Did Jesus Teach That Extraordinary Old Testament Events Were Literal, Historical Accounts?

The Bible contains several different types of literature- historical narrative, poetry and songs, wisdom (proverbs), letters (epistles), prophecy, apocalyptic, etc. Dr. Terry Mortenson notes that “the correct conclusion on genre of literature is foundational to the question of the correct interpretation.”

A disturbing, yet increasingly popular trend in Christianity today is to categorize many of the extraordinary events detailed in the Old Testament as allegory or symbolic literature. Unfortunately this includes some extremely popular and well-respected Christian scholars, apologists, philosophers, and pastors. These Christians are embarrassed to express belief in the miraculous Creation account, the existence of a literal Adam and Eve from which all of humanity is descended and through which (in the case of Adam) sin entered the world, a global flood survived by only 8 people and the animals that they loaded into a massive ark, a man spending 3 days in the belly of a fish until he was spit out onto land, and many, many more. The preference of re-categorizing historical narrative is largely due to the fact that modern science claims to have proven the biblical creation account, the origin of humanity, and the global flood to be demonstrably false.

To believe these Biblical accounts as literal history opens the door to ridicule. Christians who advocate for an allegorical or symbolic interpretation of selected, difficult to embrace, Old Testament events claim that one can do so without damaging the historicity of the Bible as a whole or the reliability of the Gospel message. But is this the case?

We could (and creation scientists do) effectively challenge the secular scientific explanations for the origin of the universe (the Big Bang) and humanity (evolution), and the flood- but the questions I’d like to pose today are: How did Jesus treat these extraordinary Old Testament events- as literal history or allegory; and is allegorical interpretation of these events harmful?

What do Jesus’ references say about how He viewed the Old Testament events in question?

Mike Matthews writes, “The debate about the Bible’s accuracy is not a secondary, theoretical concern. The integrity of Jesus Christ Himself is at stake. He accepted the Old Testament’s historical accounts as real, and He built His teachings on those facts of history.”

In both Mark 10:6-9 and Matthew 19:4-5, the authors record Jesus’ affirmation of the Genesis creation account as well as the Biblical origin of humanity when He answered a question posed to Him by a group of Pharisees. In the first passage, “6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made the male and female.‘; and in the second, “4 He answered, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female”. (emphasis mine)

Matthew 23:35 and Luke 11:51 each record Jesus’ recognition of Abel (Adam and Eve’s son) as a literal, historical person.

Jesus confirms the historicity of a literal global flood, ark, and the literal existence of Noah in Matthew 24:37-39 and Luke 17:26. The first passage reads, “37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” The latter reads, “26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.” (emphasis mine)


Jesus affirms the historicity of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by divine judgment, the literal existence of Lot and his wife, as well as the extraordinary account of the demise of Lot’s wife in Luke 28:28-30, 32-33: “28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot– they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all- 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed… “Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” (emphasis mine)

Mark records Jesus’ affirmation of the historicity of God speaking to Moses from a burning bush when He refers to this event while answering the Sadducees question regarding resurrection. Mark 12:26 reads, “26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?” (emphasis mine)

In John chapter 6, John records the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish after which Jesus and His disciples left and went across the sea to Capernaum. The following day, the people went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. In the exchange that follows, both the crowd and Jesus refer to the manna that God rained down on the Israelites in the wilderness as literal history. John 6:30-34, “30 So they said to Him, ‘Then what sign do You do, that we may see and believe You? What work do You perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.‘” 32 Jesus then said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ 34 They said to Him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’” (emphasis mine)

In Matthew 12:39-41, Jesus confirms the historicity of the Old Testament story of Jonah and the fish, and that Jonah literally preached in the city of Nineveh resulting in the repentance of the people, when He addresses the scribes and Pharisees who ask Him to give them a sign. The passage reads, “39 But He answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” (emphasis mine)

Perhaps Jesus’ most indicative statements regarding the historicity of the miraculous Old Testament events recorded by Moses and which He Himself referenced comes in John 3:12 and John 5:46-47. The first reads, “12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things.” The latter reads, “46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Does Allegorical Interpretation of Key Old Testament Passages Harm the Overall Historicity of the Bible As Well As the Gospel Message?

A literal or allegorical interpretation of Old Testament Scripture have no bearing on an individual’s salvation (and I’ve never heard anyone claim that it does). However, allegorically interpreting Old Testament events is extremely damaging to the argument that the many extraordinary events of the New Testament are literal and historical. David Platt follows this interpretation to its logical conclusion in his series Scripture and Authority in an Age of Skepticism, “If historical details and scientific facts in the Old Testament are untrue, then the teachings of Jesus and the writers of the New Testament are untrustworthy…If controversial stories in the Bible are untrue, then spiritual, redemptive assertions in the Bible are untrustworthy.”

A real life example of this is illustrated in a question that an individual describing himself as “a non religious theist” wrote to renowned Christian philosopher William Lane Craig, of Reasonable Faith.

