And I looked at myself and I was like one of the others; there was no difference and all my fear and trembling left me: - Secrets of Enoch: XXIII
Unquestionably, the most rewarding descriptions of the Garden in Eden, in the Hebraic tradition, occur in the Books of Enoch, which were translated and edited by Dr R. H. Charles, a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, in the early years of this century. His material was comprised of pre-Rabbinic, Palestinian Jewish texts, compiled from fragments of varying ages - all close in content, but occasionally varying in detail. There are three principal versions extant; the full Ethiopic version (E); fragments of the Greek versions (Gs) preserved in Syncelles; and a large fragment of the Greek version (Gg), discovered at Akhim, and deposited in the Gizeh Museum at Cairo.
Charles also discovered a Slavonic edition which has become known as 2 Enoch or the Secrets of Enoch, and persuaded his friend Dr Morfill, the Professor of Slavonic Studies at Oxford at the time, to undertake its translation - and it is from Morfill's work that we have the clearest accounts of the Garden in Eden.
The author of the early chapters of the three-part book, which are those with which we are primarily concerned, has been shown by Burkitt to have been a Jew who lived in northern Palestine, south-west of the Hermon Range, near to the headwaters of the Jordan River. The very area in which much of the action described in our Chapter 5 is stated to have taken place. We do not know the source of the original material, but it can be said with some confidence that the Books of Enoch were produced around the second century BC from materials with a much older tradition. Some may have been orally transmitted but there is considerable evidence for an originally-written background.
Charles was greatly excited by what he found in these works, but had to admit that they seemed to contain much of a questionable nature, seemingly apochryphal in character with passages that were obscure and even fanciful. Of course, Charles was writing seventy years ago, when his own understanding was limited by the knowledge, and prejudices of that period. Man had only just, somewhat unsteadily, taken to the air, and intelligence was generally considered to be the prerogative of only two places in the whole Universe - Heaven and Planet Earth.
Despite these limitations, Charles placed a great deal of value on the teachings of the Books of Enoch, stating:
Nearly all the writers of the New Testament were familiar with it, and were more or less influenced by it in thought and diction. It is quoted as a genuine production of Enoch by St Jude, and as scripture by St Barnabas. The authors of the Book of Jubilees, the Apocalypse of Baruch, and 4 Ezra, laid it under contribution. With the earliest Fathers and Apologists it had all the weight of a canonical book.
The citations of Enoch by the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, and by the Book of Jubilees, show that at the close of the second century Be, and during the first century Be, this book was regarded in certain circles as inspired. When we come down to the first century AD, we find it recognized as scripture by St Jude.
But the popularity of the Book of Enoch rested on false premises. It was thought to be a series of prophecies of a Golden Age that would occur in the future; the Fathers failed to see that, conversely, it was an account of a Golden Age that had already occurred in the distant past.
Around 325 AD, the work was declared to be apocryphal by St Jerome in his De Viris illustr. iv with the words, De libro Enoch qui apocryphus est It fell under a cloud, which led to its disuse and we believe that copies were destroyed, because it was lost to Western scholarship for nearly 1500 years - until the Ethiopian version was discovered by Bruce, in Abyssinia, at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
The Book of Enoch contains an autobiographical account of the life of Enoch among the Elohim in the area known as Eden, which, as we have already suggested, can be identified from the text as the north-west corner of the Fertile Crescent, centered on Mount Hermon on the borders of modern Lebanon, Syria and Israel (Map 1).
Enoch had much to do with the Watchers: a large group of craftsmen-teachers who arrived in Eden as reinforcements for the third order of the Shining Ones - the Elohim, and this association will be the subject of the next chapter. Here, we must repeat the following quotation:
[EN VI:6 VB] And they were in all two hundred, who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon ...
This translation is taken from the Greek, but the Ethiopic text confirms it:
And they descended on Ardis which is the summit of Mount Hermon.
Jared, the father of Enoch, was fifth in the line of Patriarchs after Adam, and may have been born around 7736 BC (not recalibrated) the Watchers may have arrived about 166 years later.
The majority of them were dispatched down to the Lowlands to teach the expanding Hebrew families the arts of reading and writing, and a wide spread of crafts and agricultural practices. Enoch must have impressed them as a particularly promising student, because they seem to have concentrated on his education until he was a fluent speaker and writer of the languages of the Highlands, as well as his own. Eventually, as we shall recount, Enoch was summoned to the Garden in Eden to act as scribe and chronicler to the Shining Ones - with the added responsibility of liaison with the Watchers.
In biblical terms, the Watchers are first mentioned, as such, in Daniel 4:10 - Next a Watcher, a holy one came down from heaven:
The Hebraic term, used in the plural for the Watchers, was Eyrim.
The Eyrim were referred to as the 'sons of the Elohim'; but remembering that such expressions as 'father and son, in the Middle Eastern vernacular, do not necessarily imply a blood relationship, we may infer that the Watchers were an inferior order in the Elohim group. And this is amply demonstrated in the accounts which follow.
