Who or What is Azazel? -- Leviticus 16:8-10

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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
Morning, folks,

When I read this morning about the Day of Atonement, I was reminded of a word that I've never understood. Maybe some of you can help me out. Who or what is Azazel? I've read a little bit of Jewish tradition and got some really strange results.

Thanks

Leviticus 16:6-10 ESV
"Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord and use it as a sin offering, but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.​
 

JKL1647

Puritan Board Freshman
How it is translated in the Authorized Version might help clarify this.

6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house. 7 And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. 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.
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
From the Lexham Bible Dictionary:

Azazel (עֲזָאזֵל, azazel). Unclear designation in Lev 16:8, 10, 26 related to the scapegoat ceremony on the Day of Atonement. Multiple theories exist regarding its meaning.


Biblical Relevance


The term “Azazel” appears in the Old Testament only in Lev 16:8, 10, 26, in a passage prescribing Israel’s practices on the Day of Atonement. The priest is instructed to bring two goats to the entrance of the tent of meeting as a sin offering for the people (Lev 16:5–7). Lots are to be cast for the goats, one for Yahweh and one for Azazel. Yahweh’s goat is used as a sin offering; its blood is sprinkled on the mercy seat and all over the altar (Lev 16:15–19).


The goat for Azazel is not to be sacrificed, according to the instructions. Instead, the priest “must present alive before Yahweh the goat on which the lot for Azazel fell to make atonement for himself, to send it away into the desert to Azazel” (Lev 16:10). The priest is to lay his hands on the goat and “confess over it all the Israelites’ iniquities” (Lev 16:21). The man who releases the goat into the wilderness must ritually wash his clothes and himself (Lev 16:26).


The release of an animal for the sake of the removal of sins has parallels. In Lev 14:1–9, for example, two birds are presented for the cleansing of a leper. One is killed, and its blood put upon the other bird and the leper. When the second bird is released, the leper is declared clean (Zatelli, “Origin,” 260–62).


Possible Meanings


Studies on the meaning of Azazel tend to focus on textual and linguistic evidence. The relevant scholarly discussion has generated four primary options: Azazel could be


1. the name of a demon


2. a location


3. an abstract noun


4. a compound word.


Whichever meaning is correct, the biblical text emphasizes the removal of sin more than the details relating to the goat itself (Schultz, “Azazel,” 657–58; Pinker, “Goat,” 19–21).


Option 1: Name of a Demon


Pseudepigraphic depictions of Azazel as a demon are prominent, and the wilderness was typically viewed as the abode of demons (De Verteuil, “Scapegoat,” 210; Pinker, “Goat,” 4–9; Ball, “Azazel,” 77). Azazel is featured briefly in the pseudepigraphic work 1 Enoch at 8:1; 9:6; 10:4–8; and 13:1–3. He is described there as the demon who taught humans metalworking (for the creation of weapons and adornments) and was cast into the desert as punishment (Schultz, “Azazel,” 657–58; Grabbe, “Scapegoat,” 153–56; Hanson, “Rebellion,” 222–25; Helm, “Azazel,” 217–22; Tawil, “Azazel,” 52–56). Relying on the use of the word “goat” (עֵל, el) in the construction of the name, it is possible that Azazel was imagined as a satyr-like demon roaming the desert, leading to the prohibition in Lev 17:7 against worshipping satyrs (de Verteuil, “Scapegoat,” 217–18).


The sacrifice of two goats, one to God and one to Azazel, could represent a balanced theological dichotomy (De Verteuil, “Scapegoat,” 213; Frey-Anthes, “Concepts,” 48). This practice might make sense in light of similar rituals across the ancient Near East, especially in certain Babylonian and Hittite rituals and in early Mesopotamian literature (Tawil, Disposal, 31–74; “Azazel,” 47–52; Schultz, “Azazel,” 657–58; Zatelli, “Origin,” 258–60; Hook, “Theory,” 9). Scholars such as Pinker discount this theory, however, on account of Israel’s monotheism. Based on his assessment of other ancient Near Eastern practices, Pinker argues that both goats in the Levitical ritual were for the same God (Pinker, “Goat,” 16–18).


