Who are the Watchers in the Book of Enoch?
According to the Book of Enoch, the Watchers were fallen angelic beings, described as being both the sons of God and the sons of heaven who were assigned to watch over humans. It’s understood that the women’s beauty on earth was so great that they caught the attention of the watchers. This beauty led the watchers to abandon their role as the watchers of humans to being consorts to the women on earth.
While not necessarily canonical work of the major religions, The Book of Enoch is certainly an interesting read. The text itself dates to 300 BC and is noted as being more of an ancient Jewish text, but thus maintain a place in some modern Christian and Jewish traditions.
Enoch himself, which the book is named after, is referenced in the book of Genesis and is detailed as being an ancestor of Noah.
The Watchers on Earth — Chapter 7
One of the most prominent figures in the Book of Enoch is the Watchers—angelic being described as both the sons of God and the sons of heaven in Chapter 7. Many believe that the watchers refer to as the Grigori in Enoch 2, were angels who watched over humanity and would serve as earthly guides for their very first humans.
They were tasked with observing human development but were restricted from interfering with mankind regardless of how compelled they felt to do so.
Enoch tells us in Chapter 7 that men and women had multiplied and that the daughters of men were beautiful and elegant. It’s understood that their beauty was so great that they caught the attention of the watchers, these sons of God if you will.
The watchers conversed amongst each other in this chapter and decided to take the women for themselves, impregnating them with their seed, thus going against the intended purpose of watching, and directly interfering with the life of mankind.
The leader of these angels known as Samjaza, sometimes pronounced Samyaza, tells the watchers that they should reconsider their choice and that it would be him who suffered for such a crime against God. However, the other angels wear him down and tell him that together, they will face the punishment and they will each accept responsibility for any repercussions.
It’s noted that there were 200 of them, and together, they descended upon earth to take the women as their wives.
The Book of Enoch even names the prefix of the Watchers here, each of whom would teach the mortal woman sorcery, incantations and the dividing of roots and trees. What’s implied here is that the Watchers divulged information about the heavens and life itself that God had not intended for a man to know, and so, by doing this, the Watchers not only betrayed God by copulating with his creations but also by corrupting them with the knowledge that was not meant for them.
The Births of the Nephilim
After mating with the women of the earth, the women gave birth to the children of the Watchers, and what they spawn are essentially a hybrid of Angel and human, the Nephilim, as they are sometimes referred to as.
There’s some debate as to what the Nephilim are, but when we look at Genesis 6: 1 through 4, it tells us that ‘the Nephilim were on the earth in those days and afterwards when the sons of God, which we might say are the Watchers, went to the daughters of men and had children with them.’
The Nephilim are also described as ‘heroes of old and men of renown.’ However, in Enoch, the spawn of the women was known as Giants and that these Giants began to consume all that man had built.
The Giants, or Nephilim, then began to kill men and when they were tired of that, they began killing each other.
The Watchers Teaches Humanity the Secrets of Heaven — Chapter 8
During this chaos, we learn in Chapter 8 that entity known as Azazel, who is presumed to be a watcher, teaches man the use of swords, knives and warfare, much as the Watchers taught mankind the secrets of heaven, incarnations and sorcery.
Azazel also teaches mankind the use of paint, stones, and dyes, so that man can manipulate the world and alter it. In Chapter 8: 2, we learn that these acts by Azazel caused impiety to increase, fornication multiplied and that these transgressions corrupted all of man’s ways.
The rest of the chapter tells us that the other Watchers taught mankind astrology, science, astronomy and that with their presence, men were destroyed, and their cries reached the heights of heaven.
The Archangels Reports the Watchers to God — Chapter 9
In Chapter 9, Archangel Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel, look down from heaven and realize what was going on, on earth. In this chapter, they go before God and seemed to pin most of the blame on Azazel, saying,
‘You have seen what Azazel has done, how he has taught every species of iniquity upon the earth and has disclosed the world all the secret things which are done in the heavens.’
They also blamed Samjaza saying, he also has taught the mortals sorcery, and then he and his watchers have copulated with the women creating ungodly Giants. They ask God what he will have them do to bring restoration upon the earth.