This individual states that numerous fantastical Old Testament events which are recorded as history (creation of the world and man, Noah’s ark and flood, references to giants, etc) prevent him from accepting Christianity. Regarding an allegorical explanation of these passages he correctly ascertains, “These accounts incorporate very specific language and do not seem to lend themselves to figurative interpretation.” He then follows that argument along its logical and troubling track, “…if I concede that the book of Genesis as a whole (or a significant portion thereof) is not true, then that leaves me with the awkward fact that Jesus Christ- the deity to whom I would owe my allegiance- on more than one occasion affirmed these errors as truths.” This leads to the only logical (yet devastating) conclusion, “The only way it seems to me one can resolve this problem is by saying Christ affirmed these truths in a ‘metaphorical sense,’ but I find this justification unsatisfying, mainly because the reasonable interpretation of Jesus’ words is that he really did believe these events were literally true. If you say that the gospel writers misquoted Jesus on all of these counts, then that raises the question of what else they may have got wrong. Needless to say, that strikes right at the heart of the Bible as a whole.”

And just like that, the authority of the entire Bible is undermined and the Gospel message rendered an utterly empty promise.

The response of William Lane Craig, a giant on the front lines of Christian apologetics and philosophy, can only be described as distressing, grievous, and ultimately disappointing. He opens by stating, “When people ask me what unanswered questions I still have, I tell them, ‘I don’t know what to do with these Old Testament stories about Noah and the ark, the Tower of Babel, and so on,’ So I find myself in the same boat as you, Jon.” Despite this admission, he boldly claims that the “central truths of a Christian worldview” do not “stand or fall with such questions.”

While falling short of explicitly advocating the view that troublesome Old Testament “stories” shouldn’t be interpreted literally, Craig offers the following alternative “Christological implications”:

“Your claim is that since Jesus evidently believed in the historicity of these stories, then if we allow that these narratives are not historical, we allow that Christ has erred. […] Now that’s a really good question that theologians need to explore! Did Jesus hold false beliefs in his human consciousness? […] Did God stoop so low in condescending to become a man that he took on such cognitive limitations that Jesus shared false beliefs typically held by other ordinary first century Jews? Since I have good reason to believe in his deity…I would sooner admit that Jesus could hold false beliefs (that ultimately don’t matter) rather than deny his divinity.”

One stands in sheer dumbfounded amazement at even the suggestion of the idea that an apparently fallible, non-omniscient Jesus could be deluded in His understanding of Old Testament history, yet considered an unquestionable authority on all things New Testament including prophetic insight.

Craig’s easy to overlook parenthetical assertion that the historicity of these Old Testament events “ultimately don’t matter” may be attributable to his second argument, which is that Jesus’ assertions in Luke 17:26-27 (reference to Noah and the flood) and Matthew 12:39-41 (reference to Jonah and the fish) are “compatible with citing a story to make one’s point.” As corroboration of this theory, Craig ineffectively uses the following two examples:

  1. “For example, Jude 9 mentions an incident in The Assumption of Moses, an apocryphal work which was never part of the Jewish canon of Scripture. 1 Timothy 3:8 makes a comparison to a couple of characters named in Jewish targums, Dead Sea scrolls, and rabbinic traditions, which were similarly never part of the Jewish canon. Such comparisons do not commit the authors to the historicity of the characters or events.”

Craig’s conclusion that the citation of information from extra-biblical, non-canonical sources, used within the canon of Scripture, doesn’t ascribe historicity of the characters or events is faulty logic. The more rational assumption would be that nuggets of truth as well as actual historical people and events can be found in sources that are not wholly reliable or divinely inspired. The portions cited in the canon are true, the remainder of the information in these works may not be.

  1. “We may have something similar in Romans 5.7, where Paul says, ‘Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person- though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.’ Simon Gathercole, a fine New Testament scholar, points out that Paul is appealing to a common motif in Greco-Roman culture of someone’s stepping forward to die in the place of another. The most famous example in antiquity was Alcestis in Euripides’ play by that name, who volunteered to die in the place of her husband King Admetus. Alcestis was celebrated for centuries, and her name is to be found even in epitaphs on Christian graves. Gathercole thinks that in Romans 5.7 Paul may actually be thinking of Alcestis. He says, in effect, ‘Alcestis was willing to die for her beloved husband, but Christ died for his enemies.’ So saying would not commit Paul to the historicity of this purely literary figure.”

This in an embarrassingly inadequate argument indeed. First, it is complete speculation as to whether or not Paul was referencing this play in any way in his Romans 5.7 statement. Second, even if he had this reference in his mind, he did not literally use the statement “Alcestis was willing to die for her beloved husband, but Christ died for his enemies,” which is what would be required for this comparison to be applicable to Christ using allegory to support His teachings.

Dr. Terry Mortenson points out a more accurate comparison of what the practical implications of Craig’s theory would be if indeed Jesus was using fictional stories to impart knowledge and assurance of literally occurring events in the impending future, “No one would believe in the Second Coming of Christ if the promise of it (as recorded in Matthew 24:37-39) was given as, ‘Just as Santa Claus comes from the North Pole in his sleigh pulled by reindeer on Christmas Eve and puts presents for the whole family under the Christmas tree in each home, so Jesus is coming again as the Kings of kings and the Lord of lords.’ In fact, the analogy would convince people that the Second Coming is a myth.” Indeed, this is the logical conclusion that Jon (the non-religious theist) comes to in his question to Craig.