In some extrabiblical texts, Azazel appears to function possibly as an analogue for Satan himself (Grabbe, “Scapegoat,” 156–58; Helm, “Azazel,” 222–24; Maclean, “Barabbas,” 320). In the Apocalypse of Abraham (13:4–9; 14:5–6; 20:5; 23:7; 31:5), Azazel appears as a competitor for God’s glory. He is portrayed as the one who persuaded Adam and Eve to disobey God, who tried to lead Abraham astray, and who received soiled priestly garments (Orlov, Dark, 4–7; 49; 66).


Option 2: Location


Azazel could refer to a place such as a cliff from which the goat would be thrown. The later Jewish practice of killing the sin-offering goat by pushing it off a cliff supports this (m. Yoma 6:6; compare Pinker, “Goat,” 9–10; Kiuchi, “Living,” 258–59; Tawil, “Azazel,” 44–45),


Option 3: Abstract Noun


Azazel could mean “destruction” or “entire removal” (compare Schultz, “Azazel,” 657–58; Pinker, “Goat,” 10–12; Caldwell, “Doctrine,” 30).


Option 4: Compound Word


Azazel might be a word created by combining “goat” (עֵל, el) with “to go away” (אָזַל, azal) to produce the meaning “goat that goes away.” This is supported by the translation of Azazel in the Septuagint and Vulgate as ἀποπομπαῖος (apopompaios) and caper emissarius, respectively, though the fact that the goat goes to Azazel in Lev 16:10 is an argument against (Schultz, “Azazel,” 657–58; Pinker, “Goat,” 3, 12; de Roo, “Goat,” 233, 235–37; Maclean, “Barabbas,” 315–16).

From the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch:

The congregation’s second goat was designated “for Azazel.” There are three main interpretations for this term. First, some argue that Azazel is the name of the goat that carried away the sins, that is, “the scapegoat.” Azazel is then a composite Hebrew term meaning “the goat that departs.” This position goes back to the versions. The Septuagint renders Azazel “the one who carries away” (apopompaios, Lev 16:8, 10a) and “the one set apart for release” (ho diestalmenos eis aphesin, Lev 16:26). The Vulgate employs “scapegoat” (caper emissarius). The major obstacle to this position is that the regulation “for Azazel” stands parallel to “for Yahweh” (Lev 16:8), suggesting that Azazel in some significant way is similar in position to Yahweh, rather than being a term for the goat released.

Second, some suggest that Azazel is the name of a remote, forbidding place in the wilderness where the sin-laden goat went. Statements in the Targum and the Talmud support this position (Tg. Ps.-J.; b. Yoma 67b). However, assigning a name to the place where the goat went would have had little value since throughout the centuries Israel observed this day in a variety of places. A stronger argument against this position is the fact that the place where the goat goes is called “a solitary place” in Leviticus 16:22. Referring to that place with this rare term would have been superfluous if Azazel itself meant a desolate place in the wilderness.

A third view takes Azazel as the name of a demon that lived in the desolate wilderness. These remote desert regions were occupied by wild animals that gave off eerie howls and screams, taken by the ancients to symbolize death and destruction (Is 34:11–15). Satyrs, goatlike demons, were thought to live in these remote, waterless places. In fact, the Hebrew word for satyr (śāʿîr) is literally “the hairy one,” and this word is also used for goats. In a few places it means “goat idols” or “goatlike demons” (Lev 17:7; 2 Chron 11:15; Is 13:21; 34:14). Thus this sin-laden goat was driven to a goatlike demon named Azazel.

Intertestamental apocalyptic literature, most likely drawing on language from the ritual for the Day of Atonement, took Azazel to be the prince of the demons (1 Enoch 8:1; 9:6; 10:4, 8; 13:1–2; cf. 11QTemple 26:3–13). Several ancient rabbis espoused this view. The position is supported by the fact that the expression “for Azazel” in Leviticus 16:8 stands parallel to “for Yahweh,” suggesting that the two parties belonged to similar categories. In this case the two were opposing spiritual forces. According to this view, this goat took Israel’s sins away from the congregation into a desolate region, the abode of Azazel, in order to remove completely from the community the evil power generated by Israel’s sins. In returning all these sins to the demonic power, this ritual removed the power of these sins for harm and discord in the congregation.

