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EDITORS COMMENT: This new series is being offered in memoriam of Dr. Michael Heiser who’s truly groundbreaking research on the Divine Council and Enochian Worldview (based on the book of Enoch and its connection to Hebrew theology before and at the time of Jesus) opened the door for a richer understanding of the Life of Christ than previous generations could have imagined. This series reflects content from the leading-edge books published by Defender Publishing for Dr. Heiser—Reversing Hermon: Enoch, the Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ as well as his two volume book set titled, A Companion to the Book of Enoch: A Reader’s Commentary, Volume 1: The Book of the Watchers and Vol II: The Parables of Enoch. PLEASE NOTE: ALL PROFITS FROM THE SALE OF DR. MICHAEL HEISER’S BOOKS FROM SKYWATCHTVSTORE.COM WILL BE  DONATED TO HIS FAMILY DURING THIS SERIES.

Genesis 6:4 pointedly informs readers that the Nephilim were on earth before the Flood “and also afterward.” The phrase looks forward to Numbers 13:33, which says with equal clarity that the oversized descendants of Anak “came from the nephilim.”[i] The sons of Anak, the Anakim, were one of the giant clans described in the conquest narratives (e.g., Deuteronomy 2:10–11, 21; Joshua 11:21–22; 14:12, 15). The text clearly links them to the Nephilim, but how is this possible given the account of the Flood?[ii]

The problem is one that has puzzled interpreters since antiquity. Some Jewish writers presumed the answer was that Noah himself had been fathered by one of the sons of God and was a Nephilim giant.[iii] But Genesis 6:9 clearly wants to distance Noah from the unrighteousness that precipitated the Flood, so this explanation doesn’t work.

There are two alternatives for explaining the presence of giants after the Flood who descended from the giant Nephilim: (1) the Flood of Genesis 6–8 was a regional, not global, catastrophe; (2) the same kind of behavior described in Genesis 6:1–4 happened again (or continued to happen) after the Flood, producing other Nephilim, from whom the giant clans descended.

The first option, a localized Flood, naturally depends on the coherence of the arguments in defense of a local Flood, especially those arguments dealing with the wording in the biblical text that seems to suggest the deluge was worldwide. Many biblical scholars, scientists, and other researchers have marshaled the evidence in favor of this reading.[iv] For our purposes, this option would allow human survival somewhere in the regions known to the biblical authors (Genesis 10), specifically the ancient Near East, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Aegean Sea.[v]

The second option is a possibility deriving from Hebrew grammar. Genesis 6:4 tells us there were Nephilim on earth before the Flood “and also afterward, when the sons of God went into the daughters of humankind.” The “when” in the verse could be translated “whenever,” thereby suggesting a repetition of these pre-Flood events after the Flood. In other words, since Genesis 6:4 points forward to the later giant clans, the phrasing could suggest that other sons of God fathered more Nephilim after the Flood.[vi] As a result, there would be no survival of original Nephilim, and so the post-Flood dilemma would be resolved. A later appearance of other Nephilim occurred by the same means as before the Flood.

The purpose of this brief survey of the interpretive issues presented by Genesis 6:1–4 is simple enough—to demonstrate that familiar non-supernaturalist views of the passage are evasive and unsatisfactory for many reasons. They fail to take the passage seriously for what it says. The next two chapters will reinforce the need to let the passage say what it says, but, more importantly, they will demonstrate that the Enochian expansion of Genesis 6:1–4 actually preserves the original context for the passage. This is why a supernaturalist approach to Genesis 6:1–4 is not only the right approach, but is an essential one for understanding why the New Testament writers took the material in Enoch so seriously.



The Sin of the Watchers in 1 Enoch and Other Enochian Texts

Now that we know how to approach (or not) the biblical story of Genesis 6:1–4, we need to see how Jewish writers of the Second Temple Period understood the story. The exercise will not only be instructive—and perhaps new to some readers—but will serve to provide a solid introduction to the key touchpoint for the present book: the story of the sin of the Watchers. By the end of this chapter, readers will see quite clearly that Second Temple Jews did not attempt to strip the supernatural elements from Genesis 6:1–4; rather, they affirmed them. This in turn will prepare us for chapter 3, where we will go back in time to the original Mesopotamian context for Genesis 6:1–4. At that point, the reader will be able to grasp a crucial fact for our study: Second Temple Jewish writers understood and preserved the original supernaturalist backstory from Mesopotamia. This literary inheritance explains why these Jewish authors wrote about Genesis 6:1–4 the way they did. Since New Testament writers were a product of this theological and intellectual environment, it makes complete sense that they looked at the sin of Watchers the same way and that parts of the New Testament are best understood with this in mind.

