On the advice of Mike Heiser, I read Amar Annus’ “On the Origin of Watchers” from the Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 19 (2010), and it was a fascinating look at the deep background of the Watchers’ myth in the Seven Sages, or apkallu, of Mesopotamia, best known to most readers from the myth of Oannes (Uan-Adapa) in Berosus—the amphibious fish-man Robert Temple said was a space alien from Sirius. These sages, like the Watchers, descended from heaven to bequeath civilization, angered the gods with their sins, begat gigantic semi-divine apkallu on human women (Gilgamesh being one of their last giant descendants), and were condemned to the underworld. Also interesting was Annus’ footnotes, which noted the similarity with Ugaritic and Phoenician sources (Sanchuniathon) and noted at transfer of motifs between Syria and Mesopotamia to the extent that the mountains of Anti-Lebanon, where Sanchuniathon places the giant sons of the gods and 1 Enoch houses the Watchers, were also the domain of the Anunnaki in the Old Babylonian version of Gilgamesh.
I know I’ve been talking a lot about the most ancient versions of the Watchers myth over the last week, but after Byron DeLear called to my attention a fascinating reflection of the Watchers story in medieval times, it seems like it would a good idea to take a look at how the story found its way into Freemasonry and thus contributed to anti-Masonic conspiracy theories.
First, in order to understand what you’re about to read, it’s important to remember that the myth of the Watchers had two important variants. The most famous is the so-called “Enochian” version in which the protagonists are fallen angels who teach the arts of civilization to humanity before the Flood and are punished with Flood for their lack of chastity. The second version, the one preserved by Flavius Josephus (Antiquities 1.2.3 in Whiston trans. = 1.69-71 modern ed.), the so-called “Sethite” tradition, held that the Flood had been prophesied by Adam, Eve, or an angel and that the children of Seth had developed the scientific arts and preserved them on tablets or pillars to protect them from the Flood. This was a semi-rationalized version of the Enochian tradition whereby the supernatural fallen angels became the godly sons of Seth, who nevertheless lost their grace when they consorted with the whorish daughters of Cain.
The Sethite tradition became incorporated into the Apocalypse of Moses, which is the ancestor of the somewhat different Latin version of the Life of Adam and Eve, in which Eve receives the prophecy of Flood and issues orders to make the tablets:
On account of your transgression, Our Lord will bring upon your race the anger of his judgement, first by water, the second time by fire; by these two, will the Lord judge the whole human race. But hearken unto me, my children. Make ye then tables of stone and others of clay, and write on them, all my life and your father’s (all) that ye have heard and seen from us. If by water the Lord judge our race, the tables of clay will be dissolved and the tables of stone will remain; but if by fire, the tables of stone will be broken up and the tables of clay will be baked (hard). (49.3-50.2, trans. R. H. Charles)
The Latin Life differs from other sources in making Eve deliver this prophecy to all her children, which in this version of the narrative presumably includes Cain as well as Seth, since the Latin Life does not specify that Cain had left the family before the death of Adam, only that Seth was born to replace the slain Abel. The Latin Life also differs from the Apocalypse of Moses in that several manuscripts include a very long appendix (not translated in most English versions) in which Solomon discovers the tablets of wisdom which Seth had made.
It is from this that we see the Matthew Cooke Manuscript, an early Masonic text dated to around 1450, takes its discussion of the tablets of wisdom. The Cooke MS. Is a copy of an earlier text, but it is not likely to have been significantly older than the surviving copy, according to most historians. The text opens by providing an origin myth for the arts and sciences in terms remarkably similar to the myth of the Watchers, but comes from the list of industrial arts invented by the sons of Cain in Genesis 4:17-22. I wonder if there isn’t cross-contamination in the Watchers myth from Enoch the seventh patriarch to Enoch the son of Cain, for the Cooke MS. says that the sons of Cain invented civilization in the “7th age of Adam before Noah’s flood,” just as Enoch, the seventh patriarch, is sent to preach to the Watchers.
