Sunday, 31 January 2010

Analysis of the Book of Enoch: Part 5 - The Book of the Watchers, Chapters 9-11

In the last installment of my analysis of the Book of Enoch we saw how the Watchers of Enoch - corrupted angels who taught mankind the ways of war, among other things - are distorted reflections of the wicked men of Enoch's and Noah's days. In Enoch 8 we read how their teachings led to 'much godlessness, and [mankind] committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways' (Enoch 8:2). Now we move on to chapter 9.

1. And then Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel looked down from heaven and saw much blood being shed upon the earth, and all lawlessness being wrought upon the earth.

2. And they said one to another: 'The earth made without inhabitant cries the voice of their crying up to the gates of heaven.

3 And now to you, the holy ones of heaven, the souls of men make their suit, saying, "Bring our cause before the Most High.".'
(Enoch 9:1-3)

As a result of the evil which is afflicting their world - evil which they themselves accepted when they listened to the Watchers - the people of the earth are appealing for divine aid, here through the four chief angels (or archangels). Michael and Gabriel we know from the Bible. Raphael is mentioned in LDS scriptures (D&C 128:21, which verse also identified Michael as our first father, Adam), and is also named elsewhere in the Apocrypha, specifically the Book of Tobit. Uriel, the fourth archangel, is the most common name used for this person in apocryphal sources, but he does have others.

I said that 'the people of the earth' were crying to heaven, but that was inaccurate. The archangels go to the throne of God and inform Him that the Watchers have defiled both themselves and mankind, and that the earth is (basically) a mess. Then they say this: 'And now, behold, the souls of those who have died are crying and making their suit to the gates of heaven, and their lamentations have ascended: and cannot cease because of the lawless deeds which are wrought on the earth.' (Enoch 9:10) It isn't the living who are seeking redress: it's the dead. Because of their unrighteousness, they are unable to enter heaven (hence their suit is 'to the gates of heaven', rather than to the angels or God directly). Like the rich man in the Saviour's parable (Luke 16:19-31) they are praying to heaven for leniency, not for themselves, but for their friends and family.

At the end of Enoch 9, the angels ask God what they should do. Chapters 10-11 consist of His reply. Rather than quoting it in full, I will summarise it in bullet form, and then analyse each point after.
  • Uriel is sent to visit Noah, to tell him to hide himself. Noah is to be informed that a flood is coming to destroy the whole earth, but that he can escape, and 'his seed be preserved for all the generations of the world'. (Enoch 10:1-3)
  • Raphael is sent to bind Azazel and imprison him. The Watcher is to be cast into a pit and hidden from the light. On the 'day of the great judgement' he will be 'cast into the fire' (Enoch 10:4-6)
  • Raphael is also told to heal the earth, and to 'proclaim the healing of the earth', so that the things the Watchers had taught wouldn't lead the children of men to destruction. God also adds that Azazel brought the corruption about, and says 'to him ascribe all sin'. (Enoch 10:6-8)
  • Gabriel is sent to destroy the children of the Watchers by setting them against each other while their fathers, appropriately, watch. (Enoch 10:9-10)
  • Michael is told to bind the rest of the Watchers and, after letting them watch their sons die, to 'bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgement and of their consummation, till the judgement that is for ever and ever is consummated.' (Enoch 10:11-12)
  • Now the Lord goes into an explanation of His long-term plan. At the 'judgement that is for ever and ever' the Watchers will be cast into the 'abyss of fire' and be held in that torment for ever. Furthermore, 'whosoever shall be condemned and destroyed' - men, presumably, since the Watchers are all bound already - will be thrown in there with them. Then God talks at length about how evil will be destroyed from the earth and righteousness reign: all nations will worship God, good plants will grow in abundance, and there will be no more sin or pain 'from generation to generation and for ever'. He concludes by saying that 'truth and peace shall be associated together throughout all the days of the world and throughout all the generations of men'. (Enoch 10:13-11:2)

Instructions to Noah

The message Uriel is given to bring to Noah is a close match to the one found in the scriptures:

And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (Genesis 6:13, see Moses 8:30)

The details are given through the Biblical story, but they are the same as those in Enoch. There isn't really much to add here.