A final theory posited by some Christians is that Jesus was merely accommodating the erroneous beliefs held by the people in His day. Mortenson supplies a four fold refutation of this assertion, “First, Jesus was the truth (John 14:6), and therefore He always spoke truth. No deceitful or misleading words ever came from His mouth (1 Peter 2:22). Even his enemies said, ‘Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth” (Mark 12:14; NASB). Second, Jesus taught with authority on the basis of God’s word, which He called ‘truth’ (John 17:17), not as the scribes and Pharisees taught based on their traditions (Matthew 7:28-29). Third, Jesus repeatedly and boldly confronted all kinds of wrong thinking and behavior in his listeners’ lives in spite of the threat of persecution for doing so (Matthew 22:29; John 2:15-16, 3:10, 4:3-4, 9; Mark 7:9-13). And finally, Jesus emphasized the foundational importance of believing what Moses wrote in a straightforward way (John 5:45, Luke 16:31, 24:25-27, 24:44-45; John 3:12, Matthew 17:5).”


In an effort to win Bible skeptics over to Christianity, to make the Bible more palatable, and to avoid the ridicule of those who equate the Bible with a book of fables, Craig, like so many others, has offered explanations which compromise Scripture in order to conform to more realistic expectations. These individuals illogically assert that compromising extraordinary Old Testament events in no way hinders the equally extraordinary events of the New Testament such as the virgin birth, the numerous miracles that Christ performed, or His death and resurrection.

Craig posits, “It wouldn’t follow from the non-historicity of certain Old Testament narratives that God’s ‘repository for truth is in effect fundamentally tainted and therefore can’t be trusted.’” Yet, that is exactly what logically follows if extraordinary Old Testament events, which Jesus, the apostles, and other authors of the Bible refer to as literal events are not, in fact, literal history. Craig’s questioner reveals the heart of the conundrum when he asks what reference he is left with to discern what aspects of his faith are true, “Am I to be left with only the voice of conscience? If so, this does not seem to be a position too different than the one I am in now.” Craig’s answer is a non-answer, “The great literature of the world shows us that works which are non-historical, like the plays of Shakespeare or the novels of Dostoyevsky or the fables of Aesop, have important truths to teach us. […] Just use good principles of biblical interpretation and follow the evidence where it leads, while retaining an attitude of humility.”

Though Craig stops short of denying Biblical inerrancy himself, he certainly fails to champion it. The Bible is not simply a piece of “great literature” from which we can glean “important truths” amid fantastical tales. In fact, Proverbs 3:5 specifically instructs us not to, “lean on our own understanding,” which is exactly what one is left to do if the historicity of Old Testament events depends on what seems plausible by today’s standards. The inescapable truth is that if large swathes of the Old Testament are indeed allegory, it is impossible to distinguish where the allegory ends and the literal history begins. The damage to Bible history is extensive and it undermines the words of Jesus, the apostles, and the Gospel. We, as Christians, should have the fortitude to stand for the historicity of the Old Testament, just as Jesus did.

Who, What, or Where is the “Azazel” of Leviticus 16?

There is much debate over what exactly the word “Azazel” refers to in chapter 16 of Leviticus. In order to understand the various interpretations we must first understand the context in which the word is used.

The subject of Leviticus 16 is the Day of Atonement which was one of the most (if not THE most) important days of the year for the Israelites. It took place on the 10th day of the 7th month (Jews today observe it as Yom Kippur) and was the day when the sins of the Israelite community as a whole were atoned for. Only the high priest (Aaron) could officiate because only he could represent all of the Israelites, including the other priests. First, Aaron had to present a bull as a sin offering for himself and his household to make atonement for himself. Then, Aaron was to take 2 male goats as a sin offering and one ram as a burnt offering in order to make atonement for the Israelite community as a whole. Dr. Charles Feinberg, writing for Dallas Theological Seminary, notes that Delitzsch (of Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament) aptly refers to the Day of Atonement as “the Good Friday of the Old Testament.”

The verses describing the two goats for the sin offering are the source of the debate. Leviticus 16:7-10:

7 Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel. 9 And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord and use it as a sin offering, 10 but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.

After casting lots, Aaron slaughtered the goat which had been designated “for the Lord,” and followed the same purification ritual that he had just performed with the bull (for himself) using the goat (this time for all of the Israelites). (verses 15-19) Next, Aaron lay his hands on the head of the live goat and confessed all of Israel’s sins. These sins were, in effect, transferred to the goat. At this point, a man who had been chosen for the task, led this goat outside of the Israelite camp, then into the wilderness, and released it (verses 20-22). Aaron then burned the fat of the sin offering on the altar (verses 23-25).

