Cover image via Gospel Media Library.
To learn about the prophet Enoch, one of the greatest prophets, the Old Testament is not your best source because it has only four cryptic verses about him. “And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:21–24). In the Old Testament, Enoch the son of Jared’s name is found six times. (The clarification is because there is also “Enoch son of Cain.”)
Neither will the New Testament add much to your knowledge about Enoch because it has only three verses about him—a genealogy in Luke and two short statements: In Hebrews 11:5, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God”; and Jude 1:14, “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.” His name is found three times in the New Testament. Although the references are few, they validate that Enoch’s life and teachings were known about and considered valuable in New Testament times.
It is Latter-day scripture that fills major gaps about Enoch’s life and ministry. In the Doctrine and Covenants, Enoch’s name is found eleven times, in which we learn that “Enoch was twenty-five years old when he was ordained under the hand of Adam; and he was sixty-five and Adam blessed him” (Doctrine & Covenants 107:48). We read Jesus Christ, himself, took “the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom” (Doctrine & Covenants 38:4). We also learn that “these things were all written in the book of Enoch, and are to be testified of in due time” (Doctrine & Covenants 107:57). (According to the headnote, this revelation came April 1835.)
“In due time,” a scriptural- and for that matter a patriarchal blessing phrase, means “according to the Lord’s timing.” His timing is His call—next week or in many, many generations, in this life or the next. In this situation, the prophecy of the book of Enoch coming forth was already in the process of being fulfilled. What follows here is a brief account. If you want a more detailed account, I suggest Dr. Hugh Nibley’s article, “A Strange Thing in the Land: The Return of the Book of Enoch, Part 1,” Ensign, October 1975).
In 1773, Scottish explorer James Bruce, traveling in what is now Ethiopia, discovered ancient texts in a monastery. In the collection were copies of the book of Enoch written in Ge’ez, the language of northern Ethiopia. In 1821, a professor at Oxford University, Dr. Richard Laurence, began the first English translation, which was published in segments until he died in 1838. His completed work was published in 1883. Another edition by R. H. Charles came in 1912. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, more copies surfaced in several languages. The fact that there are many copies indicates that the people of Qumran valued Enoch’s words. “Many copies of 1 Enoch were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. 1 Enoch was probably one of the most authoritative and popular scriptures of the Qumran Community” (inspiredbooks.com/1Enoch.htm).
As was the case with other Old Testament prophets, the information on Enoch was considered by many to be folklore for lack of corroborating archeological evidence. Until James Bruce’s discovery, there were rumors and a few fragments of a purported book of Enoch but nothing substantive. Commenting on this situation, Dr. Hugh Nibley wrote:
“It was only when one major text, the Ethiopian book of Enoch, known as 1 Enoch, was brought to light early in the nineteenth century that scholars started looking seriously and putting together evidence that brought forth one version after another—Old Slavonic, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, etc.—of that same lost book of Enoch which had so long been viewed as a figment of Gnostic imagination. After all that, it turned out, the book of Enoch was real (https://abn.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1976/02/a-strange-thing-in-the-land-the-return-of-the-book-of-enoch-part-3?lang=eng).
Not only does the book exist, but when text from 1 Enoch is put side-by-side with corresponding verses from the book of Moses, the storyline and vocabularies are remarkably similar. A few examples illustrate the point (https://strongreasons.wordpress.com/2009/01/27/the-book-of-enoch-and-the-book-of-moses):
Enoch Sees Noah Protected by the Hand of God
Moses 7:43—Enoch saw that Noah built an ark; and that the Lord smiled upon it,
and held it in his own hand; but upon the residue of the wicked the floods came.
1 Enoch 67:2—At this time the angels are working with wood (making an ark) and when it is completed, I shall place my hands upon it and protect it.
Enoch Sees All Things
Moses 7:67—And the Lord showed Enoch all things, even unto the end of the world.
2 Enoch 40:1—Now therefore, my children, I know everything; . . . my eyes have seen from the beginning even to the end, and from the end to the recommencement.
Enoch clothed with glory.
Moses 7:3—As I stood upon the mount, I beheld the heavens open, and I was clothed upon with glory.
2 Enoch 22:8–10—The Lord said to Michael, Take Enoch, and extract (him) from the earthly clothing. And anoint him with the delightful oil, and put (him) into the clothes of glory. … And I gazed at myself, and I had become like one of the glorious ones, and there was no observable difference (strongreasons.wordpress.com/2009/01/27/the-book-of-enoch-and-the-book-of-moses).
By far the best scriptural source on Enoch is the Pearl of Great Price where his name is found sixty times in 111 verses from Moses 6:21 to Moses 8:19. In those verses are enough details to fill many books. Much of the text is in Enoch’s own voice, giving information that only the person who lived the experiences could know.
The cursory summary that follows touches on only a fraction of the richness of those 111 verses.
Enoch was blessed to be born in a “land of righteousness” (Moses 6:41), and his father Jared taught him in “all the ways of God” (Moses 6:21). When he was sixty-five, Enoch began to receive remarkable visions. He recounted his first vision experience: “As I journeyed from the land of Cainan, by the sea east, I beheld a vision; and lo, the heavens I saw, and the Lord spake with me, and gave me commandment” (Moses 6:42). Enoch’s response to what he saw and heard demonstrates his character. “When Enoch had heard these words, he bowed himself to the earth, before the Lord, and spake before the Lord, saying: Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?” (Moses 6:31).
