Rebellious, fallen angels and the flood: 1 Enoch (Satan 4)

A very important part of Satan’s identity within Christianity is the notion that Satan is the chief angel among a group that rebelled against God and fell from their original position in the heavenly realm. We first have clear signs of this critical component in Satan’s story around 200 BCE in a Jewish writing in the Pseudepigrapha known as 1 Enoch (text and introductions online here). 1 Enoch is an apocalypse in terms of genre and is a composite work, divided into five books, with book one (chapters 1-36) being among the earliest (on which go to my earlier post here for further clarification).

What is most important here is that book one of 1 Enoch presents a midrash (interpretation) and considerable expansion of a few mysterious verses in Genesis (6:1-8): the account of the “sons of God” (angelic figures) mating with human women that immediately precedes the story of God sending the flood. “Enoch’s” visions explain the origins of evil and sin among humanity, and in this case suggest that ultimately evil came from the divine realm by way of fallen angels. Issues regarding the degree to which humans, on the one hand, or divine beings (angels), on the other, were responsible for the introduction and continuation of evil and sin among humanity would continue to occupy those who told and re-told the story of Satan in subsequent centuries. Some would configure things differently than book one of 1 Enoch does.

In the process of explaining the origins of evil, this author seems to blend together two separate traditions that existed before his time concerning a conspiracy among certain angels (perhaps drawing on a lost work called the “Book of Noah”, mentioned in the book of Jubilees ch. 10, for one of these traditions). The reason we can detect these traditions is that, in 1 Enoch, there are inconsistencies in who was the leader of the rebel angels (see further John J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination). At times the author speaks of Semyaz (Semihazah) as the chief and at others of Azazel (Asa’el). Not only that, but the author seems to have preserved the different emphases of each tradition. The Semyaz material portrays the conspiracy against God as centred on the sexual act of union with humans and the Azazel tradition focusses on how the fallen angels subsequently reveal secrets of heaven to humanity, including skills that led to war and seduction, to the general chaos that brings the flood. For this author, the offspring of the mixing of divine and human are giants whose spirits after death are demons that continue to mislead humanity (15:8-12).

The result of this whole conspiracy is war and chaos on earth. God consults with his trusted angels, such as Michael and Raphael, to arrange punishment of both the humans and the fallen angels, referring to the end of days in the process:

“then spoke the Most High. . . ‘the earth and everything will be destroyed. And the deluge is about to come upon all the earth; and all that is in it will be destroyed.’ . . . And secondly the Lord said to Raphael, ‘Bind Azazel hand and foot and throw him into the darkness!’ And he (Raphael) made a hole in the desert. . . he threw on top of him (Azazel) rugged and sharp rocks. And he covered his face in order that he may not see light; and in order that he may be sent into the fire on the great day of judgment.” (1 Enoch 10:1-7; trans. by E. Isaac in James H. Charlesworth, ed. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha [2 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1983-85], p. 17)

The imprisonment and end-time fate of this fallen angel here resembles the fate of “the ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan” in John’s Apocalypse (20:1-10), as we shall soon see. As in other apocalyptic writings, the flood of long ago becomes a precursor or foreshadow of God’s final intervention in the end times, the “great day of judgment”, when the angels who rebelled, along with the humans who sided with them by doing evil, will meet their end. The righteous ones, on the other hand, will go on to live in a new world cleansed “from all sin and from all iniquity” (see 10:17-22).

The name “Satan” itself does not appear here at all, but the fallen angels story was soon to be linked up with passages involving the angelic adversary (“satan”) in the Hebrew Bible, as we begin to see in the likes of Jubilees (chapters 10-11; c. 150-105 BCE). Still later (in the second and third centuries CE), this notion of fallen angels would also be linked up (by Christian authors) with a passage that originally referred to the Babylonian king as cosmic rebel in Isaiah 14, the “Day Star, Son of Dawn” who falls from heaven (where he imagines himself to belong). Part of the phrase just mentioned was translated into Latin by Jerome (in 410 CE) as “Lucifer”. Looking far ahead to the 1600s, it would be hard to imagine Milton’s Paradise Lost without the story of Satan or Lucifer as the chief rebel angel who fell from heaven’s height.

7 thoughts on “Rebellious, fallen angels and the flood: 1 Enoch (Satan 4)

  1. brian kemble

    what happens to all the evil angels and humans, are they burned and tortured forever, destroyed from existance forever, or are they all finally reconciled back to the father? Do you think they’ll all burn in the sky as stars or constellations as an example to the people in zion? please write back.
    brian kemble

  2. moses

    Yeah, supposedly as scripture tells us, (jude, 2 peter, 1 enoch) these heavenlt beings are fallen angels (Genesis 6) and they will be locked in torture and everlasting chains, well some or all to this day are just demons.1

  3. Anthony Castellano

    My family and I are confused about who was Ezekiel and why was this fallen angle chained up for 5000 years not just banished from heaven! What was it he did that caused him to get chained up for so long. Only to be freed by the devil only after agreeing to help the devil with a consparicy to get a Nephilim with the powers to send him back into heven! PLEASE HELP US WITH THIS, thank you!

  4. Phil Harland Post author

    Anthony: You need to remember that ancient accounts of heavenly activities and the activities of heavenly beings are not focussed on being “logical” in the modern sense of the word. Here in this story of 1 Enoch the author is focussed on explaining the origins of evil and happens to have this involve the binding of rebellious angels. (I think you meant “Enoch” when you asked about “Ezekiel”). If not, then ask again and clarify what your question is.

    Brian: I’m unsure of whether you are asking what WILL happen in reality or whether you are asking what 1 Enoch thinks will happen. On this blog I’m only looking at what certain historical figures thought rather than some overall truth about things. There may be other sites that will promote certain views of what will actually happen.

    Hope this helps.


  5. philip

    I need help in my search for something very well hidden. Is there anything secretly written in connection to the release of these angels or the birth of a new evil(not anti-christ) in future time?

  6. rciky

    Well here is a thought, the truth was not always hidden but those who knew where slaughtered, the knowledge of the ancients was known so naturally nobody thought it could be taken away–Meet death and murder the devil from the beginning. There is something right in front of us all but I could not express my views as what I have found people would/still do not want to believe. Just remember a war in heaven, who is who, the scribes and all them warnings about the grand deception. People are confused about was has and what is yet to happen. Your whole life is a lie and I can see many start to doubt already but remember we are all masters of lies without being taught so if you want the truth you must break the code, of the Freemasons, whatever title you want to give the veil for the truth is hidden not lost and will set you free but make sure u have a shield of faith before you face the flame. I hope I have helped someone out there but like I wrote what I know I can not type but you must find yourself..All I can say is that you have been a victim from before your birth subjected to a ongoing spell that far proceeds our mind, know who you are and stand against all that you think you are for we have all been entrained here in bondage from the beginning (note;) I want to make it clear that I was not implying that Freemasons are good in any way, more to the point you only have what you do not know to find the answer, ironically most people also don’t know the question. We will find the truth when we over come the lies. Hope Be With You.

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