A strong argument against the identification of Azazel as a demon is that God would not tolerate any sacrifice being offered to a demon. In response, there are four solid facts that prove that this goat was not a sacrifice: (1) it was not ritually slaughtered; (2) its blood was not manipulated at the altar; (3) since the sins of the people made it unclean, it could not be presented as an offering to Yahweh; and (4) it was Yahweh, not the congregation, who determined which goat took on this role. Thus there are no indications of any kind that this goat was a sacrifice. Moreover, there is no hint that Azazel even desired to receive this goat. So the identification of Azazel as a (chief) demon does not detract in any way from Yahweh’s complete sovereignty in all the rituals performed on the Day of Atonement. This identification, however, acknowledges that a sin, being more than an act, participates with the force of evil present in this world.

 

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
From the Lexham Bible Dictionary:

Azazel (עֲזָאזֵל, azazel). Unclear designation in Lev 16:8, 10, 26 related to the scapegoat ceremony on the Day of Atonement. Multiple theories exist regarding its meaning.


Biblical Relevance


The term “Azazel” appears in the Old Testament only in Lev 16:8, 10, 26, in a passage prescribing Israel’s practices on the Day of Atonement. The priest is instructed to bring two goats to the entrance of the tent of meeting as a sin offering for the people (Lev 16:5–7). Lots are to be cast for the goats, one for Yahweh and one for Azazel. Yahweh’s goat is used as a sin offering; its blood is sprinkled on the mercy seat and all over the altar (Lev 16:15–19).


The goat for Azazel is not to be sacrificed, according to the instructions. Instead, the priest “must present alive before Yahweh the goat on which the lot for Azazel fell to make atonement for himself, to send it away into the desert to Azazel” (Lev 16:10). The priest is to lay his hands on the goat and “confess over it all the Israelites’ iniquities” (Lev 16:21). The man who releases the goat into the wilderness must ritually wash his clothes and himself (Lev 16:26).


The release of an animal for the sake of the removal of sins has parallels. In Lev 14:1–9, for example, two birds are presented for the cleansing of a leper. One is killed, and its blood put upon the other bird and the leper. When the second bird is released, the leper is declared clean (Zatelli, “Origin,” 260–62).


Possible Meanings


Studies on the meaning of Azazel tend to focus on textual and linguistic evidence. The relevant scholarly discussion has generated four primary options: Azazel could be


1. the name of a demon


2. a location


3. an abstract noun


4. a compound word.


Whichever meaning is correct, the biblical text emphasizes the removal of sin more than the details relating to the goat itself (Schultz, “Azazel,” 657–58; Pinker, “Goat,” 19–21).


Option 1: Name of a Demon


Pseudepigraphic depictions of Azazel as a demon are prominent, and the wilderness was typically viewed as the abode of demons (De Verteuil, “Scapegoat,” 210; Pinker, “Goat,” 4–9; Ball, “Azazel,” 77). Azazel is featured briefly in the pseudepigraphic work 1 Enoch at 8:1; 9:6; 10:4–8; and 13:1–3. He is described there as the demon who taught humans metalworking (for the creation of weapons and adornments) and was cast into the desert as punishment (Schultz, “Azazel,” 657–58; Grabbe, “Scapegoat,” 153–56; Hanson, “Rebellion,” 222–25; Helm, “Azazel,” 217–22; Tawil, “Azazel,” 52–56). Relying on the use of the word “goat” (עֵל, el) in the construction of the name, it is possible that Azazel was imagined as a satyr-like demon roaming the desert, leading to the prohibition in Lev 17:7 against worshipping satyrs (de Verteuil, “Scapegoat,” 217–18).


The sacrifice of two goats, one to God and one to Azazel, could represent a balanced theological dichotomy (De Verteuil, “Scapegoat,” 213; Frey-Anthes, “Concepts,” 48). This practice might make sense in light of similar rituals across the ancient Near East, especially in certain Babylonian and Hittite rituals and in early Mesopotamian literature (Tawil, Disposal, 31–74; “Azazel,” 47–52; Schultz, “Azazel,” 657–58; Zatelli, “Origin,” 258–60; Hook, “Theory,” 9). Scholars such as Pinker discount this theory, however, on account of Israel’s monotheism. Based on his assessment of other ancient Near Eastern practices, Pinker argues that both goats in the Levitical ritual were for the same God (Pinker, “Goat,” 16–18).