One’s interpretation of these events depends on two things: 1) the meaning of the word “Azazel”; and 2) the purpose of the two goats in the ceremony. While the first is up for debate (as we will see), the second can be clearly ascertained from Scripture.


Scholars readily admit that the meaning of this word is highly debatable due to the fact that it is so obscure. In fact, Feinburg notes, “the name occurs nowhere else in Hebrew.” The only three verses in the Bible in which the word is found are here in chapter 16 of Leviticus (verses 8, 10, and 26). Feinburg quotes the Numerical Bible, “Azazel is a mere adoption of the Hebrew word, as to the meaning and application of which there have been so many different thoughts, that some are content to leave it as an insoluble enigma.”

This is why it is translated differently in our various Bible versions. For example, here’s a sampling of the renderings for verse 8:

KJV: And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat.

NKJV: Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat.

RSV: and Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, one for the Lord and the other lot for Aza’zel.

NIV: He is to cast lots for the two goats- one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat.

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

Young’s Literal Translation: ‘And Aaron hath given lots over the two goats, one lot for Jehovah, and one lot for a goat of departure

Why is Azazel translated as scapegoat? Strong’s Concordance 5799 defines “azazel” as “scapegoat.” The NAS Exhaustive Concordance lists the following information: word origin- from an unused word; definition- entire removal.

Feinberg notes, “The word ‘Azazel’ has been variously interpreted. […] It has been explained, as a place, a thing, a person, and an abstraction.” We’ll look at each.

A Place

The Jewish Virtual Library notes that there has been debate over the meaning of the word “Azazel” since Talmudic times. Bible Study Tools defines the Talmud as, “a large collection of writings, containing a full account of the civil and religious laws of the Jews.” The oral traditions recorded in the Talmud predate Jesus’ incarnation. Some held that “Azazel” referred to a place. JVL explains, “the word Azazel is a parallel to “a land which is cut off” (Lev. 16:22), meaning (according to the rabbinic interpretation) an area of rocks and cliffs, i.e., inaccessible. The word Azazel is also interpreted as meaning strong and hard as though it were written עזז אל, namely, hardest of the mountains (Yoma 63b; cf. Sifra Aḥarei Mot 2:8; Targum Jonathan to Lev. 16:10). It does appear, however, that this is an attempt to reconcile the meaning of the word Azazel with the actual usage in the time of the Second Temple, namely to bring the goat to a cliff and to push it over. The interpretation does not quite fit the written form of the word עזאזל.” (emphasis mine)

Notice this article from JVL alludes that rabbinic tradition had “added to” the original Leviticus 16 instructions for the ceremony. Specifically, instead of releasing the live goat in the wilderness, the Jews had added the tradition that the man leading the goat into the wilderness would bring the live goat to a rocky cliff and (leading it backwards) push it off the cliff to its certain death. (This tradition is described in the Mishnah.Yoma) Sir Walter Besant explains the introduction of this custom in his Twenty- One Years’ Work in the Holy Land, “The reason of this barbarous custom was that on one occasion the scapegoat returned to Jerusalem after being set free, which was considered such an evil omen that its recurrence was prevented for the future by the death of the goat, as is described in the tract of Yoma of the Mishna.” Remember, the live goat represented the removal of all of Israel’s sins- an integral part of the atonement ceremony. It’s easy to see how the Israelites could construe the return of the goat bearing all of their sins as a “bad omen.”

On the “place” interpretation Feinberg writes, “A solitary place in the desert or a distinct locality in the wilderness has been suggested, but this interpretation is not tenable, because constant change in campings was surely taken into considerations when the regulations of Leviticus 16 were given.” While a specific cliff is named for the 2nd temple period, Feinburg’s comment notes that such a designated place wouldn’t have been feasible for the Israelites when the ritual was first commanded due to their nomadic lifestyle. This fact is certainly damaging for the interpretation that “Azazel” was the proper name of a place.

A Thing

Some argue that Azazel refers to the live goat. The logic behind this interpretation is that the phrasing “one lot for the Lord” and “the other for Azazel” does not refer to who the goat is for, but what the goat is to be used for. Feinberg quotes Bonar (a proponent of this view) in his explanation, “The proper sense is designation for use, viz., the one for the purpose of being killed at the Lord’s altar; the other the purpose of being sent away into the wilderness.” However, Ginsburg illustrates the impossibility of this identity based on the fact that it would render the mention of “Azazel” in the subsequent verses nonsensical. If “Azazel” refers to the live goat, verse 10 would read: “but the goat chosen by lot for the scapegoat”; and verse 26: “the man who released the goat for the scapegoat”.

A Person

While this interpretation is popular, it has (in my opinion) the most serious problems. The following are some common “people” to whom the identity of “Azazel” is ascribed: Satan, a desert demon, the leader of the fallen angels who desired the daughters of men in Genesis 6:1-5, or simply the personification of wickedness. Bonar explains the underlying logic for this identification, “If the clause ‘the one lot for the Lord,’ intimate that the goat is appropriated to a person, so should the next clause, ‘the other lot for…Azazel,’ also signify appropriation to a person.” While based on a very logical assumption, this view lacks Scriptural support. Advocates must rely on sources outside the Bible as corroboration. Feinberg notes that several lexicons define “Azazel” as the name of an evil spirit, as do some Apocryphal and Pseudographical works (namely the Book of Enoch I and Apocalypse of Abraham), as well as Arabian mythology.

