The Book of the Heavenly Luminaries – 1 Enoch 72-82

Also known as The Astronomical Book, This section is a lengthy discourse on celestial bodies with the goal of calculating the length of a year correctly.

  • Chapter 72 – The Sun
  • Chapter 73 – The Moon
  • Chapter 74 – Systems of Rotation
  • Chapter 75 – The Stars and Their Positions
  • Chapter 76 – The Twelve Winds
  • Chapter 77 – Four Directions, Seven Mountains, Seven Rivers
  • Chapter 78 – Names for the Phases of the Sun and Moon
  • Chapter 79 – Conclusions on the Seasons
  • Chapter 80 – Parallels Between Sinners and Seasons

In Chapter 81 Enoch is told to read from the “tablets of heaven” and to report this reading to his son Methuselah. These books seem to contain all that will happen to all the flesh of the earth, although this “determinism” is based on astrological prediction. Enoch passes this knowledge onto his son in chapter 82. There is a clear statement in 82:4-6 that the true astronomical year ought to be 364 days. The computations which Enoch learned are true because they were communicated to him by the angel Uriel himself.

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This section of 1 Enoch is quite esoteric and seems more or less unrelated to the study of the New Testament. John Collins observes the point of this section is to “prevent sin by calendrical error . . . right observance is determined by an understanding of the heavenly world” (Collins, Apocalyptic Imagination, 62). The major issue at the heart of this section of 1 Enoch is the length of the year. Everything in the unit serves as a proof for a 364-day calendar rather than a 360-day calendar.

While an arcane and difficult topic for the modern reader, the issue was of critical importance in the first century since it has ramifications for proper worship. The problem of the calendar is therefore important for the New Testament studies as well as Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship because of the dating of Passover. If one holds Passover according to the wrong calendar, does it count? Is it a sin to celebrate Passover on the wrong date? The Qumran community thought keeping the wrong date to be sinful and condemned the priestly aristocracy for using a 360-day calendar, while the Qumran community used a 364-day calendar. That 1 Enoch supports a 364-day calendar may account for the popularity of the book at Qumran.

I need to make another important observation about this calendar. There is nothing special about the calendar in 1 Enoch (or at Qumran for that matter)! It is simply a solar calendar. It is not “God’s Calendar” nor is it an apocalyptic roadmap for the future.

The Parables of 1 Enoch and the New Testament

The general apocalyptic context of the parables section of 1 Enoch may provide context for the reading of the New Testament, especially the Gospels. When John the Baptist and Jesus appear preaching the Kingdom of God as “at hand,” the original audience would have been quite familiar with the phrase and all that it represented. For the Jew of the first century, the idea of “kingdom” was clear – it was to be the time when God reestablished Israel in the Land. 1 Enoch shares many of these ideas, especially the Book of Parables. It is difficult to know the extent to which the language and themes of the Parables influenced popular thinking in first century Palestine, especially since this section is the only part of 1 Enoch missing from the Qumran literature. With these caveats in mind, the following themes seem to be present in both the Parables and the Gospels.

First, this section anticipates a time of suffering and testing for the elect. The righteous have suffered and shed blood (47:1-2, 4). In 56:5-8 the Parthians and Medes will invade and trample the holy city. The righteous are downcast (62:15) and are being afflicted by the wicked (50:1). The suffering of the elect is not as detailed as the eventual suffering of the wicked, although it is implied in the descriptions of the wicked. The suffering of the wicked is described as birth-pains (62:4). In the Olivet Discourse Jesus used similar language to describe the period just prior to the Parousia. The Similitudes do not have anything like the suffering described in Revelation or the Olivet Discourse, but there is an implication throughout that the righteous are “innocent victims” of the evil schemes of the fallen angels and the kings of this world.