A Broad Overview of 1 Enoch

Since many readers will have never read 1 Enoch, it is advisable to get a feel for the whole book before drilling down into the story about the sin of the Watchers. As I noted in the introduction, the term “Watcher” is a biblical one, appearing in Daniel 4:13, 17, 23.[vii] The term is qualified by “holy one” (Daniel 4:13, 23), and so “Watcher” is not by default a term for an evil divine being.[viii] In 1 Enoch, the term is one of several used in place of “sons of God” in its retelling of the episode of Genesis 6:1–4.

The book of 1 Enoch as we know it today is actually a composite literary work whose parts can be dated to different periods.[ix] The distinct sections are:

The Book of the Watchers (chapters 1–36)

The Book of Parables (chapters 37–71), or the “Similitudes”

The Book of the Luminaries (chapters 72–82), or the “Astronomical Book”

The Book of Dreams (chapters 83–90)

The Apocalypse of Weeks (chapter 91:11–17)

The Epistle of Enoch (chapter 91:1–10, 92–105)

The Birth of Noah (chapters 106–107)

Another Chapter of Enoch (chapter 108)

With respect to the first section, the Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1–36), the first five chapters basically serve as an introduction to the entire section. Our chief focus in this book, the story of the sin of the Watchers, is found in chapters 6–16. John C. Collins describes the flow of the story this way:

Chapters 6–16 tell the story of the Watchers, in which two stories seem to be woven together. In one, the leader of the fallen angels is named Asael (Azazel in the Ethiopic text), and the primary sin is improper revelation; in the other the leader is Shemihazah, and the primary sin is marriage with humans and procreation of giants…. The Watchers beget giants on earth by their union with human women. Out of these giants come evil spirits that lead humanity astray (1 Enoch 15:11–12; this motif is elaborated further in Jubilees). In the short term, the crisis of the Watchers is resolved when God sends the flood to cleanse the earth.

Enoch is introduced in chapter 12 as a scribe whom the Watchers ask to intercede for them. Enoch ascends to heaven on a cloud and comes before the heavenly throne in chapter 14, in a passage that is important for the history of Jewish mysticism. His intercession, however, is rejected. The Watchers abandoned heaven for the attraction of the flesh. Enoch represents the opposite tendency: He is a human being who is taken up to heaven to live with the angels.[x]

The rest of the Book of the Watchers (chapters 17–36) describes Enoch being taken on a cosmic tour to the ends of the earth by angels. It is on this heavenly journey that Enoch sees the places where the spirits of the dead are kept inside a mountain in three compartments (chapter 22) and Gehenna (chapters 26–27). In chapter 32, Enoch sees the Garden of Eden and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil from which Adam and Eve ate. Interestingly, while this section of the Book of the Watchers notes the sin of Adam, it considers it of lesser significance when compared to the sin of the Watchers.

The next major section, 1 Enoch 37–71, is called the Book of Parables. It is also known as the Similitudes of Enoch. This is the only portion of the book for which there is no manuscript evidence from Qumran. The book includes three lengthy “parables” (1 Enoch 38–44, 45–57, and 58–69). As Collins notes, “The main theme is the coming judgment, ‘when the Righteous One appears before the chosen righteous whose works are weighed by the Lord of Spirits’ (1 Enoch 38:2). Then the rulers of the earth will be dumbfounded and humbled. The Righteous One is also called the Chosen One and ‘that Son of Man’ who accompanies the ‘Head of Days’ as in Daniel 7 (1 Enoch 46:1–2).”[xi]

The third section (1 Enoch 72–82) is referred to by scholars as the Astronomical Book since its content deals with astronomical observations that are given a theological interpretation (particularly eschatological). In terms of manuscript data, it may be the oldest portion of what we now know as 1 Enoch.

