Hebrew Voices #30 – Nephilim and Demons in the Book of Enoch

In this episode of Hebrew Voices, Nephilim and Demons in the Book of Enoch, Nehemia talks with Dr. Miryam Brand about the Book of Watchers, which is another name for the first 36 chapters of 1 Enoch. The intrigue begins in Genesis 6:1-4 when “sons of God” got together with “daughters of men” and “Nephilim” seem to have been the result—a passage Nehemia considers the most difficult in the Tanakh. The Book of Watchers is an attempt by ancient Jews to explain this mysterious passage in the Torah.

Gordon and Brand tread through centuries of biblical and extra-biblical literature to exposit how original and subsequent readers have viewed the Watchers. Brand explains the “distancing” from God that took place in the Second Temple period as evidenced by the increased focus on the angelic world. We also learn that early Christianity was aware of the Watchers; the epistle of Jude quotes from the Book of the Watchers and Justin Martyr also addressed the issue in his Dialogues with Trypho (chapter 79).

If Genesis 6:1-4 has ever caused you to scratch your head, this episode will help you approach it in a more informed way as Gordon and Brand explore context and usage for “watchers,” “angels,” “sons of God,” “awake ones,” “giants,” “mighty men,” "Nephilim," and “Elohim.”

The image at the top of this page is of a famous hoax, expressing a Photoshop-artist's rendition of what the bones of Nephilim might look like.

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Hebrew Voices #30 - Nephilim and Demons in the Book of Enoch

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Benjamin Netanyahu: Le ma’an Zion lo ekhesheh, u’l’ma’an Yerushalayim lo eshkot. (For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest. Isaiah 62:1)

Nehemia: This is Nehemia Gordon with Hebrew Voices. I am back once again with Dr. Miryam T. Brand, who has a PhD from New York University. Her website is understandingsin.com, and she has a book, Evil Within and Without, and a chapter in another book called Outside the Bible, a 90-plus page commentary on the Book of Enoch.

We began last time, wanting to talk about the Book of the Watchers, and we spent so much time talking just about the Book of Enoch and the introduction, we never got to the Book of Watchers, which is, I believe, the first 36 chapters of the Book of Enoch. So we’re going to talk about that today.

So Enoch consists of five books, right?

Miryam: Yes.

Nehemia: Or you said maybe even six, depending on how you count them.

Miryam: Yeah, but for the most part, it’s five.

Nehemia: But five clearly delineated books. The first one is the Book of the Watchers, which is quoted in the Epistle of Jude. By the way, that section in Jude is itself a quote from Deuteronomy 33, and probably a commentary on Deuteronomy 33. But let’s not get into that. Talk to me about the Book of the Watchers. Who are Watchers, what are Watchers?

Miryam: The Watchers… why don’t I start with talking about Genesis chapter 6 verses 1 to 4?

Nehemia: Okay! [laughing] We’re never going to get to Enoch. It’s okay, Genesis is more interesting. And I’ve actually said in my earlier series, Torah Pearls, which was a weekly discussion on the Torah, that this is to me, the most difficult passage in the entire Tanach. I have no idea what this is talking about. It sounds like it’s talking about angels coming down from heaven and having sex with women, with human beings, and that’s how it was interpreted by 1 Enoch, right?

Miryam: Yeah, it’s pretty much. Certainly, what’s interesting about the Book of Watchers, I mean, we could talk about what the section may have meant in its context, but there were certain things that were very interesting to, say, Second Temple thinkers, about this little excerpt where you have Bnei Elohim who go and mate with human women.

Nehemia: That’s Genesis 6 verses 1 to 4. It talks there about “bnei Elohim”, the “sons of God”, which are understood by most people to be angels. All right, so talk about that.

Miryam: In our last episode together, you mentioned how there’s a traditional interpretation of Elohim as judges in Exodus, so the traditional interpretation became that these were judges who overstepped their bounds.

Nehemia: Human judges.

Miryam: Human judges.

Nehemia: That’s something that the people would find what, in Rabbinical literature, for example?

Miryam: Yes, yeah. And there’s a Christian interpretation which had to do with that these were people who were overstepping their… They were the Sethites, if I remember correctly, descendants of Seth. But if we move back to… what the section seems to be explaining in its context is, where do these heroes of old come from? If you actually just read the section…

Nehemia: So, read us that part. What are you talking about, “the heroes of old”?

Miryam: I’m just going to read the English. “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair. And they took them wives whomsoever they chose.” Now, sons of God, they’re bnei Elohim. “And the LORD said, ‘My spirit shall not abide in man forever, for that he also is flesh. Therefore shall his days be 120 years.’ The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. The same were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.” Now, this is very confusing…

Nehemia: No clue what that’s talking about, angels or spirit beings having sex with human women - what?!

Miryam: Then it says, “The Nephilim were in the earth in those days.” Now, the standard way that people said is, “Oh, okay. It’s the Nephilim who were born of these…”

Nehemia: Even though it doesn’t clearly say that.

Miryam: It doesn’t clearly say that. So who were the Nephilim? If you look in Numbers, the Nephilim refers to the giants, they’re giants. So that’s how we know they’re giants.

Nehemia: Who were still around in the time of Moses.

Miryam: Right.