We have thought it best to recount Charles's translation of Enoch as a straight narrative, in our own words, but interspersed with lightly paraphrased quotations where these are necessary for clarification or emphasis. The paraphrases are desirable in order to amend archaic expressions, and overly religious stylization; but they have been kept faithful to the sense of Charles's text, except in a few details where it has been found essential to deviate for specific reasons - in such cases, footnotes have been added in explanation.
The Summoning of Enoch
Enoch was the seventh in the recorded line of Patriarchs (see Table 1), being the eldest son of Jared, the father of Methuselah, the grandfather of Lamech, and the great-grandfather of Noah, all of whom have their places in this account. He has always been given special reverence in the Hebraic tradition because of his unusual career; this, as we have already quoted, was described somewhat tersely by the writer of Genesis.
Enoch walked with the Elohim. Then he vanished because the Elohim took him.
Fortunately, this laconic and enigmatic statement, which is not enlarged upon in Genesis, is considerably, and intelligibly, amplified in the Secrets of Enoch (2 Enoch).
[SE 1:2-10 PP] On the first day of the month, I was alone in my house, and was resting on my bed. And as I was sleeping, I dreamt that a great grief came over me and that I wept; and I could not understand why I felt like this, or what was going to happen to me.
I awoke to find, in my room, two very tall men different from any that I have seen in the Lowlands. Their faces shone like the Sun, and their eyes burned like lamps; and the breath from their mouths was like smoke. Their clothes were remarkable - being purplish [with the appearance of feathers]; and on their shoulders were things which I can only describe as 1ike golden wings'.
They stood by the head of my bed, and I was awoken by them, calling me by name; and I clearly saw them standing in front of me. I bowed my head to them and hid my face, and they said to me: 'Do not be afraid, Enoch; the Great Lord has sent us to you and, today, you are to go with us up to the Highlands. Now, tell your sons and your servants that they must manage without you down here; and tell them that no one is to come looking for you. Eventually, you will be brought back'.
So I obeyed them. I went out of the house and called my sons Methuselah, Regim and Gaidal, and told them what these men had said to me.
It is probable from this account, and from later revelations, that the Patriarchal family was living in the lowlands of the Jordan Valley, possibly around the Sea of Chinnereth (Galilee). And that Enoch was to be taken up to the high country of the Anti Lebanon to the Settlement of the Elohim, which Charles refers to as Heaven (from the Greek - paradeisos). That Enoch's destination was on Earth, and not some nebulous place in the sky, is clearly indicated in the instruction that no one was to go looking for him ! Years later, Methusaleh did go looking for him - to tell Enoch of the birth of Noah - and Methusaleh walked, or at best, rode a donkey.
[SE III:l PP] When I had spoken to my sons, the men called me. They lifted me up and placed me on what seemed to be a cloud, and this cloud moved, and going upwards I could see the sky around and, still higher, I seemed to be in Space. Eventually, we landed on the First Haven and, there, they showed me a very great sea, much bigger than the inland sea where I lived.
Elsewhere, the First Haven is described as a 'treasury of snow and ice, and clouds and dew', and from it Enoch could see a wide panorama of lands and sea, and rivers. From a later context, the landing place can be identified as Mount Hermon, and the 'very great sea' as the Mediterranean. This would certainly contrast in size with Chinnereth - one of the lakes in the Rift Valley of the River Jordan.
Our use of the term 'Space' is, we believe, justifiable because the Greek word, used, was ether, which was an old term for the regions above the Earth's atmosphere - though we doubt very much whether Enoch travelled as high as that on his relatively short journey to Hermon. Unless, of course, the men sought to confuse him over his destination by going high into the stratosphere!
The term Haven needs more justification. The Greek, again, used the term = paradeisos. This was originally a Persian word, introduced by Xenophon, meaning 'a park' or 'a shelter' or sanctuary'. Therefore, the use of 'haven~ rather than 'heaven' has some authority on its side. Many religions have the concept of a plurality of 'heavens' - seven being a common number; and many religions seem to have taken this concept from the seven havens, or sheltering places, which Enoch encountered on his journey through Eden.
Enoch's description of the two men is the first that we have of personalities from the Elohim who, much later, were to be universally known as Angels'. An alternative translation, from a separate document, describes their dress as having the 'appearance of feathers', which might have contributed to the illusion of wings on their shoulders. It may also be significant that some statuettes from the third millenium BC in Sumer show a below-waist, kilt like garment with a boldly 'feathered' composition. Well-known examples, shown in Plate 5, are those of Dudu, a scribe from the period of Ur-Nina, and of Ebih-il from Mari, dated from the middle of the millenium. Later, in Chapter 6, we shall discuss what is known of the characteristics, and dress, of the Shining Ones and assess the importance of statuettes and bas-reliefs from the archaic periods of Sumer.
How Enoch was transported need not be discussed at this stage, but he was clearly aware that it was aerial. A comparative passage from the first Book of Enoch states:
[EN LXX:2 VB] And he was raised aloft on a chariot of the spirit - and his name vanished from among them
The Greek word, which Charles translated as 'spirit: was . which transliterates to pneuma, the principal meaning of which is 'air' (we still use it in our word 'pneumatic'). Enoch's means of transportation was stated, literally, as 'the air-chariot' - strangely similar to our modem term 'airplane'.
