Tuesday, June 28, 2011


A Hebrew apocryphal book. It was originally written in Aramaic rather than Hebrew and hence was not included in the canon of the Hebrew Bible or in the Christian Old Testament. It was included in the collection of other materials generally called pseudepigrapha (various pseudonymous or anonymous Jewish religious writings of the period 200 B.C.E. to 200 C.E.). The original version was lost about the end of the fourth century, and only fragments remained, but James Bruce, the Scottish explorer, brought back a copy in Ethiopian from Abyssinia in1773, which was probably made from the version known to the early Greek fathers. In this work the spiritual world is minutely described, as is the region of Sheol, the place of the wicked.

The book also deals with the history of the fallen angels, their relations with the human species, and the foundations of magic. The book says that:

‘‘There were angels who consented to fall from heaven that they might have intercourse with the daughters of Earth. For in those days the sons of men having multiplied, there were born to them daughters of great beauty. And when the angels, or sons of heaven, beheld them, they were filled with desire; wherefore they said to one another: ‘Come let us choose wives from among the race of man, and let us beget children.’

‘‘Their leader Samyasa, answered thereupon and said: ‘Perchance you will be wanting in the courage needed to fulfil this resolution, and then I alone shall be answerable for your fall.’ But they swore that they would in no wise repent and that they would achieve their whole design.

‘‘Now there were two hundred who descended on Mount Armon, and it was from this time that the mountain received its designation, which signifies Mount of the Oath. Hereinafter follow the names of those angelic leaders who descended with this object: Samyasa, chief among all, Urakabarameel, Azibeel, Tamiel, Ramuel, Danel, Azkeel, Sarakuyal, Asael, Armers, Batraal, Anane, Zavebe, Sameveel, Ertrael, Turel, Jomiael, Arizial. They took wives with whom they had intercourse, to whom also they taught Magic, the art of enchantment and the diverse properties of roots and trees. Amazarac gave instruction in all secrets of sorcerers; Barkaial was the master of those who study the stars; Akibeel manifested signs; and Azaradel taught the motions of the moon.’’

In this account, which harkens back to several biblical passages (Genesis 6:4; Isaiah 14:12), there is a description of the profanation of mysteries. The fallen angels exposed their occult and heaven-born wisdom to earthly women, whereby it was profaned, and brute force, taking advantage of the profanation of divine law, reigned supreme. Only a deluge could wipe out the stain of the enormity and pave the way for a restitution of the balance between the human and the divine, which had been disturbed by these unlawful revelations.

According to tradition, Enoch did not die, but was carried up to heaven (Genesis 5:18–24), from where he will return at the end of time. He has also been identified with Thoth of the Egyptians, Cadulus of the Phoenicians, and Palamedes of the Greeks. According to some occultists, he inspired the Kabala and the symbols of the tarot.

The Book of Enoch is one of the most important works of the pseudepigrapha and is actually a set of books. The first book of Enoch was known from a surviving Ethiopian translation, parts of which were found in the caves of Qumran among the Dead Sea Scrolls. In 1892, however, R. H. Charles found a second manuscript of the Book of Enoch, which existed in a Slavonic text. Upon seeing the book, he also discovered that it was an entirely different Book of Enoch, and he soon translated and published it. Finally, a third Book of Enoch, which has circulated among the Babylonian Jews, was discovered and published in 1928 by Hugo Odeburg.

Andrews, H. T. An Introduction to the Apocryphal Books of the Old and New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1964.

Charles, R. H., ed. The Book of Enoch [Ethiopic text]. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1917.

Laurence, Richard, trans. The Book of Enoch the Prophet . . . from an Ethiopian Manuscript. London: Kegan Paul, Tench, 1883.

Morfill, W. R., trans. The Book of the Secrets of Enoch. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1896.

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