The Immortal Ancestors
The short life of Alexander the Macedonian—he died at age
thirty-three in Babylon—was filled with conquest, adventure,
exploration; a burning desire to reach the Ends of Earth, to unravel
It was not an aimless search. Son of Queen Olympias and presumably
of her husband King Philip II, he was tutored by the philosopher
Aristotle in all manner of ancient wisdom. Then he witnessed
quarreling and divorce between his parents, leading to the flight of
his mother with the young Alexander. There was reconciliation, then
murder; the assassination of Philip led to the crowning of Alexander
when twenty years old. His early military expeditions brought him to
Delphi, seat of the renowned oracle. There he heard the first of
several prophesies predicting for him fame—but a very short life.
Undaunted, Alexander set out—as the Spaniards did nearly 1,800 years
later—to find the Waters of Life. To do so, he had to open the way
to the East. It was from there that the Gods had come: the great
Zeus, who swam across the Mediterranean, from the Phoenician city of
Tyre to the island of Crete; Aphrodite who also came from across the
Mediterranean, via the island of Cyprus; Poseidon, who brought with
him the horse from Asia Minor; Athena, who carried to Greece the
olive tree from the lands of western Asia. There, too, according to
the Greek historians, whose writings Alexander studied, were the
Waters which kept one forever young.
There was the history of Cambyses, son of the Persian king Cyrus,
who went by way of Syria, Palestine and the Sinai to attack Egypt.
Defeating the Egyptians, he treated them cruelly, and defiled the
temple of their God Amnion. Then he took into his heart to go south
and attack "the long-lived Ethiopians." Describing the events,
Herodotus—writing a century before Alexander—said (History, Book
His spies went to Ethiopia, under the pretense of carrying presents
to the king, but in reality to take note of all they saw, and
especially to observe whether there was really what is called "The
Table of the Sun" in Ethiopia....
The World of Alexander
Telling the Ethiopian king that "eighty years was the longest term
of man's life among the Persians," the spies/emissaries questioned
him regarding the rumored long life of the Ethiopians. Confirming
The king led them to a fountain, wherein when they had washed, they
found their flesh all glossy and sleek, as if they had bathed in
oil. And a scent came from the spring like that of violets.
Returning to Cambyses, the spies described the water as "so weak,
that nothing would float on it, neither wood nor any lighter
substance, but all went to the bottom." And Herodotus noted the
If the account of this fountain be true, it would be their (the
Ethiopians') constant use of the water from it, which makes them so
The tale of the Fountain of Youth in Ethiopia, and of the violation
by the Persian Cambyses of the temple of Ammon, had direct bearing
on the history of Alexander. This concerned the rumors that he was
not really the son of Philip, but the offspring of a union between
his mother Olympias and the Egyptian God Ammon (Fig. 3). The
strained relations between Philip and Olympias only served to
confirm the suspicions.
As related in various versions of pseudo-Callisthenes, the court of
Philip was visited by an Egyptian Pharaoh whom the Greeks called
Nectanebus. He was a master magician, a diviner; and he secretly
seduced Olympias. Unbeknown to her at the time, it was in reality
the God Ammon who had come to her, taking the guise of Nectanebus.
And so it was that when she bore Alexander, she gave birth to a son
of a God. It was the very God whose temple the Persian Cambyses had
Defeating the Persian armies in Asia Minor, Alexander turned toward
Egypt. Expecting heavy resistance by the Persian viceroys who ruled
Egypt, he was astonished to see that great land fall into his hands
without any resistance: an omen, no doubt. Losing no time, Alexander
went to the Great Oasis, seat of the oracle of Ammon, There, the God
himself (so legends say) confirmed Alexander's true parentage. Thus
affirmed, the Egyptian priests deified him as a Pharaoh; thereby,
his desire to escape a mortal's fate became not a privilege, but a
right. (Henceforth, Alexander was depicted on his coins as a horned
Alexander then went south to Karnak, the center of the worship of
Ammon. There was more to the trip than met the eye. A venerated
religious center since the third millennium B.C., Karnak was a
conglomeration of temples, shrines and monuments to Ammon built by
generations of Pharaohs. One of the most impressive and colossal
structures was the temple built by Queen Hatshepsut more than a
thousand years before Alexander's time. And she too was said to have
been a daughter of the God Ammon, conceived by a queen whom the God
had visited in disguise!
