The Epistle of Enoch – 1 Enoch 99-105

The final chapters of 1 Enoch are advice to his children and follow a pattern not unlike the Old Testament wisdom literature.  There is a general admonition to listen to the words of the father and walk in righteousness.  What follows are a long series of “woe” statements condemning various sins and “unwise” activities.  The rich, the deceitful, the idolater, the oppressor, the one who has luxury, the blasphemous, etc. are all warned of the judgment in store for them. Most of this material is in the format of “woe to the sinner because . . .” There are a few notable exceptions to this format which are eschatological in nature. Chapter 101 is another wisdom piece not unlike God’s speech in Job.  It contains a series of rhetorical questions about nature intended to underscore God’s sovereign control of the universe.

Ethiopic-calendarIn 99:3-10 there is a bit of non-woe material introduced with “in those days.”  The righteous need to prepare to “raise a memorial” in prayer because of the wickedness of those days. Women will abort babies and commit infanticide, it will be a time of “unceasing blood.” There will be idolatry which “blindfolds” the sinner so that they will not be saved.  This idea of a blindness in the last days which prevents sinners from perceiving the truth is found in 2 Thess. 2:11 – God sends a “spirit of delusion” which prevents people in the last days from seeing the truth. Matthew 24:4-13 describes people in the last days as believing lies, false prophets and increasing wickedness.

In 100:1-6 a final judgment is described.  Fathers and sons will kill each other (100:2, cf. the less violent Luke 12:52, fathers against sons, etc.)  The gore of the final battle is so deep a horse walks up to his chest in blood (100:3, cf. Ezek. 39:17; Rev 14:20). Angels will go into secret places and gather those who caused others to sin in order to execute them on the great judgment day (100:4).  The righteous, however, will be protected by angels until sinners are judged.  From that time on they will live in peace and “no one will make them afraid.” They are “saved” from the judgment because they gave heed to the words of “this book.”

In 102:1-11 the terror of the final judgment is described. “In those days” sinners will be unable to hide from the terrors as angels fulfill the orders of the Lord (cf. Rev. 6:16-17).  Sinners will go down to Sheol in sorrow (102:5), but the righteous have no need to fear, there will be no righteous in Sheol (102:4, 11).

Chapters 103 and 104 use an oath motif along with the woe formula to describe the “two ways,” the way of the righteous and the way of the sinner.  Verses 1-4 describes the lot of the righteous: those who die will live and rejoice, their spirits will not perish and they will be a memorial before the Lord.  Sinners, however, are already dead (103:5).  They may have died in prosperity and wealth, but now they are suffering terrible torments on account of their easy lives (103:4-5).  The righteous have no need to hide in the coming judgment (104:1-6).  The sinner thinks they have nothing to worry about on the great Day of Judgment (104:7), but in fact everything will be made known and judged.  Chapter 105 is a brief benediction concluding this section.

The final chapters of 1 Enoch are fragments of other documents appended to the main text.  Chapters 106 and 107 are a narrative of the birth of Noah which probably comes from a lost Noah Apocalypse (Charles, Commentary, 2:278). When Noah is born, he has white skin and hair as red as a rose; his eyes glowed like the sun.  As soon as he was born, he spoke to the Lord.  Lamech is naturally upset by this odd child and runs to his father Methuselah for advice. Methuselah in turn sends him to Enoch who predicts the flood as a judgment for sin and names the boy Noah.  Enoch also predicts Noah will be the remnant for Lamech in the “oppression” to come.  These predictions are confirmed because they were written on heavenly tablets (107:1-2).

The final chapter of 1 Enoch is described as “another book of Enoch” which was written for Methuselah (108:1).  Enoch tells his son that those who observe the law ought to wait patiently (108:1-3).  He describes a vision of an invisible burning cloud which is explained by an angel as the place where sinners go (108:4-7).  Those who love God endure, although they suffer in the body, because God will make recompense for what they have suffered (108:8-10).  The righteous who endure will eventually see the end of those who are unrighteous (108:11-15).

The Apocalypse of Weeks – 1 Enoch 93:1-10; 91:11-17

bookofenochThe Apocalypse of Weeks is a brief recounting of human history as a series of weeks. This vision concerns the “elect ones in the world” (93:1).  Enoch has learned these future events through a heavenly vision given by holy angels and understood from heavenly tablets (93:2).  This triple proof underscores the surety of the vision.

The First Week (93:3) – Enoch was born seventh in the first week, a time when “judgment and righteousness endure.”

