Scapegoat

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This article describes scapegoat in its traditional historical sense. For scapegoat in the more modern social psychological sense of scapegoating see scapegoating.

In modern usage a scapegoat is an individual, group, or country singled out for unmerited negative treatment or blame.[1] A whipping boy or "fall guy" is a form of scapegoat.

Scapegoat (i.e. "escape-goat") derives from the common English translation of the Hebrew term azazel (Hebrew: עזאזל) which occurs in Leviticus 16:8 after the prefix la- (Hebrew לַ "for").

In ancient Greece a cripple or beggar or criminal (the pharmakos) was cast out of the community, either in response to a natural disaster (such as a plague, famine or an invasion) or in response to a calendrical crisis (such as the end of the year). In the Bible, the scapegoat was a goat that was designated (Hebrew לַעֲזָאזֵֽל ) la-aza'zeyl to be outcast in the desert as part of the ceremonies of the Day of Atonement, that began during the Exodus with the original Tabernacle and continued through the times of the temples in Jerusalem.

In psychology and sociology, the practice of selecting someone as a scapegoat has led to the concept of scapegoating.

Contents

Etymology

The verb "to scapegoat" (noun form "scapegoating") is a modern intransitive or transitive coinage from the older transitive verb-noun construction "to make (someone) a scapegoat."

Scapegoat (i.e. "escape-goat") derives from the common English translation of the Hebrew term azazel (Hebrew: עזאזל) which occurs in Leviticus 16:8 after the prefix la- (Hebrew לַ "for"). The lexicographer Gesenius[2] and Brown–Driver–Briggs Hebrew Lexicon[3] give la-azazel (Hebrew: עזאזל) as a reduplicative intensive of the stem azel "remove", hence la-azazel, "for entire removal". This reading is supported by the Jewish Greek Bible translation as "the sender away (of sins)." Later Jewish sources in the Talmud (Yoma 6:4,67b)give the etymology of azazel as a compound of "az", strong or rough, and "el", mighty, that the goat was sent from the most rugged or strongest of mountains.[4]

"And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel.1

Footnote [1] 16:8 The meaning of Azazel is uncertain.ESV

Alternatively, broadly contemporary with the Septuagint, the pseudepigrapical Book of Enoch may preserve Azazel as the name of a fallen angel[5] and from the Targums onwards the term azazel was also seen by some rabbinical commentators as the name of a Hebrew demon, fallen angel, or pagan deity.[6][7] [8] The two readings are still disputed today.[9]

English Bible versions traditionally follow the translation of the Septuagint and Latin Vulgate which interpret azazel as "the goat that departs" (Greek tragos apopompaios, "goat sent out", Latin caper emissarius, "emissary goat"). William Tyndale rendered the Latin as "(e)scape goat" in his 1530 Bible. This translation was followed by following versions up to the King James Version of the Bible in 1611: "And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat."[10] Several modern versions however either follow the reading as a demon, Azazel, or footnote "for Azazel." as an alternative reading.

History

Ancient Syria

A concept superficially similar to the biblical scapegoat is attested in two ritual texts in archives at Ebla of the 24th century BC.[11] They were connected with ritual purification on the occasion of the king's wedding. In them, a she-goat with a silver bracelet hung from her neck was driven forth into the wasteland of "Alini"; "we" in the report of the ritual involves the whole community. Such "elimination rites", in which an animal, without confession of sins, is the vehicle of evils (not sins) that are chased from the community are widely attested in the Ancient Near East.[12]

Ancient Greece

The Ancient Greeks practiced a scapegoating rite in which a cripple or beggar or criminal (the pharmakos) was cast out of the community, either in response to a natural disaster (such as a plague, famine or an invasion) or in response to a calendrical crisis (such as the end of the year). The scholia refer to the pharmakos being killed, but many scholars reject this, and argue that the earliest evidence (the fragments of the iambic satirist Hipponax) only show the pharmakos being stoned, beaten and driven from the community.[13]

The Bible

The scapegoat was a goat that was designated (Hebrew לַעֲזָאזֵֽל ) la-aza'zeyl; either "for absolute removal" (Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon) or possibly "for Azazel" (some modern versions taking the term as a name) and outcast in the desert as part of the ceremonies of the Day of Atonement, that began during the Exodus with the original Tabernacle and continued through the times of the temples in Jerusalem.