Nehemia: Or they’re mentioned, at least.

Miryam: They’re mentioned. But this is an interpretation that they’re already doing very early on. They’re saying, “Who were the Nephilim? What does that mean?” So on the one hand, Nephilim seems to be giants. On the other hand, Nephilim, if you look at the root, means “fallen ones”.

Nehemia: From the word “naphal”, to fall.

Miryam: Naphal. That’s also in their back of their heads. Then what the section ends with is that they bore children to them, “The same were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.” So what you can read it as, and the way I read it in context, is this is explaining… I like to read the Bible and say, “What did the ancient people first make of the Bible?” I do believe it’s eternal, and we can all find continuing messages in it. But what were ancient Israelites…?

Nehemia: What’s the original, historical context?

Miryam: Yeah, what were ancient Israelites dealing with? The answer is, you’ve got all these stories of demi-gods and these great heroes, and all this stuff. And what this story is telling you is, “Yeah, you know what? They had some bit of divine in them, but they just lived 120 years, they’re not gods. There’s this kind of limit on them. This is where they come from, but in the final analysis, they’re just humans. So don’t make them into gods.” That’s the way I read it in context.

However, if you really read it in context, you realize that where this passage comes in the Bible, it comes in-between Noah and his sons. Right before that, it mentions Noah, Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham and Yefet. And right after this little story, we have “And the LORD saw that the wickedness of men was great in the earth.” So that’s also… the very first interpreters are going to be like, “Wait. Something happened that caused wickedness. What happened? It was this mating.”

Nehemia: So the juxtaposition of this being sandwiched in between Noah and “the earth is full of wickedness” would suggest to some readers that this was the source of the wickedness.

Miryam: Right.

Nehemia: And that’s what happens in the Book of Watchers.

Miryam: It’s one of the things that happens in the Book of Watchers. The Book of Watchers is actually a mixing of at least three different stories about the Watchers.

Nehemia: Tell us about those stories. First, what are Watchers? Let’s start with that.

Miryam: Oh, okay.

Nehemia: Again, we’re talking about the first Book of Enoch chapters 1 through 36, or something like that. So who are these Watchers? What are Watchers?

Miryam: What are the Watchers? In general, when you see Watchers, what it means is those bnei Elohim who mated with women. That’s what it’s referring to.

Nehemia: [laughing] Bnei Elohim who mated with women.

Miryam: Yeah.

Nehemia: That’s a technical term there.

Miryam: [laughing] Yeah, right.

Nehemia: They mated with women, okay. All right, go on.

Miryam: I try to put it in a very basic way. But sometimes they actually just refer to angels. There are places where Watchers simply refer to angels, and I mean Watchers, it’s a translation of “Irin”, the Aramaic Irin, which refers to angels. Now, we find that in Daniel. We also find it once at Qumran, the term Irin. It’s a standard term for angels, and the question is, why is Irin a standard term for angels? It means “awake ones”, and there’s an idea….

Nehemia: Really? Is that the standard explanation?

Miryam: That’s the closest we can come. In other words, we’re not really sure. We’re not really sure where the word Irin comes from. We’re not absolutely sure. One of the possibilities is that it actually comes from saying that “they’re awake”. So if you say “Watchers”, the word watchers is a translation of Irin, right? Watchers in Greek, egrḗgoroi and in Ge’ez it’s deguhan, and they both mean Watchers or Guardians, and that’s a translation of the word “Ir”, the term for angels, and that’s in Daniel. In Qumran it’s not in Aramaic, it’s actually in Hebrew.

Nehemia: And what is the word in Hebrew, Irim?

Miryam: It’s the same thing, because you say Irim with a Mem instead of irin with a Nun.

Nehemia: This is very interesting, and this is just me throwing in my… Go ahead.

Miryam: I’m going to finish the word. It may come from this tradition that angels don’t sleep. In the parables of Enoch, angels are called “those who do not sleep” several times. Four times, they’re called “those who do not sleep”.

Nehemia: So at the very least, when they heard the word Irim or Irin, which is the word translated as “Watchers”, they said, “Oh, it’s from the Hebrew word ir,” which means, “to be awake”. That’s how they interpreted it.

Miryam: We don’t know. We’re trying to figure it out. The word for angels… there was a standard word for angels, Irin or Irim.

Nehemia: By the way, in Hebrew the standard word is “malach”, and this is an Aramaic word for “angels… ”

Miryam: Right, which is also found again in Hebrew form.

Nehemia: …in Hebrew text. It first appears in Daniel 4:10, which in the English is 4:13, and then twice more in Daniel 4:14 and 4:20, which in English is 4:17 and 4:23. So it appears three times in the Book of Daniel, in Aramaic, not in the Hebrew section of Daniel. And in Daniel it just means “angel”. In other words, in Daniel there’s no implication as far we know, of angels who made it with women. [laughing] Right?

Miryam: Right. That’s why I’m saying that it seems to be a standard term for angel. And when we try to figure out, “Why is it a standard term for angel…?”

Nehemia: So I have my theory, which is that you have this – and I won’t go too much into this – but in Hebrew you have the Tzadi, which often in Aramaic is represented by an Ayin, like eretz and arah. And so ir in Hebrew would be the equivalent of tzir, which is emissary.

