The Sacerdotal Vision of the Slavonic Apocalypse
Having explored Jewish and Christian appropriations of the two goats of Yom Kippur ritual, with specific reference given to how they relate to human and otherworldly figures, we may now return to the Apocalypse of Abraham. Before we proceed to an in-depth investigation and reconstruction of the two goats’ typology in this pseudepigraphon, it is important that we draw our attention to another, more general, inquiry—one that addresses why these sacerdotal traditions were so important for the authors of our text, and also why they attempted to offer a nonconventional, eschatological version of the Yom Kippur rite, wherein human and angelic beings take on the familiar roles of the cultic animals.
The answer to this inquiry might be found in the circumstances of Jewish communal life at the time the Apocalypse of Abraham was composed. These circumstances may account for the radical and peculiar sacerdotal reformulations that, according to some scholars, permeate the very fabric of the Slavonic pseudepigraphon.1 There is a current scholarly consensus that the text was written soon after the destruction of the Second Jerusalem Temple. This calamity led to efforts to preserve and perpetuate priestly practices in the absence of the terrestrial sanctuary.2 Because the earthly temple was no longer standing, the authors of the Slavonic apocalypse refashioned and perpetuated the most important Jewish festival and its sacerdotal tradition in an eschatological manner. The idea that earthly cultic realities were mere reflections of heavenly ones was not an entirely novel conceptual development. This concept was previously employed by various priestly groups during other religious crises that resulted from the destruction or defilement of the Jerusalem Temple.3 The conceptual roots of this powerful sacerdotal option can even be located in biblical traditions. A fine example of this is the vision of the celestial Chariot in the Book of Ezekiel, where the catastrophic demise of the terrestrial sanctuary is placed in striking contrast with the existence of the celestial sacerdotal abode.4
The Apocalypse of Abraham makes a similar conceptual move in the absence of the earthly temple: it attempts to channel the familiar realities of the atoning ritual into its new eschatological and celestial framework. It does this by portraying the main characters in the apocalypse as emblematic sacerdotal agents. As we have already mentioned, Abraham and Azazel are both eschatologically refashioned into the cultic “animals” of the atoning rite. Another character, the chief angelic protagonist of the story, Yahoel, is also recast in a new role: the celestial high priest. A number of scholars have already noted his priestly attributes and credentials. The sacerdotal functions Yahoel takes on are mainly hinted at through the details of his accouterment: he is dressed in purple garments and wears a turban reminiscent of “the bow in the clouds.”5 What’s more, Abraham also sees a golden staff in the great angel’s right hand. Interpreting the angel’s attire, Daniel Harlow has recently suggested that “Yahoel’s clothing … indicates that he is the heavenly high priest: he wears a ‘turban on his head like the appearance of the bow in the clouds,’ his garments are purple, and he has a golden staff in his hand (11:2). These elements evoke the wardrobe and accoutrement of Aaron (Exod 28; Num 17).”6 Harlow’s affirmation of Yahoel’s priestly profile is not a totally novel interpretation. Martha Himmelfarb has similarly noted that “Yahoel’s wardrobe has strong priestly associations since the linen band around his head recalls Aaron’s headdress of fine linen (Exod 28:39).”7 Like Harlow, Himmelfarb recognizes that Yahoel’s purple robe echoes the high-priestly garb described in Exodus 28. She also notes that the angel’s golden staff invokes Aaron’s rod that miraculously sprouted in the wilderness after Korah’s rebellion “to indicate the choice of Aaron and his descendants as priests (Num 17:16-26).”8 Finally, Himmelfarb draws attention to the rainbow-like appearance of Yahoel’s turban, which, she writes, “brings together the two central color schemes employed elsewhere in the description of God as high priest, whiteness and the multicolored glow.”9
It is surely significant that associating the high priest’s headgear with “the rainbow in the cloud” is a tradition present in several Jewish texts. One prominent example is the description of the high priest Simon in the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira 50:7.10 A number of rabbinic passages11 describe the high priest’s front-plate (Cyc), which was worn on his forehead.12 These texts tell also that the front-plate was made of gold, was inscribed with the divine Name, and shone like a rainbow.13
Given these traditions, it is impossible that Yahoel’s priestly accouterment is merely coincidental. This is also corroborated narratively. Yahoel appears at a crucial juncture in the story: Abraham had just left his father’s destroyed sanctuary, which had been polluted by idolatrous worship. God then calls the hero of faith “to set a pure sacrifice” in worship. Within the narrative, Yahoel’s role extends beyond the usual functions of angels in apocalyptic texts: he is more than an angelus interpres or a celestial guide. Indeed, he possesses a priestly office, initiating an apprentice into the sacerdotal work of heaven. He instructs Abraham in his high priestly role, by explaining how to prepare sacrifices, how to deliver proper praise to the deity, and how to appropriately enter into the heavenly throne room. All these details demonstrate that the priestly praxis is of great importance for the conceptual framework of the Slavonic apocalypse. However, these practices were not earthly practices. They were eschatologically refashioned ordinances which were envisioned as the heavenly archetypes of the earthly cult which were intended to compensate for the loss of conventional sacerdotal routines.
If Yahoel’s priestly garb and role were not coincidental, then neither can it be coincidental that the authors of the Slavonic text pay so much attention to Yom Kippur ritual, as it was the central sacerdotal ordinance of Jewish tradition. This cultic ceremony was laden with transformational possibilities, and it thus provided an ideal playground that could channel and reinterpret traditional apocalyptic imagery into a new cultic dimension. This new sacerdotal and eschatological dimension of the Yom Kippur ritual within the Apocalypse of Abraham was inestimably important because it brought together and established the roles and cultic credentials of both the protagonists and antagonists of the story into an overarching cosmic drama.
Azazel as a Demonic Being
We begin our exploration of the scapegoat typology in the Apocalypse of Abraham by bringing attention to the main character of this enigmatic ritual, the fallen angel Azazel. In the Book of Watchers, we have already noted that a fallen angel, Asael, was assigned the function of the scapegoat. This indicates that relegating this role to a fallen angel is not a novel development. However, the Slavonic apocalypse does bring a new dimension to this conceptual apocalyptic mold. The text is still deeply indebted to Enochic lore and Azazel is still a fallen angelic being, but he also functions as the arch-demon who rules over all evil agents. And so Lester Grabbe has noted that the depiction of the antagonist in the Apocalypse of Abraham reflects the “basic arch-demon complex under the name of Azazel.”14 In what follows, we will explore the roots of this developed demonic profile of the eschatological scapegoat.
The origins of Azazel’s image as a demonic being are clouded with mystery. Some scholars have suggested that Azazel’s image as an arch-demon may already be hinted at in the Book of Leviticus, where his lot is placed in conspicuous parallel with the lot of the deity. Reflecting on the various hypotheses about the expression the goat "for Azazel," Jacob Milgrom proposes that Azazel “could be the name of a demon.”15 Milgrom argues that this proposition is supported first of all by the parallel syntactic structures in which one goat is designated "for the Lord," the other "for Azazel," which imply that Azazel is the personal name of a divine being. Milgrom also notes that “the wilderness to which the goat is dispatched (vv. 10, 22) is the habitation of demons (e.g., Isa 13:21; 34:14; Bar 4:35; Tob 8:3; Matt 12:34; Luke 11:24; Rev 18:2).”16 He also brings attention to the tradition found in 1 Enoch 10:4-5 where the demonic rebel is incarcerated in the wilderness.17 Milgrom goes even further to suggest that "the most plausible explanation is that Azazel is the name of a demon who has been eviscerated of his erstwhile demonic powers by the Priestly legislators."18 Other scholars, arguing along similar lines, conclude that the peculiar circumstances of the lots’ casting, hint to the fact that we deal here with an antagonistic spiritual entity that stands in striking opposition to the deity.19 They point to the fact that “the parallelism between ‘for … Yahweh’ and ‘for … Azazel’ (Lev 16:8) suggests the name of a supernatural being, ‘a being opposed to Yahweh.’”20
Despite what seems to be implicit connections to a demonic figure, it is only much later in Jewish interpretations that Azazel unambiguously takes on the demonic role in a way that leaves no doubt about his true nature. Reasons for this late transition are not entirely clear. It has been proposed that "…the process of the demonization of Azazel was intensively pursued in early Judaism under the influence of dualistic tendencies."21 What’s more, in apocalyptic literature Azazel/Asael becomes not simply one of many demonic beings, but an archetypal representative for all negative spiritual forces. In this novel perspective, the punishment and exile of the antagonist has an effect on the destiny of the whole race of demonic creatures. According to some apocalypticists, this punishment is understood to be a cosmic paradigm for the subjugation of evil forces. Once again, the roots of this conceptual development can be traced to early Enochic literature. In this respect, Asael’s destiny in the Book of the Watchers is instructive. Asael’s punishment is endowed with distinct and unique cultic elements in 1 Enoch 10. He is envisioned as a sort of expiatory offering for the sins of fallen angels and the giants,22 or as a sacrifice to remove the impurity and defilement caused by the celestial rebels and their offspring. Asael’s castigation is especially pronounced when it is compared with the undifferentiated penalty of the other leader of the fallen angels, Shemihazah, which takes place with the rest of the celestial rebels.23 Others have noted some of these cultic elements as they survive in the fragments from the Book of Giants (4Q203 and 4Q180) found in Qumran, wherein Asael/Azazel seems to be envisioned as an expiatory agent. In this regard, 4Q203 reads:24
…and [yo]ur power […] Blank Th[en] ’Ohyah [said] to Hahy[ah, his brother …] Then he punished, and not us, [bu]t Aza[ze]l and made [him … the sons of] Watchers, the Giants; and n[o]ne of [their] be[loved] will be forgiven […] … he has imprisoned us and has captured yo[u]. (4Q203, frag. 7, col I).25
4Q180 frag. 1 1–10 provides additional hints at the unique expiatory role of Asael/Azazel:
Interpretation concerning the ages which God has made: An age to conclude [all that there is] and all that will be. Before creating them he determined [their] operations [according to the precise sequence of the ages,] one age after another age. And this is engraved on the [heavenly] tablets [for the sons of men,] [for] /[a]ll/ the ages of their dominion. This is the sequence of the son[s of Noah, from Shem to Abraham,] [unt]il he sired Isaac; the ten [generations …] […] Blank […] [And] interpretation concerning ‘Azaz’el and the angels wh[o came to the daughters of man] [and s]ired themselves giants. And concerning ‘Azaz’el [is written …] [to love] injustice and to let him inherit evil for all [his] ag[e …] […] (of the) judgments and the judgment of the council of […]26
In this passage, Azazel/Asael is the one who accrues the transgressions of his age. Reflecting on this passage, Annette Yoshiko Reed notes that “… it is intriguing that the author distinguishes this Watcher from the rest, singling him out as the one who ‘inherits evil.’"27
In the Midrash of Shemhazai and Azael, Aza’el (Asael) is again depicted as the archetypal rebel whose actions profoundly shape the very aetiology of the atoning rite, necessitating the establishment of the scapegoat ritual in the first place. The relevant portion of the Midrash of Shemhazai and Azael states:
What did Semhazai do? He repented and suspended himself between heaven and earth head downwards and feet upwards, because he was not allowed to open his mouth before the Holy One—Blessed be He—, and he still hangs between heaven and earth. cAza’el (however) did not repent. And he is appointed chief over all kinds of dyes which entice man to commit sin and he still continues to corrupt them. Therefore, when the Israelites used to bring sacrifices on the day of atonement, they cast one lot for the Lord that it might atone for the iniquities of the Israelites, and one lot for cAzaz’el that he might bear the burden of Israel’s iniquity. This is the cAzazel that is mentioned in the Scripture.28
This passage is conspicuously different from the early Enochic tradition, as it does not mention Asael’s underground confinement, but instead portrays him as an unrestrained demonic force. He is “appointed chief over all kinds of dyes” whose function is to torment humankind, and must be pacified yearly. This is accomplished through the use of scapegoats. The Apocalypse of Abraham seems to be a part of this interpretive trend that considers Azazel the emblematic representative of all the enemies of God and His people who are now gathered in the rebel’s infamous lot—a lot full of symbolism that is now appropriate to explore more closely.