The Second Week (93:4) – After Enoch’s time “great and evil things” arise and the “first consummation” takes place.  Only one man survives (Noah); the flood does not deal with sin.  Therefore, this man makes a law for sinners (the Noahic Covenant).

The Third Week (93:5) – During this week a man is elected as a “plant of righteousness” and a second man as an “eternal plant of righteousness.” The first is Abraham, the second is Moses (eternal since he was “assumed” into heaven).

The Fourth Week (93:6) – During this week visions of old and righteous ones will be seen and “a law will be established as a fence.”  This probably refers to the writing of the Pentateuch (i.e., the Law).

The Fifth Week (93:7) – This week will see the completion of “a house and a kingdom,” the establishment of the Davidic kingdom.

The Sixth Week (93:8) – At the end of the week the house and kingdom will be burnt, people will be blindfolded and the “chosen root” dispersed. This is period from David to the Exile.

The Seventh Week (93:9-10) – In the seventh week an apostate generation will arise, all of their deeds will be criminal.  The elect ones will give sevenfold instruction to the flock.  Since this is post exilic, it could refer to the “criminal activities” of the pre-Maccabean period (Jason and Menelaus purchasing the high priesthood, radical Hellenization, the murder of Onias).  On the other hand, it could refer to the Hasmoneans themselves since they united the high priesthood with the king for several generations. In either case, this is the time of the author of the Apocalypse. There is no explicit reference to the Maccabean revolt or a judgment which puts an end to the criminal activity (i.e. Judas Maccabees as a messiah figure.)

The Eighth Week (91:12-13) –   After the judgment (which is not described in the text, unless 92:3-5 should be inserted here), there will be an “eighth week” which will be a week of righteousness (91:12-13). During this period a house will be built for the great king “in glory forevermore” (91:12-13). There is an implication that the first seven weeks occur before this week of righteousness, therefore all of history before the ideal period is seven “weeks.” This is reminiscent of the epistle of Barnabas which describes the history of the world in seven creational days, with the seventh being the idealized age (i.e., the kingdom).

The Ninth Week (91:14) – In this period there will be a righteous judgment and all sinners will depart from the earth and be “written off for eternal destruction.” Those who are not judged as sinners will “direct their sight to the path of uprightness.”

The Tenth Week (91:15-16) – In the seventh part of the tenth week there will be a judgment executed by the angels of heaven – the old heaven will pass away and a new heaven will appear; the powers of heaven will shine eternally sevenfold.  This “new heaven” idea is drawn from Isaiah 66:17-25 and is found in Revelation 21:1 as well.

“Many Weeks” (91:17) – After the sequence of ten weeks there will be an unending period, an “eternal state” during which sin will no longer exist.

This brief Apocalypse gives the same general outline as Similitudes and the Book of Visions. There will be an end to sin and corruption in the future.  A judge will make right what is wrong and the ages which follow this judgment will be an ideal sinless state. The Apocalypse of Weeks develops this idea of a coming new age very much in outline form, not unlike the book of Daniel.  If this sort of an outline of history was well known in the first century (from Daniel, 1 Enoch, etc.), then it is possible the language of “kingdom” used in the Gospels evoked imagery in the minds of the first listeners similar to the Apocalypse of Weeks.

Jesus claims to be given authority to judge (John 5:27, Mt. 28:18) and clearly associates himself with the eschatological Son of Man in Mark 14:62.   It is the authority of Jesus which is questioned in the Temple by the chief priests (Mark 11:27-33).

Introduction to the Epistle of Enoch – 1 Enoch 91-92

This last section of 1 Enoch contains wisdom-like literature which condemns various sinners.  The section also contains a “testament” in which Enoch urges his grandchildren to live a moral lifestyle.  Included as chapter 93 is an apocalyptic section commonly known as the Apocalypse  of Weeks.  Both chapter 91 and 92 have superscription in some manuscripts indicating the beginning of the fifth book, therefore chapter 91 may be a conclusion to the dream visions of the previous section. Nickelsburg calls chapter 91 a “narrative bridge” concluding the Dream Visions.

Enoch-manusrcriptLike Jacob in Genesis 49, Enoch gathers his children to listen to his word (91:1-4, 19) and describes to them the increase of violence in the world which will result in great plagues and finally in judgment (91:5-11).  In this judgment all sinners and blasphemers will be cut off.  Chapter 91:12-17 seem misplaced since they describe the eighth and ninth weeks; the Apocalypse of Weeks in chapter 93 cuts off after the seventh week. Charles re-arranges the text so that the Apocalypse of Weeks is in order, OTP leaves the text out of order without comment. This is confirmed by Aramaic fragments from Qumran discovered since Charles published (Collins, Apocalyptic Imagination, Second Edition, 62).