Miryam: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, right.

Nehemia: That’s probably the source of it. But then certainly it sounds like in the literature you’re talking about in later times they said, “Oh, ir. That’s…”

Miryam: “Those people who are awake.”

Nehemia: “Those who are always awake and watching.” Interesting, okay.

Miryam: And we do have sometimes Watchers used for regular angels, but usually when Watchers is used, it’s referring specifically to these angels who…

Nehemia: Of Genesis 6.

Miryam: Yeah, of Genesis 6.

Nehemia: So how does the Book of Watchers, the first section of 1 Enoch, how does it understand these Watchers?

Miryam: Apparently, it mixes three different traditions. One is that an angel named Shemihaza got together with a bunch of angels and they wanted to mate with women, not just because they thought they were beautiful, but also because they wanted children. And they have this whole plot, and that’s what they do, and they get punished and their children are killed, and that has pretty much nothing to do with the flood. It’s an explanation of that little story, where this is what they want and then they get punished.

There’s another tradition where an angel called “Asael” comes down and teaches all sorts of forbidden knowledge to people. That forbidden knowledge in that case is not mysterious knowledge - that’s also in Enoch, we’ll get to that in a second - but that knowledge is, he teaches men all sorts of crafts of warfare, and how to make weapons.

Nehemia: And this is all in the 1 Enoch, right?

Miryam: Yes.

Nehemia: In the first section, okay.

Miryam: He teaches women how to make jewelry and eye shadow and makeup. So you’ve got the sins of violence and lust.

Nehemia: So this is this wicked knowledge, how to make eye shadow. [laughing]

Miryam: Well, you mix violence with lust and you get bad things, is kind of the idea. So you’ve got those two, and then that sets off all sorts of sinning, and then that explains the flood. Then that’s connected to the flood.

Now, mixed with that, there’s another tradition whereby the angels teach humans not just standard knowledge like warfare and beautifying things for women, but also magic and really, really forbidden knowledge, and that that is wicked. So that’s also mixed in a little there.

So what you have is one strain which really doesn’t connect the Watchers with the flood so much, the other strain does connect the Watchers to the flood. However, the question in Enoch – and this really depends on how you translate certain verses of Enoch – is, does Enoch see evil continuing wickedness as coming from the Watchers in some way? And the answer is, “Well, of course, if they learned warfare, if they learned forbidden knowledge, then yeah, there’s an ongoing wickedness that’s the fault of these angels.”

But it’s not quite as clear as, for example, in the Book of Jubilees. In the Book of Jubilees, it makes it very clear that what happens is that the descendants of the Watchers, their bodies are killed, because those are human bodies, but their spirits cannot really be destroyed, because they’re angelic, they’re divine. And so their spirits become evil demonic spirits that cause sin…

Nehemia: Don’t we have that also here in 1 Enoch, there’s something there…?

Miryam: It depends on the translation.

Nehemia: Oh, how you translate it, okay.

Miryam: The ongoing effect of the Watchers really depends on translation, and there are certain very specific verses that can be translated one way or the other. But actually, I shouldn’t say that. I should say, later on in Enoch yes, yes. So there’s this idea that the Watchers cause a continuing sin, and you have the spirits of the watchers, or the spirits either of the Watchers… There are traditions that the spirits of the Watchers or the spirits of their children, the giants, cause an ongoing sin.

The way it works in Enoch - remember I said that each book is built of different little pieces. So 6:1 to 11:2 in Enoch is its own little piece, and it tells the different traditions of the Watchers. Now, that little piece does not necessarily explain ongoing sins so much. What I just told you, that’s all about 6:1 to 11:2. In other words, are are three traditions of the Watchers that are all interpretations of the Watchers’ story, some connected to the flood, some not.

Nehemia: I don’t think you gave us the third one. The first one was, Shemihaza had children, those children were killed. The second one is they taught the knowledge they shouldn’t have had. And what’s the third one?

Miryam: The third is also connected to knowledge, which is why I didn’t say it… The third is just additions of things like magic.

Nehemia: Oh, so one is they taught them how to make metal, which is interesting, because it…

Miryam: And medicine, by the way.

Nehemia: Right, well that’s interesting, because in the Torah it talks about a man who learned how to make metal, and here it was angels who taught them how to do it.

Miryam: That’s because of warfare. The idea is it’s not the metal so much as making weapons that’s evil.

Nehemia: Okay, so the angels taught man how to make weapons, that’s number two, or the Watchers…

Miryam: Weapons, and women how to adorn themselves.

Nehemia: And the third one is they actually them magic.

Miryam: Magic and medicine. So here, medicine is actually considered bad. It’s classed with sorcery and charms.

Nehemia: Right, so this is evil that they introduced into the world, and that’s really interesting because in Jewish magic – and there is such a thing – it’s forbidden by the Torah, but there’s a whole literature of Jewish magic, it’s very closely related to calling upon these different angels and summoning them up. Like, I think of Sefer HaRazim, the Book of Secrets, which is probably a little bit later, where they’re summoning all these different angels to perform their bidding, and this is forbidden by the Torah.

Basically, it’s this form of trying to harness the power of angels and supernatural beings to do your own will. That’s how Judaism approached magic, and actually in a forbidden way, did it.

