Enoch’s Prophetic Commission: Enoch’s Power Over the Elements and His Divine Protection

Book of Moses Insight #4

Moses 6:26–36

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

Some of the most remarkable ancient affinities with the Book of Moses’ are found within Mandaean scripture. In this article, we will explore two examples: 1. Enoch’s power over the elements, and 2. Enoch’s divine protection. First, a little background on the Mandaeans.

The Mandaeans

Whereas early scholarship looked to the pre-Christian era for the origins of the Mandaeans as a distinct community, more recent studies point to their beginnings as a first-century “Jewish baptismal group somewhere in Palestine or Syria, perhaps in the Jordan valley. Later this religious group seems to have become heretic[al] from the orthodox Jewish point of view,”1 and moved north-eastwards, eventually settling in today’s southern Iraq and southwestern Iran. Tragically, “turmoil in the Persian Gulf region has created a growing Mandaean diaspora. … Out of the over 60,000 Mandaeans in Iraq in the early 1990s, only about 5,000 to 7,000 remain there.”2 In light of this scattering and scarcity of clergy, the very survival of this ancient religious community is in jeopardy.3

The Mandaeans are best known for their high regard for the teachings of John the Baptist, as found in their own scriptures. They are also known for their disdain for the figure of Jesus in the Christian tradition. Latter-day Saints will find particular interest in Mandaean teachings and practices pertaining to religious ordinances, including rituals related to baptism and heavenly ascent.4

Mandaean scripture speaks extensively about divine messengers (‘uthras) who have been sent to help and teach humankind. In the preeminent position is Manda d-Hiia (Knowledge of Life), followed by three “brothers … sometimes seen as belonging in three different generations”5: Hibil [Abel, son of Adam], Sitil [Seth, son of Adam], and Anosh [Enosh, son of Seth]. In Mandaean scripture, these three messengers are sent down from the “Lightworld” in the beginning to instruct Adam and Eve in the ordinances and in prayer.6

Though in Jewish and Christian tradition, the biblical figure Enosh is more a transmitter than author of religious texts (and is often seen in a negative light), in Mandaean religion he is seen entirely positively as an important revealer and helper of humankind.7 For the purposes of this article, it’s also important to know that the figure of Enosh is often confused with Enoch in both ancient8 and modern9 sources and that, as a result, the figure of Enosh has often been an inadvertent magnet for Enoch traditions in and out of Mandaism. Thus, the examples of ancient affinities between Enoch (as depicted in the Book of Moses) and Enosh literature are usually recognized as deriving from fragments of Enoch (rather than Enosh) traditions.10

Enoch’s Power over the Elements

In Moses 6:34, Enoch is promised that in the order and calling of the priesthood to which he has been ordained, he will manifest God’s power over the elements. Specifically he is told that “the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course.”11 This language selectively summarizes the longer and more formal oath given to Enoch that is recorded in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible in the context of the call of Melchizedek:12

30 For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;
31 To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world.
32 And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.

Later in the Book of Moses we read about a fulfillment of this oath: “[S]o great was the faith of Enoch that … he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course.”13

Enoch’s experience in the Book of Moses can be compared to this Enoch account from the Mandaean Ginza:14

The [Supreme] Life replied, Arise, take thy way to the source of the waters, turn it from its course. … At this command Tauriel indeed turned the sweet water from its course.

We find no account of a river’s course turned by anyone in the Bible. It is thus remarkable that just such an event appears in this pseudepigraphal account and in the Book of Moses—and that in both instances the miraculous feat is found within a story about Enoch.

Figure 2. Enoch Window, Canterbury Cathedral, ca. 1178–1180.

Enoch’s Divine Protection

In Moses 6:32, God provides reassurance to the newly commissioned Enoch by stating: “Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee.”15 In the account of Enosh/Enoch’s prophetic call in the Mandaean Ginza, a similar promise of divine protection is given while he was on the course of a journey.16 Confident that he will receive the divine help he needs, Enoch recounts:17

When I saw myself thus surrounded by enemies, I did flee. … And since that time, with my eyes fixed on the road, I looked to see … if the angel of Life would come to my aid. … Suddenly I saw the gates of heaven open.

After the heavens open, the “Angel of Life” appears and speaks to Enosh. Note that Enoch’s title of “lad”18 found in Moses 6:31 is echoed in the Ginza’s description of the prophet as “little Enosh”:19

Little Enosh, fear not. You dread the dangers of this world; I am come to you to deliver you from them. Fear not the wicked, and be not afraid that the floods will rise up on your head; for their efforts will be vain: it shall not be given them to do any harm to thee.

Later in the same account, the enemies of Enosh/Enoch lament their inability to harm him and his companions. Then they complain that his eventual escape to heaven with his companions has brought a frustrating end to their attempts:20

In vain have we attempted murder and fire against them; nothing has been able to overcome them. And now they are sheltered from our blows.

Though the phrase “And now they are sheltered from our blows” does not specifically describe how Enosh/Enoch and his companions were protected, the text immediately preceding this passage gives more direct hints that they were “sheltered” by being taken up into heaven:21

By fleeing and hiding these men from on high have gone up higher than us. We have never known them. However, now you see that they are covered with glory and splendors that appear to us in all the brightness of their triumph.

Support for the idea that Enoch and his companions escaped their enemies through a heavenly ascent can be found in the statements of Ohya, a leader of the gibborim in the Book of Giants (an Enoch text found at Qumran). Ohya tells of his defeat in a great battle against Enoch and his people22 and then, much like Enoch’s enemies in the Ginza account, Ohya laments that his mortal opponents now “reside in the heavens and live with the holy ones.”23 This description resembles Moses 7:21, which states that Zion, the city of Enoch, “in process of time, was taken up into heaven.” Similarly, Moses 7:69 states: “And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, ZION IS FLED,”24 a poignantly ironic echo of the complaints of Enoch’s enemies in the Ginza: “by fleeing and hiding these men … have gone up higher than us”25).

The choice of the word “fled” in Moses 7:21 is apt, connoting an urgent escape and deliberately alluding to events a little earlier in the chapter when both the “mountains”26 and Enoch’s enemies “fled”27 from danger. But, as scripture pointedly teaches, it is one thing to escape from danger and another to escape to enduring safety. God had promised that Zion alone would “dwell in safety forever”28 in His “own bosom,”29 blessedly and permanently out of bowshot and earshot of its frustrated enemies on earth.

 

This article was adapted and expanded from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 39–40.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 863-882 (Sacred history, rites, and texts of the Mandaeans).

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 39-40.

Hensinger, Shane. 2007. Always a stranger: The survival of the Mandaeans of Iraq (6 December 2007). In Daily Kos.

Lupieri, Edmondo. 1993. The Mandaeans: The Last Gnostics. Italian Texts and Studies on Religion and Society, ed. Edmondo Lupieri. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002.

Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986, pp. 210–211.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004, p. 269.

References

al-Kisa’i, Muhammad ibn Abd Allah. ca. 1000-1100. Tales of the Prophets (Qisas al-anbiya). Translated by Wheeler M. Thackston, Jr. Great Books of the Islamic World, ed. Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Chicago, IL: KAZI Publications, 1997.

Aldihisi, Sabah. “The Story of Creation in the Mandaean Holy Book the Ginza Rba (Ph.D. Dissertation, Identifier: PQ ETD:591390).” London, England: University College London, 2008.

Alter, Robert, ed. The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary. New York City, NY: W. W. Norton, 2019.

Buckley, Jorunn Jacobsen. The Mandaeans: Ancient Texts and Modern People. American Academy of Religion: The Religions Series, ed. Paul B. Courtright. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Deutsch, Nathaniel. “Introduction [to the Mandaean Literature].” In The Gnostic Bible, edited by Willis Barnstone and Marvin W. Meyer, 527-35. Boston, MA: Shambhala, 2003.

Drower, E. S. The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1937. Reprint, Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2002.

Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.

Ginzberg, Louis, ed. The Legends of the Jews. 7 vols. Translated by Henrietta Szold and Paul Radin. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909-1938. Reprint, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

Gündüz, Sinasi. The Knowledge of Life: The Origins and Early History of Mandaeans and Their Relation to the Sabians of the Qur’an and to the Harranians. Journal of Semitic Studies Supplement 3. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Henning, W. B. “The Book of the Giants.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 11, no. 1 (1943): 52-74.

Hensinger, Shane. 2007. Always a stranger: The survival of the Mandaeans of Iraq (6 December 2007). In Daily Kos.

Jellinek, Adolph, ed. Bet ha-Midrasch. Sammlung kleiner midraschim und vermischter Abhandlungen aus der ältern jüdischen Literatur. 6 vols. Vol. 4. Leipzig, Germany: C. W. Vollrath, 1857.

Langkjer, Erik. n.d. From 1 Enoch to Mandaean religion.

Larsen, David J. “Enoch and the City of Zion: Can an entire community ascend to heaven?” Presented at the Academy of Temple Studies Conference on Enoch and the Temple, Logan, UT and Provo, UT, February 19 and 22, 2013.

Lidzbarski, Mark, ed. Ginza: Der Schatz oder das Grosse Buch der Mandäer. Quellen der Religionsgeschichte, der Reihenfolge des Erscheinens 13:4. Göttingen and Leipzig, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, J. C. Hinrichs’sche, 1925.

Lupieri, Edmondo. 1993. The Mandaeans: The Last Gnostics. Italian Texts and Studies on Religion and Society, ed. Edmondo Lupieri. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002.

Martinez, Florentino Garcia. “The Book of Giants (4Q531).” In The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English, edited by Florentino Garcia Martinez. 2nd ed. Translated by Wilfred G. E. Watson, 262. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1996.

Migne, Jacques P. “Livre d’Adam.” In Dictionnaire des Apocryphes, ou, Collection de tous les livres Apocryphes relatifs a l’Ancien et au Nouveau Testament, pour la plupart, traduits en français, pour la première fois, sur les textes originaux, enrichie de préfaces, dissertations critiques, notes historiques, bibliographiques, géographiques et théologiques, edited by Jacques P. Migne. Migne, Jacques P. ed. 2 vols. Vol. 1. Troisième et Dernière Encyclopédie Théologique 23, 1-290. Paris, France: Migne, Jacques P., 1856.