The stark anachronism, in terms of the technology believed to have been available in the eighth century BC, should not divert us, for the present, from the main theme. But it is a problem that must be faced - before this book closes; there is far too much documentary evidence, for this kind of phenomenon, for it to be possible to ignore it.
The continuing narrative of Enoch reads like the diary of a wide eyed traveler being shown sights which, not only has he never seen the like before, but are so alien to his experience that they are partly beyond his power of comprehension. In our paraphrases, we have been careful not to superimpose our own technical understanding onto Enoch's halting attempts to explain what he saw.
[EN XVII:1-2 PP] They [the two men] conducted me to a place where those who were there were as bright as fire, but when they wished they could appear as ordinary men. They had brought me to a place of darkness from a mountain whose summit reached to the heavens. There I saw lighted places, and heard thunderous noises; and, in the deepest part, there were lights, which looked like a fiery bow and arrows with their quiver, and moving lights like a fiery sword.
This passage, like others to follow, only makes sense in the context of an inexperienced countryman brought suddenly into the dwellings, and perhaps workshops, of a more advanced culture. Perhaps the closest modem comparison would be with an intelligent Aborigine who, having lived only in the central deserts of Australia, was attempting to describe his experiences after being carried by helicopter to the mountain ridge outside Alice Springs, and after looking down at the lights of the town, through the darkness.
If Enoch's high mountain, as we believe, were Hermon, and if the Garden in Eden lay to the north, Enoch could have looked down into the depths, some hundreds of metres below him, and seen the bright lights of a settlement; and who knows what strange shapes they might have formed in his mind.
Enoch came at last to his destination - a great house, which he refers to as the 'Seventh Haven'.
[SE XXI:2 - XXII:12 PP] After I had seen all this, these two men said: 'Enoch, we have only been told to accompany you this far: Then they left me, and I saw them no more. I was left alone outside the Haven; and I was afraid and fell on my face, saying to myself, Whatever has happened to me?' Then the Lord sent one of his great Archangels, Gabriel, out to fetch me, and he said to me: 'Enoch, do not be afraid; stand up and come with me - and keep standing up when you are in front of the Lord: So I answered: 'Oh! my Lord, my courage has failed me, and has left me in fear and trembling; please call back the men who brought me here - I have relied on them so far, and I should like them with me when I go in to see the Lord:
But Gabriel whisked me away like a leaf carried by the wind; and he took me in to the Lord. (Despite what I had been told), I fell prostrate in front of the Lord and he spoke to me: Do not be afraid, Enoch; get up and, in future, always stand up when you are with me: Then Michael, who was the chief captain, raised me up and brought me right up to the Lord, and the Lord said to his attendants: 'Enoch is always to have entry to me: And these bowed to the Lord, and said: 'Enoch shall be given access, as you say:
Then the Lord said to Michael: 'Go and strip Enoch of his own clothes; anoint him with fine oil, and dress him like ourselves: and Michael did as he was told. He stripped me of my clothes, and rubbed me over with a wonderful oil like dew - with the scent of myrrh which shone like a sunbeam. And I looked at myself, and I was like one of the others; there was no difference and all my fear and trembling left me.
Then the Lord called one of his Archangels named Uriel, who was the most learned of them all, and said: 'Bring out the books from my library, and give Enoch a pen for speedy writing, and tell him what the books are about: And Uriel hurried and brought me the books, smelling of myrrh, and handed me a pen:
The sincerity of this account is quite remarkable. There are no heroics - no bombast; just an honest statement of human frailty in the face of what must have been a terrifying experience. The parallel Sumerian account showed that this house to which Enoch was brought was a large cedar-wood building, brilliantly illuminated, and equipped with running water. On the wider issues, the account supplies three particularly important pieces of information.
1. In a preliminary manner, it explains the purpose behind the uprooting of Enoch from his patriarchal home and his transportation to a mountain eyrie close to Hermon. Enoch was educated, within the limits of what the Watchers had taught him; he was a fluent writer, and he was a man of particular integrity. In the Greek, he is described in two pertinent phrases:
'Enoch - the truthful man'
(b) Writer of the truth'.
In his translation, Charles used 'righteous' in the place of our 'truthful', and 'righteousness' in the place of 'truth". In our view, this is quite unjustifiable, and the practice has lead to much misunderstanding. The Greek word - meant truth and meant 'true'. The introduction of moral values, where none seems to have been intended, is surely a religious gloss, which was not present in the early documents.
Enoch was chosen for his writing ability and for his honesty, and these virtues were to be used for the dissemination of knowledge from books in the possession of the Archangels. What these books contained, we can only guess; but it is possible, in the light of what Enoch later communicated to his son, Methusaleh, that they were chronicles explaining the Mission of the Sages and perhaps describing what had occurred in Eden up to that time. They might even have referred to the origins of the Shining Ones; information, which would have been of incalculable value to us today. It is possible that these records were destroyed when the Great House succumbed to the flames in the great Storm - if so, this was the tragedy of all tragedies.
