In my post on the biblical origin of Yom Kippur, I stumbled on something I had never heard of: the sacrifice (of sorts) of a goat containing Israel’s sins “for Azazel” in the Day of Atonement temple service. Half of my bibles omitted or worded around this mention in Leviticus 16, usually with a tiny footnote reading “meaning of Hebrew uncertain”.
The difficulties of translation is one of my interests and when you have such variation, I just had to dig further. What I found took me through the Oxford English Dictionary, the Talmud, and finally into the Dead Sea Scrolls to answer this question “who or what is Azazel?” This isn’t a new puzzle. It might even have been an ancient typo. Whatever the answer, it has puzzled scholars for years.
One answer? Azazel was the Jewish Prometheus who came down from heaven to mate with our women, providing the tools of fire and war in return. Maybe not. Read on!
Continue reading Who or What Is Azazel?
Today was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, probably the holiest day in Judaism. Technically Yom Kippur ended at sundown (and I’m chasing midnight with this post), but it’s difficult to keep a schedule and my fasting today turned my brain into mush. For the last several years, I have done my best to fast alongside my wife in support for her and her religion. I don’t know that it helps her, but it’s worth doing for the chance that it does.
As I mentioned in my previous post, this is the month of Tishri in the Jewish calendar (generally September or October) and it is a month with many holy days. Last week was Rosh Hashanah, this week is Yom Kippur, and we’re just a few days from Sukkot and Simchat Torah. After that, we get a break until Hanukkah. I have resolved this year to try and offer (as best I can) a biblical explanation for each of the holy days (and holidays) as they come around.
And even if you aren’t Jewish, Yom Kippur has the distinction of being the holiday that we get the term “scapegoat” from, using a real live goat. Read on!
Continue reading Yom Kippur in the Bible