The so-called Book of Dreams (1 Enoch 83–90) is the next section. Its content mirrors certain passages in Jeremiah (23, 31, 33, 50), Ezekiel (34, 37), and Daniel (2, 7–8, 10). Collins summarizes the visions:

1 Enoch 83–90 consists of two apocalypses. The first, in chapters 83–84, is a simple vision of cosmic destruction. The second, known as the Animal Apocalypse, is a complex allegory in which people are represented by animals. Adam is a white bull. Cain and Abel are black and red bullocks; Israel is sheep. In the period after the exile, the sheep are given over to seventy shepherds, representing the angelic patrons of the nations. The reign of these shepherds is divided into four periods, which are allotted twelve, twenty-three, twenty-three, and twelve shepherds, respectively. At the end of the third period, we are told that “small lambs were born from these white sheep, and they began to open their eyes” (1 Enoch 90:6). This is generally taken to refer to the Hasidim who supported Judas Maccabus [sic]. Judas is represented by a great horn that grew on one of the sheep. Eventually God comes down and sets up His throne for judgment. The Watchers and the seventy shepherds are destroyed, but so are the “blind sheep,” or apostate Jews. Those who had been destroyed are brought back, presumably by resurrection, and all are transformed into “white bulls”—the condition of Adam and the early patriarchs. This apocalypse was evidently written at the time of the Maccabean revolt by people who supported the Maccabees.[xii]

The very short Apocalypse of Weeks (91:11–17) follows. Its similarity to Daniel 9:24–27 is obvious. The short portion records “what Enoch saw in a heavenly vision and understood from the tablets of heaven.”[xiii] The vision explains how future history will be divided into ten “weeks” (presumably weeks of years as in Daniel 9:24–27). The weeks describe the time of the end and the judgment of the Watchers.

The Epistle of Enoch (91:1–10, 92–105) is something of a sermonic exhortation. Deferring once again to Collins:

The bulk of the epistle is taken up with woes against sinners and exhortations for the righteous. The sinners are condemned mainly for social offenses. They “build their houses with sin” (1 Enoch 94:8) and “trample upon the humble through your power” (1 Enoch 96:5). The reward of the righteous, however, has ultimately an otherworldly character. They will “shine like the lights of heaven and be associates of the host of heaven” (1 Enoch 104:2–6). They are also promised some more mundane gratification. The wicked will be given into their hands, and they will cut their throats (1 Enoch 98:12).[xiv]

The last two sections are quite brief: The Birth of Noah (chapters 106–107) and Another Chapter of Enoch (chapter 108). The former portion narrates how “Noah’s miraculous birth foreshadowed his role as the preserver of the human race. Placed at the end of the corpus, the story promises salvation for the righteous, who will survive the great judgment that was prefigured in the deluge.”[xv] The final chapter is little more than an appendix that “alludes to earlier journey traditions and provides a last word that assures the salvation of the righteous and the damnation of the sinners.”[xvi]

The Story of the Sin of the Watchers: 1 Enoch 6–16

Understanding the sin of the Watchers in 1 Enoch is fairly straightforward. One needs only to read 1 Enoch 6–16 to see how the writer expands upon Genesis 6:1–4. For that reason, I’m going to reproduce a good bit of this portion of the Book of the Watchers in what remains of this chapter. The translation is that produced by Nickelsburg in his scholarly commentary on 1 Enoch.[xvii] The most salient chapters are 1 Enoch 6–8, and so we begin with them in their entirety:

