The Book of Giants
4Q203, 1Q23, 2Q26,
January 29, 1997
Last update: Tuesday,
October 21, 1997
It is fair to say that the patriarch
Enoch was as well known to the ancients as he is obscure to modern
Bible readers. Besides giving his age (365 years), the book of
Genesis says of him only that he "walked with God," and afterward
"he was not, because God had taken him" (Gen. 5:24). This exalted
way of life and mysterious demise made Enoch into a figure of
considerable fascination, and a cycle of legends grew up around him.
Many of the legends about Enoch were collected already in ancient
times in several long anthologies. The most important such
anthology, and the oldest, is known simply as The Book of Enoch,
comprising over one hundred chapters. It still survives in its
entirety (although only in the Ethiopic language) and forms an
important source for the thought of Judaism in the last few
centuries B.C.E. Significantly, the remnants of several almost
complete copies of The Book of Enoch in Aramaic were found among the
Dead Sea Scrolls, and it is clear that whoever collected the scrolls
considered it a vitally important text. All but one of the five
major components of the Ethiopic anthology have turned up among the
scrolls. But even more intriguing is the fact that additional,
previously unknown or little-known texts about Enoch were discovered
at Qumran. The most important of these is The Book of Giants.
Enoch lived before the Flood, during a time when the world, in
ancient imagination, was very different. Human beings lived much
longer, for one thing; Enochís son Methuselah, for instance,
attained the age of 969 years. Another difference was that angels
and humans interacted freely -- so freely, in fact, that some of the
angels begot children with human females. This fact is neutrally
reported in Genesis (6:1-4), but other stories view this episode as
the source of the corruption that made the punishing flood
necessary. According to The Book of Enoch, the mingling of angel and
human was actually the idea of Shernihaza, the leader of the evil
angels, who lured 200 others to cohabit with women. The offspring of
these unnatural unions were giants 450 feet high. The wicked angels
and the giants began to oppress the human population and to teach
them to do evil. For this reason God determined to imprison the
angels until the final judgment and to destroy the earth with a
flood. Enochís efforts to intercede with heaven for the fallen
angels were unsuccessful (1 Enoch 6-16).
The Book of Giants retells part of this story and elaborates on the
exploits of the giants, especially the two children of Shemihaza,
Ohya and Hahya. Since no complete manuscript exists of Giants, its
exact contents and their order remain a matter of guesswork. Most of
the content of the present fragments concerns the giantsí ominous
dreams and Enochís efforts to interpret them and to intercede with
God on the giantsí behalf. Unfortunately, little remains of the
independent adventures of the giants, but it is likely that these
tales were at least partially derived from ancient Near Eastern
mythology. Thus the name of one of the giants is Gilgamesh, the
Babylonian hero and subject of a great epic written in the third
A summary statement of the descent of the wicked angels, bringing
both knowledge and havoc. Compare Genesis 6:1-2, 4
1Q23 Frag. 9 + 14 + 15 2[ . . . ]
they knew the secrets of [ . . . ] 3[ . . . si]n was great in
the earth [ . . . ] 4[ . . . ] and they killed manY [ . . ] 5[ .
. . they begat] giants [ . . . ]
The angels exploit the fruitfulness of
4Q531 Frag. 3 2[ . . . everything
that the] earth produced [ . . . ] [ . . . ] the great fish [ .
. . ] 14[ . . . ] the sky with all that grew [ . . . ] 15[ . . .
fruit of] the earth and all kinds of grain and all the trees [ .
. . ] 16[ . . . ] beasts and reptiles . . . [al]l creeping
things of the earth and they observed all [ . . . ] |8[ . . .
eve]ry harsh deed and [ . . . ] utterance [ . . . ] l9[ . . . ]
male and female, and among humans [ . . . ]
The two hundred angels choose animals
on which to perform unnatural acts, including, presumably, humans
1Q23 Frag. 1 + 6 [ . . . two
hundred] 2donkeys, two hundred asses, two hundred . . . rams of
the] 3flock, two hundred goats, two hundred [ . . . beast of
the] 4field from every animal, from every [bird . . . ] 5[ . . .