Second, this time of suffering will come to an end when “that Son of Man” is placed on his glorious throne and judges the oppressors. When the Elect One comes the day of salvation has come for the righteous (39:6-7, 50:1-2, 51:2, 62:12-13) and the whole earth will rejoice at the coming of the Elect One (51:4-5). The coming of the Elect One will result in rest from oppression for the righteous (53:6-7). The Elect One will sit on a “throne of glory” to establish justice (45:3-5, 62:3) The righteous will become like the light of the sun and the days of their life will be unending (58:1-3, 61:5-6). Heaven and earth will be transformed into a blessing (44:5-6) and there will be a period of peace. In fact, it was the fallen angels who taught man to make war and weapons of war. The Elect One will restore man to his peaceful state. (52:8-9).

Third, the judgment of the wicked and sinners is quite detailed in 1 Enoch. When the Righteous One appears, the sinners “will be driven from the face of the earth” (38:1) and melt like wax, powerless (52:6). The Elect One will judge Azaz’el and “all the hosts in the name of the Lord of Spirits” (55:4). Kings and rulers will perish (38:5) and the sinner will not be allowed to ascend into heaven (45:2). The Elect One will sit on the seat of glory to make a selection based on the deeds (45:3, 61:8) and there will be no time for repentance for the wicked (62:1-4).  Angelic beings are set enoch-visionsaside for punishing the kings of this world (53:3-5). The wicked will be punished in a deep valley of burning fire and molten metal where they will be in chains with rough stones on their jaws (54:1-6, 67:6). They will be scourged by “angels of punishment” in this abyss-like valley (56:1-4, 67:1-8) The judgments which will fall on the sinners are called “punishments” (41:2, 53:3, 54:7, 56:1, 60:6) and “wrath” (55:3, 60:12). In later apocalyptic the punishment of the wicked is described in increasingly gory detail (100:3, cf. Ezek. 39:17; Rev 14:20, SibOr. 3:796-808).

In the teaching of Jesus there are a number of parables which make the same sort of statements about the coming messianic age. At that time there will be a harvest and the good wheat will be separated from the bad weeds (Mt 13:24-30) or clean fish from the unclean (13:47-50). In each of these two examples, the “bad” element is placed in a place of fire (a furnace, to be burned up) but the “good” element is placed where it ought to go (the barn, for example.) The Olivet Discourse contains five parables which run along the same lines. There is an unproductive or unprepared character (a lazy servant, foolish virgin, the “goat”) who faces judgment at the surprise return of the delayed central character (the master, the bridegroom, the king). The productive and prepared characters are rewarded by the central character when he unexpectedly returns.

Fourth, the last of these parables is the most eschatological, the so-called Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. Jesus constantly refers to himself as the Son of Man in the gospels, a title that is probably derived from Daniel 7:13-14, where someone who is “like a son of man” comes before the ancient of Days to receive the authority to rule (see Mt 19:28, Rev. 1:13). There is little doubt that his disciples could miss his point that this is the “second coming” that they asked about at the beginning of chapter 24. There is a combination of several metaphors in this passage. Jesus is the Son of Man, the King of Glory, and the Great Shepherd all at the same time. This glorious arrival of the Son of Man is accompanied by “all his angels” (Zech. 14:5). When the Son of Man returns as king, he will sit upon a glorious throne and judge the nations, assigning them to their eternal destiny. This general outline is quite compatible with the general apocalyptic outline of the Similitudes.

Fifth, one of the more striking parallels to Elect One / Lord of Spirits is Luke 4:18. Jesus reads from Isaiah 61:1-2, “the Spirit of the Lord has anointed me,” and applies this text to himself. In Matthew 25:31 the King returns and is seated in his “glorious throne” and gathers the nations to judge them, an apocalyptic influenced parable-like saying in which Jesus makes clear he is the returning king. The frequent self-description of Jesus as the “Son of Man” is also critical in this context. When Jesus used this phrase, along with many of the other apocalyptic images used in the Similitudes, did his original listeners hear them in the context of texts like 1 Enoch 61 and 62? When he cited Isaiah 61:1-2 as fulfilled that day, his hearers certainly understood Jesus was claiming something extraordinary although we cannot be sure exactly what it was they were reacting to in Jesus’ claim.