1 Enoch 6: 1And when the sons of men had multiplied, in those days, beautiful and comely daughters were born to them.2And the watchers, the sons of heaven, saw them and desired them. And they said to one another, “Come, let us choose for ourselves wives from the daughters of men, and let us beget for ourselves children.” 3And Shemihazah, their chief,[xviii] said to them, “I fear that you will not want to do this deed, and I alone shall be guilty of a great sin.” 34And they all answered him and said, “Let us all swear an oath, and let us all bind one another with a curse, that none of us turn back from this counsel until we fulfill it and do this deed.” 5Then they all swore together and bound one another with a curse. 6And they were, all of them, two hundred, who descended in the days of Jared onto the peak of Mount Hermon.[xix] And they called the mountain “Hermon” because they swore and bound one another with a curse on it.[xx] 7And these are the names of their chiefs: Shemihazah—this one was their leader; Arteqoph, second to him; Remashel, third to him; Kokabel, fourth to him; Armumahel, fifth to him; Ramel, sixth to him; Daniel, seventh to him; Ziqel, eighth to him; Baraqel, ninth to him; Asael, tenth to him; Hermani, eleventh to him; Matarel, twelfth to him; Ananel, thirteenth to him; Setawel, fourteenth to him; Samshiel, fifteenth to him; Sahriel, sixteenth to him; Tummiel, seventeenth to him; Turiel, eighteenth to him; Yamiel, nineteenth to him; Yehadiel, twentieth to him. 8These are their chiefs of tens.

1 Enoch 7: 1These and all the others with them took for themselves wives from among them such as they chose. And they began to go in to them, and to defile themselves through them, and to teach them sorcery and charms, and to reveal to them the cutting of roots and plants. 2And they conceived from them and bore to them great giants. And the giants begat Nephilim, and to the Nephilim were born Elioud.[xxi] And they were growing in accordance with their greatness.[xxii] 3They were devouring the labor of all the sons of men, and men were not able to supply them. 4And the giants began to kill men and to devour them. 5And they began to sin against the birds and beasts and creeping things and the fish, and to devour one another’s flesh. And they drank the blood. 6Then the earth brought accusation against the lawless ones.

1 Enoch 8: 1Asael[xxiii] taught men to make swords of iron and weapons and shields and breastplates and every instrument of war. He showed them metals of the earth and how they should work gold to fashion it suitably, and concerning silver, to fashion it for bracelets and ornaments for women. And he showed them concerning antimony and eye paint and all manner of precious stones and dyes. And the sons of men made them for themselves and for their daughters, and they transgressed and led astray the holy ones.[xxiv] 2And there was much godlessness upon the earth, and they made their ways desolate. 3Shemihazah taught spells and the cutting of roots.

Hermani taught sorcery for the loosing of spells and magic and skill.

Baraqel taught the signs of the lightning flashes.

Kokabel taught the signs of the stars.

Ziqel taught the signs of the shooting stars.

Arteqoph taught the signs of the earth.

Shamsiel taught the signs of the sun.

Sahriel taught the signs of the moon.

And they all began to reveal mysteries to their wives and to their children.

4 (And) as men were perishing, the cry went up to heaven.

What of the rest of the story? In 1 Enoch 9, four archangels (Michael and Sariel and Raphael and Gabriel) see the terrible events unfolding on earth and approach God for a solution. The souls of humankind demand: “Bring in our judgment to the Most High, and our destruction before the glory of the majesty, before the Lord of all lords in majesty” (1 Enoch 9:3). The four archangels say to God (1 Enoch 9:11):

You know all things before they happen, and you see these things and you permit them and you do not tell us what we ought to do to them with regard to these things.

God responds in 1 Enoch 10:1–3 with news that should sound familiar to biblical readers:

1Then the Most High said, and the Great Holy One spoke. And he sent Sariel to the son of Lamech, saying, 2“Go to Noah and say to him in my name, ‘Hide yourself.’ And reveal to him that the end is coming, that the whole earth will perish; And tell him that a deluge is about to come on the whole earth and destroy everything on the earth. 3Teach the righteous one what he should do, the son of Lamech how he may preserve himself alive and escape forever. From him a plant will be planted, and his seed will endure for all the generations of eternity.”

