“Without Measure and Without Analogy”: The Tradition of the Divine Body in 2 (Slavonic) Enoch Introduction

Andrei Orlov
Kelly Chair in Theology and Professor of Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity at Marquette University. View Entries


In one of his books1 Gershom Scholem remarks on the origins of the terminology associated with the Shicur Qomah materials.2 These materials depict visionaries, Rabbi Ishmael and Rabbi Akiba, receiving from the supreme angel Metatron revelations of the “measurement of the body” (in Hebrew, Shicur Qomah), an anthropomorphic description of the Deity together with the mystical names of its gigantic limbs.3 Although the majority of evidence of the Shicur Qomah tradition survived in late Jewish writings, Scholem argues4 that the beginning of Shicur Qomah speculations can be dated not later than the second century CE. Scholem appeals to a passage in 2 Enoch, a Jewish apocalypse apparently written in the first century CE, which in his opinion represents the earliest witness to the Shicur Qomah terminology.

The passage is situated in 2 Enoch 39 where the antediluvian patriarch Enoch tells his children about the vision of the Lord, whom he encountered during his celestial tour. Enoch describes the appearance of the Lord as a terrifying extent analogous to the human form:

And now, my children it is not from my lips that I am reporting to you today, but from the lips of the Lord who has sent me to you. As for you, you hear my words, out of my lips, a human being created equal to yourselves; but I have heard the words from the fiery lips of the Lord. For the lips of the Lord are a furnace of fire, and his words are the fiery flames which come out. You, my children, you see my face, a human being created just like yourselves; I am one who has seen the face of the Lord, like iron made burning hot by a fire, emitting sparks. For you gaze into (my) eyes, a human being created just like yourselves; but I have gazed into the eyes of the Lord, like the rays of the shining sun and terrifying the eyes of a human being. You, (my) children, you see my right hand beckoning you, a human being created identical to yourselves; but I have seen the right hand of the Lord, beckoning me, who fills heaven. You see the extent of my body, the same as your own; but I have seen the extent of the Lord,5 without measure and without analogy, who has no end …. (2 Enoch 39:3-6).6

In his commentary on the text, Scholem draws the reader’s attention to the expression “the extent of my body.” He notes that earlier Abraham Kahana, in his Hebrew translation of 2 Enoch,7 rendered this expression as shicur qomati.8 Scholem further suggests that despite the late date of the known rabbinic Shicur Qomah materials, the Shicur Qomah terminology might be already evident in the account drawn from 2 Enoch 39 where Enoch describes God’s gigantic limbs.

Scholem’s suggestions are valuable9 and deserve serious attention, since several additional features in the aforementioned account of 2 Enoch also seem to suggest the imagery found in the Shicur Qomah tradition. In the Slavonic apocalypse, Enoch describes to his children the gigantic hand of the Lord which fills the heaven. This description recalls the imagery of the Shicur Qomah accounts in which Enoch-Metatron transmits to Rabbi Ishmael and Rabbi Akiba knowledge about the gigantic limbs of the Deity which fill the heaven. A series of analogies between Enoch’s body and the Lord’s body in 2 Enoch 39:3-6 appears also pertinent because the later Merkabah accounts often portray Enoch-Metatron as possessing the gigantic body himself. Moreover, some of these accounts seem to depict Metatron as the measure of the divine Body.

Scholem’s comments about the significance of 2 Enoch 39 for the history of early Jewish mysticism are important. His analysis, however, is incomplete since it focuses only on the Shicur Qomah passage found in chapter 39. It does not explore the broader context of the passage, especially its relation to other descriptions of Enoch in the Slavonic apocalypse that seem to recall the depictions of Metatron in the Shicur Qomah materials. Moreover, it appears that the traditions about the divine Body are not limited in this text to the figure of Enoch and include another important character of the text, namely, the patriarch Adam. The portrayal of the prelapsarian Adam found in the longer recension of 2 Enoch reveals fascinating similarities to the later Shicur Qomah descriptions. Keeping in mind these important features of the Slavonic apocalypse, this article will investigate the roles of Adam and Enoch in the broader context of the Shicur Qomah account found in 2 Enoch.

Adamic Tradition of 2 Enoch

Before proceeding to an investigation of the traditions about the divine Body found in the Slavonic apocalypse, a short excursus into the Adamic narrative of 2 Enoch is necessary. This narrative appears partly to be responsible for creating the polemical context in which the divine Body traditions in the text are introduced and discussed.

Adam’s story occupies a significant place in 2 Slavonic Enoch. Accounts of the protoplast’s creation and his fall can be found in all three major sections of the book.10 The text depicts Adam as a glorious angelic being, predestined by God to be the ruler of the earth, but falling short of God’s expectations. Although a large part of the Adamic materials belongs to the longer recension, a number of important passages related to this tradition are also attested in the shorter recension. The presence of Adamic materials in both recensions and the significance of the Adamic narrative for the whole theological framework of the Slavonic apocalypse lead the interpreter to conclude that they are not later interpolations, but belong to the original layer of the text.

It should be noted that such an extensive presence of Adamic materials in the early Enochic text is quite unusual. For instance, in the Enochic books, included in 1 (Ethiopic) Enoch, Adamic traditions are not accentuated and are limited to a few insignificant remarks.11 Moreover, Adam’s image in 1 Enoch is quite different from the one attested in the Slavonic Apocalypse. 1 Enoch’s materials do not provide any information about the elevated status of the protoplast.

The modest role which Adam plays in the early Enochic books can be explained by the fact that Enochic and Adamic traditions often contend with each other in offering different explanations of the origin of evil12 in the world.13 From the point of view of this rivalry between Adamic and Enochic traditions, it might appear that the concentrated presence of Adamic materials in 2 Enoch represents alien accretions interpolated into the original narrative much later during its long transmission in the Christian environment. A closer examination of the text, however, reveals that the presence of the Adamic tradition in the Slavonic apocalypse is neither secondary nor coincidental but has a profound conceptual value for the overall theology of the pseudepigraphon. It appears that the purpose of the extensive presence of Adamic materials in 2 Enoch can be explained through the assessment of Enoch’s image in the text.

Scholars have previously noted that Enoch’s figure, portrayed in the various sections of 2 Enoch, is more developed than in the early Enochic tractates of 1 Enoch. For the first time, the Enochic tradition tries to portray the patriarch, not simply as a human taken to heaven and transformed into an angel, but as a celestial being exalted above the angelic world. In this attempt, one may find the origin of another image of Enoch (very different from the early Enochic literature) which was developed much later in Merkabah mysticism—the concept of the supreme angel Metatron, “the Prince of the Presence.”14 It is therefore possible that the traditions about the exalted status of Adam were introduced in 2 Enoch, for the first time in the Enochic tradition, in order to enhance the new profile of the seventh antediluvian patriarch.15

The elevated prelapsarian condition of the protoplast as the archetype of exalted humanity appears to serve in the Slavonic apocalypse as a model for constructing the new super-angelic identity of Enoch. In 2 Enoch the seventh antediluvian patriarch acquired a host of roles and qualities which the Adamic narrative of the Slavonic apocalypse associates with the protoplast. One of these transferences includes the tradition of Adam’s cosmic body that seems to play a formative role in creating such new identities of Enoch as the measure and the measurer of the divine Body in the Slavonic apocalypse.

