18; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).

Another possible objection would be that Yeshua, as azazel, does not fulfill all aspects of the type such as; no one ever actually placed their hands on Yeshua’s head to confess the sins upon him; Yeshua died whereas the goat of departure lived on in the wilderness, etc. As with the fulfillment of other types, Yeshua did not fulfill every aspect exactly. For example; He could not fulfill the aspect of the High Priest that kills Yahweh’s goat and, at the same time, be that goat or else he would have had to kill himself (vs.15); He did not have to offer a sin offering for himself as High Priest (vs.11); Yeshua did not confess the sins of Israel upon his own head (vs.21); He did not need to wash his flesh (vs.24); His body was not burned outside the camp (vs.27); He died as our atonement sacrifice on Passover, not the Day of Atonement; His body was not burned as the Passover sacrifice was; Yeshua died at the time of the evening sacrifice and the Passover sacrifice, but not at the time of the morning sacrifice, etc.

The bottom line is this; The Scriptures declare Yeshua to be the ONLY sin-bearer who not only died for the remission of sins, but also the only one to actually take away those sins. When we view Yahweh’s goat and azazel as one atonement offering, rather than two separate offerings seperated by thousands of years, we can understand and appreciate the symbolic fulfillment more readily. Yeshua is the perfect fulfillment of the typical atonement sacrifice. As Yahweh’s goat his blood cleansed the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 9:23) and the Israel of Yahweh (Leviticus 16:17). As “azazel” he bore our sins and took them away forever. Halleluyah!