Wednesday Roundup

The Travels through Bible Lands Collection (15 vols.) is available until Friday noon for $20. I recommended this set of books by Tristram, Layard, Merrill, Jessup, and others some time ago, but sufficient orders have been placed and this Logos software deal is now closing.

The Israel Museum is being criticized for not allowing photographs to be taken of their artifacts.

Wikipedia says these items belong to the world. The Israel Museum wants to make money by selling their own photographs. Jim Davila suggests that the world has changed and the Israel Museum should reformulate its policies.

Leon Mauldin has written a helpful and illustrated article about Azazel, the Scapegoat.

Tom Powers discusses the new visitor center in the City of David and some misinformation in the reporting.

A rabbi says that selling stones from the Western Wall on eBay is akin to embezzlement from God.

On the edge of the “Grand Canyon of Israel,” Mizpe Ramon is struggling to find its way.

I’ve always thought that the chief “dynamic” of the Jordan River was as a barrier (cf. Josh 22; Judg 12). Wayne Stiles makes a good case that we should think of it as a place of “transitions.”

Jordan River, tb020506945

Jordan River

8 thoughts on “Wednesday Roundup

  1. In his article about the Azazel, Mauldin writes:

    "This 'visual aid' depicted God’s mercy and forgiveness as sin was removed from the camp and community of Israel. Of course this foreshadowed the vicarious suffering and death of Jesus, which made possible the remission of sins (Heb. 10:1-18; John 1:29; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 2:24)."

    NO VERSE IN THE BIBLE directly associates the Azazel with the Messiah. The author of Hebrews does associate the L-rd's Goat with Messiah, however, he remains silent as to any identification of the Azazel. Readers should be aware that Maudlin's above assertion is widely disputed. In fact, some ancient sources actually associate Azazel with (in essence) Satan. If the Azazel is a type of the Messiah, in my opinion, it is remez (a hint) at the rejection of the Messiah.

    Perhaps Todd, whom I'm sure has a greater knowledge of the literature on this issue than myself, will supplement Maudlin's article with a survey of opinions on the identity of the Azazel.

  2. msisson,

    I'm going to have to pass on providing a survey of the literature. I've not done any careful study of the subject. I think it's legitimate to try to understand the significance of the goat sent away and to recognize at least a parallel with Jesus. Of course it was through the Messiah's rejection that atonement came (Isa 53; Zech 12-13; Ps 22). The variety of sacrifices in the OT help us to better understand various aspects of Christ's atoning work. I don't think you have to have a specific verse to justify a relationship. The NT is clear that the OT has much more to say about Jesus than the apostles recorded explicitly.

  3. First, let me say thanks to Todd for referencing my article w/photos, "Azazel, the Scapegoat," on my blog, Leon's Message Board, and thanks to Msisson for his comment, to which I wish to make a brief response.

    1. I am aware that the meaning of the term "Azazel" is problematic. The word is found only four times in the biblical text, all of which are in Lev. 16.

    2. Four views are summed up in "The Biblical Foundations of Christian Worship," including (3) Azazel was an abstract noun meaning 'dismissal' or 'complete removal.' (4) The name Azazel most likely designates the goat itself. This view was held by Josephus, Symmachus, Aquila, Theodotion, Martin Luther, Andrew Bonar, the Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate, the King James Version ('scapegoat'), and others. Hence the goat was called in the Hebrew Azazel, meaning 'the removing goat': '[Aaron] shall cast lots upon the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for Azazel' (Lev. 16:8 RSV), for the removing goat—i.e., for the goat as the remover of sins. Both goats were called an atonement and both were presented to the Lord. Therefore, both goats were looked on as one offering. Since it was physically impossible to depict two ideas with one goat, two were needed as a single sin offering. The first goat by its death symbolized atonement for sins; the other, by confessing over it the sins of Israel and sending it away, symbolized complete removal of the sins (cf. Lev. 14:4–7)"

    3. Accordingly, I presented the view that I believe best fits the context of Lev. 16, as well related NT passages. As far as Msisson's statement that my conclusion is "widely disputed," that doesn't make it untrue. I could also say that the view is "widely accepted," but that doesn't make it true either.

    Nelson's NIBD includes these comments under "Scapegoat": "The derivation of 'scapegoat' is not clear. Scholars suggest is communicates such ideas as 'passing away in his strength,' 'strength of God,' 'loneliness,' or 'desert.' The most probable meaning is the idea of 'far removed' or 'going far away.' . . . The goat symbolized the removal of the sins of the people into an uninhabited land (Lev. 16:21-22). The process represented the transfer of guilt from the people of Israel, the complete removal of guilt from their midst" (1135).

