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The Legend of Enoch

Blake Bowden

Staff Member

Who was Enoch?

Enoch was the grandfather of Noah, and was a seventh generation descendant of Adam. The Bible tells us that he lived 365 years and then ascended to Heaven. It would appear that Enoch was a very learned man. It is believed that he wrote several books (or maybe it would be more correct to say scrolls).

What do we know about Enoch?

We actually know very little about Enoch, but he did leave his mark on history. Besides being mentioned in the Book of Genesis a reference is made about his in the Book of Jude. In this book we are told about a prophecy that came from the Book of Enoch. This book was almost lost for a thousand years, but has three copies of it were brought back from Ethiopia in 1821. The Book has been translated from one language to another since the second century B.C. Even that translation was probably translated from an old Semitic language.

Despite its unknown origins, Christians once accepted the words of this Book of Enoch as authentic scripture, especially the part about the fallen angels and their prophesied judgment. In fact, many of the key concepts used by Jesus Christ himself seem directly connected to terms and ideas in the Book of Enoch.

What is the connection between Enoch and Freemasonry?

Very briefly, Enoch was believed to have hidden the wisdom of the pre-flood world that he had accumulated, and then he buried it on Mt. Moriah. Why is Mt. Moriah so significant? Because this the spot where King Solomon's Temple was built. Enoch also buried a triangular shaped object that contained the name of God on it. Well the legend told by Masons is quite fascinating, and it has been repeated over the centuries as though it was the truth. We really don't know how much truth there is in the story, but there are some moral lessons that can be obtained if one is willing to look for deeper meanings.

Here is the legend of Enoch as told by Albert Mackey:

I shall first present the reader with the Masonic Legend, and then
endeavor to trace out the idea which it was intended to convey. by
a comparison of it with historical occurrences, with Oriental
traditions of a similar nature, and with the Masonic symbolism
which it seems to embody. The legend as accepted by the Craft, from
a time hereafter to be referred to, runs to the following effect.

Enoch, being inspired by the Most High, and in obedience to a
vision, constructed underground, in the bosom of Mount Moriah, an
edifice consisting of nine brick vaults situated perpendicularly
beneath each other and communicating by apertures left in the arch
of each vault.

He then caused a triangular plate of gold to be made, each side of
which was a cubit long; he enriched it with the most precious
stones and engraved upon it the ineffable name of God. He then
encrusted the plate upon a stone of agate of the same form, which
he placed upon a cubical stone of marble, and deposited the whole
within the ninth or innermost vault.

When this subterranean building was completed, Enoch made a slab or
door of stone, and, attaching to it a ring of iron, by which it
might, if necessary, be raised, he placed it over the aperture of
the uppermost arch, and so covered it overwith soil that the
opening could not easily be discovered. Enoch himself was not
permitted to enter it more than once a year, and on his death or
translation all knowledge of this building and of the sacred
treasure which it contained was lost until in succeeding ages it
was accidentally discovered while Solomon was engaged in building,
a temple above the spot, on the same mountain.

The Legend proceeds to inform us that after Enoch had finished the
construction of the nine vaults, fearing that the principles of the
arts and sciences which he had assiduously cultivated would be lost
in that universal deluge of which he bad received a prophetic
vision, he erected above-ground two pillars, one of marble, to
withstand the destructive influences of foe, and one of brass, to
resist the ac6on of water ()n the pillar of brass he engraved the
history of the creation, the principles of the arts and sciences,
and the doctrines of Speculative Masonry as they were then
practiced; and on the pillar of marble he inscribed in hieroglyphic
characters the information that near the spot where they stood a
precious treasure was deposited in a subterranean vault.

Such is the Legend of Enoch, which forms a very important part of
the legendary history of the High Degrees. As a traditional
narrative it has not the slightest support of authentic history,
and the events that it relates do not recommend themselves by an
air of probability. But, accepted as the expression of a symbolic
idea, it undoubtedly possesses some value.

That part of the Legend which refers to the two pillars is
undoubtedly a perversion of the old Craft Legend of Lamech's sons,
which has already been treated in this work. It will need no
further consideration.

The germ of the Legend is the preservation through the efforts of
the Patriarch of the Ineffable Name. This is in fact the true
symbolism of the Legend, and it is thus connected with the whole
system of Freemasonry in its Speculative form.

There is no allusion to this story in the Legend of the Craft.
None of the old manuscript Constitutions contain the name of Enoch,
nor does he appear to have been deemed by the Mediaeval Masons to
be one of the worthies of the Craft. The Enoch spoken of in the
Cooke MS. is the son of Cain, and not the seventh Patriarch. We
must conclude, therefore, that the Legend was a fabrication of a
later day, and in no way suggested by anything contained in the
original Craft Legend.

But that there were traditions outside of Masonry, which prevailed
in the Middle Age, in reference to subterranean caves in Mount
Moriah is evident from the writings of the old historians. Thus
there was a tradition of the Talmudists that when King Solomon was
building the Temple, foreseeing that at some future time the
edifice would be destroyed, he caused a dark and intricate vault to
be constructed underground, in which the ark might be concealed
whenever such a time of danger should arrive ; and that Josiah,
being warned by Huldah, the prophetess, of the approaching peril,
caused the ark to be hidden in the crypt which had been built by
Solomon. There was also in this vault, as in that of Enoch, a
cubical stone, on which the ark was placed.(1)

There is a tradition also, among the Arabians, of a sacred stone
found by Abraham beneath the earth, and made by him the stone of
foundation of the temple which Jehovah ordered him to erect a
temple the tradition of which is confined to the Mohammedans.

But the most curious story is one told by Nicephorus Callistus, a
Greek historian of the 14th century, in his Ecclesiastical

(1) Lightfoot, "Prospect of the Temple," ch. xv.

When detailing the events that occurred while Julian the Apostate
was making his attempt to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem, he
narrates the following fable, but of whose fabulous character the
too credulous monk has not the slightest notion.

"When the foundations were being laid, as has been said, one of the
stones attached to the lowest part of the foundation was removed
from its place and showed the mouth of a cavern which had been cut
out of the rock. But as the cave could not be distinctly seen,
those who had charge of the work, wishing to explore it, that they
might be better acquainted with the place, sent one of the workmen
down tied to a long rope. When he got to the bottom he found water
up to his legs. Searching the cavern on every side, he found by
touching with his hands that it was of a quadrangular form. When
he was returning to the mouth, he discovered a certain pillar
standing up scarcely above the water. Feeling with his hand, he
found a little book placed upon it, and wrapped up iii very fine
and clan linen Taking possession of it, he gave the signal with the
rope that those who had sent him down, should draw him up. Being
received above, as soon as the book was shown all were struck with
astonishment, especially as it appeared untouched and fresh
notwithstanding that it had been found in so dismal and dark a
place. But when the book was unfolded, not only the Jews but the
Greeks were astounded. For even at the beginning it declared in
WAS GOD. To speak plainly, the writing embraced the whole Gospel
which was announced in the Divine tongue of the Virgin disciple."

It is true that Enoch has been supposed to have been identical with
Hermes, and Keriher says, in the OEdipus Egyptiacus, Idris among
the Hebrews, has been called Enoch, among the Egyptians Osiris and
Hermes, and he was the first who before the Flood had any knowledge
of astronomy and geometry. But the authors of the Legend of the
Craft were hardly likely to be acquainted with this piece of
archeology, and the Hermes to whom, with a very corrupt spelling,
they refer as the son of Cush, was the Hermes Trismegistus,
popularly known as the " Father of Wisdom."

Enoch is first introduced to the Craft as one of the founders of
Geometry and Masonry, by Anderson, in the year 1723, who, in the
Constitutions printed in that year, has the following passage :

(1) Nicephori Callisti "Ecclesiasticae Historiae," tom. ii., lib.
x., cap. xxxiii

"By some vestiges of antiquity we find one of them (the offspring
of Seth) prophesying of the final conflagration at the day of
Judgment, as St Jude tells and likewise of the general deluge for
the punishment of the world. Upon which he erected his two large
pillars (though some ascribe them to Seth), the one of stone and
the other of brick, whereon were engraven the liberal sciences,
etc. And that the stone pillar remained in Syria until the days of
Vespasian, the Emperor."' (1)

Fifteen years afterward, when he published the second edition of
the Constitutions, he repeated the Legend, with the additional
statement that Enoch was " expert and bright both in the science
and the art " of Geometry and Masonry, an abridgment of which he
placed on the pillars which he had erected. He adds that " the old
Masons firmly believed this tradition," but as there is no
appearance of any such tradition in the old records, of which since
his date a large number have been recovered (for in them the
building of the pillars is ascribed to the sons of Lamech), we
shall have to accept this assertion with many grains of allowance,
and attribute it to the general inaccuracy of Anderson when citing
legendary authority.

But as the first mention of Enoch as a Freemason is made by
Anderson, and as we not long afterward find him incorporated into
the legendary history of the Order, we may, I think, attribute to
him the suggestion of the Legend, which was, however, afterward
greatly developed.

It was not, however, adopted into the English system, since neither
Entick nor Northouck, who subsequently edited the Book of
Constitutions, say anything more of Enoch than had already been
said by Anderson. They, indeed, correct to some extent his
statement, by ascribing the pillars either to Seth or to Enoch,
leaning, therefore, to the authority of Josephus, but, equally with
Anderson, abandoning the real tradition of the old Legend, which
gave them to the children of Lamech....

(1) "Constitutions," 1723, p. 3, notes

Ramsay was too learned a man to be ignorant of the numerous
Oriental traditions, Arabic, Egyptian, and Rabbinical, concerning
Enoch, that had been long in existence. Of this we have evidence
in a very learned work on The Philosophical Principles of Natural
and Revealed Religion, published by him in 1749.

In this work (1) he refers to the tradition extant in all nations,
of a great man or legislator who was the first author of sacred
symbols and hieroglyphics, and who taught the people their sacred
mysteries and religious rites. This man, he says, was, among the
Phoenicians, Thaut; the Greeks, Hermes; the Arabians, Edris. But
he must have known that Thaut, Hermes, and Edris were all
synonymous of Enoch, for he admits that " all these lived some time
before the universal deluge, and they were all the same man, and
consequently some antediluvian patriarch."

And, finally, he adds that "some think that this antediluvian
patriarch was Enoch himself" And then he presents, in the following
language, those views which most probably supplied the suggestions
that were afterward developed by himself, or some of his followers,
in the full form of the Masonic legend of Enoch.

"Whatever be in these conjectures," says Ramsay, " it is certain,
from the principles laid down, that the antediluvian or Noevian
patriarches ought to have taken some surer measures for
transmitting the knowledge of divine truths to their posterity,
than by oral tradition, and, consequently, that they either
invented or made use of hieroglyphics or symbols to preserve the
memory of these sacred truths." And these he calls the Enochian

He does not, indeed, make any allusion to a secret depository of
these symbols of Enoch, and supposes that they must have been
communicated to the sons of Noah and their descendants, though in
time they lost their true meaning. But the change made in the
Masonic Legend was necessary to adapt it to a peculiar system of

It is singular how Enoch ever became among the ancients a type of
the mysteries of religion. The book of Genesis devotes only three
short verses to an account of him, and

(1) Vol. ii., p. 12 et seq.

nothing is there said of him, his deeds, or his character, except
an allusion to his piety.

The Oriental writers, however, abound in traditionary tales of the
learning of the Patriarch. One tradition states that God bestowed
upon him the gift of knowledge, and that he received thirty volumes
from Heaven, filled with all the secrets of the most mysterious
sciences. The Babylonians supposed him to have been intimately
acquainted with the nature of the stars, and they attribute to him
the invention of astrology.

The Jewish Rabbis maintained that he was taught by Adam how to
sacrifice and to worship the Deity aright. The Cabalistic book of
Raziel says that he received the divine mysteries through the
direct line of the preceding Patriarchs.

Bar Hebraeus, a Jewish writer, asserts that Enoch was the first who
invented books and writing; that he taught men the art of building
cities-thus evidently confounding him with another Enoch, the son
of Cain that he discovered the knowledge of the Zodiac and the
course of the stars; and that he inculcated the worship of God by
religious rites.

There is a coincidence in the sacred character thus bestowed upon
Enoch with his name and the age at which he died, and this may have
had something to do with the mystical attributes bestowed upon him
by the Orientalists.

The word Enoch signifies, in the Hebrew, initiated or consecrated,
and would seem, as all Hebrew names are significant, to have
authorized, or, perhaps, rather suggested the idea of his
connection with a system of initiation into sacred rites.

He lived, the Scriptures say, three hundred and sixty-five years.
This, too, would readily be received as having a mystical meaning,
for 365 is the number of the days in a solar year and was,
therefore, deemed a sacred number. Thus we have seen that the
letters of the mystical word Abraxas, which was the Gnostic name of
the Supreme Deity, amounted, according to their numerical value in
the Greek alphabet, to 365, which was also the case with Mithras,
the god to whom the Mithraic mysteries were dedicated. And this
may account for the statement of Bar Hebraeus that Enoch appointed
festivals and sacrifices to the sun at the periods when that
luminary entered each of the zodiacal signs.

Goldziher, one of the latest of the German ethnologists, has
advanced a similar idea in his work on Mythology Among the Hebrews.
He says:

"The solar character of Enoch admits of no doubt. He is brought
into connection with the building of towns-a solar feature. He
lives exactly three hundred and sixty-five years, the number of
days of the solar year; which can not be accidental. And even then
he did not die, but Enoch walked with Elohim, and was no more (to
be seen), for Elohim took him away.' In the old times when the
figure of Enoch was imagined, this was doubtless called Enoch's
Ascension to heaven, as in the late traditional legends Ascensions
to heaven are generally acknowledged to be solar features."' (1)

These statements and speculations have been objected to, be. cause
they would tend to make Enoch an idolater and a sun-worshipper.
This is a consequence by no means absolutely necessary, but, as the
whole is merely traditionary, we need waste no time in defending
the orthodox character of the Patriarch's religious views.

After all, it would appear that the Legend of Enoch, being wholly
unknown to the Fraternity in the Middle Ages, unrecognized in the
Legend of the Craft, and the name even, not mentioned in any of the
old records, was first introduced into the rituals of some of the
higher degrees which began to be fabricated toward the middle of
the 18th century; that it was invented by the Chevalier Ramsay, or
by some of those ritual-mongers who immediately succeeded him, and
that in its fabrication very copious suggestions were borrowed from
the Rabbinical and Oriental traditions on the same subject.

It is impossible then to assign to this Legend the slightest
historical character. It is made up altogether out of traditions
which were the inventions of Eastern imagination.

We must view it, therefore, as an allegory; but as one which has a
profound symbolic character. It was intended to teach the doctrine
of Divine Truth by the symbol of the Holy Name-the
Tetragrammaton-the Name most reverently consecrated iii the Jewish
system as well as in others, and which has always constituted one
of the most important and prominent symbols of Speculative Masonry.

İsmail German

Registered User
I'am just on the way to write an essay covering, indeed including, the topic. Though I know 9Th degree allegory and its expansion the article was of important value. It was a pretty valid ref. at the least.
When the essay is finished I will inform, I'll give an Internet address.
If possible I can upload to forum site.
Anyone interested may also have a look at one of my papers which is to some extent relevant:

If upload is proper I can also do.
yours very truly,
Last edited:

Bro. ricardo hardy

Registered User
Very good article. I have read about Enoch before, but not with so much detail and so many different versions. I loved it. Thank you