Enoch’s Angels

Enoch’s Angels October 20, 2014

At some point in Jewish history, texts began referring to angels with specific names like Gabriel or Michael, and that trend reflects a basic shift in concepts of the supernatural hierarchy. That shift is significant itself in terms of the history of Western religion, but it particularly matters for anyone interested in early (or medieval) Christianity.

One  influential witness to angel lore is the Book of Enoch, which in the form we have it is a combination of at least five separate works, dating from different eras. The heaviest concentration of angelic characters comes from the early section of 1 Enoch called the Book of the Watchers, which describes how fallen angels mated with human women, and produced the monstrous Nephilim (The story was recently recycled in the film Noah). This portion certainly predates the late second century BC. It probably dates from the third century, but conceivably might have been written in the fourth.

I am here using the 1917 R. H. Charles translation. For a recent scholarly version, see Miryam T. Brand, “1 Enoch,” in Louis H. Feldman, James L. Kugel and Lawrence H. Schiffman, eds., Outside the Bible (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2013), vol ii, 1359-1452. Brand, incidentally, points out that the original Genesis text concerning Enoch referred to him in the context of ha-elohim, which today is translated “God.” For a Second Temple reader, though, it implied “angels.”

Reading 1 Enoch, we immediately seem to be in a world that is quite recognizable from early Christianity, not least in the searing vision of a Day of Judgment with which the work opens. And it is the Parables of Enoch above all that show the term Son of Man being used in a Messianic sense. Also familiar from early Christian literature is the concept of a holy man – Enoch – reporting on his travels through the supernatural heavenly world.

It is in the Book of the Watchers that we encounter several angelic names, grouped in a familiar pattern. We read about the sinful world before the Flood. “And then Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel looked down from heaven and saw much blood being shed upon the earth, and all lawlessness being wrought upon the earth” (9.1-3. Brand’s translation gives Michael, Gabriel, Suriel and Uriel). Not only do we find the good angels or archangels here, but they are specifically complaining to God about the havoc being wrought by their evil counterparts, fallen angels like Azazel and Semjaza/Shemihaza.


God responds by assigning each key angel a mission (Ch. 10):

Then said the Most High, the Holy and Great One spake, and sent Uriel to the son of Lamech, and said to him: ‘Go to Noah and tell him in my name “Hide thyself!” …

And again the Lord said to Raphael: ‘Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness”…

And to Gabriel said the Lord: ‘Proceed against the bastards and the reprobates, and against the children of fornication”…

And the Lord said unto Michael: ‘Go, bind Semjaza and his associates who have united themselves with women so as to have defiled themselves with them in all their uncleanness.”

1 Enoch 20 names the heavenly cast of characters:

And these are the names of the holy angels who watch:

Uriel, one of the holy angels, who is over the world and over Tartarus;

Raphael, one of the holy angels, who is over the spirits of men;

Raguel, one of the holy angels who takes vengeance on the world of the luminaries;

Michael, one of the holy angels, to wit, he that is set over the best part of mankind and over chaos;

Saraqael, one of the holy angels, who is set over the spirits, who sin in the spirit;

Gabriel, one of the holy angels, who is over Paradise and the serpents and the Cherubim. Remiel, one of the holy angels, whom God set over those who rise.


In a later section of the book, the Parables of Enoch (71.7-8), we see a vision of heaven:

And round about were Seraphim, Cherubim, and Ophannim: And these are they who sleep not and guard the throne of His glory. And I saw angels who could not be counted, a thousand thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand, encircling that house. And Michael, and Raphael, and Gabriel, and Phanuel, and the holy angels who are above the heavens go in and out of that house.

1 Enoch was very widely read, and regarded as authoritative. The New Testament Epistle of Jude cites it as canonical scripture, and many early Christian Fathers regarded Enoch as a great prophet. Jude, incidentally, is also among the earliest Christian texts to give a name to an archangel, that is, Michael (v.9), and this in the context of a contest with the Devil.

1 Enoch was also highly regarded by the community that produced the Dead Sea Scrolls during the second and first centuries BC. In those Scrolls, we find sections of four of the five sections of 1 Enoch, including the Book of the Watchers. Although much about the Dead Sea community remains uncertain, a foundation date in the mid-second century BC is most likely.