Sixth, those who possess salvation are often described in terms of pure clean garments in the New Testament (62:15, 71:1). Paul describes salvation as a “heavenly dwelling” and garment in 2 Cor. 5:2-4. Revelation makes use of this image several times: 3:5-6 describes the righteous in Sardis as not having “soiled their clothes” while the unrighteous of Laodicea were still shamefully naked. Several times in Revelation those who worship the throne of God are described as “dressed in white” (4:4, 6:11, 7:9, 13, 14, 19:14).

Conclusion. Although there is no New Testament text that can be described as a quote or a direct allusion to the Book of Parables in 1 Enoch, some of the writers if the New Testament have the same apocalyptic spirit. This is no surprise since they both are products of Second Temple period Judaism.

The Third Parable – 1 Enoch 64-71

Chapters 64-69 returns to the subject of the judgment of the Flood. After a brief note describing the fallen angels who sinned in the earth (chapter 61), the narration shifts to Noah. In chapter 65 Noah goes to his grandfather Enoch and complains about the wickedness in the world. Enoch responds by crying out sorrowfully and predicting the destruction of the world. In 65:6-12 Enoch describes the sins of the world which have resulted in the coming deluge.

Rubens-Michael-AngelsEnoch then shows to Noah the angels who have been prepared to cause the destruction of the flood (65). Noah is told by the Lord that the angels have constructed an ark which he will bless to preserve Noah and his family so that they alone survive the coming flood. The flood is intended to imprison the fallen angels although the flood waters will be a poison to the kings and princes of the world (67:8-9). These kings and princes are punished because they denied the “spirit of the Lord (67:8, 10). Michael instructs Noah in the “secret things” which were written in Enoch’s book (68:1). Michael and Raphael lament the destruction of the flood, but agree it is a just judgment (68:2-5).

Chapter 69 forms a conclusion to the flood narrative by listing the names (onomastica) of the fallen angels along with their role in bringing sin to humanity. Twenty-one names are listed in verse two, nearly the same list as in 6:7. Several names are listed with additional commentary:

  • Yeqôn – the one who lead the angels to come to earth in the first place.
  • Asb’êl – The angel who advised the other angels to go to the daughters of men.
  • Gâdr’êl – The angel who lead Eve astray and taught men to kill; he shows humans how to make weapons and armor, the “instruments of death.”
  • Pênêm’e – The angel who taught men the secret wisdom of making paper and ink, causing men to sin “eternity to eternity and until this day.”
  • Kâsdeyâ – This angel taught humans “wicked smitings” of “flagellations of evil,” including how to smite an embryo in the womb to kill it (i.e., abortion).

The angel Bîqâ has a hidden name which he reveals to Michael when he swears an oath (66:16-26). This secret oath describes all of creation as glorifying God and thanking him forever. The oath results in great joy because “that Son of Man” has been revealed. Here the Son of Man is described as eternal (“he will never pass away from the earth,” verse 27) and once again seated on a throne of glory in judgment.

Chapters 70-71 form an appendix to the Similitudes since the last line of chapter 69 is the end of the third parable. In this appendix Enoch is taken to heaven in a “wind chariot” and placed between two winds. An angel measures the place of the elect where Enoch sees the patriarchs of old (70:4). His spirit continues to ascend until he is in the “heaven of heavens” (71:5). There he sees a structure made of crystals with four sides, surrounded by “living fire.” He sees countless angels, including the four archangels, all worshiping the Antecedent of Days. From this point on there will be peace and righteousness (71:15-16).

The elect will dwell with “that Son of Man” who rules in the name of the Lord of Spirits forever. Who is this son of man? The “Head of Days” tells Enoch that “You (are) that Son of Man who was born for righteousness” (71:14). Charles dropped this line from his translation since he did not think the author would identify Enoch as the son of man, but as VanderKam points out, “Charles’s tour de force, however, has no foundation in the MSS” (1 Enoch 2, 328). The suggestion that the Head of Days says Enoch is “a son of man” is also rejected by VanderKam. He concludes the phrase does identify Enoch as the son of man, but this is “an installation formula,” commissioning Enoch. It is perhaps “a first step toward the angelification” of Enoch in the Enoch literature.