Milik, Józef Tadeusz, and Matthew Black, eds. The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments from Qumran Cave 4. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1976.

Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986.

—. 1975. The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment. 2nd ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005.

—. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004.

Nickelsburg, George W. E., ed. 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1-36; 81-108. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001.

Noah, Mordecai M., ed. 1840. The Book of Jasher. Translated by Moses Samuel. Salt Lake City, UT: Joseph Hyrum Parry, 1887. Reprint, New York City, NY: Cosimo Classics, 2005.

Reeves, John C. Heralds of that Good Realm: Syro-Mesopotamian Gnosis and Jewish Traditions. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 41, ed. James M. Robinson and Hans-Joachim Klimkeit. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1996.

—. “Enosh.” In The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism, edited by John J. Collins and Daniel C. Harlow, 590-91. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2010.

Reeves, John C., and Annette Yoshiko Reed. Sources from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 2 vols. Enoch from Antiquity to the Middle Ages 1. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Rudolph, Kurt. “Part 2: Mandean [sic] Sources.” In Coptic and Mandaic Sources, edited by Werner Foerster. Gnosis: A Selection of Gnostic Texts 2, 121-319. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1974.

Ryen, Jon Olav. The Tree in the Lightworld: A Study in the Mandaean Vine Motif. Oslo, Norway: Unipub/Oslo Academic Press (Faculty of Humanities, University of Oslo), 2006.

Scheindlin, Raymong P. The Book of Job. New York City, NY: W. W. Norton, 1998.

Stuckenbruck, Loren T. The Book of Giants from Qumran: Texts, Translation, and Commentary. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1997.

—. “The Book of Giants.” In Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture, edited by Louis H. Feldman, James L. Kugel and Lawrence H. Schiffman. 3 vols. Vol. 1, 221-36. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 2013.

Thomas, Richard. “The Israelite origins of the Mandaean people.” Studia Antiqua 5, no. 2 (2007): 3-27.

Widengren, Geo. “Heavenly enthronement and baptism studies in Mandaean baptism.” In Religions in Antiquity: Essays in Memory of Erwin Ramsdell Goodenough, edited by Jacob Neusner. 14 vols. Religions in Antiquity, Studies in the History of Religions (Supplements to Numen) 551-582. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1968.

Wilkens, Jens. “Remarks on the Manichaean Book of Giants: Once again on Mahaway’s mission to Enoch.” In Ancient Tales of Giants from Qumran and Turfan: Contexts, Traditions, and Influences, edited by Matthew Goff, Loren T. Stuckenbruck and Enrico Morano. Wissenschlaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 360, ed. Jörg Frey, 213-29. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2016.

Wise, Michael, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook, eds. The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. New York City, NY: Harper-Collins, 1996.
Yamauchi, Edwin M. 1970. Gnostic Ethics and Mandaean Origins. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2004.

Notes on Figures

Figure 1. Image via Wikipedia. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License from the Tasnim News Agency.

Figure 2. Image from the Canterbury Cathedral, with thanks to Cressida Williams (Mrs.), Cathedral Archivist; Head of Archives and Library, Canterbury Cathedral. Mandaean and Aramaic accounts speak of Enoch being taken up to heaven to protect him from his enemies. Enoch is depicted here with upraised hands in the traditional attitude of prayer. The right hand of God emerges from the cloud to grasp Enoch’s right wrist and lift him to heaven.

Footnotes

 

1 J. O. Ryen, Mandaean Vine, p. 41; cf. pp. 21–41. See also S. Gündüz, Knoweldge of Life; E. Lupieri, Mandaeans, pp. 122–172; R. Thomas, Israelite Origins; E. M. Yamauchi, Gnostic Ethics.

2 N. Deutsch, Mandaean Introduction, pp. 527, 535.

3 S. Hensinger, Always a Stranger.

4 Despite their probable post-Christian origins as a separate people, Hugh Nibley sees the “whole Mandaean ritual complex with its endless washings, garments, ritual meals, embraces, grips and crownings [as being] reminiscent of the Egyptian endowment, and Drower, the principal authority on the subject, long ago called attention to the common prehistoric origin of both.” E. S. Drower, Mandaeans, pp. xviii-xix; H. W. Nibley, Message (2005), p. 445. Richard Thomas argues for a connection to Palestinian baptist sects and the pre-exilic Israelite temple cult. See R. Thomas, Israelite Origins, pp. 11–26. Edwin Yamauchi, who argued persuasively that, in contrast to mainstream scholarship, the Mandaean movement originated in the East and no earlier than the first centuries of the Christian era, nevertheless agreed with other researchers who saw the roots of their mythology and ritual in ancient Mesopotamian religion. See E. M. Yamauchi, Gnostic Ethics, pp. 80–86. See also G. Widengren, Enthronement, who discusses Mandaean baptism in light of Syrian-Mesopotamian ritual traditions.

5 J. J. Buckley, Mandaeans, p. 35.

6 K. Rudolph, Coptic, Ginza Right 3, p. 197; M. Lidzbarski, Ginza, Ginza Right 3, p. 119. For a translation, commentary, and discussion of the Mandaean story of creation in the Ginza Rba, Book 3, see S. Aldihisi, The Story of Creation in the Mandaean Holy Book the Ginza Rba (Ph.D. Dissertation, Identifier: PQ ETD:591390).

7 J. C. Reeves, Enosh.

8 See, e.g., J. C. Reeves et al., Enoch from Antiquity 1, p. 98:
One wonders whether this curious association of Enoch with music and song reflects a later confusion between Enoch and Enosh, a figure who receives blame in the world for introducing idols and their cultic service (including music) into the world. J. C. Reeves, Enosh: Similarly, when the thirteenth-century Syriac Book of the Bee avers that Enosh “was the first to author books on the courses of the stars and zodiacal signs,” it is likely Enosh has been confused here with the more illustrious figures of Enoch or Seth, both of whom are famous in parabiblical sources for their astronomical discoveries. J. C. Reeves et al., Enoch from Antiquity 1, p. 102. Cf. p. 293: According to Cornelia Schöck (Adam im Islam, 179n. 1049), the peculiar designation “Enoch the younger” (M. i. A. A. al-Kisa’i, Tales, p. 75) represents Kisa’i’s (our source’s) attempt to correct an erroneous confusion and conflation between the figures of Enoch and Enosh.

9 See, for an example, the confusion of the eminent Mandaean research pioneer Lady E. S. Drower about Enosh and Enoch (E. S. Drower, Mandaeans, p. xxiv, emphasis added): To refer again to Enoch [sic] (the word means “man” and he seems to be, like Adam, a personification of the human principle) the association is preserved today in a curious manner. The Arabs have given Enoch the name “Idris” … And this confusion by Edmondo Lupieri, a Mandaean scholar who wrote in 2002 (E. Lupieri, Mandaeans, pp. 164–165, emphasis added): John becomes a Mandaean in the same way and for the same reason that Adam, Abel, Seth, Enoch [sic], Noah, and Shem become Mandaeans.

10 For example, the prominent Enoch and Mandaean researcher John C. Reeves (J. C. Reeves, Heralds, p. 142) gives the following summary of important Enosh writings in the Ginza, the most important Mandaean book of scripture: The eleventh book of the Right Ginza is introduced as the mystery and book of the great Anosh, son of the great Sitil, son of the great Adam, son of the mighty ‘uthras of glory.” … Enosh escapes harm due to his fortuitous removal form earth by Manda de-Hayye, an emissary of the principal Mandaean deity, who installs him in the supernal realms, where he continues to reside. The initial portion of the twelfth book of the Right Ginza continues the first-person discursive style displayed in the preceding composition, identifying the speaker as “the great Anosh, the son of the great Sitil, the son of the great Adam …” Therein Enosh provides testimony regarding many of the sights which he beheld during his tour of the heavens and describes his own installation as an ‘uthra of light. Following this summary, Reeves comments (ibid., p. 156 n. 13): “The similarity of this narrative sequence with the one recounting the career of Enoch in 1 Enoch 6–16 is probably not accidental.” Notably the two examples of resemblances between the Book of Moses and the Ginza described in this article are both taken from Right Ginza passages in chapter 11 which Reeves mentions above and, as will be seen, are corroborated in part in the Enoch account in the Book of Giants from Qumran.

