The Wicked World of Enoch: A Replay in These Last Days
In the last week, I have pondered the events prophesied to come upon the world in these last days. I’ve also been watching the news that seems to be increasing regarding outer space aliens, and transhumanism. The former topic was the subject of recent Congressional Hearings. I tripped over the following portion of Hugh Nibley’s book, “The Wicked World of Enoch,” which is available on the church website (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1976/12/a-strange-thing-in-the-land-the-return-of-the-book-of-enoch-part-8).
As I read the fascinating passage below, I began to see amazing and somewhat alarming parallels to our day. Added to that, are the prophetic words that indicate that something like these things that Enoch and his people dealt with, will unfold again, making their experience a type and a shadow and a warning to us.
One specific section the book of Revelation weighed heavily upon my mind:
12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
Most of my life, I expected this was describing the beginning of the earth. Yet, there are two indicators that it also applies to the last days. First, in verse 10, “for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” Remember Job was accused. This passage would not be relevant in the beginning. Then, we are told in verse 12 that “the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Short time reveals the Last Days timing of this portion of the prophesy. Are not the “Sons of God” otherwise known as the Nephilim, going to again cause an uproar as they did in the days of Enoch?
As you read, see if you feel any application of these long ago events, to the things we are and will see in our day.
The Wicked World of Enoch
The Return of the Book of Enoch, Part 8
By Hugh Nibley
...The wickedness of Enoch’s day had a special stamp and flavor; only the most determined and entrenched depravity merited the extermination of the race. In apocryphal Enoch stories we are told how humanity was led to the extremes of misconduct under the tutelage of uniquely competent masters. According to these traditions, these were none other than special heavenly messengers who were sent down to earth to restore respect for the name of God among the degenerate human race but instead yielded to temptation, misbehaved with the daughters of men, and ended up instructing and abetting their human charges in all manner of iniquity. They are variously designated as the Watchers, Fallen Angels, Sons of God, Nephilim, or Rephaim, and are sometimes confused with their offspring, the Giants. Other candidates for this dubious honor have been suggested by various scholars, the trouble being that more than one category of beings qualify as Fallen Angels and spectacular sinners before the time of the Flood. The Bible uses the title sons of God—were they different from the Watchers of tradition?
“The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare … to them … mighty men, … men of renown.
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth.” (Gen. 6:2, 4–5.)
The idea of intercourse between heavenly and earthly beings was widespread in ancient times. Thus, in the newly discovered Genesis Apocryphon, when Lamech’s wife bears him a superchild (Noah), he assumes almost as a matter of course that the father is “one of the angels” and accuses her of faithlessness until his grandfather, Enoch, whose “lot is with the Holy Ones” and who lives far away, clears up the misunderstanding. Significantly, the name of the child’s mother is Bit-enosh, i.e., she is one of the “daughters of men.” The Cedrenus fragment avoids the problem of heavenly origin by identifying the sons of God and the daughters of men with the descendants of Seth and Cain respectively, and he specifically designates the sons of God as the Watchers. Recently M. Emanueli has suggested that the various terms are merely “a figure of speech in order to express the depth of the deterioration of that generation.”
While the sons of God have been identified with both angels and the Watchers, the Greek Enoch does not identify the Watchers with Satan’s hosts who fell from heaven from the beginning—they are another crowd. It is the Joseph Smith Enoch which gives the most convincing solution: the beings who fell were not angels but men who had become sons of God. From the beginning, it tells us, mortal men could qualify as “sons of God,” beginning with Adam. “Behold, thou [Adam] art one in me, a son of God; and thus may all become my sons.” (Moses 6:68; italics added.) How? By believing and entering the covenant. “Our father Adam taught these things, and many have believed, and become the sons of God.” (Moses 7:1.) Thus when “Noah and his sons hearkened unto the Lord, and gave heed … they were called the sons of God.” (Moses 8:13.) In short, the sons of God are those who accept and live by the law of God. When “the sons of men” (as Enoch calls them) broke their covenant, they still insisted on that exalted title: “Behold, we are the sons of God; have we not taken unto ourselves the daughters of men?” (Moses 8:21), even as “the sons of men,” reversing the order, married the daughters of those “called the sons of God,” thereby forfeiting their title, “for,” said God to Noah, “they will not hearken to my voice.” (Moses 8:15.) The situation was, then, that the sons of God, or their daughters who had been initiated into a spiritual order, departed from it and broke their vows, mingling with those who observed only a carnal law.
“Why have you left heaven [and] the Exalted One,” says Enoch in a Gizeh fragment “and … with the daughters of men defiled yourselves? … Ye have behaved as sons of Earth and begotten to yourselves giant sons. And you were once holy, spiritual, eternal beings … and have lusted after the flesh … as do mortal and perishable creatures.”
