Ma'aseh Merkabah Literature
Books of Enoch
Books of Enoch - Introduction
The most prolific descriptions of the Chariot appear in the Books of Enoch. Enochian literature takes its name from Enoch, son of Yared. Enoch was "a righteous man in his generation" and "walked with Elohim." It is believed that in ancient times there may have been as many as 100,000 volumes of Enochian literature, nearly all of whose last remains were lost in the fiery destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria. This literature was virtually unknown from the fourth (when banned by Hilary, Jerome, and Augustus) until the late nineteenth century CE, when three manuscripts deemed as authentic Enochian material were discovered. Two of the manuscripts, I Enoch and III Enoch, were in Ethiopian translation: these were found in what was once Abyssinia, the domain of King Solomon's infamous lover, the Queen of Sheba. The third manuscript, II Enoch, known as the "Book of the Secrets of Enoch", was preserved in two Slavonic versions: these were found in Russia and Serbia. I Enoch and II Enoch were translated by R.H. Charles. H. Odeburg translated III Enoch ("Hebrew Book of Enoch"). The Books of Enoch that are mentioned here should not be confused with the "Canons of Enoch," which were discovered and translated into European languages in the early nineteenth century. These latter books, which influenced Romantic artists and poets such as Thomas Moore, William Blake, and Lord Byron, are from a different tradition.
The authorship and dates of origin of the remaining Enochian books are obscure. The three manuscripts cited, replete with errors of addition, corruption, and omission, may well be the remnants of volumes given to Sheba by King Solomon and subsequently handed down through generations. At the very least, biblical scholars agree that the Books of Enoch are the most important Apocrypha and Pseudoepigrapha pre-dating the Christian era. It has been well established that all New Testament authors were more or less influenced by them. The translations of the three Books of Enoch had been long out of print by the time the Work of the Chariot republished them in the early 1970's.
The texts address a wide range of topics: there are numerous messianic references, extensive angeologies and demonologies, elaborate descriptions of the various heavens and hells, lists of Divine Names, lists of names of Metatron, and allusions to mystical states associated with ascending the Tree. The most prominent Chariot sections describe the ascension and transformation of Enoch ben Yared into Metatron, known as "The Youth" (Nar) to whom the Lord YHVH revealed the deepest secrets, and whom the Lord YHVH made the "operational manager" of this universe. Metatron, chief of the angels, is referred to in the Tanakh (notably in Proverbs 22.6 and Job 32.6), as well as the Zohar (I.223b). III Enoch, the "Hebrew Book of Enoch," contains a long discourse on the ascension of the Celestial Chariot by Rabbi Ishmael, the last High Priest before the destruction of the first Temple of Jerusalem. The ascension of Rabbi Ishmael drew vigorous protests from some of the high angels, who objected to the admission of his relatively impure human spirit to the supernal World of Emanation (Atziluth). When high angels get too close to the supernal Sefiroth in the World of Emanation, their wings burn: perhaps they were envious? The ascension by Rabbi Ishmael of the Celestial Chariot is a narrative allegory for the mystical ascent of the Central Column of the Tree.
I Enoch: Section 25
"THE SEVEN MOUNTAINS IN THE NORTHWEST AND THE TREE OF LIFE."
And from thence I went to another place...
And he showed me a mountain range of fire that burnt day and night.
And I went beyond it and saw seven magnificent mountains, all differing from the other,
and the stones (thereof) were magnificent and beautiful, magnificent as a whole, of glorious appearance and fair exterior.
Three towards the east, one founded on the other, and three towards the south, one upon the other,
and deep ravines no one of which joined with any other.
And the seventh mountain was in the midst of these, and it excelled them in height, resembling the seat of a throne.
And fragrant trees encircled the throne.
And amongst them was a tree such as I had never yet smelt, neither was any amongst them nor were others like it.
It had a fragrance beyond all fragrance, and its leaves and wood wither not forever.
And its fruit is beautiful and its fruit resembles the dates of palm.
Then I said: "How beautiful is this tree, and fragrant, and its leaves are fair, and its blooms very delightful in appearance."
Then answered Michael one of the holy and honored angels who was with me, and was their leader.
And he said to me: "Enoch, why dost thou ask me regarding the fragrance of the tree,
and why dost thou wish to learn the truth?"
Then I answered to him saying: "I wish to know about everything, but especially this tree."