11 Moses 6:34.

12 JST Genesis 14:30–32, emphasis added. See S. H. Faulring et al., Original Manuscripts, OT1 (p. 34), p. 127.

13 Moses 7:13.

14 J. P. Migne, Livre d’Adam, 21, p. 169, English translation by Bradshaw. Compare the English translation of Migne given by H. W. Nibley, Enoch, p. 210. Migne’s original reads: La Vie [souveraine] lui répondit : Lève-toi, prends ta course vers la source de l’eau, détournes-en le cours, et que cette eau vive et subtile, tombant dans l’eau profonde, en adoucisse l’amertume en s’y mêlant, et que les hommes qui la boivent deviennent semblables à la Vie souveraine. A ce commandement Tavril détourna en effet le cours de l’eau subtile, et la dirigeant dans l’eau amère, il en adoucit l’amertume, en sorte que les hommes se réjouissaient en la buvant. Cf. M. Lidzbarski, Ginza, Ginza Right 11, pp. 266–267: Da sprach das große Leben zu Mandä dHaije: „Mache du dich auf, geh an der Spitze des Wassers hin und ziehe einen dünnen Zug lebenden Wassers hin. Es soll hingehen, in das trübe Wasser fallen, und das Wasser werde schmackhaft, auf daß die Menschenkinder es trinken und dem großen Leben gleich werden. Da sprach er zu Taurel-Uthra, dieser machte sich ans Werk, er zog einen dünnen Zug Wassers hin, es fiel in die Tibil, in das Wasser, das nicht schmackhaft war, und das Wasser der Tibil wurde schmackhaft, daß die Menschenkinder es trinken und es ihnen schmecke. The account of Enoch in the Book of Moses does not give a clear purpose for the turning of the waters from their course. Perhaps there is a longer version of the story where this detail is explained. However, the Mandaean angel’s promise to deliver Enosh/Enoch from the “flood that will rise up on [his] head” provides a tantalizing hint of one possibility. In the Ginza, the incident is incorporated into the Mandaean mythology relating to baptism. Specifically, the turning of the water’s course is made necessary by the requirement for “living water” to become available for Mandaean baptism, which includes immersion, drinking of the water, and a series of sacred handshakes. The first phase of the rite is described by Jorunn Jacobsen Buckley as follows (J. J. Buckley, Mandaeans, p. 82): The priest submerges the person three times and uses his wet finger to draw a line three times across the person’s forehead, from the right to the left ear. Again thrice, the person in the water receives a palm full of water to drink. The sacred handshake, the kushta, takes place between the two. Erik Langkjer further elaborates (E. Langkjer, From 1 Enoch): Tauriel is the old god “El, the bull”, tr il, acc. to the Ugarit texts having his throne by the double offspring of the water-brooks in the mountain Lel. In the Mandaean baptismal ritual any river used for baptism is called Jordan (Jardna) and baptism can only be done in running water (not in “cut off water” in a font or basin). Lidzbarski thinks that this reflects an old belief in the Jordan as the paradise-river from Hermon, the mountain of the sons of God in the North (“as no other river in Asia it runs in a straight direction north-south” [M. Lidzbarski, Ginza, Einleitung, p. V, 13–15]). Lidzbarski does not mention Psalm 133:3: The unction on the head of the high priest is “like the dew of Hermon falling on the mountains of Zion. There the Lord sends down blessing, Life eternal”. In Temple Theology the dew in the morning and the unction is identified with the “Water of Life” from the mountain of the sons of God.

15 In the Bible, the Hebrew and Greek verbs translated as “pierce” typically refer to physical wounds. See, for example, Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10; Numbers 23:8; Judges 5:26; 2 Kings 18:21; Job 40:24; Isaiah 27:1; 36:6; Luke 2:35; John 19:34, 37; 1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 1:7. Metaphorical exceptions include Job 30:17 (i.e., “my limbs are pierced” [R. Alter, Hebrew Bible, 30:17, p. 542] or “my bones are hacked from me” [R. P. Scheindlin, Job, 30:17, p. 122]); Proverbs 12:18 (i.e., “One may speak out like sword stabs” [R. Alter, Hebrew Bible, 12:18, p. 391]). However, in modern scripture most mentions of the term refer to verbal, emotional, and spiritual wounds (see, for example, Jacob 2:9, 15, 35; Helaman 5:30; 3 Nephi 11:3; Doctrine and Covenants 1:3; JS-H Oliver Cowdery’s account) as well as to the ability of someone to see the hearts and intentions of individuals (see Jacob 2:15; Doctrine and Covenants 121:4; Moses 7:36). In light of the promises Enoch received in his divine commission and the great perils that he faced, it is not unreasonable to assume that God’s promises to Enoch encompassed protection from “piercing” in every sense of the word. However, in this brief article, we will focus on the Lord’s measures to assure his physical safety.

16 See J. P. Migne, Livre d’Adam, 21, p. 167.

17 J. P. Migne, Livre d’Adam, 21, p. 167, English translation by Bradshaw. Migne’s original reads: Quand je me vis ainsi entouré d’ennemis, je m’enfuis, et, levant les yeux vers le séjour de la lumière, j’appelai à mon secours l’ange de la Vie. … Et depuis ce temps, les yeux fixés sur la route, je regardais si mes frères venaient à moi, si l’ange de la Vie venait à mon secours. Tout à coup je vis la porte du ciel ouverte. Cf. M. Lidzbarski, Ginza, Ginza Right 11, p. 264, lines 2–4, 6–9: Täglich, alltäglich suche ich ihnen zu entrinnen, da ich allein in dieser Welt dastehe. Meine Augen blicken zu Mandä dHaije empor. …Täglich blicken meine Augen zu dem Wege empor, den meine Brüder gehen, und zu dem Pfade, auf dem Mandä dHaije kommt. Ich schaue hin und sehe, daß die Pforte des Himmels sich öffnete.

18 See Pearl of Great Price Central, “Enoch’s Prophetic Commission: Enoch As a Lad,” Book of Moses Insight #3 (May 15, 2020).

19 J. P. Migne, Livre d’Adam, 21, p. 167, English translation by Bradshaw. Migne’s original reads: Petit Anusch, ne crains rien ; tu as redouté les dangers de ce monde, je suis venu à toi pour t’en délivrer. Ne crains point les méchants, ne crains point les déluges qu’ils soulèvent sur ta tête ; car leurs efforts seront vains ; il ne leur sera pas donné de te faire aucun mal. Cf. M. Lidzbarski, Ginza, Ginza Right 11, p. 264, lines 20–27: Kleiner Enös, fürchte dich nicht vor mir. Da Schrecken dich in dieser Welt befiel, kam ich, um dich aufzuklären. Fürchte dich nicht vor den Bösen dieser Welt und vor den Wasserfluten; sie sollen über deinem Haupte hinweggenommen werden. Wie sie über deine Brüder Schwert und Feuer brachten und Schwert und Feuer an sie nicht heranlangen konnten, so werden auch die Wasserfluten an dich nicht heranlangen. Ich werde dir Glanz und Licht bringen, die dir Helfer sein und dir beistehen sollen.

20 J. P. Migne, Livre d’Adam, 21, p. 170, English translation by Bradshaw. Migne’s original reads: En vain nous avons essayé contre eux le meurtre et le feu ; rien n’a pu les atteindre. Ils sont maintenant à l’abri de nos coups. Cf. M. Lidzbarski, Ginza, Ginza Right 11, p. 268, lines 25–27: Bei seinen Brüdern wurde Feuer und Schwert weggenommen, und sie konnten an sie nicht heranreichen, jetzt [ … ], daß sie für sich dastehen.

21 J. P. Migne, Livre d’Adam, 21, p. 170, English translation by Bradshaw. Migne’s original reads: C’est en fuyant, c’est en se cachant, que les hommes d’en haut ont monté plus haut que nous. Nous ne les avons jamais connus. Les voici pourtant couverts de gloire et de splendeurs qui nous apparaissent dans tout l’éclat de leur triomphe. Cf. M. Lidzbarski, Ginza, Ginza Right 11, p. 268, lines 21–23: Sei es daß sie vor uns davongelaufen sind, sei es daß sie sich vor uns versteckt haben, sie zeigten sich uns nicht. Jetzt zeigten sie sich uns in ihrem reichen Glänze und ihrem großen Lichte.

22 Compare with Moses 7:13.

23 F. G. Martinez, Book of Giants (4Q531), 2:6, p. 262. Cf. J. T. Milik et al., Enoch, p. 308: “they dwell in [heaven]s and they live in the holy abodes”; L. T. Stuckenbruck, Book of Giants, 4Q531, 17:6, p. 164: “and in t]he heavens are seated, and among the holy places they dwell”; M. Wise et al., DSS, 4Q531, 22:6, p. 293: “my opponents [are angels who] reside in [Heav]en, and they dwell in the holy places.” Cf. H. W. Nibley, Teachings of the PGP, p. 269. Compare also W. B. Henning, Book of the Giants, Text A, fragment i (M101i), where the angels are said to have “veiled (or: covered, or: protected, or: moved out of sight) Enoch.” A similar veiling is described in a Parthian fragment (M291) in relation to “a later sequence of events” (J. Wilkens, Remarks, p. 225). Wilkens notes the passages from Henning as an explanation for “the fact that there is no direct contact between Mahawai and Enoch” (ibid., p. 225) in the Uyghur fragment, lines 11 and 12: “But I did not see him in person” (ibid., p. 224). Cf. “he dwelt [not] among human beings” (L. T. Stuckenbruck, Book of Giants, 4Q531, 14:4, p. 233); “his dwelling is with the angels” (G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 106:7, p. 536. See also 12:1–2, p. 233).

24 As far as the size of Enoch’s group of companions goes, the Mandaean texts envision three individuals: Enoch and his two brother uthras. Within the Aramaic Book of Giants, the size of his group that opposed the gibborim in battle is unspecified. However, both the Book of Jasher (M. M. Noah, Jasher, 3:27–38, pp. 7–8) and an account edited by Jellinek (A. Jellinek, BHM 4, 3:24–38, pp. 7–8) provide an explicit analog to the Book of Moses idea that a sizeable group of people (thousands, according to Jasher and Jellinek) ascended with Enoch. L. Ginzberg, Legends, 1:129–130 summarizes the Jasher account. In his version he makes an addition to the story on his own authority, recounting that when the people searched for those who had gone with Enoch “they discovered the bodies,” implying (polemically?) that no other mortal could have accompanied Enoch to heaven. This addition can be found in Sefer ha-Kasdim (ms. Manchester, John Rylands Library, Gaster 177, ff. 36a-b), as cited in J. C. Reeves et al., Enoch from Antiquity 1, pp. 114–120. For additional discussion of accounts from the ancient world that describe whole communities ascending to heaven (both literally and figuratively), see D. J. Larsen, Enoch and the City of Zion, and a forthcoming Book of Moses Insight on the topic.

25 J. P. Migne, Livre d’Adam, 21, p. 170, English translation by Bradshaw.

26 Moses 7:13. Cf. Moses 6:34.

27 Moses 7:14.

28 Moses 7:20.

29 Moses 7:69.

Enoch’s Prophetic Commission: Enoch As a Lad

Book of Moses Insight #3

Moses 6:31

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

Readers of the Book of Moses have often puzzled over Enoch’s self-description as a “lad” (Moses 6:31), especially in light of the fact that he was at least sixty-five years old at the time (v. 25). Strikingly, this is the only instance of the term “lad” in the teachings and revelations of Joseph Smith. Hugh Nibley was the first to recognize the significance of the use of this term in the Book of Moses, given the prominence of “lad” (or the equivalent term “youth”) as a name for Enoch in several Jewish mystical works,1 notably including the pseudepigraphal books of 2 Enoch and 3 Enoch.2

Figure 2. Adam enthroned, the angels prostrating themselves before him, 1576. Rachel Milstein.