    4. Msisson said (in caps) that "no verse in the Bible directly associates the Azazel with the Messiah." My point was not based on a passage that directly states, "Azazel represents Jesus." Lev. 16:10 plainly uses the word "atonement" in regard to the live goat that was to be released in the wilderness. v. 22 states, "The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land." Unless sin is removed there can be no relationship with God. Who else can remove sin, except the Messiah? Why would everything else on the Day of Atonement point to the ultimate forgiveness that would be realized in Jesus’ sacrifice, and the “scapegoat” have nothing to do with it? Especially since it is designated for "atonement" and to "bear in itself all their iniquities." That would be passing strange!

    There were many ways in which God depicted the coming redemptive work of Jesus; I am persuaded that the removal of sin symbolized by the scapegoat was one of the ways that God pictured the removal of sin by Christ.

    Thanks for reading!

  4. (PART 1)
    While I’m not qualified to comment on how best to interpret the Hebrew of Lev.16, Alfred Edersheim was. I think it’s worth noting that, regarding the translation of “Azazel” as “an abstract noun meaning 'dismissal' or 'complete removal,” Edersheim wrote:

    “…it may be said that it not only does violence to Hebrew grammar, but implies that the goat which was to be for ‘complete removal’ was not even to be sacrificed, but actually ‘let go!’ Besides, what in that case could be the object of the first goat which was killed, and whose blood was sprinkled in the Most Holy Place?” — A. Edersheim, THE TEMPLE

    Here’s 30,000 foot view of the case for “Azazel” referring to Satan:

    1. The Book of Enoch, and other non-canonical books, identify “Azazel” as the chief of the demons who lies beneath the rocks in the desert awaiting judgment (i.e. Satan). If those books are authoritative in no other way, they at least give us some sense of the word’s meaning and connotation among the New Testament’s Jewish audience during the Second Temple period.

    From http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/2203-azazel
    “Azazel is represented in the Book of Enoch as the leader of the rebellious giants in the time preceding the flood; he taught men the art of warfare, of making swords, knives, shields, and coats of mail, and women the art of deception by ornamenting the body, dyeing the hair, and painting the face and the eyebrows, and also revealed to the people the secrets of witchcraft and corrupted their manners, leading them into wickedness and impurity; until at last he was, at the Lord's command, bound hand and foot by the archangel Raphael and chained to the rough and jagged rocks of [Ha] Duduael (= Beth Ḥadudo), where he is to abide in utter darkness until the great Day of Judgment, when he will be cast into the fire to be consumed forever (Enoch viii. 1, ix. 6, x. 4-6, liv. 5, lxxxviii. 1; see Geiger, "Jüd. Zeit." 1864, pp. 196-204).”

    2. A broad swath of rabbinic literature (Mishnah, Talmud, Midrashim, Targumim) and commentators also interpret “Azazel” as a reference to a fallen angel named “Azazel” (or “Azael”).

    3. I can understand comparing the two goats of Lev. 16 to the two doves Lev. 14. However, there is no drawing of lots in Lev. 14. As Levy points out in his THE SYMBOLISM OF THE AZAZEL GOAT, why draw lots to distinguish between two types that refer to the SAME antitype (i.e. Christ)?

    4. According to the Talmud, the lot for the Lord’s Goat came up in the High Priest’s LEFT hand for the last forty years of the Temple. That was considered a VERY grave sign (one of four grave signs that occurred between the death of Yeshua and the destruction of the Temple). If both the Lord’s Goat and the Azazel picture Christ, that sign remains statistically remarkable, but becomes otherwise benign.

  5. (PART 2)
    5. While it bears away the sins of Israel, Lev. 16 prescribes the “Azazel” be left ALIVE. Yet, without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins (Lev 17:11, Heb 9:22). Even if you factor in the rabbinic practice of pushing the Azazel off a cliff, any assertion that its blood then atones would violate Lev. 17:5-7.

    6. While the author of Hebrews links Christ to the Lord’s Goat (Heb. 9:12), he never links Christ to the “Azazel.” On the contrary, having made atonement with His own blood in the heavenly Holy of Holies, the author of Hebrews does NOT say Christ exited the Temple to complete the second half of what is being asserted to be a SINGLE atoning sacrifice by pronouncing sin over the Azazel and dispatching it to the wilderness (whereas Christ declared in Jn 19:30 “…it is finished.”). Rather, according to the author of Hebrews, Christ sprinkles the Mercy Seat with His own blood and THEN SITS DOWN (Heb. 1:3, 10:12, 12:2). It would then seem that we are in a pregnant pause before Christ emerges to dispatch the “Azazel” (and presumably those who chose to identify with him) into “the outer darkness where there is great wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

    7. If the author of Hebrews likens an event in the Passion of Christ to a portion of Yom Kippur as he does in Heb. 9:12, I think it’s reasonable to seek other parallels within the Passion week which likewise parallel Yom Kippur. When I do, part of Lev. 16 seems to fit the trial of Yeshua.

