1 Enoch: The New Answers To The Old Questions

TIKKUN OLAM AND THE REVERSAL OF EVIL

Following the wonderful study of Dr. Michael Heiser[1], we have seen that Second Temple Judaism understood Genesis 6:1-4 not only as the story of a supernatural rebellion, but as one of the central passages in biblical theology. We have seen that this passage significantly influenced the New Testament writers (who were a part of this period of course). My last post, drawn largely from Heiser’s book and the dissertation of Amy Richter[2], was about the four women included by Matthew in Jesus’ genealogy. We saw that the consequences of the Watchers’ sexual sin was evident in the stories of all these women, and concluded this was the main reason for these women to be included in the genealogy of the Messiah, who should bring about the reversal and repair of the consequences of the Watchers’ sin.

Here I would like to stop and to put my two cents into this fascinating theme. First of all, you have probably heard the Hebrew expression: “Tikkun Olam”, “repair of the world”. Documented use of this term dates back to the Mishnaic period (approximately 10-220 CE). This means that the term and the concept may well have existed at the time of Jesus, and that for the New Testament writers,  the idea of reversing the evil of the Watchers could have been part of this Tikkun Olam  theology.

Secondly, an essential part of a later Jewish tradition is the belief that when the Messiah comes, all things will be repaired. Some Jewish texts even say that the pig will become kosher at the time of the redemption:  (Probably, you remember the  footnote  “Why is the pig called [in Hebrew] chazir? Because in the future, God will return [le-hfrom the last post: achazir] it to Israel”. (חזיר-להחזיר)). However, only one person could repair the world in such a profound way—only one person could reverse the evil and restore the divine order of heaven and earth: the Messiah.

Thus, if we keep in mind all these elements of Jewish theology – the Watchers being responsible for the spread of the evil on the earth; the concept of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world; the belief that when the Messiah comes, all things will be repaired – then we are able to see that the New Testament is built around this   belief in the Messianic Tikkun Olam—Messianic reversal of evil. And here is another striking example:

WHERE WAS THE TRANSFIGURATION?

In all three Synoptic Gospels we read the story of the transfiguration; it’s important to note that in all three Gospels, this dramatic event happens just a few days after Peter’s confession:

1Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him[3]

Where was the transfiguration? What was this “high mountain”? Starting from the early church fathers, it has been widely believed that the location of the Mount of Transfiguration was Mount Tabor located in the Lower Galilee, west of the Sea of Galilee. However, the Gospels themselves give no name to this “high mountain”.  So, along with the “Mount Tabor tradition” (and many scholars still hold to this view), another tradition has been developing, claiming Mount Hermon as the site of the transfiguration.

Mount Hermon is the highest mountain in Israel, located at the very north of the country, not far from the city that was called Caesarea Philippi. In Matthew 16, where Peter confesses Jesus as Messiah, we read: When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”[4] As I mentioned previously, in all three Synoptic Gospels, the transfiguration happens after Peter’s confession, so it would certainly make sense for this dramatic event to take place in the same region where Peter’s confession happened. So, even regardless of the Watchers’ story, just based on this proximity to Caesarea Philippi and on the height of the mountain, some scholars identify the Mount of Transfiguration as Mount Hermon.

This identification becomes even more significant, however, if we see it against the backdrop of the Watchers’ story. Let us remember that, according to 1 Enoch, Mount Hermon was the place at which the Watchers descended. There they bound themselves with an oath to corrupt humanity:

“Then they all swore together and bound one another with a curse. And they were, all of them, two hundred, who descended in the days of Jared onto the peak of Mount Hermon.”[5]

If we keep this in mind, we would agree with Dr. Heiser, that “for Jews of Jesus’ day (and the era of the early church), Mount Hermon became emblematic of the transgression of the Watchers and the awful deleterious effect that had on humankind.”[6] In this context, the whole transfiguration event becomes even more dramatic! Think of it: Jesus picks Mount Hermon precisely because of his mission – to reverse the evil spread from Mount Hermon! The transfiguration marks a turning point in the Synoptic Gospels, especially in Matthew: after that, we see Jesus turning more to Jerusalem and to the suffering and death that awaits him there. Before that, however, this dramatic event happens: Jesus is transfigured and revealed in his heavenly glory upon mountain Hermon. The meaning of this statement is clear: ‘The spread of the evil started from here, and I came to reverse this evil and to repair the world!’ “When Jesus chose to go to Mount Hermon to be transfigured, He was claiming it for the Kingdom of God.”[7]

This is my last post reviewing the wonderful book of Dr. Heiser. Next time, we will continue to discuss 1 Enoch, but will be focusing on other topics and features that make this book so significant for students of the New Testament.

