Lilith: Yom Kippur

We are now in the midst of the Days of Awe, the ten days between Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). In ancient Israel during this holy time, the sins of the people were transferred to a live goat by the High Priest (Leviticus 16). This scapegoat known as azazel was then sent into the desert to remove the guilt of the Israelites of the past year. Many have thought that the term azazel was actually the name of an Ancient Near Eastern demon. After a careful examination, Blair has determined that the meaning of the name remains unknown. “Despite the various efforts of scholars to prove otherwise, there is no evidence that a mythological figure was behind this term. Azazel’s significance in Lev 16 is its symbolic function” (Blair, p.62).

Another mythological figure, Lilith, has served a similar function as azazel. Like the scapegoat, she has had several millennium’s of fear heaped upon her. Known as Adam’s first wife in Jewish folklore, I have traced her origins back to before the Bible. Her story is fascinating and enlightening about what role the scapegoat plays in our own psyches.

Soon the yearly cycle of reading the first five books of the Bible will begin again with the story of Adam and Eve in the garden. In preparation for the new beginning, let’s explore what might have proceeded the creation story. Read more…

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