In some extrabiblical texts, Azazel appears to function possibly as an analogue for Satan himself (Grabbe, “Scapegoat,” 156–58; Helm, “Azazel,” 222–24; Maclean, “Barabbas,” 320). In the Apocalypse of Abraham (13:4–9; 14:5–6; 20:5; 23:7; 31:5), Azazel appears as a competitor for God’s glory. He is portrayed as the one who persuaded Adam and Eve to disobey God, who tried to lead Abraham astray, and who received soiled priestly garments (Orlov, Dark, 4–7; 49; 66).


Option 2: Location


Azazel could refer to a place such as a cliff from which the goat would be thrown. The later Jewish practice of killing the sin-offering goat by pushing it off a cliff supports this (m. Yoma 6:6; compare Pinker, “Goat,” 9–10; Kiuchi, “Living,” 258–59; Tawil, “Azazel,” 44–45),


Option 3: Abstract Noun


Azazel could mean “destruction” or “entire removal” (compare Schultz, “Azazel,” 657–58; Pinker, “Goat,” 10–12; Caldwell, “Doctrine,” 30).


Option 4: Compound Word


Azazel might be a word created by combining “goat” (עֵל, el) with “to go away” (אָזַל, azal) to produce the meaning “goat that goes away.” This is supported by the translation of Azazel in the Septuagint and Vulgate as ἀποπομπαῖος (apopompaios) and caper emissarius, respectively, though the fact that the goat goes to Azazel in Lev 16:10 is an argument against (Schultz, “Azazel,” 657–58; Pinker, “Goat,” 3, 12; de Roo, “Goat,” 233, 235–37; Maclean, “Barabbas,” 315–16).

From the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch:

The congregation’s second goat was designated “for Azazel.” There are three main interpretations for this term. First, some argue that Azazel is the name of the goat that carried away the sins, that is, “the scapegoat.” Azazel is then a composite Hebrew term meaning “the goat that departs.” This position goes back to the versions. The Septuagint renders Azazel “the one who carries away” (apopompaios, Lev 16:8, 10a) and “the one set apart for release” (ho diestalmenos eis aphesin, Lev 16:26). The Vulgate employs “scapegoat” (caper emissarius). The major obstacle to this position is that the regulation “for Azazel” stands parallel to “for Yahweh” (Lev 16:8), suggesting that Azazel in some significant way is similar in position to Yahweh, rather than being a term for the goat released.

Second, some suggest that Azazel is the name of a remote, forbidding place in the wilderness where the sin-laden goat went. Statements in the Targum and the Talmud support this position (Tg. Ps.-J.; b. Yoma 67b). However, assigning a name to the place where the goat went would have had little value since throughout the centuries Israel observed this day in a variety of places. A stronger argument against this position is the fact that the place where the goat goes is called “a solitary place” in Leviticus 16:22. Referring to that place with this rare term would have been superfluous if Azazel itself meant a desolate place in the wilderness.

A third view takes Azazel as the name of a demon that lived in the desolate wilderness. These remote desert regions were occupied by wild animals that gave off eerie howls and screams, taken by the ancients to symbolize death and destruction (Is 34:11–15). Satyrs, goatlike demons, were thought to live in these remote, waterless places. In fact, the Hebrew word for satyr (śāʿîr) is literally “the hairy one,” and this word is also used for goats. In a few places it means “goat idols” or “goatlike demons” (Lev 17:7; 2 Chron 11:15; Is 13:21; 34:14). Thus this sin-laden goat was driven to a goatlike demon named Azazel.

Intertestamental apocalyptic literature, most likely drawing on language from the ritual for the Day of Atonement, took Azazel to be the prince of the demons (1 Enoch 8:1; 9:6; 10:4, 8; 13:1–2; cf. 11QTemple 26:3–13). Several ancient rabbis espoused this view. The position is supported by the fact that the expression “for Azazel” in Leviticus 16:8 stands parallel to “for Yahweh,” suggesting that the two parties belonged to similar categories. In this case the two were opposing spiritual forces. According to this view, this goat took Israel’s sins away from the congregation into a desolate region, the abode of Azazel, in order to remove completely from the community the evil power generated by Israel’s sins. In returning all these sins to the demonic power, this ritual removed the power of these sins for harm and discord in the congregation.