While there is no Scriptural basis for this identity, proponents of this view see parallel symbolism in the goat for “Azazel” and the fate of the demons in Revelation. For example, literature from one sect espousing this view cites Revelation 20:1-3 in which an angel seals Satan into the bottomless pit for a period of a thousand years and compares this isolation from mankind to the fate of the live goat in verse 21 of Leviticus, which after having all of Israel’s sins transferred to it, is led away into the wilderness and thus isolated from them. The same sect cites Psalm 7:11 in corroboration for this view, “Psalm 7:11 states: ‘God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.’ Doesn’t it make sense that a just and fair God would ultimately put the sins of the world on the one who introduced sin into the present world in the Garden of Eden?” This particular view is theologically problematic in ways that we’ll discuss below.

Besides being wholly rooted in extra-biblical works that are not considered Divinely inspired, the “person” interpretation has some serious theological issues. First, it overlooks a very important fact from verse 5: “He is to take from the Israelite community two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering.” (emphasis mine) As Feinberg states, “the two goats together constituted one sin offering. […] the goat can have nothing whatever to do with Satan, for the Scriptures state clearly that the live goat, equally with the sacrificial goat, was a sin offering to the Lord. The first goat set forth the means of reconciliation with God, whereas the second goat represented the effect of the sacrifice in removing the sin from the presence of the holy God, thus illustrating Psalm 103:12 and Micah 7:19 in a striking manner.”

Feinberg further cites Meyrick in his list of objections to the view that “Azazel” is an evil spirit: “1) The name azazel is nowhere else mentioned. This could not be, if he were so important a being as to divide with Jehovah the sin offering of the congregation of Israel on the great Day of Atonment. 2) No suitable etymology can be discerned. The nearest approach to it is very forced- ‘the separated one.’ 3) The notion of appeasing, or bribing, or mocking the evil spirit by presenting him a goat, is altogether alien from the spirit of the rest of the Mosaic institutions. Where else is there anything like it? 4) The goat is presented and offered to Jehovah equally with the goat which is slain. To take that which has been offered (and therefore half sacrificed) to God and give it to Satan, would be a daring impiety, which is inconceivable.”

Robert Sanders notes the following extremely troubling issues with this interpretation, “If…the scapegoat is a figure of Satan then we are faced with a lot of problems.”:

  1. “How can the high priest confess his sins and the sins of Israel over Satan?” (verse 21)
  1. “Remember the scapegoat is for atonement for Israel to God. (verse 34) Can God’s people make atonement with Satan?
  1. “By placing the sins of Israel on the scapegoat does this mean that Satan is now carrying their confessed sins and will be punished for them?”
    • On Satan being punished for our sin Sanders writes, “The Devil will be destroyed because he deceived the world. Satan will be judged on the sins he committed and not for the sins the people committed whom he deceived. If somehow I convinced you to sin or deceived you into committing a sin, I would be held accountable for deceiving you. But you would be accountable for committing the sin. It is the same for Satan, when he deceived our first parents to sin in Eden. Adam and Eve were responsible for their own sin of not believing God which was a lack of faith. Not for Satan for deceiving them. Every sin a person commits they will have to give an account. The confessed sins of the repentant sinners are removed by faith in our Savior.”

An Abstraction

The last interpretation is that “Azazel” refers to an abstract idea. The Brown-Driver-Briggs English and Hebrew Lexicon defines it as, “noun [masculine] entire removal (reduplicated intenstive); Leviticus 16:8, 10 (twice in verse), Leviticus 16:26 in ritual of Day of Atonement, = entire removal of sin and guilt from sacred places into desert on back of goat, symbol of entire forgiveness.” Feinberg notes, “To regard this word as signifying dismissal or removal (as in the ASV and ERV margins) would preserve the concept of the escape goat, although it would avoid the pitfall of equating Azazel with the live goat which is not possible, as we have already seen above.”

A short discussion of the etymology (study of the origin of words and how their meanings have changed throughout history) of the word reveals that this interpretation flows beautifully with the role of the live goat in the Atonement ritual. Feinberg explains, “Azazel is a word softened (according to a not unusual custom) from azalzel, just as kokav is a softened form of kav-kav, and as Babel is derived from Balbel (Gen. xi. 9). Azalzel is an active participle or participial noun, derived ultimately from azal (connected with the Arabic word azala, and meaning removed), but immediately from the reduplicate form of that verb, azazal. The reduplication of the consonants of the root in Hebrew and Arabic gives the force of repetition, so that while azal means removed, azalzal means removed by a repetition of acts. Azalzel, or azazel, therefore, means one who removes by a series of acts…”

While the etymology discussion is a bit technical, Feinberg cites a quote from Sir W. Martin in his Semitic Languages that clears all confusion, “It properly denotes one that removes or separates; yet a remover in such a sort that the removal is not effected by a single act or at one moment, but by a series of minor acts tending to and issuing in a complete removal. No word could better express the movement of the goat before the eyes of the people, as it passed on, removing at each step, in a visible symbol, their sins further and further from them, until, by continued repetition of the movement, they were carried far away and removed utterly.”

