Priestly Settings of the Text: Yom Kippur Ceremony
As we remember in the second part of the Apocalypse of Abraham its hero, the patriarch Abraham, encounters an angelic being appointed by God to be his celestial guide. This creature, the angel Yahoel, baffles the seer’s imagination with his enigmatic appearance. The text describes him as a composite avian-human being with a body shining like sapphire (Slav. сапфиръ) and a face resembling chrysolite (Slav. хрусолить). The wardrobe of the angel also appears wondrous. Dressed in purple garments, he wears a turban reminiscent of “the bow in the clouds.”1 Abraham also sees a golden staff in the right hand of his celestial companion.
There is sacerdotal significance to the angel’s attire.2 Martha Himmelfarb has convincingly demonstrated this. She argues that Yahoel’s “wardrobe has strong priestly associations. The linen band around his head recalls Aaron’s headdress of fine linen (Ex. 28:39).”3 Nor is it just the headdress. Himmelfarb reminds us that the purple of Yahoel’s robe betrays connections to the purple of the high-priestly garments described in Exodus 28.4 The angel’s golden staff also seems to have a priestly meaning, invoking the memory of 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).”5 She also brings attention to the rainbow-like appearance of Yahoel’s turban, which, in her opinion, “brings together the two central color schemes employed elsewhere in the description of God as high priest, whiteness and the multicolored glow.”6
Indeed, the tradition about “the rainbow in the cloud” associated with the headgear of the high priest is known from several texts, including the description of the high priest Simon in the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira 50:7.7 Later rabbinic traditions8 describe the high priest’s front-plate (ציץ) , which he wore on his forehead.9 Made of gold and inscribed with the divine Name, the plate shone like a rainbow.10
Yahoel’s priestly accouterments are not coincidental. He appears at a crucial juncture in the story, when the young Abraham has just left his father’s destroyed sanctuary, which had been polluted by idolatrous worship. God now calls Abraham “to set a pure sacrifice” in worship. In this way Yahoel’s role extends beyond that of angelus interpres or a celestial guide. He also has a priestly role, initiating an apprentice into sacerdotal work of heaven. The cultic routine includes explanations of how to prepare the sacrifices, deliver praise to the Deity, and enter the heavenly throne room. All these details demonstrate the importance of priestly praxis in the conceptual framework of the Slavonic apocalypse. This is not surprising, since it was written after the destruction of the temple, a time overshadowed by the challenging quest for priestly and liturgical alternatives that could compensate for the loss of the terrestrial sanctuary.
Identifying that there are priestly concerns in the Apocalypse of Abraham, then, is not the issue. Rather, what poses significant difficulties is trying to place these rituals at a particular cultic setting or festival. Might the order of Abraham’s sacrifices indicate one particular festival? Several possibilities have been entertained. Ryszard Rubinkiewicz suggests that the priestly initiations of Abraham could be connected with the feast of Shavuot or Pentecost pointing to certain “Mosaic” details of Abraham’s priestly initiation, including references to the seer’s forty-day fast and the naming of the place of the patriarch’s sacrifices as Horeb.11
While these hints of a Shavuot setting are valid, given the aforementioned complexity of the sacerdotal universe of the Slavonic apocalypse, it is possible that the priestly traditions found in the text are not limited to one particular setting or festival. They could reflect connections to several events of the liturgical year. And, in fact, some other symbolic features of the Slavonic apocalypse, including the figure of the main antagonist of the story Azazel as well as pervasive usage of the terminology of two lots, suggest the Day of Atonement. This holy day might play a significant role in the authors’ theological worldview.
That is the concern of the present chapter. It examines the peculiar priestly traditions found in the Apocalypse of Abraham that might reflect a Yom Kippur liturgical setting. The study will also try to show that some portions of the second, apocalyptic part of the pseudepigraphon can be seen as a re-enactment of the Yom Kippur ritual, one of the most enigmatic cultic ceremonies of the Jewish tradition.
Mosaic Background of Abraham’s Priestly Initiations and the Day of Atonement
Chapters 9-12 describe the beginning of Abraham’s priestly initiation, during which Yahoel teaches him how to prepare sacrifices in order to enter the presence of God. A number of scholars have observed that some details of this initiation recall the story of another remarkable visionary of the Jewish tradition, Moses.
As was already mentioned, the liturgical setting of Abraham’s priestly initiation might be related to the Festival of Weeks – Shavuot or Pentecost.12 This feast celebrates Moses’ reception of revelation at Mount Sinai; hence, it is also known in Jewish tradition as the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah. Indeed, as many have noted, some motifs found in the Apocalypse of Abraham appear to reflect the peculiar details surrounding the reception of the Torah on Sinai. One of the distinctive hints here for establishing the connection with the Mosaic traditions is the theme of Abraham’s forty-day fast. This motif is first introduced in Apoc. Ab. 9:7, where God orders Abraham to hold a strict fast for forty days.13 It is noteworthy that, as in the Mosaic traditions, so in the apocalypse this fast coincides with the promise of a divine revelation on a high mountain:
But for forty days abstain from every food which issues from fire, and from the drinking of wine, and from anointing [yourself] with oil. And then you shall set out for me the sacrifice which I have commanded you, in the place which I shall show you on a high mountain.14
The theme of the forty day fast on the mountain receives an even more distinctly “Mosaic” shape in chapter 12, where it coincides with another cluster of Mosaic traditions. The Apocalypse of Abraham has a reference to Horeb (an alternate name for Sinai in some biblical passages), and in both accounts the prophetic figure receives nourishment through the vision of a celestial being:
And we went, the two of us alone together, forty days and nights. And I ate no bread and drank no water, because [my] food was to see the angel who was with me, and his speech with me was my drink. And we came to the [most?] glorious [of?] God’s mountains — Horeb.15
Here is a likely allusion to Exodus 34:28,16 which reports that Moses was with God forty days and forty nights on Mount Sinai without eating bread or drinking water.17 The reference to alternative sustenance through the beholding of a celestial being again evokes the cluster of interpretive traditions associated in Second Temple and rabbinic literature with the figure of Moses.18
Although the biblical accounts of Moses’ and Elijah’s theophanic experiences often “mirror” each other in that they share similar imagery,19 David Halperin argues that in the Apocalypse of Abraham Mosaic traditions have greater formative value than traditions about Elijah. He notes that
… when the angel tells Abraham that he will see God “come straight towards us” (chapter 16), this reminds us that God “passes by” both Moses and Elijah (Exodus 33:22; 34:6; 1 Kings 19:11-12). But it is only Moses who is told in this connection that “you cannot see my face” and “my face shall not be seen” (33:20, 23), just as the angel goes on to tell Abraham that God “Himself thou shalt not see.” Moses, not Elijah, “bowed down upon the earth and prostrated himself” when God passed (34:8) – which explains Abraham’s frustrated urge to do the same thing (chapter 17).20
Studies have convincingly demonstrated the importance of Mosaic typology for the authors of the Apocalypse of Abraham, who decided to transfer several important Mosaic motifs into Abraham’s story. Yet despite scholars’ thorough attention to the Mosaic background of the story, one suggestive detail has thus far escaped their notice: Moses’ forty-day fast occurred immediately after his fight against idolatry, when he destroyed the Golden Calf, after which he returned to Sinai again to receive a second set of tablets from the Deity. It is during the preparation for receiving the new tablets that he fasts.
It is intriguing that in the Apocalypse of Abraham, as in the Exodus account, the forty-day fast follows the hero’s fight against idolatry. One can see a certain parallelism between the stories of the two visionaries. Like Moses, who burns the Golden Calf (Exodus 32) and then fasts (Exodus 34), Abraham too is described earlier in the text as burning the idol of his father, a figurine bearing the name Bar-Eshath. It is important that in both cases the transition to the initiatory purifying fast occurs immediately after the account recording the destruction of idols.21
The tradition of the hero’s fast that occurs after his fight against idolatry betrays distinctly priestly concerns and appears important for discerning the cultic background of Abraham’s story and its possible connections with Day of Atonement traditions. Nevertheless, the main question remains open: how can a Yom Kippur setting be reconciled with the Mosaic details of Abraham’s initiation, given that these details point unambiguously to motifs associated with the Shavuot festival, which celebrates Moses’ reception of the tablets of the law?
In answering this question, it is of considerable significance that later rabbinic writers identify the day on which Moses received the tablets of the law for a second time with the Day of Atonement. Thus, b. Baba Bathra 121a records the following tradition:
… One well understands why the Day of Atonement [should be such a festive occasion for it is] a day of pardon and forgiveness [and it is also] a day on which the second Tables were given….22
An almost identical tradition is found in b. Taanith 30b:
… R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: There never were in Israel greater days of joy than the fifteenth of Ab and the Day of Atonement. I can understand the Day of Atonement, because it is a day of forgiveness and pardon and on it the second Tables of the Law were given….23
It appears that this cluster of traditions about the “day of pardon and forgiveness” draws on biblical traditions similar to the one found in Exodus 32:30, where, after the idolatry of the Golden Calf, Moses tells the people that he will go to the Lord asking for atonement of their sin.
Several midrashic passages make even more explicit this connection between the repentance of the Israelites after the idolatry of the Golden Calf in Exodus 33 and the establishment of Yom Kippur. In these materials the Israelites’ repentance serves as the formative starting point for observance of the Day of Atonement. Hence, Eliyyahu Rabbah 17 reads:
When Israel were in the wilderness, they befouled themselves with their misdeeds, but then they bestirred themselves and repented in privacy, as is said, Whenever Moses went out to the Tent, all the people would rise and stand, each at the entrance of his tent, and gaze after Moses. And when Moses entered the Tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the Tent…. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud poised at the entrance of the Tent, all the people would rise and bow low, each at the entrance of his tent (Exod. 33:8, 9, 10), thus intimating that they repented, each one in the privacy of his tent. Therefore His compassion flooded up and He gave to them, to their children, and to their children’s children to the end of all generations the Day of Atonement as a means of securing His pardon. 24
It is noteworthy that this passage from Eliyyahu Rabbah invokes the memory of the familiar events found in Exodus 33 which occurred immediately after the Golden Calf episode.25 The midrashic evidence indicates that the rabbinic tradition attempts repeatedly to place the institution of Yom Kippur’s atoning rites into the framework of the traditions surrounding Moses’ reception of the second set of the tablets of the law.
Similarly, a passage found in Pirke de R. Eliezer 46 unveils the tradition connecting Moses’ vision of the glory of God in Exodus 33 with the Day of Atonement:
Moses said: On the Day of Atonement I will behold the glory of the Holy One, blessed be He, and I will make atonement for the iniquities of Israel. Moses spake before the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of all the universe! “Shew me, I pray thee, thy glory” (Ex. xxxiii, 18). The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: Moses! Thou art not able to see My glory lest thou die, as it is said, “For men shall not see me and live” (ibid, 20)….26
This tradition of Moses’ quest to behold the Kavod, now placed in the liturgical setting of the Day of Atonement, anticipates the vision of the concealed Glory of God in the Holy of Holies by the high priest on Yom Kippur.
Even more important for our study, in view of the Mosaic traditions found in the apocalypse, several midrashic passages link Moses’ forty-day fast on Sinai with the institution of the Day of Atonement. Thus, the passage found in Pirke de R. Eliezer 46 preserves the following tradition:
The Son of Bethera said: Moses spent forty days on the mount, expounding the meaning of the words of the Torah, and examining its letters. After forty days he took the Torah, and descended on the tenth of the month, on the Day of Atonement, and gave it as an everlasting inheritance to the children of Israel, as it is said, “And this shall be unto you an everlasting statute” (Lev. xvi. 34).27
It is also intriguing that the passage from Pirke de R. Eliezer links the revelation given to Moses with the instructions about Yom Kippur in Leviticus 16. Another passage, Eliyyahu Zuta 4, goes even further by connecting the forty-day fast that preceded Moses’ second reception of tablets with the establishment of the practice of self-denial on Yom Kippur:
During the last forty days when Moses went up a second time to Mount Sinai to fetch the Torah, Israel decreed for themselves that the day be set aside for fasting and self-affliction. The last day of the entire period, the last of the forty, they again decreed self-affliction and spent the night also in such self-affliction as would not allow the Inclination to evil to have any power over them. In the morning they rose early and went up before Mount Sinai. They were weeping as they met Moses, and Moses was weeping as he met them, and at length that weeping rose up on high. At once the compassion of the Holy One welled up in their behalf, and the holy spirit gave them good tidings and great consolation, as He said to them: My children, I swear by My great name that this weeping will be a joyful weeping for you because this day will be a day of pardon, atonement, and forgiveness for you – for you, for your children, and for your children’s children until the end of all generations.28
In sum, rabbinic literature indicates that in later Jewish interpretation Moses’ fight against idolatry, his forty-day fast, his vision of God, and his reception of the momentous revelation on Sinai were understood as a chain of formative events linked to the establishment of the Yom Kippur ceremony. Moreover, some of these traditions envisioned Moses’ deeds as the cosmic prototype of the symbolic actions that, while the temple still stood, were re-enacted annually by the high priest in the Holy of Holies.
Now it is time to return to the Slavonic apocalypse, where a very similar constellation of motifs is found. It is possible that by evoking this particular cluster of Mosaic traditions the authors of the apocalypse were attempting to connect the patriarch’s sacrificial practices on Mount Horeb with Moses’ receiving the tablets of the law for the second time, the event which later rabbinic traditions interpreted as the inauguration of the Yom Kippur holiday. In that regard, it is intriguing that in the Apocalypse of Abraham, as in the aforementioned rabbinic accounts, the self-afflicting practice of the forty-day fast following the sin of idolatry is then connected to the Day of Atonement imagery. It is possible that in the Slavonic apocalypse, as in rabbinic accounts, a very similar combination of Mosaic motifs is permeated with Yom Kippur symbolism.
While several scholars have previously pointed to the existence of Yom Kippur imagery in the Slavonic apocalypse, no sufficient explanation has been offered for why this cluster of traditions surrounding the scapegoat Azazel and the two lots suddenly appears in the Abrahamic pseudepigraphon. In this respect it is noteworthy that other Abrahamic pseudepigrapha (for example, the Testament of Abraham), while sharing some other common conceptual tenets with the Apocalypse of Abraham, do not show any interest in appropriating the Day of Atonement symbolism. Such imagery is also absent from other early extra-biblical elaborations of the patriarch’s story found in the Book of Jubilees, Josephus, and Philo, as well as in the later rabbinic materials (Genesis Rabbah, Tanna debe Eliyyahu, and Seder Eliyyahu Rabba). There too one fails to find any references to Azazel or the imagery of the two lots, the very themes that play such a significant theological role in this apocalypse. The aforementioned Abrahamic materials also contain no references to the peculiar cluster of Mosaic traditions found in our text.