Fig. 3 Fig. 4
Whatever actually transpired there, no one really knows. The fact is
that instead of leading his armies back east, toward the heartland
of the Persian empire, Alexander selected a small escort and a few
companions for an expedition even farther south. His puzzled
companions were led to believe that he was going on a pleasure
trip—the pleasures of lovemaking.
The uncharacteristic interlude was as incomprehensible to the
historians of those days as to the generals of Alexander. Trying to
rationalize, the recorders of Alexander's adventures described the
woman he was about to visit as a femme fatale, one "whose beauty no
living man could praise sufficiently." She was Candace, queen of a
land to the south of Egypt (today's Sudan). Reversing the tale of
Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, in this instance it was the king who
traveled to the queen's land. For, unbeknown to his companions,
Alexander was really seeking not love, but the secret of
After a pleasant stay, the queen agreed to reveal to Alexander, as a
parting gift, the secret of "the wonderful cave where the Gods
congregate." Following her directions, Alexander found the sacred
He entered with a few soldiers, and saw a starlit haze. And the
were shining, as if lit by stars. The external forms of the Gods
physically manifest; a crowd was serving (them) in silence.
At first he (Alexander) was frightened and surprised. But he stayed
see what would happen, for he saw some reclining figures whose eyes
were shining like beams of light.
The sight of the "reclining figures," with eyes emitting beams of
light, made Alexander stop short. Were they too Gods, or deified
mortals? He was then startled by a voice: one of the "figures" had
And there was one who said: "Glad greetings, Alexander. Do you know
who I am?"
And he (Alexander) said: "No, my lord."
The other said: "I am Sesonchusis, the world-conquering king who has
joined the ranks of the Gods."
Alexander was far from being surprised—as though he had encountered
the very person he had searched for. His arrival apparently
expected, Alexander was invited in, to
"the Creator and Overseer of
the entire universe." He "went within, and saw a fire-bright haze;
and, seated on a throne, the God whom he had once seen worshipped by
men in Rokotide, the Lord Serapis." (In the Greek version, it was
the God Dionysus.)
Alexander saw his chance to bring up the matter of his longevity.
"Lord God," he said, "how many years shall I live?"
But there was no answer from the God. Then Sesonchusis sought to
console Alexander, for the God's silence spoke for itself. Though I
myself have joined the ranks of the Gods, Sesonchusis said,
not as fortunate as you ... for although I have conquered the whole
world and subjugated so many peoples, nobody remembers my name; but
you shall have great renown ... you will have an immortal name
even after death."
In this manner, he consoled Alexander. "You shall
live upon dying, thus not dying"—immortalized by a lasting
Disappointed, Alexander left the caves and "continued the journey to
be made"—to seek the advice of other sages, to find an escape from a
mortal's fate, to emulate others who before him did succeed in
joining the immortal Gods.
According to one version, among those whom Alexander searched out
and met was Enoch, the biblical patriarch from the days before the
Deluge, who was the great-grandfather of Noah. It was a place of
mountains, "where Paradise, which is the Land of the Living, is
situated," the "abode where the saints dwell." Atop a mountain there
was a glittering structure, from which there extended skyward a huge
stairway, made of 2,500 golden slabs. In a vast hall or cavern
Alexander saw "golden figures, each standing in its
niche," a golden altar, and two huge "candlesticks" measuring some
sixty feet in height.
Upon a couch nearby reclined the form of a man who was draped in a
coverlet inlaid with gold and precious stones, and above it, worked
in gold, were branches of a vine, having its cluster of grapes
formed of jewels.
The man suddenly spoke up, identifying himself as Enoch. "Do not pry
into the mysteries of God," the voice warned Alexander. Heeding the
warning, Alexander left to rejoin his troops; but not before
receiving as a parting gift a bunch of grapes that miraculously were
sufficient to feed his whole army.
