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.
Like 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 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.
There 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.
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.
The Animal Apocalypse is one of the most remarkable sections of 1 Enoch. As Daniel Olson says, the Animal Apocalypse is “an original theological interpretation of human history.” Olson argues in his recent dissertation this allegory was written early in the Maccabean period as propaganda to support Judas’s actions. Olson dates the section precisely: it was “probably written about 165 BCE and then updated in mid- 161, following the battle of Adasa in March (1 Macc 7:39-50; 2 Macc 15:15-17).” Nickelsburg places 1 Enoch 90:9b-10, 12-16 in italics as a possible interpolation made around 163-161 B.C. The allegory therefore presents a history up to a point in Maccabean Revolt, but the intervention of the Lord of the sheep did not occur in history, nor does the judgment described in 90:20-27 reflect a historical event in the Maccabean period. Similar to Daniel 11, the history is only accurate up to the point when the author begins to speculate about a future intervention by God to restore Israel.
The story begins and ends with Eden. Enoch sees a white bull and a heifer (Adam and Eve) to whom two bulls were born, one black and the other red. The black bull gored the red one, killing it (Cain and Abel). The heifer came after the black bull but the first white bull quiets her and she gives him another white bull (Seth), along with many other bulls and black cows. The third bull (Seth) is white, a reference to the purity of the line of Seth.
Beginning with chapter 86, the Apocalypse offers a history of the pre-flood world. The stars mingle with the cows in the following chapter, giving birth to elephants, camels and donkeys. The cattle become frightened and they begin to bite and gore one another, referring to the fallen angels (Genesis 6; 1 Enoch 6-11). In 1 Enoch 87 a snow-white person comes down from heaven and rescues Enoch out of the chaos and tells him to watch the elephants and other animals. Four heavenly beings seize the fallen stars in chapter 88 and place them in the Abyss, bound hand and foot.
In the earliest part of the vision the identifications are obvious and straightforward, but as the allegory becomes more detailed there is more difficulty determining what the original writer had in mind. The basis for much of the imagery of the animal apocalypse seems to be Ezekiel 34 (sheep and shepherds) as well as the frequent imagery in the Psalms of Israel as the sheep of God’s pasture (95:6-7, for example). 1 Enoch 89:2-9 refers to the Flood. One of the four angels teaches the white bovine how to build an ark and this bovine becomes a man and builds it. The rising waters destroy all the animals, the ark lands and a man and three cows exit the ark.
The rest of Genesis and slavery in Egypt is summarized by 89:10-27. Israel is represented by sheep who are surrounded by wolves and rescued by the Lord of the Sheep (Israel in Egypt and the Exodus). This dazzling Lord leads the sheep out of a swamp and into the desert. In the desert the Lord begins to open the eyes of the sheep (89:28-38). One of the sheep leads the nation becomes a man and is taken up into heaven, a clear reference to Moses (v. 36).
The sheep are then led across a stream (the Jordan) into “a good place,” a “pleasant and glorious land” (89:39). In 89:39-50, the sheep settle in the land. When the sheep become dim-sighted another sheep is appointed to lead them, and their eyes open again (the “Judges cycle”). The sheep are oppressed by a variety of animals (Gentiles). The kings of Israel are rams, Solomon himself is a “little ram” who built a house for the Lord of the Sheep (89:50).
After passing over the Davidic kingdom briefly, 89:51-67 offers significant detail for the divided Kingdom after Solomon. In verse 59 seventy shepherds are summoned and commanded to watch over the sheep. These shepherds are held responsible for what the sheep do, implying these are the seventy elders or priesthood of Israel (Exod 24:1, Ezek 8:11, 1 Enoch 34:1-31). R. H. Charles called the identity of the seventy “the most vexed question in Enoch” (Charles, Commentary, 2:255). He suggested the seventy were angels since they received their orders from God; humans would have been represented as animals in this context. Charles overlooks the fact some of the characters in the story were humans (Noah, for example, was a bovine who became human when given the commission to build the ark) and he seems to ignore the fact these seventy are judged for their mismanagement of the sheep, as were the elders of Israel.
