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Asazel depiction from the 19th century

Asasel or Azazel ( Hebrew עֲזָאזֵל, German also Asel or Azaël ) is originally the name of a desert demon who was charged with the sins of the people of Israel at the Jewish festival of atonement ( Yom Kippur ) by means of the proverbial scapegoat . In later traditions, traditions evolved around Asazel into an individual Fallen Angel who was often associated with Satan .

Ritual of the scapegoat

On the tenth day of the month of Tishri, the Israelites celebrated the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), a festival of atonement during which two goats were brought about. The lot decided which was awarded to the Lord and slaughtered as a token of atonement, the other went to Asazel. Asazel's goat was imposed by the high priest on all the sins of the assembled people, then he was sent to Asazel in the desert ( Lev 16.5–10  EU .26 EU ). However, this is the only reference in the ( canonical ) Bible to Asazel. Who or what he is is not explained here. In general, the ceremony is interpreted to mean that sin is symbolically banished from the center of Israel and chased back to its origin (to the devil).

In the Vulgate Asasel is translated as caper emissarius , this indicates that the word was originally not a proper name, but a description of the function that the goat has (עז אזל 'es' osel , German 'buck that carries away' insteadעזאזל 'asasel ). Against this seems to suggest that 'it (עז) usually denotes a female animal, but in the same section (in Lev 16.5  EU ) this word is also used to designate the two male goats as billy goats .

Asazel in the Apocrypha

In later traditions, Asazel is associated with the fallen angels . According to the apocryphal Book of Enoch , he taught people metalworking, the use of weapons, precious stones and dyes, and the art of make-up. In doing so, he contributed to the corruption of people and revealed - in this respect similar to Prometheus - the secrets of heaven to people. It may have been a reaction to the increasing influence of Hellenistic culture . So the Jews, the military advantage established in the blacksmithing, explained themselves in the doctrine of apostate angels. As a punishment he was bound, stoned and thrown into the darkness by the angel Raphael :

“Dig a pit in the Dudael Desert and throw it in. Put sharp, pointed stones under it and cover it with darkness. Let him live there forever and cover his face so that he may see no light. On the day of the final judgment he shall be thrown into the pool of fire! [...] The whole earth had been corrupted by the works taught by Asasel. "

- 1 Enoch 10: 4–6.8

In later demonological works Asasel is considered a goat-shaped demon of second rank and the first standard-bearer of the armies of hell, but is also equated with Samael .

Asazel in Islam

In Islam, Asazel ( Arabic عزازيل, DMG Azāzīl ) often, if not exclusively, identified with Iblis , a figure comparable to the devil . The name is already documented among the companions of Muhammad and appears in modern Islamic popular culture . In addition to his identification with Iblis, there is also an angel who was banished to earth along with the pair of angels Harut and Marut mentioned in the Koran . However, he regretted his decision and was allowed to return to heaven. Comparable with the description of Asasel in the 1st book of Enoch, Asasel taught the art of science , according to the Muslim Javanese , the mythological father of the Javanese culture, with which he finally founded that culture.

Koranic interpretation

The basis for the Koranic interpretation of the angel Asazel is formed by the reports of ʿAbdallāh ibn ʿAbbās and Ibn Masʿūd and are quoted and confirmed by many classic Koran commentators such as At-Tabarī and Ath-Thaʿlabī . He once belonged to the hierarchy of the archangels and was sent to earth by Allah to fight the demons . After his victory, he boasted and became proud. This serves as the prelude to the Qur'anic narrative of the creation of Adam . Proud of his victory and boasting of fire (spirit) because of his immaterial nature, he considered Adam, as a being made of clay (matter), to be inferior and refused the command to bow before him:

"Allah said," What prevented you from prostrating after I commanded you? " Iblies said: "I am better than him. You created me from fire, him (only) from clay."

- Rudi Paret

After this Koranic event, Asazel lost his position in heaven and was turned into a Satan by an archangel . Since then Asasel, whose name has been changed to Iblis , and the Satans have tried to divert people from God's path.

Representations in mysticism

In Umm al-Kitab, an Ismaili work , Asazel is considered the first emanation of Allah . This gave him the power to create. Asazel used his borrowed power, but sinned against Allah when he then proclaimed himself a god next to Allah. Allah brings forth a new creation that competes with Asazel and his demons and banishes Asazel into a new sphere in every world by removing a color from him until they finally end up as shadows in the material world. There he tries to keep people in the material world. Even if the name of the angel probably comes from Hebrew , its function does not correspond to that of Jewish literature. Instead, his role resembles that of the demiurge of Gnostic beliefs.

In an Alevi creation story, Asasel is one of five archangels alongside Cebrail , Mikail , Israfil and Asrael . They offered their prayers in front of God's gate for 1001 days before it opened. Behind the gate was a light to which the archangels should bow. Asazel refused, however, because he said that light, too, was only a created body and it would be forbidden to bow to a creature, because one should only bow to the one who was never created. Asasel then returned to God's gate and got into the I-world, which later leads to the enmity between Satan and man in the physical world.

The Islamic mystic Mevlana Rumi mentions Asasel in his main work, the Masnawī , as an angel who, despite his former high position, was banished to hell because of his arrogance. Among the Sufis, ʿAbd al-Karīm al-Jīlī also devotes himself to the role of Asazel. He describes him as an angel of persistent worship. However, since he did not understand that bowing to Adam when Allah commands it is like bowing to Allah Himself, he refused the command of Allah and received Allah's curse. With that he became Allah’s instrument of seducer and darkness.

Newer reception

The name Asasel or Azazel was used again and again in popular culture to denote demonic or demon-like figures. For example, he is the antagonist in the film Demon - Don't trust any soul or the television series Supernatural , and the protagonist in the films Fallen Angels 2 and Fallen Angels 3 . Corresponding figures also appear in literature (Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita ). The beings mentioned are usually based at most loosely on the mythological figure.


  • Bernd Janowski : Article Azazel. In: K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, Pieter W. van der Horst (eds.): Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. 2nd Edition. Leiden / Boston / Köln 1999, pp. 128-131 ( preview in Google book search).
  • Reynold A. Nicholson Studies in Islamic Mysticism CUP Archive 1978 ISBN 978-0-521-29546-8

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. 1 Enoch 8 : 1.
  2. ^ 1 Enoch 9: 6.
  3. George WE Nickelsburg .: “Apocalyptic and Myth in 1 Enoch 6-11.” Ed .: Journal of Biblical Literature. vol. 96, no. 3 , 1977, pp. 383-405 .
  4. Reynolds, Gabriel Said, “Angels”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, Edited by: Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Everett Rowson. Consulted online on 02 October 2019 < > First published online: 2009 First print edition: 9789004181304, 2009, 2009-3
  5. Scott B. Noegel, Brannon M. Wheeler: The A to Z of Prophets in Islam and Judaism. Scarecrow Press, 2010, ISBN 978-1-461-71895-6 , p. 295 (English).
  6. ^ Willis Barnstone, Marvin W. Meyer: The Gnostic Bible. Revised and Expanded Edition. Shambhala Publications, Boston 2009, ISBN 978-1-59030-631-4 , p. 803.
  7. Handan Aksünger: Beyond the commandment of silence. Alevi migrant organizations and civil society integration in Germany and the Netherlands. Waxmann, Münster 2013, ISBN 978-3-8309-7883-1 , pp. 83–84, urn : nbn: de: 101: 1-201407287342 .