In yet another version, Alexander encountered not one but two men
from the past: Enoch, and the Prophet Elijah—two who according to
biblical traditions have never died. It happened when Alexander was
traversing an uninhabited desert. Suddenly, his horse was seized by
a "spirit" which carried horse and rider aloft, bringing Alexander
to a glittering tabernacle. Inside, he saw the two men.
were bright, their teeth whiter than milk, their eyes shone brighter
than the morning star; they were "lofty of stature, of gracious
look." Telling him who they were, they said that "God hid them from
death." They told him that the place was "The Gity of the Storehouse
of Life," from where the "Bright Waters of Life" emanated. But
before Alexander could find out more, or drink of the "Waters of
Life," a "chariot of fire" snatched him away—and he found himself
back with his troops.
(According to Muslim tradition, the prophet Muhammed was also
carried heavenward, a thousand years later, riding his white horse.)
Was the episode of the Cave of the Gods—as the other episodes in the
histories of Alexander—pure fiction, mere myth, or perhaps
embellished tales based on historical fact?
Was there a Queen Gandace, a royal city named Shamar, a
world-conqueror named Sesonchusis? In truth, the names meant little
to students of antiquity until relatively recently. If these were
names of Egyptian royal personages or of a mystical province of
Egypt, they were as obscured by time as the monuments were obscured
by the encroaching sands; rising above the sands, the pyramids and
the Sphinx only broadened the enigma; the hieroglyphic
picture-words, undecipherable, only confirmed that there were
secrets not to be unlocked. The tales from antiquity, passed on via
the Greeks and Romans, dissolved into legends; eventually, they
faded into obscurity.
It was only when Napoleon conquered Egypt in 1798, that Europe began
to rediscover Egypt. Accompanying Napoleon's troops were groups of
serious scholars who began to remove the sands and raise the curtain
forgetfulness. Then, near the village of Rosetta, a stone tablet was
found bearing the same inscription in three languages. The key was
found to unlock the language and inscriptions of ancient Egypt: its
records of Pharaonic feats, the glorification of its Gods.
In the 1820s European explorers penetrating southward, into the
Sudan, reported the existence of ancient monuments (including
sharp-angled pyramids) at a site on the Nile river called Meroe. A
Royal Prussian expedition uncovered impressive archaeological
remains during excavations in the years 1842-44. Between 1912 and
1914, others uncovered sacred sites; the hieroglyphic inscriptions
indicated one of them was called the Sun Temple—perhaps the very
place where the spies of Cambyses observed the "Table of the Sun."
Further excavations in this century, the piecing together of
archaeological finds, and the continued decipherment of the
inscriptions, have established that there indeed existed in that
land a Nubian kingdom in the first millennium B.C.; it was the
biblical Land of Kush.
There indeed was a Queen Candace. The hieroglyphic inscriptions
revealed, that at the very beginning of the Nubian kingdom, it was
ruled by a wise and benevolent queen. Her name was Candace (Fig. 5).
Thereafter, whenever a woman ascended the throne—which was not
infrequent—she adopted the name as a symbol of great queenship. And
farther south of Meroe, within this kingdom's domain, there was a
city named Sennar— possibly the Shamar referred to in the Alexander
And what about Sesonchusis? It is told in the Ethiopic version of
pseudo-Callisthenes, that journeying to (or from) Egypt, Alexander
and his men passed by a lake swarming with crocodiles. There, an
earlier ruler had built a way to cross the lake.
"And behold, there
was a building upon the shore of the lake, and above the building
was a heathen altar upon which was written: 'I am Kosh, the king of
the world, the conqueror who crossed this lake."
Who was this world conqueror Kosh, namely the king who ruled over
Kush or Nubia? In the Greek version of this tale, the conqueror who
had commemorated his crossing of the lake—described as part of the
waters of the Red Sea—was named Sesonchusis; so Sesonchusis and
were one and the same ruler—a Pharaoh who had ruled both Egypt and
Nubia. Nubian monuments depicted such a ruler as he receives from a
"Shiny God" the Fruit of Life shaped like date palms (Fig. 6).