The uniqueness of this cluster of motifs opens up the possibility that in the Slavonic apocalypse Abraham might be patterned not according to a biblical Mosaic typology but instead according to a later version, found also in the aforementioned rabbinic accounts. The latter, as noted above, associate Moses’ fight against idolatry and his practice of self-denial with the establishment of the observance of the Yom Kippur festival. In this respect the highly “developed” shape of certain Mosaic themes found in the apocalypse — such as, for example, the motif of the unusual nourishment of the seer during his forty-day fast — points to apparent departures from the early biblical blueprint.
From a Sacrificial Animal to a Fallen Angel
One of the challenges in arguing for a Yom Kippur setting in the Apocalypse of Abraham lies in the fact that the accounts of Abraham’s sacrificial practices lack any explicit reference to the two goats of biblical and rabbinic traditions. These emblematic sacrificial animals played a distinctive role in the Yom Kippur rite, wherein one goat was sacrificed to God and the other was released into the wilderness for Azazel.
Yet in the Apocalypse of Abraham, a writing which exhibits a great deal of influence from the Enochic tradition, allusions to the Yom Kippur ritual seem to be affected also by Enochic reinterpretation of the scapegoat imagery and especially the enhanced symbolism of its chief antagonist, the scapegoat Azazel, who is now envisioned not as a sacrificial animal but as a demoted celestial being. Scholars have noted that in the Book of the Watchers the scapegoat rite receives a striking, angelological reinterpretation. It incorporates details from the sacrificial ritual into the story of its main antagonist, a fallen angel Asael. For example, 1 Enoch 10:4-7 reads:
And further the Lord said to Raphael: “Bind Azazel by his hands and his feet, and throw him into the darkness. And split open the desert which is in Dudael, and throw him there. And throw on him jagged and sharp stones, and cover him with darkness; and let him stay there for ever, and cover his face, that he may not see light, and that on the great day of judgment he may be hurled into the fire. And restore the earth which the angels have ruined, and announce the restoration of the earth, for I shall restore the earth….29
As several distinguished scholars have noticed, a number of details of Asael’s punishment are reminiscent of the scapegoat ritual.30 Lester Grabbe points to a number of parallels between the Asael narrative in 1 Enoch and the wording of Leviticus 16, including “the similarity of the names Asael and Azazel; the punishment in the desert; the placing of sin on Asael/Azazel; the resultant healing of the land.”31 Daniel Stökl also observes, “the punishment of the demon resembles the treatment of the goat in aspects of geography, action, time and purpose.”32 Further, the place of Asael’s punishment designated in 1 Enoch as Dudael is reminiscent of the rabbinic terminology used for the designation of the ravine of the scapegoat הדודו)/(בית הדורו in later rabbinic interpretations of the Yom Kippur ritual. Stökl remarks, “the name of place of judgment (Dudael – (בית הדורו is conspicuously similar in both traditions and can likely be traced to a common origin.”33
Some Qumran materials also appear cognizant of this angelological reinterpretation of the scapegoat figure. They choose to depict Azazel as the eschatological leader of the fallen angels, incorporating him into the story of the Watchers’ rebellion. Thus, 4Q180 1:1-10 reads:
Interpretation concerning the ages which God has made: An age to conclude [all that there is] 2 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 […]34
Grabbe points to another important piece of evidence – a fragmentary text from the Book of Giants found at Qumran (4Q203).35 In this document36 the punishment for all the sins of the fallen angels is placed on Azazel. 37
Later rabbinic materials also link the sacrificial animal known from the scapegoat ritual to the story of the angelic rebels. Thus, for example, b. Yoma 67b records the following tradition: “The School of R. Ishmael taught: Azazel – [it was so called] because it obtains atonement for the affair of Uza and Aza’el.”38 All these strands of evidence —from 1 Enoch, Qumran, and later rabbinic sources — show that the conceptual link between the scapegoat and the fallen angel is documented in a number of important materials across a substantial span of history. A broad scholarly consensus now recognizes this connection.
It appears that this “angelological” pattern also operates in the Apocalypse of Abraham; Azazel, like the antagonist of the Enochic tradition, is envisioned as a fallen angelic being. It has already been noted that the Azazel story in the apocalypse reflects several peculiar details of the Enochic myth of the fallen watchers.39 For example, Rubinkiewicz argues thus:
… the author of the Apocalypse of Abraham follows the tradition of 1 Enoch 1-36. The chief of the fallen angels is Azazel, who rules the stars and most men. It is not difficult to find here the tradition of Genesis 6:1-4 developed according to the tradition of 1 Enoch. Azazel is the head of the angels who plotted against the Lord and who impregnated the daughters of men. These angels are compared to the stars. Azazel revealed the secrets of heaven and is banished to the desert. Abraham, as Enoch, receives the power to drive away Satan. All these connections show that the author of the Apocalypse of Abraham drew upon the tradition of 1 Enoch.40
It is clear that here, as in the Enochic and Qumran materials, Azazel is no longer a sacrificial animal, but an angelic being. Even in his first appearance in chapter 13:3-4,41 he is depicted as an unclean (impure) bird (Slav. птица нечистая).42 In the imagery of the Apocalypse of Abraham, which chooses to portray Yahoel with the body of griffin, the bird-like appearance of Azazel points to his angelic form. The assumption that Azazel was once an angelic being is further supported by Apoc. Ab. 14, which tells about the celestial garment that the fallen angel once possessed: “For behold, the garment which in heaven was formerly yours has been set aside for him [Abraham]….”43
Yet, in comparison with the early Enochic developments, the angelic profile of Azazel appears to be more advanced. Grabbe suggests that in the depiction of its main antagonist the Apocalypse of Abraham seems to be referring to the “basic arch-demon complex under the name of Azazel.”44
The Goat for YHWH?
Abraham’s role vis-à-vis Azazel’s in the apocalypse again evokes the memory of the Enochic tradition and its namesake hero, Enoch. In both cases the protagonists mirror their respective negative counterparts; both stories portray them exchanging attributes and roles with one another. Just as Enoch takes the priestly and celestial offices of Asael, while the fallen angel assumes some human roles, so also in the Apocalypse of Abraham Azazel surrenders his angelic garment to Abraham. Both parties accept the offices of their counterparts as they enter the realms of their opponents. In this respect it is noteworthy that Azazel’s transition in the Slavonic apocalypse into the lower realm, as in the case of Asael of the Enochic tradition, encompasses two steps: his removal first to the earth,45 then further, to the fiery abyss of the subterranean sphere.46
Further, similarity to the Book of the Watchers, in the Abrahamic pseudepigraphon the hero progresses in the opposite direction of his negative counterpart. He ascends into heaven, and as does so he acquires a special status and a celestial garment that allows him to enter the celestial sanctuary.47 The progression of the patriarch into upper sancta has here, like in 1 Enoch, a sacerdotal significance, as it betrays connections with the Yom Kippur ceremony of the high priest’s entrance into the divine presence. Moreover, it is possible that Abraham’s progressive movement into the heavenly Holy of Holies might be understood as encompassing not only priestly but also sacrificial dimensions, in view of the fact that Abraham and Azazel are opposites, and Azazel plays the role of celestial scapegoat. If Azazel drew the lot of scapegoat, that could imply that Abraham is to be pictured as a heavenly sacrificial goat for the Lord.
The Slavonic text conceals many details, however, so it remains unclear. But some cryptic traditions found in the text might hint at this possibility. As is known from the biblical and rabbinic descriptions of the Yom Kippur ritual, the flesh of the goat48 for YHWH was destroyed by fire, while his blood (which in Jewish tradition represents the soul of the sacrificial animal)was then brought into the Holy of Holies by the high priest and used there for purification.49 In light of these traditions, it is not unreasonable to suggest that Yahoel’s and Abraham’s entrance into the heavenly throne room in chapter 18 is to be understood as an allusion to the entrance of the high priest who brings the purifying sacrifice into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur.
Interestingly, in Apoc. Ab. 13:4-5 Azazel warns his counterpart, who represents the “divine” lot, that he will be destroyed by fire50 along with other sacrificial animals:
And the impure bird spoke to me and said, “What are you doing, Abraham, on the holy heights, where no one eats or drinks, nor is there upon them food of men? But these will all be consumed by fire and they will burn you up. Leave the man who is with you and flee! Since if you ascend to the height, they will destroy you.”51
Azazel’s cryptic warning remains one of the most profound puzzles of the text. In trying to solve this puzzle, it is helpful to note that the motif of a seer’s encounter with fire appears significant for the authors of the pseudepigraphon, who envision fire as a theophanic substance surrounding the very presence of the deity. Thus, later in the text Abraham’s transition into the divine realm is described as his entering into the fire.52 Could the promise of a celestial garment to the patriarch in the Apocalypse of Abraham signify here, as in many other apocalyptic accounts, that his “mortal” body must be “altered” in the fiery metamorphosis?53 Unfortunately, the text does not provide direct answers for such inquiries.
In order to better understand Abraham’s connections with the “divine” lot, which might help us further clarify his eschatological role as the “goat for YHWH,” we must now explore the imagery of the two lots found in the Slavonic apocalypse.
The remarkable angelic metamorphosis of the scapegoat, then, has had a long-lasting conceptual afterlife in Jewish apocalypticism. But there is another image from Yom Kippur that likewise exercised a formative influence on some Second Temple apocalyptic materials, including the Dead Sea Scrolls. In the Qumran writings one encounters a broad appropriation of the imagery of two lots, symbolism that has profound significance in the scapegoat ordinance. As with the figure of Azazel, who is enhanced with a new celestial profile, the imagery of the sacrificial lots also receives a novel eschatological reinterpretation. Thus, in a number of Qumran materials, such as 1QM, 1QS, 4Q544, and 11Q13, the two lots become associated not with two sacrificial goats but with celestial protagonists, both positive – like Melchizedek or the Angel of Lights – as well as negative – like Melchirešac, Belial, or the Prince of Darkness. These characters are understood in the documents as the leaders of the “portions of humanity,” associated with the lots of good and evil, darkness and light.54 Repeated references occur in the Qumran documents to the eschatological lots that represent the good and evil portions of humanity, often designated as “the men of the lot of Melchizedek”55 (11Q13 2:8) or “the men of the lot of Belial”56 (5Q11 1:3).
Such eschatological reinterpretation of the lots looms large in the Apocalypse of Abraham as well. References to the two lots are widely dispersed in the second, apocalyptic part of the pseudepigraphon. Many have noted that the conceptual elaborations surrounding the imagery of the lots are reminiscent of the eschatological reinterpretations found in the Qumran materials.57 In fact, the Slavonic word for “lot” (часть) is connected to the Hebrew גורל, a term prominent in Qumran materials. And the Apocalypse of Abraham follows the lead of Qumran in tying the lots to mediatorial figures, rather than sacrificial animals. At Qumran the mediatorial figures associated with the lots include Belial or Melchizedek; in the apocalypse they are Azazel58 and the translated patriarch Abraham.59
However, in comparison with Qumran materials, connections to the underlying formative pattern of the scapegoat ritual appear even more distinctive, and therefore more easily recognizable, in the Slavonic accounts of the lots.60 In Apoc. Ab. 13, in one of the first passages in the text to invoke imagery of two “lots” or “portions,” one can easily discern allusions to particular details associated with Yom Kippur observance. Apoc. Ab. 13:7-8 reads:
And he [Yahoel] said to him, “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. Therefore the Eternal Lord, the Mighty One, has made you a dweller on earth….”61
Notice the scapegoat undertones present. The distinctive reference to the dwelling place of Azazel’s “impurity” recalls the motif of the scapegoat removing the impurity of the community by travelling into an inhabited realm. Further connections can be seen in the description of the other lot, associated with Abraham. In the Day of Atonement ritual the lot of the goat for YHWH is called the lot for the Lord, and in Apoc. Ab. 20:5 the lot of Abraham is designated as the lot of God:
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.”62
This identification of the positive lot with the lot of God is also present in Qumran materials.63
Given the above evidence, it is little surprise that the similarity of Yom Kippur imagery between the Apocalypse of Abraham and Qumran has often attracted scholars’ attention. Less often have the apocalypse’s parallels with rabbinic sources been noted. Yet the intriguing descriptions of the lots in the Slavonic apocalypse point to close connections with later rabbinic reinterpretations of Yom Kippur that are found in the Mishnah and the Talmud. A noteworthy parallel is the spatial arrangement of the lots on the left and right sides, found both in the Slavonic apocalypse and in rabbinic materials.
