Prophet Enoch is of the Antediluvian period in the Hebrew Bible. Enoch was the son of Jared and fathered Methuselah. This Enoch is not to be confused with Cain’s son Enoch (Genesis 4:17).
The text of the Book of Genesis says Enoch lived 365 years before he was taken by God. The text reads that Enoch “walked with God: and he was no more; for God took him” (Genesis 5:21–24), which some Christians interpret as Enoch’s entering Heaven alive.
Enoch is the subject of many Jewish and Christian traditions. He was considered the author of the Book of Enoch and also called Enoch the scribe of judgment. The New Testament has three references to Enoch from the lineage of Seth (Luke 3:37, Hebrews 11:5, Jude 1:14–15).
Enoch in the Book of Genesis
Enoch appears in the Book of Genesis of the Pentateuch as the seventh of the ten pre-Deluge Patriarchs. Genesis recounts that each of the pre-Flood Patriarchs lived for several centuries. Genesis 5 provides a genealogy of these ten figures (from Adam to Noah), providing the age at which each fathered the next, and the age of each figure at death. Enoch is considered by many to be the exception, who is said to “not see death” (Hebrews 11:5). Furthermore, Genesis 5:22–29 states that Enoch lived 365 years, which is shorter than his peers, who are all recorded as dying at over 700 years of age. The brief account of Enoch in Genesis 5 ends with the cryptic note that “he [was] not; for God took him”.
Apocryphal Books of Enoch
Three extensive Apocrypha are attributed to Enoch:
- Book of Enoch, composed in a Semitic language and preserved in Ge’ez, was first brought to Europe by James Bruce and translated into English by August Dillmann and Reverent Schoode – recognized by the Orthodox Tewahedo churches and usually dated between the third century BC and the first century AD.
- Second Book of Enoch or the Book of the Secrets of Enoch, written in Old Bulgarian, first translated into English by William Morfill – usually dated to the first century AD.
- 3 Enoch, a Rabbinic text in Hebrew usually dated to the fifth century AD.
These recount how Enoch was taken up to Heaven and was appointed guardian of all the celestial treasures, chief of the archangels, and the immediate attendant on the Throne of God. He was subsequently taught all secrets and mysteries and, with all the angels at his back, fulfils of his own accord whatever comes out of the mouth of God, executing His decrees. Much esoteric literature like the 3 Enoch identifies Enoch as the Metatron, the angel which communicates God’s word. In consequence, Enoch was seen, by this literature, and the Rabbinic kabbalah of Jewish mysticism, as having been the one which communicated God’s revelation to Moses, in particular, the dictator of the Book of Jubilees.
Enoch in Book of Giants
The Book of Giants is a Jewish pseudepigraphical work from the third century BC and resembles the Book of Enoch. At least six and as many as eleven copies were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls collections.
The third-century BC translators who produced the Septuagint in Koine Greek rendered the phrase “God took him” with the Greek verb metatithemi (μετατίθημι) meaning moving from one place to another. Sirach 44:16, from about the same period, states that “Enoch pleased God and was translated into the paradise that he may give repentance to the nations.” The Greek word used here for paradise, paradeisos (παράδεισος), was derived from an ancient Persian word meaning “enclosed garden”, and was used in the Septuagint to describe the garden of Eden. Later, however, the term became synonymous with heaven, as is the case here.
Enoch in classical Rabbinical literature
In classical Rabbinical literature, there are various views of Enoch. One view regarding Enoch that was found in the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, which thought of Enoch as a pious man, taken to Heaven, and receiving the title of Safra rabba (Great scribe). After Christendom was completely separated from Judaism, this view became the prevailing rabbinical idea of Enoch’s character and exaltation.
According to Rashi [from Genesis Rabbah], “Enoch was a righteous man, but he could easily be swayed to return to do evil. Therefore, the Holy One, blessed be He, hastened and took him away and caused him to die before his time. For this reason, Scripture changed [the wording] in [the account of] his demise and wrote, ‘and he was no longer’ in the world to complete his years.”
Among the minor Midrashim, the esoteric attributes of Enoch are expanded upon. In the Sefer Hekalot, Rabbi Ishmael is described as having visited the Seventh Heaven, where he met Enoch, who claims that earth had, in his time, been corrupted by the demons Shammazai, and Azazel, and so Enoch was taken to Heaven to prove that God was not cruel. Similar traditions are recorded in Sirach. Later elaborations of this interpretation treated Enoch as having been a pious ascetic, who, called to mix with others, preached repentance, and gathered (despite the small number of people on Earth) a vast collection of disciples, to the extent that he was proclaimed king. Under his wisdom, peace is said to have reigned on earth, to the extent that he is summoned to Heaven to rule over the sons of God.
Enoch in Christianity
The New Testament contains three references to Enoch.
- The first is a brief mention in one of the genealogies of the ancestors of Jesus by Luke (Luke 3:37).