Enoch uses the term “lad” in a somewhat self-denigrating way in Moses 6:31: “Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad … ?” The angels in 3 Enoch similarly look upon Enoch’s status as a “lad” with disdain. They see Enoch’s relative youth as reason to challenge the legitimacy of his heavenly ascent as well as his right to sponsor the ascent of his pupil, Rabbi Ishmael.3 Enoch is portrayed “as a sort of Johnny-come lately who despite his late arrival manages to become the greatest in their midst.”4 This recalls the pre-rabbinic tradition of the initial reluctance of the angels to pay homage to Adam, who himself was seen as a young newcomer to the divine realm.5

Gary A. Anderson of the University of Notre Dame wonders at the ancient references to Enoch as a “lad”:6

The acclamation of Enoch as “lad” is curious. It certainly recalls the question that began the story: “Why are you called ‘lad’ by [those] in the heights of heaven?”7 It is worth noting that of all the names given Enoch, the title “lad” is singled out as being particularly apt and fitting by the heavenly host. Evidently the seventy names were of a more general order of knowledge than the specific title “lad.”

In answer to the question of why “the seventy nations of the world” called Enoch by his other names while God preferred to call him by the name of “lad,”8 Andrei Orlov proposes that Enoch served as a sort of mediator between the nations and God, with the reference to his seventy names corresponding to the seventy nations of the world.9 In short, to the nations, he was a ruler, the “Prince of the World,”10 while to God he was a subordinate, a “lad” by comparison.11

Searching for the answer in another direction, Gershom Scholem, followed by other scholars, noticed that the title “lad” appears in the ancient Jewish literature in connection with the role of one who serves “before the heavenly throne and [ministers] to its needs” or as one who serves “in his own special tabernacle.”12

A third explanation is found in the Zohar and related writings. There it is understood that Enoch “became a youth” permanently when “God took him” to live forever in the heavenly world.13

While none of these explanations is without its merits, Anderson prefers the reason that Enoch himself gives for this title, as recorded in the book of 3 Enoch:14

And because I was the youngest among them and a “lad” amongst them with respect to days, months, and years, therefore they called me “lad.”

Though “most scholars have not been satisfied with the simple and somewhat naïve answer the text supplies”15 and have instead formulated a variety of more elaborate hypotheses for the name, Enoch’s explanation for his title of “lad” in the Book of Moses fits the “simple and straightforward” explanation given in 3 Enoch.

This article was adapted and expanded from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 37–39.

Further Reading

Anderson, Gary A. “The exaltation of Adam.” In Literature on Adam and Eve: Collected Essays, edited by Gary A. Anderson, Michael E. Stone and Johannes Tromp, 83–110. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2000, pp. 107–108.

Bowen, Matthew L. “Young man, hidden prophet: Alma.” In Name as Key-Word: Collected Essays on Onomastic Wordplay and the Temple in Mormon Scripture, edited by Matthew L. Bowen, 91–100. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2018, pp. 91–94.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 37–39, 93, 582–584.

Mopsik, Charles, ed. Le Livre Hébreu d’Hénoch ou Livre des Palais. Les Dix Paroles, ed. Charles Mopsik. Lagrasse, France: Éditions Verdier, 1989, pp. 188–190.

Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986, pp. 208–209.

Orlov, Andrei A. The Enoch-Metatron Tradition. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 107. Tübingen, Germany Mohr Siebeck, 2005, pp. 133–136.

References

Alexander, P. “3 (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 223-315. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Andersen, F. I. “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 91-221. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Anderson, Gary A. “The exaltation of Adam.” In Literature on Adam and Eve: Collected Essays, edited by Gary A. Anderson, Michael E. Stone and Johannes Tromp, 83-110. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2000.

Barker, Kenneth L., ed. New International Version (NIV) Study Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.

bin Gorion (Berdichevsky), Micha Joseph. Von der Urzeit. Die Sagen der Juden 1. Frankfurt, Germany: Rütten und Loening, 1919.

Bowen, Matthew L. “Introduction.” In Name as Key-Word: Collected Essays on Onomastic Wordplay and the Temple in Mormon Scripture, edited by Matthew L. Bowen, xlvii-lix. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2018.

—. “Young man, hidden prophet: Alma.” In Name as Key-Word: Collected Essays on Onomastic Wordplay and the Temple in Mormon Scripture, edited by Matthew L. Bowen, 91-100. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2018.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Ancient and Modern Perspectives on the Book of Moses. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Publishing, 2010.

—. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014.

Brown, Francis, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs. 1906. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005.

Dawood, N. J. 1956. The Koran. London, England: Penguin Books, 1997.

Dennis, Lane T., Wayne Grudem, J. I. Packer, C. John Collins, Thomas R. Schreiner, and Justin Taylor. English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008.

Eaton, John H. The Psalms: A Historical and Spiritual Commentary with an Introduction and New Translation. London, England: T&T Clark, 2003.

Jellinek, Adolph, ed. Bet ha-Midrasch. Sammlung kleiner Midraschim und vermischter Abhandlungen aus der ältern jüdischen Literatur. Nach Handschriften und Druckwerken. 6 vols. Leipzig, Germany: F. Nies, 1853-1877.

Koehler, Ludwig, Walter Baumgartner, Johann Jakob Stamm, M. E. J. Richardson, G. J. Jongeling-Vos, and L. J. de Regt. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. 4 vols. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1994.

Margalioth, Mordecai, ed. Midrash ha-Gadol ‘al hamishah humshey Torah: Sefer Bereshit. Jerusalem, Israel: Mosad ha-Rav Kook, 1947.

Matt, Daniel C., ed. The Zohar, Pritzker Edition. Vol. 4. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007.

—, ed. The Zohar, Pritzker Edition. Vol. 5. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009.

Migne, Jacques P. “Livre d’Adam.” In Dictionnaire des Apocryphes, ou, Collection de tous les livres Apocryphes relatifs a l’Ancien et au Nouveau Testament, pour la plupart, traduits en français, pour la première fois, sur les textes originaux, enrichie de préfaces, dissertations critiques, notes historiques, bibliographiques, géographiques et théologiques, edited by Jacques P. Migne. Migne, Jacques P. ed. 2 vols. Vol. 1. Troisième et Dernière Encyclopédie Théologique 23, 1-290. Paris, France: Migne, Jacques P., 1856.

Milstein, Rachel, Karin Rührdanz, and Barbara Schmitz. Stories of the Prophets: Illustrated Manuscripts of Qisas al-Anbiya. Islamic Art and Architecture Series 8, ed. Abbas Daneshvari, Robert Hillenbrand and Bernard O’Kane. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 1999.

Mopsik, Charles, ed. Le Livre Hébreu d’Hénoch ou Livre des Palais. Les Dix Paroles, ed. Charles Mopsik. Lagrasse, France: Éditions Verdier, 1989.

Orlov, Andrei A. The Enoch-Metatron Tradition. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 107. Tübingen, Germany Mohr Siebeck, 2005.

Reeves, John C., and Annette Yoshiko Reed. Sources from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 2 vols. Enoch from Antiquity to the Middle Ages 1. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Scholem, Gershom. 1974. Kabbalah. New York City, NY: Dorset Press, 1987.

Notes on Figures

Figure 1. Image via Wikipedia. Examples have been found of ancient authors applying the term na’ar (Hebrew “lad” or “youth”) to both David and Enoch, as well as to exalted figures such as Adam, Melchizedek and Jesus Christ. In a prophecy “of old” that is later applied to David we read: “I have set a youth above the warrior; I have [exalted] a young man over the people” (translation as found in J. H. Eaton, Psalms Commentary, 89:19, p. 317 with the substitution of the word “exalted.”). Looking carefully at Psalm 89:19, we find that it provides an intriguing possibility of parallel with the title of lad/youth given to Enoch in vision. Citing a vision “of old” (J. H. Eaton, Psalms Commentary, 89:19, p. 317; L. T. Dennis et al., ESV, 89:19, p. 1050) that was given to His “holy one” (KJV), the Lord is quoted as saying that He has exalted a baḥur from among the people. Baḥur is an interesting word (L. Koehler et al., Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon,1:118; F. Brown et al., Lexicon p. 104c, d) — it is usually translated as “chosen,” but perhaps in the context of this verse may be more accurately rendered “youth” or “young man,” as in Eaton’s translation: “I have set a youth [emending ‘ezer to naar] above the warrior; I have raised [exalted] a young man [baḥur] over the people” (J. H. Eaton, Psalms Commentary, 89:19, p. 317. Cf. K. L. Barker, NIV Study Bible, Psalm 89:19, p. 889: “I have exalted a young man from among the people.”). One might, in fact, conjecture a play on words between baḥir in v. 3 and baḥur in v. 19. The youth who is set above the warrior (Hebrew gibbor) recalls Enoch’s victory over the gibborim in the Book of the Giants and in the book of Moses (as well as David’s youthful triumph over the giant Goliath). Of course the motif of the exaltation of the anointed one is relevant to the stories of Enoch’s heavenly ascent in the book of Moses and in the pseudepigrapha. For a summary of other ancient traditions relating to resentment of the exaltation of the younger rival over the older one, see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 225, 540–541, 582–583. See A. A. Orlov, Enoch-Metatron, p. 136 for a summary of James Davila’s relevant research. See also the discussion in C. Mopsik, Hénoch, pp. 189–191 n. 4:16 that applies the title of “lad” to angelic figures of high rank, including the Messiah, the anointed One of God.

Figure 2. Rachel Milstein. From R. Milstein et al., Stories. Original in Topkapi Saray Museum Library, Istanbul Turkey. H. 1227: Ms. T-7. This figure illustrates Qur’an 2:34: “And when We said to the angels” ‘Prostrate yourselves before Adam,’ they all prostrated themselves except Satan, who in his pride refused and became an unbeliever” (N. J. Dawood, Koran, 2:34, p. 13; cf. 7:11–18; 15:26–44; 17:61–65, 18:50–51; 38:67–88). For a detailed description of the figure and the incident described, see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Figure 4-7, p. 225. In pseudepigraphal accounts, Enoch is said to have experienced similar angelic resistance to his exaltation, similar to the resistance faced by Adam.

