Book of Enoch

Book of Enoch: Sometimes referred to as 1 Enoch, or the Ethiopic Enoch. The Book of Enoch was supposedly written by the biblical Patriarch Enoch, allegedly born to the seventh generation of Adam and believed to have become the first prophet and scribe. Enoch is one of the rare biblical figures said to have been bodily assumed into Heaven. Long thought to be a Christian text, the Book of Enoch was actually written sometime before the Christian era. Multiple copies of this text appear among the Dead Sea Scrolls, dating it to at least the first through third centuries BCE.

Lost to Western scholars for nearly thirteen hundred years, the Book of Enoch contains the most complete account of the Watcher Angels, heavenly beings said to have walked out of Heaven in order to take wives among the daughters of men. This part of the Watcher Angel story is referenced obliquely in Genesis 6:1-4, but it remains a fragment that is never fully resolved within the biblical text. The children of the Watcher Angels were called the Nephilim, and these human-angel hybrids were reputed to be bloodthirsty, ambitious, and cruel. Their angelic fathers, who also sinned by teaching forbidden knowledge of magickal arts to humanity, were eventually punished for mixing the seed of angels with the children of the earth.

Bound hand and foot in the desert, the leaders of the Watcher Angels, called Shemyaza and Azazel in the text, were forced to witness the destruction of their earthly empire as their sons were set against one another in battle. The survivors were drowned in the Flood.

The Book of Enoch was originally recognized as official Scripture, but it was cut from the Bible around 300 CE. It was so aggressively suppressed by later Church fathers that it was eventually lost, only to be discovered again in an Ethiopian monastery by adventurer James Bruce in the eighteenth century. Nevertheless, multiple references to the Watcher Angels and their story remained woven throughout the demonology of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

The Testament of Solomon makes allusions to the concept of the human-angel union presented in the Book of Enoch, although it does not directly reference the text itself. According to this book, many demons haunting the earth are the ill-begotten progeny of the Watchers. This may have given rise to a persistent yet anecdotal belief in the Middle Ages that many demons were the spirits of the slaughtered sons of the Watcher Angels, condemned never to take flesh again but also unable to ever leave the mortal plane. This belief is also present in Ludovico Sinistrari’s seventeenth-century work Demoniality, in which women visited by incubus demons are said to bear children with qualities suspiciously close to those described as belonging to the Nephilim in the Book of Enoch.


The Dictionary of Demons written by Michelle Belanger