Much of this week I have spent researching the myth of the Watchers as presented in the influential chronicle of Annianus, an Alexandrian Christian monk of the fourth century. Because his chronicle was used by Christian and Islamic writers alike for a millennium, it shaped the development of ideas about antediluvian history right down to the 1700s, when traditional myths and legends finally started to give way to a more scientific view of deep antiquity. But I did come across a little sticking point where scholars have very little to say.
The question revolves around how exactly the Biblical patriarch Enoch came to be identified with the pagan culture hero Hermes Trismegistus, himself an amalgamation of Hermes and the Egyptian wisdom god Thoth. The technical reasons for the identification are easy enough to identify. Thoth, Hermes, and Enoch were all revered figures associated with the invention of writing and the promulgation of sacred books and inscriptions. Both had astronomical connections—Hermes supposedly recorded 36,525 books or lived that many years, while Enoch lived 365 years, numbers recalling the number of days in the solar year or in the Sothic cycle. In later Judeo-Christian lore, Enoch and the other descendants of Seth were said to have built two pillars inscribed with prophetic wisdom “in the Siriadic land,” referring to Egypt, the land of Sirius, while the Christian forgery known as the Book of Sothis has the Egyptian priest Manetho declare that Hermes erected pillars inscribed with prophetic wisdom in “the Seriadic land,” again meaning Egypt.
It’s also fairly clear that the connection between Enoch and Hermes emerged among Christian in Egypt in the first centuries CE, presumably after Flavius Josephus recorded the legend of Enoch’s pillars in 96 CE and before Annianus and his contemporary Panodorus wrote around 400 CE. Zosimus of Panoplis, who wrote around 300 CE, makes Hermes the author of a book talking about the fall of the Watchers and their sins, just as Enoch was, suggesting that the conflation was already underway by then, but he doesn’t make that identification explicit.
According to the handful of modern scholars who have written at any length on the issue, the most likely candidate for the source of the conflation is the Book of Sothis. One reason for this is that the very few fragments of the Book of Sothis that survive—all in excerpts made by George Syncellus, probably copied from Annianus or Panodorus—conflate Egyptian figures with Biblical counterparts. So, for example, Menes, the first king of the first human dynasty according to the genuine Manetho becomes Mestraim, an alternate transliteration of Mizraim, the son of Ham in Genesis 10 and also the Semitic name for Egypt. Eusebius, in his Chronicle, similarly identifies Menes with Mizraim and declares Ham’s son to be the founder of Egypt.
If one Biblical figure could be substituted for a pagan one, the argument goes, it is likely that other legendary Egyptians were given Semitic counterparts in the full Book of Sothis.
It is also possible that Panodorus invented the idea himself and Annianus copied him, or that Annianus invented it. Basically, nobody knows because there are too few puzzle pieces. Abu Ma‘shar, who borrowed from Annianus, reported around 850 CE that the “Hebrews” identified Enoch with Hermes before launching into a story about how Hermes carved all wisdom into temple walls at Akhmim in order to save it from the Flood, in the manner of Enoch. Bar Hebraeus, who borrowed from Annianus for his antediluvian history, reverses the order and says that the “Greeks” identified Hermes with Enoch. Pesudo-Eupolemus, writing in 158 BCE and perhaps commenting on a part of the Book of Enoch, said that the Hellenistic Greeks identified Enoch with Atlas, because both invented astrology. Since Hermes Trismegistus took over the invention of astrology from Atlas in Late Antique myths, after, say, 150 or 200 CE, the swap of Hermes for Atlas seems natural enough.
All of this is circumstantial evidence that Enoch and Hermes had been conflated by the time of Annianus, but one might equally argue that they were seen as parallels and only brought together after the rise of Islam.
That leaves us to look at another odd bit of influence, presumably from Annianus, that argues for an early identification. According to the Book of Enoch, Annianus’s source, Enoch lived among the Watchers at the ends of the earth. According to the Book of Giants, this land was beyond the reaches of civilization, at the edge of a great desert. This description could conceivable accord with upper Egypt, located at the fringes of what was then the civilized Mediterranean world, and on the edge of the Egyptian and Saharan deserts. But did Annianus consider the first Egyptians to be evil Nephilim?
Th Paschal Chronicle, written two centuries after Annianus, tells us that the first kings of Babylon before the Flood were giants: “Among the Chaldeans, their first king was Aloros, whom Alagoros succeeded, and the other leaders, to whom the Scripture seems to refer (when it says) ‘the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown’ (Gen. 6:4).” The Christian forgery passing under the name of the Sibylline Oracles assumes that those who came after were giants as well. Pseudo-Eupolemus confirms that there was a tradition that the post-diluvian kings of Babylon were giants who escaped the Flood. Therefore, it is not entirely difficult to imagine that the Egyptians were envisioned the same way. But is there proof of this?