So Apoc. Ab. 22 portrays two portions of humanity arranged according to the two lots and situated on the left and right sides:
And he said to me, “These who are on the left side are a multitude of tribes who were before and who are destined to be after you: some for judgment and justice, and others for revenge and perdition at the end of the age. Those on the right side of the picture are the people set apart for me of the people [that are] with Azazel. These are the ones I have destined to be born of you and to be called my people.”64 (22:4–5)
In Apoc. Ab. 27:1-2 and 29:11 this division of the two lots arranged on the left and right is repeated:
And I looked and saw, and behold, the picture swayed, and a heathen people went out from its left side and they captured those who were on the right side: the men, women, and children. And some they slaughtered and others they held with them. (Apoc. Ab. 27:1-2)
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. (Apoc. Ab. 29:11)
While in the Qumran materials the spatial arrangement of the lots on the left and right sides does not play any important theological role, in rabbinic materials it very much does. Indeed, the spatial distinction receives its paramount cultic significance in the rabbinic descriptions of the Yom Kippur custom of the selection of the goats.65
Significantly, the spatial arrangement of the lots on the left and right sides in the Apocalypse of Abraham is reminiscent of the descriptions found in the mishnaic treatise Yoma, where the ritual selection of two goats – one for YHWH and the other for Azazel – also operates with the symbolism of the left and right sides.66 In m. Yoma 4:1 the following tradition is found:
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.”67
Although the passage from Mishnah does not openly identify the right side with the divine lot, as does the Slavonic apocalypse, the Babylonian Talmud makes this connection explicit. Thus b. Yoma 39a reads:
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.68
This imagery of the selection of the goats in rabbinic materials, in which the scapegoat is placed on the left and the goat for the Lord on the right, recalls the spatial arrangement of the lots in the Slavonic apocalypse, where the divine lot is similarly situated on the right side and the lot of Azazel on the left side.69
The High Priest and Azazel
In much of the Enochic tradition and in the Apocalypse of Abraham both protagonists70 and antagonists71 are envisioned as priestly figures. This emphasis on the sacerdotal is woven into the fabric of the entire pseudepigraphon, in which all main characters are endowed with cultic roles. The most spectacular cultic attributes are, of course, given to Yahoel, who is presented in the text as the heavenly high priest and the celestial choir-master. Yahoel shows himself to be the most distinguished cultic figure in the story by his repeated instructions to Abraham about sacrificial rites and proper liturgical procedures. It is possible that, in his role as instructor and revealer of cultic mysteries, Yahoel discloses his teachings to the patriarch not only in speech but also through hands-on instruction, so to speak. Hints of this occur at various points. One such instance is found in chapters 13 and 14 where Yahoel appears to perform one of the central ordinances of the Yom Kippur atoning ceremony, in which impurity is transferred onto Azazel and the scapegoat is dispatched into the wilderness. In Apoc. Ab. 13:7-14 this mysterious encounter between the high priest Yahoel and the scapegoat Azazel is found:
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. 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 to 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.”72
In view of the cultic affiliations of Yahoel, it is possible that his address to the scapegoat has a ritual significance, since it bears resemblance to several actions of the high priest on Yom Kippur. The first thing that draws attention is that Yahoel’s speech contains a command of departure: “Depart from this man!” Crispin Fletcher-Louis has noted a possible connection between this command found in Apoc. Ab. 13:12 and the dispatching formula given to the scapegoat in m. Yoma 6:4: “Take our sins and go forth.”73 Secondly, scholars have also pointed out that some technical terminology found in chapter 13 appears to be connected with Yom Kippur terminology. Daniel Stökl notes the terminology of “sending” things to Azazel in Apoc. Ab. 13:10,74 which Alexander Kulik traces to the Greek term ἀποστέλλω or Hebrew שלח.75 Stökl proposes that this terminology “might allude to the sending out of the scapegoat.”76
The phrase “dwelling place of your impurity” is a third noteworthy connection, since it alludes to the “purgation” function of the scapegoat ceremony, the rite that centered on removing the impurity heaped on the sacrificial animal to the “dwelling” place of the demon in the wilderness. Putting reproach and shame on Azazel in Apoc. Ab. 13:7 and 13:11 may also relate to the ritual curses bestowed upon the scapegoat. Another pertinent detail of Yahoel’s speech is his statement that Abraham’s corruption has now been transferred to Azazel. Reflecting on this, Robert Helm sees its connection to the Yom Kippur settings by proposing that “the transference of Abraham’s corruption to Azazel may be a veiled reference to the scapegoat rite….”77 Similarly, Lester Grabbe also argues that the phrasing in the statement that “Abraham’s corruption has ‘gone over to’ Azazel suggest[s] an act of atonement.”78 It is possible that the high priest Yahoel is performing here the so-called “transference function” – the crucial part of the scapegoat ritual – when the high priest conveys the sins of Israel onto the head of the goat through confession and laying-on of hands.79
Abraham and the Scapegoat
It is quite clear that in the Apocalypse of Abraham Yahoel functions as a senior priest explaining and demonstrating rituals to an apprentice, Abraham.80 The parallelism between the instructions of the master and the actions of the apprentice manifests itself early in the apocalyptic section of the text, when the patriarch faithfully follows the orders of his angelic guide about how to prepare the sacrifices.81 The same pattern of cultic training is also discernable in the depiction of the ritual of dispatching the scapegoat.
In the Apocalypse of Abraham, after Yahoel’s own “handling” of Azazel, the angel then verbally instructs Abraham on 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)82
In this narrative the dispatching formulas appear to be even more decisive and forceful than in the previously investigated passage from chapter 13, now including such commands to the scapegoat as: “Go” (Slav. иди)83 and “Vanish from before me” (Slav. буди от мене исчезлъ).84
Another significant detail from the dispatching formula “Go, Azazel, into the untrodden parts of the earth” is where the demon is forced to go, “the untrodden parts of earth.” The word “untrodden” (Slav. беспроходна)85 is significant since it designates a place uninhabitable (lit.: impassable) to human beings. The language of Lev 16, where the scapegoat is dispatched “to the solitary place” (אל ארץ גזרה) “in the wilderness” (במדבר),86 suggests to Jacob Milgrom that “the purpose of dispatching the goat to the wilderness is to remove it from human habitation.”87
These observations indicate that a further aspect of the scapegoat ritual is alluded to. In the so-called “elimination” aspect of the scapegoat ritual, impurity is removed from the inhabitable world into an uninhabitable (or, in the language of the Apocalypse of Abraham, “untrodden”) realm. Stökl also observes that the language of “untrodden parts of the earth” is reminiscent of the Septuagint version’s translation of Leviticus 16:22 (εἰς γῆν ἄβατον)88 and the expression chosen by Philo in De Specialibus Legibus 1:188 in his description of Yom Kippur.89
The concluding phrase of the passage from chapter 14, which reports that Abraham repeated the words he received from the great angel, adds validity to the suggestion that Abraham is depicted as a sort of a priestly apprentice, receiving instructions from Yahoel and then applying this knowledge in dispatching the scapegoat.90
To conclude, there is an important structural similarity to point out: there are a number of possible connections between the Yom Kippur imagery in the second part of the Apocalypse of Abraham and the cultic traditions and conceptual developments in the first, haggadic section of the pseudepigraphon. As has already been mentioned, the first part of the text is also permeated with cultic concerns, as it depicts the idolatrous worship of the household of Terah, envisioned there by the metaphor of the polluted sanctuary. The section ends with the demise of the infamous house of worship and the death of two priestly servants – Abraham’s father Terah and his brother Nahor – who perish in the fire.
Note how the same motif is evident in the Day of Atonement traditions. The description of the Yom Kippur ritual found in Leviticus 16 also begins with a reference to two priests who have perished, namely, Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu. They, like Terah and Nahor in the Slavonic apocalypse, were killed by the fire proceeding from God because their improper priestly practice defiled the sanctuary. This reference to priests who have perished and caused a contamination (now requiring purgation) serves well the cultic agenda of Leviticus 16, which then offers the description of the purification rite of Yom Kippur.91 As noted before, later rabbinic materials link the Golden Calf episode with the establishment of Yom Kippur, thereby hinting at this correspondence between sacerdotal transgression and the need for its cultic repair.
This brings us to the point of connection. In light of the aforementioned traditions, the re-enactment of the Yom Kippur observances in the second part of the Apocalypse of Abraham fits nicely into the overall structure of the Slavonic pseudepigraphon. The hero’s transition from the polluted and destroyed sanctuary, depicted in the first part of the story, to the true place of worship shown him by Deity, in the second part of the story, is mediated by the atoning ritual.
1 “…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.
2 Daniel Harlow observes 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).” Harlow, “Idolatry and Alterity: Israel and the Nations in the Apocalypse of Abraham,” 313–14.
3 Himmelfarb, Ascent to Heaven, 62. Also, Aaron’s “headdress” that Himmelfarb mentions deserves a note. Jacob Milgrom observes that the high priest’s head covering was a turban (מצנפת)and not מגבעות, the simpler headdresses of the ordinary priests (Exod. 28:39-40). J. Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB, 3; New York: Doubleday, 1991) 1016.
4 Himmelfarb, Ascent to Heaven, 62.
5 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) through his liturgical office as choirmaster of the Living Creatures, which is reminiscent of the liturgical office of Enoch-Metatron in the Merkabah tradition. See Orlov, “Celestial Choir-Master: The Liturgical Role of Enoch-Metatron in 2 Enoch and the Merkabah Tradition,” 197-221.
