In rabbinical tradition Enoch is known as being the first human soul to become the Messiah or Anointed One (i.e. the Christ), the Great Teacher and Initiator, from whom all our wisdom teachings are derived and who initiates us into the mysteries of life.

The Hebraic-Christian bible refers to Enoch as the seventh from Adam [1] and son of Lamed, a member of the line of descent through Seth, the fourth son of Adam and Eve, by which the knowledge of God was preserved. Genesis describes Enoch as begetting his son Methuselah when he (Enoch) was sixty-five years old, then 'walking with God' for a further three hundred years, during which time he had further sons and daughters. At the end of this time Enoch 'was not', for 'God took him'.[2] 'Walking with God' is a phrase also used in connection with Noah, and refers to a prophetic life spent in intimate communion with the spiritual or divine world. The Book of Enoch states that 'All his [Enoch's] action was with the holy ones, and with the watchers [i.e. great angels] during his life'.[3] Ecclesiasticus refers to Enoch as pleasing the Lord and being 'translated' (i.e. taken up bodily into heaven without dying), being a 'pattern of repentance'.[4] St Paul, in his epistle to the Hebrews, echoes this, saying that: 'By faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death; and was not found, for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God'.[5]

The Book of Enoch recounts that Enoch had been a cobbler (i.e. a mender of souls)[6] who, because of his life of piety, was taken up into heaven and raised to the first rank of angels, where he was transformed into the great archangel Metatron.[7] The rabbinical tradition further explains that Enoch was the first human being to complete all the initiations on the human path of evolution. As a result he ascended bodily into the highest heaven, where he became Metatron, chief of all the archangels or creative spirits. He was given the divine powers and keys of heaven,[8] and made guardian of the treasures of heaven.[9] There, in the highest of the seven heavens, because of his love for humanity he chose to remain with and teach those below him in evolution rather than rise and reunite totally with the Godhead.[10] He will, therefore, remain with this world to help it until all human souls reach enlightenment. As Metatron, he is known as the Great Angel of the Presence, the Angel of the Covenant and Guardian of the seven-pillared Temple of Wisdom, who prepares souls for their resurrection.

One particular rabbinical tradition states that, as Metatron, Enoch's role is to announce and prepare people for the coming of the Messiah, whilst not being the Messiah himself. This is said to be summed up in the following passage from Exodus: 'Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared'.[11] Enoch stands by and protects the throne of glory (the Merkabah), presiding over the seven heavens and 'halls' (or 'mansions') through which souls have to journey in order to reach the glory of the throne, on which is seated the Messiah, the Light of God.[12] In this role Enoch is associated with the prophet Elijah, who prepares the way for each manifestation of the Messiah or Christ, as the herald and witness of the Messiah.

Another rabbinical tradition explains this by stating that Metatron is the actual spirit (angel) or spiritual form of the Messiah, and that Enoch was the first human soul to consciously attain that crown of achievement and title. That is to say, Metatron is the 'likeness' of the Messiah or Christ, seated upon his throne and ruling all the hierarchies of heaven. Cabalists perceive Metatron as the universal form or soul of the supra-individual or universal man, called the Messiah, whose body is composed of 'avir' (Šther) and whose divine spirit is 'Shekhinah' (the Presence of God immanent in the cosmos), the combination of which is light (i.e. soul). By right effort, the individual human soul can be transformed and reintegrated consciously, with full knowledge, into this universal soul. Enoch was the first to achieve this; and, having achieved it, he now helps all other souls to achieve the same. Other traditions refer to it as becoming fully illumined, or reaching the highest state of enlightenment, like the Buddha or Dattatreya.

Matching the Enochian tradition, cabalistic lore represents Elijah as the Angel of the Covenant (i.e. Metatron), as well as the forerunner of the Messiah and subduer of the Anti-Messiah (i.e. Anti-Christ). Historically, Elijah is identified with Phinehas, grandson of Aaron, the high priest and brother of Moses. Like Enoch, at the close of his ministry Elijah was translated alive into heaven by a 'whirlwind', ascending in a 'chariot of fire' (i.e. a body of light).[13]