1 Enoch 10–11 describes how the archangels do as God commanded, and also round up the offending Watchers and bind them. One portion reads:

…until the day of their judgment and consummation, until the eternal judgment is consummated. Then they will be led away to the fiery abyss, and to the torture, and to the prison where they will be confined forever…. And at the time of the judgment, which I shall judge, they will perish for all generations. Destroy all the spirits of the half-breeds and the sons of the watchers, because they have wronged men. (1 Enoch 10:12–15)



Kvanvig summarizes the rest of the material relation to the sin of the Watchers (1 Enoch 12–16) aptly:

The second section (Enoch 12–16) introduces Enoch, who is not mentioned in the first. He is situated in heaven among the Watchers and holy ones. There are clear correspondences between this description of Enoch and the one we find in Genesis 5:18–24. Enoch was sent to the Watchers on earth to pronounce judgment because their sexual union with the women had corrupted the earth. The Watchers were seized with fear and asked Enoch to write a petition on their behalf and bring it back to the supreme God. Enoch went to the waters of Dan, southwest of Mount Hermon. There he fell asleep and saw a dream vision. In the vision, he was brought back to heaven, to the temple of the supreme God. God recalled for him the Watcher incident once more and the judgment He had decided. Here, new information is added: From the dead bodies of the giants the evil spirits would arise. They would haunt mankind until the final judgment. Enoch was then sent back to the Watchers with the message that ends the story: “You will not have peace.”

UP NEXT: The Sin of the Watchers

[i] Both phrases are regarded as late editorial glosses by many evangelical and non-confessional scholars. See, for example, Brian Doak, The Last of the Rephaim: Conquest and Cataclysm in the Heroic Ages of Ancient Israel, Ilex Series 7 [(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013) 78; Claus Westermann, Genesis 1–11: A Continental Commentary (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994) 378. That they are part of the final form of the biblical text means they must be included in the canonical material that was the product of the process of inspiration.

[ii] The Hebrew of the phrase in Num. 13:33 literally reads that the sons of (beney) Anak were “from” (min) the Nephilim. The meaning is either that the Anakim were lineal (biological) descendants or were viewed as part of a group that descended from the Nephilim. Some have argued that the preposition min suggests the Anakim were only “like” the Nephilim, but there is no clear instance in the Hebrew Bible for this semantic nuance. As Doak notes in his discussion of the phrase, “Whatever the case, the Anaqim here are most certainly thought to be the physical (and thus “moral” or “spiritual”) descendants of the Nephilim” (Doak, Last of the Rephaim, 79).

[iii] The quandary of how anyone, including the giants, had survived the Flood led some Jewish writers to speculate that Noah himself had been fathered by a Watcher. One Dead Sea scroll, The Genesis Apocryphon, has Noah’s father challenging his wife, the mother of Noah, about whether her pregnancy was the work of one of the Watchers (Genesis Apocryphon [=1QapGen] 1:1–5:27). She vehemently denies the charge.

[iv] The argument for a local flood proceeds along several trajectories aside from scientific arguments. For scientific discussion, see David F. Siemens Jr., “Some Relatively Non-Technical Problems with Flood Geology,” Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith 44.3 (1992) 169–74; Davis Young and Ralph Searley, The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008) 224–40. Our concern is with the biblical text and its own evidence for a local flood. First, the phrases in the Flood narrative that suggest a global event occur a number of times in the Hebrew Bible where their context cannot be global or include all people on the planet. For example, the phrase “the whole earth” (kol ʾerets) occurs in passages that clearly speak of localized geography (e.g., Gen. 13:9; 41:57; Lev. 25:9, 24; Judg. 6:37; 1 Sam. 13:3; 2 Sam. 24:8). In such cases, “whole land” or “all the people in the area” are better understandings. Those options produce a regional flood event if used in Gen. 6–8 where the phrase occurs. Second, the Gen. 9:19 clearly informs us that “the whole earth” was populated by the sons of Noah. Gen. 10 (see 10:1) gives us the list of the nations spawned by the sons of Noah—all of which are located in the regions of the ancient Near East, the Mediterranean, and the Aegean. The biblical writers knew nothing of nations in another hemisphere (the Americas) or places like India, China, or Australia. The language of Gen. 10 therefore allows Gen. 7:21 to be restricted to only (or even some) of the people groups listed in the Table of Nations. That interpretation is consistent with a localized flood. Third, the phrase “all humankind” (kol ʾadam) used in Gen. 7:21 also appears in contexts that cannot speak to all humans everywhere (e.g., Jer. 32:20; Psa. 64:9 can only refer to people who had seen what God had done, not people on the other side of the world). Lastly, Psa. 104:9 appears to forbid a global flood, since it has God promising to never cover the earth with water as had been the case at creation.

[v] Both supernatural approaches to Gen. 6:1–4 can accommodate a local flood. Both posit survivors (by whatever means) somewhere in the Mediterranean or Aegean, the known biblical world. Those survivors (at least some of them) would have had to eventually migrate to Canaan. At least one of the giant lineages can be traced to the Aegean (see ch. 25). In like manner, positing a post-Flood origin for more Nephilim would require more divine intervention of the same (undescribed) type.

[vi] A translation of “when” takes the ʾasher clause as temporal. According to Westermann, this is the view espoused by most commentators. He is, however, apathetic as to whether a temporal understanding or another possibility is more coherent: “It does not really matter whether אשׁר is understood as temporal (with most interpreters) or iterative (so E. König, W. H. Schmidt and others) or as causal (e.g., B. S. Childs; against, and correctly, W. H. Schmidt); אשׁר is an afterthought, its function being in fact only to link and so to subordinate” (Westermann, Genesis 1–11, 377). Wenham notes that some Hebrew scholars consider the use of the Hebrew imperfect in this clause to allow for repetition: “ ‘Whenever the sons of the gods went into the daughters of men, they bore them children.’ Though it is not impossible to translate this as a simple past event—‘When they went in…’—it is more natural (with Skinner, König, Gispen) to take the imperfect ‘went’ and perfect preceded by waw (‘bore…children’) as frequentative. To ‘go in to’ is a frequent euphemism for sexual intercourse (cf. Gen. 30:16; 38:16)” (Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, Word Biblical Commentary 1 (Dallas: Word, 1998), 143. See also Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, 2nd English ed. (ed. E. Kautzsch and Sir Arthur Ernest Cowley; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910) 315 (sec. 107e). Gesenius includes Gen. 6:4 as an instance of this interpretive nuance.

[vii] On the meaning of “watcher” (Aramaic: עיר; ʿı̂r), Nickelsburg writes: “If the Aram. עיר was the chief designation for the heavenly beings, precisely what was the meaning of this word? …. A derivation from the root עור (“to be awake,” “to be watchful”) is usually presumed and is reflected in the Greek translation ἐγρήγορος (egrēgoros)… Murray develops an extensive argument for the meaning “guardian” and for an allusion to the old guardian gods of Semitic antiquity. Various passages in 1 Enoch appear to apply such a function to these heavenly beings, although it is perhaps more to the point to describe them as advocates or mediators of human prayer. Throughout the translation in this volume, I have retained the traditional rendering  ‘watchers,’ presuming not the notion of watching per se, but the first dictionary definition of this noun, ‘one that sits up or continues awake at night.’ I do so for two reasons. First, neither Fitzmyer nor Murray presents a compelling reason for seeking another translation.  Second, alongside the ancient translation ἐγρήγοροι, precisely such an interpretation appears to be presumed in [1 Enoch] 39:12, 13; 40:2; 61:12; 71:7 (“those who sleep not”), and it may also be indicated at 14:23. In both cases, these heavenly beings are on twenty-four-hour duty attending God—whether to praise God or to function as a kind of bodyguard in the throne room.” See George W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch (ed. Klaus Baltzer; Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2001), 140; R. Murray, “The Origin of Aramaic ʿı̂r, Angel,” Orientalia 53:2 (1984) 303–17.

[viii] ESV correctly renders the Aramaic phrase עִיר וְקַדִּישׁ as “a watcher, a holy one,” as opposed to “a watcher and a holy one.” That the waw conjunction between the words should be understood as creating an appositional relationship between the terms is apparent from the context—only one heavenly being converses with Daniel in the passage (note the ensuing singular participles used for the heavenly figure’s proclamation in Dan. 4:14).

[ix] See appendix II. Some scholars include 1 Enoch 93:1–10 in the Apocalypse of Weeks.

[x] J. J. Collins, “Enoch, Books of,” ed. Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter, Dictionary of New Testament Background: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000) 314. This last comment about the sin of Adam will be explored in the present book in several chapters. This perspective, as one can imagine, affects the reading of certain New Testament passages.

[xi] Ibid., 316.

[xii] Ibid., 315.

[xiii] Ibid.

[xiv] Ibid., 315–316.

[xv] Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch, 8.

[xvi] Ibid., 8.

[xvii] Ibid., 174ff. For convenience, I have chosen to omit brackets in reconstructed words and names.

[xviii] This description is found in the Ethiopic text but is not present in some Greek manuscripts.

[xix] The direct reference to Mount Hermon—something of importance for our own study—is corrupted in the Ethiopic text. Its authenticity is attested in the Aramaic material of 1 Enoch found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (the first six words of 4QEna), as well as some Greek manuscripts.

[xx] In Hebrew (and Aramaic) “Hermon” (חרמן; ḥermōn) is related to חרם which means (as a verb: ḥāram) “devote to destruction” and (as a noun), “[thing] devoted to destruction.” These terms are prominent in the biblical conquest account. As I discussed in The Unseen Realm (183–214), the annihilation terminology of the conquest was directed at the Anakim, the descendants of th Nephilim. Nickelsburg (p. 177) notes that this wordplay “is an explicit and typical etymologizing on the name of Mount Hermon (cf. Gen. 4:17; 28:10–19; 31:46–49), possible in both Hebrew and Aramaic. The mutual anathematizing of the watchers (for the verb חרם see 4QEna 1 3:3) explains the name of the mountain on which it took place (חרמון). The long history of religious activity in the environs of Hermon is well documented.”

[xxi] The text as established by Nickelsburg for his translations produces three offspring: giants, Nephilim, and “Elioud.” Each succeeding group produces the next. Nickelsburg (p. 184) writes: “The interpretation of this passage, and specifically the relationship between “the giants” (nĕpîlîm) and “the mighty ones” (gibbôrîm), has long been disputed. Ancient interpreters disagreed, although the varying interpretations may reflect knowledge of the Enochic form of the tradition. An identification of the two groups with one another is as old as the LXX, which translates both nouns with οἱ γίγαντες (“the giants”)…. Modern interpreters also differ on the referents of the two nouns, and these interpretations are often tied to one’s understanding of the history of the tradition. According to Westermann, the two groups are most likely identified with one another in the present state of the Genesis text.” Nickelsburg is citing Claus Westermann, A Continental Commentary: Genesis 1–11 (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994) 378–379. Westermann notes that originally the two terms “did not designate the same object, because Nephilim is a name whereas גברים [gibborim] describes a group” (p. 379). I agree with Westermann (and others) on this issue. For our purposes (i.e., establishing the Watcher story for the sake of New Testament interpretation), the issue isn’t important. The term “Elioud” is enigmatic (See Nickelsburg’s short survey of options, p. 185). My preference is that the term may derive from the common Semitic root עלי (ʿly; “exalted”) and mean something like “arrogant ones.” See for example Ugaritic ʿly (verb: “to rise up” or “attack”; adjective: “exalted” (Gregorio Del Olmo Lete and Joaquín Sanmartín, “ʿly,” A Dictionary of the Ugaritic Language in the Alphabetic Tradition [Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2003], vol 1:160–161).

[xxii] Nickelsburg’s preferred text (the Greek version of Syncellus) omits the reference to the height of the Nephilim. The Ethiopic text and some Greek manuscripts read either three thousand or three hundred cubits for their height. It should be obvious that, given Nickelsburg’s texts have these giants producing successions of giant offspring (with human women apparently), the heights are absurd, making sexual intercourse impossible.

[xxiii] It is interesting to note that the Ethiopic text describes Asael as “the tenth of the archons.”

[xxiv] This last line of 1 Enoch 8:2 is a good illustration of why Enoch scholars have determined that the account is a composite of sources and traditions. Nickelsburg writes: “According to the second clause, these women then led the holy watchers astray. That is, the sin of Shemihazah and his companions, described in chaps. 6–7, was caused ultimately by the instruction of Asael. This idea implies two other ideas not present in chaps. 6–7. First, the original angelic sinner and primary author of the evil under consideration was not Shemihazah but Asael. Second, the angels were seduced by the women” (Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch, 195).

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