Miryam: Yeah, there’s a whole class, you could go on, and on, and on about the different ways, and what divides a magic incantation from a prayer. What makes something a prayer, and what makes something an incantation? A lot of times, an incantation is calling on the power of something against something else. So even if you’re calling on the power of God, if you’re just saying the name of God in order to call a power, as opposed to addressing God, you’re saying, “God, please help me.” If instead of doing that you’re saying, “I’m going to use the name of God against these demons…”

Nehemia: That’s interesting.

Miryam: So then you can say, it might not be classed as magic, but we would certainly class it as an incantation as opposed to a prayer. People who work with incantations and prayer, they come across these kinds of questions all the time.

Nehemia: It sounds like a whole separate discussion for a whole different episode. Let’s get into the Watchers. So the Watchers are doing these different things.

Miryam: Right. And then we have the next section that ties it into the Enoch. Because we have this whole story of the Watchers, it’s disconnected from Enoch.

Nehemia: Yeah, what does it have to do with Enoch?

Miryam: Yeah, it has nothing to do with Enoch, right? Then we have the tie-in, and the tie-in is that they ask Enoch to defend them in the heavenly court.

Nehemia: So these Watchers, these angels, are asking Enoch to pray for them, essentially.

Miryam: Not just to pray, but to represent them almost as a lawyer. And there are people who have interpreted this section as connecting to certain practices of law. They actually want him to defend them in heavenly court.

Nehemia: So he’s supposed to go up to heaven and defend them before the throne of God?

Miryam: Before God. And God’s like, “Ha-ha, no way.” And He doesn’t hold Enoch responsible, but He says to Enoch, “You tell them this. You tell them, ‘No way.’” I’m reading from chapter 15, the very beginning of chapter 15. “And He answered me and said to me with His voice, ‘Here. Do not be afraid, Enoch, you righteous man and scribe of righteousness. Come hither and hear My voice, and go say to the Watchers of heaven who sent you to petition on their behalf, ‘You ought to be petitioned on behalf of men, not men on behalf of you.’”

And this is a whole irony, that these angels totally failed in their job. This tradition that angels are supposed to be petitioned on behalf of men, this also connects, again, to what we were talking about before - incantations versus prayers. It seems to be legitimate. You can ask an angel to petition on your behalf.

Now, in modern Judaism, this is a whole question, can you do that? But you can ask an angel to petition on your behalf. That’s not the same as doing magic. So there’s this whole question whether that’s…

Nehemia: Can we dwell on this for a second? This is really interesting, because when I read this, this was the most surprising... There were two things here, really surprising. One is that these angelic beings needed someone to intercede on their behalf, that they couldn’t just come and stand before God. Because when I read the Tanakh, I don’t see any reason why I can’t - and this is my understanding of the Tanakh – that I can come and stand before God and ask for forgiveness, and that I would need to ask an angel to pray for me…

Miryam: Yeah, you would absolutely not.

Nehemia: Where is that in the Tanakh? That’s number one. And number two, the angels repented and their repentance was rejected. That’s another thing. I don’t know of anywhere in the Tanakh where someone repents and it’s not good enough, even with the intercessor for them…

Miryam: Well, no. First of all, I’ll address your last question first. It’s a general thing that repentance… Realize that, for example, David repents, and he honestly repents – and he still gets punished.

Nehemia: So there are consequences.

Miryam: There are consequences. He repents, so we could say he’s repented, except that he still gets punished. It’s the idea that repentance can completely wipe out a sin we see in Ezekiel, and we see to a certain extent in Micha. But actually, if we look at how sin and punishment work – and I’ll address that eventually in my podcast, it’s going to take me a lot to get to that.

Nehemia: Understandingsin.com is Miryam’s new podcast, and she’s going to have some amazing teachings on these topics. Guys, go to iTunes and subscribe. Go on your Android, subscribe to her podcast. You can get this as she puts these out. You’ll get these teachings. There’s some great stuff we’re not getting to today.

Miryam: Thanks.

Nehemia: Sin.

Miryam: Right. I’m always talking about sin, [laughing] so that doesn’t really… But sin and punishment.

Nehemia: Sin and repentance.

Miryam: Sin and repentance. The way repentance works, and the idea that repentance can completely wipe out a sin and its punishment, is something we see, and Ezekiel keeps on saying, “You don’t believe that it works that way, and I’m telling you it works that way.”

Nehemia: That’s Ezekiel 18 and Ezekiel 33.

Miryam: Why does he have to say that? Because to the modern mind, and I have to say this, to the modern mind sin is not something real. We don’t think of it as doing any kind of physical damage. We think of it as something kind of, “Oh, yeah. We can just wipe it away.” But in the ancient mind, sin does actual damage. If you think of it in terms of like if you murder someone and you say, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” The person’s not coming back to life. So it’s the same sort of thing if you sin, you’ve done actual damage. Can you just wipe that away?

Well, Ezekiel’s saying that yes, you can. But in a lot of the Bible there’s this idea that you can kind of… when it says, “God stretches things out over generations,” that’s actually a good thing. Because God doesn’t punish you all at once, right? You sinned, and God stretches out the punishment so that you can handle it. Because there’s this idea of, you can’t just wipe it away. So there are these two ideas.

