We all know what this means…but where does it come from? “Scapegoat” comes from a mistranslation of “Azazel” in Leviticus 16: as “oz ezel” which means “the goat that departs” and further morphed into “(e)scape goat” in the King James Version of Leviticus. The story is as follows in Leviticus 16:20-22:
“And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat. 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. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.”
Aaron was to ceremonially place the sins of Israel onto the head of this “scapegoat” where it would meet its destruction in the wilderness. But the people began to worry and wonder–what if the goat made its way back to the herd and blended back in undetected? Tradition says that they began to place a red cloth around the goat’s neck so it would be recognizable. If the cloth turned white, then God accepted the sacrifice as an atonement. Still concerned about dealing with unatoned sin for a year until the next Day of Atonement, they began to hurl the goat from a craggy mountain, ensuring its demise. Incidentally “Azaz” translates to “rugged” and “El” meaning “power” or “of God”. So the goat was to be thrown down from a rugged mountain, deemed “Azazel”.
Azazel is also found in the Book of Enoch (an apocryphal text) as the name of one of the fallen angels in pre-flood Earth, in league with Satan. Against God’s will, he allegedly instructed early man in the art of warfare–making weapons, shields, armor, etc. He also instructed women in the art of deception and body decorating and ornamentation–painting the face and eyes, dyeing hair, etc. and corrupted both gender’s manners, leading them into impurity. For this he was, at the Lord’s command, bound hand and foot by the archangel Raphael and chained to the jagged rocks of Beth Hadudo [sound familiar?] where he is to abide in utter darkness (with goats being thrown on his head every year on the Day of Atonement) until the Great Day of Judgment where he will be cast to burn eternally in the lake of fire.
So there you go–let’s blame Azazel. He can be mankind’s ultimate scapegoat for teaching men about war and for teaching sneaky women how to look younger than they really are…**BELCH** and for ruining our manners (excuse me).