1 Enoch: The Gospels And The Watchers

THE REVERSAL OF EVIL

We finished  our last post with the thesis, drawn largely from the work of Dr. Michael Heiser, that Second Temple Judaism saw in Genesis 6:1-4, not only the story of a supernatural rebellion, but one of the central passages in biblical theology and in understanding God’s plan in history: “Yes, the entrance of sin into God’s good world occurred in Eden, but the unanimous testimony of Second Temple Judaism is that the Watchers are to blame for the proliferation of evil on the earth.”[1] Since the New Testament writers belonged to Second Temple Judaism, this understanding of the Watchers being responsible for the spread of evil on earth, and the theme of reversing the effects of this evil, had to be part of their theology. “Consequently, it should be no surprise that the sin of the Watchers was in the back of their minds as they wrote about what the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth must, did, and would reverse at His coming and return.”[2] The New Testament writers knew that Jesus’ mission was the reversal of evil – and if they believed that the evil was brought and spread by the Watchers, then Jesus had to reverse what the Watchers did.

Let us try to see the traces of this Second Temple theology in the gospels. We will discover the allusions to the Watchers and their sin and to the evil they brought, and you will be surprised to see that these allusions, once discovered, shed light on some quizzical Scriptures—all of a sudden,  questions that you’ve tried to answer for a long time, will find clear answers.

 

FOUR WOMEN

And here is the first question – the one that has probably been asked an endless number of times by an endless number of people since the Gospel of Matthew was written: Why are the four women named by Matthew in Jesus’ genealogy, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba? There are four traditional Biblical matriarchs in Israel:  Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah (we even sing a song about arba imahot  –Four Mothers);  if Matthew decided to include women, and to include four of them, would it not be more logical, to have these four mothers in the genealogy of   the Jewish Messiah?  Why aren’t the matriarchs mentioned at all, while these four women are named explicitly in Jesus’ bloodline?

Let us have a quick look at these women.

Tamar – the story of Tamar is found in Genesis 38.  She is probably a Canaanite woman (although the text doesn’t say so explicitly); she is a widow; after the double tragedy she experienced (the death of her two husbands), it seemed that she would remain childless; however, she disguises herself as a prostitute and deceives Judah, her father-in-law, in order to have a child from him. “When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, because she had covered her face.”[3] From this union, Perez is born, and from him will descend David – and Jesus. Interestingly enough, we find no condemnation of Tamar in the Torah, although it is clear that her desperate deed was not some regular, normative or exemplary action.

Rahab – we find the story of Rahab in the book of Joshua, in chapters 2 and 6. Unlike Tamar, who was disguised as a prostitute, Rahab really was a prostitute. She lives in Jericho and she is certainly a Gentile. The Book of Joshua tells us that “Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.[4]

Ruth (from the book of Ruth) Like Rahab, Ruth is clearly a Gentile, a Moabite. Her background itself is of interest: for Israel, Moabite women were associated with seduction and idolatry. This association comes from the well-known episode in the wilderness in Numbers 25 when the Israelites became involved with women from Moab and followed them into idolatry.  However, besides her background, Ruth does something that, as in case of Tamar, should have an “improper” feel to later Jewish readers. In Chapter 3, “she went down to the threshing floor … And after Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was cheerful, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came softly, uncovered his feet, and lay down[5] . “The Hebrew word translated ‘feet’ (regel) is a well-known euphemism for genitalia in the Hebrew Bible…  By uncovering Boaz’s ‘feet’ (genitalia), Ruth is, in effect, offering herself as a wife to Boaz. Given the patriarchal setting of Israelite culture, this was a transgression of the way things were usually done.”[6]

Bathsheba – everyone would know the story of David’s adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11:1- 27) – and clearly, as in the previous stories, a sexual transgression is also evident here.