As I will describe in my next post,  the Dead Sea community was fascinated by angels, to the point that they represented a central part of their world-view. The view of angels and demons that we find in those texts resonates closely with what we know of early Christianity.

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  • steve burdan

    Good – but how did the writers get the inside info – names and purposes of angels, story lines? Did they claim inspiration? Or oral tradition? The narrative comes off sounding pretty authoritative…

  • philipjenkins

    They don’t say, and it’s nothing like (say) Isaiah where he reports the vision. The assumption is that the material is from or via Enoch himself.

  • steve burdan

    Thank you sir! Imagine if those guys had Internet capability back then… think things can get hinky today…lol!

  • jenny

    A group of small children learning about God, asked about the name of angels: I was at lost – the girls asked why the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael have masculine names.

    Also, the boys wanted to know what are the name of the feminine angels, as they would like to associate these feminine angels with their mothers or sisters.

    Can you help here, please ?

  • Lagosunshine

    The painting “The Virgin of the Rocks” by Da Vinci has an angel to the right of the child John the Baptist claimed to be ‘Uriel’ and the angel looks very feminine of face. Check it out. “The Virgin of the Rocks”.


  • NYCFiredog

    This Book of Enoch obviously predated the cannon of the Bible. An edition was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and still held by the Ethiopian Jews that didn’t get the memo that it was declared anathema by the powers that be.
    The Book of Enoch was suppressed by the Church when it was declared either an anathema or heresy. Not sure the exact wording. The Jews had also blacklisted the Book. The idea that Angels mated with humans was too much to deal with. Did you know that the Epistle of Jude was almost kept out of the Bible because he MENTIONED the Prophecies of Enoch??? If it was notable to Jude, it must have been significant to Jesus and His teachings. The early Church destroyed all known copies which is why it was no longer found.

  • Richard

    It is not reasonably possible to give credence to any author who propounds that bodiless spirits – angels – are able to procreate with humans. Although they may appear in human form, they have no bodies = no egg or sperm = no procreation possible!!!!!!!!!!! Reason enough to exclude Enos from the Bible.

  • Mainer

    If the Prophecies of Enoch are important enough for St. Jude to mention why would/should the Catholic Church ignore them and not even teach/explain to the laity and general public its reasoning for doing so. Though not a Catholic reference an interesting book is “AND ENOCH ALSO PROPHESIED” by the late Dr. Gene Scott (Stanford University).

  • Librarian50

    Angels are pure spirits. They do not have bodies so there are no girl angels or boy angels. They assume bodies when they appear to human beings

    . We only know the names of angels who are written about in Scripture. These names describe their ministry or function. The word “el” in Hebrew means God. Michael is translated as “Who is like unto God?” which is the battlecry he uttered when Satan and the rebelious angels rose up against God. Gabriel means “Strength of God.”

    This is probably over the heads of small children. Sometimes the best answer is “I don’t know.” Or,” The only things we know about angels is what is revealed to us in the Bible..” Raphael is an important character is the Book of Tobit, which is not included in the Protestant Bible.Uriel is mentioned only in Apochryphal books. . Jesus makes reference to angels many times. Stick to these Bible verses to avoid controversy and confusion. So God has revealed to us only the names of three angels( or two if you are Protestant.).
    The four angels named by Jennie are invoked in the prayers of the Jewish people during the High Holy Days, can’t remember which one.

  • disqus_BK27FkoO65

    There are female angels mentioned in the Bible:

    Zechariah 5

    5Then the angel who was speaking with me went out and said to me, “Lift up now your eyes and see what this is going forth.” 6I said, “What is it?” And he said, “This is the ephah going forth.” Again he said, “This is their appearance in all the land 7(and behold, a lead cover was lifted up); and this is a woman sitting inside the ephah.”…8Then he said, “This is Wickedness!” And he threw her down into the middle of the ephah and cast the lead weight on its opening. 9Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and there two women were coming out with the wind in their wings; and they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heavens. 10I said to the angel who was speaking with me, “Where are they taking the ephah?”…

    11Then he said to me, “To build a temple for her in the land of Shinar; and when it is prepared, she will be set there on her own pedestal.”