The Lot of Azazel
Before we proceed to a close analysis of the imagery of Azazel’s lot found in the various parts of the Slavonic apocalypse, it will be beneficial to clarify the overall logic of our excursus into the scapegoat typology manifested in the Apocalypse of Abraham. This in-depth study of the go-away goat tradition found in the Slavonic apocalypse will attempt to follow the major steps of the atoning ritual as they are outlined in Leviticus. At the same time, we will also keep in mind some additional details of the ritual as they appear in variegated mishnaic and patristic testimonies. The scapegoat ritual seems to follow these conceptual steps:
1. The lottery of the goats, during which the immolated goat and the scapegoat were selected;
2. The placement of the red band on the scapegoat;
3. The high priest’s confession of communal sins, which are placed on the head of the scapegoat;
4. The ritual maltreatment of the animal wherein verbal curses and physical abuses are inflicted upon the scapegoat;
5. The scapegoat’s exile into the wilderness;
6. The scapegoat’s descent from a precipice into the desert.
All these crucial steps of the scapegoat ordinance will be carefully investigated in our study. We will see that many of them appear to be reflected in the eschatological reinterpretation of the atoning rite found in the Slavonic apocalypse.
The scapegoat ritual begins with the lottery that is outlined in the biblical testimonies. This lottery is described in even greater detail in rabbinic texts. During this lottery, two lots were cast in order to determine which of the two animals would take on the role of the immolated goat and which would be designated as the go-away goat. Lev 16:7-10 offers this description of the ritual of selection:
Then he shall take the two goats, and set them before the Lord at the door of the tent of meeting; and Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel.29 And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord, and offer 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. (NRSV).
M. Yoma 4:1further elaborates on the selection ritual, and adds some novel details:
He shook the casket and took up the two lots. On one was written “For the Lord,” and on the other was written “For Azazel.” The prefect was on his right and the chief of his father’s house on his left. If the lot bearing the Name came up in his right hand the Prefect would say to him, “My lord High Priest, raise thy right hand”; and if it came up in his left hand the chief of the father’s house would say to him, “My lord High Priest, raise thy left hand.” He put them on the two he-goats and said “A sin-offering to the Lord.”30
The most important elements of these descriptions pertain to the symbolism of the two lots, which would ultimately determine each goat’s destiny. There is very similar symbolism that heavily permeates the conceptual core of the Apocalypse of Abraham. This shared imagery is a crucial link between the Slavonic pseudepigraphon and the Yom Kippur rite. It comes as no surprise that the lots’ symbolism in the Slavonic apocalypse, like all the other realities of the atoning rite, underwent radical eschatological reformulation. In this refashioning the lots remained not merely the pebbles of the goat lottery, but they became the eschatological portions of humankind. The transference of this imagery of the two lots onto humankind is significant here, as the cultic functions of the lots are assigned not merely to eschatological or human characters, but to the social bodies themselves. These bodies, along with their emblematic representatives, now become envisioned as the sacerdotal goats.31
The imagery of the two eschatological lots of humanity that are found in the second part of the text have captivated scholars’ imagination for some time. Students of the Abrahamic pseudepigraphon have often tried to discern possible connections between these two portions and the dualistic developments found in some of the Qumran texts where the imagery of the two eschatological allocations also played a significant role. Indeed, in the Dead Sea Scrolls we find a broad appropriation of the imagery of the two lots of humanity. In those texts the portions of humanity are often depicted as standing in striking antagonism to each other, as they anticipate the final eschatological battle. It has been frequently noted that the peculiar symbolism of these eschatological parties often takes the form of dualistic symmetrical oppositions in the Scrolls.
Enigmatic metaphors that involve dichotomies such as darkness and light, good and evil, and election and rejection are frequently used to describe these groups. This dualistic “mirroring” of the respective portions is often underscored by the eschatological leaders of these lots. In many cases the leaders possess peculiar sobriquets that negatively or positively reflect, and sometimes even polemically mock, the names of their respective rivals. The case of Melchizedek and Melchirešac or the Prince of Lights and the Angel of Darkness are good examples of this.
We find that this peculiar imagery of the eschatological portions of humanity is dispersed throughout the Apocalypse of Abraham. Scholars have previously noted that the conceptual elaborations surrounding these portrayals are reminiscent not only of the eschatological reinterpretations and terminology found in the Qumran materials,32 but also of the peculiar imagery of the sacrificial lots that is so prominent in the Yom Kippur ritual. Regarding this, it is certainly significant that the Slavonic term for “lot” (часть) found in the Apocalypse of Abraham appears to be connected to the Hebrew lrwg, a notion prominent in many of the cultic descriptions found in biblical and rabbinic accounts,33 as well as in the eschatological developments attested by the Qumran materials.34
In the Qumran materials, the lots of humanity are tied to the fallen angelic figures or the translated heroes (i.e. Belial or Melchizedek). This is similar to the Apocalypse of Abraham, where the portions of humanity are linked to the main protagonist and antagonist of the story – the fallen angel Azazel35 and the translated patriarch Abraham.36
It is noteworthy that in the Apocalypse of Abraham, again similar to the Qumran materials,37 the positive lot is often designated as the lot for the deity, namely as “my [God’s] lot”:
And the Eternal Mighty One said to me, “Abraham, Abraham!” And I said, “Here am I!” And he said, “Look from on high at the stars which are beneath you and count them for me and tell me their number!” And I said, “Would I be able? For I am [but] a man.” And he said to me, “As the number of the stars and their host, so shall I make your seed into a company of nations, set apart for me in my lot with Azazel.”38
It is also worth noting that the spatial assignments of both lots hold significance, as they are both laden with cultic meaning. In this respect, it is important that in the Apocalypse of Abraham the lot of Azazel is consistently associated with the left side, while the lot of Abraham is identified with the right side. This symbolism of the left and right sides takes on portentous significance in many rabbinic accounts. There, the lot of the goat for Azazel is consistently associated with the left hand of the high priest, while the portion of the immolated goat is consistently associated with his right hand. We will explore these important spatial correspondences in greater detail later in our study.
The Crimson Band and the Placement of the Garment of Human Sins on Azazel
Perhaps the most significant event in ancient Judaism associated with both the transference and removal of the impurity caused by human transgressions was the scapegoat ritual.39 During the rite, the infamous goat carried Israel’s sins into the uninhabitable realm after they had been transposed onto the creature’s head. Quite literally, through the laying on of hands and the high priest’s confession, the communal sins of Israel were heaped upon the scapegoat. The steps outlining this ritual can first be found in the Book of Leviticus. Lev 16:20-22 offers the following description:
And when he has made an end of atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat; and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and send him away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities upon him to a solitary land; and he shall let the goat go in the wilderness. (NRSV).
The Temple Scroll from Qumran gives a similar testimony to the transference of sins by confession and the laying on of hands in 11Q19 col. xxvi10-13:
And he shall wash his hands and his feet from the blood of the sin-offering and will go to the living he-goat and will confess over its head all the sins of the children of Israel with all their guilt together with all their sins; and he shall place them upon the head of the he-goat and will send it to Azazel, (to) the desert, from the hand of the man indicated. And the he-goat will take with itself all the sins….40
The transference ritual is further elaborated in m. Yoma 6:2, which even provides the words spoken by the high priest during his confession:
He then came to the scapegoat and laid his two hands upon it and made confession. And thus used he to say: ‘O God, thy people, the House of Israel, have committed iniquity, transgressed, and sinned before thee. O God, forgive, I pray, the iniquities and transgressions and sins which thy people, the House of Israel, have committed and transgressed and sinned before thee; as it is written in the law of thy servant Moses, For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you: from all your sins shall ye be clean before the Lord? And when the priests and the people which stood in the Temple Court heard the Expressed Name come forth from the mouth of the High Priest, they used to kneel and bow themselves and fall down on their faces and say, “Blessed be the name of the glory of his kingdom for ever and ever!”41
As the tradition developed in rabbinic and patristic texts concerning the scapegoat rite, the deposit of the human transgressions onto the goat became symbolically associated with the crimson band that was tied to the animal’s head.42 What’s more, the band’s mystical color change from crimson to white became connected with the forgiveness of sins in these testimonies.43
Because there seems to be a level of continuity between these traditions, it is important to explore the relationship between the transference of sins and the crimson band in the development of the scapegoat ritual.
We have already noted many of the ways that the Apocalypse of Abraham attempts to enhance various features of the scapegoat rite with more sophisticated eschatological imagery. Among other aspects of the scapegoat ritual, this new apocalyptic dimension also affected the symbolism of the goat’s crimson band, which, according to mishnaic and patristic testimonies, was placed on the head of the cultic animal during the process of the goats’ selection. In the Slavonic pseudepigraphon, the crimson band came to represent an eschatological garment of human sins as one aspect of the ritual’s apocalyptic reformulation.44
There is a great deal of mystery surrounding the origins of the scarlet band’s imagery.45 It is common for rabbinic passages to associate the band’s symbolism with the imagery from Isa 1:18: “[T]hough your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”46 By connecting the band with this passage, it is clear that, for the Rabbis, the change of the band’s color was a sign of the forgiveness of sins. Mishnaic passages also relate that, during the Yom Kippur ceremony, the crimson band—tied either to the rock or to the door of the sanctuary—would turn white as soon as the goat reached the wilderness,47 thus fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy.48
While the band of the cultic animal is not mentioned anywhere in the original description of the ritual in Leviticus, later Jewish and Christian sources provided a plethora of references to this mysterious item. A number of mishnaic passages, including m. Yoma 4:2, 6:6, and 6:8, mention this scarlet ribbon.49 M. Yoma 4:2 is a good representative of the mishnaic tradition in this regard:
He bound a thread of crimson wool on the head of the scapegoat and he turned it towards the way by which it was to be sent out; and on the he-goat that was to be slaughtered [he bound a thread] about its throat.50
Shortly after this passage, the tradition of the crimson wool is further expanded in m. Yoma 6:6, which offers the following description:
What did he do? He divided the thread of crimson wool and tied one half to the rock and the other half between its horns, and he pushed it from behind; and it went rolling down, and before it had reached half the way down the hill it was broken in pieces. He returned and sat down beneath the last booth until nightfall. And from what time does it render his garments unclean? After he has gone outside the wall of Jerusalem. R. Simeon says: From the moment that he pushes it into the ravine.51
While m. Yoma 4:2 details the beginning of the scapegoat ritual, where an animal was chosen and then marked with the crimson thread, m. Yoma 6:6 goes on to relate the conclusion of this rite in its climactic moment when the scapegoat is thrown violently down the hill by its handlers. It is significant that, before the end of the ritual, the scapegoat’s band was temporarily removed. This was done so that half of the band could be retained, and tied to a rock, while the other half went with the goat as it took its final plunge into the abyss. As the text continues, one novel feature of the tradition appears in m. Yoma 6:8, wherein R. Ishmael relates the following:
R. Ishmael says: Had they not another sign also?—a thread of crimson wool was tied to the door of the Sanctuary and when the he-goat reached the wilderness the thread turned white; for it is written, Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow.52
In direct opposition to m. Yoma 6:6, here we are told that the crimson band was not tied to a rock, but rather to the door of the sanctuary. What is more, in this passage, the scapegoat’s headgear seems to be more explicitly represented as the deposit of human sins that were carried by the scapegoat into the wilderness. Only after the goat, and the people’s sins with it, had left humanity’s presence and entered into the wilderness would the thread change its color from red to white.
We have previously shown that early Christian traditions, such as the Gospel of Matthew, the Epistle of Barnabas, Justin Martyr and Tertullian, display a similar familiarity with the symbolic representations of the crimson band. Thus, for example, the Epistle of Barnabas uses the imagery of the crimson band in a manner that is quite similar to some mishnaic materials. It is important to remember that Barnabas 7:6-11 describes a ritual wherein the priest wraps a piece of scarlet wool53 around the scapegoat’s head. At the end of the ritual the scapegoat’s handler removes the wool and places it not on a rock or door, but on a blackberry bush.54 This parallels both m. Yoma 4:2, where the crimson wool is tied onto the scapegoat’s head, and also m. Yoma 6:6, where the handler of the scapegoat divides the thread of crimson wool and ties one half of the cultic band to a rock.