Instructions to the Archangels; Punish the Watchers — Chapter 10
In Chapter 10, God then sends Uriel to seek the son of Lamech, which is Noah, and tells him to conceal himself; to explain to him what is about to take place, in that all the earth shall perish in a flood and that everything which has come to will be destroyed. He tells Uriel to tell Noah how to escape the flood, and how it is his seed that will remain on all the earth.
God then tells Archangel Raphael to bind Azazel by hand and foot and to cast him into the darkness by opening the desert, which is in Dudael, a region of the underworld. He tells Raphael to throw upon him pointed stones and to cover him in the darkness so that Azazel will remain there forever, devoid of all light.
On the great day of judgment, God is set a task Raphael with casting Azazel into the fire.
God tells Archangel Gabriel to destroy the Nephilim, the Giants or the offspring of the Watchers, by telling them against one another. He intends for them to perish by mutual slaughter.
God finally tells Archangel Michael to confront the leader of the Watchers, Samjaza, and to tell him that he and his allies who had fornicated with the women are polluted and their sons, whether their angelic sons or the sons they had fathered with the mortal women, will be slain before their eyes for seventy generations.
Then, after witnessing the butchering of their offspring, they will be taken to the lower depths of Hell where they will meet fire and be locked away forever.
Enoch, the Middleman Between God and the Watchers
In chapter 12, we are told that Enoch was engaged by the Watchers and that they called him Enoch the scribe.
It appears that God tells Enoch to relay his message to the Watchers, that they will never have peace because of what they have done. There seems to be an inconsistency here because Archangel Michael would have no doubt already done this as God had asked him to do so in the previous chapter. It could be that Enoch is told to do this to exemplify God’s message, in that the watchers are being told by both the Archangels who are above them and by the mortals who were beneath them.
By having Enoch tell them their fate, it shows the Watchers that they are no longer above mankind in God’s eyes, for they are being told their fate by a man, thus, putting them on the same level and maybe even above them.
In Chapter 12: 5 through 7, he states,
‘Then the Lord said to me, Enoch, scribe of righteousness, go to the Watchers of heaven, who have deserted the lofty sky, and a holy everlasting station, who have been polluted with women and have done as the sons of men do, by taking to themselves wives and who have been greatly corrupted on Earth; that on the Earth, they shall never obtain peace and remission of sin. For they shall not rejoice in their offspring, they shall behold the slaughter of their beloved; shall lament for the destruction of their sons, and shall petition forever, but shall not obtain mercy and peace.‘
In chapter 13, it’s interesting that Enoch only seems to confront Azazel—the apparent main culprit in all of this, despite the leader of the Watchers being Samjaza.
It’s possible that while Samjaza only sought to fornicate with the women and share some secrets of the heavens, he did not share the malice that Azazel did in teaching men about warfare.
Notice, Azazel does not appear to take interest in the mortal women but seems only intent on teaching man about swords, knives, and the altering of the world, which was already designed perfectly as God intended.
In chapters 13: 4 through 5, Enoch states that he speaks to all the Watchers together and that they all became terrified and trembled. He goes on to say that the Watchers begged him to give God their regrets and their repentance for what they had done because they could no longer ascent to heaven nor bring themselves to look upon the skies out of disgrace.
So, Enoch prays for them until he falls asleep, only for him to have a dream and vision of punishment and he is told to reprove the watchers by telling them of what he saw. Once he awakens, he approaches them and relays them of his dream, reprimanding them for what they have done.
In chapter 14, Enoch explains that when he spoke, he was speaking with the word and voice of God. In this voice, he tells them that they will not be granted forgiveness as they had requested and that it will never be allowed into heaven again, and that they will be bound to earth for as long as the earth endures, never knowing of peace.
The fate of the Watchers though doesn’t necessarily feel complete. We understand that they were bound for seventy generations under the earth and will remain there until the day of judgment where they are to be cast away into the lowest depths to burn in the fires.
Therefore, by this logic, some would believe that the watchers are still there, underground, imprisoned at the bottom of the earth waiting to be cast into the fires in the end times.
We get a glimpse of where the Watchers may have been banished to in Enoch chapter 21, where we see Enoch gets something of a personal tour of the heavens and other otherworldly areas in the universe.