It’s interesting that in Genesis 4:17-18 this early Enoch is made the ancestor of Lamech while in Genesis 5, the line from Adam to Noah is traced through Seth, with Enoch taking his place as the father of Methuselah and grandfather of Lamech in the Sethite line. It is perhaps striking that in the line of Cain we have Cain, Enoch, Irad, Mehujael, Methushael, and Lamech while in the line of Seth we have the parallel names (in different order) of Kenan, Enoch (and Enosh), Jared, Mahalalel, Methuselah, and Lamech. Now, traditionally these are seen as completely different people (and much ink has been spilled to defend this notion), but I wonder if the Cainite version of Genesis 4 isn’t a euhemerized version of the Watchers myth (or the underlying Mesopotamian apkallu myth of the Seven Sages who bequeathed civilization and their Phoenician parallel in Sanchuniathon), with the (human) Cain’s sin and mark condemning his children’s arts as removed from God. If that be the case, then the two Enochs aren’t really different but rather different reflexes of an earlier myth. Indeed, scholars like K. A. Matthews and D. T. Bryan have made many of these same comparisons. Matthews believes that two lists are independent accounts of the same story, one diabolized and the other given as righteous. He, too, sees in the descendants of Cain the same reflection of the apkallu that others see in the Watchers. It strikes me as beyond coincidental that the story of the Watchers as given in 1 Enoch is recapitulated in the sin of the line of Cain, operating outside of the warrant of God.
Such a reading could have occurred to the medieval author of the Cook MS., though more likely he simply attempted to reclaim honor for the earliest supposed mason, for he places the prophecy otherwise given to the line of Seth into the line of Cain. Here the author is speaking of Tubal-Cain and his brethren:
…and these 3 brethren, aforesaid, had knowledge that God would take vengeance for sin, either by fire, or water, and they had greater care how they might do to save the sciences that they [had] found, and they took their counsel together and, by all their wits, they said that [there] were 2 manner of stone[s] of such virtue that the one would never burn, and that stone is called marble, and that the other stone that will not sink in water and that stone is named latres, and so they devised to write all the sciences that they had found in these 2 stones, [so that] if that God would take vengeance, by fire, that the marble should not burn.
And, yea, verily was the myth of the Watchers visited anew upon the line of Cain. For the Masons (speaking here of the guild, not the later fraternal group), the story has now been entirely decoupled from the fallen angels, the Sethites, and all of the developments occurring in Greek, Armenian, Jewish, and Arabic discussions of the story. Instead, the same fragment of myth becomes associated with the first mason, Jabal, and the first smith, Tubal-Cain, almost certainly to serve as a precursor to the two pillars of Solomon’s Temple so beloved of masons and thus later of Freemasons. All of this material comes to the Cooke MS. nearly verbatim from the fourteenth-century Polychronicon of Ranulf Higden (2.18), where the story from Josephus is given nearly entire but without the direct reference to Seth in the original. The masonic author, not knowing the original, therefore either misread the Higden version or purposely applied it to Tubal-Cain and his brothers.
At this point, we can either go with the conspiracy theorists and see the Masons as preserving antediluvian knowledge and a cult founded by Cain, or we can recognized that the fragments of the Enoch-Watchers-Tablets/Pillars myth kept combining and recombining in new and surprising ways, always recognizable but never quite the same in each iteration.
I know that discussing the myth of the Watchers and the tablets and/or pillars of wisdom has been a little confusing due to the sheer number of texts involved. I thought it might be helpful to show their relationship in the form of a chart, but when I listed everything, it didn’t really make things much clearer. There are probably some mistakes and some missed connections, but I think it gives some idea of the complexity of the issue. The lines represent connections between ideas, people, and texts, but it seems like we really need a three- or even four-dimensional chart to really make sense of it. You can download a full-sized copy of the jpeg using the link below.
3/31/2014 08:47:59 am
I agree with most of your article, but not your statement that Tubal-Cain was regarded as the first mason. In the Cooke Manuscript, the oldest brother, Jabal, not Tubal-Cain, is the first mason. The Cooke Manuscript says that Jabal was Cain's master mason when Cain built the city named Enoch, the first city. Tubal-Cain was the first metal worker. As such, Tubal-Cain could be seen as the forerunner of Hiram, the chief metal worker at the building of Solomon's Temple, who cast the two great pillars.
3/31/2014 09:36:34 am
Yes, you're right. I'll fix that.
3/31/2014 12:04:36 pm
Do you think there is any connection between the story of the Clay Tablets that preserved the knowledge of the human race prior to the Deluge and the Emerald Tablet of Hermetic lore? It might be a stretch, but it did seem an interesting possibility.
