Skip to main content

Enoch, Ethiopic Book of

ENOCH, ETHIOPIC BOOK OF

ENOCH, ETHIOPIC BOOK OF (known as i Enoch ; abbr. i En. ), one of the most important of the apocalyptic works, dating from the period of the Second Temple. It is named after the biblical Enoch, son of Jared, about whom it is stated in Genesis 5:24 that he "walked with God; then he was no more, for God took him," which was understood to mean that he ascended to heaven during his lifetime. The work consists of different sections, which are generally clearly indicated.

In its present form it is divided into five parts, consisting of some nine separate sections, as follows:

(1) 1–5: An introduction, in which Enoch relates the good in store for the "elect" after the final "day of judgment"; 6–11 describes Shamḥazai and his cohorts, the chiefs of the watchers (cf. Dan. 4:10–14); they are "sons of God … the Nephilim" of Genesis 6:4, who lust after the daughters of men and sire children (cf. the Greek gigantes), who consume the labor of others, and teach mankind the arts of magic and the art of fashioning weapons of destruction. Uriel, one of the angels of the "Heavenly Presence," is sent by God to apprise Noah of the impending flood, destined to come upon the earth because of this wickedness. The angel Gabriel is sent to destroy the children of the "watchers" and the angel Michael to bind the "watchers" in *Sheol until the day of the last judgment; 12–36 continues the foregoing except for the fact that here the leader of the Nephilim is called Azael, and Enoch the "righteous scribe" acts as the intermediary between them and God. It continues with Enoch's journey through the universe, during which he is granted a view of all the elements of creation (hills of darkness, rivers of fire, the abode of the spirits, the place of the great future "judgment," the garden of Eden, Gehenna, the sun, the stars, etc.) and among them also "the seat of glory," upon which sits "the great glory" (God).

(2) 37–71: This section deals with the "last day." The Messiah, who is here called the "Elect One," is envisioned as a preexistent being who has, from time immemorial, been "under the wings of the Lord of the spirits" and who, on the last day of judgment, is destined to act as the judge of all mortal beings (41). The ministering angels, who lift their voices in song in the morning, first greet the "Lord of spirits" (or the "ancient of days" of Dan. 7:9) and then the "Elect One."

(3) 72–82: The Book of the Courses of the Heavenly Luminaries. This book is entirely separate and distinct from the preceding one. It gives a detailed description of the course of the sun, of the moon and of the stars, of the falling of dew and of rain, of the recurring seasons of the year, etc. The nature of the "true" calendar of 364 days per year, i.e., 52 weeks, is also explained (by means of a description of the procession of the sun through the "gates" and "windows" of the heavens).

(4) 83–90: This part is similar in content to section (2). In it are related, by means of dream-visions and symbols, the deluge and the history of the children of Israel down to the beginning of the Hasmonean era.

(5) 91–108, which may be subdivided as follows: (a) 91–105: another survey of the history of man and of the children of Israel. History is divided into ten periods, seven of which have already occurred (the creation, the flood, Abraham, the revelation at Sinai, the Temple, the destruction of the Temple, the time of the election of "the righteous shoot") and three which belong to the future. In them the righteous shall triumph, the Temple will be rebuilt, and the day of the last judgment come; (b) 106–107: The Book of Noah, the story of Noah's birth, similar in content to the Genesis Apocryphon and to the Book of Noah found at Qumran; (c) 108: Enoch's instructions to mankind.

The different parts of the work are not merely a compilation of various heterogeneous elements, but apparently also reflect different periods in the life of the community in which these "books" arose. In its view of the role of Enoch and in its solar calendar it has affinities with the Book of *Jubilees (which mentions it – 4:17–23 et al. – and is dependent upon it), as well as with other apocalyptic literature (cf. the Testament of Levi, 10:5; 14:1 et al.). These books are also familiar with the Noah story, as apparently with chapters 80–93. On the other hand chapters 37–71 reflect the views of esoteric circles. In the Talmud, R. Akiva, who was among the sages who delved into such lore (ma'aseh merkavah; see Tosef., Ḥag. 2:4), expressed similar ideas concerning a preexistent Messiah who sits on a seat next to the "Divine Presence" (Shekhinah; Sanh. 38b; Ḥag. 14a), and similar ideas are found in the later "pseudepigraphic" midrashic literature (ed. by A. Jellinek in his Beit ha-Midrash and in pr 36–46). One passage in this section (67:6–8), which speaks about mineral waters used medicinally by mighty and wicked monarchs, apparently alludes to Herod (cf. Jos., Ant., 17:171) and hence dates from after his reign (or possibly the days of the early *procurators). The belief in a Temple which will descend from heaven (91–105) also stems from separatist circles, such as those represented by the authors of the Dead Sea Manual of *Discipline who did not consider the Second Temple to be sacred and dissociated themselves from it. The final chapter is both ideologically and linguistically close to the *Dead Sea Scrolls, and the term "righteous shoot" is also common in the writings of this sect.