Footnotes

 

1 Nibley cites, among others, M. J. bin Gorion (Berdichevsky), Von der Urzeit, pp. 196–197; J. P. Migne, Livre d’Adam, pp. 165–166; A. Jellinek, BHM, 5:172; D. C. Matt, Zohar 4, Be-shallaḥ 2:66a, 2:66b, p. 366 and n. 587. Cf. p. 359 and n. 563.

2 See F. I. Andersen, 2 Enoch, 10:4 (shorter recension), p. 119, P. Alexander, 3 Enoch, 2:2, p. 357, 3:2, p. 257, 4:1, p. 258, and 4:10, p. 259, and C. Mopsik, Hénoch, 48D 1, p. 156 (97).

3 P. Alexander, 3 Enoch, 2:2, p. 357, 3and 4:7–10, p. 259. See A. A. Orlov, Enoch-Metatron, pp. 133–134.

4 A. A. Orlov, Enoch-Metatron, p. 135, citing an observation by David Halperin.

5 See G. A. Anderson, Exaltation, pp. 107–108. For additional discussion of these and related accounts, see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Excursus 23: The Roles of Christ, Adam, and Michael, pp. 582–584.

6 G. A. Anderson, Exaltation, p. 107.

7 See P. Alexander, 3 Enoch, 4:1, p. 258.

8 Ibid., 3:2, p. 257.

9 A. A. Orlov, Enoch-Metatron, p. 136.

10 See discussion of sources for and the meaning of the title “Prince of the world” in, e.g., C. Mopsik, Hénoch, p. 190.

11 A. A. Orlov, Enoch-Metatron, p. 136 n. 231.

12 G. Scholem, Kabbalah, p. 379. A related argument for this idea might be found in the Book of Mormon. According to Matthew Bowen, “the best explanation for the name Alma is that it derives from the Semitic term ǵlm (Hebrew ʿelem) — ‘young man,’ ‘youth,’ ‘lad.’ This strongly suggests the possibility of an intentional wordplay on the name Alma in the Book of Mormon’s underlying text: Alma became ‘[God’s] young man’ or ‘servant’” (M. L. Bowen, Introduction, p. lii. See M. L. Bowen, Young Man, pp. 91–94 for Bowen’s complete discussion).

13 D. C. Matt, Zohar 5, Sira di-Tsni’uta2:179a, p. 582, based on a particular interpretation of Proverbs 22:6. Daniel Matt explains (ibid., p. 582 n. 87): Metatron is often described as a na’ar, “youth, lad, servant.” Here the author alludes to the identification of Enoch with Metatron by citing the statement from Proverbs … “Train the youth”, which is understood to mean that Enoch was transformed … into the youth, i.e., Metatron. Zohar Hadash, Teruma explains it this way (M. Margalioth, Midrash ha-Gadol, 42d, p. 84, as cited in J. C. Reeves et al., Enoch from Antiquity 1, p. 298): As it is written (in Scripture): “And he was no more, because God took him” (Genesis 5:24): “and he was no more” signifies “in this world”; “and he was no more” means “as he existed in this world.” Because God took him” means “(he became) another image”; in that (world) he is permanently a youth. This secret we found (in the verse): “Enoch became a youth following His way” (Proverbs 22:6) (so as) to conduct all the worlds.” “even should he grow old, he will not deviate from it” (Proverbs 22:6): Behold, he is permanently found in it, and he reverted to a youth. In Enoch is contained the form of the hidden world. He is the throne of his Lord. He was made (one of the messengers) for the world. When the world is (under the attribute) of judgment, Metatron goes forth and is called “the leader over all the celestial armies.” The old man who is a youth goes from one world to another, and the anger subsides.

14 G. A. Anderson, Exaltation, p. 107. Translation of 3 Enoch 4:10 by Anderson.

15 Ibid., p. 107.

Enoch’s Prophetic Commission: The Opening of Enoch’s Mouth and Eyes

Book of Moses Insight #2

Moses 6:31–32, 35

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

The Opening of Enoch’s Mouth

When the Lord called Enoch as a prophet, Enoch was concerned about his ability to adequately preach to the people. In particular, he described himself as being “slow of speech.”1 Moses may have been quoting Enoch when, after receiving his own prophetic calling, he told the Lord he was “slow of speech, and of a slow tongue”2 —literally, in Hebrew idiom, “heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue.”3

In Moses’ case, as with Ezekiel, the problem was most likely not a physical speech impediment,4 but rather doubts about his fluency in the native language of his hearers.5 What language would that be? Not Egyptian, of course, because Moses had been raised in Egypt6 and during his first appearance at Pharaoh’s court both he and Aaron did the speaking.7 Rather, as Richard E. Friedman argues, Moses more likely had difficulty with Hebrew. Friedman observes that “God’s response in fact confirms that the problem for Moses was speaking ‘to the people,’8 not to the Egyptians.”9

Could Enoch have been in a similar predicament? After all, he was not sent to preach repentance to his own people (who presumably spoke his own language), but rather to the people in the eastern land where his journey had taken him.10 Whatever the case, non-canonical Enoch sources seem to corroborate that Enoch had speech challenges. Some accounts, for example, portray Enoch as having been “deliberate in his speech” and “often silent.”11

These descriptions are notable because being “slow of speech” is not a common motif among biblical prophets. Only Moses and Enoch are specifically described in this manner. It is also curious that in the cases of both Enoch and Moses, “it is the stammerer whose task it is to bring down God’s word to the human world.”12 “Whatever the circumstances, the underlying idea is that prophetic eloquence is not a native talent but a divine endowment granted for a special purpose, the message originating with God and not with the prophet.”13

Although God provided Aaron as a spokesman for Moses, He offered no such relief to Enoch. Instead, He gave Enoch himself “the power of … language”14 —a term that is found nowhere else in scripture. By this power and at his “command” in speaking “the word of the Lord, … the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, … and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness,” causing “all nations [to fear] greatly.”15

The wording of God’s promise to Enoch is also significant:16 “Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance.” Again, the most obvious parallel is in the call of Moses, to whom the Lord declared: “I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.”17 However, a similarly close parallel is found in pseudepigraphal Enoch literature. In 2 Enoch 39:5, Enoch states: “… it is not from my own lips that I am reporting to you today, but from the lips of the Lord I have been sent to you. For you hear my words, out of my lips, a human being created exactly equal to yourselves; but I have heard from the fiery lips of the Lord.”18

Figure 2. Priests of the Egyptian god Anubis, the guide of the dead and the god of tombs and embalming, perform the opening of the mouth ritual, ca. 1275 BCE. From the Book of the Dead of Hunefer, British Museum.

Commenting on Old Testament language that mentions the enabling of a prophet’s “lips,” “tongue,” and “mouth,” biblical scholar Carol Meyers found meaningful “parallels in the empowering ‘opening the mouth’ rituals in ancient Near Eastern texts, especially Egyptian ones.”19 Hugh Nibley recalled that “one purpose of the Egyptian Opening of the Mouth is to cause the initiate ‘to remember what he had forgotten—that it is to awaken the mind to its full potential in the manner of the awakening of Adam in a new world.”20 By rites of this sort, the mouth is also sanctified21 and becomes a conduit for the transmission of heavenly things.

Nibley further explained:22

The rite is called the Opening of the Mouth because that must come first, that being the organ by which one may breathe, receive nourishment, and speak. … So the mouth comes first; but to rise above mere vegetation, life must become conscious and aware, so that the opening of the eyes immediately follows.

The Opening of Enoch’s Eyes

Moses 6:35–36 recounts the anointing, washing, and “opening” of Enoch’s eyes:

35 And the Lord spake unto Enoch, and said unto him: Anoint thine eyes with clay, and wash them, and thou shalt see.23 And he did so.

36 And he beheld the spirits that God had created; and he beheld also things which were not visible to the natural eye; and from thenceforth came the saying abroad in the land: A seer hath the Lord raised up unto his people.

Descriptions of Enoch’s visions or tours of the heavenly worlds appear frequently in pseudepigraphal texts. Though Enoch’s account in the Book of Moses focuses more on salvation history than on the fantastic celestial realms so prominent in other accounts, it is notable that what few details are given us in the Book of Moses often line up quite well with non-canonical accounts of his visions. For example, the Book of Moses prominently highlights Enoch’s ability to see “things which were not visible to the natural eye,” consistent with the Lord’s command in 2 Enoch for him to make a “record of all His creation, visible and invisible”24 and of his having seen God make “invisible things descend visibly.”25 Another account tells of how Enoch “trained” himself to see divine visions of invisible things while “in his normal (i.e., bodily) state.”26

Moses 6:362 Enoch 64:5Sefer Mishkqn
[Enoch] beheld things which were not visible to the natural eyeAnd [the Lord] commanded Enoch to [make a] … record of all His creation, visible and invisibleThose … are not visible to anyone corporeal … but after [Enoch] trained himself to be with God, he saw (them)

As a sign of their prophetic calling, the lips of Isaiah27 and Jeremiah28 were touched to prepare them for their roles as divine spokesmen. However, in the case of both the book of Moses and the pseudepigrapha, Enoch’s eyes “were opened by God”29 to enable “the vision of the Holy One and of heaven.”30 The words of a divinely given song recorded in Joseph Smith’s Revelation Book 2 are in remarkable agreement with 1 Enoch:31

Song of Enoch 41 Enoch 1:2
[God] touched [Enoch’s] eyes and he saw heavenEnoch[‘s] … eyes were opened by God, who had the vision of the Holy One and of heaven

This divine action would have had special meaning to Joseph Smith, who alluded elsewhere to instances in which God touched his eyes before the heavens were opened to him.32

The description of the anointing of the eyes with clay in the Book of Moses recalls the healing by Jesus of the man born blind.33 And, indeed, it may be that Jesus’ actions were meant, at least in part, to allude to the experience of Enoch. Further elucidating the meaning of this action, Craig Keener34 observed that “by making clay of the spittle35 and applying it to eyes blind from birth, Jesus symbolically repeated the creative act of Genesis 2:7.”36 Interestingly, in the Book of Moses, the first thing Enoch sees after having his eyes anointed with clay are the “spirits that God had created.”37

 

This article was adapted and expanded from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 36, 39-41.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 36, 39–41, 93.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 94–95.

Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986, p. 211.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1975. The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment. 2nd ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 164–182 (The Opening of the Mouth Rite: Its Purpose and Origin).

References

Andersen, F. I. “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 91-221. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Bradley, Don. The Lost 116 Pages: Reconsructing the Book of Mormon’s Missing Stories. Draper, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2019.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. 2018. How Might We Interpret the Dense Temple-Related Symbolism of the Prophet’s Heavenly Vision in Isaiah 6? In Interpreter Foundation Old Testament KnoWhy JBOTL36A.

Bruce, F. F. The Book of Acts (Revised). Revised ed. The New International Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Gordon D. Fee. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988.

Buber, Martin. 1958. Moses: The Revelation and the Covenant. New York City, NY: Humanity Books, 1988.

Carasik, Michael, ed. The JPS Miqra’ot Gedolot: Exodus. The Commentator’s Bible. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 2005.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005.

Evening and Morning Star. Independence, MO and Kirtland, OH, 1832-1834. Reprint, Basel Switzerland: Eugene Wagner, 2 vols., 1969.

Fox, Everett, ed. The Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. The Schocken Bible: Volume I. New York, NY: Schocken Books, 1995.

Freedman, H., and Maurice Simon, eds. 1939. Midrash Rabbah 3rd ed. 10 vols. London, England: Soncino Press, 1983.

Friedman, Richard Elliott, ed. Commentary on the Torah. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2001.

Glazov, Gregory Y. Bridling of the Tongue and the Opening of the Mouth in Biblical Prophecy. JSOTS 311. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001.

Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. “Exodus.” In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, edited by Frank E. Gaebelein, 287-497. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990.

Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary. 2 vols. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2003.

Magness, Jodi. “The impurity of oil and spit among the Qumran sectarians.” In With Letters of Light: Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Early Jewish Apocalypticism, Magic, and Mysticism, edited by Daphna V. Arbel and Andrei A. Orlov. Ekstasis: Religious Experience from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, ed. John R. Levison, 223-31. Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter, 2011.

Meyers, Carol. Exodus. The New Cambridge Bible Commentary, ed. Ben Witherington, III. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1975. The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment. 2nd ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005.

Nickelsburg, George W. E., ed. 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1-36; 81-108. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001.

Reeves, John C., and Annette Yoshiko Reed. Sources from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 2 vols. Enoch from Antiquity to the Middle Ages 1. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Sandmel, Samuel, M. Jack Suggs, and Arnold J. Tkacik, eds. The New English Bible with the Apocrypha, Oxford Study Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.

Sarna, Nahum M., ed. Exodus. The JPS Torah Commentary, ed. Nahum M. Sarna. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 1991.

Smith, Joseph, Jr., Robin Scott Jensen, Robert J. Woodford, and Steven C. Harper. Manuscript Revelation Books, Facsimile Edition. The Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin and Richard Lyman Bushman. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church Historian’s Press, 2009.

Smith, Joseph, Jr., Karen Lynn Davidson, David J. Whittaker, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Richard L. Jensen. Joseph Smith Histories, 1832-1844. The Joseph Smith Papers, Histories 1, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin and Richard Lyman Bushman. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church Historian’s Press, 2012.

Walker, Charles Lowell. Diary of Charles Lowell Walker. 2 vols, ed. A. Karl Larson and Katharine Miles Larson. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1980.

Notes on Figures

Figure 1. Copyright Brian Kershisnik.

Figure 2. From the Book of the Dead of Hunefer, British Museum. Wikipedia.

Footnotes

 

1 Moses 6:31.

2 Exodus 4:10.

3 Cf. Exodus 6:30: “uncircumcised lips.”

4 As argued in some strands of Jewish tradition, e.g., Abarbanel, Nahmanides, Exodus Rabbah (M. Carasik, Exodus, p. 26; H. Freedman et al., Midrash, Exodus 1:26, 3:33–34). Contra RASHBAM: “We see in Ezekiel 3:5–6 that ‘slow of tongue’ describes one who is not fluent in the language of the realm. Could one possibly think that a prophet who knew God face to face, and received the Torah directly from His hand, was a stutterer? The idea that Moses stuttered is not found anywhere in rabbinic literature. Pay no attention to apocryphal books.” (M. Carasik, Exodus, p. 26). Note Stephen’s declaration in Acts 7:22 that Moses was “mighty in words” meaning “a powerful speaker” (S. Sandmel et al., New English Bible, Acts 7:22, p. 149). Cf. F. F. Bruce, Book of Acts, p. 139 n. 43; W. C. Kaiser, Jr., Exodus, p. 328 n. 10.

5 As Friedman points out (R. E. Friedman, Commentary, p. 181 n. 4:10):
“Heavy of tongue” occurs in one other place, Ezekiel 3:5–7. There YHWH [Jehovah] tells Ezekiel that he is not being sent to peoples who are “deep of lip and heavy of tongue,” whose words Ezekiel cannot understand. YHWH says, ironically, that such peoples would listen, but the house of Israel will not listen! In that context, “heavy of tongue” refers to nations who speak foreign languages. Cf. W. C. Kaiser, Jr., Exodus, p. 328 n. 10.

6 See Exodus 2.

7 Exodus 5:1, 3.

8 Exodus 4:16.

9 R. E. Friedman, Commentary, p. 181 n. 4:10.

10 Remember that when Enoch was called to preach and prophesy (see Moses 6:23), he was on a “journey out of the land of Cainan, the land of [his] fathers, a land of righteousness unto this day” (Moses 6:41, emphasis added). Thus “the people” (Moses 6:26) among whom he traveled and to whom he was called to preach repentance were in a different land.

11 J. C. Reeves et al., Enoch from Antiquity 1, p. 148. Perhaps also related is Wahb b. Munabbih’s report that Enoch “was soft-spoken and gentle in his manner of speaking.” J. C. Reeves et al., Enoch from Antiquity 1, p. 130.

12 E. Fox, Books of Moses, 1:277 n. 10, citing M. Buber, Moses.

13 N. M. Sarna, Exodus, p. 21 n. 10.

14 Moses 7:13.

15 Moses 7:13.

16 Moses 6:32.

17 Exodus 4:12.

18 F. I. Andersen, 2 Enoch, 39:5 (longer recension), p. 162.

19 C. Meyers, Exodus, p. 61, citing G. Y. Glazov, Bridling of the Tongue, pp. 361–383. More generally on the “opening of the mouth” in Egyptian, Jewish, and Christian tradition, see H. W. Nibley, Message (2005), pp. 164–182.

20 H. W. Nibley, Message (2005), p. 176.

21 See Isaiah 6:5–7. For more about Isaiah’s vision, see J. M. Bradshaw, How Might We Interpret.

22 H. W. Nibley, Message (2005), p. 179.

23 Cf. John 9:6–7.

24 F. I. Andersen, 2 Enoch, 64:5 [J], p. 190.

25 Ibid., 25:1 [J], p. 144.

26 R. Moses de León, Sefer Mishkan ha-‘Edut (ed. Bar-Asher), quoted in J. C. Reeves et al., Enoch from Antiquity 1, p. 321.

27 See Isaiah 6:5–7.

28 Jeremiah 1:9.

29 G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 1:2, p. 137. Cf. D&C 110:1: “the eyes of our understanding were opened.”

30 G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 1:2, p. 137.

31 J. Smith, Jr. et al., Manuscript Revelation Books, Facsimile Edition, Revelation Book 2, 48 [verso], 27 February 1833, pp. 508–509, spelling and punctuation modernized. See also J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, Excursus 2: The Song of Enoch, p. 449 v. 4; p. 452, v. 7. According to the “Song of Enoch,” the event occurred just prior to Enoch’s vision in Moses 7:4–11. Cf. “With finger end God touch’d his eyes” (E & MS, E & MS, 1:12 [May 1833]); Abraham 3:11–12. See J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, Endnote M6-8, p. 93.

32 Joseph Smith’s eyes were apparently touched at the beginning of the First Vision, and perhaps also prior to receiving D&C 76 (J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, Endnote M6-9, pp. 93–94). Andrew F. Ehat (personal communication) has suggested that, in accounts where the appearance of the Father preceded the appearance of the Son (see, e.g., J. Smith, Jr. et al., Histories, 1832–1844, p. 13 n. 45), it was specifically so that the Father could first touch the Prophet’s eyes, thus “open[ing] the heavens upon [him]” (ibid., History, circa summer 1832, p. 12) which enabled him to see the Savior (C. L. Walker, Diary, 2 February 1893, 2:755–756). See also D. Bradley, Lost 116 Pages, pp. 45, 203–204, 230–231, 234–239, 255–256 for insightful discussions of other significant events involving the touch of the finger of God.

33 John 9:6–7. See R. D. Draper et al., Commentary, p. 95.

34 C. S. Keener, John, 1:780.

35 Note that “the spit of certain people such as the zab and gentile was considered impure and presumably was avoided by Jews who were scrupulous in the observance of purity” (J. Magness, Impurity, p. 231).

36 Cf. John 20:22. This provides a fitting analog to the spiritual rebirth of Enoch, which in the Book of Moses is symbolized and actualized by the opening of his mouth and his eyes.

37 Moses 6:36; emphasis added. In verse 63 of this same chapter, the Creation—and its connection to Enoch’s new ability to see both physical and spiritual things—is emphasized even more pointedly: “And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.”

Enoch’s Prophetic Commission: Introduction

Enoch1

Book of Moses Insight #1

Moses 6:26–36
With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

As with many prophets elsewhere in scripture, the account of Enoch’s mission found in the Pearl of Great Price begins with the details of how he was called as a prophet. Such a story is often called a “prophetic commission.” Bible scholar Walther Zimmerli1 distinguished between two types of prophetic commissions: (1) the narrative call pattern, whereby the prophet is called as part of a conversation with the Lord or His representative and objections to his fitness for the mission are raised and resolved;2 and (2) the throne theophany call pattern, whereby the prophet ascends to the presence of God to receive his divine commission. Though no account of a prophetic calling rigidly fits the criteria for either of these categories, the calls of Moses, Jeremiah, and Enoch3 might be seen as typifying the first pattern, whereas the calls of Isaiah and Ezekiel are generally good exemplars of the second.