 

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/   

 

 

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

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

[3] Matt. 17:1-3

[4] Matt.16:13

[5] 1 Enoch 6:5,6

[6] Heiser, Michael S., Reversing Hermon: Enoch, the Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ (Kindle Locations 928-930).

 

[7] Ibid., (Kindle Locations 1218-1222).

 

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. Dot Healy

    Thanks for this very interesting perspective Julia. The juxtaposition of the Transfiguration with reversal of the sin of the Watcher’s on Mt Hermon makes perfectly good sense.

    1. Julia Blum

      Thank you Dot, for being open to the new ideas and new perspectives! The fact that these ideas may sound strange and foreign to a modern reader, doesn’t mean anything at all: it’s not about what is familiar to us, it’s about what was familiar to them – to the Jewish people of Jesus time. Thank you for your open mind!

  2. Mirel

    Wawww great study, Father open our eyes to understand all the Word

  3. Rick Toole

    I have understood only fragments of Enoch were found in the dead sea scrools ? If that is the case , how can a book be written of Enoch ? I am a believer in allowing sctipture to verify scripture when exegesis is involved in understanding we move away from the eisegesis on content . I look foward to all your post , as your views are on spot ! this dissagreement with ( Book of Enoch ) is ongoing for me

    1. Julia Blum

      First of all, thank you for your kind words, Rick! i am glad to hear that you look forward to my posts. As I explained several times, these last articles were reviewing the fascinating book of Dr. Heiser. I may or may not agree with him, but he is a very serious scholar and a brilliant writer, I loved the book and I wanted to share it with my readers. As for the book of Enoch – of course, it was not written by Enoch, that’s why it is part of a group of texts named by scholars “Pseudepigrapha”. However, this term does not refer to the content of these books; rather, it means that the authorship of the text was assigned to someone other than the actual writer. we have books like this in the Bible, for instance Job, 1 and 2 Samuel, and Joshua. “Lack of evidence for a namesake’s authorship of a book bearing his name is no measurable invalidation of a work’s worth or value.   During the Second Temple Period, pseudepigraphical literature was quite common”. (Heiser, Michael S.. Reversing Hermon: Enoch, the Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ).

  4. Nkosinathi Daniel Motsoane

    Perhaps, that’s how the holy spirit worked in Mary’s conception of Yahshua, supernaturally impregnating her.

    1. Julia Blum

      This connection is indeed very interesting, Daniel, Dr. Heiser writes a lot about the fact that the birth of Jesus is linked to Genesis 6: 1– 4 and the sin of the Watchers: “The birth of Jesus would have alerted literate first-century Jews that the Messiah’s arrival would reverse the sin of the Watchers”.

  5. Valerie

    These ” watchers” must have had free will to decide among themselves to swear to an oath. And to have sexual desires meaning they had male body parts?
    In Jared’s time? Jared one of Adam & Eve’s offspring after being banished from “the garden”?

    1. Julia Blum

      Yes, Valerie, the name of Jared in Hebrew is Yared (יָרֶד), and one of the explanations of this name we find in the book of Jubilees: this book derives the name from the root Yarad, “descend” – precisely because in his days “the angels of the Lord descended to earth”. He was the sixth generation in the ten generations between Adam and Noah and lived 962 years ( Gen. 5:18).

  6. Peter Mojassamian

    These watchers must have been some sort of a biological beings and not angelic order since Yeshua said that there were no marriage among angles. Or they could have been ordinary human beings but somehow influenced/possessed by supernatural beings to be able to have sexual relations with women. It’s hard to think of angelic beings capable of sexual relations based on what Yeshua said to the Sadducees.

    1. Julia Blum

      Hi Peter, you have probably missed my answer to your previous comment : the text of Matthew does not say angels cannot have sexual relations; it says they don’t have them in the spiritual world, in the realm of divine beings, that Jesus is talking about. However, Genesis 6 speaks of “the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode” (as we read in Jude 1:6), – and in this physical world, they are perfectly able to marry human women. Moreover, the book of Enoch makes it absolutely clear that this is the reason (one of the main reasons, at least) that God was angry with them: “And therefore I have not appointed wives for you; for as for the spiritual ones of the heaven, in heaven is their dwelling” ( 1 Enoch 15:7).

  7. Estela

    Great writing and reading, thanks so much.
    I understand well your point of view, very interesting focus.
    Thanks again Julia. I enjoy reading this.

    1. Julia Blum

      Thanks Estela, so glad you’ve enjoyed it!

  8. Nick

    Thanks Julia! Hmmmm..new perspective on old Scripture!
    Nick

    1. Julia Blum

      Thanks Nick! That’s the point: a new take on the familiar stories!