Egyptian records do speak of a great Pharaoh who, early in the
second millennium B.C., was indeed a world conqueror. His name was
Senusert; and he, too, was a devotee of Ammon. Greek historians
credited him with the conquest of Libya and Arabia, and
significantly also of Ethiopia and all the islands of the Red Sea;
of great parts of Asia—penetrating east even farther than the later
Persians; and of invading Europe via Asia Minor. Herodotus described
the great feats of this Pharaoh, whom he names Sesostris; stating
that Sesostris erected memorial pillars wherever he went.
"The pillars which he erected," Herodotus wrote, "are still visible."
Thus, when Alexander saw the pillar by the lake, it only confirmed
what Herodotus had written a century earlier.
Sesonchusis did indeed exist. His Egyptian name meant "He whose
births live." For, by virtue of being a Pharaoh of Egypt, he had
every right to join the company of the Gods, and live forever.
In the search for the Waters of Life or of Eternal Youth, it was
important to assert that the search was surely not futile, for
others in days past had succeeded in the quest. Moreover, if the
waters flow from a Paradise Lost, would not finding those who had
been there be a means of learning from them how to get there?
It was with that in mind, that Alexander sought to reach the
Immortal Ancestors. Whether he indeed encountered them is not too
important: the important fact is that in the centuries preceding the
Christian era, Alexander or his historians (or both) believed that
the Immortal Ancestors indeed existed—that in days that to them were
ancient and olden, mortals could become immortal if the Gods so
The authors or editors of the histories of Alexander relate various
incidents in which Alexander encountered Sesonchusis; Elijah and
Enoch; or just Enoch. The identity of Sesonchusis could only be
guessed, and the manner of his translation to Immortality is not
described. Not so with Elijah—the companion of Enoch in the Shining
Temple, according to one Alexander version.
He was the biblical Prophet who was active in the Kingdom of Israel
in the ninth century B.C., during the reign of kings Ahab and
Ahaziah. As his adopted name indicated (Eli-Yah—"My God is Yahweh"),
he was inspired by and stood up for
the Hebrew God Yahweh, whose
faithful were finding themselves harassed by the followers of the
Canaanite God Baal. After a period of seclusion at a secret place
near the Jordan River, where he was apparently coached by the Lord,
he was given "a mantle of haircloth" of magical powers, and was able
to perform miracles.
Residing first near the Phoenician town of Sidon, his first reported miracle (as related in I Kings Chapter 17)
was the making of a little cooking oil and a spoonful of flour last
a widow, who gave him shelter, the rest of her lifetime. Then he
prevailed on the Lord to revive her son, after he had died of a
violent illness. He could also summon the Fire of God from the
skies, which came in handily in the ongoing struggle with the kings
and priests who succumbed to pagan temptations.
Of him, the Scriptures say, that he did not die on Earth, for he
"went up into Heaven in a whirlwind." According to Jewish
traditions, Elijah is still immortal; and to this very day,
tradition requires that he be invited to come into Jewish homes on
Passover eve. His ascent is described in the Old Testament in great
detail. And as reported in II Kings Chapter 2, the event
was not a sudden or unexpected occurrence. On the contrary: it was a
planned and pre-arranged operation, whose place and time were
communicated to Elijah in advance.
The designated place was in the Jordan Valley, on the eastern side
of the river—perhaps in the very area where Elijah was ordained as
"a Man of God." As he began his last journey to Gilgal—a place
commemorating an earlier miracle, as the Bible tells—he had a tough
time shaking off his devoted chief disciple Elisha. Along the way,
the two Prophets were repeatedly intercepted by disciples, "Sons of
Prophets," who kept asking: Is it true that the Lord will take
Elijah heavenward today?
Let the biblical narrator tell the story in his own words:
And it came to pass when the Lord
would take up Elijah into Heaven by a Whirlwind,
that Elijah went with Elisha from Cilgal.
And Elijah said unto Elisha:
"Tarry here, I pray thee,
for the Lord has sent me to Beth-El."
And Elisha said unto him:
"As the Lord liveth, and by thy life,
I will not leave thee."