And he answered saying: "This high mountain that thou hast seen, whose summit is like the Throne of God,
is His Throne, where the Holy Great One, the Lord of Glory, the Eternal King will sit,
when He shall come down to visit the earth with goodness.
And as for this fragrant tree, no mortal is permitted to touch it till the great, judgment,
when He shall take vengeance on all, and bring (everything) to its consummation forever.
It shall then be given to the righteous and holy.
Its fruits shall be for food to the elect; it shall be transplanted to the holy place,
to the Temple of the Lord YHVH, the Eternal King...
I Enoch: Section 46
"THE HEAD OF DAYS AND THE SON OF MAN."
And there I saw One who had a Head of Days,
And His Head (rosh) was white like wool.
And with Him was another being whose countenance had the appearance of a man,
And his face was full of graciousness, like one of the holy angels.
And I asked the angel that went with me and showed me all the hidden things, concerning that Son of Man,
who he was, and whence he was, (and) why he went with the Head of Days?
And He answered me and said unto me: "This is the Son of Man who hath righteousness,
With whom dwelleth righteousness,
And who revealeth all the treasures of that which is hidden,
Because the Lord of Spirits hath chosen him,
And whose lot hath the pre-eminence before the Lord of Spirits in uprightness forever...
I Enoch: Section 71
"FIRST OF TWO EARLIER VERSIONS OF ENOCH."
And it came to pass after this that my spirit was translated.
And it ascended into the heavens,
And I saw the holy sons of God.
They were stepping on flames of fire,
Their garments were white (and their raiment),
And their faces shone like snow.
And I saw two streams of fire,
And the light of that fire shone like hyacinth,
And I fell on my face before the Lord of Spirits.
And the angel Michael seized me by my right hand,
And lifted me up and led me forth into all the secrets,
And he showed me all the secrets of righteousness.
And he showed me all the secrets of the end of the heavens,
And all the chambers of all the stars, and all the luminaries,
Whence they proceed before the face of the holy ones.
And he translated my spirit into the heaven of heavens,
And I saw there as it were a structure built of crystals,
And between those crystals, tongues of living fire.
And my spirit saw the girdle that girt that house of fire,
And on its four sides were streams full of living fire,
And they girt that house.
And round about were Serafim, Kerubim, and Ofanim;
And these are they, who sleep not,
And guard the throne of His glory.
And I saw the angels, who could not be counted,
A thousand thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand, encircling that house.
And Michael, and Rafael, and Gabriel, and Paniel,
And the holy angels who are above the heavens go in and out of that house.
And they came forth from that house,
And many holy angels without number.
And with them the Head of Days, His head white and pure as wool,
And His raiment indescribable.
And I fell on my face, and my whole body became relaxed.
And my spirit was transfigured, and I cried with a loud voice.
I Enoch: Section 72
"SECOND OF TWO EARLIER VERSIONS OF ENOCH."
...with the spirit of power,
And blessed and glorified and extolled.
And these blessings which went forth out of my mouth were well pleasing before that Head of Days.
And that Head of Days came with Michael and Gabriel, Rafael and Paniel, thousands and ten thousands of angels without number.
(Lost passage wherein the Son of Man was described as accompanying the Head of Days, and Enoch asked one of the angels (as in Section 44:3) concerning the Son of Man as to who he was.)
And he (i.e. the angel) came to me and greeted me with His voice, and said unto me:
"This is the Son of Man who is born unto righteousness,
And righteousness abides over him,
And the righteousness of the Head of Days forsakes him not."
And he said unto me:
"He proclaims unto thee peace in the name of the world to come;
For from hence has proceeded peace since the creation of the world,
And so shall it be unto thee for ever and ever and ever."
And all shall walk in His ways since righteousness never forsaketh Him.
With Him will be their dwelling places, and with him their heritage,
And they shall not be separated from him forever and ever and ever.
And so shall there be length of days with that Son of Man,
And the righteous shall have peace and an upright way
In the Name YHVH of the Lord of Spirits forever and ever.
"IN THE TENTH HEAVEN, THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL LED ENOCH BEFORE THE FACE OF THE LORD."
On the tenth heaven, Araboth, I saw the appearance of the Lord YHVH's Face, like iron made to glow in fire, and brought out, emitting sparks, and it burns. Thus I saw the Lord YHVH's Face, but the Lord YHVH's Face is ineffable, marvelous and very awful, and very, very terrible.
