The Source of Knowledge (§ 1)

Life and Translation (§ 2).

Similar Legends (§ 3).

Enoch in Tradition (§ 4).

1. The Source of Knowledge. Enoch is the name in the Hebrew text of the eldest son of Reuben (Gen. xlvi. 9; Ex. vi. 14); a son of Midian (Gen. xxv. 4); a son of Cain (Gen. iv. 17-18) after whom the latter named the first city; and, in the line of Seth, of the seventh patriarch as reckoned from Adam (Gen. v. 18). Since the name Lamech also occurs in the lines of both Cain and Seth, and as there is a striking similarity between other names of the two lines, it has been customary since Buttmann (Mythologus, i., Berlin, 1828, pp. 170 sqq.) to regard the two genealogies of Gen. iv. and v. (which furthermore belong to different sources, J and P) as variants of a single account. The resemblance becomes still closer if it be assumed that in Gen. v. Enoch and Mahalalel (= Mehujael of Gen. iv.) have become transposed. Also a relation with the list of the ten primitive Babylonian kings in Berosus can not be denied. Enoch there has his parallel in the seventh king, Enmeduranki, in the sun-city Sippara. That Enoch also stands in some relation to the sun, is indicated by the 365 years of his life.


2. Life and Translation. This patriarch, in Gen. v., has a thoroughly ethical distinction; "he walked with God" (cf. Noah, Gen. vi. 9). This indicates a constant community of life, an undisturbed, familiar intercourse with God. Herewith is intimately connected the most momentous matter that is still extant about Enoch in the ancient source. After a comparatively brief term of life, 365 years, "he was not; for God took him." Obviously something extraordinary is thus recorded. Enoch had suddenly vanished, was no more seen. The expression corresponds to the one used in a similar connection by Livy (i. 16) of Romulus, "he was not thenceforth on earth"; the event itself, to the seeking after vanished Elijah (II Kings ii. 16-17). But the reason is not indefinite; God intervened contrary to the usual course of nature and removed his favored one from the world of appearances. Except for this extraordinary case, an early departure from life was considered a token of divine disfavor.


3. Similar Legends. Comparisons have been adduced with heathen myths and legends, which relate of the translation of illustrious men (Hercules, Romulus, etc.). But the brief mysterious Biblical notice is essentially different in that here the ethical community of life on earth with God (the "faith" of Heb. xi. 5) is the manifest reason for the "taking" to God; whereas the legends are based on a physical conception of divinity, whereby the same coalesces with the highest product of nature. There is a parallel in the translation of Xisuthros in Berosus, inasmuch as this devout worthy after the Flood is translated to the gods as reward for his piety. But this hero corresponds to the Biblical Noah. While here an account is extant which is independent of the Biblical narrative but akin to it, on the other hand the legend adduced by E. Bochart (in Phaleg et Canaan, Caen, 1646), with reference to the ancient king Annakos or Nannakos in the city of Iconium, is questionable on the score of originality. This king is said to have lived upward of 300 years before Deucalion's flood; he is supposed to have predicted the same, and to have tearfully bewailed the lot of men, since after his death they were to be overtaken with destruction. The story is first found in Zenobius (Proverbia, vi. 10), that is, about 200 A.D.; Jewish influence is not improbable.


Concerning the manner of the translation, and the abode and condition of Enoch after it, which the theologians have sought to define more closely, the Bible gives no clue. The context merely stands for the fact that he was taken away from the world of sin and death, and received into closer communion with God, without dying. The view prevalent with the rabbis and in the primitive Church, designates Paradise as his place of abode; others indicate heaven; the Ascension of Isaiah (ix. 9), the seventh heaven. The Arab theologians waver according to the indefinite expression of the Koran xix. 58 (cf. the Book of Enoch lxxxvii. 3). The New Testament also recognizes a transformation without death (I Thess. iv. 17; I Cor. xv. 51).


4. Enoch in Tradition. Tradition has been all the busier for the meagerness of actual data. By analogy with Noah, it was assumed that Enoch was a preacher of repentance and herald of judgment. (Ecclus. xliv. 16; cf. xlix. 14; Book of Enoch i. 9; Jude 14 sqq.). Later, in an age of speculation concerning nature and history, people thought to find in Enoch conversing so intimately with God the actual first vehicle of divinely influenced human discernment, the genuine gnosis instilled by good spirits, in contradistinction to the knowledge conveyed by demons. His name (from the Heb. anakh, "to consecrate ") seemed to denote the "consecrated" one, from whom authentic solutions were to be expected touching the secrets of this world and the one beyond. Hence he was esteemed no less as the inventor of writing and the sciences, especially starcraft (Eusebius, Præparatio evangelica, ix. 17; cf. the number 365), than as apocalyptic seer (cf. A. Dillmann, Das Buch Henoch, Leipsic, 1853, pp. xxvi. sqq.). In the last centuries before Christ, Enoch was accredited with the entire treasure of contemporary knowledge about God, nature, and history; as was done in the theologically important Book of Enoch (see PSEUDEPIGRAPHA, OLD TESTAMENT, III., 4-5). With the Arabs, Enoch, or, as they more commonly call him, Idris ("the learned, expert one") plays predominantly the part of the mediator of higher wisdom and science (cf. d'Herbelot, Bibliothèque orientale, Germ. transl., i., Halle, 1785, pp. 624-625; G. Weil, Biblische Legenden der Muselmänner, Frankfort, 1845, pp. 62-67); for rabbinic legends cf. J. A. Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum, ii., Königsberg, 1711, pp. 396 sqq.).



Bibliography: Besides the literature given in the text, consult: H. Polano, Selections from the Talmud, pp. 34-37, Philadelphia, 1876; H. E. Ryle, Early Narratives of Genesis, pp. 90-91, London, 1892; idem, in Expository Times, iii. (1892) 355; DB, i. 704-705; EB, ii. 1294-96; JE, v. 178-179; and Commentaries on Genesis and on Jude.