Now, if we go back to what you said about prayer in the Bible, you’re absolutely right. In fact, there’s a great book which is a lecture series by Moshe Greenberg, where he talks about how the way prayer works in the Bible – not liturgical prayer, not Psalms so much – but when anyone prays in the Bible, there’s this idea that anyone can call on God in his own language, in his own words. That language changes according to the character. Like, Jacob has the wheel-and-deal way of talking with God, whereas Shimshon, Samson, has this very direct... He’s a simple guy and he talks directly to God.

Nehemia: So this is a fundamentally different idea in a sense, that…

Miryam: Very common in the Second Temple period.

Nehemia: …in the Second Temple, that you need angels to intercede on your behalf. You pray to the angels, and…

Miryam: You may not need, because there’s absolutely…

Nehemia: Or maybe they help.

Miryam: …they help. They help, because we’ve got lots of prayers where people are addressing God directly, but there is…

Nehemia: That’s completely absent from the Tanakh, that you’re praying to angels.

Miryam: But because what we have in the Second Temple period is we have this kind of distancing of God, this idea of God is so awesome, God is so amazing, we need these beings in-between. And there’s an idea the same way with pronouncing the name of God. Yes, so we have the Second…

Nehemia: There’s a big smile on my face. We’re not going to get into that topic! [laughing] That’s one of my favorite topics.

Miryam: And I’m not going to get completely into it, but we see a real distancing from pronouncing the name of God, of writing the name of God, because God is so awesome that we can’t even approach Him. Now, there is absolutely direct prayer to God. But there’s more of a recognition of the distance from God. Also, that’s paired with a much greater recognition of the angelic world. All of a sudden - we see this in Daniel also - angels have names.

Whereas if you look at the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses, angels don’t have names. They’re just angels. Angels are around, but they don’t…

Nehemia: And he even asks the angel the name, and he says, “It’s hidden. You can’t know what it is. It’s not for you to know.”

Miryam: Angels don’t have names. People have names. But certainly in the Second Temple period, we were starting to name angels, we were having this very active whole family of angels.

Nehemia: You mentioned the angel called Shemihaza, and the only angels I know from the Tankch are Michael and Gavriel, Michael and Gabriel.

Miryam: You know them from the Book of Daniel.

Nehemia: You’re saying after the Book of Daniel, or after the Tanach, then you all of a sudden have a whole long list of angels, in Enoch.

Miryam: And recognizing that from an academic perspective, the Book of Daniel is dated to the Second Temple period, not like it’s traditionally dated.

Nehemia: I think even traditionally it’s in the Second Temple period.

Miryam: Yes, well in the tradition…

Nehemia: I mean, the very beginning of the Second Temple.

Miryam: Traditionally, Daniel’s supposed to be…

Nehemia: He mentioned Cyrus, and the fall of Babylon.

Miryam: Right, so Daniel’s supposed to be after… he’s presented as in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, right? So he’s presented as after the Babylonian exile.

Nehemia: In other words, the traditional interpretation would be some time in the early 400s or late 500s, and the academic position is that it allegedly was written in 166 BC, which I completely don’t believe. But that’s a whole different discussion. [laughing]

Miryam: And the traditional dating of Daniel is of course why Daniel is in the Hebrew Bible. Because the Hebrew Bible is…

Nehemia: It really is the word of God.

Miryam: The canonization. No, no, but the canonization of the Hebrew Bible, if we distinguish between the canonization of the Hebrew Bible and the Septuagint, the Books that make it into the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint includes many important Jewish works. But what makes it into the Hebrew we call the Judean Bible are books that are traditionally dated to before the end of prophesy, which is Chagai, Zecharia, and Malachi.

Nehemia: Malachi, yeah.

Miryam: Malachi, yeah.

Nehemia: So basically, Malachi is understood by Jews to be the last Prophet in Judea, you’re saying. Let’s move on to the Book of Watchers. Back to the Book of Watchers. Can we talk about chapter 15?

Miryam: Okay, so we’ll talk about 15.

Nehemia: Chapter 15 verse 8, because this is incredible. Enoch is praying for people and interceding like a lawyer, and he says, “No! The angels should be lawyers for the humans, not the humans for the lawyers.” [laughing] Wow.

Miryam: “The Watchers on behalf of the men, not men on behalf of you. Why have you left the high, holy and eternal heaven and lain with the women, and become unclean with the daughters of men, and taken wives for yourselves and done as the sons of men, and begotten giant sons?” the Nephilim. “And you were spiritual, holy, living an eternal life. But you became unclean upon the women and begat children through the blood of flesh, and lusted after the blood of men, and produced flesh and blood as they do who die and are destroyed.”

In other words, “You were immortal, but you produced children just like mortal people. And for this reason, I gave them wives.”

Nehemia: This is, He’s speaking to the Watchers?

Miryam: He’s speaking to the Watchers. This is God telling Enoch to say this to the Watchers.

Nehemia: [laughing] Triangular communication. Go on.

Miryam: “And for this reason I gave them wives.” In other words, “I gave them mortal wives, namely that they might sow seed in them, and that children might be born…”

Nehemia: Wait, wait, wait. Who’s given mortal wives? The humans?