Imprisoning Azazel and his angels

As the ascription of 'all sin' to Azazel shows, this is Satan we're talking about, described in Moses 4:4 as 'the father of all lies'. In Moses 7:37, when God is describing the state of the wicked, he states that 'their sins shall be upon the heads of their fathers; Satan shall be their father'. Here is the same idea, in the account of Enoch, that Satan is the reason for all sin, and that he shall be held accountable for it. As the leader of the Watchers in Enoch, he taught mankind secrets which led to their downfall, and this is his role in Moses as well (not to mention throughout history).

'And Cain said: Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain.' (Moses 5:31)

Satan also directly instructed Lamech, the father of Tubal Cain who we discussed in the last installment, and was the architect of all the wickedness in the world in those days, even as he is today. In the Enoch account we see him (and, once Michael gets his orders, his fellow fallen angels) being cast out - into a pit, as the symbolism goes. The phrasing here is suspiciously reminiscent of the writings of John:

7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
(Revelation 12:7-9)

Is it straining a point to note that in Revelation, Satan and his angels were cast out into the earth, while in Enoch they were thrown into a pit in the desert? Perhaps. But it is at least proof that the casting-out of the Devil was an idea present in pre-Christian times. It's interesting that Michael is the one said to have cast out Satan and his angels, which matches what we are told in Enoch: the only difference is that one of Michael's angels, Raphael, is named as taking a major part.

Raphael's and Michael's instructions also reveal something about the end of days: there is to be a final judgement, at which Satan (and, jumping ahead a little, his angels and mortal followers) are to be cast into the fiery abyss. This judgement will be 'for ever and ever' - it's not one they can get out of later. These are events which weren't shown to Enoch in the Book of Moses, and aren't that well referenced in the Old Testament, but are described in detail in both the New Testament and latter-day scriptures. Since I haven't yet written a post about the LDS understanding of the resurrection, I'll just direct you to the following scriptures. They're all from the book of Doctrine and Covenants, and specifically D&C 76.

  • The 'abyss of fire' is what we tend to call the outer darkness, and is described in verses 28-38.
  • There are also the three degrees of glory, specifically:
  • The Celestial Kingdom, where the righteous and faithful go, also called heaven. (D&C 76:51-70)
  • The Terrestrial Kingdom, for those who 'received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it' - those honourable people who 'were blinded by the craftiness of men'. (D&C 76:71-80)
  • The Telestial Kingdom, for those who never accepted Jesus until the final judgement (when they have no choice), but also never denied the Holy Ghost and doomed themselves to the abyss. (D&C 76:81-88)

The Redeemed Earth

After the judgement, God dwells on the subject of the redeemed, paradisiacal earth.

And then shall all the righteous escape,
And shall live till they beget thousands of children,
And all the days of their youth and their old age
Shall they complete in peace.
(Enoch 10:17)

In the Book of Moses we read that:

And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth... (Moses 7:62)

The same ideas are present in both books, but are completely absent from the corresponding section of Genesis. After the judgement of the wicked, God will sweep the earth with righteousness; 'the earth shall be cleansed from all defilement', as Enoch 10:21 puts it. Indeed, both sets of writing include the concept that there will be a direct flood of blessings from God: 'I will open the store chambers of blessing which are in the heaven, so as to send them down upon the earth over the work and labour of the children of men.' (Enoch 11:1)

The concept of a time of righteousness and peace is, of course, a common one throughout Judaic scriptures: the prophet Micah told of a time when 'they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid'. (Micah 4:3-4) I am not claiming otherwise. However, the presence of descriptions of this time in both the Book of Enoch and the Moses account of Enoch's ministry is at least circumstantial evidence for the genuine inspired quality of at least parts of Enoch.