Indirectly, it seems the answer is yes.
In Pseudo-Eupolemus, Abraham is depicted as traveling to Egypt from “the temple of the city called Argarizin, which being interpreted is ‘Mount of the Most High,’ an odd phrase created by what scholars say is a complicated series of interlinguistic confusion. The short form is that at times “Argarizin” itself was the name of the temple and other times the designator of a mountain. This is of no interest to us except that Abu Ma‘shar offered the odd claim that Hermes built the temple of Akhmim which was also “a veritable mountain,” and the Byzantines seemed to believe that the pillars of wisdom stood on Egyptian mountains—all claims that seem to derive from Annianus.
More importantly, the Akhbar al-zaman, that great compilation of medieval Islamic lore, was written around 1000 but drew on earlier material. The author is censorious and took pains to suppress a good deal of the Hermetic lore about Egypt. He is also a good Muslim, so he does not subscribe to the myth of the Watchers with anything like the fervor of Jews and Christians. The Qur’an speaks of giants (5:22) as inhabiting parts of Canaan, but it doesn’t emphasize them nearly as much as the Christian apocrypha. Nevertheless, the Akhbar author can’t help but preserve Christian legends that the Egyptian kings were Nephilim. He speaks of Ham’s son Kenan as the first idolator, saying that “the giants and the Canaanites who lived in Syria were his descendants. They also associate them with the Pharaohs of Egypt and Goliath, whom David slew, as well as the Amalekites, because the Amalekites were sons of Ham.” The first king of Egypt, before the Flood, according to our author, was himself a Nephilim: “Then Naqrāūs the Giant, the son of Miṣraīm, the son of Marākil, the son of Dāwil, the son of ‘Arbāq, the son of Adam, along with seventy horsemen and some of the descendants of ‘Arbāq, all giants, sought a place to live apart from other men.” He was credited with building the first Cairo and the legendary capital of Amsus. Many of the other kinds were explicitly said to be giants or implied to be.
Now, this might seem to be unrelated, but we know that the bizarre list of postdiluvian pharaohs preserved in the various Arabic authors under a bewildering variety of names, descend, in roundabout fashion, from Manetho’s list of pharaohs, albeit with many corruptions and much confusion. While the antediluvian kings seem to bear little resemblance to Manetho’s list, but the legendary pharaohs who reigned before Menes were not preserved in most Late Antique and medieval lists, so this is in some measure to be expected. The important fact is that the Arabic king lists had an underlying Greek source. It would be fascinating to discover whether Naqraus (also transliterated as Nekraws, or any number of variants) is itself a massively corrupt version of Enoch, since both are credited with the same set of accomplishments—preserving knowledge on pillars, inscribing tablets, founding cities, developing science, etc. Naqraus is even said to be the “master of the race of djinn,” just as Enoch was the keeper of the Watchers—and the djinn were identified with the Watchers in Islamic lore. The “nok” syllable is suggestive, I guess, but I lack the Arabic expertise to determine how suggestive it is—but the comparison of known pharaonic corruptions between Greek and Arabic shows vowel switching similar to what might have occurred here. If I were speculating wildly, I could imagine a parody of Enoch—who, per Genesis 5, never died—being satirized or diabolized by a hostile Greek writer as Necros, the “Dead One.”
The Akhbar author had purposely created a sort of purified narrative purged of Hermetic and Enochian material as much as was practicable, notably removing the pyramids from Hermes and assigning them to Surid and giving Enoch’s dream-vision to Philemon. He even asserted that Enoch never bothered to open the book of divine wisdom given to Adam and passed to him by Jared! So, this must remain a possibility, but one that can likely never be proven.
7/14/2018 03:18:22 pm
Jason, you typically want to look at triliteral roots or radices in Arabic, so :"nqr" or "nkr" rather than "nok". Ironic, huh? The quick and dirty rule of thumb is lose the vowels and usually the initial "m" so Muhammad becomes "hmd". Also "Jihadi" is not an Arabic word, idiots in Foggy Bottom made up an Indian word. Orientalists, as Edward Said would say. Just a peeve of mine, akin to Captain Drinkypoo's alcoholism and a certain Canadian's tediosity..
7/14/2018 08:50:14 pm
Methinks you have a bit of an unhealthy obsession with several people here, including me. I am beginning to understand how Andy Dufresne felt when he was constantly being stalked by the ringleader of The Sisters.
7/15/2018 01:27:29 am
When you posture as Captain Drinkypoo with an interest in children you get noticed and pulled over. Any port in a storm, you alcoholic. Enjoy your Andy Dufresne toilet wine.
