I am sharing my thoughts on Torah Portion Acharei Mot. This is my 5th year of reading the Torah Portions each Shabbat and I learn something new each time. Every Torah cycle, I use a different translation each Torah cycle. This cycle I am using Shocken Bible. I have to tell you I DO NOT like the commentary part, but I love the language of the Scriptures. I like having a bible to hold (write in and highlight 🙂 ), but if you want to read it online, here is a pdf.
I highly recommend you study Scriptures for yourself. Don’t take anyone’s words (including mine) or commentary as anything other than their opinion. You must know why you believe what you believe. Don’t leave your salvation up to somebody else’s interpretation!
The April 12th Messianic Torah portion was Acharei Mot (in Hebrew it means “after the death”). The reading was Leviticus 16:1 – 18:30.
This was a pretty short Torah portion and I haven’t dug into the whole portion yet… but one thing that really stuck out to me was the Azazel goat, so I really want to focus on this aspect of the Torah Portion. Azazel is many times translated as the scapegoat and this is what it means. But for me, when I think of scapegoat, I think of (e)scapegoat… as in the goat gets away foot loose and fancy free and can be seen frolicking in the tulips in the valley later. Well… I was wrong, dead wrong as a matter of fact. There is controversy over what exactly was the point of the “azazel” in azazel goat. See there is supposedly a mountain, a demon, and a place all called azazel. So, was this goat simply the goat that went to the location azazel, is that why it’s called the azazel goat? Anyway, none of that really is the point … the point is this goat does not walk away … it is either thrown from a cliff (which some Jewish commentaries claim) or it is sent to return to its master (think demon here). But either way it has become the sin of Israel …. so it is certainly not frolicking in the tulips!
Let’s go a little deeper on azazel and then I want to talk about goats! So, azazel (Strongs H5799) actually means: stands in opposition to El. Read Gesenius‘s definition at Blue Letter Bible (it is in the middle of the page at the top… not the short and quick definition at the very top). So, if we really think about this, we have two goats: one is for God and one is not. Hot and cold. Again, we see there is no luke warm (there is not a third goat here). We see this hot / cold, good / evil, light / dark concept over and over again in Scripture. Jacob / Esau is a great example. We are warned about being lukewarm…
Rev 3:16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth!
Now let’s get back to goat for a moment. Let’s look up the meaning here in Leviticus 16:7
Lev 16:7 He must then take the two goats (H8163) and stand them before the LORD at the entrance of the Meeting Tent
I love using Blue Letter Bible, so here is the definition of H8163 … again read Gesenius. the word is actually not goat, but “hairy”. And Gesenius gives us three different definitions for hairy:
- he-goat used for idolatrous worship
This revelation could have lots of meanings! One place in particular really had my mind racing… Esau. Do remember this description of him by Jacob?
Gen 27:11 And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy (H8163) man, and I am a smooth man:
Wow… is there more going on here than just he is “hairy”? Not sure, but in Hebrew we know that names represent the character of whatever it is naming. That would certainly give a vivid picture of Esau wouldn’t it? And speaking of goats and hair… you can do some research on where they are mentioned in the bible here. But I can tell you this deeper understanding sure gives a more vivid image for these verses!
Mat 25:32 All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Mat 25:33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
The only time we have two goats required and one used as the “scapegoat” is at the Day of Atonement / Yom Kippur. And speaking of Yom Kippur … did you catch verses 29-31?
Lev 16:29 Review of the Day of Atonement
“This is to be a perpetual statute for you. In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you must humble yourselves and do no work of any kind, both the native citizen and the foreigner who resides in your midst,
Lev 16:30 for on this day atonement is to be made for you to cleanse you from all your sins; you must be clean before the LORD.
Lev 16:31 It is to be a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you must humble yourselves. It is a perpetual statute.
So this feast is for both the native citizen and the foreigner and it is a “forever” law.
Yet, another reason we keep the Biblical feasts!
Until next time…
I have referenced several resources I used in the above article, but I also wanted to share the others I regularly use! These are resources I recommend to help you study scripture. Some are free and some you have to purchase. All of these I have and use personally!