Nachmanides - Scapegoat

Leeroy Malachinski Leeroy at cool.dk
Mon Jun 11 16:47:29 EDT 2001


This may not be strictly Biblical Hebrew, I apologize in advance.

Dear Jonathan,
I don't know if this is of any help but I hope it at least can give some
clues as where to go.

>Nachmanides, in his commentary to Lev. 16:8, writes that the scapegoat is
sent to "the prince who >rules over places of destruction". Any ideas what
he means by that? Is he identifying this "prince" >with Azazel? Is he
saying that the goat is not sacrificed to the Lord but to some other
divine entity >named Azazel?

-- Baruch Levine briefly discusses Ramban's view on this point in his
commentary on Leviticus (JPS, p. 252), though I agree that he is both
cryptic and verbose. I'm sure that Chavel must have some notes on both in
his edition as well as the translation, though I don't have it handy.

>Could Nachmanides have known the Book(s) of Enoch (regarding his use of
the term "the prince >who rules over places of destruction" in his
commentary on Lev. 16:8)?

In theory he might have been familiar with some version/tradition of
Enoch, perhaps 3 Enoch. In the preface to the Torah commentary Ramban
quotes the Wisdom of Solomon in Aramaic which comes close to one known
edition of that text (See Chavel's translation ad. loc.)
Ibn Ezra to Gen. 5:29 writes that: 

" Perhaps Enoch [sic] saw in a prophetic manner that Noah would make the
world survive, and because of him the curse of the ground was removed. Or
[perhaps] he saw it astrologically (be mazalo) for he composed many books
in great wisdom, and they are still found today."

(Ibn Ezra to Gen. 5:29, the long version from Mikraot Gedolot haKeter ed.
M. Cohen Bereshit vol.1. But contrast with the standard commentary. My
translation which you should not trust so I advise you to check it
yourself).

Whatever we make of this at least it shows some knowledge of
extra-biblical books or traditions, though whether or not Nachmanides was
influenced by some such tradition I'm not competent to say. Perhaps
someone with a more thorough knowledge of Ramban's writings/commentary is
able to elaborate.

Sincerely,

Leeroy



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