After a brief genealogical introduction in chapter 37, Enoch is given three “parables.” These are not parables in the same sense as the parables of Jesus, but rather oracle-like material, hence the translation in OTP “thing” in 38:1. Chapters 38-44 concern judgment, chapters 45-57 concern those who deny the name of the Lord, and chapters 58-69 concern the fate of the elect. The final two chapters are a conclusion which add some legendary elements to the translation of Enoch
The first parable concerns coming judgment from the perspective of the elect / righteous and the non-elect / unrighteous. Chapter 38 begins with the expectation of the “community of the righteous” appearing and the sinner of this world being judged (38:1). The Righteous One will appear before the community of the righteous and lead this judgment (38:2, 3). For those who denied the name of the Lord, it will be better that they never were born. This is said of the one who betrays Jesus (Mark 14:21; Matt 26:24). This is also a theme in the later Ezra literature when describing those who are facing torment in Hades (Greek Apocalypse of Ezra, 1:6, 21, 5:9, 14). This time of judgment is when the secrets of the Righteous One will be revealed (38:3) and all the kings of the earth will perish (38:5-6).
In Chapter 39 Enoch receives the “books of zeal and wrath” as well as the “books of haste and whirlwind.” Verses 3-8 is a description of Enoch’s experience of being swept up in a whirlwind from the earth into heaven where he saw the dwelling places of the righteous among the angels. This place under the “wings of the Lord of Spirits” is where the righteous will praise God forever. In 39:6 Enoch sees the “Elect One of Righteousness and of Faith,” presumably the same as the Righteous One in 38:3. Enoch responds to this vision in praise (39:9-14).
Enoch then sees a vision of hundreds of thousands of angels, innumerable and uncountable in chapter 40. Among these angelic beings are four “who do not slumber.” Like Revelation 4-5, there are four figures on the four side of the Lord of Spirits surrounded by an innumerable crowd of beings standing in the presence of God.
- Michael, the merciful and forbearing.
- Raphael, who is in charge of disease and wounds.
- Gabriel who is in charge of all power of strength.
- Phanuel, who is in charge of those whose hope is eternal life.
Enoch is introduced to all the secrets of heaven in Chapter 41, including how kingdoms break up and how the actions of people are weighed in the balance. He sees the cosmic stores (3-7) and the sun and moon, which no one can hinder. Chapter 42 continues the theme of mystery with a poetic personification of wisdom looking for her place among the children of men but eventually returning to dwell among the angels.
Chapters 43-44 describe other cosmic secrets such as lightning and the names of the stars of heaven. This personification of wisdom may be important background to the Gospel of John. In the prologue to John’s gospel, the Logos is with God in the beginning and comes down from heaven to dwell with men, although men do not recognize him (John 1:1-14). Here in 1 Enoch, personified wisdom also descends to dwell among men and returns to heaven.