And who am I to tell of the Lord YHVH's unspeakable being, and of His very wonderful Face? And I cannot tell the quantity of His many instructions, and various voices; the Lord YHVH's throne very great and not made with hands; nor the quantity of those standing round Him, troops of Kerubim, and Serafim, nor their incessant singing, nor His immutable beauty. And who shall tell of the ineffable greatness of His glory?
And I fell prone, and could see the Lord YHVH as NOT (Lo). And I bowed down to the Lord YHVH, and the Lord YHVH spoke unto Michael: "Take Enoch, and take him out of his earthly garments, and anoint him with sweet oil, and clothe him in the garments of My glory." And Michael took me out from my (earthly) garments, and anointed me with sweet oil; and the appearance of that oil is better than great light, and his ointment is like the sweet dew, and its smell like myrrh, and shines like the rays of the sun.
And Michael did thus as the Lord YHVH told him. And I looked at myself, and I was like one of His glorious ones. And the terror and the trembling left me, and the Lord YHVH with His mouth summoned me and said, "Have courage Enoch, fear not, arise and stand before My AL-Face (OL Panay) unto Eternity.
And thy Lord YHVH said to His servants tempting them: "Let Enoch stand before My AL-Face unto Eternity," and the glorious ones bowed down to the Lord YHVH, and said; "Let Enoch go according to Thy Word."
And the Lord YHVH summoned Vretiel, one of His archangels, who is wise and writes down all the Lord's works. And the Lord YHVH said to Vretiel; "Take the books from the store rooms, and give Enoch a reed, and tell him the books. And Vretiel hastened and brought Enoch the books all made sharp with myrrh.
III Enoch: Chapter One
"RABBI ISHMAEL ASCENDS TO HEAVEN AND BEHOLDS THE VISION OF THE MERKABAH, AND IS GIVEN IN CHARGE TO METATRON."
1. When I ascended on high to behold the vision of the Chariot (merkabah), and had entered the six Halls, one within the other.
2. As soon as I reached the door of the Seventh Hall, I stood still in prayer before the Holy One, blessed be He, and lifting up my eyes on high (i.e. toward the Divine Majesty), I said:
3. "Lord of the Universe, I pray thee, that the merit of Aaron, son of Amram, the lover of peace and the pursuer of peace, who received the crown of priesthood from The Glory on the mount of Sinai, be valid for me in this hour, so that Qafsiel, the prince, and the angels with him may not get power over me nor throw me down from the heavens."
4. Forthwith the Holy One, blessed be He, sent me to Metatron, His servant, the angel, the Prince of the Presence; and he, spreading his wings, with great joy came to meet me so as to save me from their hand.
5. And he took by his hand in their sight, saying to me: "Enter in peace before the high and exalted King and behold the vision of the Chariot."
6. Then I entered the Seventh Hall, and he led me to the camp(s) of Shekhinah and placed me before the Holy One, blessed be He, to behold the Chariot.
7. As soon as the princes of the Chariot and the flaming Serafim perceived me, they fixed their eyes upon me. Instantly trembling and shuddering seized me and I fell down and was benumbed by the radiant image of their eyes and the splendid appearance of their faces; until the Holy One, blessed be He, rebuked them saying:
8. "My servants, my Serafim, my Kerubim, and my Ofanim! Cover ye your eyes before Ishmael, my son, my friend, my beloved one and my glory, that he tremble not nor shudder!"
9. Forthwith Metatron, the Prince of the Presence, came and restored my spirit and put me upon my feet.
10. After that (moment) there was not in me strength enough to say a song before the Throne of Glory of the Glorious King, the mightiest of all kings, the most excellent of all princes, until after the hour had passed.
11. After one hour (had passed) the Holy One, blessed be He, opened to me the gates of the Shekhinah, the gates of Peace, the gates of Wisdom, the gates of Strength, the gates of Power, the gates of Speech, the gates of Song, the gates of Qedusha, and the gates of Chant.
12. And he enlightened my eyes and my heart by words of psalm, song, praise, exaltation, thanksgiving, extolment, glorification, hymn, and eulogy. And as I opened my mouth, uttering a song before the Holy One, blessed be He, the Holy Chayot beneath and above the Throne of Glory answered and said: "Holy" and "Blessed be the glory of the Lord YHVH from His Place!" (i.e. chanted the "Qedusha").
III Enoch: Chapter Four
"METATRON IS IDENTICAL WITH ENOCH WHO WAS TRANSFORMED AND ASCENDED TO HEAVEN AT THE TIME OF THE FLOOD."