] for miscegenation [ . . . ]
The outcome of the demonic corruption
was violence, perversion, and a brood of monstrous beings. Compare
4Q531 Frag. 2 [ . . . ] they defiled
[ . . . ] 2[ . . . they begot] giants and monsters [ . . . ] 3[
. . . ] they begot, and, behold, all [the earth was corrupted .
. . ] 4[ . . . ] with its blood and by the hand of [ . . . ]
5[giantís] which did not suffice for them and [ . . . ] 6[ . . .
] and they were seeking to devour many [ . . . ] 7[ . . . ] 8[ .
. . ] the monsters attacked it.
4Q532 Col. 2 Frags. 1 - 6 2[ . . . ] flesh [ . . . ] 3al[l . . .
] monsters [ . . . ] will be [ . . . ] 4[ . . . ] they would
arise [ . . . ] lacking in true knowledge [ . . . ] because [ .
. . ] 5[ . . . ] the earth [grew corrupt . . . ] mighty [ . . .
] 6[ . . . ] they were considering [ . . . ] 7[ . . . ] from the
angels upon [ . . . ] 8[ . . . ] in the end it will perish and
die [ . . . ] 9[ . . . ] they caused great corruption in the
[earth . . . ] [ . . . this did not] suffice to [ . . . ] "they
will be [ . . . ]
The giants begin to be troubled by a
series of dreams and visions. Mahway, the titan son of the angel
Barakel, reports the first of these dreams to his fellow giants. He
sees a tablet being immersed in water. When it emerges, all but
three names have been washed away. The dream evidently symbolizes
the destruction of all but Noah and his sons by the Flood.
2Q26 [ . . . ] they drenched the
tablet in the wa[ter . . . ] 2[ . . . ] the waters went up over
the [tablet . . . ] 3[ . . . ] they lifted out the tablet from
the water of [ . . . ]
The giant goes to the others and they
discuss the dream
4Q530 Frag.7 [ . . . this vision] is
for cursing and sorrow. I am the one who confessed 2[ . . . ]
the whole group of the castaways that I shall go to [ . . . ] 3[
. . . the spirits of the sl]ain complaining about their killers
and crying out 4[ . . . ] that we shall die together and be made
an end of [ . . . ] much and I will be sleeping, and bread 6[ .
. . ] for my dwelling; the vision and also [ . . . ] entered
into the gathering of the giants 8[ . . . ]
6Q8 [ . . . ] Ohya and he said to Mahway [ . . . ] 2[ . . . ]
without trembling. Who showed you all this vision, [my] brother?
3[ . . . ] Barakel, my father, was with me. 4[ . . . ] Before
Mahway had finished telling what [he had seen . . . ] 5[ . . .
said] to him, Now I have heard wonders! If a barren woman gives
birth [... ]
4Q530 Frag. 4 3[There]upon Ohya said to Ha[hya . . . ] 4[ . . .
to be destroyed] from upon the earth and [ . . . ] 5[ . . . the
ea]rth. When 6[ . . . ] they wept before [the giants . . . ]
4Q530 Frag. 7 3[ . . . ] your strength [ . . . ] 4[ . . . ]
5Thereupon Ohya [said] to Hahya [ . . . ] Then he answered, It
is not for 6us, but for Azaiel, for he did [ . . . the children
of] angels 7are the giants, and they would not let all their
poved ones] be neglected [. . . we have] not been cast down; you
have strength [.... ]
The giants realize the futility of
fighting against the forces of heaven. The first speaker may be
4Q531 Frag. 1 3[ . . . I am a]
giant, and by the mighty strength of my arm and my own great
strength 4[ . . . any]one mortal, and I have made war against
them; but I am not [ . . . ] able to stand against them, for my
opponents 6[ . . . ] reside in [Heav]en, and they dwell in the
holy places. And not 7[ . . . they] are stronger than I. 8[ . .
. ] of the wild beast has come, and the wild man they call [me].
9[ . . . ] Then Ohya said to him, I have been forced to have a
dream [ . . . ] the sleep of my eyes [vanished], to let me see a
vision. Now I know that on [ . . . ] 11-12[ . . . ] Gilgamesh [
. . . ]
Ohyaís dream vision is of a tree that
is uprooted except for three of its roots; the visionís import is
the same as that of the first dream
6Q8 Frag. 2 1three of its roots [ .