Among the objections that skeptics have raised about the Book of Moses is whether, on the one hand, it has simply borrowed its stories and language wholesale from the Bible and, on the other hand, paradoxically, whether it is not biblical enough. In addition to introducing significant aspects of Enoch’s call that will be treated in more depth in subsequent articles, this article will give examples of how both kinds of objections can be met with a little research and careful reading.

With respect to the concern about wholesale borrowing from the Bible, our response will treat this question: Does Moses 6:26–27 simply borrow from the Gospel of John? With respect to the concern about whether the Book of Moses is sufficiently biblical, we will address a second question: Does Enoch’s call fit the biblical pattern?

Does Moses 6:26–27 Simply Borrow from the Gospel of John?

The account of Enoch’s prophetic commission in Moses 6 begins as follows:4

26 And it came to pass that Enoch journeyed in the land, among the people; and as he journeyed, the Spirit of God descended out of heaven, and abode upon him.

27 And he heard a voice from heaven, saying: Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people …

Curiously, the closest biblical parallel to the wording of these opening verses is not to be found in the call of any Old Testament prophet, but rather in the description of events following Jesus’ baptism found in the New Testament. As demonstrated in the following chart, these parallels include the Spirit of God descending from heaven, the Spirit abiding upon an individual, and a voice from heaven declaring that individual’s sonship.

Topic Book of Moses New Testament
The Spirit Descends from Heaven and Abides upon Him Moses 6:26 – And it came to pass that Enoch journeyed in the land, among the people; and as he journeyed, the Spirit of God descended out of heaven, and abode upon him. John 1:32 – And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
A Voice from Heaven Declares His Sonship Moses 6:27 – And he heard a voice from heaven, saying: Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people, Matthew 3:17– And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.5

The connection between Enoch’s divine encounter and the baptism of Jesus becomes intelligible when one regards the latter event, as do Margaret Barker and Gaetano Lettieri, as an “ascent experience”6 consistent with the idea of baptism as prefiguring death and resurrection.7 From this perspective, we can see Enoch’s prophetic commission as having been given in the context of a heavenly ascent.8

Though one might try to explain the parallels between Moses 6:26–27 and the baptism of Jesus as an obvious case of Joseph Smith simply borrowing from the New Testament, an article by the non-Latter-day Saint scholar Samuel Zinner9 argues that the relevant New Testament motifs may actually have their origins in the Enoch literature. Zinner compares the Father’s declaration of sonship found in Hebrews 1:5–6 to accounts of Jesus’ baptism found in the Gospel of the Ebionites and the Gospel of the Hebrews. He also notes that the motifs of “rest” and “reigning” co-occur in these three texts as well as in the Coptic Gospel of Thomas.10 Finally, Zinner sees “striking” similarities between 1 Enoch and the baptismal allusion in the Gospel of the Ebionites in regard to a promise made by Enoch to the righteous: “and a bright light will shine upon you, and the voice of rest you will hear from heaven.”11

In light of these (and additional passages relating these themes to the personage of the “Son of Man”), Zinner argues that the ideas behind all these passages “arose in an Enochic matrix”12 (i.e. literary traditions concerning the prophet Enoch). Thus, it is certainly possible that the New Testament authors who recorded Christ’s baptism were alluding to ideas from Enoch literature rather than vice versa.13

Of course, evidence that the authors of the New Testament gospels may have drawn on older ideas when they composed their accounts does not change the fact that the Book of Moses frequently shares vocabulary and phrasing with them. If Joseph Smith had translated the Book of Moses using the method that ordinary translators used in rendering a document from another language into English, one would hardly expect his English translation of the ancient ideas (presumably not Greek) to match the King James translation of the Greek Gospels so perfectly.

This observation holds for every one of Joseph Smith’s translations. Indeed, the most obvious thing one can say about the vocabulary of the Book of Moses is that, like most of Joseph Smith’s other translations and revelations, it draws extensively from the Bible.14 How can this be explained?

We should not forget that biblical language was often used to express religious ideas in Joseph Smith’s day. That being the case, the biblical language found in Joseph Smith’s revelations might reasonably be seen as a deliberate part of what Ben McGuire calls “the rhetorical strategy of the text in translation.”15 This refers, among other things, to the idea that the use of scripture phrasing familiar to Joseph Smith’s Bible-reading contemporaries, might have increased their acceptance of his revelations as authentic scripture on a par with the Old and New Testaments.

Moreover, when the Prophet used familiar (but sometimes more difficult-to-understand) King James language in modern scripture, it provided direct signals to perceptive readers about interconnections with the Bible that otherwise might have been difficult to detect. These intertextual connections can be seen as fulfilling the Book of Mormon prophecy that old and new revelations would grow together as one.

In summary, we can generalize the lessons above as follows: (1) the Bible itself did not appear in a vacuum, and the ideas expressed in the Bible may have had their origins long before the biblical era; and (2) the presence of biblical language in modern scripture seems to have been part of a divine strategy to bless its readers.

Does Enoch’s Prophetic Commission Fit the Biblical Pattern?

The account of Enoch’s prophetic commission occupies only eleven verses in the Book of Moses. It is easy to rush past them in our reading, pausing only to appreciate some of the more memorable features such as the characterization of Enoch as a “lad,” and then moving on quickly to the assumption that we already know the gist of the passage as a whole. We can be grateful to Stephen Ricks for the deep knowledge of ancient scripture he has acquired and the detailed attention he has given to the text of the Book of Moses, uncovering things that might otherwise have gone unnoticed—including the fact that Enoch’s prophetic calling proves to be a good fit to the biblical pattern.

Following Norman Habel, Professor Ricks has identified six characteristic features of the narrative call pattern found in the Bible. Remarkably, each of these is not only present in the Book of Moses account of Enoch’s prophetic commission, but is also presented, with one exception, in the typical sequence:16

    • the divine confrontation (Moses 6:26)
    • the introductory word (Moses 6:28)
    • the commission (Moses 6:27)
    • the objection (Moses 6:31)
    • the reassurance (Moses 6:32–34)
    • the sign (Moses 6:35–36).

Future articles will examine each of these features in the prophetic commission of Enoch in greater detail. Such findings demonstrate not only that the Book of Moses holds up well under close examination, but also that, like a fractal whose self-similar patterns become more wondrous upon ever closer inspection, the brilliance of its inspiration shines most impressively under bright light and high magnification: there is glory in the details.

This article was adapted and expanded from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 34–41.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 34–41.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., “Foreword.” In Name as Key-Word: Collected Essays on Onomastic Wordplay and the Temple in Mormon Scripture, edited by Matthew L. Bowen, ix–xliv. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2018.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 91–95.

Faulconer, James E. Scripture Study: Tools and Suggestions. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, Brigham Young University, 1999.

McGuire, Benjamin L. “The Book of Mormon as a Communicative Act: Translation in Context.” Presented at the 2016 FairMormon Conference, Provo, UT.

Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986, p. 209–211.

Packard, Dennis, and Sandra Packard. Feasting Upon the Word. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1981.

Ricks, Stephen D. “The Narrative Call Pattern in the Prophetic
Commission of Enoch (Moses 6).” BYU Studies 26, no. 4 (1986): 97–105.

References

Alexander, Philip S. “From son of Adam to second God: Transformations of the biblical Enoch.” In Biblical Figures Outside the Bible, edited by Michael E. Stone and Theodore A. Bergren, 87-122. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1998.

Barker, Margaret. The Risen Lord: The Jesus of History as the Christ of Faith. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1996.

—. The Hidden Tradition of the Kingdom of God. London, England: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), 2007.

Bauckham, Richard. The Theology of the Book of Revelation. New Testament Theology, ed. James D. G. Dunn. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. “Now That We Have the Words of Joseph Smith, How Shall We Begin to Understand Them? Illustrations of Selected Challenges within the 21 May 1843 Discourse on 2 Peter 1.” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 20 (2016): 47-150.

—. “Foreword.” In Name as Key-Word: Collected Essays on Onomastic Wordplay and the Temple in Mormon Scripture, edited by Matthew L. Bowen, ix-xliv. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2018.

Braude, William G., ed. The Midrash on Psalms (Midrash Tehillim). 2 vols. Yale Judaica Series 13, ed. Leon Nemoy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1959.

Clement. ca. 97. “The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians.” In The Ante-Nicene Fathers (The Writings of the Fathers Down to AD 325), edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. 10 vols. Vol. 1, 5-21. Buffalo, NY: The Christian Literature Company, 1885. Reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004.

Cyprian. 248. “The Treatises of Cyprian.” In The Ante-Nicene Fathers (The Writings of the Fathers Down to AD 325), edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. 10 vols. Vol. 5, 421-557. Buffalo, NY: The Christian Literature Company, 1886. Reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004.

Gardner, Brant A. The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2011.

Glazov, Gregory Y. Bridling of the Tongue and the Opening of the Mouth in Biblical Prophecy. JSOTS 311. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001.

Koester, Helmut, and Thomas O. Lambdin. “The Gospel of Thomas (II, 2).” In The Nag Hammadi Library in English, edited by James M. Robinson. 3rd, Completely Revised ed, 124-38. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1990.

Lettieri, Gaetano. “The ambiguity of Eden and the Enigma of Adam.” In The Earthly Paradise: The Garden of Eden from Antiquity to Modernity, edited by F. Regina Psaki and Charles Hindley. International Studies in Formative Christianity and Judaism, 23-54. Binghamton, NY: Academic Studies in the History of Judaism, Global Publications, State University of New York at Binghamton, 2002.

Lindbeck, Kristen H. Elijah and the Rabbis: Story and Theology. Kindle ed. New York City, NY: Columbia University Press, 2010.

Martyr, Justin. ca. 155-170. “Dialogue with Trypho.” In The Ante-Nicene Fathers (The Writings of the Fathers Down to AD 325), edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. 10 vols. Vol. 1, 194-270. Buffalo, NY: The Christian Literature Company, 1885. Reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004.