Another early Christian author, Tertullian, also demonstrates that he is familiar with the tradition that the scapegoat was bound with scarlet thread.55 In Against Marcion 3:7, he writes:
… [one of the goats was] surrounded with scarlet, cursed and spit upon and pulled about and pierced, was by the people driven out of the city into perdition, marked with manifest tokens of our Lord’s passion: while the other, made an offering for sins, and given as food to the priests of the temple, marked the tokens of his second manifestation, at which, when all sins have been done away, the priests of the spiritual temple, which is the Church, were to enjoy, as it were, a feast of our Lord’s grace, while the rest remain without a taste of salvation.56
Unlike the mishnaic testimonies that we have explored, the early Christian interpreters attempt to refashion the ritual, giving it a new, messianic mold. They do this by linking the symbolism of the crimson thread with the cultic or messianic accouterment of Christ, whose robe or crown they often describe as red.57 We find a remarkably similar account of the cultic vestment in the Apocalypse of Abraham, where the crimson band is likewise understood as a garment. More precisely, in the chapter 12 of the Apocalypse of Abraham the band is represented by the garment of the patriarch’s transgressions. This becomes the deposit of human sins, which is then placed upon Azazel.58
As one remembers the only accouterment that the scapegoat was “wearing” in the ritual was the crimson band. For this reason the garment found in the Apocalypse of Abraham give us telling insight into the “clothing nature” of the crimson band. Moreover, if it is assumed that the crimson-dyed wool on the horns of the scapegoat indeed represents a “garment,” the mishnaic passage then also seems to indicate that the immolated goat also receives its own “garment,” namely, a piece of wool that is tied around its neck.59 And so, in the reinterpretation of the Yom Kippur ritual in Apoc. Ab. 12, both eschatological “goats” receive “garments”: Azazel receives the stained garment of sins, and Abraham receives the celestial garment that is taken from the former heavenly being.
This interpretation hints at an important connection between the tradition of the scarlet band as the deposit of humanity’s iniquities and the garment of sins given to the fallen angel Azazel in the Slavonic apocalypse. Just as the scapegoat took on a stained garment, so also Azazel is divested of his clean garment and takes on a garment stained by human sin.60
There is an important point of overlap with the Apocalypse of Abraham here: the garment of Azazel in the Slavonic pseudepigraphon and the crimson band in the mishnaic testimonies are both the symbolic deposits of human sin. As far as the mishnaic testimonies are concerned, m. Yoma 6:861 and m. Shabbat 9:362 both connect the tradition of the crimson band to a significant passage from Isaiah that explicitly speaks to the forgiveness of the sins. A connection has often been made between the scarlet thread and human sins in other texts, as well. This is because Jewish lore is often quick to associate the color red with sin, and the color white with forgiveness. This color symbolism is summarized well in the Book of Zohar II.20a-b:
Sin is red, as it says, “Though your sins be as scarlet”; man puts the sacrificial animal on fire, which is also red; the priest sprinkles the red blood round the altar, but the smoke ascending to heaven is white. Thus the red is turned to white: the attribute of Justice is turned into the attribute of Mercy.
There is a very similar appropriation of the color imagery that also occurs in the scapegoat ritual. There, the band is transformed from red to white.63 This simultaneously represents the forgiveness of Israel’s sins, and strengthens the association of the color red with sin.64 Similarly, in a variety of mishnaic and talmudic passages the band is also whitened65 during the scapegoat ritual, and this indicates that Israel’s sins have been cleansed.66
It is also likely that the loosing of the crimson band at the end of the scapegoat ritual signifies that the people’s sins have been forgiven. This has led a number of scholars to emphasize the semantic overlap between formulae of loosing and forgiving in Semitic languages. They stress that “there is a semi-technical use of language of loosing (yr#) in the Palestinian Aramaic of the Targums to mean forgiving.”67
The priest’s transference of Israel’s sins and impurities onto the head of the scapegoat during the ritual forms another close tie between the scarlet band and human iniquity that ought to be elucidated. It is significant that this aspect of the ritual is found in the very earliest accounts of the atoning rite: the biblical texts themselves. Leviticus 16:21 narrates that the chief cultic celebrant places his hands upon the head of the scapegoat and confesses over him, and thus transfers upon him, the sins of all the people of Israel.68
Regarding this, there is an important connection between the placement of the scarlet band on the scapegoat’s head and the placement of sins on the goat’s head in the course of the hand-leaning rite. Jacob Milgrom suggests that the hand-leaning rite itself is the very ritual that transfers human sin onto the scapegoat. He writes:
[T]he fact that the text stresses that the hand-leaning rite is executed with both hands is the key to understanding the function of Azazel’s goat. It is not a sacrifice, else the hand-leaning would have been performed with one hand. The two-handed ceremonial instead serves a transference function: to convey, by confession, the sins of Israel onto the head of the goat.69
David Wright makes a similar claim, arguing for the distinctiveness of the two-handed rite, and its importance for the transference of sins onto the cultic animal’s head:
[T]wo-handed handlaying is distinct in form and meaning from the one-handed handlying found in sacrifice (cf. Lev 1:4; 3:2, 8, 13: 4:4, 24, 29, 33). The two-handed rite identifies the scapegoat as the recipient of the ritual action (in this case, as the recipient of the sins, cf. Lev 24:14; Num 27:18, 23) while the one-handed rite in sacrifice identifies the animal as belonging to the offerer ….70
The fact that both the sins and the crimson band are placed directly on the head of the animal is certainly significant. This further strengthens the connection between the band of the cultic animal and the transgressions that the animal is intended to bear.
There is another noteworthy dimension of the “clothing” metaphor aside from its symbolic representation of the transference and purgation of sins; it also takes on a transformative function in the ritual. Scholars have noted that in the Yom Kippur ordinance the cultic vestments are predestined to play an essential role thus underlying significant changes of the participants’ former limits. This change of ontological condition, and its anthropological significance, is especially prevalent in the high priest, the central sacerdotal figure in the Yom Kippur ritual. The chief priest’s re-clothing during the ritual proleptically anticipates the transition from the garments of skin to the garments of light, and signifies the eschatological return of humanity to its original state. In this context, the original state is the prelapsarian condition of the protoplast, Adam.
In later Jewish apocalyptic reinterpretations of the atoning rite, such as the Apocalypse of Abraham, this transformation, indicated by the garments’ change, occurs not only to the high priestly figure but also to his ominous cultic counterpart. In the Apocalypse of Abraham, for example, the celestial scapegoat Azazel receives an unclean garment of sin from Yahoel.71
In our attempt to uncover the roots of this clothing metaphor, it is essential that we notice that the crimson wool is connected with unclean garments already in the earliest rabbinic accounts of the scapegoat ritual. For example, m. Yoma 6:6 reveals that even handling the scapegoat and its crimson band renders the garments of the handler unclean:
He divided the thread of crimson wool and tied one half to the rock and the other half between its horns, and he pushed it from behind; and it went rolling down, and before it had reached half the way down the hill it was broken in pieces. He returned and sat down beneath the last booth until nightfall. And from what time does it render his garments unclean?72
In this early reflection on the Yom Kippur rite, we find a peculiar mirroring: the scapegoat’s unclean “apparel” is paralleled by the subsequent uncleanness of its handlers’ garments. In these accounts, we also find another intriguing correlation: the correspondence between the removal of the scapegoat’s crimson band and the subsequent stripping of the goat handler’s unclean garment.73 Leviticus 16:26 is the earliest testimony to this procedure, as the text notes that the animal’s handlers must wash their clothes, presumably due to the impurity accrued from handling the goat.74
There are other early reinterpretations of the Yom Kippur imagery that we have already explored in this study, including a passage found Zech 3:1-5, that also highlight the importance of clothing in the scapegoat ritual. It is striking how similar the clothing scene in Zechariah is to the clothing scene that is found in the Slavonic apocalypse. In the prophetic account and in the Apocalypse of Abraham, the attire of the human sacerdotal subject, the high priest, is altered from the defiled garments of sin to festal apparel. However, in Zechariah’s account, unlike the Slavonic apocalypse, the human’s now-impure clothing is not transferred to the demonic creature. Although it is possible that the ritual of Satan’s cursing suggests that the antagonist becomes the recipient of Joshua’s impure vestments.75
These early references to the changing of cultic attire, in so far as they are intrinsically connected to the scapegoat ritual, are critical for our study. It is also important that the removal of garments significantly affects even the high priest, who is required to be purified and vested with the new, golden garments, which happens after the scapegoat is sent away.76
The preceding analysis has demonstrated that the earliest biblical and extra-biblical accounts of the scapegoat ritual already contained a panoply of clothing metaphors. Some mishnaic passages even go on to develop a peculiar parallelism between the crimson band of the scapegoat and the garments of its handlers. These developments provide a central and operative interpretive framework for understanding Azazel’s garment in the Apocalypse of Abraham.
However, the representation of the fallen angel’s sinful attire in the Slavonic apocalypse does not only stem from these biblical and mishnaic testimonies. The symbolism of his sinful vestments was also developed out of apocalyptic accounts that reinterpreted the scapegoat rite eschatologically. Perhaps one the most formative texts in this regard is again 1 Enoch 10. Asael’s punishment is detailed in this text: the deity orders one of his angelic executors to throw Asael into the abyss and to cover him with darkness. It would not be novel to reflect on the features of Asael’s punishment in 1 Enoch 10; a number of scholars have already done so, noting that Asael’s punishment is remarkably similar to the scapegoat ritual. However, what interpreters have failed to notice is that there is another Yom Kippur motif reflected in the detail that the fallen angel is covered with darkness.77 As in the Jewish atoning rite found in Leviticus, this covering with darkness ought to be correlated with both the placement of the scarlet band on the scapegoat and with the transference of Israelite sins upon the goat by the laying of hands—the sacerdotal action that symbolically endows the cultic animal with human transgressions.78
The Ritual Maltreatment of the Scapegoat: Azazel’s Accursing
We have already illustrated several ways in which the scapegoat tradition underwent an extensive interpretive development. One significant elaboration that we have not yet illuminated is the abuses heaped on the scapegoat. According to rabbinic and patristic testimonies, the cultic animal endured variegated abuses before and during its journey into the uninhabitable realm. Mishnah Yoma 6:4 reports the go-away goat’s maltreatment on its way out of the city:
And they made a causeway for it because of the Babylonians who used to pull its hair, crying to it, “Bear [our sins] and be gone! Bear [our sins] and be gone!”79
According to this passage, the scapegoat not only underwent physical abuse, but also verbal maltreatment. These verbal curses showered upon the scapegoat were an indispensable part of the purgation and elimination rites that were exercised on the Day of Atonement. Stephen Finlan clarifies the importance of the verbal abuses heaped on the animal, arguing that “curse-transmission is one of the key moments in expulsion rituals.”80 Jacob Milgrom also notes that these curses have cultic significance. He notes that the nullification of impurity can be “accomplished in one of three ways: curse, destruction, or banishment.”81 The scapegoat ritual does not just use one of these methods, but employs all three simultaneously.
The scapegoat’s cultic humiliation also received attention in early Christian contexts, and perhaps even more prominently than in the rabbinic tradition. Christian authors connected the Yom Kippur tradition’s maltreatment of the scapegoat with the abuses Jesus underwent in the moments before his death on the cross. This connection endowed the Passion motifs with new sacerdotal dimensions. Early Christian exegetes highlight not only the physical abuses that the messianic scapegoat suffers, but also the verbal humiliation that Jesus undergoes. As an example, the Epistle of Barnabas repeatedly describes the scapegoat as the one who is cursed: “… But what will they do with the other? ‘The other,’ he says, ‘is cursed.’" …. “The one they take to the altar, but the other is cursed, and the one that is cursed is crowned…..”82 Tertullian, in Adversus Marcionem, also highlights the simultaneity of verbal and physical abuses: “surrounded with scarlet, cursed and spit upon and pulled about and pierced…."83 These early Christian testimonies affirm the development of the scapegoat’s curses, and show their prominence in different traditions.
I have suggested elsewhere that the author of the Apocalypse of Abraham not only recognizes the tradition concerning the scapegoat’s ritual humiliation, but that he even strives to clothe this motif in novel eschatological garb.84 In particular, the pseudepigraphon’s author is captivated with the ritual curses that are placed upon the scapegoat. Further analysis of the story will demonstrate not only the importance of these curses in the Apocalypse of Abraham, but will also show the development of this theme in our text.
It is helpful to divide the ritual curses bestowed on the celestial scapegoat in the Apocalypse of Abraham into two major groups. The first cluster is represented by the curses that are bestowed on Azazel directly by Yahoel. These occur in chapter 13. The second group occurs in the following chapter, where these ritual actions are reaffirmed by Yahoel as he instructs Abraham. We will begin by exploring the themes and developments of the curses in chapter 13.