2. The shining countenances of the Archangels were a striking characteristic, which has become a familiar part of both mythology and standard religious traditions. It is an integral factor in all the major religions and in heroic stories the world over. As a single example, Lugh, in the Old Irish traditions, was so radiant that mortal men could not bear to look him in the face. Of course, the same characteristic was claimed for Yahweh.
This radiance of countenance has, hitherto, been attributed to some supernatural or spiritual effect; but the foregoing passage clearly suggests that it could have been the result of the application of a superficial oil with highly luminescent properties. The simple, if overly speculative, explanation would be that the Sages had very sensitive skins, and were particularly susceptible to harm from ultra violet radiation in the rarified mountain air.
And yet, we hesitate to put this explanation forward as a viable proposition. Had the radiance been solely due to the oil, there seem to have been too many examples, in too many cultures, for this practice not to have been generally recognized as the source of the shining countenances. It is also possible that the anointing of Enoch was a device to make him feel more at home in the alien environment and, if this were the case, it would argue a compassionate understanding of his fright by the Great Lord.
3. The 'chief captain' among the Archangels was stated to be Michael. This title implies some kind of military or, more likely, security responsibility which will require some discussion later.
Once Enoch was settled into his new surroundings, he was taken on a tour of Eden and the surrounding districts, with different Archangels accompanying him at different times. The account of these travels has led to much misinterpretation, and seems to have been largely responsible for the apocryphal denigration suffered by these Books in the early centuries of the Christian Church. We believe that one misunderstanding arose out of the assumption that 'Heaven' was some ethereal place outside the physical world, whereas there is substantial evidence for considering that the original use of the term was to describe a geographical location on Earth.
To augment the arguments used in our first chapter, we must repeat that the Hebraic term, which has been translated as 'heaven, occurs as one of the first words in the Old Testament. And at the beginning of the account of the Garden in Eden, the expression is found in the lines:
[GEN 2:4-5 VB] ... When Yahweh Elohim made heaven and earth no plant of the field being yet in the earth and no grains having yet sprouted ...
In the Hebrew, the phrase 'heaven and earth - no plant' is written as:
Transliterated into English characters, this becomes:
Shemim ares (or arz) - kol shem
'heaven and earth - no plant'.
Shemim, like Elohim, was plural; and the root, SHM, is the same as that for shem = 'plant'.
In the cognate Akkadian language, shamu also meant 'heaven'; but it had another, associated meaning - 'the high place'; while shammu meant 'a plant'. Shammu is considered to have been a loan word taken from the Sumerian sham which also meant 'plant'; and the close etymological connection between sham, or shem = 'heaven', and sham or shem = 'plant' is self-evident.
Originally, shemim, in archaic Hebrew, should have meant 'high places where plants were grown', and it is not surprising, therefore, that the term should have been associated with the Garden in Eden - it is a perfect, concise description.
In English, the connection is more obscure. The modem word 'heaven' was derived from the Anglo-Saxon heofon, and is close to the Scandivanian havn meaning a 'harbour' or 'port'; the latter is even closer to the English haven meaning a 'refuge' or a 'sanctuary'. It would be reasonable to assume that the ancient root SHM lost its initial 'S' and, in the western world, changed its ending from 'M' to VN'. There is immediate support for this in the Teutonic word for 'heaven,' which is himmel; here, the initial 'S' has been lost, but the 'M' has been retained, and doubled.
It is also of importance that the same Hebraic term = ares or arz is used in both places, in the above Genesis quotation, where the English translation is 'earth'. This, therefore, must apply to the land, or ground, rather than to the planet.
We postulate, in consequence, that there was an ancient word - possibly deriving from the original eme-an of the Kharsag epics - which had the root SHM, and which was adopted by the early Semitic people to describe the area around the Garden in Eden; the Highlands where plants were cultivated. Because it was also the abode of Yahweh Elohim, the Leader of the Shining Ones, who later became the Deity of the Hebrews, shamim was transferred to those celestial regions which were considered the likely abode of God - but only after the Garden had been forgotten in terms of what it had originally been.
To Enoch, Heaven' was the place where he was living; but within it were several 'heavens', seven in fact, each one definable as a separate part of the overall area. The plurality of these 'heavens', as a concept of the primary religions, has already been mentioned.
Enoch describes his travels through these places in terms, which are incomprehensible if the modem, ecclesiastical meaning of Heaven is applied to the site of his wanderings. He met with both good and evil, and the latter caused early churchmen many sleepless nights - even Canon Charles himself - because it was inconceivable that evil could exist in Heaven, in the presence of God. And many were the convoluted explanations advanced to cover this anomaly. The idea of Satan, the Prince of Evil, was probably developed as just such a cover, because his original ha-satan - had no taint of evil; he was a functionary among the Archangels known as The Adversary, and probably had judicial responsibilities, like Ugmash.
On each of Enoch's journeys, the Archangel acting as guide and mentor patiently dealt with the flood of questions that flowed from the quick mind of the excited and inquisitive Lowlander. But, before Enoch's descriptions can be understood, it is necessary to know something of the topographical features of the Levant, inland from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. And, strangely enough, the geological characteristics of the area have a distinct bearing on any interpretation which is made.