Chapter 92 also forms an introduction to this final section (verse one). Enoch tells his readers they ought not to be troubled by difficult times, the Holy and Great One has declared “specific days for all things (92:2).  The Righteous One will wake from his sleep, and walk in righteousness forever.  God himself will give the Righteous One eternal uprightness and authority to judge.  The righteous will “walk in eternal light,” while the “sin and darkness will perish forever” will never be seen again.

This short chapter seems to speak of a messianic age, assuming the phrase “Righteous One” ought to be taken as the same as in the book of Similitudes (Righteous One, Elect One, “that son of man,” etc.).  There will come an individual who will establish God’s rule on earth and judge fairly between the righteous and the sinner.

The Dream Visions (1 Enoch 85-90) and the New Testament

The animal apocalypse is important for the general eschatological outline it provides.  The people of Israel will be oppressed and a deliverer will come (although this deliverer is not as detailed as in the Similitudes.) There will be a judgment (90:20) and the enemies of the sheep will be cast into the abyss (90:22, 24). A new feature in this apocalypse is that those who are cast into the abyss will be converted (90:30-31, 37-39). This conversion will include the sheep (Israel) as well as the other animals (gentiles). This restoration will include a New Jerusalem and a renovation of the Temple as well as a period of peace and safety for the sheep as they are ruled by the true Lord of the Sheep.

Does the Animal Apocalypse anticipate the conversion of the Gentiles? Some scholars find this unusual coming from a Jewish writer in the midst of the Maccabean revolt. But the prophets of the Hebrew Bible often described the nations as coming to Zion to hear the word of the Lord (Isa 2; 25:6-8; Zech 14:16-19). Like the Animal Apocalypse, the surviving nations will acknowledge the God of Israel, although it appears many will be slaughtered or judged prior to the establishment of a New Jerusalem.

apocalyptic-jesusThere are a number of elements of Gospels which resonate with the Animal Apocalypse. Jesus uses a great deal of shepherd language in the gospels drawn from the same stock of images as the Animal Apocalypse.  When looking upon the crowd, Jesus says they are like sheep without a shepherd (Mt. 9:36-37); he then sends his disciples to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel (Mt. 10:6).  In Mark 6:34 Jesus looks on a crowd and says the same thing, but in this case he has them sit on green grass and feeds them, as a good shepherd tends to his flock (6:39-44). Luke 15:4-7 describes Jesus as diligently seeking the lost sheep and rejoicing when one is found.  In John 10 Jesus claims that he is the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep and that he tends the sheep for his Father in heaven (10:25-30).

If the idea of Israel as the Lord’s sheep was common enough in first century Palestine, then these statements by Jesus may have been understood more eschatologically than we might have ordinarily thought. Certainly contemporary preaching makes these sheep / shepherd analogies into images of love, care, and protection.  In the Animal Apocalypse, there is something of this present, but the focus is on the shepherd’s ownership of the sheep and the potential slaughter of the sheep by their enemies.

While it is true there is a theme of loving care and tender affection in the “good shepherd” sayings, Jesus may be playing on the idea that the people of Israel are poorly lead by their current shepherds (the elders of Israel) and that a change is in order.  Jesus is therefore claiming that he is the true shepherd of Ezekiel 34.  Israel’s leaders have failed as shepherds, therefore Jesus will feed the people and care for them.  Eschatologically speaking, then, Jesus tapped into a rich tradition shared by the Animal Apocalypse.

One final question. Does this allegorical history result from a loss of faith in God’s plan to restore the Kingdom to Israel? A writer living at the beginning of the Hasmonean period may have thought that Judas Maccabees was a new David or new Joshua, but despite the remarkable progress of the Hasmoneans, they failed to establish anything like a new Davidic kingdom and Judah never rose to the hyperbole of the prophets of the Hebrew Bible.

I do not think that this Apocalypse expresses a loss of faith in God’s plan as much as a re-evaluation of that plan in the light of the present. Judas was not a new David, but someday a new David will appear to render justice and convert the nations. This shift to a future hope for God’s intervention is how apocalypses work. History is working toward God’s goal of restoring the kingdom to Israel and the writer is living in the shadow of that restoration.

Are there other elements of the Animal Apocalypse that shed light on biblical apocalyptic? Daniel and Revelation are obvious, but there are apocalyptic threads in Jesus and Paul as well.

The Animal Apocalypse, Part 2 – 1 Enoch 85-90

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.

black-sheepLike 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).

White BullFinally, 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.