6 Himmelfarb, Ascent to Heaven in Jewish and Christian Apocalypses, 62.
7 “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.
8 One of the extensive descriptions of ציץ 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] ציץ? It means ‘being seen, to be looked at.’ Since it was there to be seen by people, it was called ציץ. 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.
9 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….”
10 b. Yoma 37a.
11 Rubinkiewicz, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham en vieux slave. Édition critique du texte, introduction, traduction et commentaire, 58-60.
12 Rubinkiewicz, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham en vieux slave. Édition critique du texte, introduction, traduction et commentaire, 60.
13 David Halperin notes the Mosaic flavor of this passage, observing that “in preparation, Abraham must abstain from meat, wine, and oil (Apocalypse of Abraham, chapter 9). The immediate source of this last detail seems to be Daniel 10:3. But, significantly, it recalls the abstentions of Moses and Elijah (Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 9:9, 18, 1 Kings 19:7-8); for like Moses and Elijah, Abraham is to have his experience on ‘the Mount of God, the glorious Horeb….’” Halperin, The Faces of the Chariot, 105.
14 Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 17.
15 Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 19.
16 Daniel Harlow observes that “the patriarch’s fasting ‘for forty days and nights’ marks one of several places in the apocalypse where the author models Abraham’s experience on Moses’s (Exod 34:28).” Harlow, “Idolatry and Alterity: Israel and the Nations in the Apocalypse of Abraham,” 312.
17 Martha Himmelfarb observes that “the account in the Apocalypse of Abraham implicitly compares Abraham’s ascent to Moses’ experience at Sinai. Thus, for example, Abraham performs the sacrifice described in Genesis 15 at Mount Horeb (the name for Mount Sinai in some biblical sources) after forty days of fasting in the wilderness. The exegetical occasion for the association of Genesis 15 and Exodus 19-20 is the manifestation of the presence of God in smoke and fire in both passages.” Himmelfarb, Ascent to Heaven, 62. For the Mosaic background of the patriarch’s actions in chapter twelve, see also N. L. Calvert, Abraham Traditions in Middle Jewish Literature: Implications for the Interpretation of Galatians and Romans (Ph.D. diss.; Sheffield University, 1993). Calvert observes that “the similarity between Abraham’s actions in chapter twelve and those of Moses are striking. He first travels to the mountain Horeb, known also in the Old Testament as Mt. Sinai, which is called ‘God’s mountain, glorious Horeb’ in the Apocalypse of Abraham 12:3. Like Moses when he receives the law, Abraham spends forty days and nights on the mountain. Abraham is said neither to eat bread nor to drink water because his food ‘was to see angel who was with me, and his discourse with me was my drink.’ (Apoc. Ab. 12:1-2). Philo reflects a Jewish tradition of Moses’ time on the mount, saying that Moses neglected all meat and drink for forty days, because he had more excellent food than that in the contemplations with which he was inspired from heaven (De Vita Moses II.69). Because Mt. Horeb and Mt. Sinai are names for the same mountain, Abraham receives his revelation from God in the same place that Moses received God’s commandments. Finally, as the Lord ‘was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain’ in the Exodus account, so the fire on top of Mt. Horeb burns the sacrifices over which Abraham and the angel ascend to heaven where God also appears as fire.” Calvert, Abraham Traditions in Middle Jewish Literature: Implications for the Interpretation of Galatians and Romans, 274.
18 Box notes the connection of this idea of alternative nourishment with the Mosaic tradition found in Philo. He observes that “… there is a close parallel to our text in Philo, Life of Moses, III. 1, where it is said of Moses in the Mount: ‘he neglected all meat and drink for forty days together, evidently because he had more excellent food than that in those contemplations with which he was inspired from above from heaven.’” Box and Landsman, Apocalypse of Abraham, 50.
19 Christopher Begg observes that “making Mt. Horeb (Apoc. Ab. 12:3) the site of this incident (contrast Jubilees, where it takes place at Hebron) serves to associate Abraham with the figures of Moses and Elijah, both of whom received divine communications at that site….” Begg, “Rereading of the ‘Animal Rite’ of Genesis 15 in Early Jewish Narratives,” 44.
20 Halperin, The Faces of the Chariot, 110.
21 In this respect Martha Himmelfarb argues that “the connection between the ascent and the preceding story of Abraham’s rejection of idolatry is made by Iaoel himself, when in his introduction to Abraham before the ascent he includes the information that he was the angel who set Terah’s house on fire (10:13). But there are clear structural indications of unity as well. Idolatry, which is the central problem in the first section, plays a crucial role in the vision of the ascent, where it appears as the cause of the destruction of the temple. The burning of Terah’s house, where idols are made and worshiped, precedes Abraham’s ascent; it is matched in the vision by the burning of the temple, which has become the scene of idolatry. Sacrifice plays a central role in both sections. In the narrative, sacrifice to idols serves as the occasion for Abraham’s discovery of the one God. Sacrifice to God later provides the means for Abraham’s ascent; he and the angel travel to heaven on the backs of the birds they have sacrificed. Idolatrous sacrifices lead to the destruction of the temple, and God promises the restoration of the temple and its cult after the last judgment.” Himmelfarb, Ascent to Heaven, 62.
22 Epstein, Soncino Hebrew-English Talmud. Baba Bathra 121a.
23 Epstein, Soncino Hebrew-English Talmud. Taanith 30b.
24 Tanna Debe Eliyyahu: The Lore of the School of Elijah, 190.
25 As can be seen, some midrashic materials try to connect the establishment of the Day of Atonement festival with repentance of the Israelites after the idolatry of the Golden Calf. Later Jewish mysticism deepens this connection even further when it interprets the scapegoat ritual in light of the Golden Calf traditions. Thus some Jewish texts connect the Golden Calf episode with the beginning of the enigmatic practice of assigning a share to “the other side” in sacrificial ritual. Isaiah Tishby refers to the tradition found in the Book of Zohar according to which “…one of the consequences of Israel’s sin with the Golden Calf was that ‘the other side’ was assigned a share in the sacrificial ritual.” Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar, 891. Zohar II, 242b tells us that “…from that day the only thing they could do was to give a portion of everything to ‘the other side’ through the mystery of the sacrifices, the libation, and the whole-offerings.” Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar, 891. In the dualistic framework of the Zoharic tradition the goat which is dispatched to Azazel comes to be understood as “the principal offering that is destined in its entirety for ‘the other side.’ ” Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar, 821. Tishby notes that “in many passages [of the Zohar] this is described, following a late midrash, as a bribe that is offered to Samuel. The Zohar quotes a number of parables to explain this matter of the bribe. One describes how a king wishes to rejoice with his son or his friends at a special meal. In order that the happy occasion should not be spoiled by the presence of ill-wishers and quarrelsome men, he orders a separate meal to be prepared for them. 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….” Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar, 892. These references to the later Jewish dualism connected with the Yom Kippur ritual are not completely irrelevant in light of the dualistic imagery of the two lots found in the Apocalypse of Abraham. Often scholars try to interpret the dualistic developments found in the pseudepigraphon as later interpolations by the Bogomils. Yet, as we will see further in this investigation, the dualistic understanding of the Yom Kippur traditions found in the Apocalypse of Abraham and the Zohar can be traced to the Second Temple traditions found in the Dead Sea Scrolls where the imagery of the two lots was put in a dualistic eschatological framework.