The Terrain of the Country around Eden
As shown in Map 1, the terrain of the Levant, immediately inland from the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, is dominated by a series of roughly north to south tension faults which control the sides of the narrow Rift Valley ,which runs, almost unbroken, from Turkey in the north to the Gulf of Aqaba in the south, a distance of nearly 500km. In sequence from the north, the Valley carries the Orontes River; the Biqa Plain with its ancient settlement at Ba'albek; the Litanni River (the Leontes); the Dan River; the Lakes of Hulah; the sub-sea Jordan Valley with the Sea of Galilee (Chinnereth) and the Dead Sea; and, finally, the Gulf of Aqaba, itself.
Associated with the Rift, volcanic outpourings of lava and ejectamenta have continued into near-modern times, probably causing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in the time of Abraham, perhaps close to 2000 BC.
The central part of the Rift Valley is bounded by the Lebanon Range on the west side, and on the east by the Anti Lebanon Range of which Mount Hermon, at its south-west end, is the highest point at 2,814m (9,232 ft). The highest point of the Lebanon Range, Qarnet es Sauda, rises up to 3,086m (10,125 ft).
The country of this central part contains the four elements necessary for it to equate with the terrain described by Enoch:
(a) high mountains, including Hermon, with a substantial, but seasonal, rainfall; snow-covered in the winter:
(b) isolated, inter-montane, alluvial plains or basins:
(c) deep, narrow ravines, fault-controlled, with evidence of volcanism within the past 10-15,000 years; and
(d) a climate capable of sustaining an ecology including grain agriculture, vineyards, fruit orchards and extensive cedar forests.
Bearing these elements in mind, it is possible to follow, and interpret even the wilder-sounding descriptions.
The Excursions of Enoch: The Volcanic Ravines
The first comments, which Enoch makes on his local excursions refer to scenes which he encountered on his journey into Eden, starting at Mount Hermon.
[EN XVII:4-8 PP] And they the two men took me to the swiftly flowing river, and the fire of the west, which reflects every setting of. the Sun. I came to the river of fire in which fire flows like water, and discharges itself into the Great Sea towards the west. I saw great rivers, and a place of darkness which was uninhabited. I saw the mountains in the darkness of winter and the sources from which all the rivers come, which debouch into the Sea.
Assuming that Enoch had been landed on Mount Hermon, and was being shown the views shortly before sunset, he would have been able to see the Orontes flowing northwards, the Jordan flowing southwards, and the Litani (Leontes) below him. As he descended the mountain, looking westward, he would have been directly in line with the 20km long reach of the River Leontes, shown in Map 1, as it flowed directly east to west into the Mediterranean.
Around the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, the setting Sun, viewed from the slopes of Hermon at a critical angle, would have appeared to set the waters of the Leontes alight, and Enoch could well have seen 'a river of fire' entering the Mediterranean.
He also mentioned snow on the mountains, which would have made Spring a more likely season than the Autumn; so allowing the event to be placed in the period covering early March to the middle of April. He also mentioned the 'great darkness', which would have settled over the deep valleys on the eastern side of Hermon after the sun had set on the other side.
On what was obviously another excursion, after he had settled in Eden, Enoch wrote:
[EN XVIII:6-8 PP] I went further and saw a place which was burning all the time - night and day - and where there were seven mountains of magnificent rocks; three were roughly to the east, one was of coloured rock, one was of a pearl-grey colour, and the other was reddish-orange; those in the south were of red rock. The middle mountain reached up to the sky like the 'throne of the lord'; it was white like gypsum and, above, the sky was a sapphire-blue.
Enoch's colour descriptions are fully compatible with the geology of the Hermon area. The crests of the highest ridges are composed of white, crystalline limestone, which would glisten like gypsum in the early morning sunlight. Under the upper limestone, there is a reddish-brown sandstone which forms the lower ridges, and volcanic rocks of varying colours form individual peaks. Enoch was a splendid observer, appreciative of beauty, and, seeing mountain country at its best, was keen to express his delight.
[EN XXVI: 1-4 PP] From there I went into the middle of the [mountain] area and saw a wonderful place in which there were trees with branches in full bloom. And there I saw a high mountain, and underneath it to the east was a stream, and it flowed towards the south. Towards the east was another mountain, higher than the first, and between them was a deep and narrow ravine; in it there was a stream also running beneath this mountain. And to the west of this there was another lower mountain, not very high, and between them another ravine, deep and dry; and another deep and dry ravine lay at the end of the mountain.
This passage is quoted for its very ordinariness. This is not apocryphal, or fanciful writing - as such it would be pointless. But as the eager jottings of a man who just noted down the things that took his eye, it is unexceptional.
However, the tone changes, markedly, when he is brought into volcanic ravines, the fires of which he had already noticed from a distance. Still vividly descriptive, Enoch begins to show his distaste for the smoke and heat of lava and ash - and for the stark moon-scape which these places tend to resemble.
[EN XVIII:11-12 PP] And I saw a deep rift in the earth with columns of flame and smoke; the fires rose to a great height and fell again into the depths. Beyond the rift, I saw a place where no sky could be seen above, and which had no firm ground below. There was no water on it, and no birds - it was a desolate and terrible place.
