“A Strange Thing in the Land”: The Return of the Book of Enoch, Part 7


The preceding installment was all familiar literary ground in our story’s great prologue, and that with a minimum of biblical prompting. Those who wish to credit Joseph Smith with a comprehension of comparative literature and ritual far beyond his time and training are free to do so. They may even insist, as they have with the Book of Mormon, that this is the way any uneducated rustic would tell the story. Today, however, we have several very ancient and significant parallels to Moses 1, which lie far beyond the reach of coincidence or daydreaming. The number of details and the order in which they occur make it perfectly clear that we are dealing with specific works of great antiquity which come from a common source. To show what we mean, let us compare Moses’, Abraham’s, and Adam’s confrontations with Satan; these stories themselves contain pointed references to Enoch, with whom each hero is duly compared. Let it be remembered that these accounts are not scripture, but are simply ancient records that help us understand the Enoch story.

First the Apocalypse of Abraham, an Old Slavonic account discovered in 1895 and first published by Bonwetsch in 1897. 301 K. Koch has recently ranked it as one of the five definitely authentic early Hebrew Apocalypses. 302 Let us place it in parallel columns against our book of Moses, chapter 1.

The setting:

Moses, Chapter 1

Apocalypse of Abraham

Chapter 9 (Ch. 1 of the Apocalypse proper)

Moses 1:1. The words of God … unto Moses … when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain.

9:8. [Abraham, in order to receive the vision, must] “Bring me the sacrifice … upon a high mountain.”

God will show him everything:

Moses

Abraham

Moses 1:4. I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, …

6. In this sacrifice I will show forth to thee the ages of the world,

Moses 1:5. Wherefore, no man can behold all my works … and no man can behold all my glory. [See Abr. 2:12: “Thy servant has sought thee earnestly; now I have found thee.”] …

and show thee that which is hidden. Thou shalt behold great things, which thou hast never seen before,

because thou delightest to seek after me,

Moses 1:6. And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son. …

and I have called thee my friend.

Moses 1:8. And … Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created … and all the children of men which are, and which were created. …

9. And I will show unto thee, the ages of the world fixed and created by my word, and show thee what is going to happen to the children of men as they shall do good or evil.

The hero is helpless after the vision:

Moses

Abraham

Moses 1:9. And the presence of God withdrew from Moses … and [he] was left unto himself. And … he fell unto the earth.

10:1. [Hearing a voice] I looked here and there.

2. It was not a human breath, and so my spirit was afraid, and my soul departed from me. And I became as a stone, and fell to the earth, for I had no more strength to stand;

Moses 1:10. And … it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength. …

3. And as I lay with my face to the ground I heard the voice of the Holy One say,

4. Go, Jaoel, in the power of my name, and raise that man up! Let him recover from his trembling.

Satan takes advantage of his weakness:

Moses

Abraham

 

[Chaps. 11 & 12 are a detailed description of Abraham’s sacrifice, during which, Chap. 13]:

Moses 1:12. Behold, Satan came tempting him, saying: Moses, son of man, worship me. [Italics added.]

1. I carried out everything according to the angel’s instructions …

3. Then an unclean creature with wings alighted upon the sacrificial victims … 4. The unclean bird said to me: What are you doing, Abraham, in this holy place … where you yourself may perish in the fire! 5. Leave the man [angel] standing beside you and flee!

Moses 1:13. And … Moses … said: Who art thou? …

6. And I asked the angel, “Who is this, my Lord?”

Moses 1:15. I can judge between thee and God. …

Moses 1:16. Get thee hence, Satan, deceive me not. …

7. He said: This is ungodliness: this is Azazel [Satan]!

Satan put to shame by humiliating contrast with the hero:

Moses

Abraham

Moses 1:13. I am a son of God … and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?

8. [Michael:] Shame upon you, Satan!

9. For Abraham’s part is in heaven, and thine is upon this earth. 10. God has placed thee upon this earth as the Adversary, to lead dishonest spirits and practice deception.

Moses 1:14. For behold, I could not look upon God, except … I were strengthened before him. But I can look upon thee in the natural man. Is it not so, surely?

12. Listen, my friend, and I will put you to shame,

Moses 1:15. … Where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me? And I can judge between thee and God. …

13. Thou hast not the power to tempt all the righteous.

Moses 1:16. Get thee hence, Satan: deceive me not;

14. Depart from this man! Thou canst not lead him astray, for he is thine enemy and enemy to all those who follow thee and love after thy desire.

for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten.

15. For behold, the garment [of glory] which once fitted you in heaven, is now laid up for him. And the decay to which he was fated now goes over to thee!

The hero is strengthened for the contest:

Moses

Abraham

Moses 1:17. And he also gave me commandments … saying: Call upon God in the name of mine Only Begotten, and worship me.

