It is fair to say that the patriarch Enoch was as well
known to the ancients as he is obscure to modern Bible reaclers.
Besides giving his age (365 years), the book of Genesis says of him
only that he “walked with God,” and afterward “he was not, because
God had taken him” (Gen. 5:24). This exalted way of life and
mysterious demise made Enoch into a figure of considerable
fascination, and a cycle of legends grew up around him.
Many of the legends about Enoch were collected
already in ancient times in several long anthologies. The most
important such anthology, and the oldest, is known simply as The Book
of Enoch, comprising over one hundred chapters. It still survives in
its entirety (although only in the Ethiopic language) and forms an
important source for the thought of Judaism in the last few centuries
B.C.E. Significantly, the remnants of several almost complete copies
of The Book of Enoch in Aramaic were found among the Dead Sea
Scrolls, and it is clear that whoever collected the scrolls
considered it a vitally important text. All but one of the five major
components of the Ethiopic anthology have turned up among the
scrolls. But even more intriguing is the fact that additional,
previously unknown or little-known texts about Enoch were discovered
at Qumran. The most important of these is The
Book of Giants.
Enoch lived before the Flood, during a time
when the world, in ancient imagination, was very different. Human
beings lived much longer, for one thing; Enoch’s son Methuselah, for
instance, attained the age of 969 years. Another difference was that
angels and humans interacted freely — so freely, in fact, that some
of the angels begot children with human females. This fact is
neutrally reported in Genesis (6:1-4), but other stories view this episode
as the source of the corruption that made the punishing flood
According to The Book of Enoch, the
mingling of angel and human was actually the idea of Shernihaza, the leader of
the evil angels,
who lured 200
others to cohabit with women.
The offspring of these unnatural unions were
giants 450 feet high. The wicked angels and the giants began to
oppress the human population
and to teach them to do evil. For
this reason God determined to imprison the angels until the final
judgment and to destroy the earth with a flood. Enoch’s efforts to
intercede with heaven for the fallen angels were unsuccessful (1
The Book of Giants retells part of this story
and elaborates on the exploits of the giants, especially the two
children of Shemihaza, Ohya and
Hahya. Since no complete manuscript
exists of Giants, its exact contents and their order remain a matter
of guesswork. Most of the content of the present fragments concerns
the giants’ ominous dreams and Enoch’s efforts to interpret them and
to intercede with God on the giants’ behalf. Unfortunately, little
remains of the independent adventures of the giants, but it is likely
that these tales were at least partially derived from ancient Near
Eastern mythology. Thus the name of one of the giants is
the Babylonian hero and subject of a great epic written in the third
This story is better told in The Book of
Enoch Beginning Here
A summary statement of the descent of the
wicked angels, bringing both knowledge and havoc. Compare Genesis
1Q23 Frag. 9 + 14 + 15 2 [ . . . ] they knew the secrets of [ . . . ] 3 [ .
. . si]n
was great in the earth [ . . . ] 4 [ . . . ] and they killed many [ . . ] 5 [ .
. . they begat] giants [ . . . ]
The angels exploit the fruifulness of the
4Q531 Frag. 3
2 [ . . . everything that the] earth produced [ . . . ] [ . . . ] the
great fish [ . . . ] 14 [ . . . ] the sky with all that grew [ . . .
] 15 [ . . . fruit of] the earth and all kinds of grain and all the
trees [ .
. . ] 16 [ . . . ] beasts and
reptiles . . . [al]l creeping things of
the earth and they observed all [ . . . ] |8 [ . . . eve]ry harsh deed and [ .
. . ] utterance [ . . . ] l9 [ . . . ] male and female, and among
humans [ . . . ]
The two hundred angels choose animals on
which to perform unnatural acts, including, presumably,
1Q23 Frag. 1 + 6 [ . . . two hundred] 2 donkeys, two hundred asses, two
hundred . . . rams of the] 3 flock, two hundred goats, two hundred [
. . . beast of the] 4 field from every animal, from every [bird . . .
] 5 [ . . . ] for miscegenation [ . . . ]
The outcome of the demonic corruption was
violence, perversion, and a brood of monstrous beings. Compare
4Q531 Frag. 2
[ . . . ] they defiled [ . . . ] 2 [ . . . they begot] giants and monsters
[ . . . ] 3 [ . . . ] they begot, and, behold, all [the earth was
. . . ] 4 [ . . . ] with its blood and by the hand of [ . . . ] 5
[giant’s] which did not
suffice for them and [ . . . ] 6 [ . .