Again, there is a ring of authenticity. Ordinary flames rise and disappear, but flaming volcanic material spurts upwards and can be seen falling back into the pit.
The Levant Rift valley is gradually widening due to the drift of Arabia away from Africa, and every tiny lurch is liable to bring earthquakes in its train and, from time to time, volcanic activity. From Enoch's description, his visit to this ravine was at a time when the upper reaches of the Jordan and Dan Valley's were experiencing limited eruptions with spurts of incandescent, molten rock being thrown up like fountains of fire - a very common phenomenon in active rift areas.
His place without firm ground suggests a local lava-flow, or a place in which smoke was trapped close to the ground. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, mentioned earlier, was by hot ash and sulphurous smoke and fire - further south in the same rift section (GEN 19:23-28). Enoch continued:
[EN XIX:1-2 PP] Uriel said to me: This is the place where the Angels who have cohabited with women will be imprisoned; those who, in many different ways, are corrupting Mankind, and leading men astray into making sacrifices to demons. They shall remain here until they come to trial; and the women of the Angels who went astray shall become sirens:
This passage introduces the punishment of those Watchers who took wives from among the daughters of men against the instructions of their superiors. Enoch was to become the intermediary between the Archangel Council and these Watchers, and this visit to the proposed penal area was quite deliberately organized. He was to visit two other outdoor prisons, or places of detention, which suggests that the Angel authorities laid down strict rules of behaviour - and enforced them rigorously.
[EN XXI: 1-6 PP] I went to a place where everything was disorientated, and there I saw something horrible. I could neither see the sky above nor the ground below, but only a strange and terrible place. And there I saw seven of the Angels imprisoned together ... So I said: What have they done wrong, and why are they held, here' Uriel, one of the Archangels who was with me, and who was responsible for the prisoners, said: 'Enoch, why do you ask, and why are you so keen to know the truth? These are a group of Angels who have disobeyed the orders of the Lord; they will be imprisoned, here, until their sentence is fully completed:
There are two points of importance in this text:
(i) the verbatim passage by Charles states, 'I saw seven stars of the heaven bound together in it .. :, and this has led to misinterpretation by scholars. In the archaic Sumerian script, which developed out of the original language of Kharsag, the star was a symbol for the Shining Ones whom we equate with the Angels; consequently, references by Enoch to stars and luminaries are frequently intended to indicate the Angels. It may be significant that, in Sumerian literature, there are many references to the seven Anannage, who were imprisoned in the underworld. The phrase bound together', which Charles used, implied being confined, or imprisoned, together:
(ii) the seven imprisoned in Enoch's 'horrible place' could not have been Watchers who had erred by cohabitating with women because the orders for their arrest had not yet been issued. They must have been other Angels who had transgressed the laws in some way, and were paying a penalty. It is quite understandable that the early Christian Fathers would have been dismayed by this account of evil in 'Heaven', and that they would have declared the account apocryphal - if not blasphemous.
The passage continues:
[EN XXI:7-10 PP] And from there I went to a place which was still more horrible, and I saw another fearful thing - a great fire which burnt and blazed in a place that was cleft down to the bottom of the ravine, full of great, falling columns of fire. I could neither see its size or its extent; nor could I even guess at them. I said, 'How fearful this place is, and how terrible to look at: And Uriel ... replied: 'Enoch, why are you so afraid?: and I answered: 'Because of the fearsomeness of this place, and because of the sight of such suffering: And he said to me: 'This place is the prison of the Angels, and here they will be imprisoned for life:
Enoch's visits to the prison areas, in the volcanically active ravines within Eden, have been emphasized because we believe that he was deliberately exposed to these unpleasant sights so that he could describe them to the apostate Watchers, down in the Lowlands, to whom he would later be sent; possibly to deter those who might not yet have succumbed to the temptation. Additionally, it is interesting to consider how much Enoch may have contributed to the Christian idea of Hell-fire by his accounts of these places of punishment.
The use of these penal valleys in which, Enoch claims, there was so much suffering raises questions of considerable portent which cannot be ignored, if we are to understand the natures and, indeed, the spirituality of the Shining Ones.
The Excursions of Enoch: The Garden in Eden
A rather more pleasant excursion awaited Enoch when he was taken around the garden plantations. These are referred to by Charles as the 'Garden of Righteousness' - but, for what reason, is not clear. The Greek text, literally translated, meant 'Paradise of Justice: and we believe that this expression has to be accepted as an alternative epithet for the Garden in Eden. It may be that the penal establishments were still haunting Enoch, and that he tended to see the place in which he was living as a Paradise where Justice was dispensed - Paradise being a term, adapted by the Greeks, and meaning beside the gods'.
[EN XXXII: 3-6 PP] And I came to Paradise, the Garden of Justice, and saw beyond the first trees, many large trees growing there. They were a glorious sight - large, beautiful and of a lovely fragrance - and among them was the Tree of Understanding, the fruit of which they eat and, thereby, obtain great purpose. The height of the tree is like a fir, and its leaves resemble the Carob [locust-tree, or false acacia]. Its fruits hang in clusters like grapes on the vine and are very beautiful; and its fragrance can be detected from a long way off.