26 Friedlander, Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer, 364.
27 Friedlander, Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer, 362.
28 Tanna Debe Eliyyahu, 385.
29 M. Knibb, The Ethiopic Book of Enoch. A New Edition in the Light of the Aramaic Dead Sea Fragments (2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978) 2.87-88.
30 R.H. Charles, The Book of Enoch (Oxford: Clarendon, 1893); D. Dimant, The Fallen Angels in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Related Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha (Ph.D. diss.; Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1974) [in Hebrew]; idem, “1 Enoch 6-11: A Methodological Perspective,” SBLSP 17 (1978) 323-339; A. Geiger, “Zu den Apokryphen,” JZWL 3 (1864) 196-204; Grabbe, “The Scapegoat Tradition: A Study in Early Jewish Interpretation,” 165-79; P. Hanson, “Rebellion in Heaven, Azazel, and Euhemeristic Heroes in 1 Enoch 6-11,” JBL 96 (1977) 195-233; Helm, “Azazel in Early Jewish Literature,” 217-226; G. Nickelsburg, “Apocalyptic and Myth in 1 Enoch 6-11,” JBL 96 (1977) 383-405; R. Rubinkiewicz, Die Eschatologie von Henoch 9–11 und das Neue Testament (tr. H. Ulrich; ÖBS, 6; Klosterneuberg, 1984) 88-89; 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: The Day of Atonement from Second Temple Judaism to the Fifth Century, 85-88.
31 Grabbe, “The Scapegoat Tradition: A Study in Early Jewish Interpretation,” 153.
32 Stökl Ben Ezra, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity: The Day of Atonement from Second Temple Judaism to the Fifth Century, 87.
33 Stökl Ben Ezra, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity: The Day of Atonement from Second Temple Judaism to the Fifth Century, 87-88.
34 Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 371-373. On the similar traditions see also 4Q181.
35 Grabbe, “The Scapegoat Tradition: A Study in Early Jewish Interpretation,” 155.
36 On this text see also L. Stuckenbruck, The Book of Giants from Qumran: Texts, Translation, and Commentary (TSAJ, 63; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1997) 79-101.
37 4Q203 7:1-7 reads: “[…] … […] 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]…” Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 411.
38 Epstein, Soncino Hebrew-English Talmud. Yoma 76b. On the afterlife of the Asael/Azazel tradition see A. Y. Reed, “From Asael and Šemihazah to Uzzah, Azzah, and Azael: 3 Enoch 5 (§§7-8) and Jewish Reception-History of 1 Enoch,” JSQ 8 (2001) 105-36.
39 Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham. Introduction, texte slave, traduction et notes, 31-33; Rubinkiewicz, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham en vieux slave. Édition critique du texte, introduction, traduction et commentaire, 50.
40 Rubinkiewicz, “Apocalypse of Abraham,” 1.685.
41 Apoc. Ab. 13:3-4 “And an impure bird flew down on the carcasses, and I drove it away. And the impure bird spoke to me….” Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 20.
42 The reference to the impurity of the “bird” betrays the connection to the scapegoat figure who, in the materials pertaining to the Yom Kippur ritual, is understood as an impure entity, a sort of a “gatherer” of impurity which contaminates anyone who comes in contact with him, including his handlers, who must perform purification procedures after handling the goat. Milgrom observes that Azazel was “the vehicle to dispatch Israel’s impurities and sins to wilderness/netherworld.” Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16, 1621.
43 Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 20.
44 Grabbe, “The Scapegoat tradition: A Study in Early Jewish Interpretation,” 158.
45 “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.” (Apoc. Ab. 13:7-8).
46 “May you be the fire brand of the furnace of the earth!” (Apoc. Ab. 14:5).
47 The apocalyptic story thus can be seen as a re-enactment of the two spatial dynamics which are also reflected in the Yom Kippur ritual – the entrance into the upper realm and the exile into the underworld. In this respect Daniel Stökl notes that the Yom Kippur ritual “consisted of two antagonistic movements…centripetal and centrifugal: the entrance of the High Priest into the Holy of Holies and the expulsion of the scapegoat. As the first movement, the holiest person, the High Priest, entered the most sacred place, the Holy of Holies of the Jerusalem Temple, burned incense, sprinkled blood and prayed in order to achieve atonement and purification for his people and the sacred institutions of the Jewish cult. As a second movement, the scapegoat burdened with the sins of the people was sent with an escort to the desert.” Stökl, “The Biblical Yom Kippur, the Jewish Fast of the Day of Atonement and the Church Fathers,” 494.
48 Lev 16:27: “The bull of the sin offering and the goat of the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall be taken outside the camp; their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be consumed in fire.”
49 Milgrom observes, “the blood of the slain goat may have been brought into the adytum in its entirety.” Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16, 1031.
50 It is intriguing that in one of the passages that portray the fiery trials of Abraham in the hands of Nimrod, the patriarch is depicted as being tied as a sacrificial animal and thrown into a furnace. Thus, for example, Eliyahu Rabbah 27 reads: “How did Abraham come in this world to merit a life with no distress, with no inclination to evil – a life, indeed, such as God bestows upon the righteous only in the world-to-come? Because for the sake of Heaven he was willing to give up his life in the fire of the Chaldees….Keep in mind that the household of Abraham’s father, idolaters all, used to make idols and go out to sell them in the marketplace….He [Nimrod] sent men to fetch Abraham and had him appear before him. Nimrod then said to him, ‘Son of Terah, make a beautiful god for me, one which will be uniquely mine.’ So Abraham went back to his father’s house and said, ‘Make a beautiful idol for Nimrod.’ When Terah’s household got the idol finished, they put a cincture around it and painted it a variety of colors. [After Abraham brought the image to Nimrod, he said to him, ‘You are a king, and yet you are so lacking in a king’s wisdom as to worship this thing which my father’s household has just turned out!’] Thereupon Nimrod had Abraham taken out [to be consumed] in a fiery furnace. In tribute to Abraham’s righteousness, however, the day turned cloudy, and presently rain came down so hard that Nimrod’s men could not get the fire started. Next, as Nimrod sat [in his throne room], surrounded by the entire generation that was to be dispersed [for its transgressions], Abraham was brought in and put in their midst. He approached Nimrod and again voiced his contempt of the king’s idol. ‘If not this idol, whom shall I worship?’ Nimrod asked. Abraham replied, ‘The God of gods, the Lord of lords, Him whose kingdom endures in heaven and earth and in uppermost heaven of heavens.’ Nimrod said, ‘Nevertheless I will rather worship the god of fire, for behold, I am going to cast you into the midst of fire – let the god of whom you speak [of?] come and deliver you from fire.’ At once his servants bound Abraham hand and foot and laid him on the ground. Then they piled up wood on all sides of him, [but at some distance away], a pile of wood five hundred cubits long to the west, and a five hundred cubits long to the east. Nimrod’s men then went around and around setting the wood on fire….At once the compassion of the Holy One welled up, and the holiness of His great name came down from the upper heaven of heavens, from the place of His glory, His grandeur, and His beauty and delivered our father Abraham from the taunts and the jeers and from the fiery furnace, as is said, I am the Lord that brought thee out of the fire of the Chaldees (Gen. 15:7).” Tanna Debe Eliyyahu, 62-63.
51 Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 20.