    According to the Mishnah, both goats in Lev. 16 were to be as alike as possible, even purchased at the same time if possible. According to Church tradition, Barabbas was approximately the same age as Jesus Christ, and his first name was “Yeshua.” Consequently, Christ’s trial before Pilate juxtaposed Yeshua the “Son of G-d” along side Yeshua “son of Daddy.” Just as both goats were to be presented together before the Jewish people, so also the Yeshua and Barabbas were presented before the Jewish people. Just as the priests were to draw the lots for the Lord’s Goat and the Azazel, so also the priests orchestrated Yeshua’s crucifixion and Barabbas’ release. Just as the L-rd’s Goat was slain and his blood sprinkled on the Ark, so also Christ sprinkled the Ark with His own blood (Heb. 9:12). As the blood of the Lord’s Goat was carried into the Holy of Holies as a sin offering for the people, so those who called for Yeshua’s release (i.e. those who place their faith in Him) are presently seated with Him at the right hand of the Father (Ps 27:5, Col 3:1,3, Eph 2:6). Just as the High Priest, his hands still red with the blood of the Lord’s Goat exited the Temple and placed his hands on the head of the Azazel to pronounce the sin of Israel, so the people who rejected Yeshua called for Barabbas’ release said of Yeshua, (Mt 27:24) ”…His blood be on us, and on our children.” Just as it is said of Satan that he came to “…steal, and kill, and destroy…,” so Barabbas was charged with being a murderer, thief, and insurrectionist.

    You’re entitled to your opinion, Mr. Mauldin. However, I think you owe it to your readers to present the weightier dissenting opinions.

  6. Michael,

    Thank you for presenting the other side of the case. I would note just briefly a few things:

    1. Leon has a new post about the subject, quoting from a good scholarly source.

    2. Alfred Edersheim is not the final word on anything. You'll never see him quoted by scholars today.

    3. I do hope that the bar for blogging isn't going to be raised so that it's a requirement to present opposing views. If that's the standard, then there's probably a lot of us who will go silent, at least until we quit our day jobs, ministries, and families. The comment feature does allow others to present alternative views, and I'm thankful that you have done so on this subject. I wish I had more time to study this and to contribute.

  7. Todd,

    Thank you for your blog, and for the forum to discuss the articles cited therein.

    1. I appreciate that the source Mr. Mauldin quotes in the beginning of his latest posting starts off by stating "The actual use and meaning of this word in Lev 16 is at best uncertain." Moreover, I appreciate Mr. Mauldin's latest efforts to address a possible allusion to Yom Kippur in Jn 1:29-36. It has long puzzled me how John, a Levite, could make such a statement so seemingly incongruent without what we know of sin offerings. While I've tried, I've been unsuccessful linking the passage in John back to Yom Kippur with any degree of certainty. However, as stated previously, I'd be very cautious about drawing a parallel of the goats in Lev 16 with the birds in Lev 14, because no lots are drawn with the birds. What is the point of drawing lots to distinguish one goat from another, if BOTH point to Christ?

    2. Todd, I've been reading your blog for years now. I especially appreciate that, as an academic, you use your blog to make the best scholarship accessible even to the laity… to those without formal training. Moreover, as we are practically neighbors, the offer I made a couple years ago to buy you a cup of coffee sometime still stands. You're obviously an interesting person, and I'd enjoy getting to know you in peron. So when I make this criticism, know I'm making it of academics in general who dialogue with non-academics on blogs and in forums…

    Edersheim wrote for the popular market, and he STILL sells more books today than most contemporary scholars. Don't dismiss Edersheim when cited. Just take it as an indication the person with whom you're conversing does not have your formal training and respond with something like, "If you found what Edersheim had to say on this topic interesting, you'd really enjoy reading what more contemporary scholars like Dr. ______ & Prof. _______ have written on the same topic." Otherwise, you just come off as being intellectually aloof. I initially asked my that someone with "greater knowledge of the literature on this issue than myself" touch upon the variety of opinion that swirls around the identity of Azazel. When you leave that task to someone with less training than yourself, you take what you get.

    3. In my opinion, the standard is, was, and always has been, when at all possible, do not present theory as fact as Mr. Mauldin, perhaps inadvertently, did in his original posting on the Azazel. That the Azazel "foreshadowed the vicarious suffering and death of Jesus," is theory.

  8. Michael,

    Thanks again for your comments.

    I was not trying to sound aloof by warning you about Edersheim. I assumed that you didn't know, but you were rather confident in your assertions, so I thought it would be helpful to know that he should only be used with caution. His work might be compared with the KJV – it's sold many copies but it's no longer based on the best scholarship. As for giving you a suggestion of another, I would recommend any recent commentary on Leviticus, including those by Wenham, Rooker, Hartley, Levine, and Milgrom.

    I'll be happy to take you up on the offer of coffee, as long as we don't talk about Azazel :-).

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