Feinberg concludes by illustrating the New Testament reality which the Atonement ritual was a shadow of, “Both goats were a sin offering to the Lord; one was sacrificed, whereas the other was sent off into the wilderness to convey visibly and strikingly the truth of complete removal and dismissal. […] That which was symbolized by both goats pointed to the finished work of Christ on Calvary.”


As we have noted in our discussion above, verse 5 makes abundantly clear (with no room for argument) that both of the male goats were to serve as a single sin offering. Is there another “two for one” example in the sacrificial system? Yes, there is. Leviticus 14 details the cleansing ritual for an individual with leprosy and for cleansing mildew (or leprosy) contaminated houses. In this ritual, the priest takes two birds along with some other items, slaughters one bird, dips the live bird and the additional items into the blood of the slaughtered bird, sprinkles blood on the person to be cleansed, then pronounces the person clean and releases the live bird in the countryside. The exact same ritual applies to a contaminated house. David Grabbe notes, “In considering the lesser ritual, nothing suggests that the two birds are somehow opposites or represent opposing personalities. Instead, the birds are two essentially equal elements, each chosen to serve a different role to accomplish a single purpose.

Hebrews 10:1-18 makes clear the symbolism of the Day of Atonement ritual- it was a shadow pointing to the work of Jesus on the cross. S.H. Kellogg brings the ritual full circle, “If every sacrifice pointed to Christ, this most luminously of all. What the fifty-third of Isaiah is to his Messianic prophecies, that, we may truly say, is the sixteenth of Leviticus to the whole system of Mosaic types,– the most consummate flower of the Messianic symbolism. All the sin-offerings pointed to Christ, the great High Priest and Victim of the future; but this…with a distinctness found in no other.”

Christ embodies each aspect of the Day of Atonement:

He is our High Priest who has been tested in every way that we are, yet is without sin (Hebrews 4:15) This is in direct comparison to Aaron, who had to make a sin offering for himself (the bull of Leviticus 16) before making one for the Israelites (Hebrews 5:1-10). He is “the lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) as a sacrifice for our sins and He is our scapegoat. (Isaiah 38:17, 43:25; Micah 7:19; Psalm 103:12) The single sin offering of two goats had two aspects: 1) the sacrifice for the payment of sin (propitiation); and 2) the complete removal of sin (expiation). Jesus Christ is both- John 1:29: “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”

While there are multiple speculations on the specific meaning of the obscure word “Azazel,” Scripture makes clear that BOTH goats were “a sin-offering.” Feinberg writes, “…the live goat was as much dedicated or set apart to the Lord as the sacrificial goat. No interpretation of the facts relative to the second goat dares to overlook that it is meant for the use of the Lord.” The two goats perfectly foreshadow the two aspects of Christ’s atoning work on the cross: 1) the payment for sin (this lot fell to the goat for sacrifice); and 2) the entire removal of sin (this lot fell to the goat to be removed). While extra-biblical sources can be good for historical understanding (and have indeed historically been utilized for that purpose), they should never be relied upon as the sole basis for interpretation of Scripture. Particularly when the interpretation derived (as in the case of Azazel identified in Leviticus 16 as Satan or a demon) does theological violence to the context of the Scripture in question.

8 Things Your Doctor Didn’t Tell You About the Flu Shot

It’s that time of year. We’re smack dab in the midst of flu pandemonium. Flu shot propaganda is FULL force. Instead of going over all the glowing accolades heaped upon the flu vaccine, I’m going to cut right to the chase and tell you what you NEED to know about it in order to make an informed decision regarding whether or not it’s a good choice for you and your family. Information that, unfortunately, fails to get disclosed to the public.

  1. The flu vaccine is essentially a brand new, experimental vaccine each and every year.Dr. Mark Geier is very pro-vaccine. He is well respected, has worked with the FDA, and most notably was a member of the 4 person team that replaced the unsafe DTP vaccine with the somewhat safer version that we have today (DtaP). Yet, even Dr. Geier can’t get behind the flu vaccine. He explains in the video below that, by law, vaccines must have two double blind field trials in order to show efficacy and long term safety. However, the flu vaccine is reformulated each and every year in order to anticipate the flu strains that will be prevalent in a given season. Geier points out that it is impossible to test for efficacy (how can you test a strain that hasn’t come yet?) or long term safety (manufacturers have approximately 2 weeks to test safety) when rushing a vaccine to market each year. Geier notes that, by law, vaccines that have not (or in the case of the flu shot) cannot be adequately safety tested, must be disclosed to the public as “experimental.” This is not happening.