So they went down to Beth-El.
And the Sons of the Prophets that were at Beth-el
came forth to Elisha, and said unto him:
"Knowest thou that the Lord will, this day,
take the master from above thee?"
And he said:
"Yea, I know it too; but keep silent."
Now Elijah admitted to Elisha that his destination was Jericho, by
the Jordan River; and he asked his colleague to stay behind. But
again Elisha refused and went along with the Prophet; "and so they
came to Jericho."
And the Sons of the Prophets that were at Jericho
approached Elisha and said unto him:
"Knowest thou that the Lord will, this day,
take the master from above thee?"
And he said:
"Yea, I know it too; but keep silent."
Foiled thus far in his attempt to proceed alone, Elijah then asked
Elisha to stay behind in Jericho, and to let him proceed to the
river's bank unaccompanied. But Elisha refused, and would not part
from Elijah. Encouraged, "fifty men of the Sons of the Prophets went
along; but they stopped and stood apart as the two (Elijah and
Elisha) reached the Jordan."
And Elijah took his mantle
and rolled it together,
and struck the waters.
And the waters parted hither and thither,
and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
Once they were across, Elisha asked that Elijah imbue him with the
divine spirit; but before he could get an answer,
As they continued to walk on and to talk,
there appeared a chariot of fire,
and horses of fire, and the two were separated.
And Elijah went up into Heaven,
in a Whirlwind.
And Elisha saw,
and he cried out:
"My father! My father!
The Chariot of Israel and its horsemen!"
And he saw it no more.
Distraught, Elisha sat stunned for a while. Then he saw that the
mantle of Elijah was left behind. Was it by accident or on purpose?
Determined to find out, Elisha took the mantle, and returned to the
banks of the Jordan, and called the name of Yahweh, and struck the
waters. And lo and behold— "the waters parted hither and thither,
and Elisha crossed." And the Sons of the Prophets, the disciples who
stood back on the western side of the river in the plain of Jericho,
"saw this; and they said: 'the inspiration of Elijah doth rest upon Elisha'; and they came toward him, and prostrated themselves before
Incredulous of what they had seen with their own eyes, the fifty
disciples wondered whether Elijah was indeed taken heavenward for
good. Perchance the Lord's wind had blown him only some distance,
and he was thrown upon a mountain or into some ravine? they asked.
Over the objections of Elisha, they searched for three days. And
when they returned from the futile search, Elisha said: "Did I not
say unto you, 'Go not?'" for he well knew the truth: that the Lord
of Israel had taken Elijah up in a Chariot of Fire.
The encounter with Enoch, which the histories of Alexander claimed
for him, introduced into the Search for Immortality an "Immortal
Ancestor" specifically mentioned in the Old and New Testaments
alike, the legends of whose ascent to the heavens predated the Bible
and were recorded in their own right.
According to the Bible, Enoch was the seventh pre-Diluvial patriarch
in the line of Adam through Seth (as distinct from the accursed line
through Cain). He was the great-grandfather of Noah, the hero of the
Deluge. The fifth chapter of the Book of Genesis lists the
genealogies of these patriarchs, the ages at which their rightful
heirs were born, and the ages at which they died.
But Enoch was an
exception: no mention at all is made of his death. Explaining that
"he had walked with the Lord," the Book of Genesis states that at
the actual or symbolic age of 365 (the number of days in a solar
year), Enoch "was gone" from Earth, "for the Lord had taken him."
Enlarging on the cryptic biblical statement, Jewish commentators
often quoted older sources which seemed to describe an actual ascent
by Enoch to the heavens, where he was (by some versions) translated
into Metatron, the Lord's "Prince of the Countenance" who was
stationed right behind the Lord's throne.
According to these legends, as brought together by I. B. Lavner in
his Kol Agadoth Israel [All the Legends of Israel], when Enoch was
summoned to the Lord's abode, a fiery horse was sent for him from
the heavens. Enoch was at the time preaching righteousness to the
people. When the people saw the fiery horse descending from the
skies, they asked Enoch for an explanation. And he told them: "Know
ye, that the time has come to leave ye and ascend to Heaven." But as
he mounted the horse, the people refused to let him leave, and
followed him about for a whole week.