Thus, we can see that all four women in Matthew 1 are connected in some way with illicit sexual relations. The New Testament scholar Amy Richter believes that what she calls the “Enochic Watchers Template” is essential for understanding the women in the genealogy of Jesus: “According to the Enochic Watchers’ Template, evil came into the world when the Watchers transgressed their heavenly boundary to engage in illicit sexual contact with women and teach them illicit arts…. The consequences of the Watchers’ transgression are violence, unrighteousness, evil, idolatry, and disease.”[7] She believes that all four women of the Hebrew Bible named by Matthew in his genealogy of Jesus are connected with the Enochic Watchers’ Template – and therefore they foreshadow the reversal of the Watchers’ transgression that the Messiah would bring.

We can now answer the question why these four women are named by Matthew.  The sin of the Watchers was sexual in its nature, and the consequences of the Watchers’ fall are evident in all the four stories, and this is the main reason for these women to be included in the genealogy of the Messiah   who would bring about the reversal and repair of the consequences of the Watchers’ sin. An essential part of Jewish tradition is a belief that when the Messiah comes, all things will be repaired (even pigs will become kosher)[8]—and if we remember the fall of the Watchers, we can see this belief already reflected in Matthew’s genealogy.

[1][1] Heiser, Michael S. Reversing Hermon: Enoch, the Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ (Kindle Locations 107).

[2] Ibid., 928-930

[3] Gen.38:15

[4] Josh.6:25

[5] Ruth 3:6,7

[6] Heiser, Michael S.. Reversing Hermon: Enoch, the Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ (Kindle Locations 1415-1417).

 

[7]  Amy S. Richter, “The Enochic Watchers’ Template and the Gospel of Matthew,” PhD dissertation, Marquette University, 2010.

 

[8] “Why is the pig called [in Hebrew] chazir? Because in the future, God will return [le-hachazir] it to Israel”.

 

If you like  my articles on this blog, you might enjoy also my books,  you  can get  them  through my page on this blog,  https://blog.israelbiblicalstudies.com/julia-blum/   

 

About the author

Julia BlumJulia is a teacher and an author of several books on biblical topics. She teaches two biblical courses at the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, “Discovering the Hebrew Bible” and “Jewish Background of the New Testament”, and writes Hebrew insights for these courses.

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  1. Carolyn McPherson

    I love your insights Julia and always enjoy reading them. Thanks for sharing Dr Heisers work too.

  2. Rafa

    Julia no se Ingles por eso te lo pongo en Español. ¿Te lo podrían traducir?:
    Para mi, los vigilantes, entre otras cosas, son ángeles que bajan del cielo encarnando en sí mismos el mal existente en la persona a purificar.

    El Karma es todo el mal realizado por una persona en su vida. los vigilantes serían similares a las serpientes que envió Dios para que picaran a los israelitas en el desierto, Así se daban cuenta del daño que habían hecho a cada persona con su mal.
    Y la gran serpiente que mando Dios hacer a Moises para que la elevara, sería similar a Jesucristo, cargando con todo el mal que hay en el mundo.

    Jesucristo utiliza la Purificación a través de la Conversión, como antídoto para convertir el mal en BIEN, similar a que los israelitas quedaban curados cuando miraban a la serpiente.

    Para mi, el hombre es responsable del mal que hace en la Tierra. En el Sheol no siempre, al estar sometido a la fuerza de los gigantes y a las picaduras de las serpientes.

    Esto es lo que yo vivo.

    Gracias por tus artículos, son muy interesantes.
    Muchas gracias.

    1. Julia Blum

      Dear Rafa, unfortunately I don’t know Spanish. Can you please leave your comment on the Spanish site, and the Spanish moderator will reply to your comment.

  3. Renee Gelman

    Julia I too believe that Genesis 6 talks about fallen angels that overstepped their boundries according to Jude 6. Also, another reason I believe this is that “sons of God” always refers to angels in the old Testament the New Testament didn’t come to exitance until much later so the apostles didnt use it as a reference. If these were the sons of Seth why wasn’t Noah and his sons destroyed because they were from the sons of Seth?

