“The whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin. ”
— 1 Enoch 2:8
Azazel (name said to derive from “azaz” and “el” meaning “Strong one of God”), is the chief of the Se’irim, or goat-demons, who inhabited the desert and to whom most primitive Semitic tribes offered sacrifices. But in the Book of Enoch it states that he was the leader of the fallen angels, and is often identified with Lucifer (the Lightbringer) or Lumiel (‘the light of God’). In other ancient texts, including the Torah, and the Zohar, Azazel was refered to as the “Seed of Lilith”. These texts further hint that Azazel was not the product of Lilith mating with any ordinary man, but rather he was the first-born son resulting from her illicit mating with Semjaza, the leader of a group of fallen angels called Watchers.
In one account in the Book of Enoch, it was Azazel who educated humankind of heavenly secrets that lead them to sin. He taught ancient men metallurgy and how to mine from the earth and use the different metals to forge swords, knives, shields and body armour. To the women he taught the art of making ornaments, rings and necklaces, and how to “beautify their eyelids” with kohl and the use of cosmetic tricks to attract and seduce the opposite sex. From these practices Enoch says there came so much “godlessness” that men and women committed fornication. He also revealed to the people the secrets of witchcraft, thus leading them even further astray. Eventually the angels brought charges upon Azazel and presented him to the Lord for the crime of revealing these heavenly secrets to mankind. Raphael was then assigned to punish Azazel by binding him hand and foot and throwing him into the darkness upon the rocky ground. Here he would remain until the Day of Judgment when he would then be hurled into the fire to be consumed forever.
The apocalyptic writers of Enoch brought Azazel into connection with the Biblical story of the fall of the angels. This growing chasm between God and some of his “sons” is important in understanding the emergence of the Satan character as we know him today. Not only does this division preserve God’s righteousness, it also begins the evolution of a single being to become the antithesis of God in Judeo-Christian mythology.
Because of Azazel’s connection to the Se’irim, his name has become synonymous with the word scapegoat. On the 10th day of September, on the feast of the Expiation, it was Jewish custom to draw lots for two goats: one for Yahweh and the other for Azazel. The goat for Yahweh was then sacrificed and its blood served as atonement. With the goat for Azazel, the high priest would place both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess both his sins and the sins of the people. The goat (“scapegoate”) was then led into the desert and set free. Symbolically, the scapegoat took on the sins of the Israelites and removed them.
Thus, Azazel carries upon him the people’s sins. Not unlike a certain Nazarene, another mythological figure from the Middle East.