A Modern English Translation of the Ethiopian Book of Enoch with introduction and notes by Andy McCracken
Special thanks to Bredren Jason Naphtali
who found this translation (by M. Knibb) of the Ethiopian text in the
S.O.A.S. Library at the University of London.
History of the Book of Enoch 5
Condition of the text 7
THE BLESSING OF ENOCH 11
GOD’S LAWS 12
REBELS AMONGST THE WATCHERS 15
THE MOST HIGH OF THE WATCHERS SPEAKS OUT 19
ENOCH MEETS THE HOLY WATCHERS 23
THE BOOK OF REPROOF 26
ENOCH STAYS FOR A WHILE WITH THE WATCHERS 31
THE ANGELS WHO KEEP WATCH 35
THE FRAGRANT TREES 39
THE BOOK OF METHUSELAH 46
THE BOOK OF NOAH 50
THE BOOK OF PARABLES 55
THE STOREHOUSES 87
THE REVOLUTIONS OF THE LIGHTS 93
ENOCH’S LETTER TO METHUSELAH 107
THE LAW OF THE STARS 110
ENOCH’S FIRST VISION 114
PROPHECY OF THE ANIMALS 120
PROPHECY OF THE TEN WEEKS 137
ENOCH’S MESSAGE OF GUIDANCE 143
ENOCH’S CONCLUDING WORDS 157
References and further reading 159
I have based this book on Michael A. Knibb’s scholarly translation of the Ethiopian manuscripts, (The Ethiopic Book of Enoch, Oxford University Press), which I believe to be the best translation currently available.
I first heard about the Book of Enoch a few years ago, while I was researching into ‘End of Days’ prophesies. When I finally managed to get hold of a copy, I discovered that it was a very strange and unusual book. The first time I read it I was skeptical and somewhat puzzled; I wondered who would have written an odd book like this.
I knew that Enoch, (Hanokh in Hebrew), was very favourably mentioned in Genesis, and I discovered that Enoch’s book describes the Exodus and Moses very favourably (although not by name).
So my first theory was that it might have been written around the same time as the Torah, perhaps around 1400 BC. However, after several readings I could find no plausible theories. The prophecy of the animals is extremely precisely written and obviously refers to events well after Moses (see my notes on that chapter). Additionally; who would have dared to produce a book with people such as Moses described in terms of farm animals? Michael Knibb, whose translation I have used to produce this book, studied all available manuscripts and sources, and it is clear that this book was well known and studied in many countries well before the time of Jesus. The earliest known surviving fragments and quotations in various languages show that this is the same book, and that the Ethiopians have preserved it well.
In the end I was convinced that the book is really Enoch’s true account of otherwise forgotten events that occurred in early times; events that we have no other surviving records of.
Enoch left us a book that describes people of an advanced culture; blond-
haired people that Enoch’s people considered to be Angels of God, and it was written on the angels’ instruction.
The standard academic view seems to be that some slightly demented religious fanatic wrote the book – not long before the earliest provable fragments, (200 or 300BC). I think it is impossible to support this view. Such an author would have to be able to write the entire book from the point of view of a person who knows nothing of countries with names, or religions with names. Then he goes on to describe the Angels as blond men, who ran away from Heaven in order to be promiscuous with women. I don’t believe this is the sort of world view that would have been well received or widely accepted anywhere in 200 BC. This plus the all too accurate prophecies are probably the reasons why it was ‘lost’ by the religions that used to regard it as holy.
I concluded that the book is probably what it appears to be; well preserved, ancient and genuine. Enoch was the great-grandfather of Noah, and father of Methuselah, and his book gives a unique view of the world before the flood; which recent research suggests may have occurred as long ago as 17,000 BC.
The History of the Book of Enoch
The book was thought to have been lost, for over 2,000 years, with many ancient sources referring to it, and even quoting parts, but no complete copies were known. Then in 1773, James Bruce brought three copies back from Ethiopia, having spent some years exploring the country.
Enoch had two main reasons for writing his book. The first was because the Watchers instructed him to do it, (see section 15 at 81.5 and 81.6). The second reason; was to save his family from the flood.
Enoch wrote his book, after his grandson Lamech was born, but before Noah was born. Noah is only named in the section that Methuselah wrote, (see section 10 at 107.3), and of course in his own section (section 11, The Book of Noah). So, there may still have been 40 – 80 years left before the flood, at the time when Enoch wrote his book.