7/15/2018 07:33:40 am
Americanegro: I just heard about the Colavito Trolling Incident, in which you admitted that you contribute nothing meaningful to this blog but only contribute insults, fallacious arguments, and similar poor quality contributions. Arguments that the Colavito Trolling Incident is merely a product of my mind and not reflection of the real value of your contributions to this blog can are refuted by your own words: "If you are talking about an incident, by definition the incident happened."
7/15/2018 12:19:28 pm
Well, if I recall you were the one who seemed to be exhibiting insider knowledge of the travel patterns of peds.
7/15/2018 04:09:17 pm
It's called reading the newspaper old man. Jimmy Savile, Mr. Ott, Gajdusek who imported his victims from Guam, Richard Berendzen's dodgy phone calls, Mr. Ott, Elizabeth Smart's kidnapper, the guy who falsely admitted to killing Jon Benet Ramsay in Thailand...http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/258878.pdf
7/15/2018 07:10:19 pm
Yet again you impress us with your knowledge and insights into this topic. But remember to purge that browser history. Wouldn't want your "research" to fall under the scrutiny of a cruel world that obviously misunderstands you.
8/14/2019 11:50:36 am
If you actually did some research, you might find out...lol.
7/16/2018 05:06:12 pm
I dropped a couple of big knowledge pillars earlier;
7/15/2018 08:28:34 am
SOME PEOPLE CAN SAY IT'S RICH FOR CHURCHGOING CHRISTIANS TO BE SCEPTICS
7/15/2018 08:53:49 am
Who's taking Bible stories about fallen angels seriously? Just because people believed a myth doesn't make the story true. But neither can we pretend that their belief didn't have consequences that are worth investigating.
7/15/2018 10:19:33 am
It would be nice if you were to clearly state your religious beliefs somewhere on your website, given the religious topics that you address. So far, your blog posts only seem to condemn materialistic atheism/scientism.
7/15/2018 04:23:43 pm
Perhaps a simple system of colored insignias could be devised.
An Over-Educated Grunt
7/15/2018 08:00:05 pm
... But then, you're an idiot.
7/15/2018 09:28:28 pm
Sick burn bro. Gets both more and less tedious each time.
An Over-Educated Grunt
7/15/2018 09:31:48 pm
I suppose I could.
7/15/2018 10:08:01 pm
All right, everyone. I don't want to waste my time dealing with these petty arguments. Americannegro, stop provoking people for no reason. Everybody else, stop taking the bait.
7/16/2018 08:19:00 am
Can this website ban certain email addresses? Maybe banning the email address associated with Americanegro is appropriate.
7/16/2018 10:42:33 am
I can ban by IP address, but tech savvy people know how to get around that.
7/16/2018 10:46:13 am
I agree with A Buddhist. Jason, you have to set up some ground rules for comments. Americanegro seems to live in this blog. He comments in every single post multiple times a day. (I don’t frequent this blog as much as I used to but when I did, AN always was trolling). I think AN is even more annoying than than the ancient alien trolls.
7/16/2018 05:11:38 pm
Hey! less of the aggressive behavior.
7/19/2018 11:05:55 pm
Jason, I have stopped coming on this blog and visiting on any regular basis because you seem to have no real control who visits, like Americanegro, who uses your blog to insult other posters.
7/16/2018 11:28:11 am
A certain bit of a nasty streak cannot be denied, however Amercanegro's saving grace is that he keeps folks here on their toes. If he's wrong about something, unlike the slew of intellectually dishonest pontificators here who use Google for a brain and couldn't identify non sequitur in those they counter here let alone themselves as they unknowingly lay down fallacy after fallacy... Americanegro will generally admit his error. That alone should be celebrated here, if only the pretentious poseurs could learn by example.
An Over-Educated Grunt
7/16/2018 12:26:53 pm
Translation: "he generally agrees with me, and doesn't target me, therefore I side with him here."
7/16/2018 01:04:55 pm
Major difference between offering thoughtful questions and comments that keep others on their toes and just plain showing your ass in a big way when your attempts consistently backfire. But doesn't surprise me that you don't easily understand the difference.
7/16/2018 01:58:42 pm
"Translation: "he generally agrees with me, and doesn't target me, therefore I side with him here." "
7/16/2018 04:20:28 pm
Weebly really needs to get some better tools other than just upgrading your comment plugin to Disqus.
7/16/2018 05:34:17 pm
"Th ae Comments section used to be full of genuine discussion about the articles and the topics covered..."
An Over-Educated Grunt
7/16/2018 05:37:16 pm
But Joe, I thought it was up to you to decide whether or not engage...?
