Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Analysis of the Book of Enoch: Part Four - The Book of the Watchers, Chapters 6-8

As we have seen in my previous analysis, the Book of Enoch begins with a description of the vision and ministry of the titular Enoch. In the chapters that follow, however, it demonstrates just why it is counted among the Apocrypha.

1. And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters.

2. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.' (Enoch 6:1-2)

Later, we come across this verse:

2. And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells: (Enoch 7:2)

A reading of the first few chapters of Genesis shows that these verses are an expansion on Genesis 6:1-4.

1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-4)

This is the beginning of the story of Noah, and by looking at the Book of Enoch, we can see that the "sons of God" in the Genesis verse are equivalent to the angels (the Watchers referred to in the name of these chapters) in Enoch. But is that correct? There are analogous verses in the Book of Moses, and they tell a quite different story:

13 And Noah and his sons hearkened unto the Lord, and gave heed, and they were called the sons of God.

14 And when these men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, the sons of men saw that those daughters were fair, and they took them wives, even as they chose.
18 And in those days there were giants on the earth, and they sought Noah to take away his life; but the Lord was with Noah, and the power of the Lord was upon him. (Moses 8:13-18)

It seems constructive to compare the similarities and differences between these sections.

  • The "sons of God". In Enoch they are explicitely angels from heaven, looking down at the Earth. In Genesis, they are not actually defined; they may be angels, or they may be men. In Moses, they are explained to be "Noah and his sons", and it appears to be a title of respect. However, this title is later purloined: in Moses 8:21 the children of men, on being reprimanded by Noah, say, "Behold, we are the sons of God".

  • The "daughters of men". In Enoch and Genesis, these are the beautiful daughters born to the men of the world. In Moses, they are the daughters of Noah and his sons.

  • The choosing of wives. In Enoch and Genesis, the sons of God take wives among the daughters of men. In Moses, however, it is the sons of men (that is, the men of the world) who take to wife the daughters of the sons of God (Noah and his sons). At this point, we can see that the account revealed in Moses is a reversal of the traditional Genesis-Enoch version. Indeed, in Moses, we read the Lord's reprimand to Noah: "The daughters of thy sons have sold themselves; for behold mine anger is kindled against the sons of men, for they will not hearken to my voice." (Moses 8:15) However, we saw above that the children of men took the title "sons of God" to themselves; this allows us to link the two versions, while still observing the differences.

  • Giants. In Enoch, there is no doubt about the origin of the giants: they were born to the angels and the daughters of men (and, indeed, are 3000 ells tall). In Genesis, however, the explanation is less clear. At first they are simply there: "there were giants on the earth in those days". However, the continuation of Genesis 6:4 seems to hint at an explanation. It states that "also after that" - which serves to connect the giants to the following clause - the children of the sons of God and the daughters of men became "mighty men which were of old". This might imply that those children are to be equated with the giants. In Moses, both the giants (8:18) and the mighty men (8:21) appear, without the connection: the giants attempt to take Noah's life, while the mighty men are found in the boasting of the children of men.
Following the mention of the giants, Enoch diverges from the two canonical accounts. Enoch 7 describes how the giants devoured "all the acquisitions of men"(Enoch 7:3), and then proceeded to turn on and consume mankind. In verse 5 we read that "they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another's flesh, and drink the blood", and the chapter closes with the ominous statement that "the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones". This is a direct link to the vision of Enoch in Moses, where he heard the earth herself declare "Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children." (Moses 7:48)

In chapter 8, Enoch takes another twist. Foreshadowed at the beginning of chapter 7 with the statement that the renegade angels - the Watchers - "taught [their wives] charms and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants", we now find a chapter-long description of what they taught to mankind. The fall of these angels was described in chapter 6:

5. Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it.

6. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. (Enoch 6:5-6)

After that follows a list of the names of their "chiefs of ten", of whom there are nineteen (which doesn't exactly match the numbering of them at two hundred, but never mind). Interestingly, the names given here do not pair up precisely with the nine names given in chapter 8. Six names appear in altered but still recognisable form (Semjâzâ appears for Sêmîazâz, for instance), but three - Azâzêl, Araqiêl and Shamsiêl - could only be paired with names from the original list by extremely tortured means. I'm not entirely sure how that happens in a cohesive book, but there you go.

1. 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 colouring tinctures.

2. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways. Semjâzâ taught enchantments, and root-cuttings, Armârôs the resolving of enchantments, Barâqîjâl astrology, Kôkabêl the constellations, Ezêqêêl the knowledge of the clouds, Araqiêl the signs of the earth, Shamsiêl the signs of the sun, and Sariêl the course of the moon. And as men perished, they cried, and their cry went up to heaven ... (Enoch 8:1-2)

Much of the list here is taken up by teachings about the natural world - from Baraâqîjâl onwards, in fact. This is knowledge which is also taught in Moses, such as the following from Moses 6:63:

63 And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.

In this case it is God teaching Adam, rather than the Watchers teaching all mankind, but the same knowledge is being imparted. However, the teachings of Azâzêl are not mentioned in the canonical scriptures. He taught war and ornamentation, and immediately after this is described we find a passage concerning the godlessness and corruption of mankind. The link between the two seems implicit to me, and it is also found in the scriptures.

46 And Zillah, she also bare Tubal Cain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron. (Moses 5:46, Genesis 4:22)

This first-named artificer is the 4 x great-grandson of Cain, as in Cain and Abel; he is also the son of Lamech, who we discover in Moses 5:49 entered into a covenant with Satan and slew his great-grandfather. Interestingly, given the mention of makeup ("the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids") in Enoch, Tubal Cain is also said to have a sister, Naamah. In this pair of siblings from the cursed and corrupt lineage of Cain we have a perfect origin for the tale of Azâzêl.

In the next part, we'll look at what exactly happened next, for "as men perished, they cried, and their cry went up to heaven..."