. . ] [while] I was [watching,] there came [ . . . they moved
the roots into] 3this garden, all of them, and not [ . . . ]
Ohya tries to avoid the implications
of the visions. Above he stated that it referred only to the demon
Azazel; here he suggests that the destruction is for the earthly
4Q530 Col. 2 1concerns the death of
our souls [ . . . ] and all his comrades, [and Oh]ya told them
what Gilgamesh said to him 2[ . . . ] and it was said [ . . . ]
"concerning [ . . . ] the leader has cursed the potentates" 3and
the giants were glad at his words. Then he turned and left [ . .
More dreams afflict the giants. The
details of this vision are obscure, but it bodes ill for the giants.
The dreamers speak first to the monsters, then to the giants
Thereupon two of them had dreams
4and the sleep of their eye, fled from them, and they arose and
came to [ . . . and told] their dreams, and said in the assembly
of [their comrades] the monsters 6[ . . . In] my dream I was
watching this very night 7[and there was a garden . . . ]
gardeners and they were watering 8[ . . . two hundred trees and]
large shoots came out of their root 9[ . . . ] all the water,
and the fire burned all 10[the garden . . . ] They found the
giants to tell them 11[the dream . . . ]
Someone suggests that Enoch be found
to interpret the vision
[ . . . to Enoch] the noted scribe,
and he will interpret for us 12the dream. Thereupon his fellow Ohya declared and said to the giants, 13I too had a dream this
night, O giants, and, behold, the Ruler of Heaven came down to
earth 14[ . . . ] and such is the end of the dream. [Thereupon]
all th e giants [and monsters! grew afraid 15and called Mahway.
He came to them and the giants pleaded with him and sent him to
Enoch 16[the noted scribe]. They said to him, Go [ . . . ] to
you that 17[ . . . ] you have heard his voice. And he said to
him, He wil1 [ . . . and] interpret the dreams [ . . . ] Col. 3
3[ . . . ] how long the giants have to live. [ . . . ]
After a cosmic journey Mahway comes
to Enoch and makes his request
[ . . . he mounted up in the air]
41ike strong winds, and flew with his hands like ea[gles . . .
he left behind] 5the inhabited world and passed over Desolation,
the great desert [ . . . ] 6and Enoch saw him and hailed him,
and Mahway said to him [ . . . ] 7hither and thither a second
time to Mahway [ . . . The giants awaig 8your words, and all the
monsters of the earth. If [ . . . ] has been carried [ . . . ]
9from the days of [ . . . ] their [ . . . ] and they will be
added [ . . . ] 10[ . . . ] we would know from you their meaning
[ . . . ] 11[ . . . two hundred tr]ees that from heaven [came
down . . . ]
Enoch sends back a tablet with its
grim message of judgment, but with hope for repentance
4Q530 Frag. 2 The scribe [Enoch . .
. ] 2[ . . . ] 3a copy of the second tablet that [Epoch] se[nt .
. . ] 4in the very handwriting of Enoch the noted scribe [ . . .
In the name of God the great] 5and holy one, to Shemihaza and
all [his companions . . . ] 61et it be known to you that not [ .
. . ] 7and the things you have done, and that your wives [ . . .
] 8they and their sons and the wives of [their sons . . . ] 9by
your licentiousness on the earth, and there has been upon you [
. . . and the land is crying out] 10and complaining about you
and the deeds of your children [ . . . ] 11the harm that you
have done to it. [ . . . ] 12until Raphael arrives, behold,
destruction [is coming, a great flood, and it will destroy all
living things] 13and whatever is in the deserts and the seas.
And the meaning of the matter [ . . . ] 14upon you for evil. But
now, loosen the bonds bi[nding you to evil . . . ] l5and pray.
A fragment apparently detailing a
vision that Enoch saw
4Q531 Frag. 7 3[ . . . great fear]
seized me and I fell on my face; I heard his voice [ . . . ] 4[
. . . ] he dwelt among human beings but he did not learn from
them [ . . . ]