7/16/2018 05:50:49 pm
Grunt... perhaps you may have noticed, I like to argue. And I don't mean that in a bad way; but an argument as discourse. Sure, I've challenged partisans, and because of it they assume the worst in me, hold a grudge and then nip at my ankles on other topics fallaciously associating me with Republicans, alt-righters and even the Fringe. Regrettable, but yeah I admit I probably ought to avoid engaging partisans here. Sometimes it's just too easy to make a joke at their expense and there I am... mixing it up.
7/16/2018 05:52:51 pm
(continued) … trustworthiness to be better barometers for choosing friends. That's just me though. Tough to be an independent, I suppose.
An Over-Educated Grunt
7/16/2018 06:04:46 pm
So far I've seen a lot of patting your own back, trying to twist yourself in knots to justify ignoring your own advice, and willful ignorance of how often you yourself act as a "partisan," as, for instance, by an irrelevant string of comments about a History Channel show about Amelia Earhart and how it must relate to blatant election interference. While I commend your flexibility, I find you lacking in self-examination, especially given your own use of trustworthiness as a barometer.
7/16/2018 09:16:30 pm
Thought it was an interesting point, that Shawn Henry's firm was the one that examined the DNC server and everyone bought their conclusions. Henry's Earhart investigation didn't go so well. You'd think folks might want to look into that, but you won't hear about Henry's connection to CrowdStrike when it's brought up these days. Nope. Not anymore. Consider it buried. You'd think folks worried about fringe history might have been more curious, but instead they'd rather believe Henry is somehow much better suited to reach their own political conclusions. It don't make me a partisan though, to question one. Healthy debate, you know.
7/16/2018 09:43:55 pm
7/16/2018 11:21:51 pm
I support Trump? By questioning those who pile on? Heck, I've said often enough that there's plenty of legitimate concerns with him, and only that it was trite to question each and every one of his actions as if the world will end any moment now.
7/17/2018 12:01:52 am
Spoken like a man closer to the political truth than most. I admire your candor. Thank you for your reply...but you didn't answer my question about what your reaction is to today's further embarrassment to the United States.
7/17/2018 09:59:04 am
"... but I am interested on your take."
americanegro II electric boogaloo now with double dolemite
7/17/2018 12:54:56 am
You might want to look up the legal definition of Treason. It's surprisingly easy to find. I'd also (Oslo?) like to hear more about this "sworn enemy" business. My local PennySaver apparently failed to grab that story off the AP newswire.
7/17/2018 05:01:59 pm
7/17/2018 05:46:39 pm
Swing and a miss. Note the use of the word "only".
7/17/2018 09:15:13 pm
Once out in the wild, documents are not “partisan”, or “religious”, or any other name your brain can come up with.
7/17/2018 09:46:25 pm
Not sure what you're commenting on here but:
7/18/2018 11:28:46 pm
“Not sure why you are commenting on here but:”
7/22/2018 02:11:48 pm
"What" not "why". Is there a problem between your ears?
7/22/2018 07:34:57 pm
Yes, Sir. Sorry, Sir!
7/23/2018 02:13:20 pm
Oh just stop! I'm not a monster. Unless you're an alcoholic kid toucher like Captain Drinkypoo.
7/18/2018 01:51:54 am
I do not believe Siriad in Josephus on the two pillars is Egypt, but rather Sarid, a land in Israle alloted of Issashar, Zebulun or Assher.
9/29/2018 02:49:40 pm
This is a really interesting subject, but I`like to rectify some things. First, Nephilim were not "bad". Second, there never was "Shem", but the original name or word was SOM, which can be found in Sumeria as SUM. Som meant land. Habirus´ capital in Canaan was Somero (written as Shomro), not Samaria, as it is falsely translated. "Hebrew" is also a corrupt form, from Habiru, Apiru or Nipiru. Piru meant a descendant and the decendants of Nibiru- Ur-Sumerians were Aryans, not any Canaanite stock, who, among The Roman Church, have falsified every possible thing in history related with ancient Habiru culture, including their ancestors. This is sick.
9/15/2019 10:23:22 am
I'm new to Jason's articles..unlike most of you here. (I found this one rather confusing, with so many differing views, although necessary I suppose). In reading through the warfare comments it was quite annoying to find not 1 comment on the actual article itself. Ok, other than a sentence or 2 in the first, of 49 comments; & the very last 2, there's nothing but personal warfare going on here. That's a shame. With so many comments one would HOPE that many more would have been relevant. Is this the norm here?
10/21/2019 09:41:50 pm
Any indication that the Enoch/Hermes/Thoth was not the Enoch you are speaking of who is the Son of Jared and father of methuselah and Great Grandfather of Noah, who "walked with God" but is actually Enoch the first son of Cain whom the fist city was named. The city was built to glorify man. The sons of Cain were cursed by god and sought to escape their bondage through technological means and man made systems that mock nature, like usury and finance. The man made world is a prison world. More technology is more prison.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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