Throughout the year the sins of the Israelites were transferred to the daily animal sacrifices by the blood of the sacrifices. On the Day of Atonement, the tabernacle was cleansed and the High Priest of Israel sacrificed the daily lamb, then a bull (Lev 16:6) to cleanse and atone for his personal sins in preparation to offer two subsequent goats for the corporate sins of God's people—Israel. Two goats were chosen by lot: one to be "The Lord's Goat" and offered as the blood sacrifice for the sins of Israel, and the second goat to be the "Azazel" scapegoat to be cast out into the wilderness bearing the sins of God's people. Leviticus 16. At that time the high priest confesses the sins of the Children of Israel to the God of Israel—placing those sins on the head of the Azazel scapegoat. The Azazel is then sent into the desert wilderness, thus, the Children of Israel's sins were "atoned for" (paid for) by the scapegoat sacrifices of "The Lord's Goat" and "The Azazel Goat".

In Christian thought, this process prefigures the final judgment by which mankind's sins are judged forever from the universe. Through the final sacrifice of Jesus Christ "The Lord's Goat" at Calvary, the sins of Christ believers are forgiven (atoned and paid for) per the law of atonement as mandated in Leviticus 16 once and for all. Barabas, the murderer chosen to live is also recognized as the "Azazel Goat" who was subsequently cast out into the wilderness. The fact that "unatoned for sins", sins which are not confessed or surrendered by faith in Christ, are on record in the "Books" of heaven (see Revelation 20:12) clearly indicates, at the final judgment, the responsibility for all unforgiven sins (unrepented of sins through lack of faith in Christ) shall be accredited to the individuals who committed and maintained their sins through unrepentance (non-cessation and unatoned for sins).

Since this goat is sent away to perish,[14] the word "scapegoat" has come to mean a person who is blamed and punished for the sins of others, generally as a way of distracting attention from the real causes. The story of the scapegoat in Leviticus has also been interpreted as a symbolic prefigure of the self-sacrifice of Jesus, who takes the sins of humanity on his own head, having been crucified.

References

  1. ^ "Scapegoating". Out of the FOG. http://www.outofthefog.net/CommonBehaviors/Scapegoating.html. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  2. ^ Gesenius "I have no doubt that it should be rendered 'averter'"
  3. ^ p736
  4. ^ JewishEncyclopedia.com - AZAZEL
  5. ^ Archie T. Wright The origin of evil spirits: the reception of Genesis 6.1-4 Page 111 2005 "However, the corresponding Aramaic fragment of / Enoch 10.4 does not use the name Azazel; instead, the name has been reconstructed by Milik to read Asa'el. Stuckenbruck suggests the presence of the biblical form Azazel in the Ethiopic
  6. ^ Wright, David P. "Azazel." Pages 1:536-37 in Anchor Bible Dictionary. Edited by David Noel Freedman et al. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
  7. ^ The symbolism of the Azazel goat Ralph D. Levy 1998 "This is still fairly straightforward, and is translated by the majority of the versions as "for Azazel" (Targums Onkelos and Pseudo-Jonathan follow this understanding, as do the RSV, NRSV, REB, and Tanakh). KJV and NKJV have "to be the scapegoat"
  8. ^ The JPS guide to Jewish traditions - Page 224 Ronald L. Eisenberg, Jewish Publication Society - 2004 "(Leviticus 16:8–10). In talmudic times, a popular rabbinic interpretation was that Azazel referred to the place to which the goat was sent, the eretz g'zera (inaccessible region) of Leviticus (16:22). Later, Azazel became associated with another.. ."
  9. ^ The JPS Torah Commentary: Leviticus Nahum M. Sarna, Chaim Potok, Jewish Publication Society - 1989 " According to the first, Azazel is the name of the place in the wilderness to which the scapegoat was dispatched; ... According to the second line of interpretation, Azazel describes the goat. The word ' azazel is a contraction
  10. ^ The Merriam-Webster new book of word histories. Merriam-Webster. 1991. p. 411. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/978087779603|978087779603]]. 
  11. ^ Zatelli, Ida (April 1998). "The Origin of the Biblical Scapegoat Ritual: The Evidence of Two Eblaite Text". Vetus Testamentum 48 (2): 254–263. 
  12. ^ David P. Wright, The Disposal of the Impurity: Elimination Rites in the Bible and in Hittite and Mesopotamian Literature (Atlanta: Scholars Press) 1987:15-74.
  13. ^ Frazer, Sir James, The Golden Bough. Worsworth Reference. pp 578. ISBN 1-85326-310-9
  14. ^ The Golden Bough pp569 Sir James Frazer, Worsworth Reference ISBN 1-85326-310-9