Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Biblical Enoch and Babylonian Mythology By Rev. Elwood Worcester D.D. 1901

The Biblical Enoch and Babylonian Mythology By Rev. Elwood Worcester D.D. 1901

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Since this [writing], Heinrich Zimmern, the well-known professor of Semitic languages in the University of Leipzig, has published what may prove to be an important discovery in regard to the Patriarch Enoch. [Biblische und Babylonische Urgeschichte," Leipzig, 1901.] Before mentioning this discovery, let me remind the reader that according to Babylonian tradition ten mythical kings, and according to one Hebrew tradition ten patriarchs, existed before the Flood. Between these two lists, one of which is found in the history of Berosus, and the other in the fifth chapter of Genesis, a certain general similarity has long been recognized. In each list the tenth patriarch or king (Noah or Xisuthros) is the hero of the Flood story. Further, the name of the third Hebrew patriarch, Enos, means "a man"; and the name of the third Babylonian king, Amelon, has the same significance. The fourth patriarch in the Bible is called Cainan, or "smith," and the fourth Babylonian king is called Ammenon, which is interpreted "workman," or "masterworkman," etc.

It is, however, in regard to the seventh patriarch, Enoch, that this comparison is most interesting. Now Enoch has always been a dark and puzzling personality to students of the Bible. It is true, little is related of him in the Book of Genesis, but that little is very strange. We read that Enoch was the seventh from Adam, that he lived 365 years, that he "walked with God." and then "was not, for God had taken him." Tantalizingly brief as these notices are, they evidently set before us a great hero, a man distinguished above all the other patriarchs in that, like Elijah, he did not taste of death. A fate so singular, however, would never have been ascribed to an obscure personage. From this bare account of Genesis we may be sure that Enoch was a man of renown in antiquity, of whom many strange adventures were once related. This impression is decidedly strengthened by the great cloud of myth which gathered around Enoch's head in later times, and which at last expressed itself in the Apocryphal books which bear his name. ["The Book of Enoch." composed in the second and first centuries B.C., and "The Secrets of Enoch," 1 to 50 A.D.] In these books Enoch passes as a great prophet, a mighty seer to whom God revealed the future history of the world. He is represented as the inventor of writing, arithmetic, and astrology. The credit enjoyed by the Book of Enoch is shown by the fact that St. Jude unhesitatingly quotes it as an authentic work of prophecy, as does also the author of the Epistles ascribed to St. Barnabas.

Now the difficulty has been that nothing we know of the life of Enoch suffices to show why he should have been singled out for such distinctions. The motive of the statements of Genesis, and still more the motive of the vast myth of the Book of Enoch, has been altogether lacking. His place in history as the seventh from Adam, to which St. Jude so pointedly calls attention, was doubtless assigned him to single him out for peculiar honors. The 365 years of his life have frequently been compared with the days of the solar year, though up to the present time this comparison has thrown no real light on his character. His translation to Heaven, which is plainly hinted at in the words "he was not, for God had taken him," sets him apart as one of the most highly favored of mankind, and the fact that this honor was conferred on Enoch rather than on Noah, after the example of Xisuthros, is still more surprising. We may also remark, that as far as the character of Enoch is depicted in the Book of Genesis, it is depicted as the character of a religious man. Enoch's greatness did not consist in worldly exploits, or in deeds of arms, or in the discovery of human arts, but in his relation to the Most High. "Enoch walked with God." In this respect he reminds us of the mysterious priest Melchizedek. The Book of Enoch confirms this impression, and represents him consistently as a man of God, a prophet free from mundane cares and occupations. We may sum this up by saying that the meagre but very striking allusions to Enoch in the Book of Genesis mark him out as a man of renown, a religious hero, the subject of a popular myth, and that this character is well sustained in the books which bear his name.

The origin of this myth Zimmern believes that he has discovered. He reminds us that in Berosus' catalogue the seventh mythical king of Babylonia is called in Greek, Evedoranchos, and also in a ritual tablet recently explained by him.* Zimmern recognizes the cuneiform equivalent of Evedoranchos in the great prophet-priest, Enmeduranki. In this tablet Enmeduranki, or Evedoranchos (for we may regard this point as proved), is hailed as king of Sippara, the city of the sun-god, Shamash. Shamash has taken Enmeduranki into his fellowship, and has instructed him in all the secrets of Heaven and earth, and especially has bestowed on him power to prophesy future events from signs in the earth and heavens. Enmeduranki is evidently regarded as the prototype and progenitor of the prophetpriests of Babylonia, whose business was to foretell the future from dreams and omens, and especially from the movements of the heavenly bodies. This, it will be remembered, is the role assigned to Enoch in the Apocryphal books. Even the 365 years of Enoch, which are so far below the average term of life of his contemporaries, Zimmern plausibly explains by Enmeduranki's intimate association with Shamash, the sun-god.

On examining the text from which Zimmern derives his argument, the reader will probably be disappointed by the vagueness of its allusions. Zimmern's identification of Enoch with the seventh Babylonian king, however, is decidedly strengthened by certain linguistic considerations. It may be granted that Enmeduranki and Berosus' Evedoranchos are the same person. It would also appear from the tablet that Enmeduranki was regarded as the prototype of the Babylonian prophet-priests, and that he was the subject of an extensive myth. Now the name of the god Ea was, in Sumerian, En-ki (lord of the earth). Enmeduranki appears to be an expansion of this name, signifying, "Thou art lord, lord of all the earth." If, however, this old mythical priest-king of Sippara bore a name which was only an expansion of the Sumerian name of Ea—i.e., En-ki—his name might easily be contracted again to En-ki. The resemblance between En-ki and Enoch (Chanok) is, of course, very striking. Enoch is probably a corruption of En-ki. The "E" would naturally be represented in Western Semitic by the guttural cheth, or ajin, which were sometimes interchanged, so that the resemblance is really much more close than in the case of many names which in ancient times passed from one language to another. I am indebted for these suggestions to Dr. George A. Barton.

It is true, neither Berosus nor Zimmern's tablet mentions the translation of Evedoranchos or Enmeduranki. That element of the story of Enoch appears to have been transferred from the myth of Xisuthros. But for the rest, the above explanation of the strange personality of Enoch is probably the best it has as yet received.

From Knowledge, an Illustrated Magazine of Science, Literature and Art by Richard A Proctor 1888
As in all solar myths, however, we find in the legend of the deluge the record of a full year, and—as has long been considered remarkable by Bible commentators—precisely one year of 365 days. The life of Enoch, it is to be noticed, is given as 365 years, and it is noteworthy that a certain confusion may be recognised between Enoch and Noah, as between their Egyptian and Babylonian analogues. The seventh Egyptian god, like the tenth, is named Hor; and, again, Xisuthrus, the Babylonian Noah, is translated after the close of his achievements as a solar hero, as Enoch is translated after his solar life of 365 days. It is true that the year of 365 days was not in general use either in Egypt or Chaldea; but the length of the year was known to the astronomers of the Pyramid time with much greater accuracy than even the period of 365 days would indicate — probably it was known within a few minutes of the true value. Just here it may be noticed that the Jewish Midrash compares the course of the sun to a ship coming from Akramania (wherever that may be) with 365 ropes, and to a ship coming from Alexandria which has 354 ropes (354 being the number of days in a lunar year). There is a Phrygian legend that the king or patriarch Annakos, i.e. Enoch, being more than 300 years old, predicted the flood, and prayed with many tears and lamentations for the people.

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