  1. The flu vaccine still contains mercury (thimerosol).Most everyone remembers the big uproar about mercury in vaccines. While some people maintain that mercury in vaccines is not a problem, I’ll list a few statistics from the National Vaccine Information Center:
    • .5 ppb (parts per billion) mercury = kills human neuroblastoma cells (Parran et al., Toxicol Sci 2005; 86:132-140).
    • 2 ppb mercury = US EPA limit for drinking water
    • 20 ppb mercury = Neurite membrane structure destroyed (Leong et al., Neuroreport 2001; 12:733-37)
    • 200 ppb = level in liquid the EPA classifies as hazardous waste
    • 50,000 ppb mercury = current “preservative” level mercury in multi- dose flu (94% of supply), meningococcal and tetanus (7 and older) vaccines. This can be confirmed by simply analyzing the multi-dose vials.Vaccine manufacturers began removing mercury in vaccines in 2000. Single dose flu vaccines are advertised as “mercury free,” however it should be noted that they still contain “trace amounts” of mercury. Other than that, they are completely identical to the multi-dose vials. They are NOT “free of harmful ingredients” as I have heard some individuals (even nurses) erroneously claim.
  1. The flu vaccine is rarely over 50% effective any given year. This year (2017-18 season) it is particularly poor-performing- estimated at only 10% effective.

Here’s a CDC graph of flu vaccine efficacy over the years. First, I love how this graph is even a little visually deceptive since the top attainable effectiveness percentage is only 70% rather than 100% (which most people just taking a glance at the graph would assume). Other than that, note that the flu shot has failed to surpass the odds of a coin flip in 9 out of 13 years. Three of those years it failed to surpass 21% efficacy. Based on this year’s abysmal efficacy in Australia, the efficacy in the US this year is estimated to be a whopping 10%. Stated another way- 90% of individuals who receive the flu shot, will receive no protection against the flu.

  1. The flu shot can have some very serious side effects, which are almost NEVER mentioned.While the benefits of the flu shot are touted ad nauseam, the risks are seldom deemed worth mentioning. A quick look at the flu vaccine pkg insert is quite eye opening. Please note: the screenshots below are for the Fluarix Quadrivalent vaccine:

Notice first, the immediate mention of Guillain Barre Syndrome under the title “Warnings and Precautions.” The CDC defines Guillain Barre Syndrome as, “a rare disorder in which a person’s own immune system damages their nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. GBS can cause symptoms that usually last for a few weeks. Most people recover fully from GBS, but some people have long-term nerve damage. In very rare cases, people have died of GBS, usually from difficulty breathing.”

While admitting that the 1976 flu vaccine caused an 8 fold increased risk of GBS (cause yet undetermined), the CDC claims that subsequent flu shots have not been adequately causatively related to GBS.

While, the CDC uses the word “rare” frequently in their discussion of GBS, this doesn’t seem to reflect real world experience. Just this week, in my hometown, a healthy 19 year old contracted GBS most likely due to a flu vaccine. The screenshots of the Facebook post are below- names are blacked out for privacy.

In the comments below this woman’s post, I have counted no less than 7 individuals stating that they either knew someone or had themselves contracted GBS from the flu shot. (Not my definition of rare.) This is not surprising at all, since by the CDC’s own admission, the VAERS system that they rely on to track vaccine adverse events is inefficient in collecting this data. According to my research for a separate article on the inadequacy of the VAERS system in tracking adverse vaccine events, the VAERS system is estimated to underreport vaccine injury by a whopping 90%. Let that sink in a moment.

Now direct your attention at the list of side effects from the flu vaccine: malaise, drowsiness, appetite loss, myalgia, vomiting, and fever. Basically, the side effects of the flu shot, are feeling as if you have… the flu…

Note all of the serious conditions listed under the “Postmarketing Experience” heading:

I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to believe I’d be better off taking my chances with the flu!

Finally (and arguably most disturbing):

Even though the CDC recommends the flu vaccine to pregnant mothers and the flu vaccine is heavily marketed toward them: “There are insufficient data on Fluarix Quadrivalent in pregnant women to inform vaccine- associated risks.” Restated- they cannot tell you that the flu vaccine is safe for a pregnant woman or her unborn child because they do not have safety tests. They can’t! How many pregnant women would voluntarily sign up for an experimental vaccine??

Wait a minute…check the highlighted line above, “There is a pregnancy exposure registry that monitors pregnancy outcomes in women exposed to Fluarix Quadrivalent during pregnancy. Healthcare providers are encouraged to register women by calling 1-888-452-9622.” Restated- if you are currently pregnant and receive a flu vaccine on recommendation of your doctor and your doctor didn’t disclose to you that this vaccine has not been tested on pregnant women- you and your child have just become unwitting guinea pigs.