Jesus of Nazareth, also known as the Christ or Messiah, performed the same feat, whilst John the Baptist was his herald, who prepared the way for the coming of Christ.[14] Together these two great prophets showed the two manifestations associated with Enoch-the harbinger of Christ and the Christ himself. When John the Baptist announced his cousin Jesus as the one who was to come, who was greater than he himself, he was referring to Jesus as being the Christ, with himself as the harbinger or herald.[15] To confirm this, John the Baptist was equated by his disciples with Elijah, as a reincarnation of Elijah,[16] whilst not only was Jesus recognised as the Christ by his disciples but also he openly stated that he was the Christ to the Samaritan woman at the well of Samaria.[17]

In Islamic tradition the prophet Idris, 'the Green One' or 'Evergreen', is commonly associated with either Elijah or Enoch. Idris, a saint and prophet whom God raised to heaven and who appears whenever some miraculous help is needed, is described in the Koran as a man of truth, sincerity, constancy and patience.[18] The Sabians (the religious community of the Syrians, reputedly the most ancient of the nations) relate that they received their religion from Seth (the fourth son of Adam, who took the place of Abel) and Idris (Enoch), and that they have a book which they ascribe to Seth, referred to as The Book of Seth. Idris, or Enoch, is also said to have written a book, or set of books.

Idris (Arabic, Idreesa) is the Arabic pronunciation of Osiris (Egyptian, Wesir, or Ausar), the son of Geb ('Earth') and Nut ('Heaven'). Osiris signifies the creative aspect of the Light of God, the First-Born, the Son/Sun of the Heavenly Mother and Earth Father.[19] His feminine aspect or counterpart is personified as his sister Isis (Egyptian, Aset). The name of their son, Horus (Egyptian, Kheru), is that from which the Greek word, Christos, is derived.[20]

The earliest myth concerning Osiris states that he died through drowning, rather than by dismemberment, and then was resurrected with the help of Isis. This symbolism links with the idea that Enoch was Atlas, king of Atlantis, as stated by Eusebius.[21] Atlas is identical with the Egyptian god, Temu (or Atum),[22] whose symbol was the sacred hill or island that rises above the waters (i.e. Atlantis). Temu was personified as the great predynastic king who was renowned for being the first man to have become divine by being immortalised (i.e. resurrected, or raised above the waters of mortal life) in his physical body. He was depicted as a bearded initiate-king, wearing the crowns of North and South Egypt, and carrying the sceptre and ankh. But, uniquely, he is shown wearing the red crown of the North inside the white crown of the South, which is the reverse of the headwear of all other gods and pharaohs.

Temu is synonymous with Enoch, which name is actually a title, meaning 'Initiate'. According to ancient Egyptian tradition, all the Egyptian wisdom teaching was derived from Temu, including language, hieroglyphic writing, numerology, cosmology, geomancy, and the seven liberal arts and sciences. The Hebrews later referred to this wisdom as Kabalah ('the Received Wisdom'). The Greeks, in their turn, associated Temu or Enoch with Hermes Trismegistus ('Hermes the Thrice-Greatest'), as also did the Sabaean cultists of mediaeval Arabia and the Mandaean Gnostics of Iraq, whilst the Romans named him Mercurius (i.e. Mercury)-a name derived, like the Greek Christos, from the Egyptian Kheru, or Maa Kheru, meaning 'the True Word'.

In Egyptian cosmology Temu is, as a god, the Creator, whose name means both 'All' and 'Nothing'. In the beginning he lay dormant as the seed of life within the Nun, the universal Void or Darkness (Greek, Chaos), which is also described as the Great Ocean. When awake and active, he became the 'Spirit that moved upon the face of the waters',[23] who came into being of himself. Egyptian myth describes Atum as creating himself by the projection of his own heart, bringing forth eight archetypes or gods and goddesses (neterw) as a manifestation of the eight fundamental principles enshrined within him. These eight archetypes, together with himself as Atum-Ra, make up the nine of the Great Ennead of Heliopolis (i.e. Ra, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nepthys), in which Ra signifies Atum manifest as Light, with Shu and Tefnut being his male and female aspects. Within this divine trinity, Geb and Nut signify the earthly and heavenly polarity of the light, Osiris and Isis the creative and receptive aspects, and Seth and Nepthys the 'shadow' aspects that are required to make the light visible and known.