. ] and they were seeking to devour
many [ . . . ] 7 [ . . . ] 8 [ . . . ]
the monsters attacked it.
4Q532 Col. 2 Frags. 1 – 6 2 [ . . . ] flesh [ . . . ] 3al [l . . . ] monsters [ .
. . ] will be [ . . . ] 4 [ . . . ] they would arise [ . . . ]
lacking in true knowledge [ . . . ] because [ . . . ] 5 [ . . . ] the
earth [grew corrupt . . . ] mighty [ . . . ] 6 [ . . . ] they were
considering [ . . . ] 7 [ . . . ] from the angels upon [ . . . ] 8 [
. . . ] in the end it will perish and die [ . . . ] 9 [ . . . ] they
caused great corruption in the [earth . . . ] [ . . . this did not]
suffice to [ . . . ] “they will be [ . . . ]
The giants begin to be troubled by a
series of dreams and visions. Mahway, the titan son of the angel
Barakel, reports the first of these dreams to his fellow giants. He
sees a tablet being immersed in water. When it emerges, all but three
names have been washed away. The dream evidently symbolizes the
destruction of all but Noah and his sons by the Flood.
2Q26 [ . . . ]
they drenched the tablet in the wa [ter . . . ] 2 [ . . . ] the
waters went up over the [tablet . . . ] 3 [ . . . ] they lifted out
the tablet from the water of [ . . . ]
The giant goes to the others and they
discuss the dream.
4Q530 Frag.7 [
. . . this vision] is for cursing and sorrow. I am the one who
confessed 2 [ . . . ] the whole group of the castaways that I shall
go to [ . . . ] 3 [ . . . the spirits of the sl]ain complaining about
their killers and crying out 4 [ . . . ] that we shall die together
and be made an end of [ . . . ] much and I will be sleeping, and
bread 6 [ . . . ] for my dwelling; the vision and also [ . . . ]
entered into the gathering of the giants 8 [ . . . ]
6Q8 [ . . . ]
he said to Mahway [ . . . ] 2 [ . . . ] without trembling. Who showed you
all this vision, [my] brother? 3 [ . . . ] Barakel, my father, was
with me. 4 [ . . . ] Before Mahway had finished
telling what [he had seen . . . ] 5 [ . . . said] to him, Now I have
heard wonders! If a barren woman gives birth [ . . . ]
4Q530 Frag. 4
3 [There]upon Ohya said to Ha
[hya . . . ] 4 [ . . . to be destroyed]
from upon the earth and [ . . . ] 5 [ . . . the ea]rth. When 6 [ . .
. ] they wept before [the giants . . . ]
4Q530 Frag. 7
3 [ . . . ] your strength [ . . . ] 4 [ . . . ] 5 Thereupon
[said] to Hahya [ . . . ] Then he answered, It is not for 6 us, but for
for he did [ . . . the children of] angels 7 are the giants,
and they would not let all their loved ones] be neglected [. . . we
have] not been cast down; you have strength [ . . . ]
The giants realize the futility of
fighting against the forces of heaven. The first speaker may be
4Q531 Frag. 1
3 [ . . . I am a] giant, and by the mighty strength of my arm and my
own great strength 4 [ . . . any]one mortal, and I have made war
against them; but I am not [ . . . ] able to stand against them, for
my opponents 6 [ . . . ] reside in [Heav]en, and they dwell in the
And not 7 [ . . . they] are stronger than I. 8 [ . . . ] of the
wild beast has come, and the wild man they call [me].
9 [ . . . ] Then Ohya said to him, I have
been forced to have a dream [ . . . ] the sleep of my eyes
[vanished], to let me see a vision. Now I know that on [ . . . ]
11-12 [ . . . ] Gilgamesh [ . . .
Ohya’s dream vision is of a tree that is
uprooted except for three of its roots; the vision’s import is the
same as that of the first dream.
6Q8 Frag. 2 1
[ . . . ] [while] I was [watching,] there came [ .
. . they moved the roots into] 3 this garden, all of them, and not [ . . .
Ohya tries to avoid the implications of
the visions. Above he stated that it referred only to the demon
Azazel; here he suggests that the destruction isfor the earthly
4Q530 Col. 2 1
concerns the death of our souls [ . . . ] and all his comrades, [and
them what Gilgamesh said to him 2 [ . . . ] and it was said [ . . . ]
“concerning [ . . . ] the leader has cursed the potentates” 3 and the
giants were glad at his words. Then he turned and left [ . . .
