- ENOCH (Heb. חֲנוֹךְ). (1) Son of Cain, father of Irad. The world's first city was named after Enoch (Gen. 4:17f.). It has been suggested that the writer is punning on the root ḥnk, "to found," "initiate." (2) Son of Jared, father of Methuselah, seventh generation of the human race (Gen. 5:18–24; I Chron. 1:3). Sasson (in Bibliography) has suggested that as seventh in the line of Adam, Enoch's life of piety is in contrast with the seventh in the line of Cain, who is associated with bloodshed. In comparison with the life-span of his ancestors and descendants, his life is short and corresponds in years with the number of days in the solar year. It is further said of him that he "walked with God; then he was no more for God took him" (Gen. 5:23). This cryptic statement implies the existence of some fuller narrative about Enoch, now lost, perhaps connecting him with the sun god (see below). Legend has stepped in to fill the gap. Some scholars have pointed to a similarity with the Mesopotamian story of Enmeduranna, the seventh king before the flood, who was very close to the sun-god to whom his capital city was dedicated. Hess follows Borger (Bibliography) in suggesting that a better Mesopotamian counterpart of Enoch would be Utuabzu, adviser to Enmeduranki. Utuabzu, seventh in a list of sages before the Mesopotamian flood, like Enoch ascended into heaven. (Nahum M. Sarna / S. David Sperling (2nd ed.) -In the Apocrypha In Jewish apocryphal literature of the Second Temple period similar motifs to those of Enmeduranna are connected with Enoch (seventh in Seth's line); he too learned God's mysteries and had access to the heavenly tablets. It is therefore probable that the similarity between the later legends about Enoch and the figure of the Babylonian legendary king can be explained by the fact that Genesis preserves a partly expurgated narrative about Enoch and that some of the original mythological motifs continued to exist in oral tradition until they reached their present form in Jewish pseudepigrapha and medieval legends and mystical literature. Enoch became a hero in Jewish apocalyptic literature and two Jewish apocalyptic books are ascribed to him: the so-called Ethiopic and Slavonic Books of Enoch. The figure of Enoch was especially significant in the spiritual movement from which the dead sea Sect originated. Thus his story and his writings are treated in the book of jubilees , his prophecies are hinted at in the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, and he plays an active role in the Genesis Apocryphon, one of the dead sea scrolls . Cave 4 at Qumran yielded Aramaic fragments many of which correspond to the apocalyptic I Enoch. The importance attached to Enoch in some Jewish circles in the Second Temple period aroused the opposition of the more rationalistic Jewish sages. Therefore in rabbinic literature Enoch is sometimes presented as evil and the biblical statement that he was taken by God is simply explained as a reference to his death. The first to claim that Enoch merely died was Ben Sira (Ecclus. 44:16; 49:14–16) – even Joseph, Shem, Seth, Enoch, and Adam had to die. It is interesting to note that all these biblical personages (with the exception of Joseph, but note "The Prayer of Joseph") became heroes of Jewish, Gnostic, and Christian mystical speculations. It is also important that while the Hebrew text of Ben Sira presents Enoch as a "sign of knowledge to all generations" – a hint at his mystical wisdom – by the time of the Greek translation (135 B.C.E.) Enoch had become "an example of repentance for all generations," reflecting the legend that there was repentance before the Flood. This legend, in a curious form, occurs even in Mormon holy scriptures (Moses 6:27–7:19). (David Flusser) -In the Aggadah Enoch was among the nine righteous men who entered paradise without suffering the pangs of death (DEZ 1, end). "He ascended to heaven on God's command, and was given the name metatron the Great Scribe" (Targ. Yer. to Gen. 5:4). During his lifetime Enoch was the guardian of the "secret of intercalation" and of the "miraculous rod" with which Moses later performed the miracles in Egypt (PdRE 7:40). He is the central figure in some late Midrashim, such as Sefer Ḥanokh and Ḥayyei Ḥanokh (which are related to the legends found in the various pseudepigraphic Books of Enoch and other apocryphic works). Enoch lived in a secret place as a hidden righteous man and was called by an angel to leave his retreat to go to teach men to walk in the ways of God. He taught for 243 years, during which peace and prosperity reigned in the world. He made a powerful impression on all he taught, including kings and princes, and they acclaimed him as their king. As a reward for instructing mankind, God resolved to install him as king over the angels in heaven too. He ascended to heaven in a fiery chariot drawn by fiery chargers. When Enoch arrived in heaven the angels exclaimed: "How comes a man born of a woman amid the fire-consuming angels?" To which God replied: "Be not offended, for all mankind denied Me and My dominion and paid homage to the idols; I therefore transferred the Shekhinah ('Divine Presence') from earth to heaven, and this man Enoch is the elect of men." God arrayed him in a magnificent garment and a luminous crown, opened to him all the gates of wisdom, gave him the name "Metatron," prince and chief of all heavenly hosts, transformed his body into a flame, and engirdled him by storm, whirlwind, and thundering (Sefer ha-Yashar to Genesis, p. 11a–13a). Notwithstanding these legends, third-century Palestinian rabbis deny the miraculous translation of Enoch, and state that he vacillated all his life between righteousness and sinfulness, whereupon God removed him from the world before he relapsed again into sin (Gen. R. 25:1). This derogatory evaluation of Enoch was, at least in part, a reaction against the use made by Christians of the legend of Enoch's ascension to heaven. -In Islam A prophet named Idrīs is mentioned in the Koran in Suras 19:57–58 and 21:85. The commentators identify him with Enoch, whom God "took" (Gen. 5:22–25), namely, that he did not die. The Muslims shaped the character of Idrīs, the brother of "Noah," in keeping with Jewish aggadah, as already found in Ben Sira, Josephus, and the books of the Pseudepigrapha, in various languages, which are attributed to Enoch. The brother of "Noah" was well versed in books and was therefore named Idrīs ("the expounder of books"). Like the Jews, the Muslims occasionally identify him with Elijah, as well as with al-Khaḍir (see Mūsā ). (Haïm Z'ew Hirschberg) -BIBLIOGRAPHY: U. Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, 1 (1961), 263, 281–6; E.A. Speiser, in: The Anchor Bible, Genesis (1964), 41–43; Ginzberg, Legends, 1 (1925), 125–40; 5 (1925), 156–64. IN APOCRYPHA AND AGGADAH: Ginzberg, Legends, 1 (1925), 125–40; 6 (1928), 157–65; N. Avigad and Y. Yadin, Genesis Apocryphon (1956), 16–19, 40; Y. Yadin, The Ben Sira Scroll from Massada (1965), 38; E.E. Urbach, Ḥazal (1969), 295. IN ISLAM: Tha'labī, Qiṣaṣ (Cairo, A.H. 1348), 32; A.J. Wensinck, in: EIS, 2 (1927), 449–50, S.V. Idrīs, incl. bibl.; G. Weil, Biblische Legenden der Muselmaenner (1845), 62. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: R. Borger, in: JNES, 33 (1974), 183–96; J. Milik, Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments of Qumran Cave 4 (1976); J. Sasson, in: ZAW, 90 (1978), 171–85; R. Hess, in: ABD II, 508; J. Fitzmyer, The Genesis Apocryphon of Qumran Cave 1 (20043); C. Rowland, in: DDD, 301–5.
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.