A strong argument against the identification of Azazel as a demon is that God would not tolerate any sacrifice being offered to a demon. In response, there are four solid facts that prove that this goat was not a sacrifice: (1) it was not ritually slaughtered; (2) its blood was not manipulated at the altar; (3) since the sins of the people made it unclean, it could not be presented as an offering to Yahweh; and (4) it was Yahweh, not the congregation, who determined which goat took on this role. Thus there are no indications of any kind that this goat was a sacrifice. Moreover, there is no hint that Azazel even desired to receive this goat. So the identification of Azazel as a (chief) demon does not detract in any way from Yahweh’s complete sovereignty in all the rituals performed on the Day of Atonement. This identification, however, acknowledges that a sin, being more than an act, participates with the force of evil present in this world.
Is there an application(s) you can make or suggest to connect the “scapegoat” to Christ? Obviously the one sacrificed depicts Christ’s sacrifice. I’ve always struggled to understand how to relate the scapegoat to Christ; does this also represent him descending into death - or perhaps is this representative of those cast into Hell?
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
Is there an application(s) you can make or suggest to connect the “scapegoat” to Christ? Obviously the one sacrificed depicts Christ’s sacrifice. I’ve always struggled to understand how to relate the scapegoat to Christ; does this also represent him descending into death - or perhaps is this representative of those cast into Hell?

Below is the followup after the Azazel entry from Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. It may help with some of your questions.

Implications for Jesus’ Death

The book of Hebrews in particular pictures Christ as the great high priest who achieved in his death once for all time the entire efficacy of the annual Day of Atonement (Heb 9:1–10:14; 12:2; see DLNTD, Death of Christ § 2). Being himself free from sin, Jesus functioned as the perfect high priest. In contrast to the ancient high priest, Jesus did not have to offer any sacrifice for himself first, nor did he have to offer a sacrifice every year. In his death Jesus was at the same time the perfect sacrifice. After shedding his blood on earth, Jesus ascended into heaven, where he completed the work of atonement in the perfect heavenly sanctuary, the prototype of the earthly sanctuary.
Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was far superior to the sacrifices offered on the Day of Atonement. Achieving full atonement for all who believe in him, his death eliminated the need for animal sacrifice and for the observance of an annual Day of Atonement. Whereas the ancient high priest entered the holy of holies, performed the rites while standing and then departed, not to return until the next Day of Atonement, Jesus ascended into heaven, sat down at the Father’s right hand and is ever present in the heavenly holy of holies making intercession for all who believe in him. As a result, through the priestly work of Jesus a believer gains full reconciliation with God and also has direct access to God for all petitions. Thus an understanding of the Day of Atonement sheds great light on what Jesus achieved in his sacrificial death.
According to Hebrews 13:9–12, God has given believers an altar at which they have higher privileges than the priests who ministered at the altar in the sanctuary. This altar is a metaphor for Jesus’ death on the cross. In fact, his sacrifice was the perfect antitype of the purification (sin) offerings made on the Day of Atonement, for like the carcasses and remains of those offerings, which were completely consumed by fire outside the camp (Lev 16:27), Jesus died outside the walls of Jerusalem. His blood, therefore, sanctifies all those who believe, giving them firm confidence in their relationship with God. At this altar believers continually receive spiritual nourishment by faith.
Paul too may have the Day of Atonement in mind when writing in Romans 3:24–25: “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a place of atonement [NRSV mg.; NIV and NRSV translate Gk hilastērion as “a sacrifice of atonement,”] by his blood, effective through faith” (NRSV). This may be a reference to the atonement slate and its efficacious role on the Day of Atonement. The Greek term hilastērion, “a place of atonement,” is used to translate Hebrew kappōret, “atonement slate.” But since this Greek term is not used exclusively in the Septuagint for kappōret, its usage here is not sufficient evidence for claiming conclusively that Paul meant the atonement slate. However, given Paul’s goal of establishing the definitive, superior achievement of Christ’s sacrificial death, it is likely that he is alluding to the rites done in the holy of holies on the Day of Atonement, for those blood rites were the most powerful atoning rites in the OT legislation. As Jesus hung on the cross, God made Jesus’ body the atonement slate, thereby empowering the shedding of his blood to achieve full expiation for all sins of all humanity. In God’s economy, on that day the atonement slate, which was concealed behind the curtain in the holy of holies, was placed, as it were, in full public view, outside the walls of Jerusalem. Thereby Jesus’ death achieved full atonement for all who accept his sacrifice, regardless of their race, gender or generation (see DPL, Expiation, Propitiation, Mercy Seat).
Thus what the annual observance of the Day of Atonement achieved for all Israelites for the coming year, Jesus achieved in his sacrificial death on the cross both for all people and for all time. Christ, as sacrifice and priest, accomplished also the benefits gained by the people’s two goats offered on that day: like the goat for Yahweh, his death atoned for all human sins; like the goat for Azazel, his death and resurrection broke the power of evil energized by those sins.



Hartley, J. E. “Atonement, Day Of.” Ed. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker. Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch 2003 : 59–60. Print.
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
@Wretched Man, Here is some followup reading from Nobuyoshi Kiuchi's commentary on Leviticus:


New Testament implications

The ritual on the Day of Atonement is related to the central work of Jesus Christ: his death on the cross and its purifying power. He is without equal in his capacity as both High Priest and sin offering. The book of Hebrews elaborates on this in great detail. Jesus did not hide himself (traditionally expressed as his being ‘sinless’), and became both High Priest and Sacrifice (Heb. 5:1–10). Therefore he did not need to make propitiation for himself, like Aaron had to, for he is holy, innocent and sinless (Heb. 7:26–28). It was by his blood, and not animal blood, that he made propitiation for the people, so his blood not only has the power to cleanse believers from all their self-hidings, but also their consciences (Heb. 9:9, 11–14). Christ’s death is also presented in Rom. 3:25 as a hilastērion, which probably means ‘propitiation’, referring to the propitiatory cover. His death ransoms the sinful, but also propitiates the wrath of God.
The cessation of the old tabernacle worship is marked by the tearing in two of the curtain that separates the Holy Place and the Tent of Meeting when Jesus died on the cross (Matt. 27:51), which indicates that henceforth every believer can enter the Holy Place (Heb. 10:19–20).
However, just as in Leviticus, in the NT a spiritual gap is assumed between Christ’s work on the cross and the people who approach him. It is one thing that Christ made atonement for the doomed souls of the people, but quite another to assume that the egocentric selves of the people are destroyed. In Romans Paul first urges Christians to consider that they are dead in their self-hiding (6:11) and gives testimony to his own inner struggle with self-hiding (ḥaṭṭā’t). This demonstrates that real faith appears when one is totally dead to self-hiding, with the simultaneous destruction of the egocentric nature. Blurring the distinction between what Christ did on the cross and the real spiritual condition of humans, by assuming some coexistence of self-hiding with a verbal confession of faith, inevitably makes a person hypocritical. More dangerous is a consequent blurring of the truth that faith in Christ appears only when people are dead to themselves, for faith is the opposite of self-hiding (Rom. 14:23; cf. Kiuchi 2003a: 64–65), not just in the OT but in the NT too.
Rom. 12:1 exhorts the believers to present their bodies to God, as a sacrifice, living, holy and acceptable. The sacrificial idea is clearly used here to describe the Christian life. Now the OT sacrificial ideal is found in the burnt offering, where everything is reduced to ashes, and this may come closest to the idea of Christian self-sacrifice, in view in Rom. 12:1. However, a more plausible antecedent to the ‘living sacrifice’ in Rom. 12:1 may be found in the Azazel goat, which suffers for others, in that the goat is alive (note ‘sacrifice’, ‘living’; see Kiuchi 2006). Since Christ has already made atonement for believers, there is no more need after Pentecost for believers to make further atonement (as a duty). Therefore Paul, by using the sacrificial metaphor, intends only to refer to the self-sacrificial attitude of the believer.
Thus the only hope for human beings in general and the Israelites in particular finds its expression in the cross of Jesus Christ, which allows for Ezekiel’s vision to come true in reality. But as long as the egocentric selves of human beings remain, the spiritual condition is not beyond the level assumed in Leviticus. The following chapters give other approaches to this crucial issue.


Kiuchi, Nobuyoshi. Leviticus. Ed. David W. Baker and Gordon J. Wenham. Vol. 3. Nottingham, England; Downers Grove, IL: Apollos; InterVarsity Press, 2007. Print. Apollos Old Testament Commentary.
 
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