The Third Parable – 1 Enoch 58-63

Chapters 58-71 contain the third “parable” of the Similitudes. Chapter 58 introduces this last parable as the “glorious portion” awaiting the righteous and elect. The content of the parable is more concerned with revealing to Enoch mysteries and secrets of creation and the angelic order. Chapter 59, for example, is a brief description of the mysteries of lightning and thunder. Enoch is taught how to divine good or bad from thunder and lightning.

Chapters 60-61 are lengthy descriptions of creation not unlike the final chapters of the book of Job. In the opening paragraph Enoch is caught up into heaven where he sees millions of angels and the Antecedent of Time sitting on a throne surrounded by glory. As is typical in apocalyptic vision literature, Enoch is struck with great fear by the amazing scene and is unable to stand. Michael the archangel lifts Enoch and strengthens him. Michael explains to Enoch that the day of mercy has lasted until the present time but now a day of punishment has arrived (60:1-6).

Behemoth-William-BlakeTwo mythical monsters have been prepared for this day, Leviathan from the “fountains of the Waters” and Behemoth who holds an invisible desert in his chest. This desert is called Dunadayin, possibly the “land of Nod” from Genesis 4:16 (OTP 1:40, note p).

In verses 11-25 another angel gives Enoch a “tour” of the storerooms of heaven, concluding with the two monsters turning into food for the righteous in the garden (60:24-25). The garden is measured in chapter 61 by angles using long ropes. By measuring the garden the angels seem to be defining the place not only where the elect ones will dwell but who the elect are – the dead will return and stay in the place along with the Lord of Spirits and his Elect One. Measuring has a connotation of both protection (Zech 2:1-5) and judgment (2 Kings 21:13, Amos 7:7-9 Isaiah 34:11) in the Old Testament. The most important “measuring” scene in the background of 1 Enoch is likely Ezekiel 40:1-42:20, cf. Revelation 10.

After the garden is measured, the Elect One is placed on his “throne of glory” by the Lord of Spirits and all of the elect worship him (61:8-9). This worship is joined by all of the ranks of angels in heaven, all singing with one voice “Blessed is he and may the name of the Lord of Spirits be blessed forever and evermore” (61:12). Even the Elect One is included in this worship.

Chapters 62 and 63 turn to the fate of the “ruling class” who have oppressed the righteous. The rulers of this world are commanded to look upon the Elect One, who in chapter 60 was placed on a throne of glory by the Lord of Spirits. Now it is the Lord of Spirits who is seated on the throne of glory and the spirit of righteousness is poured out on him (62:2). Heb. 12:23 is quite similar to the overall context of the third similitude, although there is no direct connection. Those who have demonstrated faith have come to the holy city (rather than a garden) along with thousands upon thousands of angels, the “elect” in the form of the church, and to God, the judge of all and all the men who have the “spirit of righteousness.”

This judgment is described as “birth pangs” (62:4); all the kings of the earth will be terrified and dejected when they see “that Son of Man” who was concealed by the Most High One until he was revealed to his elect ones (62:7). The elect will rejoice over the judgment of their oppressors (62:12) and will dwell with the Son of Man in peace “forever and ever” (62:14). This congregation of the elect will have “risen from the earth” and will be clothed with eternal “garments of glory” given to them by the Lord of Spirits (62:15-16). Those who are under the judgment of the Lord of Spirits worship the Lord and beg for mercy and confess what they have done (63:1-10). This long prayer by the judged seems to underscore the righteousness of the judgment against them. The Lord of Spirits is correct and fair in his condemnation of the kings of the earth.