Apoc. Ab. 13:7-14 narrates the following interaction between the heavenly high priest, Yahoel, and the celestial scapegoat, Azazel:
Reproach is on you, Azazel! Since Abraham’s portion is in heaven, and yours is on earth, since you have chosen it and desired it to be the dwelling place of your impurity.85 Therefore the Eternal Lord, the Mighty One, has made you a dweller on earth. And because of you [there is] the wholly-evil spirit of the lie, and because of you [there are] wrath and trials on the generations of impious men. Since the Eternal Mighty God did not send the righteous, in their bodies, to be in your hand, in order to affirm through them the righteous life and the destruction of impiety. … Hear, adviser! Be shamed by me, since you have been appointed to tempt not all the righteous! Depart from this man! You cannot deceive him, because he is the enemy of you and of those who follow you and who love what you desire. For behold, the garment which in heaven was formerly yours has been set aside for him, and the corruption which was on him has gone over to you.86
A number of Yahoel’s actions in the Apocalypse of Abraham are reminiscent of the deeds of the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. In light of the sacerdotal affiliations of Yahoel that we have already explored, it is likely that his actions against Azazel in this chapter also take on cultic significance. Additionally, there are particular lexemes in this passage that relate to terminology associated with Yom Kippur.87 Most relevant for our purposes is that Yahoel’s address is reminiscent of the curses that are bestowed on the scapegoat during the atoning rite. In the passage that is quoted above, the transference of Abraham’s sin onto the celestial scapegoat conspicuously coincides with the departure command. This is quite similar to a description found in m. Yoma 6:4. There, members of the community harassed the scapegoat physically and verbally by pulling the animal’s hair and shouting, “Bear [our sins] and be gone! Bear [our sins] and be gone!”88 The similarity with the Apocalypse of Abraham has not gone unnoticed by scholars.89 Here, the mishnaic passage includes two explicit cultic elements: first, there is a bestowal of sins (“bear [our sins]”) and, second, there is a command of departure (“be gone”).90 We find nearly identical elements in the Apocalypse of Abraham. The transference of sins onto Azazel91 is contained in the phrase “the corruption which was on him has gone over to you.” This eschatological transference appears simultaneously with the departure element, which is indicated by the phrase “depart from this man.” It is significant that, in contrast to the mishnaic tradition, the Slavonic apocalypse places the departure formula before the sins are transferred onto the scapegoat and not following it.
More details concerning the bestowal of curses onto the scapegoat are found in Apoc. Ab. 13:792 and 13:11.93 These verses describe Yahoel’s reproach and shaming of Azazel. The words of Yahoel are, again, related to the tradition of ritual curses that are imposed on the scapegoat. Regarding this, the language of cursing, or “shame”, found in verse 11 is especially significant since it is reminiscent of some formulations found in the mishnaic tradition.
Following Yahoel’s bestowal of curses onto Azazel in chapter 13, he goes on to explain both the handling of the scapegoat and the ritual cursing to Abraham. Once again, several elements in the text hint at its peculiar sacerdotal setting. Others have noted that Yahoel takes on the role of a senior ritual celebrant who is passing on instruction to his disciple by explaining and demonstrating the ritual.94 The ritual instructor–instructee motif is apparent from the beginning of the apocalyptic portion of the text. From the outset, Abraham faithfully follows the orders of his angelic guide while they prepare the sacrifices.95 Abraham’s obedience to his celestial mentor continues as Yahoel instructs the patriarch on the ritual departure of the scapegoat. After Yahoel himself “handles” Azazel, Apoc. Ab. 14:1-8 describes the angel’s verbal instructions to Abraham concerning the scapegoat:
And the angel said to me, “Abraham!” And I said, “Here am I, your servant.” And he said, “Know by this that the Eternal One whom you have loved has chosen you. Be bold and have power, as I order you, over him who reviles justice, 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. Say to him, “May you be the fire brand of the furnace of the earth! Go, Azazel, into the untrodden parts of the earth. 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. And justice is your enmity. Therefore, through your own destruction vanish from before me!” And I said the words as the angel had taught me.96
Just as we found verbal curses heaped on the scapegoat in m. Yoma, this address also contains elements that are intended to denigrate and humiliate the fallen angel that represents the eschatological scapegoat. This is done by labeling him an enemy of justice and by depicting him as a damned celestial creature predestined for destruction in the lower abode.
Yet again in this narrative we find the two departure formulae that were a crucial element in the mishnaic account of the scapegoat’s curse. Moreover, these commands of withdrawal take on an even more decisive and forceful tone than they had in Apoc. Ab. 13. Now these commands include the orders “Go” (Slav. иди)97 and “Vanish from before me” (Slav. буди от мене исчезлъ).98
Azazel’s Exile into the Wilderness and the Abyss
The role of transference, which featured prominently in all of the texts that we have surveyed, was closely connected with the idea of elimination: transgressions were placed onto the cultic animal, and these transgressions were removed from the people as they were taken into the uninhabitable realm.99 An eschatological reformulation of these cultic elements is also present in the Apocalypse of Abraham where the antagonist is endowed with the impure garment of human sin, and he is commanded to depart. Apoc. Ab. 13:12-14 reports the departure command:
Depart from this man! You cannot deceive him, because he is the enemy of you and of those who follow you and who love what you desire. For behold, the garment which in heaven was formerly yours has been set aside for him, and the corruption which was on him has gone over to you.100
It is significant that, in this text, the departure command and the action that transfers sins onto Azazel are both executed by the eschatological high priest in the story – the great angel Yahoel. Here, human sin, “Abraham’s corruption”, becomes the garment that is put on Azazel. Not only does Azazel take on the impure garment, he also loses his former angelic garb, which is transferred to Abraham. It is intriguing that the transference ritual in the Apocalypse of Abraham corresponds with the demotion of the antagonist, which is performed by the high priestly figure. This seems to support Milgrom’s suggestion that one of the objectives of the scapegoat ritual was priestly evisceration of the demonic leader.
In chapter 14 the ritual concerning the scapegoat’s banishment is retold. Here, after Yahoel “handles” Azazel, the angel passes on instruction to the patriarch, as he verbally teaches Abraham how to deal with the scapegoat:
Say to him, “May you be the fire brand of the furnace of the earth! Go, Azazel, into the untrodden parts of the earth. 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. And justice is your enmity. Therefore through your own destruction vanish from before me!” And I said the words as the angel had taught me (Apoc. Ab. 14:5-8).101
There is an element in the language of this text that again reflects the scapegoat ritual from the Yom Kippur rite. The dispatch formula “Go, Azazel, into the untrodden parts of the earth” specifically designates Azazel’s destination for the removal of sins. It is in “the untrodden parts of earth.” The word “untrodden” (Slav. беспроходна)102 is significant since it designates a place uninhabitable (lit. impassable) to human beings.
Reflecting on the language of Lev 16 where the scapegoat is similarly dispatched “to the solitary place” (hrzg Cr)-l)) “in the wilderness,” (rbdmb),103 Jacob Milgrom notes that “the purpose of dispatching the goat to the wilderness is to remove it from human habitation.”104
These verbal similarities suggest that the Apocalypse of Abraham is here establishing the so-called “elimination” aspect of the scapegoat ritual. In the elimination aspect, human impurity must be removed from the human space into an inhabitable realm. To reflect this idea, the Apocalypse of Abraham uses the nomenclature “untrodden.” This possibility has been suggested by Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra, who argued that the phrase found in Apoc. Ab. 14:5, “into the untrodden parts of the earth,” is related to the Septuagintal translation of Lev 16:22 (εἰς γῆν ἄβατον).105 He also notes that the phrase in the Apocalypse of Abraham is likely reminiscent of the expression chosen by Philo in De Specialibus Legibus 1:188, where he describes Yom Kippur.106
However, the exile of the eschatological scapegoat is not confined merely to the earthly realm. In Yahoel’s speech in Apoc. Ab. 14, we learn that the place of expulsion for this antagonist is not just the wilderness, but the furnace of the earth.107 Moreover, Azazel himself is portrayed as the “burning coal” or the “firebrand” of this infernal kiln.108 What we find, then, is a two-step removal of the scapegoat: first to the earth itself and then to the fiery underworld. This is noteworthy because it has a curious parallel to some rabbinic testimonies about the scapegoat ritual.
The biblical narrative gives no real information about the demise of the scapegoat. However, later rabbinic testimonies fill in the gap here: they portray the cultic animal as being pushed off a cliff into the abyss. This is a close correlation to the two-step banishment of Azazel that we explored above. In contrast to Leviticus, which is a one-step removal process, these rabbinic texts depict the two-step removal in which the cultic animal will be first taken to the wilderness and then, in the second step, be pushed off of a cliff into the abyss. This rabbinic development, however, is not entirely novel. Early apocalyptic accounts of angelic scapegoats also attest to a similar development. The Yom Kippur ritual, as it is reflected in the Book of the Watchers and the Animal Apocalypse, also appears to operate under this two-stage removal. Regarding this, it is important that the antagonist in these texts is not just banished to the wilderness, but is placed in a pit in the wilderness. In 1 Enoch 10, God orders his angel to open the pit in the wilderness and throw Asael into the darkness. The text further describes the celestial scapegoat’s hurling into the depths of the abyss. M. Yoma 6:6 also details the animal’s descent from the desert cliff. However, this account is likely a later development from the tradition found in the Book of the Watchers, the Animal Apocalypse, and other Jewish apocalyptic works, as these were written several centuries before the composition of the Mishnah.
Just as other elements of the scapegoat ritual underwent eschatological reformulation, so also did the tradition concerning the removal of the scapegoat, which originally, in Leviticus, only contained its exile into the wilderness. In the early Enochic lore and later in the mishnaic tradition, this removal took on apocalyptic reinterpretations, which eventually led to a more complex understanding of the scapegoat’s departure. This understanding began with a one-stage removal, but developed and came to encompass two stages: first, the scapegoat was exiled into the wilderness or the earth, and second, it was banished into the subterranean realm, which was represented by the precipice or the abyss. The Apocalypse of Abraham also reflects this pattern: Azazel’s banishment occurs in two phases: he first transitions to the earth and then to the abyss. As with Asael in the Enochic tradition, the antagonist’s exile in the Apocalypse of Abraham encompasses two movements.
Goats to Azazel: The Antagonist as the Recipient of the Scapegoats
We have already shown that there are striking differences between the apocalyptic reformulations of the scapegoat traditions as they are found in 1 Enoch and in the Apocalypse of Abraham. We have yet to explore, however, how the chief antagonist in each tradition differs. When we come to these characters – Asael in the Book of Watchers and Azazel in the Apocalypse of Abraham, – we find that there are substantial differences between the two. Asael, on the one hand, is envisioned as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the Watchers and is also the remedy for removal of impurity that is associated with the fallen angels who have descended to earth. Azazel in the Apocalypse of Abraham, on the other hand, is depicted not merely as the vehicle by which human sins are dispatched into the lower regions, but also comes to be the recipient of this ominous offering.109 In this respect, and as was the case with other characters in the apocalyptic story, Azazel takes on two very distinct roles here: he becomes the sacrifice as well as the recipient of the sacrificial offering. In what follows, we will analyze the features of Azazel’s character in the Apocalypse of Abraham that point to these two distinct roles.
One unique and significant aspect of Azazel’s role in the Slavonic Apocalypse is his ruling power over the lower realm. In the Enochic tradition, Asael is more subdued: he is a demoted being, bound and incarcerated in the abyss where he awaits final judgment. There he is deprived of any meaningful action and is covered with darkness. Azazel’s situation is quite different. In the Apocalypse of Abraham he is depicted as a mighty force who has control over, and even flourishes in, his domain. Azazel’s antagonistic power, unlike Asael’s power, inversely imitates the power and elevated nature of the deity in our pseudepigraphon. We can go as far to say that the antagonist in this tradition is endowed with theophanic attributes that paradoxically mirror the deity’s attributes. One of these attributes that features prominently is the imagery of God’s glory – the Kavod. In chapter 14, Abraham’s celestial guide, the angel Yahoel, warns his human apprentice that God endowed the chief eschatological opponent, Azazel, with a special will and with “heaviness” against those who answer to him. The fact that Azazel is endowed with this mysterious “heaviness” (Slav. тягота) has been an interpretive puzzle for those studying the Slavonic apocalypse. Ryszard Rubinkiewicz attempted to solve this puzzle by suggesting that the Slavonic term for “heaviness” (тягота) in Apoc. Ab. 14:13 serves as a technical term for rendering the Hebrew word Kavod.110 Rubinkiewicz has further proposed that the original text was most likely dwbk, which has the sense of “gravity,” but also “glory.” The translation of the passage would then be: “the Eternal One … to him [Azazel] he gave the glory and power.”111 Thus, in the Slavonic apocalypse the antagonist represents a dark mirror of God’s Kavod.