14:3. Take heart, exercise the power that I give thee over this one, who hateth truth …

4. … who rebelled against the Almighty …

Moses 1:18. … I have other things to inquire of him: for his glory has been upon me, wherefore I can judge between him and thee. Depart hence, Satan.

5. Say to him: … Depart, Azazel … 6. Thy lot is to rule over those who are with thee … 7. Depart from me … 8. And I spoke as the angel instructed me.

The hero is overcome but calls out and is saved:

Moses

Abraham

Moses 1:19. And … Satan cried with a loud voice, and rent upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me.

9. He [Satan] spoke: Abraham! And I said: Here is thy servant.

Moses 1:20. And … Moses began to fear exceedingly; and … saw the bitterness of hell. Nevertheless, calling upon God, he received strength, and he commanded, saying, Depart from me, Satan. …

10. But the angel said to me: O, do not reply to him! For God has given him power over those who answer him … 11. … no matter how much he speaks to thee, answer him not, lest his will overpower thine.

12. For the Eternal One has given him a powerful will. Answer him not! [See Testament of Abraham (Falasha p. 100ff.) where he says to Isaac approaching the altar: “Come near, my son, so that thou mayest perceive the one … who frightened me and because of whom I was afraid …” referring to his own jeopardy on the altar.]

Moses 1:21. And now Satan began to tremble, and the earth shook; and Moses received strength, and called upon God, saying: In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan.

[This detail is found in Enoch’s meeting with Satan in Giz. 13:1–3, “And Enoch said to Azazel, Depart! Thou shalt have no peace, a great sentence has gone forth against thee to bind thee. 2. And there will be no further discussion or questioning with thee, because of thy dishonest and deceitful works among men.”]

Moses 1:22. And … Satan cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and he departed hence, even from the presence of Moses, that he beheld him not. …

Gizeh 13:3. Then he departed and spoke to all of them [his followers] and they all feared, and trembling and terror seized them.

The hero is borne aloft:

Moses

Abraham

Moses 1:24. And … when Satan had departed … Moses lifted up his eyes unto heaven, being filled with the Holy Ghost. …

15:2. The angel in charge of the sacrifice … took

3. me by the right hand, and set me on the right wing of the dove while he sat on the left side.

Moses 1:25. And calling upon … God, he beheld his glory again. …

4. So it bore me to the limits of the flaming fire 5. and then on into heaven, as if on many winds, which was fixed above the firmament.

[See 2 Ne. 4:25—“Upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceeding high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man.”]

Moses 1:24. And … when Satan had departed from the presence of Moses … Moses lifted up his eyes unto heaven, being filled with the Holy Ghost. …

Bait ha-Midrash, 5:170. R. Ishmael (double for Enoch): When I went up to the mountain top … arriving at the seventh temple, I stood to pray before God; and I lifted up my eyes and said. … deliver me from Satan. And the Metatron [also Enoch!] came who [served?] the angel, even the Prince of the Presence, and spread his wings and came to meet me with great joy … and he took me with his hand and raised me up.

Moses 1:25. … And he heard a voice, saying: Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have chosen thee, and thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God. [Here Moses is hailed as the victorious sacral king.]

17:1. And while he was speaking, fire surrounded us and a voice … like the voice of many waters like the raging of the sea in the surf.

Moses 1:27. And … Moses cast his eyes and beheld the earth. … Moses 1:28. And he beheld also the inhabitants thereof, and there was not a soul which he beheld not … and their numbers were great, even numberless.

15:6. And I saw a mighty light … and in the light a mighty fire in which was a host, even a great host of mighty beings [forms] constantly changing shape and appearance, moving, changing, praying, and uttering words I could not understand.

He is shown the field of his mission:

Moses

Abraham

In the “Testamentary” literature, each Patriarch takes a journey to heaven and is given a view of the entire earth, an account of which then becomes an integral part of his missionary message upon his return. (Compare 1 Ne. 1:4–15, Abr. 3:15, Moses 1:40.)

 

Moses 1:27. As the voice was still speaking, Moses cast his eyes and beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold. …

21:1. He said to me: Look beneath thy feet upon the Firmament. Recognize at that level the creation there presented, the creatures that are in it, and the world that has been prepared for them.

Moses 1:28. And he beheld also the inhabitants thereof, and there was not a soul which he beheld not … and their numbers were great, even numberless as the sand upon the sea shore.

2. And I looked down, and behold … the earth and her fruits, and all that moves upon her … and the power of her people … 3. the lower regions … the pit and its torments …

Moses 1:29. And he beheld many lands; and each land was called earth, and there were inhabitants on the face thereof.