1. I asked Metatron and said to him: " Why art thou called by the Name of Thy Creator, by seventy Names? Thou art greater than all the princes, higher than all the angels, beloved more than all the servants, honored above all the mighty ones in kingship, greatness, and glory. Why do they call thee 'Youth' in the high heavens?"
2. He answered me and said to me: "Because I am Enoch, the son of Yared."
3. "For when the generations of the Flood sinned and were confounded in their deeds, saying unto God (Job 21.14): "Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways." Then the Holy One, blessed be He, removed me from their midst to be a witness against them in the high heavens to all the inhabitants of the world, that they may not say: "The Merciful One is cruel'."
4. Hence, the Holy One, blessed be He, lifted me up in their lifetime before their eyes to be a witness against them to the future world. And the Holy One, blessed be He, assigned me as a prince and a ruler among the ministering angels.
5. In that hour three of the ministering angels, Uzza, Azza, and Azzael came forth and brought charges against me in the high heavens, saying before the Holy One, blessed be He: "Said not the Ancient Ones (First Ones) rightly before Thee: Do not create man!"
The Holy One, blessed be He, answered and said unto them (Isaiah 46.4): "I have made and I will bear, yea, I will carry and will deliver."
6. As soon as they saw me, they said before Him: "Lord of the Universe! What is this one that he should ascend to the height of heights? Is he not one from among the sons of (the sons of) those who perished in the days of the Flood? What doeth he in the Firmament (raqia)?"
7. Again the Holy One, blessed be He, answered and said to them: "What are ye, that ye enter and speak in My Presence? I delight in this one more than in all of you, and hence he shall be a prince and a ruler over you in the high heavens."
8. Forthwith all stood up and went out to meet me, prostrated themselves before me and said: "Happy art thou and happy is thy father for thy Creator doth favor thee."
9. And because I am small and a youth among them in days, months, and years, therefore they call me "Youth" (Na'ar).
III Enoch: Chapter Ten
"GOD PLACES METATRON ON A THRONE AT THE DOOR OF THE SEVENTH HALL AND ANNOUNCES THROUGH THE HERALD THAT METATRON IS HENCEFORTH GOD'S REPRESENTATIVE AND RULER OVER ALL THE PRINCES OF THE KINGDOMS AND ALL THE CHILDREN OF HEAVEN, EXCEPT THE EIGHT PRINCES TO WHOSE NAMES ARE AFFIXED THE NAME OF THEIR KING YHVH."
Rabbi Ishmael said: "Metatron, Prince of the Presence, said to me:
1. "All these things the Holy One, blessed be He, made for me: He made me a Throne, similar to the Throne of Glory." And He spread over me a curtain of splendor and brilliant appearance, of beauty, grace, and mercy, similar to the curtain of the Throne of Glory; and on it were fixed all kinds of lights in the universe.
2. And He placed it at the door of the Seventh Hall and seated me on it.
3. And the herald went forth into every heaven, saying: "This is Metatron, my servant. I have made him into a prince and a ruler over all the princes of my kingdoms and over all the presence and shall speak to him (instead)."
5. "And every command that he utters to you in My Name do ye observe and fulfill. For the Prince of Wisdom and the Prince of Understanding have I committed to him to instruct him in the wisdom of heavenly things and of earthly things, in the wisdom of the world and of the world to come."
6. "Moreover, I have set him over all the stores of life that I have in the high heavens."
III ENOCH: Chapter Forty One
"Metatron Shows Rabbi Ishmael the Letters Engraved on the Throne of Glory by Which Letters Everything In The Earth Has Been Created."
Rabbi Ishmael said: Metatron, the Angel, the Prince of the Presence said to me:
1. "Come and behold the letters by which heaven and the earth were created,
the letters by which were created the mountains and hills,
the letters by which were created the seas and rivers,
the letters by which were created the trees and herbs
the letters by which were created the planets and constellations,
the letters by which were created the globe of the moon and the globe of the sun,
Orion, Pleides, and all the different luminaries of Firmament (raqia)."
2. "The letters by which were created the Throne of Glory and the Wheels of the Chariot, the letters by which were created the necessities of the worlds;
3. The letters by which were created wisdom, understanding, knowledge, prudence, meekness, and righteousness by which the whole world is sustained."
4. And I walked by his side and he took me by his hand and raised me upon his wings and showed me those letters, all of them, which are graven with a flaming style on the Throne of Glory. And sparks go forth from them and cover all the chambers of Araboth.