When Did Enoch Live?
Many lives in the book of Genesis are given to us only in glimpses. We often know little more than the year of a man's birth and death, along with his children. However, If we analyze these snippets of people’s lives, we can sometimes find a surprising amount of detail.
WHEN DID ENOCH LIVE?
Enoch is found in Genesis 5 of the Bible. The lists of genealogies tell us he was born in the 7th generation from Adam, 622 years after God created Adam from the dust of the Earth.
Most of what we know about Enoch comes from these four verses:
“Enoch lived sixty-five years, then became the father of Methuselah. After Methuselah’s birth, Enoch walked with God for three hundred years, and became the father of more sons and daughters. All the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not found, for God took him.” (Gen 5:21-24 WEB)
The world Enoch was born into might have been very different from ours. Even after 622 years, Adam and Eve were still living. Many generations of people centuries old were still having babies going back to the creation of mankind. That makes it impossible by today’s standards to determine the world’s population. God also gave Adam and Eve a special blessing: “God blessed them. God said to them, 'Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it.' ” (Gen 1:28 WEB) They were blessed to be fruitful and multiply, meaning that birthrates could have been much higher, and survival rates much greater than modern standards. These amazing factors suggest that mathematically in only 622 years, the Earth could have been populated with millions of people.
Another factor of Enoch's day was the people themselves. Today we generally consider someone an expert in a field when they put in 10,000 hours of work. If someone has been in the same field for 20, 40, or even 70 years, we view that person as having vast knowledge far beyond a normal expert. Now, picture a world where someone has been learning and perfecting their craft for 700 or 800 years. It’s hard to imagine what these people were capable of. They almost certainly were not the primitive savages we portray them as in media and pop culture.
It’s also possible that the physical environment of Enoch’s world was alien to our own. Genesis 2 gives us this fascinating picture from just before the creation of Adam, the first man: “No plant of the field was yet in the earth, and no herb of the field had yet sprung up; for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth. There was not a man to till the ground, but a mist went up from the earth, and watered the whole surface of the ground.” (Gen 2:5-6 ESV) Some of the details found here include: no crops, no rain, and mist rising to water the earth.
Now, this is not a definitive passage regarding Enoch because it refers to the time before people filled the Earth. It very well might have rained in the lifetime of Enoch, but this passage leaves open the possibility that the world of his day was watered by underground streams and mists instead of rain. This supply of underground water is later confirmed during the great flood of Noah, “all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the sky’s windows opened.” (Gen 7:11 ESV) This passage in Genesis 7 is also the first mention of rain. Whatever happened, it’s clear there was a massive change to the world’s environment to cause the flood.
When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, God cursed the ground, “cursed is the ground because of you. You'll eat from it through pain-filled labor for the rest of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you.” (Gen 3:17-18 ISV) This curse is later lifted by God after Noah leaves the ark on the other side of the flood in Gen 8:21. Noah’s name was a prophecy of this blessing, meaning rest and comfort. When Noah was born, his father said, “This one will comfort us in our work and in the toil of our hands, caused by the ground which the Lord has cursed.” (Gen 5:29 ESV) Often times this prophecy is interpreted as the flood bringing relief from sin, but Lamech is explicit that Noah will bring relief from the cursed thorny ground that hurts their hands. We still have weeds and thorns today, so the ground must have been truly hostile to anyone trying to grow food.
THE TIME FRAME OF ENOCH
Enoch was born 1000 years before the flood of Noah. His world was not yet corrupt to the point of God wiping out everything to start over. But Adam had introduced sin centuries prior to Enoch. The decay of humanity was already in full swing.
Enoch’s father was named Jared. Like Noah, the name of Jared was a prophecy meaning "shall come down." Many scholars interpret this to refer to the sons of God (fallen angels) mentioned in Genesis 6: “some divine beings noticed how attractive human women were, so they took wives for themselves from a selection that pleased them… The Nephilim were on the earth at that time… when those divine beings were having sexual relations with those human women, who gave birth to children for them. These children became the heroes and legendary figures of ancient times.” (Gen 6:2,4 ISV)
Jude in the New Testament also clarifies that these angels came down to earth. “Angels who didn’t keep their first domain, but deserted their own dwelling place, he has kept in everlasting bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day. (Jud 1:6)
If these fallen angels descended to Earth in the days of Jared (Enoch’s father), they were already present and spreading their corruption during the lifetime of Enoch. In the New Testament, Peter compares these angels with false teachers saying, “God didn’t spare angels when they sinned, but cast them down to Tartarus, and committed them to pits of darkness to be reserved for judgement; and didn’t spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah with seven others, a preacher of righteousness, when he brought a flood on the world of the ungodly.” (2Pe 2:4-5)
So in Enoch’s time, fallen angels were spreading false teachings to humanity, corrupting everything around them until the evil was so great it had to be washed away. But Enoch was combating this evil. In the book of Jude, we are told that Enoch was a prophet. He prophesied about God’s coming judgment on the godless.
THE BOOK OF ENOCH
These last two points are interesting. How did Peter and Jude know these details about Enoch and the angels who sinned? Those facts are not written about in the Old Testament, and Peter and Jude penned their books over 1000 years later. They also speak about this information as if the audience should already be aware.
If we look outside the Bible to the Book of Enoch, we find further details that confirm everything we’ve discovered in the Bible. Enoch Chapter 6 details these angels leaving Heaven and coming to Earth.
"The angels, the children of the heavens, saw and lusted after them, saying to one another, 'Come, let us choose wives from among the daughters of men and father children.' Samyaza, who was their leader, said to them: 'I fear you won't actually agree to this act, and I alone must pay the penalty of a great sin.' They all answered him, saying, 'Let us all swear an oath and all bind ourselves by mutual curses not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.' Then they all swore together and bound themselves by mutual curses upon it. They were two hundred total who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual curses upon it." (En 6:1-6 MSV)
Enoch chapter 7 tells us that these angels fathered the Nephilim. In chapter 8 we learn that these angels were false teachers that conveyed all kinds of abominable knowledge to mankind, including sorcery and the arts of war.
We also have many examples of prophecies and prophetic dreams from Enoch, confirming him as a prophet like we see in the book of Jude. And if there should be further doubt as to where Peter and Jude got their information from, Jude quotes the Book of Enoch directly, pulling from Enoch 1:9 and 27:2.
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jud 1:14-15 ESV)
The Bible reveals quite a bit about the life of Enoch when examined closely, and the Book of Enoch affirms these findings. No matter how strange Enoch's world might have been, the truths revealed in his work are universal. Mankind is lost without God, and God sent the Messiah to save us. (Yes, Jesus Christ is in the book of Enoch quite a bit.) Enoch had an unusual ministry because he lived in an unusual time.
These and many more incredible details are found in the Book of Enoch, Modern Standard Version. What you read in the MSV matches perfectly with what we find in the Bible.