The second distinctive feature regarding Azazel’s character is the lot that is prepared for him. In the Slavonic apocalypse, human beings who follow after idols are depicted as Azazel’s portion and, quite literally, end up in his belly. The deity unveils this revelation to the seer in Apoc. Ap. 31:3–5:
Since I have destined them to be food for the fire of hell, and ceaseless soaring in the air of the underground depths, the contents of a worm’s belly. For those who do justice, who have chosen my will and clearly kept my commandments, will see them. And they will rejoice with joy at the destruction of the abandoned. And those who followed after the idols and after their murders will rot in the womb of the Evil One—the belly of Azazel, and they will be burned by the fire of Azazel’s tongue.
Here we find a role that has changed quite drastically from the simple scapegoat: now Azazel himself is the recipient of the sacrifice, as he consumes his portion. Throughout the Apocalypse of Abraham there is peculiar terminology that seems to hint at the fact that the left lot of humanity is destined for Azazel. The term “inheritance” is particularly telling in this regard. A passage found in Apoc. Ab.14:6 reveals the following enigmatic tradition about the very special “inheritance” given to the fallen angel Azazel:
Since your inheritance (достояние твое) are those who are with you, with men born with the stars and clouds. And their portion is you (ихъже часть еси ты).112
What is striking about this text is that the concept of the eschatological “lot” or “portion” (Slav. часть)113 of Azazel appears to be used interchangeably with the notion of “inheritance” (Slav. достояние).
This terminological connection is even more intriguing because the two notions, “inheritance” and “lot,” are also used interchangeably in Qumran passages that deal with “lot” imagery. For example, 11Q13 recounts the “inheritance.” This text refers to the portion of Melchizedek that will be victorious in the eschatological ordeal:
…and from the inheritance of Melchizedek, fo[r…] … and they are the inherita[nce of Melchize]dek, who will make them return. And the d[ay of aton]ement is the e[nd of] the tenth [ju]bilee in which atonement shall be made for all the sons of [light and] for the men [of] the lot of Mel[chi]zedek.114
In 1QS 3:13 – 4:26, the fragment also known as the Instruction on the Two Spirits, we have another example wherein the imagery of inheritance is connected with the lot of the righteous:
[T]hey walk in wisdom or in folly. In agreement with man’s inheritance in the truth, he shall be righteous and so abhor injustice; and according to his share in the lot of injustice, he shall act wickedly in it, and so abhor the truth.115
We find another similar connection in 1QS 11:7-8 and CD 13:11-12. Here, the concept of inheritance is connected to a concept closely related to righteousness: participation in the lot of light, designated also as “the lot of the holy ones” in 1QS:116
To those whom God has selected he has given them as everlasting possession; and he has given them an inheritance in the lot of the holy ones. (1QS 11:7-8)117
And everyone who joins his congregation, he should examine, concerning his actions, his intelligence, his strength, his courage and his wealth; and they shall inscribe him in his place according to his inheritance in the lot of light. (CD-A 13:11-12).118
In these last examples, “inheritance” is equated with participation in the eschatological lot. This is explicitly indicated by the phrase “inheritance in the lot” (Heb. lrwgb wtlxn).119 Given these examples from Qumran, it is likely that the same idea is at work in the aforementioned passage from Apoc. Ab. 14:6 where “inheritance” is depicted as participation in the lot of Azazel.
While there are obvious affinities regarding “lot” and “inheritance” between the Apocalypse of Abraham and the texts mentioned above, there is one conspicuous difference: in the Qumran materials the “inheritance” is always connected with the divine lot, in the Apocalypse of Abraham it is unambiguously related to the lot of Azazel. It brings the dualistic ideology of the Jewish pseudepigraphon to an entirely new conceptual level when compared with the dualistic developments that are found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
This new conceptual development of Azazel’s character contrasts strongly with the eschatological opponents that are found in the Qumran texts. At Qumran, there is an entire gallery of eschatological figures who take on various antagonistic roles. In the Apocalypse of Abraham, in contrast, Azazel is portrayed as the adversary par excellence. Rather than a slew of eschatological enemies, Azazel is the deity’s eschatological opposite – his dark mirror. In this new dualistic framework, not only is Azazel the eschatological scapegoat, but he also becomes the demonic force that requires its own scapegoats to be distracted or pacified.120
That Azazel requires scapegoats for his pacification is another novel feature of his character in the Apocalypse of Abraham. We have already extensively reflected on the shift that separates Asael in early apocalyptic materials from Azazel in the Slavonic apocalypse. While Asael was one figure in a host of antagonists, Azazel becomes the ultimate adversary. This mythological consolidation of the main eschatological opponent advances the dualistic thrust of the Slavonic apocalypse and helps to secure Azazel’s confrontational stand not only toward Yahoel and Abraham but, more importantly, towards the deity. Azazel does not just oppose humanity, as was often the case with the other antagonists, but he opposes God himself.
While most of the texts that we have dealt with do not reflect the same development of their antagonist(s) that the Apocalypse of Abraham does, it is important to note that the transition from the role of angelic scapegoat to the role of the recipient of the scapegoats is not entirely unique in the Apocalypse of Abraham. It can be found in other Jewish texts, including a writing already mentioned in our study: the Midrash of Shemhazai and Azael. In this text, the antagonist, Azael, is depicted as a fallen angel who remains an active force and must be pacified through annual offerings. This is similar to the development we saw in the Apocalypse of Abraham where the eschatological antagonist receives his own earthly, human scapegoats that were predestined to be received in his ominous embrace.
One of these scapegoats for Azazel is depicted in the Apocalypse of Abraham 29. The text describes the appearance of a future messianic leader of humankind. He is an ambiguous character depicted in very obscure terms.121 Apoc. Ab. 29:4-13 reads:
<And I looked> and saw a man going out from the left side of the heathen. Men and women and children, great crowds, went out from the side of the heathen and they worshiped him. <And> while I was still looking, those on the right side went out, and some shamed this man, and some struck him, and some worshiped him. <And> I saw that as they worshiped him, Azazel ran and worshiped, and having kissed his face he turned and stood behind him. And I said, “Eternal Mighty One! Who is this shamed and struck man, worshiped by the heathen with Azazel?” And he answered and said, “Hear, Abraham, the man whom you saw shamed and struck and again worshiped is the laxity of the heathen for the people who will come from you in the last days, in this twelfth hour of the age of impiety. And in the [same] twelfth period of the close of my age I shall set up the man from your seed which you saw. Everyone from my people will [finally] admit him, while the sayings of him who was as if called by me will be neglected in their minds. And that you saw going out from the left side of the picture and those worshiping him, this [means that] many of the heathen will hope in him. <And> those of your seed you saw on the right side, some shaming and striking him, and some worshiping him, many of them will be misled on his account. And he will tempt those of your seed who have worshiped him.122
In this enigmatic, eschatological scene, Azazel plays a distinctive role during his interaction with the messianic character. The providential ties between the two eschatological characters are then sealed through the mysterious kiss of the arch-demon: “And I saw that as they worshiped him, Azazel ran and worshiped, and having kissed his face he turned and stood behind him.”123 This odd episode is yet another connection between the cultic scapegoat traditions that we have been exploring and messianic imagery. As we have seen, ritual mistreatment, cursing, and even death were common tropes concerning scapegoats and their eschatological counterparts in both Christian and Jewish texts. Azazel’s sudden appearance in the eschatological narrative in chapter 29 is also distinctive and may indicate that the messianic tradition in the Apocalypse of Abraham is closely connected to the Yom Kippur rite. This possibility is further strengthened by the messianic character’s reception by Azazel, which is again surrounded by distinctive cultic elements.124
The first of these pronounced cultic features is the fact that Azazel embraces the messianic figure. On the Day of Atonement the scapegoat was often depicted, in the Jewish tradition, as a gift to Azazel. The demon, then, was envisioned as the recipient of the ominous sacrificial portion. This notion can be found in the earliest form of the atoning rite in two different ways. First, there are the conspicuous designations of the goats: one was designated as the goat for the Lord and the other was designated as the goat for Azazel.125 Second, there is a peculiar spatial dynamic working in the Yom Kippur ceremony. In this spatial dynamic, the sacerdotal goat was expelled into the wilderness, while the celebrant simultaneously entered into the Holy of Holies. In this inverse cultic symmetry, the demonic and divine realms were understood as mirroring one another: both characters enter into their respective domains, each ruled by an overwhelming power.
In order to fully grasp the role of the mistreated messiah in the Apocalyptic of Abraham it is necessary to understand the distracting purpose of the scapegoat ritual. One of the ritual’s unique functions that later Jewish interpreters often stress is the scapegoat’s ability to divert or weaken the power of the Other Side during the most important atoning feast of the Jewish liturgical year. In the Book of Zohar, for example, the scapegoat serves as a distraction to the Left Side, and, in this way, weakens it. Zohar I.113b-114b reads:
Come and see: Similarly, on the day that judgment appears in the world and the blessed Holy One sits on the Throne of Judgment, Satan appears, accusing and seducing above and below, to destroy the world and seize souls. … On Yom Kippur one must pacify and appease him with that goat offered to him, and then he turns into an advocate for Israel ….”126
There is another text in the Book of Zohar that is relevant to our elucidation of the scapegoat tradition: the parable of the feast. In the parable a king makes special arrangements for a celebratory feast to be had with his son and friends. The king orders a separate meal for ill-wishers and quarrelers. The purpose is so that their presence would not spoil the happy occasion.127 Isaiah Tishby’s interpretation of the parable is significant for our purposes. He notes that, “according to this parable the purpose of sending a goat to Azazel is to remove sitra ahra from the ‘family circle’ of Israel and the Holy One, blessed be He, on the Day of Atonement.”128
In light of these interpretations, it is likely that the Apocalypse of Abraham has depicted the human messiah in a manner reminiscent of the distracting scapegoat. The messiah is sent in to mislead and weaken the heathen on the left lot, and this secures the safe arrival of the true (second) messiah who will arise from the right lot. It is certainly significant in this regard that, in the text, the abused messiah is called the “weakening” of the Gentiles129 (Slav. ослаба).130 As in the later Jewish reinterpretation of the atoning rite, which is reflected in the Book of Zohar, the messianic scapegoat becomes here an eschatological instrument for weakening and distracting sitra ahra, represented by the heathen. The passage goes on to give several affirmations of this messianic role: it tells the reader that “many of the heathen will have hope in him;” it also notes that that some people from the right lot “will be misled on his account;” and, finally, that “he will tempt those of your [Abraham’s] seed who have worshiped him.”131
Since, according to the text, the false messiah will mislead not only the Gentiles but also sinful Hebrews, it is possible that the Slavonic term oslaba can take on the additional meaning of “liberation.” In this perspective, the term could refer to the cathartic purifying release of Israel’s sins, as they are taken to the realm of the Other Side, which is associated with the Gentiles. The messianic figure takes the idolatrous portion of Israel with him to the Other Side for pacification. This is why the text specifies that the messianic figure will appear at the apex of the impiety. The terminology in the Apocalypse is the “twelfth hour of the age of impiety.” By coming at this time of abundant impiety, he will release it to the Left Side, which is represented by Azazel.132 This messianic feature takes on the “elimination” aspect of the Yom Kippur ritual that we have seen in other texts: impurity is removed from the human oikoumene into an uninhabitable realm, though this time in a new, eschatological form.
1 D. Harlow, “Idolatry and Alterity: Israel and the Nations in the Apocalypse of Abraham,” in: The “Other” in Second Temple Judaism. Essays in Honor of John J. Collins (eds. D.C. Harlow, M. Goff, K.M. Hogan, and J.S. Kaminsky; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011) 302–30.
2 On the date and provenance of the Apocalypse of Abraham, see G. H. Box and J.I. Landsman, The Apocalypse of Abraham. Edited, with a Translation from the Slavonic Text and Notes (TED, 1.10; London, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1918) xv-xix; B. Philonenko-Sayar and M. Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham. Introduction, texte slave, traduction et notes (Semitica, 31; Paris: Librairie Adrien-Maisonneuve, 1981) 34-35; R. Rubinkiewicz, “Apocalypse of Abraham,” The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 vols.; ed. J.H. Charlesworth; New York: Doubleday, 1985 ) 1.681–705 at 683; idem, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham en vieux slave, 70-73; A. Kulik, “К датировке ‘Откровения Авраама,’” in: In Memoriam of Ja. S. Lur’e (eds. N.M. Botvinnik and Je.I. Vaneeva; St. Petersburg: Fenix, 1997) 189–95; idem, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 2–3.
