VFTB 6/23/24: The Book of Enoch and the Valley of the Shadow of Death

THE BOOK OF 1 ENOCH has had a powerful influence on Christian theology. But it’s more than just an explanation of how the Nephilim came to be in Genesis 6. 

The second section of the Book of 1 Enoch, chapters 37–71, is called the Book of Parables by scholars. It was the last section of 1 Enoch to be written, probably completed toward the very end of the 1st century BC. It contains teachings that are not found in any prior Jewish writing—for example, the forgiveness of sin through repentance rather than the Law, the imminent judgment of God on an evil world, and the coming of a messianic figure called the Son of Man who would execute God’s justice on rebellious angels, evil kings, and wicked landowners. 

What’s more, scholars now believe the Book of Parables was written by Essenes—but not at Qumran, where the idea that anyone could be forgiven outside of their community and their rules was inconceivable. The group that wrote the Book of Parables lived in the north, at Mount Arbel near the town of Magdala on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. 

This is near the south end of the valley through which the Jordan River flows between the Mount Hermon and the Sea of Galilee. This valley is the physical Valley of the Shadow of Death—and Jesus declared it so when he moved from Nazareth to make his home at Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee—plainly visible from Mount Arbel less than six miles away. 

The Essenes of Mount Arbel, who could see Mount Hermon on the northeastern horizon, prepared the ground in the upper Galilee for the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah. And they did it with teachings preserved for us in the Book of 1 Enoch.

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