I commented on how beautiful and attractive the tree was, and Raphael, the Archangel who was with me, said: This is the Tree of Understanding; your ancestral father and mother ate of it, and it made them realize that they were naked; so they were expelled from the Garden:
This passage makes it quite clear that the Garden of Justice, around which Enoch was being shown by Raphael, was also the Biblical Garden in Eden. Enoch also refers to the Tree in another, separate passage.
[EN XXIV:3 - XXV:5 PP] And the seventh mountain was in the middle and was higher than the others, and that made it look like a chair; and fragrant trees surrounded the chair. Among them was a tree which was different from the others, with a scent that I had not known before. It had a fragrance beyond all fragrances, and its leaves and blossoms and wood [seem tollast for ever; and its fruit resembled the dates of a palm. So I said: 'How beautiful this tree is and how fragrant, and what a wonderful sight its leaves and blossoms make:
Then Michael, one of the Archangels, who was with me, and who was their leader, answered me and said: Why do you ask about the scent of this tree, and why do you want to know about it?' I answered: 'I should like to know about everything, but especially about this tree: Then he told me: This high mountain whose summit is like the Chair of the Lord (in a sense) is his chair. It is where the Great Lord of Judgments, the Arbiter of length of life, will descend when he comes to inspect the cultivated land. And as for this fragrant tree, no human is allowed to touch it until the Great Selection; at that time, he will finally decide on the length of life to be granted. It will be given, then, to those who have observed the laws of Man and God.
To those selected, its fruit will be a food, which is a means of life; they will be transferred to the Highlands, to the house of the Lord, the Arbiter of length of life. Then they will greatly rejoice and be glad.
And into the holy place shall they enter;
and its fragrance shall be in their bones,
and they shall live a long life on Earth,
such as thy Fathers lived.
And, in their length of days, no illness,
or pain of body, or torment, or calamity,
or plague, shall touch them.
Whether there were two remarkable trees in the Garden in Eden - a Tree of Understanding and a Tree of Life - is difficult to determine. To attempt a clarification, it is necessary to return to Genesis and the Hebraic text.
[GEN 2:9 VB] And from the ground Yahweh Elohim caused to grow every tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food, with the Tree of Life in the middle of the Garden, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad.
The Hebrew term for Life: used here, was = hayyim. The singular form did, indeed, mean life, but the plural hayyim also meant 'health' and 'wholeness'. The term used for 'knowledge' was = da'at, a broad term suggesting technical knowledge, ability and understanding. The term for 'good' was . = tub; but this, again, was a broad term implying 'the best of what a person, or place, possesses', 'well-being: 'beauty' and also 'happiness'. On the other hand, the term for 'bad' was = ra " implying 'the worst in a person', 'ill-temper', 'discontentment', 'evil', and 'unwholesomeness'; in fact, Deuteronomy 28:35 and Job 2:7 use the term for 'boils' and 'ulcers'.
From these determinations, it could be said that the Tree of Life promoted 'health' and length of life: and the Tree of Understanding or Knowledge distinguished between 'well-being' and 'ill-health'. That would imply that they were one and the same tree. But if that were so, there would be a problem with Genesis 3:22 which states (and we paraphrase to take account of the above expressions):
[GEN 3:22 PP] And Yahweh Elohim said, Now that man has become like one of us with the understanding of well-being and ill-health, what if he should stretch out his hand and take also from the Tree of Life and eat, and have extended life.
This passage suggests that there were two different trees because the term = gam meant 'also'; but if the writer meant 'again' rather than 'also: then it would be consistent with only one tree. The implication would be that occasional eating of the fruit of the tree gave health and well-being, but that the continuous use of it as food extended the life-span.
Through the Tree of Life, the Leader of the Elohim, or the Lord of Spirits as he is called in the Book of Enoch, was able to promote well-being and to extend the life-span of those selected to receive the fruit. This selection was made by the Great Lord of Judgments, who made periodic visits to Eden to inspect the cultivations. In the next chapter we shall describe one such visit.
On its own, all this would have had to be considered allegorical; but the parallel Sumerian account of the agricultural Settlement of Kharsag with its extensive orchards, peopled by the Anannage, who were undoubtedly long-lived, provides too solid a confirmation.
The Great Lord of Judgments, who was obviously superior to the Lord of Spirits, equates with Anu, the supreme commander of the Anannage, who lived at Ba'albek and made similar visits to Kharsag to inspect the cultivations. This Great Lord was referred to, more frequently, by Enoch as the Most High, and later we shall be quoting from a passage describing a dramatic visit which Enoch made to his house.
So far, apart from the Great House and the magnificent trees, Enoch has not mentioned any feature of the Garden in Eden, which assists with its identification with Kharsag; but we shall now put this matter to rights. An obvious feature of Kharsag, which would have to be mentioned by Enoch if Kharsag were the Garden in Eden, was the Reservoir. And Enoch does not disappoint us.
Within the Garden, Enoch mentions a number of activities, which are apposite to this identification, but they require careful translation. Two of these refer to the water-supply required for irrigation. In each case, we shall first quote the passage verbatim, as Charles translated it, and then follow with a paraphrased interpretation.