3 On the heavenly temple and heavenly priesthood traditions, see J.L. Angel, Otherworldly and Eschatological Priesthood in the Dead Sea Scrolls (STDJ, 86; Leiden: Brill, 2010); V. Aptowitzer, “The Celestial Temple as Viewed in the Aggadah,” in Binah: Studies in Jewish Thought (ed. J. Dan; Binah: Studies in Jewish History, Thought, and Culture, 2; New York: Praeger, 1989) 1-29; M. Barker, The Gate of Heaven: The History and Symbolism of the Temple in Jerusalem (London: SPCK, 1991); J.J. Collins, “A Throne in the Heavens: Apotheosis in Pre-Christian Judaism,” in Death, Ecstasy, and Other Worldly Journeys (eds. J.J. Collins and M. Fishbane; New York: State University of New York Press, 1995) 43-57; B. Ego, “Im Himmel wie auf Erden” (WUNT, 2.34; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1989); R. Elior, “From Earthly Temple to Heavenly Shrines: Prayer and Sacred Song in the Hekhalot Literature and its Relation to Temple Traditions,” JSQ 4 (1997): 217-267; D.N. Freedman, “Temple Without Hands,” in Temples and High Places in Biblical Times: Proceedings of the Colloquium in Honor of the Centennial of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Jersualem, 14-16 March 1977 (ed. A. Biran; Jerusalem: Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, 1981) 21-30; I. Gruenwald, Apocalyptic and Merkavah Mysticism (2nd ed.; Leiden: Brill 2014); Halperin, The Faces of the Chariot; idem, “Heavenly Ascension in Ancient Judaism: the Nature of the Experience,” SBLSP 26 (1987): 218-231; R.G. Hamerton-Kelly, “The Temple and the Origins of Jewish Apocalyptic,” VT 20 (1970): 1-15; M. Himmelfarb, “From Prophecy to Apocalypse: The Book of the Watchers and Tours of Heaven,” in Jewish Spirituality: From the Bible Through the Middle Ages (ed. A. Green; New York: Crossroad, 1986) 145-165; idem, “Apocalyptic Ascent and the Heavenly Temple,” SBLSP 26 (1987) 210-217; idem, Ascent to Heaven in Jewish and Christian Apocalypses (New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993); idem, “The Practice of Ascent in the Ancient Mediterranean World,” in Death, Ecstasy, and Other Worldly Journeys (eds. J. J. Collins and M. Fishbane; Albany: SUNY, 1995) 123-137; C.R. Koester, The Dwelling of God: The Tabernacle in the Old Testament, Intertestamental Jewish Literature and the New Testament (CBQMS, 22; Washington, D.C.: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1989); J.D. Levenson, “The Temple and the World,” JR 64 (1984) 275-298; idem, “The Jerusalem Temple in Devotional and Visionary Experience,” in Jewish Spirituality: From the Bible Through the Middle Ages (ed. A. Green; New York: Crossroad, 1987) 32-59; A.J. McNicol, “The Heavenly Sanctuary in Judaism: A Model for Tracing the Origin of the Apocalypse,” JRS 13 (1987) 66-94; C.R.A. Morray-Jones, “Transformational Mysticism in the Apocalyptic-Merkabah Tradition,” JJS 43 (1992) 1-31; idem, “The Temple Within: The Embodied Divine Image and its Worship in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Jewish and Christian Sources,” SBLSP 37 (1998) 400-431; C. Newsom “‘He Has Established for Himself Priests’: Human and Angelic Priesthood in the Qumran Sabbath Shirot,” in: Archaeology and History in the Dead Sea Scrolls: The New York University Conference in Memory of Yigael Yadin (ed. L.H. Schiffman; JSPSS, 8; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1990) 101-120; G.W.E. Nickelsburg, “The Apocalyptic Construction of Reality in 1 Enoch,” in Mysteries and Revelations: Apocalyptic Studies since the Uppsala Colloquium (ed. J.J. Collins; JSPSup 9; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991) 51–64; R. Patai, Man and Temple in Ancient Jewish Myth and Ritual (New York: KTAV, 1967); C. Rowland, “The Visions of God in Apocalyptic Literature,” JSJ 10 (1979) 137-154; idem, The Open Heaven: A Study of Apocalyptic in Judaism and Early Christianity (London: SPCK, 1982); A.F. Segal, “Heavenly Ascent in Hellenistic Judaism, Early Christianity and Their Environment,” ANRW II/23.2 (1980) 1333–94; M.S. Smith, “Biblical and Canaanite Notes to the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice from Qumran,” RevQ 12 (1987) 585-588.
4 Within this formative narrative, the vision of the Merkabah is surrounded by a set of distinctive cultic markers that portray the divine throne as the upper prototype of the earthly sanctuary. The idea that the earthly sanctuary serves as a mere replica of the heavenly one appears implicitly and explicitly in a variety of biblical texts and has its origins in early Mesopotamian traditions. In these traditions, the earthly temples are repeatedly portrayed as counterparts to their heavenly realities. This notion is also developed in the biblical revelation of the sacerdotal settings given to Moses on Mount Sinai, where the earthy tabernacle and its furniture are made according to the pattern of the heavenly sacerdotal realities shown to the prophet on the mountain. Other biblical passages, including 1 Chr 28:19, further affirm the idea that the plan of the earthly sanctuary came from God. Extra-biblical pseudepigraphical accounts (The Book of the Watchers, Jubilees, Aramaic Levi Document) and some Qumran materials (Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, 4QInstruction , 4QVisions of Amram, 11QMelchizedek) also develop the concept of the heavenly temple and associate it with the notion of the heavenly priesthood.
5 “…and a turban (кидарь) on his head like the appearance of the bow in the clouds….” Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 19; Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham. Introduction, texte slave, traduction et notes, 60.
6 Harlow, “Idolatry and Alterity: Israel and the Nations in the Apocalypse of Abraham,” 313–14.
7 Himmelfarb, Ascent to Heaven, 62. Aaron’s “headdress” is another noteworthy feature that Himmelfarb explicates. Jacob Milgrom also observes that the high priest’s head covering was a turban (tpncm) and not tw(bgm, the simpler headdresses of the ordinary priests (Exod. 28:39-40). Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, 1016.
8 Himmelfarb, Ascent to Heaven, 62. Yahoel’s role as a heavenly high priest is also hinted at later in the text (Apoc. Ab. 10:9). This is done through his liturgical office as the choirmaster of the Living Creatures, which is reminiscent of the liturgical office of Enoch-Metatron in the Merkabah tradition. On this tradition see A. Orlov, “Celestial Choir-Master: The Liturgical Role of Enoch-Metatron in 2 Enoch and the Merkabah Tradition,” JSP 14 (2004) 3-24.
9 Himmelfarb, Ascent to Heaven, 62.
10 “Greatest of his brothers and the beauty of his people was Simeon the son of Johanan the priest … how honorable was he as he gazed forth from the tent, and when he went forth from the house of the curtain; like a star of light from among clouds, and like the full moon in the days of festival; and like the sun shining resplendently on the king’s Temple, and like the rainbow which appears in the cloud….” C.N.R. Hayward, The Jewish Temple: A Non-Biblical Sourcebook (London: Routledge, 1996) 41-42.
11 One extensive description of the Cyc is found in the Book of Zohar, which describes its unusual luminosity: “[Rabbi Simeon] began quoting: ‘And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, [and wrote upon it a writing, like the engravings of a signet: Holy to the Lord]’ (Exodus 39:30). Why was [this plate called] Cyc? It means ‘being seen, to be looked at.’ Since it was there to be seen by people, it was called Cyc . Whoever looked upon this plate was recognized by it. The letters of the holy name were inscribed and engraved upon this plate, and if the person who stood in front of it was righteous, the letters inscribed in the gold would stand out from bottom to top and would shine out from the engravings, and illuminate the person’s face.” (Zohar II.217b) I. Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar. An Anthology of Texts (3 vols.; London: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 1989) 3.920-21.
12 Exod 39:30-31: “They made the rosette of the holy diadem of pure gold, and wrote on it an inscription, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the Lord.’ They tied to it a blue cord, to fasten it on the turban above….”
13 b. Yoma 37a.
14 Grabbe, “The Scapegoat tradition: A Study in Early Jewish Interpretation,” 158.
15 Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16, 1020.
16 Milgrom, Leviticus1-16, 1020-1021.
17 Milgrom, Leviticus1-16, 1020-1021.
18 Milgrom, Leviticus1-16, 1021.
19 Robert Helm notes that the practice of casting lots is mentioned throughout the Hebrew Bible as a method of deciding between individuals (Num 26:55-56; Josh 14:2; Judg 20:9; 1 Chr 24:5; Jonah 1:7). R.T. Helm, The Development of the Azazel Tradition (Ph.D. Diss; Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1992) 22, footnote 36.
20 G. Hasel, “Studies in Biblical Atonement II: The Day of Atonement,” in: The Sanctuary and the Atonement (eds. A.V. Wallenkampf and W.R. Lesner; Washington: Review and Herald, 1981) 122.
21 Janowski, "Azazel,” 130.
22 1 Enoch 10:8: "And the whole earth has been ruined by the teaching of the works of Azazel, and against him write down all sin." Knibb, The Ethiopic Book of Enoch, 2.88.
23 1 Enoch 10:11: "And the Lord said to Michael: ‘Go, inform Semyaza and the others with him who have associated with the women to corrupt themselves with them in all their uncleanness." 1 Enoch 10:14; "And then he (Semyaza) will be burnt and from then on destroyed with them; together they will be bound until the end of all generations." Knibb, The Ethiopic Book of Enoch, 2.89-90.
24 In his comments on 4Q203, Milik suggests that "Azazel appears here in his expiatory role (Lev. 16: 8, 10, 26), for he seems to be punished for the sins of the giants." Milik, The Books of Enoch, 313
25 García Martínez and Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 411.
26 García Martínez and Tigchelaar, Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 371-373.
27 A.Y. Reed, Fallen Angels and the History of Judaism and Christianity: The Reception of Enochic Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) 98.
28 Milik, The Books of Enoch, 328.
29 Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Lev 16:8: "And Aaron shall place equal lots on the two goats, one lot (marked) ‘for the name of the Lord,’ and the other (marked) ‘for Azazel.’ He shall shake them in the urn, take them out, and throw them on the goats." McNamara et al., Targum Neofiti 1, Leviticus; Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, Leviticus, 167.
30 Danby, The Mishnah, 166.
31 It is possible that this understanding of the human portions as the lots of the atoning ritual may already be present in certain Qumran texts. Reflecting on the lots imagery found in some of the Qumran materials, Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra entertains the possibility that “… the people from Qumran understood their own existence through the image of the two lots – they themselves are the people of God’s lot in opposition to the lot of Belial led by the wicked priest…. Considering that it was probably on a Yom Kippur that the group’s persecution started, this typology of Yom Kippur as a fight between the good and the evil forces must have reinforced the importance of the annual festival in determining the identity of the community of Qumran.” Stökl Ben Ezra, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity, 98. Stökl Ben Ezra also suggests that, “the demonology of 11QMelchizedek, 4Q180 and 4Q181 … indicate that even in the community of Qumran, which did not attend services in the temple and did not experience the scapegoat ritual as an annual reenactment of the final victory over evil, the influence of Yom Kippur’s temple ritual was persistent enough to lead to creative literary activity and produce myths.” Stökl Ben Ezra, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity, 98.
32 For example, Marc Philonenko noted that the word “lot” (Slav. часть) appears to be connected to the Hebrew lrwg, a term attested multiple times in the Qumran materials. Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham, 33. On the two lots, see also B. Philonenko-Sayar and M. Philonenko, Die Apokalypse Abrahams (JSHRZ, 5.5; Gütersloh: Mohn, 1982) 413–460 at 418; Rubinkiewicz, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham en vieux slave, 54.
33 For the lrwg terminology see Lev 16:8-10.
34 See for example, 1QS l(ylb lrwg (the lot of Belial); My#wdq lrwg (the lot of the holy ones). 1QM K#wx ynb lrwg (the lot of the sons of darkness); K#wx lrwg (the lot of darkness). 11Q13 qdc [yk] lm lrwg [y]#n) (the men of the lot of Melchizedek).