Miryam: He says, “You guys, you Watchers,” He says, “You angels, you went and you had children with wives, just like mortal men, just like those who die and are destroyed. And the whole reason I gave mortal men the ability to have children is because they die and are destroyed. They need to be able to have children. Children might be born by them that thus deeds might be done on the earth. They can’t die out. They’re just mortals, so they need to have children. But you formerly were spiritual, living an eternal, immortal life for all the generations of the world. For this reason, I did not arrange wives for you, because the dwelling for spiritual ones is in heaven.”

It’s actually double. On the one hand, you live forever, and also you live in heaven where you’re not supposed to have…

Nehemia: So basically, these Watchers who were angelic beings, messed up by having human children.

Miryam: Yeah, human children.

Nehemia: Again, that seems to be the peshat, the plain meaning of Genesis 6, 1 through 4, which is why I say I don’t understand what that means. I can’t believe that. I have trouble believing – this is me personally. That’s why I say it’s one of the most difficult passages in the Bible…

Miryam: It is a difficult passage.

Nehemia: …if not the most difficult. So basically what they were doing is saying, “You’re right, Nehemia. It’s difficult. Let’s tell you the whole story behind it.” That’s basically what the Book of Enoch does, is, they had the same problem I have, and so they decided to elaborate and say, “You know what? This is exactly what happened, exactly what you thought. That is what happened.”

Miryam: Now we’re getting to the punch. “And now the giants who were born from spirits and flesh will be called ‘evil spirits’ upon the earth, and on the earth will be their dwelling.”

Nehemia: So these Nephilim - their father was an angel, their mother was a human being, and these Nephilim are now evil spirits?

Miryam: Yeah, because you can kill their body, but their spirits are from the angels.

Nehemia: Woah! Oh, wow!

Miryam: They’re this unholy mix. And that’s why they’re called, we have some… they call them “bastards, mamzerim”. Now, a halachic mamzer, a mamzer according to Jewish law, a bastard according to Jewish law, is not the child of an unwed mother. It’s the child…

Nehemia: That’s what it is in Christianity.

Miryam: Right. It’s the child of an illicit union. In other words, if a boy marries his aunt, the child will be a bastard.

Nehemia: Let’s make it simpler. If a man marries his sister, the child is a mamzer.

Miryam: Right.

Nehemia: Or what they translate in English as “bastard”. Or if woman has a child from a man who’s not her husband.

Miryam: Right, if she’s married…

Nehemia: A married woman. Her husband’s off to war, and he comes back a year later and there’s a baby, that baby’s called a “mamzer”, a bastard.

Miryam: Yes. So here, they produce something that’s an illicit union. It’s an illicit union between…

Nehemia: And it uses that word in 1 Enoch, at least in English. We don’t have the Hebrew.

Miryam: Yes, it’s actually pretty clear that it was, because in the Ethiopic, it uses a transliteration of the Hebrew.

Nehemia: Of the Hebrew word “mamzer”?

Miryam: Yes.

Nehemia: Wow. So this is an amazing concept - that the source of evil spirits in the world are essentially the souls, if we can call it, of these Nephilim. After they die, then they become evil spirits that roam the earth.

Miryam: Yes.

Nehemia: Is that what Enoch is saying? So we definitely don’t have that in the Tanakh.

Miryam: Right.

Nehemia: Meaning, in the Tanakh we do have this idea of “ruach ra’ah”, an evil spirit. It’s in 1 Kings 22.

Miryam: Yes, but it’s very limited, and it seems to describe some kind of depression, or insanity, or anger.

Nehemia: Well, no, no, no, in 1 Kings 22 it’s some sort of an angel that goes, and he’s…

Miryam: Oh, you’re talking about… sorry…

Nehemia: In Michaihu.

Miryam: Excuse me, I was thinking of…

Nehemia: Right, with Saul.

Miryam: With Saul.

Nehemia: With Saul, some kind of a depression, an insanity. Let’s say it’s some kind of spirit being, but it’s something that God sends in order to perform a certain purpose. These are rogue evil spirits who aren’t… I don’t know, they’re roaming the earth, causing trouble.

Miryam: They’re rogue evil spirits.

Nehemia: Yeah, evil spirits. I’m reading a different translation, verse 9, “Evil spirits have proceeded from their bodies because they are born from men. And from the holy Watchers is their beginning and primal origin.” And this part’s in brackets - “they shall be evil spirits on earth and evil spirits shall they be called.” Wow.

And it says in verse 11, “And the spirits of the giants afflict, depress, destroy, attack, do battle, and work destruction on the earth, and cause trouble. They take no food. But nevertheless, hunger and thirst and cause offenses. And these spirits shall rise up against the children of men, and against women, because they have proceeded from them.” Wow! This is a completely new concept, at least, I think, from a Tanakh perspective.

Miryam: Right, from a Tanakh perspective it is, yeah.

Nehemia: But in a sense, it’s not a new concept, because whoever wrote that, to him, evil spirits were a fact, and he had to explain where those evil spirits came from. Wow. Can we translate what we’re reading here in modern terms as demons?

Miryam: I think, yes. I think we can translate them as demons. And then the question is, are they hurting people? Are they also causing them to sin? Or are they just hurting people? That’s another question. That depends on how you translate each of these words, whether they do wrong, or corrupt, attack, fight, break on the earth.