In chapter 21: 2, he states
‘And there I beheld neither tremendous workmanship of an exalted heaven, nor of an established earth, but a desolate spot, prepared and terrific.’
By chapter 21: 5, Enoch tells us that he ‘beheld the operation of a great fire blazing and glittering, in the midst of which there was a division. Columns of fire struggled together to the end of the abyss, and deep was their descent.’
In chapter 21: 6, archangel Uriel, who accompanies Enoch through this terrible place, asks him, ‘Why are you alarmed and amazed at this terrific place, at the sight of this place of suffering? This, he said, is the prison of the angels and here they are kept forever.’
While the Watchers are never specifically mentioned here, one can imagine that this would be the sort of place that God would keep those that had betrayed him, in a place of suffering.
Who are the Grigori Enoch Discovered? Are they also the Watchers?
In the second book of Enoch, we see a collection of stories there sees Enoch ascent through several layers of heaven, but it is at the fifth heaven that Enoch discovers the Grigori—a race of angels that were human in appearance, their size greater than the greatest of giants, but their faces withered and an expression, silent.
This layer of heaven was also the least magnificent out of all the layers that Enoch had seen so far, which he described as having no service. It’s understood that the Grigori, in this text of the Book of Enoch, are the same as the Watchers in the Book of Enoch 1.
Enoch asks the angels who accompanied him through the heavens who the Grigori are, to which the angels reply that the Grigori once led by a prince named Satanail and that they like the Watchers went down to earth against God’s wishes, took the women on earth and had their way with them and caused chaos with her offspring.
What’s striking here is that their leader is not noted as being Samjaza, but instead Prince Satanail.
This is not explored further, but some believe that based on the similarity of the name and the role in which Satanail takes, this is a form of Satan himself. Reasons that support this include that in chapter 29 of The Book of Enoch 2, Satanail is mentioned again along with his angels as being cast out from a great height.
Similarities can be drawn between revelation 12:9 in the Bible, where Satan is cast out of heaven and at a great height, as it reads,
‘Satan, who deceives the whole world was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’
Furthermore, in the same chapter, it’s understood the Satanail attempted to place his throne higher than the clouds above the earth, that he might become equal to God’s power.
This reminds me of Isaiah in 14:13, where Isaiah appears to be addressing Satan, quoting him as saying, ‘I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God’.
Of, course you may also consider this to be coincidental and not exactly evidence for the linking of Satanail to Satan. In any case, Enoch proceeds to pray for the Grigori, but he’s quick to understand they are damned and that God’s contempt for them is absolute.
He is noted as intending for them to be buried underground forever and ever. Enoch also notes that at some point, the Grigori break into song and that their voices carry up to the Lord in a pitiful fashion. It shows us that the Grigori are now withered and broken that they can’t even sing convincingly enough to warrant God’s attention. The fact that they try to sing at all might show us that they have remorse and sing out of desperation in the hope that God will free them from their bonds.
Additionally, you might also say that the lack of conviction in their voices is a sign of the disingenuous, that they are not sorry and are only appeasing God to attain egress.
The law around the Watchers is fascinating and helps to provide a compelling narrative despite being a non-canonical text. The story, despite being thousands of years old, is sown with several themes of betrayal, morality, desire, and ambition. It helps to convey another perspective of how sin purged the world.
It also provides another layer as to why God might have destroyed the world with the flood, to rid the Nephilim and to cleanse the land which had been corrupted by the Watchers.
It also gives us some more intriguing and profound characters to examine such as Samjaza, the leader of the Watchers, who understood his duty and intended to stick by it, only to succumb to the peer pressure of his companions and surrender.
It also gives us Azazel, the Watcher who appears to take the most blame for the incident and shows us the extent of his wickedness that he sought to teach man about weapons and warfare in a time where was not needed.
We’re also treated in this text to comprehend the power of the Archangels such as Gabriel, who is sent to destroy the Nephilim, and Raphael, who directly opposes Azazel and defeats him.
In essence, you might say that the first chapters of Enoch tease us with the concept of angels fighting angels, and shows us the potency of evil, that it can corrupt even those born out of goodness.
Image Sources: Douglas Deri, Disobedient Angels.