For the first part of my discussion of the Animal Apocalypse, see this post. The next period of history (1 Enoch 90:1-5) from 426/416 to 265/255 B.C. (Nickelsburg, 395). Thirty-seven shepherds pasture the sheep, then twenty-three shepherds pasture the sheep, fifty-eight seasons total (rather than seventy, as expected). The number could be thirty-five (OTP 1:69 note b, following Charles). If so, then the numbers break down to 12+23+23 = 58) This section seems to track the history between the return from exile and the Maccabean period, although it is very difficult to know what to make of the “fifty-eight seasons” other than a general description of the various Ptolemy and Seleucid kings which fought over Palestine.
Like Daniel 11, the apocalypse grows more detailed in the Maccabean period (90:6-12). A “great horn” grows on one of the lambs and rallies the sheep against the oppressors, likely Judas Maccabees. In 90:13-19 the sheep (Israel) battles the beasts (Gentiles in general, Seleucid in particular). The Lord of the Sheep intervenes in wrath; he strikes the ground with his rod and a great sword is given to the sheep to kill the beasts of the earth. This could refer to the victory of the Maccabean Revolt. If so, it is highly exaggerated. If the Lord of the Sheep is God or a messianic figure, then he did not directly intervene in the revolution against Antiochus IV Epiphanies. Verse 19 is the key: “a great sword was given to the sheep.” This divine passive indicates a human agent was given permission by God to successfully make way against the Gentiles (cf. Rev 6:4).
In 90:20-27 the apocalypse now shifts the future as a great throne is set up in the pleasant land (Israel). We are told only that “he sat upon it,” with the implication that the Lord of the Sheep who struck the earth with his rod is the subject. The Lord begins the judgment of the sheep and their shepherds (Ezekiel 34:1-10, the Lord will judge the shepherd of Israel.) In verse 20 the books are opened and seven shepherds are punished for killing more sheep that they were ordered to (verse 22). Perhaps this refers to the various nations who have oppressed Israel: Assyrian, Babylon, Persia, Ptolemys, Seleucids, etc. In Nahum, for example, Assyria is not judged for their role in the destruction of Samaria since this was ordained by the Lord, but rather for going far beyond the decreed destruction by killing and torturing more victims than necessary. The same theme may be found in Obadiah, concerning Edomite atrocities in 586 B.C. These are cast into the fiery abyss (verse 24), the seventy shepherds are found guilty as well and cast into the abyss to the right of the house (verse 26, presumably Gehenna, to the east of the Temple.)
The Lord of the Sheep renovates the old house (the Temple, or the city of Jerusalem) into a new, greater house (90:28-36). The old Temple is torn apart and replaced with a more beautiful building and ornaments, recalling Ezekiel 40-48. As Nickelsburg points out, traditions about a New Jerusalem are widespread in Second Temple Judaism, including Revelation 21:1-4.
1 Enoch is certainly part of these traditions. The vision cannot refer to the early second temple, which was not at all a beautiful building. This is a prophecy of a restored Solomonic temple or perhaps a reference to the Herodian renovations. It would seem odd, however, for the Herodian temple to be praised so highly. The sheep are white and their wool is “thick and pure” (90:32) and their eyes are opened to see good things. For the first time there is “none among them who do not see” (90:35). All of the sheep which survived and all of the other animals worship the sheep. This may refer to a mass gentile conversion after Israel is established in the land (Charles, 2:258, cf. Isa 14:2; 66:12, 19-21).
Finally, in 90:37-38 a new snow-white bull is born with huge horns. All the sheep and animals of the world fear this new bull. He began to transform all the animals into snow white cows, not stopping until they are all transformed. Although the vision did not focus on David, Nickelsburg “the presence of such a messianic figure here should not be surprising” (1 Enoch, 406). In fact, this ideal shepherd may be drawn from Ezekiel 34. There a new, good shepherd appears in the future, replacing the bad shepherds who had failed to care for God’s sheep.
One problem is that the messianic figure in this section is not a sheep (live David and Solomon), but rather a bull. This figure is a new Adam or Seth, the last characters in the apocalypse to be described as bulls. A “new Adam” soteriology ought to sound familiar to Christian readers. As Nickelsburg says, “The closest analogy is in the two-Adams theology of the apostle Paul (Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch, 407). Even if the reference is to Seth, then this bull is a “son of Adam,” or “son of man.” What is remarkable is that all the animals are transformed into snow-white cattle. This is an unexpected universalism: in the eschatological age, the nations will “convert” and worship the God of Israel.
Enoch awakes from his vision and rejoices in the Lord (90:39-42) and weeps greatly because of the vision which he has seen.