    These two women with wings carried away a
    spirit of wickedness to the land of Babylon. That makes them angelic winged guards over evil.

    Also one of the Seven Angels who stand before the Throne of God is named Jophiel. That means Beauty of God. That angel is almost always painted as a female because of her name which is also Dina. Neither one of these names is usually given to a boy or man. lol She also watches over artists or anyone who makes things of beauty.

    Anyway, Jophiel is the Guardian of Nature. Her symbol is a deer. She is the angel who drove Adam and Eve out of Eden when they sinned. She is also the angel who is on the old symbol for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals

    Check this out at https://www.aspca.org/about-us

    Jophiel is also the angels who watches over animal workers, like shepherds. This is why she is the Angel of Christmas. This is the angel you see on the top of the Christmas Tree. (That is why that tree top angel looks like a girl)

    Luke 2

    8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

    13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

    14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

    Did you know that there are male and female shepherds in the Bible?

    My sister lived in Israel for a while back in the late 60’s. She pointed out that shepherds are both male and female

    Members of the family both male and female acted as shepherds:

    Genesis 29:6 And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.

    Song of Solomon 1:8 If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.

    In legend, Jophiel is so beautiful that she distracts demons and Fallens when she fights them. She can also force any evil thing to be quiet and cease fighting. Her weapons are the forces of nature, including animals. When she is painted fighting evil, she often carries a Net of Peace which subdues the Enemy. Oddly enough this is the same weapon that Bible Girl uses against demons:


    So there you are. Hope this helps.

    God Bless You.

    Rev. Trimelda C McDaniels

  • disqus_BK27FkoO65

    PS: There are male and female angels because there are male and female aspects of God. The Jews knew this as Holy Wisdom or the Shekinah Glory of God. The King James and Geneva Bibles spoke of God as female and male, which would have The Father, The Holy Spirit of Wisdom and the Word Made Flesh or Jesus. This is recounted in the books of Sirach, Wisdom and Esdras. ALL of these books and four others were included in every Bible including the original 1611 King James and Geneva Bibles until after 1825. You could still find ones with these books as late as 1839.

    The teaching was that the Father was the Mouth, the Spirit was the Breath, (which is what Spiritus or Ruah means) and Jesus is the Eternal Word of Love that is spoken out of the Love of the Father for the Spirit. This is duplicated on earth in the First Couple and their Offspring.

    If you want to see a picture of Holy Wisdom (the Holy Spirit) as female painted by the Eastern Orthodox church, which has married priests, go here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/468374429970609357/

  • disqus_BK27FkoO65

    Like it or not the idea of the angels having offspring by human women is in the Bible:

    Genesis 6 King James Version (KJV)

    6 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

    2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

    3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

    4 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 children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

    That is why God had to flood the earth:

    8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

    9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

    Noah walked with God (was a decent God fearing person) and his generations was perfect. That does not mean his sons were perfect. (Look at Ham). The word generations means something else from yalad which means to begat or to bear. Noah’s DNA had not been messed up by these Fallens. Only eight people were left without this contamination. So they were spared. The rest had to die. We might think this is impossible, but just look at what we are doing with hybrid humans right now.
    God wasn’t being cruel when the Flood was sent. He had no choice because of the stupid things humans did.

  • disqus_BK27FkoO65

    The Ethiopians have it:

    It is regarded as canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, but not by any other Christian group.

    It is wholly extant only in the Ge’ez language.

    They also have the Ark of the Covenant, according to their Church. We might laugh at that but they can trace their royal household to King Solomon’s visit with Queen of Sheba and the legend is that they took the Ark because Solomon was going to fall into idolatry and God wanted His vessel protected from impurity.

    Here is the link to the Book of Enoch in English:


  • philipjenkins

    I wish I could. Now, the words for Spirit and Wisdom are both female…

  • P.J.C

    Only humans were created as male and female this refers to the human body but a soul is what is important part of body that lives on, and a soul has no gender

  • Tessye

    I was taught that “Nephilim” meant “fall”, which refers to the fall of Cain. The descendants of Cain were full of chaos & violence, thus a symbolic way of refering to the line of Cain mating with the line of Seth since. Well that’s what the bible scholars say I’ve come across.