The Book of Enoch had tremendous influence. From it, or at any rate, through it the Manual of Discipline received the solar calendar and it also served as an exemplar for the composition of the burgeoning apocalyptic literary genre. From it too comes the concept of a preexistent Messiah, which influenced early Christianity and prepared the way for the belief in the divinity of Jesus (see later). It was this influence which was apparently responsible for the negative attitude of some of the talmudic sages of the third century c.e. who regarded Enoch as a wicked and hypocritical figure (Gen. R. 25:1). Only later, at the beginning of the Middle Ages, did the rabbis deal with the mystical knowledge traditionally vouchsafed Enoch. Some early Church Fathers (like Tertullian) considered the book to be part of the canon. However, from the fourth century on, it gradually lost importance in the Western Church and only in the Ethiopic Church is it still considered canonical. The Book of Enoch became known again in Europe only in the 18th century when James Bruce brought parts of it from Ethiopia. In the 19th century, Dalman (who is also responsible for the chapter divisions), and later Charles, disseminated it in the world of Western scholarship.

The original language of the Book of Enoch was, according to Joseph Halévy, Hebrew, but the fragments of the book found in Qumran are all in Aramaic. Charles' hypothesis is that the book consists of Hebrew and Aramaic portions indiscriminately combined. The book was translated into Greek and from Greek into Ethiopic. Only part of the Greek translation is extant. The Book of Enoch is quoted in the Epistle of Jude (14–15) in the New Testament and its influence has been discovered at many other points in the New Testament and in the Church Fathers (cf. Charles, Apocrypha, 2 (1913), 180–5). Of the Greek translation, chapters 1–32 were found in Egypt in 1886–7 and were published by Bouriant in 1892. In 1930 the University of Michigan purchased this manuscript, as well as the manuscript of chapters 97:6–104, 106–107, which were published by Bonner (The Last Chapters of Enoch in Greek, 1937). The most complete Ethiopic version was published by R.H. Charles as The Ethiopic Version of the Book of Enoch edited from 23 Mss. (1906). There are the following translations of the Ethiopic text into modern languages: English, Charles, Apocrypha, 2 (1913), 163–28; German, G. Beer, in: E. Kautsch (ed.), Apocryphen und Pseudepigraphen, 2 (1900), 236–310; French, F. Martin, Le livre d'Hénoch (1906); Hebrew, A. Kahana, Ha-Sefarim ha-Ḥiẓonim, 1 (1936), 19–101.

bibliography:

J. Flemming and L. Radermacher, Das Buch Henoch (1901); H.B. Swete, Old Testament in Greek (19124), 789–809; P. Volz, Eschatologie der juedischen Gemeinde im neutestamentlichen Zeitalter (1934), 16–25; H.H. Rowley, Relevance of Apocalyptic (1947), 54–60, incl. bibl.; idem, Jewish Apocalyptic and the Dead Sea Scrolls (1957); J.T. Milik, in: Biblica, 32 (1951), 393–400; idem, in: rb, 65 (1958), 70–77; N. Avigad and Y. Yadin, Megillah Ḥiẓonit li-Vereshit (1957), 13–15, 31, 34 (Heb. section); Y.M. Grintz, Perakim be-Toledot Bayit Sheni (1969), 105–42.

[Yehoshua M. Grintz]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Enoch, Ethiopic Book of." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Enoch, Ethiopic Book of." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/enoch-ethiopic-book

"Enoch, Ethiopic Book of." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved August 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/enoch-ethiopic-book

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.