The Second Parable – 1 Enoch 45-49
by Phillip J. Long
June 9, 2016
The second parable in the Book of Similitudes (chapters 45-57) is a description of the eschatological judgment of the wicked and the vindication of the righteous. In many ways this is the most interesting section of the parables so I will break it up over three posts. The parable begins with a description of what happens to those who deny the name of the Lord of Spirits. Chapter 45 is a poetic introduction to the second section and describes “that day” when “my Elect One will sit on the seat of glory” (verse 3-4). Heaven and earth will be transformed and the righteous will dwell on the new earth.
Chapter 46 describes the Elect One and is one of the critical sections in First Enoch. He will have a head white like wool and have a countenance full of grace. This description is similar to the angel in Daniel 10, and the description of Jesus in Revelation 1. 1 Enoch likely stands in between these two descriptions; Revelation and 1 Enoch are dependent on Daniel 10. He will be born among human beings and have a face of a human, and is a “prototype of the Before-Time” (verse 3). He will be “that Son of Man” on whom righteousness dwells. This Son of Man will open up the hidden storehouses and is destined to be victorious before the Lord of Spirits (46:3). The One will remove kings from their comfortable seats and strong ones from their thrones, loosen the reins of the strong and crush the teeth of sinners (46:4). The faces of the strong will be slapped and they will be filled with shame and have no hope (46:6).
This “reversal” may be important for the setting of the ministry of John the Baptist who describes the coming messianic age in terms of a “settling” of scores (Luke 2:7-19). Jesus’ extended condemnation of the Pharisees in Matthew 23 certainly has a “reversal” motif. Similarly, in Matthew 7:15-23 Jesus says that not all who are expected to be “in the kingdom” will be – even those who claim to do miracles in the Lord’s name (the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13). While 1 Enoch clearly has the nations in mind, Jesus’ idea of reversal seems to operate on a spiritual level. Those who think they are spiritually prepared for the kingdom may not be and may find themselves on the outside when the kingdom comes. [this would include those in the church as well contra popular thought - res]
The prayer of the righteous is recorded in chapter 47. The prayers and blood of the righteous go up to heaven before the Lord of Spirits all of the time. Enoch sees the “Antecedent of Time” sitting on his throne, with the books opened before him (Dan 7:10, 12:1, Rev 20:12-15). As the righteous worship him, he prepares to judge. In Chapter 48:1-2 Enoch sees the fountains of wisdom. Earlier in chapter 42 wisdom was searching for a place to dwell, now wisdom is pictured as a fountain in heaven from
to which all may come and drink.
After this, the Son of man receives a name in the presence of the Lord of Spirits (48:3), but it is a name which is given to him from before the beginning of time. This Son of Man appears, therefore, to pre-exist, since we read in 48:6 he was chosen before the creation of the world. He will become a “staff for the righteous ones,” people may lean on him and not fall; he will be the hope of the sick and all who dwell on the earth will worship him (48:4-5, cf. 62:6, 9, 63, 90:37; Ps. 72:9, 11; Phil. 2:10.) He will be the light of the Gentiles (Isa. 42:6, 49:6, cf. Luke 2:32) and the righteous will be saved by his name (48:7).
There are many obvious parallels to the presentation of Jesus as the Messiah in the New Testament. As I suggested earlier, caution is necessary because this section does not appear in Dead Sea Scrolls. This means there is always the possibility of Christian editing of this text to give additional support to a particular view of Jesus. On the other hand, even this section of 1 Enoch stands in a stream of messianic expectations beginning in the Hebrew Bible. It should come as no surprise a Jewish apocalyptic movement like the earliest Christians should be similar to the expectations of 1 Enoch.
All these writers were reading the same prophets from the Hebrew Bible and attempting to apply those prophecies to their own experiences.
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The Second Parable – 1 Enoch 50-52
by Phillip J. Long
June 10, 2016
James VanderKam calls this section a “Scenario for the End Time” because all of the powerful beings will be humiliated “in those days.” They will delivered into the hand of the Chosen One like grass to the fire or lead to the water. The image of grass being taken to a fire at the time of the harvest is used by Jesus in several parables (for example, the wheat and the tares, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). The reason they are delivered for judgment is that they have denied the name of the Lord of Spirits and his Messiah. Isaacs translates this as Messiah, although it is possible to translate it simply as “anointed one” (Charles).
Chapter 50 describes the renewal of the righteous from their time of weariness. This includes a judgment in which the sinners receive evil and the righteous receive good. The righteous are to be saved through the “name of the Lord of Spirits” who will lead people to repentance. This chapter stresses the justice of the judgment of the Lord of Spirits – “oppression cannot escape him.” Those who are under his judgment no longer receive mercy (verse 5).
Chapter 51 is in many ways the most important chapter in the Similitudes for New Testament studies since it deals with the resurrection of the dead. The context is eschatological (“in those days,” parallel to the judgment in 50:1). Sheol will give up all the dead and the “Elect One” will sit on his throne and pick out of the risen dead the holy ones (50:1-2). The elect will sit on the throne of the Lord (51:3) and hear wisdom from the mouth of the Elect One. After this resurrection, the “mountains will skip like rams” and the whole earth will rejoice (51:5). This is an allusion to Psalm 114:4 and the messianic age. Verse four possibly connects the resurrection of the dead to the rising of the Elect One.
