In Leviticus 16.8-10, there is a reference to Azazel (עֲזָאזֵל):
חוְנָתַן אַהֲרֹן עַל שְׁנֵי הַשְּׂעִירִם גֹּרָלוֹת גּוֹרָל אֶחָד לַיהֹוָה וְגוֹרָל אֶחָד לַעֲזָאזֵל:
טוְהִקְרִיב אַהֲרֹן אֶת הַשָּׂעִיר אֲשֶׁר עָלָה עָלָיו הַגּוֹרָל לַיהוָֹה וְעָשָׂהוּ חַטָּאת:
יוְהַשָּׂעִיר אֲשֶׁר עָלָה עָלָיו הַגּוֹרָל לַעֲזָאזֵל יָעֳמַד חַי לִפְנֵי יְהוָֹה לְכַפֵּר עָלָיו לְשַׁלַּח אֹתוֹ לַעֲזָאזֵל הַמִּדְבָּרָה:
And Aaron shall place lots upon the two he goats: one lot "For the Lord," and the other lot, "For Azazel."
And Aaron shall bring the he goat upon which the lot, "For the Lord," came up, and designate it as a sin offering.
And the he goat upon which the lot "For Azazel" came up, shall be placed while still alive, before the Lord, to [initiate] atonement upon it, and to send it away to Azazel, into the desert.
It would be extraordinarily unusual for Aaron to be sacrificing a goat to a separate entity. Arguably the most important prayer in Judaism is the Shema, "Hear oh Israel, the Lord is G-d, the Lord is One!"
- So, then, who or what is Azazel? Is Azazel a deity or a concept (as discussed under Wikipedia: Scapegoat)?
- If the former, why would Aaron be sacrificing to a second entity?
- If the latter, what did the ceremony actually mean?