The Lord expressed confidence in Enoch, who did not feel qualified because he was young, hated, and slow of speech:
Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands. . . . Say unto this people: Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you. Behold my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me. (Moses 6:32–34)
Along with these promises, the Lord instructed Enoch to prepare himself for more. “And the Lord spake unto Enoch: Anoint thine eyes with clay, and wash them, and thou shalt see. And he did so” (Moses 6:35). “Thou shalt see,” suggests that Enoch was being called as a seer and would see both past and future, which is exactly what happened. Enoch “beheld the spirits that God had created; and he beheld also things which were not visible to the natural eye” (Moses 6:36). The people who heard Enoch recognized this truth “and from thenceforth came the saying abroad in the land: A seer hath the Lord raised up unto his people” Ibid).
Enoch did as he was commanded and bore testimony throughout the land: “The Lord which spake with me, the same is the God of heaven, and he is my God, and your God, and ye are my brethren, and why counsel ye yourselves, and deny the God of heaven?” (Moses 6:43). He testified of the creation and that “by [Adam’s] fall came death” (Moses 6:48) which we “cannot deny” (Moses 6:45). Enoch, as great missionaries do, bore witness of their sacred writings. “A book of remembrance we have written among us, according to the pattern given by the finger of God; and it is given in our own language” (Moses 6:46). Enoch taught the plan of salvation and warned the people about Satan. He testified of Jesus Christ, “the only name which shall be given under heaven whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men” (Moses 6:52). He called the people to repent and be baptized and promised: “Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Ibid). He also taught the power of prayer, admonishing the people to ask “all things in his name, and whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be given you” (Ibid).
Although some of the people realized that Enoch was a seer, his preaching received mixed responses. “And it came to pass that Enoch went forth in the land, among the people, standing upon the hills and the high places, and cried with a loud voice, testifying against their works; and all men were offended because of him” (Moses 6:37; italics added). The power of God with which Enoch spoke caused the people to tremble, and they “could not stand in his presence” (Moses 6:47).
Enoch received another vision of which he said, “I beheld the heavens open, and I was clothed upon with glory. . . . I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face; and he said unto me: Look, and I will show unto thee the world for the space of many generations” (Moses 7:3–4).
Enoch continued his ministry, and his great faith produced results higher than ever achieved before or since, of which we are aware. Not only was he the prophet and seer, but also he “led the people of God, [when] their enemies came to battle against them” (Moses 7:13). (Enoch as prophet and military leader is reminiscent of men in Book of Mormon—Mormon, Helaman2, Lachoneus, Moroni.) Mighty miracles contributed to Enoch’s success in these armed conflicts. “So great was the power of the language which God had given him” that at Enoch’s command, the earth trembled, mountains fled, rivers changed course, lions roared, land came up out of the sea, enemies fled, giants “stood afar off,” and a curse came upon “all people that fought against God” (Moses 7:13–15). “The fear of the Lord was upon all nations, so great was the glory of the Lord, which was upon his people” (Moses 7:17).
This era of individual righteousness and political, religious, and economic stability is similar to the Nephite period of two hundred years after the Savior’s visit where there were no contention, envyings, strifes, tumults, whoredoms, lyings, robbers, murders, lasciviousness, and where the love of God dwelt in every heart (see 4 Nephi 1:16–17). “Surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God” (4 Nephi 1:16).
Enoch received a third vision that encompassed the history of the earth. He saw “all the inhabitants of the earth” (Moses 7:21). He saw how Satan with “a great chain in his hand” had veiled the “earth with darkness” (Moses 7: 26). He saw Satan laughing at the misery he caused. He saw “angels descending out of heaven and bearing testimony of the Father and Son” (Moses 7:27). He saw the Holy Ghost fall on many. Enoch experienced God weeping and asked: “How is it that thou canst weep?” (Moses 7:29). God explained his tears were tears of sorrow for the wickedness of humankind, His creations, who had rejected Him and who were “without affection” (Moses 7:33). Then Enoch saw both comings of Jesus Christ and the Millennium. “And Enoch continued his preaching in righteousness unto the people of God. And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even Zion” (Moses 7:19).
The Lord blessed the land, and the people flourished. “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18).
The City of Holiness, or Zion, was the result of Enoch’s labors in teaching, leading, protecting, and bearing testimony for the longest recorded mission—365 years. At this point, Enoch and his people were translated. “And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, Zion is Fled” (Moses 7: 69).
The scriptures give us no more information about Enoch’s Zion, except that one man who seemed worthy to be translated, Methuselah, was left behind. “And it came to pass that Methuselah, the son of Enoch, was not taken, that the covenants of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to Enoch; for he truly covenanted with Enoch that Noah should be of the fruit of his loins” (Moses 8:2).
One additional fact of great interest is that according to the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis, after Zion was taken up, other individuals were also translated. In the time of Melchizedek, those people who “wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, and sought for the city of which God had before taken” were privileged to escape this earth and join the City of Enoch (JST Genesis 14:34).
Enoch’s unique vocabulary includes thirty-one words and a couple phrases: array, barren, barrenness, blackness, comforted, curtains, despised, EARTHS, favor, heat, lad, Lamb, land of my fathers, land of righteousness, misery, north, PARTICLES, pattern, perished, poured, refuse, RIGHTEOUS, shut, speech, tears, tempteth, torment, transgressions, unfruitful, valley, woe. (Words not found in any other scripture are in solid capital letters. The rest are Enoch’s unique words in the Pearl of Great Price.)