35 Apoc. Ab. 13:7: “… And he said to him, “Reproach is on you, Azazel! Since Abraham’s portion (часть Аврамля) is in heaven, and yours is on earth …” Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 20; Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham, 66. Apoc. Ab. 14:6: “Since your inheritance are those who are with you, with men born with the stars and clouds. And their portion is you (ихъже часть еси ты). Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 21; Philonenko-Sayar and M. Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham. Introduction, texte slave, traduction et notes, 68.
36 Apoc. Ab. 10:15: “Stand up, Abraham, go boldly, be very joyful and rejoice! And I am with you, since an honorable portion (часть вѣчная) has been prepared for you by the Eternal One.” Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 18; Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham, 60.
37 1QM 13:5-6: “For they are the lot of darkness but the lot of God is for [everlast]ing light.” García Martínez and Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 135.
38 Apoc. Ab. 20:1-5. Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 25.
39 Scholars often note the important distinction between the purifying function of the scapegoat rite and the immolated goat ritual. The immolated goat ordinance that was performed in the adytum of the Temple was intended to remove the impurity that became attached to that place. David Wright observes that, in contrast to this blood rite that removed impurity from the sanctuary, “the scapegoat rite serves to eliminate the transgressions of the people. Aaron is to confess over the goat ‘all the transgressions of the Israelites’ which the animal then carries to the wilderness.” D.P. Wright, The Disposal of Impurity. Elimination Rites in the Bible and in Hittite and Mesopotamian Literature (SBLDS, 101; Atlanta: Scholars, 1987) 18.
40 Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 1249.
41 Danby, The Mishnah, 169. Günter Stemberger notes that "m. Yoma 6:2 quotes the confession of sins which the high priest has to recite while he lays on his hands on the second goat. Codex Kaufmann offers a short text: ‘O Lord, I pray: your people, the house of Israel, has committed iniquities, transgressed, and sinned before you. O Lord, I pray.’ … Codex Parma adds: ‘Please, forgive, etc.’ The normal printed text has a much larger version, imitating the confession of the high priest for himself and for his family (3:8: quoting Lev 16:30 in both places)." G. Stemberger, "Yom Kippur in Mishnah Yoma," in The Day of Atonement: Its Interpretation in Early Jewish and Christian Traditions (eds. T. Hieke and T. Nicklas; TBN, 15; Leiden: Brill, 2012) 130.
42 On this tradition see Orlov, Divine Scapegoats, 14-28.
43 Orlov, Divine Scapegoats, 17-20.
44 Regarding the clothing metaphors within the scapegoat rite, see Dorman, "’Commit Injustice and Shed Innocent Blood,’” 57.
45 For possible Mesopotamian antecedents of the scapegoat’s band, see I. Zatelli, “The Origin of the Biblical Scapegoat Ritual: The Evidence of Two Eblaite Texts,” VT 48 (1998) 254-263. In some Eblaite texts a goat wears a silver bracelet hanging from its neck. Ida Zatelli argues that "the bracelet hanging from the neck signifies an offering, almost a payment for the purgation." Zatelli, “The Origin of the Biblical Scapegoat Ritual,” 257.
46 Stemberger, "Yom Kippur in Mishnah Yoma," 133.
47 Stökl Ben Ezra notes that, although the “Mishnah does not explicitly refer to the whitening of the scapegoat ribbon, this seems to be assumed.” Stökl Ben Ezra, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity, 131.
48 Stemberger, "Yom Kippur in Mishnah Yoma," 133.
49 See also m. Shekalim 4:2: "The [Red] Heifer and the scapegoat and the crimson thread were bought with the Terumah from the Shekel-chamber." Danby, The Mishnah, 155; m. Shabbat 9:3: "Whence do we learn that they tie a strip of crimson on the head of the scapegoat? Because it is written, Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow." Danby, The Mishnah, 108.
50 Danby, The Mishnah, 166.
51 Danby, The Mishnah, 170.
52 Danby, The Mishnah, 170.
53 For a comparative analysis of Barnabas’ account and the mishnaic testimonies concerning the crimson band, see O. Skarsaune, The Proof from Prophecy: A Study in Justin Martyr’s Proof-Text Tradition: Text-Type, Provenance, Theological Profile (NovTSup, 56; Leiden: Brill, 1987) 308.
54 Ehrman, The Apostolic Fathers, 2.39.
55 See Stökl Ben Ezra, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity, 157. The binding motif that is accomplished with the scarlet band has a curious parallel to the binding of Azazel in 1 Enoch, where the demon is bound as a sacrificial animal and thrown into the abyss. Later rabbinic traditions are also cognizant about the demon’s binding. For example, Zohar III.208a reads: "Now when God saw that these fallen angels were seducing the world, He bound them in chains of iron to a mountain of darkness. Uzza He bound at the bottom of the mountain and covered his face with darkness because he struggled and resisted, but Azael, who did not resist, He set by the side of the mountain where a little light penetrated….. Now Uzza and Azael used to tell those men who came to them some of the notable things which they knew in former times when they were on high, and to speak about the holy world in which they used to be. Hence Balaam said of himself: ‘He saith, which heareth the words of God’- not the voice of God, but those things which he was told by those who had been in the assembly of the Holy King. He went on: ‘And knoweth the knowledge of the Most High,’ meaning that he knew the hour when punishment impended over the world and could determine it with his enchantments. ‘Which seeth the vision of the Almighty’: this vision consisted of the ‘fallen and the open of eyes,’ that is Uzza, who is called ‘fallen’ because he was placed in the darkest depth, since after falling from heaven he fell a second time, and Azael, who is called ‘open of eye’ because he was not enveloped in complete darkness.” Sperling and Simon, The Zohar, 5.312.
56 Evans, Tertullian. Adversus Marcionem, 1.191. See also Against the Jews 14:9.
57 Similarly, Hippolytus of Rome also knows the various traditions of the scarlet wool of the scapegoat. A fragment of his Catenae on Proverbs reads: “And a goat as leader of the flock since, it says, this is who was slaughtered for the sins of the world and offered as a sacrifice and send away to the Gentiles as in the desert and crowned with scarlet wool (κόκκινον ἔριον) on the head by the unbelievers and made to be ransom for the humans and manifested as life for all.” Stökl Ben Ezra, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity, 158; M. Richard, “Les fragments du commentaire de S. Hippolyte sur les Proverbes de Solomon,” Le Muséon 79 (1966) 65-94 at 94.
58 Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 20.
59 For a discussion about whether or not both goats were decorated with ribbons, see Stemberger, "Yom Kippur in Mishnah Yoma," 126. B. Yoma 41b offers a discussion on this subject as well.
60 m. Yoma 6:6 reads: “He divided the thread of crimson wool and tied one half to the rock and the other half between its horns, and he pushed it from behind.” Danby, The Mishnah, 170; Barnabas 7 reads: “When this happens, the one who takes the goat leads it into the wilderness and removes the wool, and places it on a blackberry bush, whose buds we are accustomed to eat when we find it in the countryside.” Ehrman, The Apostolic Fathers, 2.39.
61 m. Yoma 6:8: “R. Ishmael says: Had they not another sign also?—a thread of crimson wool was tied to the door of the Sanctuary and when the he-goat reached the wilderness the thread turned white; for it is written, Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow.” Danby, The Mishnah, 170.
62 m. Shabbat 9:3: "Whence do we learn that they tie a strip of crimson on the head of the scapegoat? Because it is written, Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow." Danby, The Mishnah, 108.
63 “The traditional text adds a third solution, that is not found in the best manuscripts, Kaufmann and Parma: a crimson thread tied to the door of the sanctuary would turn white as soon as the goat had reached the wilderness, thus fulfilling Isa 1:18: “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Stemberger, "Yom Kippur in Mishnah Yoma," 133.
64 b. Yoma 39a: "Our Rabbis taught: Throughout the forty years that Simeon the Righteous ministered, the lot [‘For the Lord’] would always come up in the right hand; from that time on, it would come up now in the right hand, now in the left. And [during the same time] the crimson-colored strap would become white. From that time on it would at times become white, at others not." Epstein, The Babylonian Talmud. Yoma 39a; b. Yoma 39b: "Our Rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot [‘For the Lord’] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-coloured strap become white." Epstein, The Babylonian Talmud. Yoma 39b.
65 b. Yoma 67a: "But let him tie the whole [thread] to the rock? — Since it is his duty [to complete his work with] the he-goat, perhaps the thread might become fast white, and he would be satisfied. But let him tie the whole thread between its horns? — At times its head [in falling] is bent and he would not pay attention. Our Rabbis taught: In the beginning they would tie the thread of crimson wool on the entrance of the Ulam without: if it became white they rejoiced; if it did not become white, they were sad and ashamed. Thereupon they arranged to tie it to the entrance of the Ulam within. But they were still peeping through and if it became white, they rejoiced, whereas, if it did not become white, they grew sad and ashamed. Thereupon they arranged to tie one half to the rock and the other half between its horns. R. Nahum b. Papa said in the name of R. Eleazar ha-Kappar: Originally they used to tie the thread of crimson wool to the entrance of the Ulam within, and as soon as the he-goat reached the wilderness, it turned white. Then they knew that the commandment concerning it had been fulfilled, as it is said: If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white wool." Epstein, The Babylonian Talmud. Yoma 67a.
66 See also m. Shabbat 9:3: "Whence do we learn that they tie a strip of crimson on the head of the scapegoat? Because it is written, Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow." Danby, The Mishnah, 108.
67 See Fletcher- Louis, “Revelation of the Sacral Son of Man,” 284; J.A. Emerton, “Binding and Loosing – Forgiving and Retaining,” JTS 13 (1962) 325-31 at 329-30.
68 Lev 16:21: "[A]nd Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and send him away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.” (NRSV).
69 Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16, 1041.
70 Wright, The Disposal of Impurity: Elimination Rites in the Bible and in Hittite and Mesopotamian Literature, 17.
71 It is intriguing that in the Book of Jubilees the scapegoat imagery is overlaid with clothing metaphors. With respect to this tradition, see Scullion, A Traditio-historical Study of the Day of Atonement, 125-131; Carmichael, “The Origin of the Scapegoat Ritual,” 167–82.
72 Danby, The Mishnah, 170.
73 See b. Yoma 67b: “And he that letteth go the goat for Azazel shall wash his clothes, i.e., he flings it down headlong and his garments become then unclean.” Epstein, The Babylonian Talmud. Yoma 67b.
74 See Lev 16:26: "And he who lets the goat go to Azazel shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp.” (NRSV).
75 On the phrase “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan” as a cursing formula, see Caquot, “r(g,” 3.52.
76 Lev 16:23-24a. See also Stökl Ben Ezra, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity, 31.
77 Grabbe, “The Scapegoat Tradition: A Study in Early Jewish Interpretation,” 165-79; Stökl Ben Ezra, “Yom Kippur in the Apocalyptic Imaginaire and the Roots of Jesus’ High Priesthood,” 349-366; idem, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity, 85-88.
78 The formulae of binding found in 1 Enoch 10 are also significant since they are likely related to the ritual of binding the scapegoat with the band, a procedure that looms large in mishnaic and early Christian accounts of the Yom Kippur ritual.
79 Danby, The Mishnah, 169.
80 S. Finlan, Problems with Atonement: The Origins of, and Controversy About, the Atonement Doctrine (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2005) 45.
81 J. Milgrom, Leviticus. A Book of Ritual and Ethics. A Continental Commentary (Minneapolis; Fortress, 2004) 166.
82 Ehrman, The Apostolic Fathers, 2.37-41. The tradition of the scapegoat’s curse might be also present in Gal 3. For discussion of this tradition see Stökl Ben Ezra, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity, 173-176.
83 Evans, Tertullian. Adversus Marcionem, 1.191. This tradition of the scapegoat’s accursing is also found in Tertullian’s other opus Against the Jews 14:9: "One of them, however, which was surrounded with scarlet, cursed and spat upon and perforated and punctured, was driven outside the city by the people to ruin, marked with obvious emblems of the suffering of Christ…." Dunn, Tertullian, 103.
84 Orlov, Divine Scapegoats, 9-36.
85 The phrase “dwelling place of your impurity” here alludes to the previously mentioned purgation function of the scapegoat ceremony. That rite centered on removing the impurity, as it was heaped on the sacrificial animal and was taken to the dwelling place of the demon in the wilderness. As Jacob Milgrom observes “… the goat is simply the vehicle to dispatch Israel’s impurities and sins to the wilderness/netherworld.” Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16, 1021.
86 Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 20.