"And it was on the seventh day,
that a fiery chariot drawn by fiery horses and angels came down, and
raised Enoch skyward."
While he was soaring up, the Angels of Heaven
objected to the Lord: "How comes a man born of a woman to ascend
unto the Heavens?" But the Lord pointed out the piety and devotion
of Enoch, and opened to him the Gates of Life and of Wisdom, and
arrayed him in a magnificent garment and a luminous crown.
As in other instances, cryptic references in the Scriptures often
suggest that the ancient editor assumed that his reader was familiar
with some other, more detailed writings on the subject at hand.
There are even specific mentions of such writings—"The Book of
Righteousness," or "The Book of the Wars of Yahweh"—which must have
existed, but were entirely lost.
In the case of Enoch, the New
Testament augments a cryptic statement that Enoch was "translated"
by the Lord "that he should not see death" with a mention of a
Testimony of Enoch, written or dictated by him "before his
Translation" to Immortality (Hebrews 11:5). Jude 14, referring to
the prophecies of Enoch, is also taken as referring to some actual
writings by this patriarch.
Various Christian writings throughout the centuries also contain
similar hints or references; and as it turned out, there have in
fact circulated since the second century B.C.
several versions of a
Book of Enoch. When the manuscripts were studied in the nineteenth
century, scholars concluded that there were basically two sources.
The first, identified as I Enoch and called the Ethiopic Book of
Enoch, is an Ethiopic translation of a previous
Greek translation of an original work in Hebrew (or Aramaic). The
other, identified as II Enoch, is a Slavonic translation from an
original written in Greek whose full title was The Book of the
Secrets of Enoch.
Scholars who have studied these versions do not rule out the
possibility that both I Enoch and II Enoch stem from a much earlier
original work; and that there indeed could have existed in antiquity
a Book of Enoch. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old
Testament, which R. H. Charles began to publish in 1913, is still
the major English translation of the Books of Enoch and the other
early writings which were excluded from the canonized Old and New
Written in the first person, The Book of the Secrets of Enoch starts
with an exact place and time:
On the first day of the first month of the 365th year I was alone in
my house and I rested on my bed and slept... . And there appeared
to me two men, very tall, such as I have never seen on Earth; and
their faces shone like the sun, and their eyes were like burning
lamps, and fire came forth from their lips. Their dress had the
appearance of feathers, their feet were purple. Their wings were
brighter than gold; their hands whiter than snow. They stood at the
head of my bed and called me by name.
Because he was asleep when these strangers arrived, Enoch adds for
the record that by then he was no longer sleeping; "I saw clearly
these men, standing in front of me," he states. He made obeisance to
them, and was overtaken by fear. But the two reassured him:
Be of good cheer, Enoch, be not afraid; the Everlasting
sent us to thee and lo, today thou shalt ascend with us into heaven.
They then told Enoch to wake up his family and servants, and order
them not to seek him, "till the Lord bring thee back to them." This
Enoch did, using the opportunity to instruct his sons in the ways of
righteousness. Then the time came to depart:
It came to pass when I had spoken to my sons, these men summoned me
and took me on their wings and placed me on the clouds; and lo, the
clouds moved.... Going higher I saw the air and (going still)
higher I saw the ether; and they placed me in the First Heaven; and
they showed me a very great sea, greater than the earthly sea.
Ascending thus unto the heavens upon "clouds that move," Enoch was
transported from the First Heaven—where "two hundred angels rule the
stars"—to the Second, gloomy Heaven; then to the Third Heaven. There
he was shown
a garden with a goodliness of its appearance; beautiful and fragrant
trees and fruits. In the midst therein there is a Tree of Life—in
that place on which the God rests when he comes into Paradise.
Stunned by the Tree's magnificence, Enoch manages to describe the
Tree of Life in the following words:
"It is beautiful more than any
created thing; on all sides in appearance it is like gold and
crimson, transparent as fire."
