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. Colette

    Many years ago, when I was a young woman, I was awakened by the words “There she is. She’s doing just fine. She’s on the right path.” I heard those words being spoken – that’s what woke me up – and as I became awake and opened my eyes, I saw around my bed, shining beings looking down upon me. As they realized they had awakened me, they twittered between themselves “Oh, we’ve awakened her..giggle, giggle, we’d better go.” And, in but a moment, they were gone. They giggled like happy old grandmothers. The light in the room came from them, they were light themselves. I saw them only from the shoulders up. They were very kindly and I was never afraid. They were white / golden and beautiful. At first, I thought them elderly because I thought I was seeing white hair, but it may just have been because of the light coming from them that they appeared white or golden. My Christian upbringing told me they were angels. But I have been puzzled through the last 40+ years about why they were there as it was evident they were there to see ME, it wasn’t random. They knew about me before they got there, and they were checking in on me…but why. I don’t know what path they were referring to. As the years have gone by, I am now questioning if they were angels after all. I somehow stumbled upon your blog speaking of Watchers and am now concerned perhaps they were not the good beings I have believe all these years if Watchers are sinful. No one in all these years has taken me seriously. Any thoughts you might have, Ms. Blum, would be very welcome as I continue to search out the meaning of that happening from years ago. Thank you in advance.

    1. Julia Blum

      Hi Colette, I don’t think I can add much to your 40-years long search. You know as well as I do that the spiritual world is real: there are spiritual beings around us that usually, we don’t see with our eyes – but you saw them then! I can’t say if they were “good guys” or “bad guys”, or what “the right path” meant – but I do believe that you’ve been making the right decisions during all these 40+ years, regardless of what they meant. Whatever they meant – your life couldn’t and shouldn’t be defined by their words. Blessings!

  2. Dexter D ward

    Thanks for the knowledge (knowledge is power)
    Let’s continue reading

  3. Patricia Slocum

    Part of what Rafa says is that it is his opinion that Jesus is responsible for all the bad in the world. Rafa also says the same about the giants and the serpent being his fault as well. I liked your article. Thanks for the study and commentary.
    Patricia Slocum.

  4. Carolyn McPherson

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