What made the world of Enoch so singularly depraved as to invite total obliteration was the deliberate and systematic perversion of heavenly things to justify wickedness. An early Christian writer, Hippolytus, says that the Anti-Christ imitates Christ in every particular: each sends out his apostles, gives his seal to believers, does signs and wonders, claims the temple as his own, has his own church and assembly, etc. Such is the method of “the great Deceiver of the World,” against whom, says Hippolytus, “Enoch and Elias have warned us.” We are reminded how Satan put forth his claim, “I am also a son of God” (Moses 5:13), and commanded Cain to “make an offering unto the Lord” (Moses 5:18–19) and to take his oaths “by the living God” (Moses 5:29), as if everything were still in the proper order. In the same spirit Noah’s descendants in their wickedness still insisted that nothing had changed:
(Moses 8:21.) “The children of men said to Noah: Behold, we are the sons of God; have we not taken unto ourselves the daughters of men?”
The apocrypha agree:
(Black, p. 44, 106:7, 13–14.) “For in the days of Jared my father, they departed from the teaching of the Lord, from the covenant of heaven. And behold they commit sin and reject [parabainousin] the proper way [ethos] … and beget children not like spiritual but like carnal offspring.”
Sophisticated deception is the name of the game. “Woe unto you who deliberately go astray [poiountes planemata],” cries Enoch, “who promote yourselves to honor and glory by deceitful practices. … Who misapply and misinterpret straightforward statements, who have given a new twist to the everlasting Covenant, and then produce arguments to prove that you are without guilt!” Cold-blooded calculation is the keynote. The “Watchers” (using the Greek word) led away “myriads of myriads … with our Prince Satan-el,” says the Slavonic Enoch, “and defiled the earth by their acts. And the wives [instead of daughters!] of men did a great evil, violating the law … a great iniquity.” “For in the secret places of the earth,” we read in a very early Judeo-Christian source, “they were doing evil … and all of them committed adultery with their neighbor’s wives; and they made solemn covenants among themselves concerning these things.” Such practices went back to the days of Cain:
Moses 5:52. The Lord cursed … all them that had covenanted with Satan; for they kept not the commandments of God.
Moses 5:29. And Satan said unto Cain: Swear unto me … and swear thy brethren … that they tell it not; for if they tell it, they shall surely die.
Moses 5:51. For, from the days of Cain, there was a secret combination, and their works were in the dark, and they knew every man his brother.
Gizeh 6:2. The Sons of Heaven wished to break their covenants and join with the daughters of men, but Seimizas [Satan] said ‘I am afraid you will not be willing to go through with this thing.’ 4. And they answered him all, saying, We will all swear with an oath, and bind each other by a mortal curse [lit., anathemize each other], that we will not go back on this agreement [gnome] until we have carried it out; 5. Then they all swore together and pronounced the doom of death on each other.
Moses 5:29–30. Satan said unto Cain: Swear unto me by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not; for if they tell it, they shall surely die; and this that thy father may not know it. … And all these things were done in secret.
1 En. 29:13. Kasbeel, the chief of the oath … when he dwelt above in glory 14. … requested Michael to show him the hidden name, that he might enunciate in the oath, so that those might quake before that name and oath who revealed all that was secret to the children of men.
1 En. 69:1. It was Gadreel who showed the children of men all the blows of death, and he led astray Eve.
Moses 5:16. And Adam and Eve … ceased not to call upon God. … But behold, Cain hearkened not, saying: Who is the Lord that I should know him?
Moses 5:51. For, from the days of Cain, there was a secret combination, and their works were in the dark.
Ethiop. Bk. Mysts. PO 4:431. “In the days of Cain evil and deceitful practices increased. The wicked angels set themselves up in open and insolent opposition to Adam, and glorying in their earthly bodies learned a great sin, and openly exposed all the work which they had seen in heaven.
And so we find in a Greek Enoch text the Great Angels returning from earth to report to God that they had found “Azael teaching all manner of unrighteousness upon the earth, and he has laid bare those mysteries of the age which belong to heaven, which are [now] known and practiced among men; and also Semiazas is with him, he to whom thou gavest authority [over] those who go along with him.”