3/31/2014 02:13:00 pm
I don't know of a direct connection, but the tablets of wisdom in the Watchers story derive from a Sumerian antecedent in which (in Berosus' version) Xisuthrus writes and buries them at Sippara to keep them safe from the Flood, so there are many paths through which they could filter down to the alchemists. This forms the background for Near East wisdom-tablet stories, and the Arabs identified Hermes Trismegistus with Enoch, so there might be some inspiration.
3/31/2014 12:15:23 pm
3/31/2014 01:08:48 pm
Connected, and yet disconnected because each usage of the theme is an adaptation within a completely different context. This fact is omitted.
3/31/2014 01:16:52 pm
Who's omitting anything? I made it quite clear that the pieces of the story are endlessly combined and recombined in different contexts.
3/31/2014 10:28:14 pm
And so therefore fringe authors like EvD have the same freedom and right to re-interpret and re-adapt the story of the Watchers as did the authors of I Enoch, the Theosophists, the Freemasons, H. P. Lovecraft, etc - devoid of the original meaning and context of the story.
3/31/2014 01:28:11 pm
Last November Mike Heiser had a note on his web page indicating that SAGE was allowing free access to its journal for the entire month. I spent several days downloading articles that looked interesting from Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament and Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha, including the subject article. I've only made it part way through the articles I downloaded.
3/31/2014 05:17:11 pm
This in-depth exploration of the Watcher story is the perfect example of the saying, "There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt".
3/31/2014 10:21:50 pm
But this article proves that what the fringe authors are doing with the Watchers story is entirely consistent with how it has been treated and adapted by others - and why shouldn't the fringe authors have the same right to adapt this story in the same way? Why should the fringe writers be excluded from doing this?
3/31/2014 11:52:54 pm
You're absolutely right, KIF, that the fringe writers are the intellectual successors of the earlier myth makers. Like them, they are taking bits and pieces of previous myths, combining them with fragments of history, and creating polemics in favor of a new mythology.
4/1/2014 07:23:01 am
Ditto what Jason said.
3/31/2014 05:38:44 pm
Tares in the wheat. More polemic confusion. A Christian counter-point.
3/31/2014 09:48:57 pm
"Do not, people of your kind (human beings), man and woman of Earth, bow down before gods, because they are falsehoods and inventions and lies made by people of your kind (human beings) who, in the delusion, became believers by inventing untrue higher mights and praying to them; you shall not do as they do and shall not pray either to them nor to their invented gods.
3/31/2014 10:18:09 pm
Get down on your knees and pray
4/1/2014 02:28:05 am
I am no fan of Gunn's religious ranting but I see no need to mock or make fun of the fact of his belief system. While I might not agree with him I certainly respect his choice to believe.
4/1/2014 02:42:57 am
The Church is the place for that sort of thing
4/1/2014 04:01:33 am
The Church? Indeed, believers are the Church, even without a building. We who believe are the Church, the Body of Christ. Churches are nice, but unnecessary...yet it is good to gather in His name.
Jason Christopher , Capps
9/20/2018 11:15:43 pm
Hey I really appreciate your interest in this message I live in the Golden Triangle BMt Texas It's a earth Chackras Vortex's and I've had a Kundlian Awaking Years ago the Holy Spirt,goosbumps And Matrix type signs of.Lead my message . JASON Society sGods and Goddesses and the Universal Spirit Keep up the good work Kcc
4/3/2014 10:45:09 am
Love the Enoch chart! Great research Jason. The fitness of stories and memes is explored by tracking their evolution; people see something they like about a tale and adopt it while grafting it onto their own shtick. As the Teacher (Koheleth) said in a rare bit of Biblical nihilistic writ: "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."
5/9/2015 02:46:01 pm
Christians preach in church it's not needed here. The bible proclaims the whore (inanna) shall ride the beast (fenir). There you have knowledge consolidated for biblical text from previous culture. Tyr of the norse on a tou cross ooh so was christ. The sabbatical year taken for the bible like easter from oestre. Wow we are getting pretty pagan here. There are manymore examples. We do not judge you, the bibbible that was put together around 900 ad. Splinters within the christian faith claiming to be the true one. Having pagan stain glass windows, green man faces on fonts and so much more. I can write so much more if you wish.
6/16/2015 11:30:22 am
How to doth the heathen who has no knowledge of christianity with myths of watchers fallen angels or gods have links to said scriptures predating such events! Even down to the words nuah an the deluge
Jason Christopher , Capps
9/20/2018 11:17:51 pm
Awesome work Blessings Jccccccc
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