Chapter 52 describes a series of mountains made up of various metals (iron, copper, silver, gold, a “colored metal” and lead. When the Elect One arrives, these mountains all melt like honeycomb before fire and become like water at his feet. The mountains seem to represent the nations of the world (similar to the metals in Daniel 2, although there it is a single statue rather than mountains.) That the mountains will melt before the coming Messiah is found in several Old Testament prophets. The mountains seem to be “the nations” in this section of 1 Enoch since in chapter 54 the mountains “become flat” (cf., John the Baptist in Luke 3:1-6) in the presence of the righteous when the kings of the earth are thrown into a valley of burning fire. This chapter clearly connects the Elect One and the Messiah (verses 4, 6).
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A Final Judgment– 1 Enoch 53-57
by Phillip J. Long
June 13, 2016
Judgment imagery comes to a climax in chapters 53-57 with Enoch’s visions based on a deep valley. At first Enoch sees a vision of a deep valley filled with “gifts and tribute” brought by all the inhabitants of the earth. This tribute does nothing to stop the judgment, however (“the valley will never be filled”) and the sinners are judged by the Lord of Spirits. In verse three the prophet sees angels preparing the “chains of Satan.” One is tempted to find a parallel to Revelation 20 (Satan is himself bound by an angel with a chain and put into the Abyss), but these chains are for the kings of the earth.
David Aune lists 1 Enoch 54 as an example of the common an “apocalyptic motif” of the binding of Satan or other angelic beings, along with 2 Apoc Baruch 56:13,SibOr 2.289, Jude 6, 2 Peter 2:4 (Revelation 17-22, 1081). Of Aune’s suggested allusions, only Revelation 20 describes the binding of Satan with chains. These chains are for the armies of Azaz’el (54:5) who are cast into the abyss. It is the four archangels who seize the kings and cast them into the furnace of fire prepared for that day. This judgment is described as a “vengeance” by the Lord of Spirits because these kings performed oppressive deeds as messengers of Satan.
Once the kings of the world are bound, the Elect one reveals the “house of his congregation” and the “mountains become flat” (53:6-7). This is probably a reference to the judgment of all of the kingdoms of the earth when the Messiah reveals and establishes his rule. In the Gospels, John the Baptist connects the leveling of mountains and filling of valleys from Isaiah 40:3-5 with the coming of the messianic age (Luke 3:5), although this is often taken as a leveling of ethical social barriers in the ministry of Jesus. For example, Darrel Bock suggests “the images call the hearer of John’s message to realize that God is coming in judgment and that only the humble who rely on him will be spared” (Luke 1:1-9:50, 294).
In 54:7-55:2 there is a brief insertion from what may be the lost “Book of Noah” (OTP 38, note e; Charles, Commentary, 2:221 states Jubilees 10:13 and 21:10 mention a “Book of Noah.”) There are some notable differences in this section which mark it out as different from the rest of the Similitudes. For example, God is called the Antecedent of Time (55:1) as well as the Lord of Spirits. Distinct flood imagery is found in this paragraph (the waters above and below, the sign of the rainbow, etc.). The eschatological judgment is missing in favor of the historical judgment of the flood.
The demon Azaz’el himself is judged in 55:3-56:4 by the Elect One himself, sitting on his throne of glory in the name of the Lord of Spirits. (The name Azaz’el has unfortunately been used in many books and films.) This is an important text because the eschatological judgment is given by the Lord of Spirits to the Elect One. In John 5:22 Jesus states the Father has entrusted judgment to the Son. While this verse is not obviously eschatological, Revelation 4-5 seems to expand on this theme. In these two chapters, the “one who sits on the throne” has a sealed scroll, which appears from the context to be “judgment” on the world. But the “one who sits on the throne” is unable to open the scroll and execute judgment. It is only the “Lamb who was slain” who is worthy to execute the judgments found in the scroll. That God would hand the final eschatological judgment over to a representative seems to be consistent with the apocalyptic scheme of 1 Enoch.
After Azaz’el and his armies are judged angels are sent with nets to collect the “elect” in order to fill the crevices of the abyss-like valley. These elect are those kings of the earth who followed Azaz’el – verse four indicates they will no longer lead others astray. In 56:5-8 we are told that the angels will assemble against the Parthians and the Medes. The Parthians will be stirred to battle and overrun the land of the elect ones, Israel. (Charles suspected 56:5-57:3 to be an interpolation since it is far more specific than anything else in the Similitudes. Commentary, 2:221).
This army will become confused when they get to the city of righteousness (Jerusalem) and will begin to attack one another. Armies which become confused and destroy themselves are not uncommon in the Old Testament, see Judges 7 and 1 Samuel 14. Sheol will “open her mouth” and swallow up all of the sinners “in the presence of the elect ones.” The vision of the second parable ends with a description of a vast army of chariots riding in the air from the east to the west. The army is so loud the foundations of the earth shake and can be heard from one end of the earth to the other. As a result of this army, all will fall down and worship the Lord of Spirits (verse 3).