Seventy Shepherds, Vision of

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SEVENTY SHEPHERDS, VISION OF , the modern name of the treatise, also known as the "Dream-Visions," included in chapters 83–90 of the Ethiopic Book of *Enoch. Like the whole Book of Enoch, the treatise is extant in an Ethiopic translation from Greek, a fragment of which (Enoch 89:42–49) is preserved in a Vatican manuscript. The treatise dates from the beginnings of the Maccabean period and was known to the author of the Book of Jubilees (cf. 4:19). Chapters 83–84 contain Enoch's prophetic dream about the coming flood and form an introduction to a long dream-vision about the entire history of mankind from Adam to the eschatological salvation. This history appears to Enoch as an allegorical story, in which human actors are represented by animals. The allegory is mostly external and clumsy, but this is why its content can be easily revealed, making the treatise an important document in the Jewish conception of history and eschatology. The author hints at the common motif of the slaying of the prophets (89:51). At the end of the first commonwealth, because of its sins, God gave Israel into the hands of 70 shepherds, i.e., the angelic princes of the gentiles (the 70 nations); he told them how many of the sheep (Israel) they could allow to be destroyed, but they exceeded their orders and slew more than was required of them. This means that before the destruction of the First Temple, the Babylonian exile, and the loss of independence, God's people Israel, which had sinned, was handed over to the powers of the nations to live under the unrightful dominion of their guardian angels. In the last period of history, lambs are born to the white sheep (i.e., Israel) which are no longer blind as all the others before them had been; these are evidently the "Ḥasidim" of the Maccabean revolt. The sheep from which a great horn sprouts (Enoch 90:9) undoubtedly represents Judah Maccabee. The real history, known to the author, finishes with 90:13, and from there he describes what he thinks to be the imminent eschatological future. The great sword given to Israel for their last battle against the gentiles (90:19, 34) occurs also in the *Sibylline Oracles (iii, 673, 780–2) and in an apparently Jewish apocalypse included in Lactantius' Institutions. After the final victory God will judge the fallen angels together with the guardian angels of the nations and apostates (90:20–27). The eschatological happy end begins with a prophecy about the New Jerusalem. The old one will be removed and laid in the south of the land. In its place God will bring the New Jerusalem. The idea of the New Jerusalem is not yet connected with the destruction of the one already existing. The dispersed Jews will return and the righteous gentiles convert. Only at the very end of the eschatological drama (90:37–38) do two messianic persons appear: the first is evidently the Davidic Messiah; the description of the second one seems to allude to Deuteronomy 33:17 (the blessing of Joseph). Thus the work is possibly the oldest evidence for the idea of the Messiah son of Joseph. As this treatise was evidently composed in the midst of the wars of Judah Maccabee (d. 160 b.c.e.), and written some years after the Book of Daniel, it is one of the oldest Jewish apocalypses.


O. Gebhardt, in: Archiv fuer wissenschaftliche Erforschung des Alten Testamentes, 2 (1871), 163–246; D.S. Russel, The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic (1964), 200–2; D. Flusser, in: iej, 9 (1959), 99–104.

[David Flusser]

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Seventy Shepherds, Vision of

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