87 Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra notes that the terminology “sending” is used in relation to Azazel in Apoc. Ab. 13:10. Alexander Kulik traces this to the Greek term ἀποστέλλω or Hebrew xl#. Kulik, Apocalypse of Abraham. Towards the Lost Original, 90. Stökl Ben Ezra further proposes that this terminology “might allude to the sending out of the scapegoat.” Stökl Ben Ezra, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity, 94.
88 Danby, The Mishnah, 169.
89 For instance, Crispin Fletcher-Louis notes a possible connection between the command found in Apoc. Ab. 13:12 and the dispatching formula spoken over the scapegoat in m. Yoma 6:4: “Take our sins and go forth.” Fletcher-Louis, “The Revelation of the Sacral Son of Man,” 282.
90 The cursing formula likely reflects the earlier biblical form that is found in Lev 16:21. There, the imposition of sins on the head of the scapegoat is followed by his departure to the wilderness: “… and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and send him away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.” (NRSV).
91 The high priest Yahoel is here performing the so-called “transference function.” This is a crucial part of the scapegoat ritual wherein the high priest places the sins of Israel onto the head of the goat through confession and the physical laying-on of hands. On the “transference” function, see also Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16, 1041. The transference of Abraham’s sins onto Azazel has been traditionally interpreted in the context of Yom Kippur. Robert Helm notes that “the transference of Abraham’s corruption to Azazel may be a veiled reference to the scapegoat rite….” Helm, “Azazel in Early Jewish Tradition,” 223. Similarly, Lester Grabbe argues that the phrasing in the statement that “Abraham’s corruption has ‘gone over to’ Azazel suggest[s] an act of atonement.” Grabbe, “The Scapegoat Tradition: A Study in Early Jewish Interpretation,” 157.
92 “Reproach is on you, Azazel!" Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 20.
93 “Be shamed by me…” Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 20.
94 For instance, see Harlow, “Idolatry and Alterity: Israel and the Nations in the Apocalypse of Abraham,” 314.
95 Harlow observes that “in chap. 12 Yahoel acts like a senior priest showing a junior priest the ropes; he instructs Abraham: ‘Slaughter and cut all this, putting together the two halves, one against the other. But do not cut the birds.’” Harlow, “Idolatry and Alterity: Israel and the Nations in the Apocalypse of Abraham,” 314.
96 Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 21.
97 Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham, 68.
98 Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham, 68.
99 Milgrom notes that “purgation and elimination rites go together in the ancient world. Exorcism of impurity is not enough; its power must be eliminated. An attested method is to banish it to its place of origin (the wilderness or the netherworld) or to some place where its malefic powers could work in the interest of the sender.” Milgrom, Leviticus. A Book of Ritual and Ethics, 172.
100 Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 20.
101 Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 21.
102 Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham, 68.
103 Lev 16:22: “The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a barren region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness.” (NRSV).
104 Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16, 1045.
105 Kulik, Apocalypse of Abraham. Towards the Lost Original, 90.
106 Stökl Ben Ezra, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity, 94.
107 George Box noted the fiery nature of the demonological imagery found in the Slavonic apocalypse and that Azazel is portrayed as the fire of Hell. Box, reflecting on this fiery theophany of Azazel, argues that “…in fact, according to the peculiar representation of our Apocalypse, Azazel is himself the fire of Hell (cf. chap. xiv. ‘Be thou the burning coal of the furnace of the earth,’ and chap. xxxi. ‘burnt with the fire of Azazel’s tongue’).” Box and Landsman, The Apocalypse of Abraham, xxvi.
108 See Apoc. Ab. 14:5 “Say to him, ‘May you be the fire brand of the furnace of the earth! (главънею пещи земныя).’” Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 21; Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham, 68.
109 Azazel’s role as the recipient of these sacrifices is already hinted at in Apoc. Ab. 13 where the antagonist descends on Abraham’s sacrifices.
110 Apoc. Ab. 14:13 reads: “….Since God gave him [Azazel] the heaviness (тяготоу) and the will against those who answer him ….” Rubinkiewicz, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham en vieux slave, 150.
111 Rubinkiewicz points to the presence of the formula as it is contained in the Gospel of Luke 4:6 “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me….” (NRSV).
112 Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 21; Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham, 68.
113 While here and in Apoc. Ab. 10:15 the Slavonic word “часть” is used for designation of the “lots,” Apoc. Ab. 20:5 and Apoc. Ab. 29:21 use the Slavonic word “жребий” for their designation of the “lot.” See Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham, 82 and 102.
114 García Martínez and Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 1207-1209.
115 García Martínez and Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 75-79.
116 In 1QM 14:9, the terminology of inheritance is again invoked. There, the remnant that is predestined to survive is called “the rem[nant of your inheritance] during the empire of Belial.” García Martínez and Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 137.
117 García Martínez and Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 97.
118 García Martínez and Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 573.
119 García Martínez and Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 572.
120 This understanding of Azazel as the demonic force or power that must be subdued or pacified on the Day of Atonement is similar to later Jewish mystical developments and especially those found in the Book of Zohar. Related to this, Nachmanides interprets Azazel as the power who rules over the wastelands: “However, the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded us that on the Day of Atonement we should let loose a goat in the wilderness, to that "prince" [power] which rules over wastelands, and this [goat] is fitting for it because he is its master, and destruction and waste emanate from that power.” Ramban (Nachmanides), Commentary on the Torah. Leviticus (trans. C. B. Chavel; New York: Shilo Publishing, 1974) 210. See also Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer 46: “Sammael said before the Holy One, blessed be He : Sovereign of all the universe ! Thou hast given me power over all the nations of the world, but over Israel Thou hast not given me power. He answered him, saying : Behold, thou hast power over them on the Day of Atonement if they have any sin, but if not, thou hast no power over them. Therefore they gave him a present’ on the Day of Atonement, in order that they should not bring their offering, as it is said, ‘One lot for the Lord, and the other lot for Azazel.’” Friedlander, Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer, 363.
121 This depiction is one of the most puzzling passages in the entire apocalypse, and this has been well noted by a number of scholars. Alexander Kulik conveys this consensus well, affirming that “chapter 29, where a messianic (or anti-messianic) figure is introduced, is the most enigmatic in the entire writing.” Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 51. A number of interpretations have been offered that detect in these passages either a later Christian interpolation or an earlier, original conceptual layer. On these interpretations and debates, see M.J. Lagrange, “Notes sur le Messianisme au temps de Jesus,” RB 14 (1905) 513; Box and Landsman, The Apocalypse of Abraham, 78; P. Riessler, Altjüdisches Schrifttum ausserhalb der Bibel (Heidelberg: Kerle, 1927) 1267; Y. Kaufmann, “Abraham-Apokalypse,” in: Encyclopaedia Judaica. Das Judentum in Geschichte und Gegenwart (eds. J. Klatzkin and I. Elbogen; 10 vols.; Berlin: Eschkol Verlag, 1928–1934) 1.552–53; J. Licht, “Abraham, Apocalypse of,” in: Encyclopedia Judaica (16 vols.; ed. C. Roth; Jerusalem: Keter, 1971) 2.127; R. Rubinkiewicz, "La vision de l’histoire dans l’Apocalypse d’Abraham," ANRW 2.19.1 (1979) 137–151 at 143-144; idem, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham en vieux slave, 66, 193; idem, “The Apocalypse of Abraham," 1.684; R.G. Hall, “The ‘Christian Interpolation’ in the Apocalypse of Abraham,” JBL 107 (1988) 107-112; G.S. Oegema, The Anointed and His People: Messianic Expectations from the Maccabees to Bar Kochba (JSPSS, 27; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998) 214; D. C. Harlow, "Anti-Christian Polemic in the Apocalypse of Abraham: Jesus as a Pseudo-Messiah in Apoc. Ab. 29.3-14," JSP 22.3 (2013) 167-183.
122 Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 32-33.
123 “и тече Азазилъ и поклонися и облобызавыи лице его и обратися и ста за нимъ.” Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham. Introduction, texte slave, traduction et notes, 98-100.
124 Thus, the kiss of Azazel has often been interpreted by scholars (e.g. R. Hall, M. Philonenko) as an act of worship. See Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, Die Apocalypse Abrahams, 450 note xxix.
125 M. Yoma 4:1 reads: “He shook the casket and took up the two lots. On one was written ‘For the Lord,’ and on the other was written ‘For Azazel.’” Danby, The Mishnah, 166.
126 D. Matt, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition (12 vols.; Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003-) 2.170-173. See also Zohar I.190a: “This is the impure side, the Other Side, who stands perpetually before the blessed Holy One, bringing accusations of the sins of human beings, and who stands perpetually below, leading humans astray …. But the blessed Holy One feels compassion for Israel and has advised them how to save themselves from him. How? With a shofar on Rosh Hashanah, and on Yom Kippur with a goat, given to him so that he will disengage from them and occupy himself with that portion of his, as they have established.” Matt, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, 3.160-161; Zohar II.184b: “Come and see: The goat that Israel sends to the desert is in order to give a portion to that Other Side, with which to be occupied.” Matt, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, 6.37. Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer 46: “Sammael said before the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of all the universe! Thou hast given me power over all the nations of the world, but over Israel Thou hast not given me power. He answered him, saying: Behold, thou hast power over them on the Day of Atonement if they have any sin, but if not, thou hast no power over them. Therefore they gave him a present on the Day of Atonement, in order that they should not bring their offering, as it is said, ‘One lot for the Lord, and the other lot for Azazel.’” Friedlander, Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer, 363.
127 Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar, 892.
128 Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar, 892.
129 “ослаба от языкъ.” Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham, 100.
130 Rubinkiewicz translates oslaba as "liberation, security, relaxation," tracing this term back to the Gk. adeia, anesis. See Rubinkiewicz and Lunt, “The Apocalypse of Abraham," 1.703. Rubinstein also notes that oslaba is used in the Slavonic Bible (for anesis) in Acts 24:23. A. Rubinstein, “Hebraisms in the Slavonic ‘Apocalypse of Abraham,’” JJS 4 (1953) 108-115 at 113. Oslaba can also be translated as “loosing.” In his messianic reinterpretation of the imagery of the two sacrificial goats, Justin Martyr uses similar terminology when he discusses “loosing” the strangle of violent contracts: “[Y]ou shall recognize him whom you had subjected to shame, and who was a sacrificial offering for all sinners who are willing to repent and to comply with that fast which Isaiah prescribed when he said, loosing the strangle of violent contracts, (διασπῶντες στραγγαλιὰς βιαίων συναλλαγμάτων) and to observe likewise all the other precepts laid down by him (precepts which I have already mentioned and which all believers in Christ fulfill). You also know very well that the offering of the two goats, which had to take place during the fast, could not take place anywhere else except in Jerusalem.” Marcovich, Iustini Martyris Dialogus Cum Tryphone, 137; Bobichon, Justin Martyr: Dialogue avec Tryphon, 284; Falls et al., St. Justin Martyr. Dialogue with Trypho, 62. Justin Martyr seems to be reworking the Septuagintal version of Isa 58:6, a passage that adresses loosing the bonds of injustice and the thongs of the yoke: “λῦε πάντα σύνδεσμον ἀδικίας διάλυε στραγγαλιὰς βιαίων συναλλαγμάτων” But Justin’s quotation from the Septuagint has “διασπῶντες” instead of “διάλυε.” On the usage of this expression in Justin, see Skarsaune, The Proof from Prophecy, 55-56.
131 Reflecting on the misleading function of the false messiah in chapter 29, Alexander Kulik suggests that the Slavonic term oslaba might be connected with the notion of laxity and weakness in observance of the Torah. The messianic man, in this suggestion, brings this laxity to the Hebrews, misleading some of them. Kulik invokes later rabbinic materials in which the false messiah brings neglect or laxity in upholding the Law, noting that, “Greek counterparts of CS ослаба, ослабление, ослабѣние may also have negative connotations: ‘willfulness’—Gk ἄνεσις or ‘weakening,’ ‘laxity’— Gk. ἔκλυσις or παράλυσις (Mikl: 518; Srezn: 2.723–724; SRJa11–17: 13.1013). The last one might have rendered Heb. Nwypr and relate to a pseudo-Messiah; cf. hrwth Nwypr ‘laxity [= neglect] of the Law’ (Lam. Rab. 1:4) or hrwth Nm Mydy Nwypr ‘laxity of hands in upholding the Law’ (Midrash Tanhuma, Beshalah 25).” Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 51.
132 Robert Hall underlines this aspect arguing that “the man who is worshiped severs the unfaithful Jews from Abraham’s seed and joins them to the Gentiles.” Hall, “The ‘Christian Interpolation’ in the Apocalypse of Abraham,” 108.