  • Richard

    The interpretation of “The sons of God” to mean angels cannot be correct for the reason indicated in my previous post. Interpreting the Bible contrary to the facts is a common failing and is why Jesus established a Church to keep us true.

    The Douay Rhiems foot note is in keeping with the facts and fits with the Noah situation, as well: ” ‘The sons of God. ‘ The decendents of Seth and Enos are here called ‘sons of God’ from their religion and piety: whereas the ungodly race of Cain, who by their carnal affections lay groveling upon the earth, are called the children of men. The unhappy consequence of the former marrying with the latter, ought to be a warning to Christians to be very circumspect in their marriages and ; not to suffer themselves to be determined in their choice by their carnal passion, to the prejudice of virtue or religion.”

  • Touma

    Interesting, but still hard (for me) to believe in.

  • disqus_BK27FkoO65

    when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

    1) Human men having sex or using human women do not have Giants. This is not the only place where the word appears in Scripture either. The Jews ran into these “children” in the Promised Land. By that time there was a lot of cohabitation between the Sons of Seth and the Daughters of Men. So where did these GIANTS come from?

    2) Not every Catholic theologian teaches your point of view.

    The Nephilim, the “mighty men of old”, are the result of the union of the sons of God and daughters of men. The Hebrew word nephilim is greatly disputed as to the actual meaning – it is commonly believed to have stemmed from the Hebrew verbal root, n-ph-l, meaning fall. The word nephilim has been taken to mean either “fallen,” as in sinful or apostate, or in an active sense “one who causes others to fall.” A more common and traditional interpretation of the word has Nephilim meaning “giants”, which raises the fundamental question of whether the Bible asserts that “giants” truly existed, and if these were the Nephilim.

    Nephilim are referred to only one other time in the Bible, when Israelite spies are sent by Joshua into Canaan to scout out the land and its inhabitants. The spies returned and “brought to the sons of Israel an evil report of the land which they had spied out, saying ‘…All the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim); and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.’” (Josh 13:32-33) The double use of the word Nephilim, as referring to the inhabitants and to a people of which they were part, suggests that Nephilim is a broader term, used to describe a larger people or race of people.

    Elsewhere in the Bible, a race of people called the Anakim are mentioned, also sons of Anak (like the Nephilim) “a people great and tall.” (Deut 9:2) Thus Nephilim seems to be general term for a race of giants in the Bible. Nor are the Nephilim and Anakim the only giants mentioned; also in Biblical narratives appear the Zuzim/Zamzummin, the Rephaim, the Emim, and some of the Amorites. The Zamzummin and Rephaim are discussed in Deuteronomy 2:20-21 as “a people great and many, and tall as the Anakim.” A few verses earlier (Deut 2:10-11) the Emim are described as well as “a people great and many, and tall as the Anakim; like the Anakim they are also known as Rephaim, but the Moabites call them Emim.” The Amorites are depicted as giants in Amos 2: 9-10, where the Lord says “I destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and who was as strong as the oaks.” This language could be figurative, but is very possibly literal because of the account of the defeat of Og of Bashan, king of the Amorites, recounted in Deuteronomy: “For only Og the king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron…nine cubits was its length, and four cubits is its breadth, according to the common cubit.” (Deut 2:11) The common cubit being about 18 inches, this translates as a bed which was 13.5 ft. long by about 6 ft. wide. Thus, regardless of what we think of the sons of God and the daughters of men, it seems clear that the Scriptures teach that these Nephilim and their descendants were actual, physically giants, on average between 9 feet and 13 feet tall, based on the heights given for Goliath and Og of Bashan.

