Apocalypse of Abraham 14:6


2 And he said, “Know by this that the Eternal One whom you have loved has chosen you. 3 Be bold and have power, as I order you, over him who reviles justice, 4 or else I shall not be able to revile him who scattered about the earth the secrets of heaven and who conspired against the Mighty One. 5 Say to him, ‘May you be the fire brand of the furnace of the earth! Go, Azazel, into the untrodden parts of the earth. 6 Since your inheritance are those who are with you, with men born with the stars and clouds. And their portion is you, and they come into being through your being. 7 And justice is your enmity. Therefore through your own destruction vanish from before me!’” 8 And I said the words as the angel had taught me. 9 And he said, “Abraham!” And I said, “Here am I, your servant!”

Yoma 67b

Babylonian Talmud

The Gemara asks: And the other, what does he do with this word gezeira? The Gemara answers: He needs it for that which was taught in a baraita with regard to the word gezeira: Gezeira means nothing other than cut. That is, he must send the goat away to a place cut up by rocks standing upright and sticking out. Alternatively, gezeira is referring to nothing other than something that breaks apart and falls, a reference to the goat, which is torn limb from limb. Alternatively, the word gezeira is written lest you say the procedure of the scapegoat is a meaningless act, since what sanctity and atonement is achieved in sending the goat to Azazel and pushing it from the cliff? Therefore, the verse states: “I am the Lord” (Leviticus 18:5), i.e., I, the Lord, decreed it [gezartiv], and you have no right to question it. Having clarified the reasoning of each opinion, the Gemara concludes its discussion of whether the limbs of the goat are permitted for benefit. Rava said: It is reasonable to rule in accordance with the one that said the limbs of the goat are permitted, since the Torah did not say: “And send the goat” to cause mishap. Once the man pushes the goat off the cliff, he is no longer responsible for it. Therefore, if it were prohibited to derive benefit from the goat’s remains, the mitzva itself could lead to a mishap if someone were to find the goat’s remains and make use of them. § The Sages taught: The word Azazel indicates that the cliff the goat is pushed from should be rough and hard. I might have thought that it may be located in a settled area. Therefore, the verse states: “In the wilderness.” And from where does one derive that the goat is pushed from a cliff? The verse states “gezeira,” indicating an area that is sharp, like a cliff. It was taught in another baraita: Azazel is a reference to the hardest mountain, and so it says: “And the mighty [eilei] of the land he took away” (Ezekiel 17:13). Azazel is interpreted as azaz-el, with the term el connoting something rough and hard. The school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: Azazel is so called because it atones for the actions of Uzza and Azael. These are the names of “sons of God” who sinned with “daughters of men” (Genesis 6:2) and thereby caused the world to sin during the generation of the Flood.

 Notes and References

"... Several Qumran materials also appear cognizant of this angelological reinterpretation of the scapegoat figure when they choose to depict Azazel as the eschatological leader of the fallen angels, incorporating him into the story of the Watchers’ rebellion. Thus, 4Q180 1:1–10 reads ... Later rabbinic materials also link the sacrificial animal known from the scapegoat ritual to the story of the angelic rebels. Thus, for example, b. Yoma 67b records the following tradition: 'The School of R. Ishmael taught: Azazel — [it was so called] because it obtains atonement for the affair of Uza and Aza’el.' As can be seen, the conceptual link between the scapegoat and the fallen angel is documented in a number of important materials across a substantial span of history. A broad scholarly consensus now recognizes this connection ..."

Orlov, Andrei The Eschatological Yom Kippur in the Apocalypse of Abraham: Part I: The Scapegoat Ritual (pp. 79-111) Marquette Theology Faculty Research and Publications 85, 2009

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