tn Heb “and Aaron shall give lots on the two he-goats.” See the note on Lev 8:8 for the priestly casting of lots in Israel and the explanation in B. A. Levine, Leviticus (JPSTC), 102, on Lev 16:8–9. J. Milgrom, Leviticus (AB), 1:1019–20, suggests, however, that the expression here signifies that, the lots having been cast, the priest was to literally “place” (Heb “give”) the one marked “for the Lord” on the head of the goat to be sacrificed and the one marked “for Azazel” on the head of the one to be released in the wilderness in order to avoid confusing them later in the ritual sequence.
tn The meaning of the Hebrew term עֲזָאזֵל (’aza’zel, four times in the OT, all of them in this chapter; vv. 8, 10 [2 times], and 26) is much debated. There are three or perhaps four major views (see the summaries and literature cited in J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:1020–21; B. A. Levine, Leviticus [JPSTC], 102; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 237–38; D. P. Wright, The Disposal of Impurity [SBLDS], 21–25; M. V. Van Pelt and W. C. Kaiser, NIDOTTE 3:362–63; and M. S. Moore, NIDOTTE 4:421–22). (1) Some derive the term from a combination of the Hebrew word עֵז (’ez, “goat”; i.e., the word for “goats” in v. 5) and אָזַל (’azal, “to go away”), meaning “the goat that departs” or “scapegoat” (cf., e.g., the LXX and KJV, NASB, NIV, NLT). This meaning suits the ritual practice of sending the so-called “scapegoat” away into the wilderness (vv. 10, 21–22, 26). Similarly, some derive the term from Arabic ’azala (“to banish, remove”), meaning “entire removal” as an abstract concept (see BDB 736 s.v. עֲזָאזֵל). (2) Some see the term as a description of the wilderness area to which the goat was dispatched, deriving it somehow from Arabic ’azazu (“rough ground”) or perhaps עָזָז, (’azaz, “to be strong, fierce”). (3) The most common view among scholars today is that it is the proper name of a particular demon (perhaps even the Devil himself) associated with the wilderness desert regions. Levine has proposed that it may perhaps derive from a reduplication of the ז (zayin) in עֵז combined with אֵל (’el, “mighty”), meaning “mighty goat.” The final consonantal form of עֲזָאזֵל would have resulted from the inversion of the א (aleph) with the second ז. He makes the point that the close association between עֵז and שְׂעִירִים (shé’irim), which seems to refer to “goat-demons” of the desert in Lev 17:7 (cf. Isa 13:21, etc.), should not be ignored in the derivation of Azazel, although the term ultimately became the name of “the demonic ruler of the wilderness.” The latter view is supported by the parallel between the one goat “for (לְ, lamed preposition) the Lord” and the one “for (לְ) Azazel” here in v. 8. The rendering as a proper name has been tentatively accepted here (cf. ASV, NAB, NRSV, TEV, CEV). Perhaps a play on words between the proper name and the term for “goat” has occurred so that the etymology has become obscure. Even if a demon or the demonic realm is the source for the name, however, there is no intention here of appeasing the demons. The goal is to remove the impurity and iniquity from the community in order to avoid offending the Lord and the repercussions of such (see esp. vv. 21–22 and cf. Lev 15:31).