But then afterwards, you have the flood. That’s a way of explaining of the flood, and a way of explaining the sudden wickedness of people, but they’re certainly explaining where demons come from. These are harming demons.

Again, Lilith as a demon, she exists as a demonic figure in the Bible without any explanation. Just the name, Lilith.

Nehemia: And we have no idea what it means.

Miryam: We have no idea, and that’s a continuing term. In the Talmud, it’s really pretty vague also about Lilith. As far as I know, the first real explanation of Lilith – and I’ll look more into this – is in the alphabet of Ben Sira, which kind of a satirical work.

Nehemia: Okay, we’re off topic now, and we’ve got to wrap this up.

Miryam: [laughing] Sorry!

Nehemia: Let’s get back to these evil spirits in the Book of Enoch. By the way, one thing that’s really interesting is that when it talks about the Tree of Knowledge in the Book of Enoch, it has a description of that. In the Tanakh it’s the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, and actually in the Book of Enoch, if I’m understanding correctly, it’s called the “Tree of Knowledge whose holy fruit they eat and know great wisdom.”

Miryam: Isn’t that amazing?!

Nehemia: It’s completely different! Instead of knowing good and evil, you just get great knowledge. Maybe that’s because evil comes from these evil spirits. I don’t know.

Miryam: Certainly, partly it’s interesting that they don’t pick up on the fact that clearly they’ve done a bad thing when they do it…

Nehemia: Who’s done a bad thing?

Miryam: That Adam and Eve have done a bad thing by eating from it in the Bible, I’m talking just according to the plain meaning of the Bible without any special interpretation.

Nehemia: Don’t they? Because they’re hiding?

Miryam: Well, they’re hiding because they’re naked.

Nehemia: They know they got caught.

Miryam: They know they’re naked and they’re ashamed, if you believe Adam. It could be they just know that they’re caught, right? But he’s like, “Oh, but I know we’re naked.” There are all sorts of things. They did the wrong thing. It’s clear they did the wrong thing, in the Bible. You know that in my view, the Adam and Eve story in its context does not explain the origin of sin.

Nehemia: You’re actually going to have on your podcast, understandingsin.com...

Miryam: It’s the very first episode. [laughing]

Nehemia: Wait, understandingsin.com, you’re going to have this new podcast, and the first episode talks about what, now?

Miryam: Adam and Eve and the story in its plain meaning in the Bible, of what that story is actually saying.

Nehemia: And you’re saying it’s not original sin, based on the original Hebrew context?

Miryam: Exactly.

Nehemia: Wow, I can’t wait to listen to that episode, that’s really cool. I think we’re going to leave people with that little teaser to go to undestandingsin.com and sign up for Miryam’s podcast. You can do that on iTunes, or your favorite podcast app on your Android. And you’re going to be talking in much more detail about all of these topics.

Miryam: I hope so.

Nehemia: Yeah, this is exciting, guys. This has been a really brief, really brief discussion on the Book of Enoch. We hardly got into it. We didn’t even cover all of chapters 1 through 36, which is the....

Miryam: Surprise, surprise. [laughing]

Nehemia: Isn’t that incredible? Which is the Book of the Watchers, and there’s a whole literature on Watchers, and a whole discussion on Watchers in the Dead Sea Scrolls and stuff like that. This is some exciting stuff, guys. There are a lot of things going on.

Can I just read one little quote here? Because some people might say, “What do I care about Watchers?” So there’s this great discussion, one of the early books in the 2nd century is Dialogue With Trypho by Justin Martyr, who was a Christian, and as far as we know, the first dialog between Jews and Christians about their faith. Of course, we’re hearing it from the Christian side.

But the Jewish side really rings true in some ways. This is from dialog 79, where Trypho, the Jew - who some people say, by the way, is Rabbi Tarphon - he says to Justin, “The utterances of God are holy, but your expositions are mere contrivances, as is plain from what has been explained by you. Nay, even blasphemy,” as this Jew says, “For you assert that angels sinned and revolved from God.” And so to Trypho, who hears Christian doctrine, he says, “This is utter nonsense. It’s blasphemy. We Jews don’t say those things.”

And the interesting thing about 1 Enoch is, in 1 Enoch we do have these concepts, meaning the Christians didn’t pull this out of thin air, they were continuing something that existed in Jewish literature, even though clearly not all the Jews accepted it, because Trypho doesn’t seem to know about it, or at least to accept it.

Miryam: Right. And it’s kind of rejected in the continuance of the Jewish tradition. It pops up again a little bit more in mediaeval times.

Nehemia: Interesting. So even if Trypho knows about it, he explicitly rejects it.

Miryam: Well, Trypho probably doesn’t know. Trypho probably doesn’t know about it.

Nehemia: Okay. But we find it because these books have survived. They survived in the Ethiopean Church, and we find fragments in the Dead Sea Scrolls. And so these things that Justin are saying, this Christian, it comes from one form of Judaism which really didn’t become the dominant form of Judaism. And that’s really interesting. It gives us the context for things that are going on in early Christianity.

And imagine that. This always blew my mind. How does the Book of Jubilees and the Book of Enoch end up in Ethiopia? How does it happen? How does that happen?