4. I saw there the sea and its islands, the beasts, its fishes, leviathan and his sphere … 5. the streams of water, their sources and their courses …

9. I saw there a mighty host of men, women, and children half of them on the right side of the picture and half on the left.

Confrontation with God:

Moses

Abraham

Moses 1:31. And … the glory of the Lord was upon Moses, so that Moses stood in the presence of God, and talked with him face to face.

16:1. I said to the angel: I can see nothing, I have become weak, my spirit leaves me!

2. He said to me: Stay with me; be not afraid. He whom thou now beholdest coming towards us … is the Eternal One, who loves thee.

3. But He himself you do not see … 4. But do not be overcome, I am with you to strengthen you.

Moses 1:30. And it came to pass that Moses called upon God. …

17:5. So I continued to pray … 6. He said: Speak without ceasing!

7ff. [Abraham calls upon God naming his attributes.] 11. Eli, meaning My God … El! El! El! El Jaoel!

Moses 1:33. And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose. …

13. Thou who bringest order into the unorganized universe, even the chaos which in the perishable world goes forth from good and evil.

Moses 1:38. And as one earth shall pass away … even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.

Thou who renewest the World of the righteous.

14. O light, that shone upon thy creatures before the morning light …

The Epic Question and Answer:

Moses

Abraham

Moses 1:30. And … Moses called upon God, saying: Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them? [Italics added. Cf. Abr. 1:2. “I sought for the blessings of the fathers, … desiring also … to possess a greater knowledge.”]

16. Hear my prayers!

17. Look with favor upon me: Show me, teach me. Give thy servant all that which thou hast promised him.

26:1. Eternal, Mighty, Only One! Why hast thou so arranged things, that it should be so?

Moses 1:31. … And the Lord God said unto Moses: For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me.

26:5. As thine own father’s [Terah’s] will is in him, and as thine own will is in thee, so the resolves of mine own will are set for all the future, before you knew there even was such a thing …

Moses 1:33. And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose. …

Moses 1:35. But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds … that now stand, … but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.

19:3. Look upon the places beneath the firmament, upon which thou standest [Cf. this formula in Abr. 3:3, 4, 5, 7 etc.!] Behold there is not a single place nor any spot at all but what is occupied by Him whom thou seekest. 4. And as he spoke the place opened up and beneath me there was heaven. 5. And upon the seventh Firmament on which I stood … I saw the splendor of invisible glory investing living beings.

Left alone a second time:

Moses

Abraham

Moses 1:9. And the presence of God withdrew from Moses, that his glory was not upon Moses; and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth.

30:1. And as he was still speaking I found myself upon the earth.

2. I spoke: Eternal, Mighty, Only one!

3. Behold I am no longer in the glory in which I was above! And what my heart sought to know I did not understand.

[Abr. 2:12: “Now, after the Lord had withdrawn from speaking to me, and withdrawn his face from me, I said in my heart: Thy servant has sought thee earnestly; now I have found thee.”]

4. And he said to me: What in thy heart thou didst so desire, that I will tell thee, because thou hast sought diligently to behold, etc.

These parallel accounts, separated by centuries, cannot be coincidence. Nor can all the others. The first man to have such a confrontation with Satan was Adam. A wealth of stories about it closely matches the accounts of Abraham. Moses, Enoch, and other heroes. Perhaps the oldest Adam traditions are those collected from all over the ancient East at a very early time, which have reached us in later Ethiopian and Arabic manuscripts under the title of “The Combat of Adam and Eve against Satan.” 303 It contains at least thirteen different showdowns between Adam and the Adversary, of which we present a few of the most striking. Since the motif was characteristically repeated with variations (the monkish mind could not resist the temptation to work a good thing to death) it will be necessary to repeat some passages from the book of Moses.

Moses, Chapter 1

Combat of Adam (direct quotations from the document are indicated with quotation marks)

Moses 1:9. And the presence of God withdrew from Moses, that his glory was not upon Moses; and Moses was left unto himself. … He fell unto the earth.

Column 297–98. Leaving the glorious garden, they (Adam and Eve) were seized with fear and “they fell down upon the earth and remained as if dead.”

Moses 1:10. And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.

299. While Adam was still in that condition, Eve, stretching high her hands, prayed: “O Lord … thy servant has fallen from the Garden” and is banished to a desert place. (Gen. 3:18f.)

Moses 1:11. But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him.

299. They say: “Today our eyes having become terrestrial can no longer behold the things they once did.”

Moses 1:12. And it came to pass that when Moses had said these words, behold, Satan came tempting him, saying: Moses, son of man, worship me.

306. Satan, seeing them at prayer, appears to them in a great light and sets up his throne on the site, thus claiming the earth as his kingdom while his followers sing hymns in his praise.

Moses 1:13. And it came to pass that Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?

