The Hebrew word ‘Azazel’ which is translated as Scapegoat in the King James Version appears only once in Bible.
There are two common interpretations on whom does the scapegoat represent. One interpretation says that this ‘Azazel’ is satan and other one says that this is ‘Lord Jesus’.
The Interpretation that this is Lord Jesus can be very easily proved faulty because in Lev 16 where scapegoat is mentioned there is casting of lots done to choose the goats. One goat is chosen for ‘Lord’ and other was chosen for ‘Azazel’.
There is a clear distinction between the two goats as only one is chosen for Lord and other one is not. This is opposed to choosing both the sacrificial birds for Lord in Lev 14. Lev. 14:4-7 where two birds used in cleansing of leper, one is killed and other one is freed after dipping into the blood of the slain bird. Here there is no casting of lots done to distinguish the birds.
The interpretation which says that scapegoat represent Jesus is very much faulty by teaching that the goat chosen for Lord and one not chosen for Lord both represent Lord.
The word Azazel translated as scapegoat is used in ancient languages like Hebrew, Syriac and Arabic to represent the fallen Angel or demon.
For example the pseudocrypa book of Enoch (dating 1-2 centuries prior to Jesus) says that Azazel is the leader of angels which made man to make weapons. The book tells that this angel was cast into darkness. 13th century rabbi, Nahmanides, argued that Azazel is one of the leaders of a class of demon known as the Se’irim
In Syriac Azzail is the “angel (strong one) who revolted.”
In Arabic (Azazil in Islam)
Azazil (Arabic: عزازل ‘Azāzīl) does not feature in the Qur’an, but is said to be the original name of Iblis, or Satan. Iblis was the Jinn (or spirit) who worshiped Allah (God) from amongst the ranks of the angels. He denied Allah’s command to bow down before Adam and later tempted Adam to eat from the forbidden tree. He made a promise to tempt mankind into sin and lead them all astray – those who are heedless of the signs of Allah (God). The word Iblis means “to despair” and Azazil despaired of the Mercy of God, thus earning him that title.
Ibn Abbas said and Ibn Masoud and some companions :that Iblis was the main chief between Angels in the 1st sky close to the earth and Ibn Abbas said: Iblis name was Azazel عزازيل then Allah change him to Satan as the story mentioned in The Quran.(from book of prophets stories for Ibn Kathiir).
The Quran does mention the story of two angels Harut and Marut, who were confined within the land of Babylon, teaching magic and other forbidden knowledge to those who seek such knowledge. As a request for dispensing any such information, they were required to declare that they were only there for the trial of men who inquired for knowledge of magic; anything they have taught (magic) can only harm and not profit the student at all. The Quran also mention some underlying correlation with the king Sulaiman (Solomon) without elaborating furthermore. There is no mention of any penalty for the actions of the two angels, although the penalty mentioned for magic is the same as that for being a disbeliever in God, namely everlasting hellfire.
Azazil is referenced as another name for Iblis in the Tawasin, the collection by the 10th Century Sufi writer and martyr, Mansur Al-Hallaj. Chapter Six of that writing is dedicated to the self-defence of Iblis, and in one section, Hallaj explains how each of the letters of Azazil’s name relate to his personality
Origen (184/185 – 253/254AD) an early church Father identifies Azazel with Satan.
I am not using the above sources as evidence for teaching that Azazel is Satan but I am using them as source to show how Azazel was considered as Satan in olden times.
The main argument for believing that Azazel is Satan is from Bible. The main argument being in Leviticus the goats were chosen by casting of lots between Lord and Azazel (not Lord). If one is for Lord the other can only be for an opposing force ‘Satan’.
The meaning of Azazel is ‘departed’. How does Satan fit this ceremony of day of atonement? The whole ceremonial law with its feasts is the shadow of sacrificial priestly work of Jesus. It tells us how the plan of salvation/redemption works. When Job reasons with God asking why he suffered, God answers him using a mythical character Leviathon (Job 41:1) which is none other than satan (Isa 27:1). God tells Job that Satan caused all this. Could it be possible that God uses the mythical word ‘Azazel’ to tell humans that Satan will be held responsible for causing all men to sin?
The ceremony on the Day of atonement happens as below.
Lev 16:7 And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. Lev 16:8 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. Lev 16:9 And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. Lev 16:10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness. Lev 16:18 And he shall go out unto the altar that is before the LORD, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. Lev 16:19 And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel. Lev 16:20 And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: Lev 16:21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their
transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: Lev 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.
Note in verse 20-22 the scapegoat comes into picture only after cleaning of sanctuary is done (v20), Priest charges the scapegoat with all the sins of the people(v21) this cannot be Jesus because Jesus bore our iniquities before our sins were cleansed from heavenly sanctuary.
Act 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; (Also refer my article on Investigative judgement.)
We see in Revelation 20 that Satan is lead into a land not inhabited for 1000 years (that is after all saints go to heaven and the wicked are completely dead). Also Satan is burned for ages and ages before he finally consumed by fire. The reason why Satan burns for longer duration is because he has to suffer punishment for causing others to sin.
Day of atonement is not only the day of cleansing but also a day of Judgement. The plan of redemption is not only to put an end to sin and redeem the saints but also to punish the wicked especially Satan for sin.
Also refer my other articles:
Where will the blessed millinium be, in heaven or in earth?
How long will Satan burn?