The Book of 1 Enoch

I’m reading the book of 1 Enoch.

First Book:

In chapters 6-8, we read a version of the Genesis story about sons of God sleeping with daughters of men and creating a race of giants.

It’s hard to tell from various interpretations of Genesis if it’s referring to angels sleeping with human women, or to righteous men sleeping with sinful women.  It doesn’t seem to make sense when normally angels are portrayed as sexless spirit beings who do God’s commands.

But here in Enoch, the sons of God are heavenly beings, 200 “watchers,” or angels, led by their chief Shemihazah.

We also see that the watchers knew they were doing wrong, that “Shem” (I’ll call him that for short) didn’t want to be the only one doing it.  So the watchers swore an oath, on pain of a curse, that they would all do it.

All 200 watchers took human wives, taught them sorcery and charms, and “reveal to them the cutting of roots and plants.”  I’m not sure why this mentions cutting roots and plants among the watchers’ sins.

The wives bore them giants, the Nephilim.  Human men weren’t able to provide them with their needs, so the giants began killing and eating men, birds, beasts, creeping things, fish and each other, drinking the blood.

The chiefs of the 200 watchers then began to teach humans the art of war and weaponry, jewelry, makeup, godlessness, spells and the cutting of roots, sorcery, magic, the signs of the lightning flashes, the signs of the stars, the signs of the shooting stars, the signs of the earth and sun and moon.  “And as men were perishing, the cry went up to heaven.”

The actions of the Watchers, and the race of giants they’ve fathered, are the reasons for the Flood.  The Watchers are to be bound and then watch the destruction of their children.

There are descriptions here of a fiery abyss where the rebel angels are to be put, and a Judgment of the angels.  But the Flood is expected by God to wipe all evil out of the earth, filling it with righteous people (descendants of Noah), righteousness and prosperity–for all eternity.

God scolds the Watchers through Enoch because they, who were to live forever in Heaven, defiled themselves with human women.  He explains how he gave women to humans because they die and need to reproduce, but not to the angels because they don’t die and don’t need to reproduce.

Meanwhile, the spirits of the giants produced by the angels mixing with humans will be evil spirits, and will stay on the earth.  The wives of the angels will become sirens.

The seven archangels are named, including names we know from the Bible and others as well, such as Uriel, in charge of the world and Tartarus.

Enoch travels with Uriel and other angels to a place of chaos where stars–yes, stars–are punished in fire for 10,000 years for not having come out in their appointed times.  (Though, of course, you have to wonder if burning in fire is really a punishment for balls of fire.)

Enoch then goes to the place where angels are punished; this is probably Tartarus.  It’s full of fire.  They will be confined there forever.

He then goes to the mountain of the dead.  Raphael, who is in charge of the spirits of men, explains what he sees.

There are four deep and hollow places, three dark and one lit up, and in the middle of the lit one is a fountain.  The spirits of the dead will be held there until the Judgment.

There they find Abel, who is crying to God constantly, accusing Cain until his descendants perish from the earth.  The lit hollow place is for the righteous; the others are for the sinners.

In the course of Enoch’s travels, he comes upon the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  But here, it’s described as the tree of wisdom.  The holy ones eat from it and learn great wisdom.

Gabriel tells him that Adam and Eve ate from it and learned wisdom, that it opened their eyes, they knew they were naked, and they were driven from the garden.

No, it’s not an apple tree by any means: It’s as tall as a fir, has leaves like the carob, and cheerful fruit like that of the vine.

And here the first book ends.

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