The exile is briefly narrated in 89:68-72. The sheep are delivered to oppressors and many are killed. A writer records in a book how many have perished. This book was read aloud to the Lord of the Sheep and then sealed. Verse 72 is probably the return from exile and the rebuilding of the city and temple under Ezra and Nehemiah. In 89:73-77 the city and temple are rebuilt, but the sheep are weak and poor-sighted (the post-exilic community in Judah).
The first section of the Animal Apocalypse closely follows the story of the Hebrew Bible from Eden through the exile, although it is remarkable how little is said about David and Solomon. Taken as a propaganda piece for Judas and the future Hasmoneans, the first part of the Animal Apocalypse is more interested in presenting Judas as a legitimate successor to other leaders who were empowered by the Lord of Sheep to lead the people out of slavery and into the glorious land (Moses, Joshua).
1 Enoch 83-90 is a new section since there is a break from the astronomical speculations of the previous section, although it is related to chapter 82 as a continuation of Enoch’s dialogue with Methuselah (83:1). These two chapters serve as an introduction to the Animal Apocalypse, a slightly veiled allegory of history up to the Maccabean period.
Enoch received these visions before he was married and still living with his grandfather, Mahalalel (Gen 5:12-17). After Enoch receives a vision of the coming flood (83:2b-2), he relates his dream to his grandfather Mahalalel. This is Enoch’s first vision, and like Samuel and Eli (1 Sam 3), Enoch requires guidance from his grandfather to understand the vision.
Within the world of the story, the vision refers to the coming flood. But the description goes beyond Genesis 7 to convey “a picture of cosmic collapse and annihilation” (Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch, 349). As is typical in the Enoch literature, the imagery of the flood is conflated with the ultimate judgment of God.
1 Enoch 83:3-4 I saw in a vision the sky being hurled down and snatched and falling upon the earth. When it fell upon the earth, I saw the earth being swallowed up into the great abyss, the mountains being suspended upon mountains, the hills sinking down upon the hills, and tall trees being uprooted and thrown and sinking into the deep abyss. (OTP 1:61)
Mahalalel explains that sin is so great the earth must “sink into the abyss” (primordial chaos), but there is a possibility God would allow a remnant to remain on the earth. He therefore counsels Enoch to pray for the earth (83:6-9), which he does (83:10-11, 84:1-6). Enoch first praises God and acknowledges his greatness (83:2-4). These two verses resonate with many texts in the Hebrew Bible, although it is remarkably similar to Daniel 2:37-38 (describing Nebuchadnezzar) and 7:14 (describing the rule of the Son of Man), but also Isaiah 66:1-2 (heavens as God’s throne, the earth as his footstool).
1 Enoch 84:2 Blessed are you, O Great King, you are mighty in your greatness, O Lord of all the creation of heaven, King of kings and God of the whole world. Your authority and kingdom abide forever and ever; and your dominion throughout all the generations of generations; All the heavens are your throne forever, and the whole earth is your footstool forever and ever and ever.
Enoch makes request on behalf of the present generation. Even if the angels must come under judgment, Enoch prays that God would allow a remnant of humans survive the devastation. He asks God to raise up the righteous and true flesh “as a seed-bearing plant” (84:6). Within the world of the story, this obviously refers to the world after the flood and the family of Noah as a righteous family to repopulate the world: 1 Enoch 10:3; 65:12; 67:3 each describe Noah as a preserved seed.
But the image of a plant which survives the coming judgment resonates with description of the righteous remnant in Isaiah 6:13. At the time 1 Enoch 83-84 was written, the final judgment is still in the future. The prayer is that God will once again preserve the righteous remnant in that coming apocalyptic judgment.