  1. The NVICP pays out more to flu vaccine victims than any other vaccine.

Most individuals aren’t aware, but vaccine manufacturers and doctors have no legal liability for damage caused to an individual by a vaccine. They were granted indemnity in the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Protection Act which was later expanded in the 2011 Supreme Court decision Bruesewitz vs Wyeth. This act created a “vaccine injury court” in which individuals injured by vaccines can file a claim in order to receive a settlement from a fund that is set aside specifically for that purpose. Every three months the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines meets and the Dept of Justice releases a report listing cases settled for vaccine injuries and deaths. In the report issued September 20, 2016 (covering 5-15-17 to 8-15-17) 83 of the 113 cases settled were for injuries and deaths due to the flu vaccine. The clip below is a portion of that list. The complete report can be accessed here, and past reports can be accessed here. As you scroll the report for the adverse effects due to the flu vaccine, notice the incidence of GBS and SIRVA.

  1. There is NOT sufficient evidence that the flu shot will lessen severity of the flu.This bit of shady information is often quoted as fact. The CDC backs this claim. However, the American Society for Microbiology states, “Individuals who have been recently vaccinated may still get infected with influenza (“vaccine failure”). Among these individuals, it is not known whether recent vaccination can attenuate the course of illness, that is, lessen the severity and/or duration of symptoms associated with influenza.”

    Upon closer investigation, the CDC is basing this claim on one study conducted in hospitalized flu patients in 2013-14 (a year when the vaccine was a good match for the strain that circulated that year), in which the lead researcher is a CDC employee, and numerous supporting researchers are employed by the Dept of Health in various states. The sample size is not listed in the study. Besides the fact that nothing can be legitimately asserted based on ONE study, can you say conflict of interest? Also, of note is the fact that this study was conducted in a year when the flu vaccine had higher than average efficacy. It cannot be stated from this study, that a poorly efficacious flu vaccine would have any affect on the severity of the flu.

  1. The flu death statistics that are used to urge the population into flu hysteria are massively inflated.The CDC claims that there are a whopping 36,000 deaths attributable to flu and flu related complications. Incidentally, the National Vital Statistics System in the US disagrees. Even Huffington Post calls the CDC out on this one, and that’s saying a lot! They write, “for example, annual flu deaths in 2010 amounted to just 500 per year- fewer than deaths from ulcers (2,977), hernias (1,832), and pregnancy and childbirth (825), and a far cry from the big killer such as heart disease (597,689) and cancers (574,743).” They further note than even this number could be exaggerated, “Only about 15-20 per cent of people who come down with flu-like symptoms have the influenza virus- the other 80-85 per cent actually caught rhinovirus or other germs that are indistinguishable from the true flu without laboratory tests, which are rarely done. In 2001, a year in which death certificates listed 257 Americans as having died of flu, only 18 were positively identified as true flus. The other 239 were simply assumed to be flus and most likely had a few true flus among them.”

    So, how does the CDC go about inflating their numbers? They bundle together flu and pneumonia deaths. The HuffPo author writes, “Pneumonia, according to the American Lung Association, has more than 30 different causes, influenza being but one of them. The CDC itself acknowledges the slim relationship saying, ‘only a small portion of deaths…only 8.5 per cent of all pneumonia and influenza deaths [are] influenza related.”

  1. The CDC and the government incite hysteria in order to create demand for the flu vaccine and thus avoid massive monetary loss for unused flu vaccines each year.As I mentioned above, a new flu shot is manufactured each year. The FDA actually sets an expiration for each season’s flu vaccine of June 30. NBC carried this Associated Press article back in 2007 after a mild flu season led to poor flu shot sales, “more than 10 million of a record 110 million produced- will be destroyed before a new supply is guaranteed…Wasted vaccine means lost money for drug companies and one stopped making flu shots because of it- setting the stage for a flu shot shortage in 2004…After the 2002-03 season, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals had to destroy a third of the 20 million doses it produced because of low sales. The company lost about $35 million and then dropped out of the flu shot business…Doctors and VNA clinics will get a refund of taxes paid but will still lose about $10 per dose. Losses of up to $20,000 a season have caused some clinics to quit offering shots.”

    This article archived in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) library chronicles a “Seven Step Recipe” given at the 2004 National Influenza Vaccine Summit co-sponsored by the CDC and the American Medical Association, “One step of a ‘Seven- Step “Recipe” for Generating Interest in, and Demand for, Flu (or any other) Vaccination’ occurs when ‘medical experts and public health authorities publicly…state concern and alarm (and predict dire outcomes)- and urge influenza vaccination.’…Another step entails ‘continued reports…that influenza is causing severe illness and/or affecting lots of people, helping foster the perception that many people are susceptible to a bad case of influenza.’”

Do you feel sufficiently manipulated yet?


This season is definitely shaping up to be a “bad” flu year and nobody likes to get the flu. At the end of the day, the choice belongs with you when it comes to whether or not getting the flu shot is a good choice for you or your children. There may be some cases in which, after evaluating the benefits and risks, getting a flu shot is the right choice. However, one thing is certain: No one is in the position to make an educated decision about the flu vaccine when its risks are censored, its benefits exaggerated, and the actual danger of the flu inflated. Creating demand by lying about flu deaths and enlisting the medical field as flu shot salesmen to avoid loss of profit for vaccine manufacturers is wrong no matter how you slice it- particularly since otherwise healthy individuals are being put at unnecessary risk for horrific adverse effects due to this flu shot scam.