From its root go four streams which
pour honey, milk, oil and wine, and they go down from this heavenly
Paradise to the Paradise of Eden, making a revolution around Earth.
This Third Heaven and its Tree of Life are guarded by three hundred
"very glorious" angels. It is in this Third Heaven that the Place of
the Righteous, and the Terrible Place where the wicked are tortured,
Going further up, to the Fourth Heaven, Enoch could see the
Luminaries and various wondrous creatures, and the Host of the
Lord. In the Fifth Heaven, he saw many "hosts"; in the Sixth, "bands
of angels who study the revolutions of the stars." Then he reached
the Seventh Heaven, where the greatest angels hurried about and
where he saw the Lord—"from afar"—sitting on his throne.
The two winged men and their moving cloud placed Enoch at the limits
of the Seventh Heaven, and left; whereupon the Lord sent the
archangel Gabriel to fetch Enoch into His Presence.
For thirty-three days, Enoch was instructed in all the wisdoms and
all the events of the past and the future; then he was returned to
Earth by an awful angel who had a "very cold appearance." In total,
he was absent from Earth sixty days. But his return to Earth was
only so that he might instruct his sons in the laws and
commandments; and thirty days later, he was taken up again unto the
heavens—this time, for good.
Written both as a personal testament and as a historic review, the
Ethiopic Book of Enoch, whose earliest title was probably The Words
of Enoch, describes his journeys to Heaven as well as to the four
corners of Earth.
As he traveled north, "toward the north ends of
Earth," he "saw there a great and glorious device," the nature of
which is not described. And he saw there, as well as at the western
ends of Earth, "three portals of heaven open in the heaven" in each
place, through which hail and snow, cold and frost blew in.
"And thence I went to the south to the ends of the Earth," and
through the portals of Heaven there blow in the dew and rain. And
thence he went to see the eastern portals, through which the stars
of Heaven pass and run their course.
But the principal mysteries, and secrets of the past and the future,
were shown to Enoch as he went to "the middle of the Earth," and to
the east and to the west thereof. The "middle of the Earth" was the
site of the future
Holy Temple in Jerusalem; on his journey east, Enoch reached the
Tree of Knowledge; and going west, he was shown the Tree of Life.
On his eastward journey, Enoch passed mountains and deserts, saw
water courses flowing from mountain peaks covered by clouds, and
snow and ice ("water which flows not"), and trees of diverse
fragrances and balsams. Going farther and farther east, he found
himself back over mountains bordering the Erythraean Sea (the Sea of
Arabia and the Red Sea). Continuing, he passed by Zotiel, the angel
guarding the entrance to Paradise, and he "came unto the Garden of
There he saw among many wonderful trees the "Tree of
Knowledge." It was as high as a fir, its leaves were as of the
carob, and its fruit like the clusters of a vine. And the angel who
was with him confirmed that indeed it was the very tree whose fruit
Adam and Eve had eaten before they were driven out of the Garden of
On his journey west, Enoch arrived at a "mountain range of fire,
which burnt day and night." Beyond it he reached a place encircled
by six mountains separated by "deep, rough ravines." A seventh
mountain rose in their midst,
"resembling the seat of a throne; and
fragrant trees encircled the throne. And amongst them was a tree
such as I had never smelt... and its fruit resembles the dates of
The angel who accompanied him explained that the middle mountain was
the throne "on which the Holy Great One, the Lord of Glory, the
Eternal King will sit when He shall come to visit Earth." And as to
the tree whose fruits were as the date palms, he said:
As for this fragrant tree, no mortal is permitted to
touch it till the Great Judgment ...
Its fruit shall be for food for the elect ...
Its fragrance shall be in their bones,
And they shall live a long life on Earth.
It was during these journeys that Enoch "saw in those days how long
cords were given to those angels, and they took to themselves wings,
and they went towards the north." And when Enoch asked what this was
all about, the angel who guided him said;
"They have gone off to
measure ... they shall bring the measures of the righteous to the
righteous, and the ropes of the righteous to the righteous . . all
these measures shall reveal the secrets of the earth."