The Corporeality of the Protoplast

The later Jewish materials associated with the Merkabah tradition often depict Enoch-Metatron as the one who possesses a corporeal structure of cosmic dimensions. One of such testimonies can be found, for example, in 3 Enoch 9,16 which describes the transformation of the patriarch Enoch into the supreme angel Metatron. According to this text, during this celestial metamorphosis Enoch-Metatron “was enlarged and increased in size till [he] matched the world in length and breadth.”17 The materials associated with the Shicur Qomah tradition18 also describe Enoch-Metatron in similar terms, telling that “the stature of this youth fills the world19 (Mlw(h )lm wtmwq hzh r(nhw).”20

Despite the prominent place that the traditions about the cosmic body of Enoch-Metatron occupy in the later Merkabah accounts, the early Enochic materials of the Second Temple period are silent about the great dimensions of the body of the elevated patriarch. The Enochic traditions attested in 1 Enoch, Jubilees, Genesis Apocryphon and the Book of Giants do not provide any hints about Enoch’s gigantic body. In contrast to this silence about Enoch’s corporeality, several early Jewish sources attest to the lore about the enormous body of another Biblical character, the patriarch Adam, which the protoplast possessed before his transgression in Eden.

Thus, Philo in QG 1.32 unveils a tradition according to which “[the first humans] … were provided with a very great body and the magnitude of a giant….”21 A similar testimony can be found in the Apocalypse of Abraham, a Jewish text written around the first century CE. The Apocalypse of Abraham 23:4-6 relates the description of the terrifying corporalities of the protoplasts:

And I looked at the picture, and my eyes ran to the side of the garden of Eden. And I saw there a man very great in height and terrible in breath, incomparable in aspect, entwined with a woman was also equal to the man in aspect and size. And they were standing under the tree of Eden….22

Moreover, in some pseudepigraphical accounts the body of the protoplast is portrayed, not simply as gigantic, but even as comparable with the dimensions of the divine corporeality. Thus, in several pseudepigraphical materials the depictions of Adam’s stature are often linked to the imagery of the enthroned divine anthropomorphic extent known from the priestly and Ezekelian sources as God’s Kavod. One such association might be hinted at in 2 Enoch 30; here the Kavod imagery seems to have been applied to Adam’s prelapsarian condition. In this text the protoplast is labeled as “the second angel” to whom the Lord assigned four special stars. Jarl Fossum suggests23 that, in view of the imagery attested in another Enochic texts where stars often designate angels, the allotment to Adam of the “four special stars” might allude to the fact that Adam, like God, also has his own “Princes of the Presence”—the four angels whose function is to serve near the Throne of Glory. This angelic imagery signals that 2 Enoch’s authors might understand Adam as an enthroned entity resembling the Lord’s glorious anthropomorphic extent, his Kavod.24

The Testament of Abraham 11:4 (Recension A) also attests to a similar tradition when it offers a depiction of “the first-formed Adam” seated on the throne at the entrance to paradise at the end of time: “And outside the two gates of that place, they saw a man seated on the golden throne. And the appearance of that man was terrifying, like the Master’s.”25 Here again Adam is depicted as a resemblance of the Lord’s Kavod, the divine Form manifested on the Seat of Glory.26

It is intriguing that in Georgian, Armenian and Latin versions of the primary Adam books,27 the protoplast is depicted as a being venerated by angelic hosts.28 The tradition about the angelic veneration of the protoplast might also point to associations with the Kavod tradition in which one of the essential functions of angelic hosts in the celestial realm is veneration of the enthroned divine Glory.

The heterodox movements in early Christianity that are closely associated with Sethian and Adamic traditions also contain several important testimonies about Adam’s body pertaining to the subject of our investigation.29 Some of these accounts recall the imagery found in the later Merkabah accounts. Thus, the Apocryphon of John relates a tradition according to which the seven powers were responsible for the creation of the seven souls of Adam.30 The text relates that the seven powers provided for the angels the seven substances of the soul in order to create the proportions of the limbs of Adam.31 In the Apocryphon each of the limbs of the first man corresponds to the name of the angel responsible for its creation.32 The detailed attention to the limbs of the first man and their naming according to angelic connotations seem to recall the later Shicur Qomah materials with their tendency to name the various parts of the cosmic body and for providing the detailed depictions of its limbs.33

All these early testimonies demonstrate that long before the traditions about the gigantic physique of Enoch-Metatron took their distinctive mold in the Merkabah tradition, a similar imagery was already applied in the Jewish pseudepigrapha and the Christian apocrypha to Adam’s prelapsarian corporeality. As already mentioned, earlier scholars proposed that the Adamic imagery played a formative role in the shaping of the Metatron tradition. It is also possible that the concept of the cosmic body of the protoplast played a formative role in constructing the later Metatron’s office as the measurer of the divine Body. The beginning of this significant development might be detected already in 2 Enoch. In order to support this hypothesis, our investigation will proceed in the following manner. First, we will explore in detail the tradition of Adam’s body in the Slavonic apocalypse. Then, we will focus on the theme of Enoch’s corporeality in the text. Finally, we will try to establish the relationship between both traditions in their connections with the motif of the Lord’s Shicur Qomah found in chapter 39.

From the Four Corners of the World

According to 2 Enoch 30:12, the prelapsarian Adam was a very special celestial being. The Slavonic apocalypse defines him as a second angel who was great(Slav. ) and glorious. The Slavonic terminology used for the term “great” () appears to be related to the physical dimensions of the protoplast. 2 Enoch 30:10 provides additional proof that the greatness might designate Adam’s proportions. In this passage the Lord says that “even at his [Adam’s] greatest () he is small, and again at his smallest he is great.”34 The conjunction of the term “great” with the term “small” further supports the hypothesis that the epithet “greatness” in the text is applied to the dimensions of the first human.

Besides these general references to the “greatness” of Adam, the text also provides other hints about the dimensions of the patriarch’s body. It appears that the most important evidences about the unusual frame of the protoplast in the Slavonic apocalypse are conveyed via the traditions about the creation and the naming of the protoplast.

In 2 Enoch 30:13 the Lord tells Enoch that he created Adam out of the seven components and assigned to Adam a name from the four “components:” from East — (A), from West — (D), from North — (A), and from South — (M).35 The correspondence of the anagram of Adam’s name with the four corners of the earth might indicate that the dimensions of his body are considered identical with the size of the earth. The Slavonic text, however, does not make this connection explicitly.

Moreover, the question remains if this passage about the anagram is really linked to the traditions about Adam’s body. The analysis of the early evidences of the anagram’s motif shows that this theme was often connected with the theme of Adam’s bodily form. In order to illustrate this point, a short excursus in the history of this tradition is needed.

One of the early Jewish texts where a similar36 tradition about the anagram can be found is the third book of Sibylline Oracles, a composition apparently written in Egypt around 160-50 BCE.37 It is intriguing that already in the Sibylline Oracles 3:24-2738 the anagram is linked to the motif of Adam’s bodily form: “Indeed it is God himself who fashioned Adam, of four letters, the first-formed man, fulfilling by his name east and west and south and north. He himself fixed the shape of the form of men (au)to_j d ) e)sth&rice tu&pon morfh=j mero&pwn te).”39 The term “shape of the form” (tu&pon morfh=j) here seems to be related to the body of the protoplast. The conflation of the anagram of Adam’s name with the shape of his form is significant for our investigation.40

Another Egyptian source, a passage found in the writings of the Hermetic author, the alchemist Zosimos of Panopolis who lived in Alexandria in the late third or early fourth century CE,41 also connects the tradition about the anagram of Adam’s name with his body:42 “… they have also spoken of him [Adam] symbolically, according to his body, through the four elements … for his ‘alpha’ element indicates the east, the air, while his ‘delta’ element indicates the west, and the ‘mu’ element [indicates] midday .…”43

It should be noted that the Sibylline Oracles 3 and the Zosimos passage, the two early attestations which link the anagram of Adam’s name with his body, are both associated with the Egyptian milieu. A passage from Philo mentioned in our previous investigation indicates that by the first century CE the lore about the gigantic physique of the first humans appeared to be widespread in the Alexandrian environment. 2 Enoch, which also contains a host of traditions pertaining to the protoplast’s body, might have been also composed at the same time and place, namely, in the Alexandrian Diaspora of the first century CE.

