The Watchers are Fallen Angels. The Watchers cohabited with human women and fell from God’s grace. Watchers are also referred to as SONS OF GOD. Their monstrous offspring, the Nephilim, and the corruption the Watchers created on Earth so revolted God that he decided to send the great flood to destroy all life on Earth. The cohabitation of the Sons of God and the daughters of men is briefly described in Genesis 6:1–4.
Watchers also describes Angels who do not fall but who are close to the throne of God, thus causing some confusion as to whether they are good or bad. 1 Enoch tells in detail the story of the Watchers and their fall. The Watchers, described as angels who are “the children of heaven,” see the beautiful daughters of men and desire them.
They decide to take them as wives. But their leader, SEMYAZA, expresses the fear that he alone will be held accountable for this great sin. The angels, who are 200 in number, swear an oath binding them all together. Their chiefs (called chiefs of tens) who serve under Semyaza are Arakeb, Rameel, Tamel, Ramel, Danel, Ezeqel, Baraqyal, Asel, Armaros, Batrel, Ananel, Zaqeel, Sasomaspweel, Kestarel, Turel, Yamayol, and Arazyal.
The Watchers descend to Earth and take the women. Many of them commit adultery against their new wives. Their offspring, the giant Nephilim, turn against people, cannibalize them, and drink their blood. The Watchers teach people secret arts such as magical medicine, incantations, and knowledge of plants and herbs. AZAZEL teaches the art of making weapons of war, jewelry, and cosmetics, and dye making and alchemy. Amasras teaches plant lore and how to perform magic. Baraqiyal teaches astrology, Kokarerel teaches the zodiac, Tamel teaches about the stars, and Asderel teaches about the Moon and the deception of humans.
Later in the text, 1 Enoch gives the names of 21 chiefs of the fallen (some angels are named more than once :
Fallen angels who are known as the Five Satans:
• Yeqon, who misleads all the children of the angels, brings them down upon the earth, and perverts them by the daughters of the people
• Asbel, who misleads holy angels so that they will defile their bodies by the daughters of the people
• Gaderel, who shows the children of the people all the blows of death, who misleads Eve, and who shows the children of the people how to make weapons and all other instruments of war and death
• Pinene, who Demonstrates to people the bitter and the sweet, reveals to them all the secrets of wisdom, and teaches them the secret of writing with ink and paper, thus causing them to err through all eternity
• Kasadya, “who reveals the flagellations of all evil including the flagellation of the souls and the Demons, the smashing of the embryo in the womb so that it may be crushed, and the flagellation of the soul; snake bites, sun strokes, and the son of the Serpent whose name is Tabata” according to 1 Enoch 69:4–12
Sin, corruption, and oppression spread across the earth. Horrified, the angels Michael, Surafel (Suriel/ Uriel), and Gabriel petition God to take action, for the people on Earth are suffering.
God declares that he will wipe out the wicked and all life on Earth in a great flood. He instructs Raphael to bind Azazel hand and foot and to throw him into darkness. Raphael makes a hole in the desert, casts Azazel into it, and covers him with sharp rocks. God tells Gabriel to destroy the children of the Watchers. He tells Michael to inform Semyaza that they will die together with their wives and children in their defilement. He is to bind them for 70 generations beneath rocks until the day of judgment.
They will then be led into the bottom of fire, where they will be locked up in prison and in torment forever. All those who collaborated with the Watchers will be similarly punished. Finally, Michael is to eradicate injustice from the face of the Earth. The Watchers call to the prophet Enoch for help, and he hears them in a dream vision. Upon awakening, he tells Azazel there will be no peace for him, for a grave judgment has come upon him.
Enoch then speaks to all the Watchers, who are full of fear and trembling. They beg him to write a prayer of forgiveness for them. Enoch records their prayers and petitions and then reads them until he falls asleep. He has another dream vision in which he sees plagues. When he awakens, he goes to the Watchers and reprimands them for their sins and tells them their petitions will not be heard.
Enoch nonetheless tries to intercede on behalf of the Watchers but is refused by God. God says that their giant offspring shall be called evil spirits upon the earth, for they will dwell on the earth and in the earth. He tells Enoch to inform the Watchers that because they have rejected heaven, they shall have no peace. 1 Enoch also gives the names of “the holy angels who watch,” implying that the term Watchers was given to angels in heaven, not just the fallen ones.
The holy angels are :
• Suruel—angel of eternity and trembling
• Raphael—angel of the spirits of man
• Raguel—angel who takes vengeance for the world and for the luminaries
• Michael—angel who is obedient in his benevolence over the people and the nations
• Saraqael—angel who is over the spirits of mankind and who is in the spirit
• Gabriel—angel who oversees the garden of Eden, the serpents, and the Cherubim
In 2 Enoch, Enoch sees the “innumerable armies” of the Watchers and Nephilim imprisoned in the fifth heaven. They are dejected and silent. Enoch, who unsuccessfully tries to intercede on their behalf with God, urges them to sing a liturgy to God so that God will not be enraged against them “to the limit.” They do so, singing in a piteous and touching way.
3 Enoch describes the Watchers as holy angels. According to the text, four great princes called “Watchers and holy ones” (the terms used in Daniel) reside in the seventh heaven opposite the throne of glory facing God. They are called Watchers and holy ones because on the third day of judgment (after death), they sanctify the body and soul with lashes of fire (a reference to preparing the soul for God’s presence).
Each Watcher has 70 names corresponding to the 70 languages of the world, and all of them are based on the name of God. Each name is written with a pen of flame on God’s crown. Such sparks and lightning shoot forth from them that no angels, not even the seraphim, can look upon them.
The Watchers are praised with the praise of the Shekinah, and God does nothing without taking their counsel. They function as officers in the heavenly court and debate and close each case that comes up for judgment. They announce the verdicts, proclaim the sentences, and sometimes go down to Earth to carry out the sentences.
A Qumran text called the Testament of Amran (Q543, 545–548), which exists only in several fragments and manuscripts, concerns the Watchers. In Manuscript B Fragment 1, the anonymous author describes a dream vision in which two Watchers are fighting over him. He asks, “Who are you that you are thus empowered over me?” They tell him that they have been empowered to rule over all humankind, and they ask him to choose which of them he would want as a ruler. One of them has a terrifying appearance, like a serpent wearing a dark cloak of many colors. He has a “visage like a viper.”
Fragment 2 identifies Belial as one of the Watchers. He has three titles, Belial, Prince of Darkness, and King of Evil, and he is empowered over all darkness and his every way, and every work are darkness. Fragment 3 mentions the “sons of Light,” who are ruled by a being who identifies himself with three names: Michael, Prince of Light, and King of Righteousness.
Another fragment says that all the sons of Darkness will be destroyed because of their foolishness and evil and the sons of Light will have eternal joy and rejoicing for all peace and truth will be made light.
- Collins, Andrew. From the Ashes of Angels: The Forbidden Legacy of a Fallen Race. London: Signet Books, 1996. Read this book here
- Eisenman, Robert, and Michael Wise. The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered. London: Element Books, 1992.
- The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Vols. 1 & 2. Edited by James H. Charlesworth. 1983. Reprint, New York: Doubleday, 1985.
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