As bad as breaking their oaths was divulging them to those not worthy to receive them, thereby debasing and invalidating them. One of the most widespread themes of myth and legend is the tragedy of the hero who yields to the charms of a fair maiden or femme fatale and ends up revealing to her hidden mysteries. The story meets us in the oldest Egyptian epic (where the lady Isis wheedles out of Re the fatal knowledge of his true name) and in like tales of Samson and Delilah, the daughter of Jared, Lohengrin, etc., in which the woman is the Pandora who must know what is in the box. On this theme the Gizeh fragments offer a significant parallel to the Joseph Smith version, in which the common background of the text and the confusion of the later scribes are equally apparent:
(Moses 5:53.) “Lamech had spoken the secret unto his wives, and they … declared these things abroad, and had not compassion. … Moses 5:55. And thus … darkness began to prevail among all the sons of men.”
Compare this to:
(Gizeh 16:2–4.) “And now concerning the Watchers, say to them. You were in heaven and there you knew every mysterion which had not been made known to you as well as that mystery which God allowed; and that you disclosed to your wives in the hardness of your heart, and it was through this mystery that women and men caused iniquities to abound upon the earth.”
Clement of Alexandria attributed to Musaeus, the founder of the Greek Mysteries, an account of “how the angels lost their heavenly heritage through the telling of the secret things [mysteria] to women,” things, Clement observes, “which the other angels keep secret or quietly perform until the coming of the Lord.”
Rather surprisingly, the age of Enoch is consistently described as the time of great intellectual as well as material sophistication. “Azael … taught [men] to make knives and breastplates and all kinds of military hardware; and to work the ores of the earth, and how gold was to be worked and made into ornaments for women; and he showed them silver and taught them polishing [eye-paint] and cosmetics and precious stones and dyes. And the sons and daughters of men adopted all these things and led the saints astray. And there was great wickedness on the earth, and they became perverted and lost in all their ways. Along with that their leader Semiazas taught them scientific formulas (epaodas kata tou nous), and the properties of roots and plants of the earth. The eleventh, Pharmakos, taught all manner of drugs, incantations, prescriptions, formulas. [Others] taught them star-gazing, astrology, meteorology, geology, the signs of the sun and moon. All of these began to reveal the mysteries to their wives and children.”
The leaders of the people devoted most of their wealth to “all kinds of engineering projects for controlling and taming nature. But the Lord altered the order of creation, making the sun rise in the west and set in the East,” so that all their plans came to naught. The idea of controlling the environment independently of God “was not as foolish as it sounds,” says the Zohar, “for they knew all the arts … and all the ruling principles [archons] governing the world, and on this knowledge they relied, until at length God disabused them by restoring the earth to its primal state and covering it with water.” Rabbi Isaac reports: In the days of Enoch even children were acquainted with these mysterious arts (the advanced sciences). R. Yesa asks: With all that knowledge could they not foresee destruction? To which R. Isaac replies: They knew, all right, but they thought they were just smart enough to prevent it. What they did not know was that God rules the world. … He gave them respite as long as the righteous men Jared, Methuselah and Enoch were alive: but when they departed from the world, God let the punishment descend … and they were blotted out from the earth.
A Book of Mormon text betrays the Enoch tradition (possibly contained in the brass plates) in a transparent parallel:
(2 Ne. 26:29.) “Priestcrafts are that men … set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.”
Compare this to:
(Zohar. Beresh. 25b.) “These men [of Enoch’s time] erected synagogues and colleges, and placed in them scrolls and rich ornaments … but they did it to set themselves up for a light, and for the honors of men; and in such a way the powers of evil prevail over Israel.”
Power and gain are two faces of one coin: “We are able to do whatever we please,” said the people in Enoch’s day, “because we are very rich!” To which Enoch replied: “You are wrong! Your riches will soon depart from you …”; but they went on seeking the power of gain more grimly than ever.
An interesting connection emerges in the account of how “in the time of Enoch they committed murder, shedding of blood of the children of men; they enslaved them, they sold what did not belong to them, they entered homes without right, and took whatever they wanted … they rigged the laws in their favor, and imitated the abominable deeds of the rebellious angels of a former time in which, when Abel tried to check them they encompassed his death by a conspiracy.” For this confirms a bold statement found in the Doctrine and Covenants 84:16: “Abel … was slain by [a] conspiracy.” [D&C 84:16] Ambition was the motivating force in all this evil. “The giants,” says Ben Sira 16:7, “were aspiring spirits who desired to be great in the manner of God on earth”; E. Kraeling has pointed out that the biblical term “men of name,” means “men who aspired to be great, ‘to make a name’ for themselves.” The Slavonic Enoch version matches the book of Moses in taking us back to the beginning of the matter:
Almost all our sources, and especially the Joseph Smith book of Enoch, emphasize the point that the people did not drift imperceptibly into ways of folly. They were so constantly warned that only a high and determined willfulness brought destruction upon them.