I mean, the mainstream Judaism of Trypho, if you call it that, didn’t accept this book, but somehow it ends up in Ethiopia. Then you have these things in the Cairo Geniza, like the Damascus... It’s unbelievable how these things happen. We could do a whole episode on that.

Thank you, Dr. Brand. I really appreciate your time.

Miryam: Thank you. It was a pleasure to be here.

Nehemia: Guys, please go to nehemiaswall.com and give your comments, what you think about this. Tell us what you think. Do you want more of this? If you want more, go to understandingsin.com, Miryam’s new website, and listen to her podcast. I can’t wait to listen to her podcast.

Miryam: Thank you.

Nehemia: Shalom.

Miryam: Shalom.

Nehemia: This episode of Hebrew Voices was sponsored by the Ashley family from Mexico. Gracias. Todah.

You have been listening to Hebrew Voices with Nehemia Gordon. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon’s Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at NehemiasWall.com.

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Related Posts:
Enoch Walking with Angels
The Origin of Sin
The Lost Book of Jasher
The Book of Jasher Exposed
Hebrew Voices Episodes

Show Notes:
Genesis 6:1-4
1 Enoch (online)
Dr. Brand's Website

Dr. Brand's Commentary on 1 Enoch:
Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture

  • stevebnns says:

    Genesis 6:3 is speaking about 120 times cycles or Jubilee Cycles(Seven years times seven equals one jubilee cycle). With year one in cycle also is the 50th Jubilee cycle. This scripture is key to understanding the Daniel 9:26 prophesy. Christ said angles and man can not have sex as angles not do that so I think I respectfully hold to his idea and what He spoke as truth This is scripture he gives this in.
    Matt. 22:30  For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven
    Sort of puts whole in theology of demons or fallen angels having sex with human woman.
    Still love this show. Great teachings here. Praise Yehovah’s servants and teachers. Thanks so much for all you provide those seeking truth. Shalom

    • daniel says:

      The angels in heaven are not the Fallen Ones (there is a difference). They did not keep their first estate (double entendre), i.e. Abode and Purity. I can’t afford to be dogmatic, that’s just the way I’ve always seen the distinction. It’s like how Yeshua can be son of God and son of man ( it seems that a spirit delivered Ydna in vitro as Miriam slept ).

  • Leyla says:

    Does HaSatan or the Devil really exist?

    Or that is a bad interpretation of the scriptures from the cristhians?

    • Joe says:

      Satan really exits. Yeshua refers to him and his demons. Yeshua was tempted by Satan but Yeshua said “ it is written “, and did what was written. But greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.

  • Deborah Harper says:

    Can I ask is this a real picture has archeologist actually found Nephilim Skeltons

    • Mike says:

      I scolded Nehemia for using that picture… he does comment at the bottom of the page that it is a famous hoax…

    • Donna McAdams says:

      Yes, this is a real picture. I’m presently watching a video that explains about the bones of giants and the cover up of such things. To get up-to-date historical information, I suggest you look up Steve Quayle, Tim Alberino, or Tom Horn to learn more. They can explain more accurately about the Nephilim and their offspring with podcasts, videos, and books .

    • Bob says:

      No it’s a photoshop picture

  • Joe says:

    Ugh ……

  • Sonny Micu says:

    you’re welcome Neville Newman

  • Ruthie says:

    This was fascinating and I for one want MORE. I will say that while I have only read the first few chapters of the Book of Enoch, years earlier (time goes so quickly and I have been far too busy with mundane concerns), it rang true to me from the start. It was like, “Finally, someone is addressing this aspect of life that has been missing from our common understanding.” I know that you, Nehemia, approach it with that Litvakia skepticism, and I am having a totally different reaction, but it just makes so much sense to me. Bear with me. Occult knowledge came into the world to man from the Nephilim, and this is similar to the stories of the Greeks and indeed of all ancient civilizations which describe the “god’s”, small “g”, bringing some hidden knowledge to man, as a “gift”, such as Prometheus bringing fire, etc., and makes sense that these fallen angels would want man to petition for them, as in ‘look, we’ve helped you, we’ve given you secret knowledge, now please explain to the Creator of the universe how we’ve actually improved your lives – intercede, recommend us and our actions to Elohim because maybe you can persuade Him that we haven’t been all that bad;” but of course, God, in His superior wisdom, sees the big picture – they’ve left their eternal, immortal estate in the heavenly realms; they didn’t need wives to mate with to carry forth their seed; they disobeyed the cosmic order set up by God for reasons beyond their understanding; so ‘no – what you did was evil, and now you will continue to exist (some would say, in an unseen dimension) until the great Day of the LORD…when you will be cast into hell, which was created for HaSatan and his rebellious angels.’ It just makes so much sense to me, and the more I learn about its (the B of E’s) contents, the more pieces of the puzzle fit, I think. And thank you, Ashley (sp?) Family of Mexico, for making this podcast possible through your financial support, and thanks to all, especially Nehemia and Dr. Brand for graciously sharing. (I do retain a grain of skepticism because I do believe that one day we will all know, for certain, those truths we only understand partially today.) Todah!

    • Ruthie says:

      I didn’t edit quite enough; I meant to write “that Litvakian skepticism” and I hope I spelled that right …


    Numbers 13:33