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
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 millennium B.C.E.
-- Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr., and Edward
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 fruifulness of the
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 al1 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 Genesis 6:4.
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
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 rulers alone.
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
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 [ . . . ]