Temu (Enoch) 'walked with God' for three hundred years and was aged three hundred and sixty-five when 'God took him'. Enoch is said to have filled three hundred books with his writings, whilst three hundred and sixty-five (the number of days in a normal year) refers to the completion and perfection of a solar time cycle, and thus signifies the full initiate or master as well as the sun (e.g. Sun of Righteousness, a title of Christ). The number 365 is also related to the fourteen sections into which Seth divided Osiris' body (i.e. 3 + 6 + 5 = 14).

Ancient myth refers to Enoch as the Phoenix King (i.e. Atlas). His country, Atlantis, is also known as Phoenicia, the land of the phoenixes. Atlas was the eldest son of the great god Poseidon and a mortal woman, Cleito, daughter of Evenor and Leucippe. He was the eldest of ten sons, comprising five pairs of twins.[24] Atlas married Pleione, also known as Hesperis, daughter of Atlas' brother, Hesperus. Pleione was the Phoenix Queen. By her Atlas had thirteen daughters – the seven Pleiades,[25] the five Hyades,[26] and the nymph Calypso. Symbolically, the Pleiades were represented as phoenixes or doves, whilst the Hyades were represented as pigs. Maia, the eldest of the seven Pleiades (and equated with Persephone), was wooed by Zeus and subsequently gave birth to a son called Dionysus, who was, like his grandfather, also referred to as Hermes or Mercury.

Allegorically speaking, the seven Pleiades were said to have been lifted out of the watery depths on the shoulders of their father, Atlas, whence they became the seven sacred islands of Atlantis known as the Atlantides or Hesperides. In fact, all of Atlas' daughters were lifted out of the great Deep and into heaven, where they were placed by Zeus as stars. This was done as a reward for guarding the golden apples, looking after Zeus' infant son, Dionysus, and demonstrating sisterly love after the death of their brother, Hyas, who had been killed by a wild beast. These starry daughters comprise a significant part of the constellation Taurus, with the Pleiades marking the alta major chakra on the neck of the bull and the Hyades forming the nose. From this symbolism it can be deduced that the constellation of Taurus represents the heavenly Atlantis or celestial form of Atlas; and indeed it is known as the Alpha of the zodiac, from which all else is derived. Its counterpart on earth would be the terrestrial Atlantis.

In later Greek myth Atlas became known as Agenor, King of Phoenicia, whilst his queen, Pleione, was called Telephassa. Three sons were ascribed to them-Minos, Sarpedon and Rhadamanthus.

As a symbol, the phoenix (whose name is associated with the word phoenice, meaning 'purple-red', 'lovely', 'beautiful') is basically a dove that has grown beautiful by means of its love, which stains its breast purple-red through its expression of love and produces a plumed crest of illumination as a result. At the end of each cycle of phenomenal existence it is consumed in its own sweet-smelling fiery pyre of love, from which it is reborn, renewed and more beautiful than before. (The Shakespeare poem, The Phoenix and Turtle, tells something of this.) The phoenix is said to dwell at the top of the palm tree-the tree of life. This relates to Atlas (Enoch), who dwells in the highest heaven, as also to the Atlas bone at the top of the spine (the physical representation of the tree of life). In this latter symbolism, Atlas' daughters, the Pleiades, signify the alta major chakra at the back or nape of the neck, known as the Pan chakra or 'Mouth of God'. Through it the spiritual breath of life enters the body. Its earthly counterpart, the physical breath, enters the body via the mouth and nose, symbolised by the Hyades.

Atlas (Enoch) is famed for holding heaven and earth apart, and the universe in balance. The lifting of his daughters from earth to heaven is associated with this. His arms and legs, which perform this mighty feat, are represented in ancient tradition by two pillars known as the Antediluvian Pillars or Pillars of Enoch. Classical tradition refers to them as the Pillars of Hercules. In Hebraic, biblical and Masonic tradition they are called the Pillars of Solomon. Modern Freemasonry refers to them as the Great Pillars. Their Hebrew names are Jachin and Boaz. Jachin is the creative sun pillar, associated with the divine Wisdom, whilst Boaz is the reflective moon pillar, associated with the divine Intelligence or Understanding. They form respectively the right and left-hand pillars of the entrance to the Temple of Solomon, which temple is emblematic of our soul. The whole of Creation – the whole universe – is upheld in its manifestation by these twin pillars, which represent the polarity of life. The story of Enoch (Atlas), who is doomed to stand upon the earth and uphold the heavens with his arms, thereby keeping apart the earth and the sky as well as right from left, is an allegory of this fundamental polarity.