    Secondly, you talked about Tamar, Ruth, Rehab and Bathsheba. I look at their presence in the geology for several reasons.
    1. God was no respector of persons and he extended grace to these women because they accepted the God of Israel.
    2. Because they blessed Israel God will bless them. This is the out working of the Abrahamic covenant, “I will bless them that bless thee.”
    3. Each of them played a part in the progression of the Messianic line by their actions. So placing them in the lineage is a recognition of that rule they played. Pretty much like the women who took perfume and placed it on Yeshua feet and He said, he will be remembered for what she did for generations to come.
    4. He showing the world He always intended to save Gentiles. He showed this on various ways through the old Testament.

  4. Rob Clayton

    Certainly an interesting article a number of things to consider and research more thoroughly. I found this article on le hachezer https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2376474/jewish/Pigs-Judaism.htm
    So to the believer in Yeshua this would be fulfilled and now be kosher?

    1. Julia Blum

      I am not so sure, Rob. From the point of view of Judaism, since the Messiah hasn’t come yet, the kosher pig belongs to the future only.

  5. Don Miles

    Seems pretty sketchy to attribute so much to the Sons of God, including a new non-biblical name, as this article does. Ordinarily Julia follows the hermeneutic if letting Scripture interpret Scripture, but this time her writing suggests letting speculation interpret Scripure.

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you Don, for following my posts, I’ll take your words as a compliment. You are right, in my own studies and articles I am “letting Scripture interpret Scripture”. This article, however ( as well as the previous one) presents a review of that fascinating book of Michael Heiser that I tirelessly recommend to all my readers; consequently, I am just following his main points, and omitting ( because of the size of my posts) his scientific research. You might not agree with his concept – but if you read the book, you will see that he is a very serious scholar and that this is not a “speculation”.

  6. Fiona

    Love this blog! It is very interesting and enlightening, thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  7. Rosemary

    Who are THE WATCHERS by the way. Please give me the background. I’m new to this term.

    1. Jms Tyna

      Angels tasked to oversee the earth then become fallen angels

    2. Julia Blum

      Thank you for your question, Rosemary. “The Watchers” is the name that 1 Enoch uses for those angels that are called “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1-4. I think, I explained it in my first article on the Book of Enoch (a few weeks ago).

  8. BISHOP RATHEBE RABOTENG

    Amazing

  9. Tim Marsh

    Out of curiousity, were these watchers originally watching over the humans and were they good angels who became evil with lust on seeing the daughters of men or were they fallen angels just doing what fallen angels do?
    And clearly for the watcher angels to act as they did they must be male with the ability to procreate and have freedom to choose between good and evil? I have always understood though that there is no redemption for a fallen angel.

    1. Julia Blum

      Yes Tim, 1 Enoch makes it very clear that the watchers (angels) who cohabited with human women before the Flood have no opportunity for redemption.

  10. Dot Healy

    Very interesting Julia. The four women mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy has certainly been a question of mine and this gives a very plausible answer – the link to the Watcher’s transgression very clear..

  11. Lois

    I am curious if you can give more information as to the use of the Hebrew le hachezer, or other evidence in foreshadowing reversal of pork as unclean meat. I have never heard this before. Does the Heiser book go into this?

    1. Julia Blum

      Lois, this idea appears in different commentaries, but I can’t give you a reference to the English text, so far I have found it only in Hebrew. The book of Michael Heiser doesn’t mention it at all, I just connected his concept with this Jewish idea . I write more about it in my new post, it will be published tomorrow, so – stay tuned!

      1. Lois

        Thank you for your response. I will look for that tomorrow! I always greatly enjoy your insights!
        I do have another question or maybe it is a comment. I was reading the Heiser book preview after your recommendation and will probably purchase it. However, the verse in John 10:35 mmediately came to mind for me, where Jesus says , referring to psalm 82, that the gods referred to in this Psalm were those to whom the word of God came. Doesn’t this go against Heiser’s thesis that these cannot be human beings?

        1. Julia Blum

          Thank you for your kind words, Lois. It’s very interesting that you are asking about Psalm 82 – because the previous book of Michael Heiser, The Unseen Realm, describes his spiritual and scientific journey that started precisely from this Psalm. I really recommend you to download at least the sample (preview) of this book also, and I am sure you would find some answers there. Definitely, if you still have the questions after, leave the comment here and then we we can discuss it. Thank you for your inquiring mind!