McConkie, Bruce R. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary. 3 vols. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1973.

———. The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man. The Messiah Series 6, ed. Bruce R. McConkie. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1982.

McGuire, Benjamin L. “The Book of Mormon as a Communicative Act: Translation in Context.” Presented at the 2016 FairMormon Conference, Provo, UT.

Muir, Lynette R. The Biblical Drama of Medieval Europe. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Nickelsburg, George W. E., ed. 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1-36; 81-108. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001.

Nickelsburg, George W. E., and James C. VanderKam, eds. 1 Enoch 2: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 37-82. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2012.

Ouspensky, Leonid, and Vladimir Lossky. The Meaning of Icons. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1999.

Reeves, John C., and Annette Yoshiko Reed. Sources from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 2 vols. Enoch from Antiquity to the Middle Ages 1. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Ricks, Stephen D. “The Narrative Call Pattern in the Prophetic
Commission of Enoch (Moses 6).” BYU Studies 26, no. 4 (1986): 97–105.

Schwartz, Howard. Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Smith, Joseph, Jr. Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, ed. Richard C. Galbraith. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1993.

Sparks, Jack Norman, and Peter E. Gillquist, eds. The Orthodox Study Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2008.

Zimmerli, Walther. 1969. Ezekiel 1: A Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel Chapters 1-24. Translated by Ronald E. Clements. Hermeneia—A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, ed. Frank Moore Cross, Klaus Baltzer, Paul D. Hanson, S. Dean McBride, Jr. and Roland E. Murphy. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1979.

Zinner, Samuel. “Underemphasized Parallels between the Account of Jesus’ Baptism in the Gospel of the Hebrews/Ebionites and the Letter to the Hebrews and an Overlooked Influence from 1 Enoch 96:3: “And a Bright Light Shall Enlighten You, and the Voice of Rest You Shall Hear from Heaven”.” In Textual and Comparative Explorations in 1 and 2 Enoch, edited by Samuel Zinner. Ancient Scripture and Texts 1, 225-29. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014.

Notes on Figures

Figure 1.  Museum of History, Sanok, Poland. Image via Wikipedia. We discuss some of the rich symbolism of this image below.

Note what seem to be tears streaming down Enoch’s face, consistent with a theme in the Book of Moses and ancient sources (see Insight #28). While Elijah wears a prominent mantle symbolizing his calling (1 Kings 19:13; 19:19; 2 Kings 2:8, 13, 14), Enoch wears what seem to be rough animal skins. This portrayal contradicts some Muslim traditions that credit Enoch with the invention of sewing with cloth (perhaps a confusion of “the homophonic Arabic verbs khatta ‘write’ and khata ‘sew’”), in contrast to earlier people who are said to have worn animal skins (J. C. Reeves, et al., Enoch from Antiquity 1, pp. 104-107). See also Insight #6.

Significantly, though the two prophets are distinguished by their clothing and symbols from their stories that surround them, their faces and features are nearly identical. Both Jews and Christians associated Enoch and Elijah because neither of them suffered death. The Babylonian Talmud we read: “Nine entered the Garden of Eden when they were still alive, and they are: Enoch (Chanoch) the son of Jared, Elijah Messiah, Eliezer the bondsman of Abraham, Hirom the king of Zor, Ebed-melech the Cushi [Jeremiah 38:7], and Jabetz the son of R. Jehudah the Prince, Bothiah the daughter of Pharaoh and Serech the daughter of Ascher, and, according to others, also R. Jehoshua b. Levi.” Early Christians, such as Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Hippolytus of Rome taught similarly. This belief persisted popularly in later centuries (L. R. Muir, Biblical Drama, p. 139). Some of these early and medieval Christians also concluded that these two prophets would appear as the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3-13 (see P. S. Alexander, From Son of Adam, p. 115). Others, however, saw allusions to Elijah (see 1 Kings 17:1; 2 Kings 1:10) and Moses (see Exodus 7-11; see R. Bauckham, Theology of the Book of Revelation, pp. 84-88) in Revelation 11:6.  However, in response to Joseph Smith’s questions about these two witnesses the Prophet was told: They are two prophets that are to be raised up to the Jewish nation in the last days” (D&C 77:15). See also B. R. McConkie, NT Commentary, 3:509; B. R. McConkie, Millennial Messiah, p. 390).

The role of Enoch and Elijah as scribes is prominent in both of their accounts. Indeed Kristen Lindbeck concludes: “The scene of Elijah writing and God signing recalls Enoch’s role as heavenly scribe in Second Temple literature, suggesting an influence on Elijah traditions because Elijah and Enoch both entered heaven without dying” (K. H. Lindbeck, Elijah and the Rabbis, p 47). Enoch would have been as much at home as Elijah with a book on his lap.

That said, L. Ouspensky, et al., Icons, p. 140 notes: “The character of [Elijah], portrayed in image and colors, is often emphasized … by the word of the prophet himself written on an open scroll, “I have been very jealous for the Lord Almighty (1 Kings 19:10, 14).” But why would additional words from the Psalms have been appended to that statement?

In the King James Bible, Psalm 3:5 reads: “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.” Jack Sparks (J. N. Sparks, et al., Orthodox Study Bible, p. 683 n. Psalm 3) notes that the reference would have been natural in light of its role as a prophecy of the resurrection of Christ and the association of Elijah with the resurrection of all men at the last day:

The historical account in Psalm 3 is that of King David fleeing from his son, Absalom (2 Kings 15-18). But prophetically, Psalm 3 is speaking of Jesus as the son of David according to the flesh (Matthew 1:1; Romans 1:3. [Cf., e.g., Clement, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 3:26, p. 12; J. Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 97, p. 247; Cyprian, Treatises, 12:2:24, p. 525).

Specifically pertaining to the application of this scripture to the resurrection of Christ, we read in L. R. Muir, Biblical Drama, p. 139: “In several German plays Christ is summoned to rise by an angel with the words from the introit for Sexagesima Sunday “Exurge! quare obdormis, domine?” (Rise up why are you sleeping, lord?; Psalm 44:23). He steps from the tomb, singing the antiphon for Maundy Thursday, “Ego dormive” (I laid me down and slept [and rose up again]; Psalm 3:5).”

In one thread of Jewish Midrash, the prophecy of Psalm 3:5 is seen as being fulfilled through Elijah and the Messiah (W. G. Braude, Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 3, 1:59):

The congregation of Israel said: “I laid me down,” away from prophecy; “and I slept,” apart from the Holy Spirit; “I awake,” through Elijah, as is said “Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet” (Malachi 3:23); “for the Lord sustaineth me,” through the lord Messiah.

Elsewhere in Jewish tradition, the following story has been handed down to describe why Israel is required to wait so long for their final, definitive redemption at the coming of the Messiah. Two students longing for the return of the Messiah are told by the Prophet Elijah that the Messiah (here identified as King David) is “asleep and dreaming, and he will arise [only] when we are worthy of it.” (H. Schwartz, Tree, p. 499).

Our thanks to Cynthian Nielsen for her contributions to the interpretation of this figure.

Endnotes

 

1 W. Zimmerli, Ezekiel 1, 97–100.

2 See, for example, G. Y. Glazov, Bridling of the Tongue, pp. 27–53.

3 See S. D. Ricks, Narrative Call.

4 Moses 6:26–27.

5 Mark 1:11; cf. Mark 9:7. Compare Moses 1:4, 6. See also Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32; D&C 93:15; M. Barker, Risen, pp. 46–49.

6 M. Barker, Risen, pp. 46–49; M. Barker, Hidden, pp. 91–94; G. Lettieri, Ambiguity, pp. 26–29.

7 Romans 6:4–6.

8 J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, Endnote M6-5, p. 93.

9 S. Zinner, Underemphasized Parallels.

10 H. Koester et al., Thomas, 2, p. 126. See J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, Endnote M6-6, p. 93.

11 G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 96:3, p. 461. Cf. Ibid., 91:1, p. 409, which speaks of “a voice calling me, and a spirit poured out upon me.” Relating to the theme of reigning, Zinner also draws attention to 1 Enoch 96:1, which speaks of the “authority” that the “righteous” will have over the “sinners” (1 Enoch, 96:1, p. 461).

12 S. Zinner, Underemphasized Parallels.

13 For example, G. W. E. Nickelsburg et al., 1 Enoch 2, 71:14–16, p. 321.

14 For an extensive discussion of Joseph Smith as a translator and interpreter, see J. M. Bradshaw, Foreword. For an example of the challenges in unpacking Joseph Smith’s dense allusions to imagery from scripture and elsewhere in his sermons, see J. M. Bradshaw, Now That We Have the Words. In Richard C. Galbraith’s introductory essay to a volume on Joseph Smith’s teachings, he writes (J. Smith, Jr., Scriptural Teachings, pp. 1–2, 3):

Ironically, of all Joseph Smith’s great accomplishments in the work of the Restoration, the one perhaps least appreciated was his immense knowledge of the scriptures. The scriptures were the brick and mortar of all his sermons, writings, and other personal communications; he quoted them, he alluded to them, he adapted them in all his speaking and writing.

The Prophet’s extensive use of the scriptures may not be obvious to the casual reader. In the book Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, for example, the Prophet appears to cite fewer than one passage of scripture every other page … But that figure misses the mark. A more careful reading of this book reveals some twenty scriptures for every one actually cited. When I discovered that, I began to ask, not “When is the Prophet quoting scripture,” but rather “What might he be quoting that is not scripture?”

.… [A] computer-aided search of the Teachings has identified several thousand distinctive scriptural phrases or passages. These scriptural citations of the Prophet come from almost every book of the Old and New Testament and from most books and sections of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price.

Of course, the easy familiarity he exhibited with scripture in the later years of his ministry can be contrasted with his more limited knowledge at the beginning.

15 B. L. McGuire, Book of Mormon as a Communicative Act, note 11. See also B. A. Gardner, Gift and Power, Kindle Locations 1521–1647, 1900–2481.

16 S. D. Ricks, Narrative Call, pp. 97–98.