307. Adam, puzzled, prays for light, asking: Can this be another God here hailed by his angels? An angel of the Lord arrives and says: “Fear not, Adam, what you see is Satan and his companions who wish to seduce you again. First he appeared to you as a serpent and now he wants you to worship him so he can draw you after him away from God.”

Moses 1:15–18. … Where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me? … Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not. … I can judge between [God] and thee. Depart hence, Satan.

Then the angel exposed and humiliated Satan in Adam’s presence and cast him out saying to Adam:

Moses 1:13. I am a son of God. … Moses 1:14. … I could not look upon God, except … I were strengthened before him. [See 20: “Calling upon God, he received strength.”]

“Fear not: God who created you will strengthen you!”

307–8. The next morning as Adam prayed with upraised hands, Satan appeared to him, saying, “Adam, I am an angel of the great God. The Lord has sent me to you.” It was his plan to kill Adam and thus “remain sole master and possessor of the earth.” But God sent three heavenly messengers to Adam bringing him the signs of the priesthood and kingship.

309. And Adam wept because they reminded him of his departed glory, but God said they were signs of the atonement to come, whereupon Adam rejoiced.

Moses 1:12. Satan came tempting him, saying: Moses, son of man, worship me.

Moses 1:19. … I am the Only Begotten, worship me.

323–24. After a forty-day fast Adam and Eve were very weak, stretched out upon the floor of the cave as if dead, but still praying. Satan then came, clothed in light, speaking sweet words to deceive them saying: “I am the first created of God … now God has commanded me to lead you to my habitation … to be restored to your former glory.”

Moses 1:13. Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou?

325. But God knew that he planned to lead them to far-away places and destroy them. Adam said, Who was this glorious old man who came to us? Answer: He is Satan in human form come to deceive you by giving you signs to prove his bonafides but I have cast him out.

Moses 1:21. Now Satan began to tremble. … Moses 1:22. And it came to pass that Satan cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and he departed hence.

326. Adam and Eve, still weak from fasting and still praying, are again confronted by Satan who, being rebuffed, “is sore afflicted” and weeping and wailing says, “‘God has wrecked my scheme … he has rendered worthless the plan which I contrived against his servants.’ And he retired in confusion.”

Moses 1:18. I have other things to inquire of [God]: for his glory has been upon me, wherefore I can judge between him and thee. Depart hence, Satan.

327. Adam asked, Why is this? Answer: “God wanted to show you the weakness of Satan and his evil intentions for since the day you left the Garden he has not let a day pass without trying to harm you, but I have not let him have the victory over you.” [Adam thus learned to distinguish between good and evil.]

Moses 5:6. And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.

Moses 5:7. And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. Moses 5:9. … As thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.

329. Again Adam and Eve were sacrificing with upraised arms in prayer, asking God to accept their sacrifice and forgive their sins. “And the Lord said to Adam and Eve: As you have made this sacrifice to me, so I will make an offering of my flesh when I come to earth, and so save you. … And God ordered an angel to take tongs and receive the sacrifice of Adam.”

Moses 5:10. … Adam … was filled, … saying: … In this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.

At this Adam and Eve rejoiced. God said: When the terms of my covenant are fulfilled, I will again receive you into my Garden and my Grace. So Adam continued to make this sacrifice for the rest of his days. And God caused his word to be preached to Adam.

Moses 1:20. Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell. Nevertheless, calling upon God, he received strength. [See Book of Abraham, Facsimile No. 1!]

Moses 5:7. This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.

330. On the fiftieth day, Adam offering sacrifice as was his custom, Satan appeared in the form of a man and smote him in the side with a sharp stone even as Adam raised his arms in prayer. Eve tried to help him as blood and water flowed on the altar. “God … sent his word and revived Adam saying: ‘Finish thy sacrifice, which is most pleasing to me. For even so will I be wounded and blood and water will come from my side; that will be the true Sacrifice, placed on the altar as a perfect offering.’ … And so God healed Adam.”

[illustration] Enoch, by Gary Smith

Show References

    Notes

  1.   301.

    For the sources, Paul Riessler, Altjüdisches Schrifttum ausserhalb der Bibel, 3rd ed. (Heidelberg: F. H. Kerle, 1975), p. 1267. It has been traced to Ebionite and Essene circles closely related to the communities of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Unfortunately, we are here reduced to using Riessler’s German translation of the Old Slavonic text.

  2.   302.

    K. Koch, Ratlos vor der Apokalyptik (Gütersloh: G. Mohn, 1970), pp. 16, 19ff.

  3.   303.

    The sources are discussed and some of them are collected and translated in J. P. Migne, Encyclopedie Théologique (Paris: 1856), Cols. 289ff. It is to this work that our page numbers refer.