What's the origin of scapegoat?

Do we have any modern ''buck goats which the Israelites led into the desert on the day of atonement and which was considered to carry away the sins of the people''

Almost everyone uses scapegoats. It is in our fabric. The word "scapegoat" has come to mean a person, often innocent, who is blamed and punished for the sins, crimes, or sufferings of others, generally as a way of distracting attention from the real causes. It is a potent human disposition to blame others for our failings.

The derivation of the term scapegoat also comes from the Old Testament-see Leviticus 16. During the Jewish high holy day of Yom Kippur in the Temple era high priests would sacrifice a goat that would be consigned "for Azazel" and would carry with it the sins of the nation.

Without scapegoats to blame, we are forced to look at ourselves for our problems. Examining ourselves can be very disturbing, particularly when we either lack the resources or the willingness to tackle them. So, we take the good old easy way out of the mess by shifting our focus to the outside world for targets to blame.

Look at young kids. They are expert blamers. They always have an answer, someone or something to blame in self-defense. We, the chronological adults, don’t completely abandon our childish strategy of ascribing blame to external sources. We simply do so with a greater degree of sophistication by finding, if at all possible, a grain or two of truth to legitimize our attributions.


Is it the same as ''buck passing''

4 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    Yes the term scapegoat came from the sin placed on the goat which was released into the wilderness.

    As far are "blame" or "passing the buck: this seems to be part of human nature avoiding poor choices and actions.

    I do think the "NOT ME" gremlin of Family Circus does exist.

  • 4 years ago

    Scapegoat This term, for one who is punished for the misdeeds of others, is the result of a mistranslation. The term was coined in 1530 by William Tyndale, who misread the Hebrew word 'azazel, the proper name of Canaanite demon, as 'ez ozel, literally the goat that departs. In Leviticus 16:8, the scriptures describe how two goats should be prepared for an offering, lots should be drawn, and one should be sacrificed to the Lord as a sin-offering, and the other given to Azazel and set free in the wilderness bearing the sins of the people. To be fair to Tyndale, he was not the only one to make this error. The Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament, uses tragos apopompaios, or the goat that is sent out. The Vulgate Bible refers to the second goat as a caper emissarius, or the emissary goat. Coverdale's 1535 Bible refers to it as a free goat. But it was Tyndale who coined the term scapegoat, or scapegoote as he spelled it. The King James Version retains Tyndale's scapegoat, but most modern translations have corrected the error and refer to Azazel. It was not until 1824 that the word acquired its current, wider sense. All prior usages have been in terms of the Leviticus passage. The verb form appeared in 1943.

  • 1 decade ago

    1530, "goat sent into the wilderness on the Day of Atonement, symbolic bearer of the sins of the people," coined by Tyndale from scape (n.) + goat, to translate L. caper emissarius, a mistranslation in Vulgate of Heb. 'azazel (Lev. xvi:8,10,26), which was read as 'ez ozel "goat that departs," but is actually the proper name of a devil or demon in Jewish mythology (sometimes identified with Canaanite deity Aziz). Jerome's mistake also was followed by Martin Luther (der ledige Bock), Symmachus (tragos aperkhomenos), and others (cf. Fr. bouc émissaire). The Revised Version (1884) restores Azazel. Meaning "one who is blamed or punished for the mistakes or sins of others" first recorded 1824; the verb is attested from 1943.


    Under the laws of Moses, the ancient ritual once observed on the Hebrew Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) actually involved two goats. One, known as "the Lord's goat," was sacrificed during the rites. The other goat, over whose head the high priest had confessed the sins of his people, was then taken into the wilderness and allowed to escape, symbolically taking all the sins with him and giving everyone a fresh start, sin-wise. This lucky goat was known as the "escape goat," or "scapegoat."

    There's a bit more to this story of the origin of "scapegoat," however. The Hebrew word for the goat set free in the original Biblical text was "Azazel." Translators of the Bible into English interpreted "Azazel" as a variant on the Hebrew phrase for "goat that departs," and thus came up with "escape goat." But it's possible that they were mistaken. "Azazel" was, some authorities believe, the name of a powerful demon who was believed to rule the wilderness. The "escape goat," goes this theory, was designated "Azazel's goat" in the ritual, and the priest was actually loading all the sins onto the demon's goat and then booting it out the door.

    In any case, "scapegoat" entered the English language with Tyndale's translation of the Bible in 1530, and by the early 19th century was being used in a secular sense to describe anyone who is blamed for the sins or faults of another. The irony here is that in the original ceremony the "scapegoat" was set free without punishment, while modern "scapegoats" endure all the punishment deserved by others.


  • 1 decade ago

    A scapegoat is a rant posing as a question.

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