    These giants are described as the offspring of sons of God and daughters of men, as earlier stated, but the genealogies of these superhuman races show them to be descended from a specific man: Ham, son of Noah. According to Genesis 10:6, Ham begat four sons: Cush, Egypt (Mizraim), Put, and Canaan. Cush was the father of Nimrod – “[Nimrod] was the first on earth to be a mighty man.” (Gen 10:8) And thus we have the first “mighty man of old” described in the beginning of Genesis 6. Mizraim, the second son, was father to seven sons, the sixth of which was “Casluhim (from whence came the Philistines).” Perhaps the most famous of all Biblical giants is Goliath of the Philistines, whose height was six cubits and a span, about 9.5 feet. (1 Sam 17:4) There are various theories put forward that attempt to explain the presence of Nephilim blood in the house of Ham, usually positing that Ham’s wife actually bore children by the Grigori and not by him, or else that the Grigori came down and cohabited with women of Ham’s line after the Flood. For more on these various theories, I recommend this video by Dr. Michael Heiser. Dr. Heiser is a Protestant, but his thinking on this question is exactly in line with Catholic and rabbinic tradition and his explication of the Hebrew proves the point forcefully.

    One point Dr. Heiser makes is that the presence of the Nephilim and the corresponding races is related to God’s command to wipe out certain cities among the Canaanites. The Anakim are only described as sons of Anak, son of Arba, but in Joshua is found the narration of the destruction of the Anakim by Joshua. “And Joshua came at that time, and wiped out the Anakim…there were none of the Anakim left…only in Gaza, Gath, and in Ashdod did some remain. (Josh 11:21-22) 1 Samuel introduces the champion of the Philistines as “Goliath, of Gath” (1 Sam 17:4), one of only three remaining homes of the Anakim. Canaan, the fourth son of Ham, became the father of the Amorites (Gen 10:15), another of the giant races. Finally the Zuzim/Zamzummin are spoken of in a rebellion against Chedorlaomer, king of Elam. “Chedorlaomer…subdued the Rephaim in Ash’teroth-karna’im, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shah’veh-kir”iatha’im…and also the Amorites who dwelt in Haz’azon’ta-mar.” (Gen 14:5-7) Again, Ham and his line are mentioned; the Zuzim live in the land of Ham, the land of the Hamathites, who are descended also from Canaan, son of Ham. (Gen 10:15)

    The word Nephilim, as aforesaid, is taken to mean “one who causes another to fall” or “one who has fallen”, or sometimes simply as “giant.” The former meaning fits well with the power of a giant human; however, the other meaning may be relevant as well. In Genesis 9:18-27, Ham “saw his father’s nakedness,” failed to cover his father and told his brothers, who went into the tent and “covered the nakedness of their father.” (Gen 9:22-23) When Noah awoke, he cursed Canaan, son of Ham, for Ham’s sin. “He also said, ‘Blessed by the Lord God be Shem; and let Canaan be his slave.’” (Gen 9:26) Because of his sin, Ham and all his descendants are cursed and forced to “be slaves” to the descendants of Shem, the Israelites. (Gen 11:10-26) Thus throughout the Bible, the races of giants are defeated and cast out to make way for the descendants of Abraham, the descendants of Shem. This could be seen as the fulfillment of Noah’s curse of Canaan.


  • disqus_BK27FkoO65

    Giants do not show up because of differences in religion.

    There has been much speculation about who these “sons of God” mentioned in the sixth chapter of Genesis were. Three basic interpretations of this passage have been advanced.

    The first, and oldest, belief is that “the sons of God” were fallen angels who consorted with human women, producing giant offspring called nephilim (Heb. נפילים). This view was widely held in the world of the first century CE, and was supported by Flavius Josephus, Philo, Eusebius and many of the “Ante-Nicene Fathers,” including Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Irenaeus, Athenagoras and Commodianus.

    From Justin Martyr:

    “God, when He had made the whole world, and subjected things earthly to man, and arranged the heavenly elements for the increase of fruits and rotation of the seasons, and appointed this divine law – for these things also He evidently made for man – committed the care of men and of all things under heaven to angels whom He appointed over them. But the angels transgressed this appointment, and were captivated by love of women, and begat children who are those that are called demons; and besides, they afterwards subdued the human race to themselves, partly by magical writings, and partly by fears and punishments they occasioned, and partly by teaching them to offer sacrifices, and incense, and libations, of which things they stood in need after they enslaved by lustful passions; and among men they sowed murders, wars, adulteries, intemperate needs, and all wickedness. . . .” (p. 363, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers)