The Legend of Enoch

Discussion in 'Masonic Education' started by Blake Bowden, Feb 7, 2010.

  1. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator 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.
    • RM and PM. Lewis like this.
  2. jonesvilletexas

    jonesvilletexas Premium Member

  3. LRG

    LRG Premium Member

    That is superb. I enjoy hearing about Enoch
  4. İsmail German

    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: Jan 15, 2018
  5. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

    Very good!
  6. İsmail German

    İsmail German Registered User

  7. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

  8. Bro. ricardo hardy

    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
  9. JamestheJust

    JamestheJust Registered User

    In the Book of Enoch we have LXXVIII. The Sun and Moon: the Waxing and Waning of the Moon. It deals with the phases of the moon in much detail.

    I was informed by email that the latitude where Enoch's account of moon phase timings is correct is that of the Orkneys. My correspondent maintained that the Book of Enoch was written in the Orkneys.

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