Having visited all the secret places on Earth, Enoch's time had come
to take the Journey to Heaven. And, like others after him, he was
taken to a "mountain whose summit reached to Heaven" and to a Land
And they (the angels) took me to a place in which those who were
there were like flaming fire, and when they wished, they appeared as
men. And they brought me to a place of darkness, and to a mountain
the point of whose summit reached to heaven.
And I saw the chambers of the luminaries, and the treasuries of the
stars, and of the thunder, in the great depths, where were a fiery
bow and arrows, and their quiver, and a fiery sword, and all the
Whereas, at such a crucial stage, Immortality slipped out of
Alexander's hands because he had searched for it contrary to his
proclaimed destiny— Enoch, as the Pharaohs after him, was proceeding
with divine blessing. Thus, at this crucial moment, he was deemed
worthy of proceeding; so "they (the angels) took me to the Waters of
Continuing, he arrived at the "House of Fire":
And I went in till I drew nigh to a wall which is built of crystals
and surrounded by tongues of fire; and it began to affright me.
And I went into the tongues of fire and drew nigh to a large house
which was built of crystals; and the walls of the house were like a
tesselated floor of crystals, and its groundwork was of crystal. Its
ceiling was like the path of the stars and the lightnings, and
between them were fiery Cherubim, and their heaven was as water.
A flaming fire surrounded the walls, and its portals blazed with
fire. And I entered into that house, and it was hot as a fire and
cold as ice... .
And I beheld a vision; behold, there was a second house, greater
than the former, and the entire portal stood open before me, and it
was built of flames of fire... .
And I looked therein and saw a lofty throne: its appearance was as
crystal, and the wheels thereof as the shining sun, and there was
the appearance of Cherubim.
And from underneath the throne came streams of flaming fire, so that
I could not look thereon.
Arriving at the "River of Fire,"
Enoch was taken aloft.
He could see the whole of Earth—"the mouths of all the rivers of
Earth ... and the cornerstones of Earth ... and the winds on
Earth carrying the clouds."
Rising higher, he was,
"where the winds
stretch the vaults of Heaven and have their station between Heaven
and Earth. I saw the winds of Heaven which turn and bring the
circumference of the Sun, and all the stars."
Following "the paths
of the angels," he reached a point "in the firmament of Heaven
above" from which he could see "the end of Earth."
From there, he could view the expanse of the heavens: and he could
see "seven stars like great shining mountains"—"seven mountains of
magnifi-cent stones." From wherever he was viewing these celestial
bodies, "three were toward the east," where there was "the region of
heavenly fire"; there Enoch saw rising and falling "columns of
fire"—eruptions of fire "which were beyond measure, alike toward the
width and toward the depth." On the other side, three celestial
bodies were "toward the south"; there Enoch
"an abyss, a place which had no firmament of the Heaven above,
and no firmly founded Earth below ... it was a void and awesome
When he asked the angel who was carrying him aloft for an
explanation, he replied:
"There the heavens were completed ... it is
the end of Heaven and Earth; it is a prison for the stars and the
host of Heaven."
The middle star "reached to Heaven like the throne of God." Having
the appearance of alabaster, "and the summit of the throne as of
sapphire," the star was "like a flaming fire."
Journeying on in the heavens, Enoch said,
"I proceeded to where
things were chaotic. And I saw there something horrible." What he
saw was "stars of the heaven bound together."
And the angel
explained to him:
"These are of the number of stars of
heaven which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and are bound here
till ten thousand years are consummated."
Concluding his report of the first Journey to Heaven, Enoch said:
"And I, Enoch, alone saw the vision, the ends of all things; and no
man shall see as I have seen."
After being taught at the Heavenly
Abode all manner of wisdom, he was returned to Earth to impart
teachings to other men. For an unspecified length of time,
was hidden, and no one of the children of men knew where he was
hidden, and where he abode, and what had become of him."
the Deluge neared. he wrote down his teachings and advised his
great-grandson Noah to be righteous and worthy of salvation.
After that, Enoch was once again,
"raised aloft from among those who
dwell on Earth. He was raised aloft on the Chariot of the Spirits,
and his 'Name' vanished among them."
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