The tradition in which the anagram of Adam’s name was associated with his body was not lost in the melting pot of the Alexandrian environment but was carefully transmitted by later Jewish traditions. The same tendency to link the name of Adam derived from the Greek designations of the four corners of the world with his body is observable in the rabbinic materials. The difference between the early accounts found in the Sibylline Oracles and Zosimos of Panopolis and these rabbinic materials is that the latter explicitly identify the anagram, not simply with Adam’s body, but with his cosmic body, which according to the rabbinic accounts was created “from one end of the universe to the other.” This tradition is attested in a great variety of the rabbinic sources. For example, the passage from Gen R. 8:1 reads:

R. Tanhuma in the name of R. Banayah and R. Berekiah in the name of R. Leazar said: He created him [Adam] as a lifeless mass extending from one end of the world to the other; thus it is written, Thine eyes did not see mine unformed substance (Ps. CXXXIX, 16). R. Joshua b. R. Nehemiah and R. Judah b. R. Simon in R. Leasar’s name said: He created him filling the whole world. How do we know [that he stretched] from east to west? Because it is said, “Thou hast formed me behind and before.” From north to south? Because it says, Since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from the one end of heaven unto the other (Deut. IV, 32). and how do we know that he filled the empty spaces of the world/ From the verse, “And laid Thy hand upon me” (as you read, Withdraw Thy hand from me (Job XIII, 21)).44

This passage indicates that the speculations about the cosmic body of the protoplast in the rabbinic literature were juxtaposed with the tradition about the correspondence of Adam’s name with the four corners of the earth. It is remarkable that the passage from Gen. R. 8:1 has exactly the same “sequence” of the corners as 2 Enoch, namely “from east (A) to west (D)” and from “north (A) to south (M),” which precisely corresponds to the sequence of the letters of Adam’s name. The presence of the anagram in the midrashic text points to its ancient Hellenistic origin since the anagram does not carry any meaning in Hebrew, but only in Greek. This tradition about the correspondence of Adam’s cosmic body with the four corners of the world and the four letters of his name was widespread in rabbinic literature and was repeated multiple times in Gen. R. 21:3, Gen. R. 24:2, Lev. R. 14:1, and Lev. R. 18:2. It is significant that all these passages have the same order of the corners of the world: from east to west and from north to south. A similar tradition can be also found in the Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer and the Chronicles of Jerahmeel where the motif of Adam’s gigantic body created from the four corners of the world is conflated with the story of the veneration of the protoplast by the creatures who mistakenly perceived him as a deity. Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer 11 reads:

He [God] began to collect the dust of the first man from the four corners of the world… He [Adam] stood on his feet and was adorned with the Divine Image. His height was from east to west, as it is said, “Thou hast beset me behind and before.” “Behind” refers to the west, “before” refers to the east. All the creatures saw him and became afraid of him, thinking that he was their Creator, and they came to prostrate themselves before him.45

In the Chronicles of Jerahmeel 6-12, the same tradition is repeated in a virtually identical form:

…God then called Gabriel, and said unto him: “Go and bring Me dust from the four corners of the earth, and I will create man out of it”…. He [Adam] stood upon his feet, and was in the likeness of God; his height extended from the east to the west, as it is said, “Behind and in front Thou hast formed me.” Behind, that is the west, and in front, that is the east. All creatures saw him and were afraid of him; they thought he was their creator, and prostrated themselves before him.46

The testimonies from Midrash Rabbah, Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer and the Chronicles of Jerahmeel demonstrate that in the Jewish materials the anagram tradition was consistently interpreted as a reference to the cosmic body of the protoplast, created from one end of the universe to the other. In light of this tendency, it is possible that the tradition about the anagram found in 2 Enoch 30 also represents a reference to the cosmic body of the protoplast. This suggestion is made more plausible when one considers that the anagram tradition in 2 Enoch 30:13 follows immediately after the definition of the protoplast as a great celestial creature.47

The Measure of the Divine Body

As has been already mentioned in the introduction, 2 Enoch 39 depicts the Lord’s body as a huge extent “without measure and without analogy.” While the text unambiguously states that the Lord’s extent transcends any analogy, the account of Enoch’s vision of the Lord seems in itself to represent a set of analogies in which the descriptions of the patriarch’s face and the parts of his body are compared with the descriptions of the divine Face and the parts of the Lord’s Body.

Several details in this narrative are important for establishing the connection between 2 Enoch’s account and the later Jewish traditions about the divine Body.

1. It is significant that, through the analogical descriptions introduced in chapter 39 for the first time in the Enochic tradition, a significant bond was established between the immense body of the Lord and Enoch’s body; this bond will later play a prominent role in Merkabah mysticism. In 2 Enoch, as with later Merkabah developments, the proximity between the two bodies appears also to be reinforced by additional metaphors. These metaphors are intended to demonstrate the closeness between the corporeality of the Deity and the Enoch-Metatron corporeality.48 From the Merkabah materials one can learn that “the hand of God rests on the head of the youth, named Metatron.”49 In 2 Enoch 39:5 the patriarch uses a similar metaphor when he tells his children that he has seen the right hand of the Lord helping (beckoning)50 him.51

2. In the Merkabah materials the divine corporeality is labeled as the Measure of the Body52 (hmwq rw(y#). The same terminology is often applied to Enoch-Metatron’s body. According to one of the Merkabah texts, “the stature (wtmwq) of this youth fills the world.”53 The link between the body of the patriarch and the divine Body in the Slavonic apocalypse is also emphasized by identical terminology. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that in 2 Enoch the Shicur Qomah terminology is applied, not only to the body of the Lord (the stature54 of the Lord), but also to the body of the patriarch (statureof my [Enoch’s] body).

3. In 2 Enoch 39, Enoch’s body seems to serve as the measure and the analogy through which the patriarch conveys to his children the immeasurability of the Lord’s stature. In 2 Enoch 39:6 the term without measure55 (Slav. ) is used immediately after the expression “the stature56 of the Lord.”57 This conflation of the concepts of “stature” and “measure” further strengthens G. Scholem’s hypothesis that 2 Enoch 39 might attest to the precise Shicur Qomah terminology, since the term rw(y# can be translated as a measure.58

4. It is also important that the message about the impossibility of measuring59 the Lord’s body comes from the mouth of Enoch, depicted in various sections of 2 Enoch as a measurer responsible for measuring various earthly and celestial phenomena.60 It demonstrates a remarkable parallel to the later role of Metatron as the one who conveys to visionaries the measure/the stature of the Body. In the Shicur Qomah section of the Merkavah Rabbah, the following tradition is attested: “I said to him, to the Prince of Torah,61 teach me the measure of our Creator, and he said to me the measure of our Creator, and he said to me the measure of the body (hmwq rw(y#).” (Synopse §688).62 In later Jewish mysticism Enoch-Metatron himself is described as the measure63 of the divine Body.

In the conclusion of this section, it should be stressed that our analysis of the description of the Lord’s corporeality in chapter 39 indicates that several features of this account manifest remarkable similarities to the concepts and imagery of the divine Body found in the later Hekhalot and Merkabah writings. The development detectable in the Slavonic apocalypse, however, seems to represent a very early form of this tradition, which contains a vague sketch of what will take its definitive form in Jewish mysticism much later.

Bodily Ascent

It has been previously mentioned that Enoch’s image in 2 Enoch appears to be quite different from his portrait in the early Enochic circle. Among the new features that constitute this new enhanced profile of the seventh antedeluvian patriarch, a significant one can be found that seems related to our ongoing discussion about the cosmic body traditions in the Slavonic apocalypse. This important feature appears in the first chapter of 2 Enoch, which describes the beginning of Enoch’s celestial ascent.

In 2 Enoch 1:3 the reader finds the patriarch sleeping on his bed. According to the text Enoch sees a strange dream in which two huge angelic beings, with faces like the shining sun, approach the patriarch’s bed and call him by his name. The text says that after the patriarch was awakened by the angels, he went out from his house closing the door behind him as the angels had ordered. Philip Alexander draws the reader’s attention to an important detail in this description; he observes that 2 Enoch “attests with a boldness and clarity nowhere matched in 1 Enoch that Enoch ascended bodily to heaven….”64 He also notes that this emphasis on the bodily ascent in the awakened condition represents a departure from the early Enochic materials attested in 1 (Ethiopic) Enoch, where the patriarch’s ascension to heaven seems to be depicted as in a dream during sleep.65 Alexander further observes that this unequivocal claim that a human could bodily enter the upper realm was profoundly problematic within the worldview of early Judaism.66

It is intriguing that the later Merkabah Enochic accounts, as with 2 Enoch’s account, insist on the bodily ascension of the patriarch. Alexander observes that, 3 Enoch “clearly envisages bodily ascent and so postulates the physical metamorphosis of Enoch” during which Enoch “becomes, like other angels, physically composed of fire.”67 Alexander also points to another consequence of this metamorphosis, namely, the enlargement of Metatron’s body until it equaled the dimensions of the world.68

This connection between the bodily ascent of the visionary and the transformation of his body in 2 Enoch and the Sefer Hekhalot is not coincidental, since in the Slavonic apocalypse, for the first time in the Enochic tradition as we saw earlier, the body of the patriarch becomes a locus of intense theological deliberation. As has been already demonstrated in the Shicur Qomah passage from 2 Enoch 39, the patriarch’s body was explicitly compared with the divine Body and linked with it by identical technical terminology. The insistence on the bodily ascent of the patriarch in 2 Enoch seems also to constitute an important step in the forming of this new perspective on Enoch’s physique, the development that reached its formative stage in the later Merkabah speculations about Metatron’s body matching the size of the world.

Adam and Enoch: “Two Powers” in Heaven

Previous studies proposed that the traditions about the cosmic body of Metatron in later Jewish mysticism might have originated as a result of the polemics with the traditions about the cosmic body of the protoplast. Thus, Philip Alexander, in his comment on the motif of Enoch-Metatron enlargement in 3 Enoch 9, refers to certain rabbinic traditions69 about “the primordial Adam’s body, like that of the Gnostic protoanthropos, [which] corresponded to the world in size, but was diminished to the present limited dimensions of the human body as a result of the fall.”70 He further suggests that 3 Enoch’s account about the gigantic body of Enoch-Metatron “maybe expressing in mythological language the idea that Enoch reversed the fall of Adam.”71

Moshe Idel’s research also reveals that “Jewish mystical literature indicates … a certain similarity between the enlarged states of Adam and Enoch.”72 He notes that “the end of the gigantic Adam is well-known: he was severely reduced in his human dimensions. Enoch, on the other hand, merited undergoing the reverse process” described in 3 Enoch as the patriarch’s elevation and elongation as the measure of the length and breadth of the world.73

Idel notes that in some rabbinic materials the conception of the elevated Enoch, depicted as the supreme angel Metatron, contains remnants of the Adamic traditions.74 In these materials Enoch is conceived as the one who regained the cosmic status and the extraordinary qualities that the primordial Adam had lost after his transgression in the Garden of Eden, namely, his luminosity and size.75

Moreover, in some rabbinic accounts Metatron is often directly described as a counterpart of Adam predestined to substitute for the fallen patriarch even before his actual transgression.76 Idel points77 to the development of this theme in 3 Enoch. The Sefer Hekhalot 48C reads:

The Holy One, blessed be he, said: I made him strong, I took him, I appointed him, namely Metatron my servant, who is unique among all denizens of the heights. “I made him strong” in the generation of the first man….”I took him”–Enoch the son of Jared, from their midst, and brought him up…. “I appointed him”–over all the storehouses and treasures which I have in every heaven….78

According to this passage God elected Metatron already in the generation of the first man. Metatron was thus viewed as a preexistent divine being,79 first incarnated in Adam and then in Enoch, who re-ascended to the protoplast’s heavenly home and took his rightful place in the heights of the universe.80 Our research will later demonstrate that in 2 Enoch the account of Enoch’s elevation, similarly to this Metatron tradition, is juxtaposed with the story of the elevated prelapsarian Adam. Idel also observes that in Jewish mystical literature another significant parallelism in the depictions of the corporalities of Adam and Enoch can be detected. He points out that in both cases “their immense size caused an error of faith, namely other creatures were induced to believe that two powers governed the universe, not God alone.”81

Several rabbinic and Hekhalot sources, including b. Hag. 15a, Sefer Hekhalot 16, and Merkavah Rabbah (Synopse §672) attest to a tradition according to which the terrifying vision of Metatron, seated on a great throne at the door of the seventh palace, caused Aher to believe that Metatron represents the second power in heaven.

In 3 Enoch 16:1-5 Enoch-Metatron tells to Rabbi Ishmael the following story:

At first I sat upon a great throne at the door of the seventh palace, and I judged all the denizens of the heights on the authority of the Holy One, blessed be he…. I sat in the heavenly court. The princes of kingdoms stood beside me, to my right and to my left, by authority of the Holy One, blessed be he. But when Aher came to behold the vision of the chariot and set eyes upon me, he was afraid and trembled before me. His soul was alarmed to the point of leaving him, because of his fear, dread, and terror of me, when he saw me seated82 upon a throne like king, with ministering angels standing beside me as servants and all the princes of kingdoms crowned with crowns surrounding me.83

Despite the prominent role that Enoch-Metatron plays in the “two powers” controversy, the initial background of this tradition about the erroneous veneration of the exalted humanity appears to originate, not in the Enochic, but in the Adamic tradition.84

Jarl Fossum’s research demonstrates that the motif of the misplaced adoration of Adam by the angels appears in several forms in the rabbinic literature.85 Thus, from Gen. R. 8:10 one can learn that when God created man in his own image “the ministering angels mistook him [for a divine being] and wished to exclaim ‘Holy’ before Him… What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He caused sleep to fall upon him, and so all knew that he was [only a mortal] man.”86 In the Alphabet of R. Akiba the angels’ erroneous behavior is explained through the reference to Adam’s gigantic body:87

This teaches that initially Adam was created from the earth to the firmament. When the ministering angels saw him, they were shocked and excited by him. At that time they all stood before the Holy One, blessed be He, and said to Him; “Master of the Universe! There are two powers in the world, one in heaven and one on earth.” What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do then? He placed His hand on him, and decreased him,88 setting him at one thousand cubits.89

It is clear that these Adamic accounts do not originate in the rabbinic literature under the influence of Metatron’s story but in early pseudepigraphical writings. Scholars observe90 that these accounts have their roots in the prominent story already found in the primary Adam books91 and other early materials,92 according to which God himself ordered the angels to venerate Adam, and all the angels except Satan bowed before the first human.

The prototype of the story of the misplaced veneration of Enoch-Metatron also can be traced to this early Adamic lore. It is possible that the transition from the Adamic two powers template to the Enoch-Metatron two powers template occurred not in the rabbinic period but much earlier, that is, already inside the Second Temple Judaism. Michael Stone has demonstrated that in 2 Enoch 22 the Adamic tradition of the protoplast’s veneration by the angels was skillfully transferred to the seventh antediluvian patriarch.93 It is not coincidental that the transference of the “two powers” tradition from Adam to Enoch was made for the first time in the Slavonic Apocalypse where the protoplast and the seventh antediluvian patriarch were interconnected via the conception of the cosmic body.

Two Bodies Created According to the Likeness of the Third One

Our previous analysis has shown that in the various Jewish texts the traditions about Adam’s and Enoch’s corporalities often appear to be linked and share similar imagery. Our investigation has also demonstrated that this connection can be detected already in 2 Enoch. A critical question, however, still remains: how can these traditions about the corporealities of the two patriarchs be related to the Shicur Qomah account of the divine Face found in chapter 39.

It appears that the depiction of the divine anthropomorphic extent, labeled in 2 Enoch as the Lord’s Face, serves as an important locus that unifies the Adamic tradition of the cosmic body of the protoplast and the Enochic tradition about the glorious angelic body of the translated patriarch. Our research must now turn to the analysis of the accounts of the divine Face which unifies both traditions.

It should be noted that 2 Enoch contains two descriptions involving the motif of the divine Face. The first one occurs in 2 Enoch 22, a chapter which depicts Enoch’s encounter with the Lord in the celestial realm. The second account appears in chapter 39 where the patriarch reports his initial theophanic experience to his sons during his short visit to earth, adding some new details. Although both descriptions demonstrate a number of terminological affinities, the second account explicitly connects the divine Face with the Lord’s anthropomorphic “extent.” It is also significant that in both theophanic descriptions the stature of the Lord, His “Face,” is associated with light and fire. In biblical theophanies smoke and fire often serve as a divine envelope that protects mortals from the sight of the divine Form. Radiant luminosity emitted by the Deity fulfills the same function, indicating the danger of the direct vision of the divine Form. Luminosity also represents the screen which protects the Deity from the necessity of revealing its true form. Scholars note that in some theophanic traditions God’s form remains hidden behind His light.94 The hidden Kavod is revealed through this light, which serves as a luminous screen, “the face” of this anthropomorphic extent. 2 Enoch’s theophanies, which use the metaphors of light and fire, may well be connected with such traditions where the divine “Form” is hidden behind the incandescent “face,” which covers and protects the sovereignty of the Lord.95

In 2 Enoch 39:3-6 the “face” is closely associated with the divine “extent” and seems to be understood, not simply as a part of the Lord’s body, but as a radiant façade of His whole anthropomorphic “stature.” This identification between the Lord’s face and the Lord’s form is reinforced by an additional parallel in which Enoch’s face is identified with Enoch’s form. The association between the divine Face and the divine Form in 2 Enoch 39:3-6 closely resembles the biblical tradition from Ex 33:18-23, where the divine panim is mentioned in connection with the glorious divine form, God’s Kavod.

The motif of the divine Face has paramount significance for our investigation since it serves as a symbol decisively linking Enoch’s newly acquired luminous angelic body with the glorious body of the protoplast. Enoch’s luminous metamorphosis takes place in the front of the Lord’s glorious “extent,” labeled in 2 Enoch as the Lord’s “Face.” From 2 Enoch 22 one can learn that the vision of the divine “Face” had drastic consequences for Enoch’s appearance. His body endures radical changes as it becomes covered with the divine light. This encounter transforms Enoch into a glorious angelic being. The text says that after this procedure Enoch had become like one of the glorious ones, and there was no observable difference.96 This phrase describes Enoch’s transition to his new celestial identity as “one of the glorious ones.” During this transition in the front of the Lord’s face Enoch’s own “face” has been radically altered and the patriarch has now acquired a new glorious “visage” which reflects the luminosity97 of the Lord’s Panim.98 The account of the Lord’s Face in 2 Enoch 39 also stresses the proximity between the Face and the patriarch’s body. It is expressed through a series of analogical comparisons that demonstrates that Enoch’s new transformed stature is fashioned in the likeness of the Lord’s “Face.”

This creation in the likeness of the Lord’s Face represents an important link that connects this new angelic body of Enoch with the body of the glorious Adam. It has been demonstrated that the Face in 2 Enoch 22 represented the cause and the prototype after which the new celestial identity of Enoch was “created.” The new creation fashioned after the Face signifies here the return to the prelapsarian condition of Adam, who according to the Slavonic apocalypse was also “modeled” during his creation after the Face of God. In 2 Enoch 44:1 one can learn that the protoplast was created in thelikeness of God’s Face. The text says that “the Lord with his own two hands created mankind; in a facsimile of his own face, both small and great, the Lord created [them].”99 It is intriguing that 2 Enoch departs here from the canonical reading attested in Gen 1:26-27, where Adam was created, not after the face of God, but after His image (tselem). In view of this departure, the author of the recent English translation of the Slavonic apocalypse, Francis Andersen, observes that 2 Enoch’s “idea is remarkable from any point of view…. This is not the original meaning of tselem…. The text uses podobie lica [in the likeness of the face], not obrazu or videnije, the usual terms for ‘image.’”100

The previous analysis, however, demonstrates that this reading does not arise in the Slavonic environment but belongs to the original argument of 2 Enoch, where the creation of the luminous protoplast after the Face of the Lord corresponds to a similar angelic “creation” of the seventh antediluvian patriarch. There is almost no doubt that, in view of the information about Adam’s glorious angelic nature attested in 2 Enoch 30:11, the author of the Slavonic apocalypse tries to connect the theme of Adam’s creation with the motif of the glorious Face of the Lord.

This connection also reveals that the bodies of the two characters of the Slavonic apocalypse, the prelapsarian corporeality of the protoplast and the body of his luminous counterpart, the patriarch Enoch, are both fashioned in the likeness of the third body, namely, the extent of the Lord, also known as the luminous “Face.” It is not coincidental that in 2 Enoch the interconnection of all three corporealities, the glorious body of the protoplast, the glorious body of the elevated Enoch, and the luminous divine Body, is made via the account of the divine Face where, according to Gershom Scholem, the precise Shicur Qomah terminology might have already been made evident.

1 G. Scholem, On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah (New York: Schocken, 1991) 29.

2 For texts and translations of the Shicur Qomah materials, see: P. Schäfer, with M. Schlüter and H. G. von Mutius., Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur (TSAJ, 2; Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1981); M. Cohen, The Shicur Qomah: Texts and Recensions (TSAJ, 9; Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1985); Schäfer et al., Übersetzung der Hekhalot-Literatur (TSAJ, 17, 22, 29, 46; Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1987-95).

3 G. Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990) 20.

4 Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah, 20.

5 . M. I. Sokolov, “Материалы и заметки по старинной славянской литературе. Выпуск третий. VII. Славянская Книга Еноха Праведного. Тексты, латинский перевод и исследование. Посмертный труд автора приготовил к изданию М. Сперанский,” Чтения в Обществе Истории и Древностей Российских 4 (1910) 1–167 at 38, 94.

6 F. I. Andersen, “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch,” The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 vols.; ed. J. H. Charlesworth; New York: Doubleday, 1985 [1983]) 1.163.

7 A. Kahana, “Sefer Hanok B,” in: Ha-Sefarim ha-Hitsonim le-Torah (Jerusalem, 1936f) 102-41.

8 Scholem, On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah, 29.

9 Ithamar Gruenwald supports Scholem’s position, suggesting that the expression found in 2 Enoch 39 may represent the first reference to the Shicur Qomah of God. Cf. I. Gruenwald, Apocalyptic and Merkavah Mysticism (AGJU, 14; Leiden: Brill, 1980) 213. For criticism of Scholem’s position, see: M. S. Cohen, The Shicur Qomah: Liturgy and Theurgy in Pre-Kabbalistic Jewish Mysticism (New York: University Press of America, 1983) 80.

10 2 Enoch 30:8-32:2; 33:10; 41:1; 42:5; 44:1; 58:1-3; 71:28.

11 See, 1 Enoch 32:6; 37:1; 60:8; 69:9-11; 85:3; 90:37-38.

12 The Enochic tradition bases its understanding of the origin of evil on the Watchers story where the fallen angels corrupt human beings by passing on to them various celestial secrets. In contrast, the Adamic tradition traces the source of evil to Satan’s disobedience and the transgression of Adam and Eve in Eden.

13 M. Stone, “The Axis of History at Qumran,” Pseudepigraphic Perspectives: The Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls (eds. E. Chazon and M. E. Stone; STDJ, 31; Leiden: Brill, 1999) 133-49; J. C. Reeves, Exploring Early Jewish Mythologies of Evil (forthcoming).

14 Philip Alexander observes that “the transformation of Enoch in 2 Enoch 22 provides the closest approximation, outside Merkabah literature, to Enoch’s transformation in 3 Enoch 3-13.” P. Alexander, “3 (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch,” The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 vols.; ed. J. H. Charlesworth; New York: Doubleday, 1985 [1983]) 1.248

15 In 1987 Moshe Idel published an article in which he explored the role of the Adamic traditions in shaping the image of Enoch as the supreme angel Metatron. Although Idel’s research deals mainly with later rabbinic materials, it demonstrates that already in some pseudepigraphic accounts Enoch appears to be portrayed as a luminous counterpart of Adam who regained Adam’s glory, which was lost during the protoplast’s transgression. Idel suggests that Enoch’s luminous metamorphosis attested in 2 Enoch 22 might also belong to the same tradition which views Enoch as the one who regained Adam’s lost status and luminosity. He observes that to the best of his knowledge “Enoch is the only living person for whom we learn that luminous garments, reminiscent of Adam’s lost garments of light, were made.” M. Idel, “Enoch is Metatron,” Immanuel 24/25 (1990) 220-240. Alexander, in his recent research, adds new insight to Idel’s argument about the formative value of the Adamic traditions for the image of the elevated Enoch. Alexander points to a number of rabbinic passages in which the “supernatural radiance” of Adam’s heavenly soul, which departed from him when he sinned, then returned to be reincarnated in Enoch. He further observes that “behind these passages is a concept of Metatron as a divine entity first incarnate in Adam and then reincarnate in Enoch. Enoch, having perfected himself, in contrast to Adam, who sinned and fell, re-ascends to his heavenly home and takes his rightful place in the heights of the universe, above the highest angels…. Enoch thus becomes a redeemer figure—a second Adam through whom humanity is restored.” P. Alexander, “From Son of Adam to a Second God: Transformation of the Biblical Enoch,” Biblical Figures Outside the Bible (ed. M. E. Stone and T. A. Bergren; Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 1998) 111.

16 See also: 3 Enoch 48C:5-6: “I increased his stature (wtmwq) by seventy thousand parasangs, above every height, among those who are tall of stature (twmwqh ymwr lkb). I magnified his throne from the majesty of my throne. I increased his honor from the glory of my honor. I turned his flesh to fiery torches and all the bones of his body (wpwg) to coals of light. I made the appearance of his eyes like the appearance of lightning, and the light of his eyes like ‘light unfailing.’ I caused his face to shine like the brilliant light of the sun.” Alexander, “3 Enoch,” 1.312; Schäfer et al., Synopse, 36-37.

17 Alexander, “3 Enoch,” 1.263.

18 Cohen, The Shicur Qomah: Texts and Recensions, 159. Cf. also Cohen, The Shicur Qomah: Liturgy and Theurgy in Pre-Kabbalistic Jewish Mysticism, 162.

19 “His body is 30,000,000 parasangs, and they call him, ‘Lad.’” Cohen, The Shicur Qomah: Texts and Recensions, 40-41.

20 Schäfer et al, Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur, 162.

21 Philo, Questions and Answers on Genesis (tr. R. Marcus; Cambridge/London: Harvard University Press/Heinemann, 1949) 19.

22 R. Rubinkewicz, “Apocalypse of Abraham,” The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 vols.; ed. J. H. Charlesworth; New York: Doubleday, 1985 [1983]) 1.700.

23 J. Fossum, “The Adorable Adam of the Mystics and the Rebuttals of the Rabbis,” in: Geschichte-Tradition-Reflexion. Festschrift für Martin Hengel zum 70. Geburtstag (eds. H. Cancik, H. Lichtenberger, and P. Schäfer; Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1996) 1.535, n. 39.

24 Further support for the suggestion that in 2 Enoch Adam is enthroned is offered in that the text says that the Lord created open heaven in order that Adam might look upon the angels singing the triumphal song. This detail again recalls the traditional Kavod imagery where the angelic hosts sing the triumphal song before the enthroned King.

25 E. Sanders, “Testament of Abraham,” The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 vols.; ed. J. H. Charlesworth; New York: Doubleday, 1985 [1983]) 1.888.

26 On the traditions of Adam’s enthronement, see: B. Munoa III, Four Powers in Heaven. The Interpretation of Daniel 7 in the Testament of Abraham (JSPSS, 28; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998) 87-90.

27 Cf. Georgian, Armenian, and Latin versions of the Life of Adam and Eve 13:2-14:2.

28 Michael Stone recently demonstrated that one of the earliest instances of this tradition can be found in 2 Enoch 22 where Enoch is transformed after the glory of God into a glorious angelic being venerated by angels. Stone points to the original Adamic mytheme behind this Enochic imagery. M. E. Stone, “The Fall of Satan and Adam’s Penance: Three Notes on the Books of Adam and Eve,” Literature on Adam and Eve. Collected Essays (eds. G. Anderson, M. Stone, J. Tromp; SVTP, 15; Leiden: Brill, 2000) 47.

29 Cf. for example: Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 1.30.6 “Ialdabaoth exclaimed, ‘Come, let us make man after our image.’ The six powers, on hearing this … jointly formed a man of immense size, both in regard to breadth and length.”

30 The Apocryphon of John: Synopsis of Nag Hammadi Codices II, 1; III, 1; and VI, 1 with BG 8502, 2 (eds. M. Waldstein and F. Wisse; NMS, 33; Leiden: Brill, 1995) 88-91.

31 Ibid., 93.

32 Ibid., 95-111.

33 Cf. G. G. Stroumsa, “Polymorphie divine et transformations d’un mythologème: l’Apocryphon de Jean et ses sources,” VC 35 (1988) 412-434.

34 Andersen, “2 Enoch,” 1.152.

35 The letters of this anagram correspond to Gk. a)natolh&, du&sij, a1rktoj, and meshmbri&a.

36 The Sibylline Oracles have a slightly different sequence of the “corners”: east-west-south-north.

37 J. J. Collins, “Sibylline Oracles,” The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 vols.; ed. J. H. Charlesworth; New York: Doubleday, 1985 [1983]) 1.355-6.

38 John Collins observes that Sibylline Oracles 3:1-45 “finds its closest parallels in the Jewish Orphic fragments, which probably date to the second century B.C., and also in Philo.” Collins, “Sibylline Oracles,” 1.360.

39 Collins, “Sibylline Oracles,” 1.362; Sibyllinische Weissagungen (ed. A.-M. Kurfess; Berlin: Heimeren, 1951) 72.

40 Vita Adae et Evae 27:1 also connects Adam’s name with “the memory of the divine majesty.” This expression might serve to designate Adam’s glorious form, which represents “memory” or likeness of the divine form: “… My Lord, Almighty and merciful God, holy and faithful, do not let the name of the memory of your majesty be destroyed (ne deleatur nomen memoria tuae maiestatis).” A Synopsis of the Books of Adam and Eve. Second Revised Edition (eds. G. A. Anderson and M. E. Stone; Early Judaism and Its Literature, 17; Atlanta: Scholars, 1999) 32-32E.

41 A. J. Festugière, La Révélation d’Hermès Trismégiste, Vol. I. L’Astrologie et les sciences occultes (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1983) 239.

42 Cf. B. A. Pearson, “Enoch in Egypt,” in: For A Later Generation: The Transformation of Tradition in Israel, Early Judaism, and Early Christianity (eds. R. A. Argall, B. A. Bow, and R. A. Werline; Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 2000) 222

43 For the Greek text, see: M. E. Berthelot/Ch.-Ém. Ruelle, Collection des Anciens Alchimistes Grecs (2 vols.; Paris: Georges Steinheil, 1888) 2.231.

44 Midrash Rabbah (10 vols.; trs. H. Freedman and M. Simon; London: Soncino, 1939) 1.54-55.

45 Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer (tr. G. Friedländer; New York: Hermon Press, 1965) 76-79.

46 The Chronicles of Jerahmeel (tr. M. Gaster; Oriental Translation Fund, 4; London: Royal Asiatic Society, 1899) 14-17.

47 Another tradition found in chapter 30 about the creation of Adam from the seven components might also serve as an allusion to the cosmic body of the protoplast. The description found in 2 Enoch 30:8 relates that Adam’s flesh was created from earth; his blood from dew and from the sun; his eyes from the bottomless sea; his bones from stone; his reason from the mobility of angels and from clouds; his veins and hair from the grass of the earth; his spirit from the Lord’s spirit and from wind. It is possible that by such postulations the text intends to stress that the primordial Adam was the creature of macrocosmic dimensions since Adam’s creation from the seven elements refers to Adam as a microcosm, e.g. the anthropomorphic representation of the world. The motif of creation from the seven elements might also be linked to the traditions associated with Shicur Qomah mysticism. The previously mentioned passage from the Apocryphon of John, where the seven powers create the seven “souls” of Adam might shed additional light on 2 Enoch’s account of Adam’s creation from the seven elements.

48 Ithamar Gruenwald observes that “it is hard to say whether any method lies behind these measures, but we assume that originally the measures aimed at conveying the notion of ideal proportions. These proportions were shared by God and man alike.” Gruenwald, Apocalyptic and Merkavah Mysticism, 214.

49 Synopse § 384.

50 The same imagery can be found in Ezekiel the Tragedian’s Exagoge 72: “Upon it sat a man of noble mien, becrowned, and with a scepter in one hand while with the other he did beckon me.…” R. G. Robertson, “Ezekiel the Tragedian,” The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 vols.; ed. J. H. Charlesworth; New York: Doubleday, 1985 [1983]) 1.812.

51 Cf. also 2 Enoch 24:2 (the shorter recension). “And the Lord called me; and he placed me to the left of himself closer than Gabriel.” Andersen, “2 Enoch,” 1.143.

52 G. Scholem observes that the term qomah was often translated as “height” (“Measurement of the Height”), used in the Biblical sense. He stresses that such translation does not apply to the Merkabah materials where qomah, like in the Aramaic incantation texts, signifies “body.” Cf. G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, 364.

53 Schäfer et al., Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur, 162.

54 Slav. , . Sokolov, “Материалы и заметки по старинной славянской литературе,” 38, 94.

55 Some Shicur Qomah descriptions also stress the idea of the immesurability of the divine Face: “…The image of His face and the image of His cheeks is as the dimensions of the spirit and as the creation of the soul, such that no one can recognize it, as it is stated (in Scripture): ‘His body is tarshish.’ His splendor is luminous and glows from within the darkness, and (from within) the cloud and fog that surround Him and although they surround Him, all the princes of the Presence (supplicate) before Him as (obediently as water flows when it is poured from) a water-pitcher, because of the vision of His comeliness and beauty. There is no measurement (hdm) in our hands; the names (alone) are revealed.” Cohen, The Shicur Qomah: Texts and Recensions, 47.

56 Slav.  literally can be translated as “embrace.” This noun is related to the Slavonic verb – to embrace somebody, to fold somebody in one’s hands. Francis Andersen translates the term as “scope” (the longer recension) and “extent” (the shorter recension).

57 2 Enoch 39:6 “…I have seen the stature of the Lord, without measure and without analogy….”

58 Markus Jastrow translates the term as “proportion,” “standart,” “definite quantity,” “size,” or “limit.” M. Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature (2 vols.; New York: Shalom, 1967) 2.1565.

59 The stress on the immesurability of God in 2 Enoch does not contradict the theology of the Shicur Qomah tradition. Peter Schäfer observes that “the Shicur Qomah tradition does not intend to state that God can be ‘calculated,’ that he is, so to speak, a superman of enormous yet exactly measurable and conceivable dimensions … the completely absurd calculations is to demonstrate that God cannot be conceived of in human categories: he, ‘as it were,’ is like a human being and yet hidden.” P. Schäfer, The Hidden and Manifest God. Some Major Themes in Early Jewish Mysticism (tr. A. Pomerance; Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992) 149-50.

60 See, for example, 2 Enoch 40:2-12:”I know everything, and everything I have written down in books, the heavens and their boundaries and their contents. And all the armies and their movements I have measured. And I have recorded the stars and the multitude of multitudes innumerable…. The solar circle I have measured, and its rays I have measured…. The lunar circle I have measured, and its movements…. I measured all the earth, and its mountains and hills and fields and woods and stones and rivers, and everything that exist….” Andersen, “2 Enoch,” 1.164-166.

61 = Metatron.

62 Schäfer et al, Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur, 252.

63 G. G. Stroumsa, “Form(s) of God: Some Notes on Metatron and Christ,” HTR 76 (1983) 269-88.

64 Alexander, “From Son of Adam to Second God,” 104.

65 Ibid., 103.

66 Ibid., 102. It should be noted that despite the fact that 1 Enoch’s materials do not attest to the bodily ascent of the visionary, the transition to this concept occurred in early Judaism not later than the first century CE. Besides 2 Enoch’s evidence, which can be dated to the first century CE, before the destruction of the Second Temple, the Pauline passage attested in 2 Cor 12 also demonstrates familiarity with the concept of the bodily ascent. I am indebted to Alan Segal for this clarification.

67 Ibid., 106.

68 Ibid., 106.

69 In Gen. R. 8:1, b. Hag. 12a, and possibly, in Pesiq. Rab Kah. 1:1.

70 Alexander, “From Son of Adam to a Second God,” 111-12.

71 Ibid., 112.

72 Idel, “Enoch is Metatron,” 225.

73 Ibid., 225.

74 Ibid., 220.

75 Cf. b. Sanh. 38b: “Rab Judah said in Rab’s name: The first man reached from one end of the world to the other… R. Elezar said: The first man reached from earth to heaven… but when he sinned, the Holy One, blessed be He, laid His hand upon him and diminished him….” The Babylonian Talmud (Hebrew-English Edition) Sanhedrin (trs. J. Shachter and H. Freedman; London: Soncino, 1994) 38b.

76 Isaiah Tishby observes that in both the Raya Mehemna and the Tikkunei ha-Zohar, Metatron is portrayed as the lord of the lower chariot, a human figure seated upon the throne; and in this role he is called “the lesser Adam.” Tishby notes that according to the Tikkunei ha-Zohar “…Metatron was created first and foremost among all the hosts of heaven below, and he is the lesser Adam, which the Holy One, blessed be He, made in the celestial image.” I. Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar, (3 vols.; London: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 1994) 2.628-629. In some Zoharic materials Metatron’s name(s), similar to Adam’s name, are also juxtaposed with the tradition about the four corners of the world: “This is Metatron, which is higher [than the creatures] by a distance of five hundred years. Metatron, Mitatron, Zevul, Eved, Zevoel–here are five [names], and his names multiply in four directions to the four corners of the world according to the missions of his Master.” Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar, 2.643.

77 Idel, “Enoch is Metatron,” 226.

78 Alexander, “3 Enoch,” 1.311.

79 Scholem argued that in the Metatron lore one can find two possible concepts of this angel. The first one considers him as an angelic counterpart of the seventh antediluvian patriarch translated to heaven before the Flood and transfigured into an immortal angelic being. He argued that there was also another trend in which Metatron was not connected with Enoch or any other human prototype but was understood as a pre-existent angel. See G. Scholem, Kabbalah (New York: Dorset Press, 1987) 378-380.

80 It is noteworthy that the motif of Enoch as the redeemer and the restorer of prelapsarian humanity can be traced to 2 Enoch 64:4-5 where the patriarch is portrayed as the one who carried away the sin of humankind. Andersen, “2 Enoch,” 1.190.

81 Idel, “Enoch is Metatron,” 225.

82 The rabbinic tradition states that there is no sitting in heaven, where according to b. Hag. 15a, the privilege of “seating” beside God was accorded solely to Metatron by virtue of his character as a “scribe”; for he was granted permission as a scribe to sit and write down the merits of Israel. It is important that the motif of the “seating” of Enoch-Metatron in heaven is first documented in 2 Enoch 23:4 where the archangel Vereveil allows the patriarch to sit down and “write everything.”

83 Alexander, “3 Enoch,” 1.268.

84 For Adam’s connection with the two powers’ traditions, see Segal’s pioneering research: A. Segal, Two Powers in Heaven. Early Rabbinic Reports About Christianity and Gnosticism (SJLA, 25; Leiden: Brill, 1977) 108-115.

85 Jarl Fossum differentiates three major forms of this tradition: “(1) The angels mistake Adam for God and want to exclaim ‘Holy’ before him, whereupon God lets sleep fall upon Adam so it becomes clear that the latter is human; (2) all creatures mistake Adam for their creator and wish to bow before him, but Adam teaches them to render all honor to God as their true creator; (3) the angels mistake Adam for God and wish to exclaim ‘Holy’ before him, whereupon God reduces Adam’s size.” J. Fossum, “The Adorable Adam of the Mystics and the Rebuttals of the Rabbis,” in: Geschichte-Tradition-Reflexion. Festschrift für Martin Hengel zum 70. Geburtstag (eds. H. Cancik, H. Lichtenberger and P. Schäfer; Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1996) 1.529-30. An important similarity can be detected between these Adamic traditions and the Metatron accounts. In b. Hag. 15a God punished Metatron with sixty fiery lashes. Alan Segal observes that “just as Metatron needed correction for the false impression he gave Aher, so Adam needs correction for the false impression given the angels.” Segal, Two Powers in Heaven, 112. Indeed, in the Adamic accounts of two powers the protoplast is disciplined in various ways, including the reduction of his stature.

86 Midrash Rabbah, 1.61.

87 It should be noted that the traditions about the gigantic body of Adam were widespread in the rabbinic literature. See: A. Altmann, “The Gnostic Background of the Rabbinic Adam Legends,” JQR 35 (1945) 371-391; B. Barc, “La taille cosmique d’Adam dans la littérature juive rabbinique des trois premiers siècles apres J.-C.,” RSR 49 (1975) 173-85; J. Fossum, “The Adorable Adam of the Mystics and the Rebuttals of the Rabbis,” Geschichte-Tradition-Reflexion. Festschrift für Martin Hengel zum 70. Geburtstag (2 vols; eds. H. Cancik, H. Lichtenberger and P. Schäfer; Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1996) 1.529-39; S. Niditch, “The Cosmic Adam: Man as Mediator in Rabbinic Literature,” JJS 34 (1983) 137-146; Schäfer, Rivalität zwischen Engeln und Menschen: Untersuchungen zur rabbinischen Engelvorstellung (SJ, 8; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1975); Segal, Two Powers in Heaven. Early Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and Gnosticism, 108-115.

88 Pesiq. Rab Kah. 1:1 reflects the same tradition: “Said R. Aibu, ‘At that moment the first man’s stature was cut down and diminished to one hundred cubits.’” Pesiqta de Rab Kahana (tr. J. Neusner; 2 vols.; BJS, 122-123; Atlanta:Scholars, 1987) 1.1.

89 Idel, “Enoch is Metatron,” 226.

90 Altmann, “The Gnostic Background of the Rabbinic Adam Legends,” 382; Fossum, “The Adorable Adam of the Mystics and the Rebuttals of the Rabbis,” 530-31.

91 The account of Adam’s elevation and his veneration by angels is also found in Armenian, Georgian, and Latin versions of the Life of Adam and Eve 13-15. These versions depict God’s creation of Adam in his image. The first man was then brought before God’s face by the archangel Michael to bow down to God. God commanded all the angels to bow down to Adam. All the angels agreed to venerate the protoplast, except Satan (and his angels) who refused to bow down before Adam, because the first human was “younger” than (“posterior” to) Satan.

92 The Slavonic version of 3 Baruch 4; Gospel of Bartholomew 4, Coptic Enthronement of Michael, Cave of Treasures 2:10-24, and Qur’an 2:31-39; 7:11-18; 15:31-48; 17:61-65; 18:50; 20:116-123; 38:71-85.

93 M. Stone’s article investigates an important motif preserved in chapters 21-22 of the Slavonic apocalypse. He observes that the story found in 2 Enoch 21-22 recalls the account of Adam’s elevation and his veneration by angels found in Armenian, Georgian, and Latin versions of the Life of Adam and Eve. Stones notes that, besides the motifs of Adam’s elevation and his veneration by angels, the author of 2 Enoch appears to be also aware of the motif of angelic disobedience and refusal to venerate the first human. M. Stone draws the reader’s attention to the phrase “sounding them out,” found in 2 Enoch 22:6, which another translator of the Slavonic text rendered as “making a trial of them.” Stone notes that the expressions “sounding them out” or “making a trial of them” imply here that it is the angels’ obedience that is being tested. Cf. M. E. Stone, “The Fall of Satan and Adam’s Penance: Three Notes on the Books of Adam and Eve,” JTS 44 (1993) 143-156.

94 April De Conick’s pioneering research shows that in Enochic traditions God’s form remains hidden behind his light. Cf. De Conick, Seek to See Him: Ascent and Vision Mysticism in the Gospel of Thomas, 104-5.

95 The imagery of the divine Face plays an important role in Merkabah mysticism. In the Hekhalot Rabbati the following descriptions can be found: “… the holy living creatures … put on garments of fire and wrap themselves in a covering of flame, and cover their faces with a lighting bolt, and the Holy One, blessed be He, unveils His face.” Synopse, §184. “The honored King is enthroned and He rises up the living creatures… They embrace Him and they kiss Him and they unveil their faces. They unveil themselves and the King of Glory covers His face, and the Arabot firmament used to burst like a sieve before the face of the King.” Synopse, §189.

96 Andersen, “2 Enoch,” 1.139.

97 2 Enoch’s narrative gives evidence that Enoch’s face acquired the same qualities of luminosity as the Face of the Lord. In 2 Enoch 37, the Lord calls one of his angels to chill the face of Enoch before his return to earth. The angel, who “appeared frozen,” then chilled Enoch’s face with his icy hands. Immediately after this procedure, the Lord tells Enoch that if his face had not been chilled in such a way, no human being would be able to look at his face. This chilling procedure indicates that Enoch’s metamorphosis near the Face involves the transformation of the visionary’s face into the fiery, perilous entity which now resembles the Lord’s Face. We can find a detailed description of this process in another “Enochic” text, the Sefer Hekhalot, which describes the transformation of Enoch-Metatron, the Prince of the Divine Presence, into a fiery creature. Cf. 3 Enoch 15:1 “R. Ishmael said: The angel Metatron, Prince of the Divine Presence, the glory of highest heaven, said to me: When the Holy One, blessed be he, took me to serve the throne of glory, the wheels of the chariot and all needs of the Shekinah, at once my flesh turned to flame, my sinews to blazing fire, my bones to juniper coals, my eyelashes to lightning flashes, my eyeballs to fiery torches, the hairs of my head to hot flames, all my limbs to wings of burning fire, and the substance of my body to blazing fire.” Alexander, “3 Enoch,” 1.267.

98 It is noteworthy that after this procedure Enoch’s “face” itself, similar to the Lord’s face, acquired the ability to glorify other subjects. Thus in 2 Enoch 64:3-5 the following tradition can be found: “…and the elders of the people and all the community came and prostrated themselves and kissed Enoch… O our father Enoch, bless your sons and all the people, so that we may be glorified in front of your face today.” Andersen, “2 Enoch,” 1.190.

99 Andersen, “2 Enoch,” 1.170.

100 Andersen, “2 Enoch,” 1.171, note b.

Andrei Orlov
Kelly Chair in Theology and Professor of Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity at Marquette University.