- The second mention is in Hebrews 11: 5 (KJV) which says, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” This suggests he did not experience the mortal death ascribed to Adam’s other descendants which is consistent with Genesis 5:24(KJV), which says, “And Enoch walked with God: and he [was] not; for God took him.”
- The third mention is in the Epistle of Jude (1:14–15) where the author attributes to “Enoch, the Seventh from Adam” a passage not found in Catholic and Protestant canons of the Old Testament. The quotation is believed by most modern scholars to be taken from 1 Enoch 1:9 which exists in Greek, in Ge’ez (as part of the Ethiopian Orthodox canon), and also in Aramaic among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Though the same scholars recognise that 1 Enoch 1:9 itself is a midrash of the words of Moses “he came from the ten thousands of holy ones” from Deuteronomy 33:2.
The introductory phrase “Enoch, the Seventh from Adam” is also found in 1 Enoch (1 En. 60:8), though not in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, this Enoch prophesies “to” ungodly men, that God shall come with His holy ones to judge and convict them (Jude 1:14–15).
Influence in Christianity
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints theology. In early Christianity, the use of the Book of Enoch as a divinely inspired text was widespread, since the canon had not yet been established definitively in the Church. Church Fathers such as Justin Martyr, Athenagoras of Athens, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, and Lactantius all speak highly of Enoch and contain many allusions to the Book of Enoch as well as in some instances advocating explicitly for the use of the Book of Enoch as Scripture. Because the letter of Jude’s citation of the Book of Enoch as prophetic text, this encourages acceptance, and usage of the Book of Enoch in early Christian circles. The main themes of Enoch about the Watchers corrupting humanity were commonly mentioned in early literature. This positive treatment of the Book of Enoch was associated with millennialism which was popular in the early Church. When amillennialism began to be common in Christianity, the Book of Enoch, being incompatible with amillennialism, started to be rejected widespread, and with the split of Oriental Orthodox from the Catholic Church in the 5th century, usage of the Book of Enoch was limited primarily to the Oriental Orthodox Church. Eventually, the usage of the Book of Enoch became limited to Ethiopian circles of the Oriental Orthodox Church. Another common element that some Church Fathers, like John of Damascus, spoke of, was that they considered Enoch to be one of the two witnesses mentioned in the Book of Revelation. This view still has many supporters today in Christianity.
Among the Latter Day Saint movement and particularly in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Enoch is viewed as having founded an exceptionally righteous city, named Zion, in the midst of an otherwise wicked world. This view is encountered in the standard works, the Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrine and Covenants, which states that not only Enoch but the entire peoples of the city of Zion, were taken off this earth without death, because of their piety. (Zion is defined as “the pure in heart” and this city of Zion will return to the earth at the Second Coming of Jesus.) The Doctrine and Covenants further state that Enoch prophesied that one of his descendants, Noah, and his family, would survive a Great Flood and thus carry on the human race and preserve the Scripture. The Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price has several chapters that give an account of Enoch’s preaching, visions, and conversations with God. In these same chapters are details concerning the wars, violence, and natural disasters in Enoch’s day, and notable miracles performed by Enoch. The Book of Moses is itself an excerpt from Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible, which is published in full, complete with these chapters concerning Enoch, by Community of Christ, in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, where it appears as part of the Book of Genesis. D&C 104:24 (CofC) /(LDS) states that Adam ordained Enoch to the higher priesthood (now called the Melchizedek, after the great high priest) at age 25, that he was 65 when Adam blessed him, and he lived 365 years after that until he was translated, so making him 430 years old when that occurred.
Additionally in LDS theology, Enoch is implied to be the scribe who recorded Adam’s blessings and prophecies at Adam-ondi-Ahman, as recorded in D&C(LDS) / D&C 104:29b (CofC).
Enoch in Islam
Main article: Idris (prophet)
In Islam, Enoch (أَخْنُوخ, ʼAkhnūkh [commonly in Islamic literature]: ʼIdrīs إِِدْرِيس)) is identified with Idris, for example by the History of Al-Tabari interpretation and the Meadows of Gold. The Quran contains two references to Idris; in Surah Al-Anbiya (The Prophets) verse number 85, and in Surah Maryam (Mary) verses 56–57:
(The Prophets, 21:85): “And the same blessing was bestowed upon Ismail and Idris and Zul-Kifl, because they all practised fortitude.”
(Mary 19:56–57): “And remember Idris in the Book; he was indeed very truthful, a Prophet. And We lifted him to a lofty station”.
Idris is closely linked in Muslim tradition with the origin of writing and other technical arts of civilization, including the study of astronomical phenomena, both of which Enoch is credited with in the Testament of Abraham. Nonetheless, although some Muslims view Enoch and Idris as the same prophet while others do not, many Muslims still honor Enoch as one of the earliest prophets, regardless of which view they hold.
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia