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The Book of Enoch, written during the second century B.C.E., is one of the most important non-canonical apocryphal works, and probably had a huge influence on early Christian, particularly Gnostic, beliefs. Filled with hallucinatory visions of heaven and hell, angels and devils, Enoch introduced concepts such as fallen angels, the appearance of a Messiah, Resurrection, a Final Judgement, and a Heavenly Kingdom on Earth. Interspersed with this material are quasi-scientific digressions on calendrical systems, geography, cosmology, astronomy, and meteorology.
Ever since its translation in 1800 from ancient texts discovered in Ethiopia in 1768, the Book of Enoch has created a stir in academic circles. Enoch has been proven to have existed and was mentioned before the existence of the church. Several copies of it were discovered in 1948 among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some even believe we can trace back stories that have great similarities to Ancient Sumer.
The Book of Enoch is one of those books that almost made it into the Bible but was then rejected as “apocryphal”, even though Enoch and the book itself are mentioned and referred to several times in the Bible. The only people who accept the book as an official part of their holy scriptures are Ethiopian Jews and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and a few more obscure religious groups around the world. Official sources say the book was written 300 B.C. but since it is ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, some speculate that it was written before the great flood.
The Book of Enoch is divided into five basic parts, but it is the The Book of Parables (37-71) which gives scholars the most trouble for it is primarily concerned with a figure called “the messiah”; “the righteous one”; “the chosen one” and “the son of man.”
There I beheld the Ancient of days whose head was like white wool, and with him another, whose countenance resembled that of a man. His countenance was full of grace, like that of one of the holy angels. Then I inquired of one of the angels, who went with me, and who showed me every secret thing, concerning this Son of man; who he was; whence he was; and why he accompanied the Ancient of days. He answered and said to me, This is the Son of man, to whom righteousness belongs; with whom righteousness has dwealt; and who will reveal all the treasures of that which is concealed: for the Lord of spirits has chosen him; and his portion has surpassed all before the Lord of spirits in everlasting uprightness.
The opening verses of the Book of Enoch tell us that the revelations in this book were not meant for Enoch’s generation, rather a remote generation, and of course the book would make more sense to the generations after Christ. We know that the early Church made use of the Book of Enoch, but it was then all but lost, until recent times. Perhaps this book was meant for our generation, as it is widely available today after being concealed for over a millennia.
The words of the blessing of Enoch, wherewith he blessed the elect and righteous, who will be living in the day of tribulation, when all the wicked and godless are to be removed. And he took up his parable and said -Enoch a righteous man, whose eyes were opened by God, saw the vision of the Holy One in the heavens, which the angels showed me, and from them I heard everything, and from them I understood as I saw, but not for this generation, but for a remote one which is for to come.
The first part of the book is about “The Watchers”, a group of “angel”s sent to earth to watch over humans. 200 of those angels committed transgression by having sex with humans, creating a hybrid race called the Nephilim. Of the Nephilim it is said that they were giants and savages that endagered and pillaged humanity. It is said that the “Watchers” taught humans reading, writing, weaponry, cosmetics, sorcery, about the stars, meteorology, and many other arts and that this was problematic because it robbed humans the opportunity to discover the arts by themselves. They “revealed the eternal secrets which were preserved for heaven, which men were striving to learn.” the book says.
Who are the Watchers or fallen angels and why was the early Church and the modern Vatican so concerned about them?
Genesis 6:1-4 says: When men began to multiply on the face of the Earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and took them wives of all which they chose.
Traditionally the Ben Eloha or ‘sons of God’ numbered several hundred and they descended to Earth on Mount Harmon. Significantly this was a sacred place to both the Canaanites and the Hebrews who invaded their land. In later times shrines to the gods Baal, Zeus, Helios and Pan and the goddess Astarte were built on its slopes.
In books like Enoch, Jubilee and the Testimonies of the Twelve Patriarchs, the angel orders are arranged in hierarchies. The Watchers seem to be part of the superior classes of angels (e.g. in 1 Enoch, there are 1. Seraphim, 2. Cherubim, 3. Opannim (‘the Wheels of Ezekiel personified) and 4. the Watchers). These varieties of mega-angels share several roles. They are first of all ministering angels who:
- intercede for humans – 1 Enoch 15:2
- mediate between God and man – Testimony of Dan 6:2
- guide people in the right way of life – and report to God on what they see (good or evil) – Jubilee 4:6
- reveal God’s secrets – 1 Enoch 60:11
- prepare for the judgment of the righteous and wicked – 1 Enoch 103:2-3
- teach men knowledge and crafts – 1 Enoch 7:1; 8:1ff
But the Watchers (or some of them) are also those identified as:
- falling from heaven, led astray by the first 2 of 5 Satans – Similitudes of Enoch 69:4; 54:6 – Esp. Satanail entices the Watchers in the 5th heaven to revolt against God. This Satan will also later condemn and torture these same Watchers (54:3, 5).
- some of the Watchers who fall are imprisoned in the 2nd heaven and others are cast to earth where they take human women (Enoch 7:3, 18:4) who bear giant offspring (the Nephalim of Genesis 6) – Jubilee 13:17-35; Testament of Reuben 5:6
When the angels descended upon the Earth, they started offering gifts of knowledge to both mortal men and women, thus defying the will of the creator of an unaltered race of humans with a will of their own. In exchange, the angels demanded respect and adoration, but unaware they were of the chaos they had instituted.
And Azâzêl taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all coloring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways.
The Book of Enoch tells many controversial stories of a time in a way similar to what we experience today, but with some major differences. Before the great deluge, humans had tremendous lifespans, fact attested by the Sumerian King List and the Egyptian Pharaoh’s timeline.
Although historians still consider this time frame in human history as unproved and fictional, there are numerous accounts speaking of those days when “gods walked among men,” when mythological creatures were not just a figment of imagination, and 100 years of life marked only the beginning of ones journey.
Today, it seems that our remote history is either not allowed to surface because it would turn the instituted order to bits, or because that cycle of human history was never meant to be known, for some really intriguing reason. How much this seclusion is benefiting mankind we can only speculate, but I believe that such insight would offer us relief, and that’s exactly what we need to become at peace with ourselves and the universe of which we’re all part of.
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