Upon these pillars Enoch is said to have inscribed the antediluvian arts and sciences, and laws of the universe. This is a way of representing the Book of Secret Wisdom, or Book of Enoch, that was delivered to Enoch by the angels of heaven, as recounted in the cabalistic text, Sepher-ha-Zohar. The ancient Egyptians represented this with their hieroglyphs that were carved and painted on the stone pillars of their temples. Solomon had his great pillars cast in bronze by his chief architect and master craftsman, Hiram Abif, in which the sacred words and symbols were moulded. The pack of Tarot cards, sometimes known as 'the sidereal Book of Enoch', is supposed to originate from these pillar 'decorations', whilst Gypsy tradition states that the cards are sacred to Tro or Tehutio, the Romany Hermes-Mercury.

The third or central pillar that completes what is a sacred trio of great pillars is the pillar set up in the centre or heart of the temple. Called Mahabone, this pillar is represented in Solomon's Temple by the altar of incense. It is symbolic in particular of the heart of Enoch. The sweet-smelling incense that is burnt upon this double-cubed altar represents the pyre of incense that immolates the phoenix, and from which the same phoenix rises, reborn or resurrected, to become the Christ or Messiah, the Phoenix King, whose throne of glory is represented in the temple by the Ark of the Covenant with its Mercy Seat.

© Peter Dawkins, FBRT, 2004


1 Jude, v, 14. Enoch, lx, 8.

2 Genesis v, 18-24.

3 Enoch, xii, 2.

4 Ecclesiasticus, xlix, 14.

5 Hebrews, xi, 5.

6 See Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, I, i.

7 Book of Enoch, edited and translated by Hugo Odeburg (1928). See Charles Ponce, Kabbalah, ch 2, p 37-38 (London: Garnstone Press, 1974).

8 Including the forty-five keys to the combinations of graven letters.

9 A. E. Waite, The Holy Kabbala, Bk I, ch 1, p 17; Bk VIII, ch 2, p 399. (London: Williams & Norgate, 1929.)

10 Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, A Kabbalistic Universe, ch 23, pp 163-164 (London: Rider & Co, 1977).

11 Exodus, xxiii, 20.

12 The 'throne', known in cabalistic tradition as the World of Formation, signifies the subtle realms of the seven heavens in which the myriads of angels and souls of humanity dwell. Its 'glory' or seat is in the midst of the highest or seventh heaven. The Messiah, who sits on this throne, is associated with the World of Creation, the realm of pure Light, also known as the triune heaven of heavens. The first, highest or innermost World, which is that of the Absolute, is referred to as the World of Emanation, the hidden source of all else. The fourth, lowest or outermost World, which is that of outer manifestation such as takes place in the physical universe, is called the World of Fact or Action. This fourth World is symbolised as the footstool of the throne.

13 II Kings, ii, 1-11.

14 Malachi, iv, 5; Matthew, iii, 1-4; xi, 14; xvii, 10-13. Mark, i, 1-8; ix, 13; Luke, i, 13-17, 76-79; xvi, 16.

15 Matthew, iii, 11-17; x, 2-15; Mark, i, 1-8; Luke, i, 13-17, 76-79; iii, 15-17.

16 Luke, vii, 19-35.

17 John, iv, 25-26.

18 Quran, Surah of the Prophets, 19.56; 21.85.

19 Genesis, i, 1: 'In the beginning God made [i.e. created, or became] heaven and earth.'

20 The Egyptian hieroglyphs used the two letters, KhR, for Kheru (Horus), which translated into the Greek Chi Rho (ChR), signifying Christos.

21 Eusebius, Praep. Ev., ix, 17.

22 The name of Atum is simply a form of Temu, both names being rendered simply as the consonants 'T-M' in Egyptian writing.

23 Genesis, i, 2.

24 Atlas and Eumelus (Hesperus), Ampheres and Evaemon, Mneseus and Autochthon, Elasippus and Mestor, Azaes and Diaprepas.

25 Maia, Electra, Taygeta, Alcyone, Celaeno, Sterope and Merope.

26 Ambrosia, Eudora, Pedile, Coronis and Polyxo. (When the Hyades are considered as a group of seven stars, the two additional stars are Phyto and Thyene, or Dione.)

The Francis Bacon Research Trust