52 Cf. Apoc. Ab. 15:3: “And he carried me up to the edge of the fiery flame…”; Apoc. Ab. 17:1: “And while he was still speaking, behold, a fire was coming toward us round about, and a sound was in the fire like a sound of many waters, like a sound of the sea in its uproar.” Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 22.
53 In this respect it should be noted that the entrance of a visionary into a fire and his fiery transformation represent common apocalyptic motifs found in texts ranging from Daniel 3 to 3 Enoch, where Enoch undergoes the fiery metamorphosis that turns him into the supreme angel Metatron.
54 Paul Kobelski notes that each of these “lots” or “portions” of humanity is “characterized by one of the two spirits allotted by God – the spirit of truth and the spirit of perversity (1QS 3:18-21). Those belonging to the lot of God, of Melchizedek, of light, etc., are characterized by spirit of truth; they are the sons of righteousness whose leader is the Prince of Light (1QS 3:20). Those who belong to the lot of Belial, of darkness, etc., are characterized by the spirit of perversity; they are the sons of perversity whose leader is the Angel of Darkness (1QS 3:20-21).” P.J. Kobelski, Melchizedek and Melchirešac (CBQMS, 10; Washington: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1981) 57.
55 צדק [כי] גורל מל [י] אנש. The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 1206.
56 גורל בליעל אנשי. The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 1132-1133.
57 E.g., Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham. Introduction, texte slave, traduction et notes, 33; Rubinkiewicz, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham en vieux slave. Édition critique du texte, introduction, traduction et commentaire, 54. On the two lots see also Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, “Die Apokalypse Abrahams,” 418.
58 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: Toward the Original of the Apocalypse of Abraham, 20; Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham. Introduction, texte slave, traduction et notes, 66.
59 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: Toward the Original of the Apocalypse of Abraham, 18; Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham. Introduction, texte slave, traduction et notes, 60.
60 The sacerdotal significance of the eschatological lots in the Slavonic apocalypse is underlined by the fact that the Slavonic term жребий, used for the designation of the “lots” of humanity in the Apoc. Ab. 20:5 and Apoc. Ab. 29:21, is also used in Apoc. Ab. 1:2 for designation of the priestly lot that Abraham shares in Terah’s temple. Cf. Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham. Introduction, texte slave, traduction et notes, 36, 82 and 102.
61 Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha: Toward the Original of the Apocalypse of Abraham, 20.
62 Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 25.
63 Cf. 1QM 13:5-6: “For they are the lot of darkness but the lot of God is for [everlast]ing light.” The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition, 135.
64 Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 26-27.
65 Besides mishnaic and talmudic materials, such topological arrangements of the lots on the left and right sides plays a significant role in later Jewish mysticism. Thus, for example, Box noticed that Apoc. Ab.’s distinction between the left and right side is reminiscent of some developments found in the Book of Zohar. He observes that “in the Jewish Kabbalah … ‘right side’ and ‘left side’ … become technical terms. In the emanistic system of the Zohar, the whole world is divided between ‘right’ and ‘left,’ where pure and impure powers respectively operate—on the right side the Holy One and His powers, on the left the serpent Samael and his powers….” Box and Landsman, The Apocalypse of Abraham, xx.
66 Cf. b. Sanhedrin 108b: “He replied. ‘The Holy One, blessed be He, took Abraham and placed him at His right hand, and they [God and Abraham] threw dust which turned to swords, and chaff which turned to arrows, as it is written, A Psalm of David. The Lord said unto my master, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool….’” Epstein, Soncino Hebrew-English Talmud. Sanhedrin 108b.
67 H. Danby, The Mishnah (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992) 166.
68 Epstein, Soncino Hebrew-English Talmud. Yoma 39a.
69 In light of the passage from b. Yoma which talks about the right hand of the high priest in relation to the goat for YHWH, it is also noteworthy that in Apocalypse of Abraham Yahoel, who is portrayed as a high priest, is often depicted as putting his right hand on Abraham. Apoc. Ab. 10:4: “And the angel whom he sent to me in the likeness of a man came, and he took me by my right hand and stood me on my feet.” Apoc. Ab. 15:2: “And the angel took me with his right hand and set me on the right wing of the pigeon….” Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 17 and 22.
70 On Enoch’s priestly roles, see M. Himmelfarb, “The Temple and the Garden of Eden in Ezekiel, the Book of the Watchers, and the Wisdom of Ben Sira,” in: Sacred Places and Profane Spaces: Essays in the Geographics of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (eds. J. Scott and P. Simpson–Housley; New York: Greenwood Press, 1991) 63–78; idem, “Apocalyptic Ascent and the Heavenly Temple,” 210–217. See also: J. Maier, “Das Gefährdungsmotiv bei der Himmelsreise in der jüdischen Apocalyptik und ‘Gnosis,’ ” Kairos 5.1 (1963) 18–40, esp. 23; idem, Vom Kultus zur Gnosis (Kairos, 1; Salzburg: Müller, 1964) 127–128; G.W.E. Nickelsburg, “Enoch, Levi, and Peter: Recipients of Revelation in Upper Galilee,” JBL 100 (1981) 575–600, esp. 576–82.; Orlov, The Enoch-Metatron Tradition, 70-76.
71 On the priestly traditions related to the fallen Watchers, see D. Suter, “Fallen Angel, Fallen Priest: The Problem of Family Purity in 1 Enoch 6–16,” HUCA 50 (1979) 115–135.
72 Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 20.
73 Fletcher-Louis, “The Revelation of the Sacral Son of Man,” 282.
74 Apoc. Ab. 13:9-10: “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.” Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 20.
75 Kulik, Apocalypse of Abraham. Towards the Lost Original, 90.
76 Stökl, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity: The Day of Atonement from Second Temple Judaism to the Fifth Century, 94.
77 Helm, “Azazel in Early Jewish Tradition,” 223.
78 Grabbe, “The Scapegoat Tradition: A Study in Early Jewish Interpretation,” 157.
79 Lev 16:21-22: “Then Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and sending it away into the wilderness by means of someone designated for the task. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a barren region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness.” On the “transference” function see also Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16, 1041.
80 Harlow, “Idolatry and Alterity: Israel and the Nations in the Apocalypse of Abraham,” 314.
81 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.
82 Kulik, Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha, 21.
83 Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham. Introduction, texte slave, traduction et notes, 68.
84 Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham. Introduction, texte slave, traduction et notes, 68.
85 Philonenko-Sayar and Philonenko, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham. Introduction, texte slave, traduction et notes, 68.
86 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.”
87 Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16, 1045.
88 Kulik, Apocalypse of Abraham. Towards the Lost Original, 90.
89 Stökl, The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity: The Day of Atonement from Second Temple Judaism to the Fifth Century, 94.
90 Daniel Harlow notes that “Yahoel teaches Abraham a kind of exorcistic spell to drive Azazel away.” Harlow, “Idolatry and Alterity: Israel and the Nations in the Apocalypse of Abraham,” 315.
91 In this respect Jacob Milgrom reminds us that in the beginning, before becoming an annual festival, Yom Kippur was understood as an “emergency rite” for purgation of the sanctuary. Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16, 1070. James Scullion also observes that “… the purpose of the feast is purgation. The sins of the Israelites, inadvertent and advertent, defile the land and the temple, and even the holy of holies. Leviticus anachronistically projects back into pre-settlement times a feast to purify the tent/temple and camp/city to protect them from the buildup of impurity.” J.P. Scullion, A Traditio-historical Study of the Day of Atonement (Ph.D. diss.; Catholic University of America, 1990) 83.