[EN LX:21 VB] And when the spirit of the rain goes forth from its chamber, its Angels come and open the chamber and lead it out, and when it is diffused over the whole earth, it unites with the water on the earth.
This passage is only enigmatic if the translator fails to realize that the context is that of irrigation of plantations. The term 'spirit', again derived from the Greek word for 'air' or breath: represents the accumulation of air in the lungs; the 'spirit' of the rain is the accumulation of water in the 'chamber: or 'reservoir'. Our translation, therefore, is as follows:
When the water is required from the reservoir, the angels responsible, come and open the sluice and let the water out. And when it has dispersed (as irrigation) over all the fields, it soaks into the ground:
[LX:22-23 VB] For the waters are for those who dwell on the earth; for they are nourishment for the earth from the Most High who is in heaven: therefore, there is a measure for the rain, and the Angels take it in charge. And these things I saw towards the Garden of Righteousness.
Here, the revised translation is:
'For these waters are for the benefit of those who live off the land; they are irrigation for the land, planned by the Most High who lives in the Highlands. Therefore, there has to be a measure of the rainfall, and the angels are responsible for keeping a record of the rain-gauge. These things I saw around the Garden in Eden:
Enoch was certainly aware that there was a reservoir available for supplying irrigation to the plantations.
A third passage on angel activities in the Garden involved measurement of a different kind.
[EN LXI:1-2 VB] And I saw in those days how long cords were given to the Angels, and they took themselves wings and flew, and went towards the north. And I asked an Angel, saying unto him: Why have these taken cords and gone off?' And he said to me: They have gone to measure:
A natural paraphrase reads:
Then I saw how long measuring "tapes" were given to some of the angels and they hurried off towards the north. So I asked the angel with me why the others had taken tapes and gone away, and he replied, 'They have gone to make a survey:'
We have deliberately ignored the reference to wings and flying, which occurs in the verbatim text, because this is open to a number of interpretations. In modern usage, we still say 'I must fly' or 'he took wings' when referring to a state of haste, though whether this is applicable here, we cannot say.
The reference to measuring in relation to surveying is a homely one for the author. While surveying in the high country of South Iran, I was often asked by curious tribesmen what I was doing with my plane-table, my range-finder and my linen tapes. The only answer that could be reasonably given to one who had no concept of mapping, was: 'I am measuring: In the context of the simplest operation, it was the only phrase which could readily be understood by the untutored hills-man - but often the answer only served to fan the curiosity. 'But what is the Agha measuring?' he would riposte. And the only honest answer, The distance between those two far-off mountains; only served to confirm the tribesman's conviction that all foreigners were mad.
In the context of the Garden in Eden, measurement would have been an essential part of a well-organized, agricultural operation; and particularly as the Kharsag epics refer to the laying out of the rectilinear irrigation system in relationship to the positions of the Sun.
In addition to the Great House and the Reservoir, there was one other edifice at Kharsag, which should have drawn Enoch's attention in the Garden in Eden. Without it, it would be quite impossible to state with any assurance that the places were one and the same. With it, all the loose ends fall into place, and the argument is complete. This edifice was the Building of Knowledge in which Ninkharsag and her teams of Serpent scientists researched the ecology of the area, and devised cures for the various plant diseases that they discovered.
Enoch was wide-awake.
[SE XIX:I-S PP] After this, the men brought me to the sixth haven, and there I saw seven groups of Angels, very bright and wonderful, with their faces shining brighter than the Sun. They were brilliant, and all dressed alike and looked alike.
Some of these Angels study the movements of the Stars, the Sun and the Moon, and record the peaceful order of the World. Other Angels, there, undertake teaching and give instruction in clear and melodious voices. These are the Archangels who are promoted over the ordinary Angels. They are responsible for recording (and studying) the fauna and the flora in both the Highlands and the Lowlands.
There are Angels who record the seasons and the years; others who study the rivers and the seas; others who study the fruits of the Lowlands, and the plants and herbs which give nourishment to men and beasts.
And there Angels study Mankind and record the behaviour of men, and how they live.
This record of the sixth place to which Enoch was taken within Eden is the fullest statement that we have, anywhere, of the actual daily activities of the Angels/Anannage in the Settlement of Eden/Kharsag.
And the extraordinary conclusion, which we find that we cannot avoid, is that these activities appear to be compatible with the scientific interests of an exploration expedition into unknown country. Its members appear to have been studying every facet of science, which such an expedition would require - from geology to botany, and from astronomy to anthropology.
The passage goes even further, and provides a rational explanation for the religious concept of the Recording Angel and the writing down of the good, and bad, deeds of men. From this account, we can now understand that these angel investigators were only observing Mankind from anthropological, genetic and psychological viewpoints - they were not concerned with 'guilt' or 'original sin, which can now be seen as superimpositions by later, misunderstanding, religious interpreters.
Kramer may be right when he claims that 'History begun at Sumer'. But Prehistory, and prehistorical science in particular, began at Kharsag in Eden - and for our knowledge of this, we can thank Enoch and the scribes of Sumer.