There is a long gap between the time of the flood and the time when Moses gave praise to Enoch in Genesis. Genesis dates from around 1400 BC, and forms part of the Torah (the first five books of the bible).
In Genesis, there is Enoch’s family; as named by him in this book, and a quick recap of some of Enoch’s story.
It seems likely therefore, that copies of the Book of Enoch survived into Egyptian times, 3500 BC, and was known to Moses around 2,000 years later.
Moses presumably took a copy of the book with him when they all left Egypt, and he was no doubt pleased to see Enoch’s prophecy fulfilled.
The book probably existed mainly in Hebrew during the thousand years after the exodus. No Hebrew copies exist today, however, although there are some Hebrew passages quoted in some of the Aramaic fragments that survive from a few centuries BC.
The appearance of the book in Ethiopia, is probably due to events in
Jerusalem during the reign of King Manasseh of Judah, (695 – 642 BC), which are documented in the Bible, (2Chronicles 33:1 – 20, and at 2Kings 21:1 – 18).
King Manasseh was not of the Jewish faith, he erected alters to Baal and Asherah in Solomon’s Temple. In Kings at 21:16, it says that so much innocent blood was shed that it filled Jerusalem from end to end. At this time, the religious establishment left the country, taking the Ark of the Covenant and all the important religious texts with them.
After a number of years in Egypt, the refugees went further south, near to the source of the Nile, at Lake Tana in Ethiopia. The descendants of these people are the Falashas, who even today follow the form of Judaism that had been practiced in Israel only before 620 BC. The Ethiopians translated The Book of Hanokh into Ge’ez, and had enough respect to look after it. Meanwhile, all Hebrew versions disappeared but a substantial part of the book had survived in Greek, and some parts in Aramaic, but until Scottish traveler, and freemason, James Bruce, returned from Ethiopia in 1773, with three manuscripts, no one in the west had ever seen the whole book.
The two commonly available translations were done soon after this and the book was received with an embarrassed silence, for the most part, and not widely read.
This book is based on a new translation published in 1978, which was produced as a result of research into a large number of the Ethiopian manuscripts and a review of all other surviving fragments. My hope is that this present edition will be the best version of Enoch’s book available in English.
I think this is an important book, and I have done my best to present it as clearly as possible, and in a way that I hope Hanokh would have approved of.
Condition of the Text
I believe the text to be in good condition generally. It seems to be almost complete, with a beginning and an end, and it is self-consistent. Even more significant is the way that Enoch’s character and style of writing are still apparent. The only parts that I suspect were written by different authors I have separated out, as the Book of Methuselah, and the Book of Noah, (chapters 10 & 11).
The translation by Michael Knibb, into English, is very good, and I have had to do very little to the text in order to change it from a good translation into clear English. I have added quite a lot of punctuation and improved the presentation, but I have made only very minor changes to the text (such as substituting ‘before’ with ‘in front of’ where appropriate. In a few places I have substituted “sky” for Heaven where it makes the meaning clearer. Where Enoch says “the face of Heaven” he means the sky but I have left it unchanged. I only changed Heaven to sky where I was sure that was the intended meaning. Similarly, I have tried to use Earth with a capital where I think the meaning is the whole planet and earth, without a capital, where the meaning may just be the ground – which Enoch often differentiates himself by referring to “the dry ground” rather than “the earth”.
Fortunately, Enoch’s style was to use a simple vocabulary, and he assumed no pre-knowledge by the reader. Anything complicated, he explains at length, with quite a lot of repetition.
This has helped to preserve the book through many translations. There are a few places, even so, where there are problems. I have marked these with dots (…..) where some words seem to have been lost. Fortunately, there are not many of these, and nothing important appears to be missing.
I did find a few translocations in the text:
- Methuselah’s book had been inserted near the back,
- Noah’s book and ‘The Storehouses’ had been inserted into the Third Parable.
- Part of the Prophecy of the Ten weeks was in the wrong order.
I have kept the Ethiopian ‘chapter and verse’ numbers, in all cases, so that my changes to the order of presentation can easily be seen.
I have split the book into sections – where there seems to be a natural break, and given each one a title.
I inserted Noah and Methuselah’s works into the middle – where there seems to be a major break in Enoch’s book. The first section of Enoch is mainly the story of what occurred whereas the second part is mainly written from the notes that Enoch took while he was with the Watchers. Additionally, the end of Noah’s short book conveniently serves as an introduction to Enoch’s Book of Parables.
Andy McCracken (August 2002)
The Book of Enoch
THE BLESSING OF ENOCH (page 11)
This section is Enoch’s introduction to the book. At 1.2, he explains how the angels (Watchers) showed him a vision of the future. At 1.5, the Watchers are mentioned; here Enoch means the run-away rebel Watchers who came to live in his area (this is described in section 3).
In the bible (Gen. 6.4), the descendants of the Watchers are described as giants or Nephilim, they may have been bigger than the local people, Enoch describes them as giants, 7.2, Andrew Collins’ investigations suggest that a race of unusually large people did once exist. (See his book From the Ashes of Angels)
The main theme is that of destruction; God is going to clear away the sinners, so that good people can have peace. This is the Flood of Noah which was still some way off when Enoch wrote the book, although there are details of a ‘second end’ later in the book (see the 10 weeks).
THE BLESSING OF ENOCH
- These are the words of the blessing of Enoch; according to which he blessed the chosen and righteous who must be present on the day of distress, which is appointed, for the removal of all the wicked and impious.
- And Enoch began his story and said: -There was a righteous man whose eyes were opened by the Lord, and he saw a Holy vision in the Heavens, which the Angels showed to me. And I heard everything from them, and I understood what I saw: but not for this generation, but for a distant generation that will come.
- Concerning the Chosen I spoke; and I uttered a parable concerning them: The Holy and Great One will come out of his dwelling.
- And the Eternal God will tread from there upon Mount Sinai, and he will appear with his Host, and will appear in the strength of his power from Heaven.
- And all will be afraid, and the Watchers will shake, and fear and great trembling will seize them, up to the ends of the earth.
- And the high mountains will be shaken; and the high hills will be laid low and will melt like wax in a flame.
- And the earth will sink, and everything that is on the earth will be destroyed, and there will be judgment upon all, and upon all the righteous.
- But for the righteous: He will make peace, and He will keep safe the Chosen, and mercy will be upon them. They will all belong to God, and will prosper and be blessed, and the light of God will shine on them.
- And behold! He comes with ten thousand Holy Ones; to execute judgment upon them and to destroy the impious, and to contend with all flesh concerning everything that the sinners and the impious have done and wrought against Him.
- Contemplate all the events in the sky; how the lights in the sky do not change their courses, how each rises and sets in order, each at its proper time, and they do not transgress their law.
- Consider the earth and understand from the work that is done upon it, from the beginning to the end, that no work of God changes as it becomes manifest.
- Consider the summer and the winter; how the whole earth is full of water and the clouds and dew and rain rest upon it.
3.1 Contemplate and see how all the trees appear withered and all their leaves are stripped – with the exception of the fourteen trees, which are not stripped, which remain with the old leaves until the new come after two or three years.
4.1 And, again, contemplate the days of summer; how at its beginning the Sun is above it. You seek shelter and shade because of the heat of the Sun and the earth burns with scorching heat, and you cannot tread upon the earth or upon a rock, because of its heat.
- Contemplate how the trees are covered with green leaves and bear fruit. And understand, in respect of everything, and perceive how He Who Lives Forever made all these things for you.
- And how His works are before Him in each succeeding year, and all His works serve Him and do not change; but as God has decreed – so everything is done.
- And consider how the seas and rivers together complete their tasks.
- But you have not persevered in, nor observed, the Law of the Lord. But you have transgressed and have spoken proud and hard words with your unclean mouth against his majesty. You hard of heart! You will not have peace!
- And because of this you will curse your days, and the years of your life you will destroy. And the eternal curse will increase and you will not receive mercy.
- In those days, you will transform your name into an eternal curse to all the righteous. And they will curse you sinners forever.
- For the chosen; there will be light, joy, and peace, and they will inherit the earth. But for you, the impious, there will be a curse.
- When wisdom is given to the chosen they will all live, and will not again do wrong, either through forgetfulness, or through pride. But those who possess wisdom will be humble.
- They will not again do wrong, and they will not be judged in all the days of their life, and they will not die of wrath or anger. But they will complete the number of the days of their life. And their life will grow in peace, and the years of their joy will increase in gladness and eternal peace; all the days of their life.
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