A Final Judgment– 1 Enoch 53-57

Judgment imagery comes to a climax in chapters 53-57 with Enoch’s visions based on a deep valley. At first Enoch sees a vision of a deep valley filled with “gifts and tribute” brought by all the inhabitants of the earth. This tribute does nothing to stop the judgment, however (“the valley will never be filled”) and the sinners are judged by the Lord of Spirits. In verse three the prophet sees angels preparing the “chains of Satan.” One is tempted to find a parallel to Revelation 20 (Satan is himself bound by an angel with a chain and put into the Abyss), but these chains are for the kings of the earth.

Azazel

David Aune lists 1 Enoch 54 as an example of the common “apocalyptic motif” of the binding of Satan or other angelic beings, along with 2ApocBaruch 56:13, SibOr 2.289, Jude 6, 2 Peter 2:4 (Revelation 17-22, 1081). Of Aune’s suggested allusions, only Revelation 20describes the binding of Satan with chains. These chains are for the armies of Azaz’el (54:5) who are cast into the abyss. It is the four archangels who seize the kings and cast them into the furnace of fire prepared for that day. This judgment is described as a “vengeance” by the Lord of Spirits because these kings performed oppressive deeds as messengers of Satan.

Once the kings of the world are bound, the Elect One reveals the “house of his congregation” and the “mountains become flat” (53:6-7). This is probably a reference to the judgment of all of the kingdoms of the earth when the Messiah reveals and establishes his rule. In the Gospels John the Baptist connects the leveling of mountains and filling of valleys from Isaiah 40:3-5 with the coming of the messianic age (Luke 3:5), although this is often taken as a leveling of ethical social barriers in the ministry of Jesus. For example, Darrel Bock suggests “the images call the hearer of John’s message to realize that God is coming in judgment and that only the humble who rely on him will be spared” (Luke 1:1-9:50, 294).

In 54:7-55:2 there is a brief insertion from what may be the lost “Book of Noah” (OTP 38, note e; Charles, Commentary, 2:221 states Jubilees 10:13 and 21:10 mention a “Book of Noah.”) There are some notable differences in this section which mark it out as different from the rest of the Similitudes. For example, God is called the Antecedent of Time (55:1) as well as the Lord of Spirits. Distinct flood imagery is found in this paragraph (the waters above and below, the sign of the rainbow, etc.). The eschatological judgment is missing in favor of the historical judgment of the flood.

The demon Azaz’el himself is judged in 55:3-56:4 by the Elect One himself, sitting on his throne of glory in the name of the Lord of Spirits. (The name Azaz’el has unfortunately been used in many books and films.) This is an important text because the eschatological judgment is given by the Lord of Spirits to the Elect One. In John 5:22 Jesus states the Father has entrusted judgment to the Son. While this verse is not obviously eschatological, Revelation 4-5 seems to expand on this theme. In these two chapters, the “one who sits on the throne” has a sealed scroll, which appears from the context to be “judgment” on the world. But the “one who sits on the throne” is unable to open the scroll and execute judgment. It is only the “Lamb who was slain” who is worthy to execute the judgments found in the scroll. That God would hand the final eschatological judgment over to a representative seems to be consistent with the apocalyptic scheme of 1 Enoch.

After Azaz’el and his armies are judged angels are sent with nets to collect the “elect” in order to fill the crevices of the abyss-like valley. These elect are those kings of the earth who followed Azaz’el – verse four indicates they will no longer lead others astray. In 56:5-8 we are told that the angels will assemble against the Parthians and the Medes. The Parthians will be stirred to battle and overrun the land of the elect ones, Israel. (Charles suspected 56:5-57:3 to be an interpolation since it is far more specific than anything else in the Similitudes. Commentary, 2:221).

This army will become confused when they get to the city of righteousness (Jerusalem) and will begin to attack one another. Armies which become confused and destroy themselves are not uncommon in the Old Testament, see Judges 7 and 1 Samuel 14. Sheol will “open her mouth” and swallow up all of the sinners “in the presence of the elect ones.” The vision of the second parable ends with a description of a vast army of chariots riding in the air from the east to the west. The army is so loud the foundations of the earth shake and can be heard from one end of the earth to the other. As a result of this army, all will fall down and worship the Lord of Spirits (verse 3).