More dreams afflict the giants. The
details of this vision are obscure, but it bodes ill for the giants.
The dreamers speak first to the monsters, then to the
Thereupon two of them had dreams 4
and the sleep of their eye, fled from them, and they arose and came
to [ . . . and told] their dreams, and said in the assembly of [their
comrades] the monsters 6 [ . . . In] my dream I was watching this
very night 7 [and there was a garden . . . ]
and they were watering 8 [ . . . two hundred
trees and] large shoots came out of their root 9 [ . . . ] all the water, and the fire burned all 10
[the garden . . . ] They found the giants to tell them 11 [the dream
. . . ]
[… rose up into the air] like
the whirlwinds, and flew with the help of his hands like [winged]
eagle [… over] the cultivated lands and crossed Solitude, the great
desert, […]. And he caught sight of Enoch and he called to him…
Enoch explains that the
trees represent the 200
Watchers, while the
felling of their trunks signifies their destruction in a coming
conflagration and deluge. More significant, however, is the means by
which Mahawai attains astral flight, for he is said to have used `his hands like (a)
[winged] eagle.’ Elsewhere in the same Enochian text Mahawai is said to have adopted the guise of a
bird to make another long journey. On this
occasion he narrowly escapes being burnt up by the sun’s heat and is
only saved after heeding the celestial voice of Enoch, who convinces
him to turn back and not die prematurely – a story that has close
parallels with Icarus’s fatal flight too near the sun in Greek
Someone suggests that Enoch be found to
interpret the vision.
[ . . . to Enoch] the noted scribe, and he will
interpret for us 12 the dream. Thereupon his fellow Ohya declared and said to
the giants, 13 I too had a dream this night, O giants, and, behold,
the Ruler of Heaven came down to
earth 14 [ . . . ] and such is the end
of the dream. [Thereupon] all the giants [and monsters! grew afraid 15
and called Mahway. He came to them and the giants pleaded with him and
sent him to Enoch 16 [the noted scribe]. They said to him, Go [ . . . ]
to you that 17 [ . . . ] you have heard his voice. And he said to
him, He wil1 [ . . . and] interpret the dreams [ . . . ]
Col. 3 3 [
. . . ] how long the giants have to live. [ . . . ]
After a cosmic journey Mahway comes to
Enoch and makes his request.
[ . . . he mounted
up in the air] 4 1ike strong winds, and
flew with his hands like a [gles . . . he left behind] 5 the
inhabited world and passed over
Desolation, the great desert [ . . . ]
6 and Enoch saw him and hailed him, and Mahway said to him [ . . . ]
7 hither and thither a second time to Mahway [ . . . The giants await
8 your words, and all the monsters of the earth. If
[ . . . ] has been carried [ . . . ] 9 from the days of [ . . . ]
their [ . . . ] and they will be added [ . . . ] 10 [ . . . ] we
would know from you their meaning [ . . . ]
11 [ . . . two
hundred tr]ees that from
[came down . . . ]
Enoch sends back a tablet with its grim
message of judgment, but with hope for repentance.
4Q530 Frag. 2
The scribe [Enoch . . . ] 2 [ . . . ] 3 a copy of the second tablet
that [Epoch] se [nt . . . ] 4in the very handwriting of Enoch the
noted scribe [ . . . In the name of God the great] 5 and holy one, to
and all [his companions . . . ] 6 1et it be known to you that not [ .
. . ] 7 and the things you have done, and that your wives [ . . . ] 8
they and their sons and the wives of [their sons . . .
] 9 by your licentiousness on the
earth, and there has been upon you [ .
. . and the land is crying
out] 10 and complaining about you and
the deeds of your children [ . . . ] 11 the harm that you have done
to it. [ . . . ] 12 until Raphael
arrives, behold, destruction [is
coming, a great flood, and it will destroy all living things]
13 and whatever is in the deserts and the seas. And the meaning of
the matter [ . . . ] 14 upon you for evil. But now, loosen the bonds
bi [nding you to evil . . . ] l5 and pray.
A fragment apparently detailing a vision
that Enoch saw.
4Q531 Frag. 7
3 [ . . . great fear] seized me and I fell on my face; I heard his
voice [ . . . ] 4 [ . . . ] he dwelt among human beings but he did
not learn from them [ . . . ]
Counter added 2.11.06 1051