Book Review: Reversing Hermon


Title: Reversing Hermon: Enoch, The Watchers & The Forgotten Missions of Jesus Christ

Author: Michael S. Heiser

Publisher: Defender Publishing

 

 

Back Cover: Reversing  Hermon

Reversing Hermon is a groundbreaking work. It unveils what most in the modern Church have never heard regarding how the story of the sin of the Watchers in 1 Enoch 6-16 helped frame the mission of Jesus, the messiah. Jews of the first century expected the messiah to reverse the impact of the Watchers’ transgression. For Jews of Jesus’ day, the Watchers were part of the explanation for why the world was so profoundly depraved. The messiah would not just revoke the claim of Satan on human souls and estrangement from God, solving the predicament of the Fall. He would also not only bring the nations back into relationship with the true God by defeating the principalities and powers that governed them. Jews also believed that the messiah would rescue humanity from self-destruction, the catalyst for which was the sin of the Watchers and the influence of what they had taught human kind. The role of Enoch’s retelling of Genesis 6:1-4 in how New Testament writers wrote of Jesus and the cross has been largely lost to a modern audience. Reversing Hermon rectifies that situation. Topics include:

  • Understanding Genesis 6:1-4and the Sin of the Watchers in Their Original Context: How the ancient Mesopotamian story of the apkallu aligns with Gen 6:1-4, was preserved in 1 Enoch, and sets the stage for the them of reversing the evil of the Watchers
  • How the theme of reversing the transgression of the Watchers colors the gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus, his genealogy, and his ministry
  • How the writings of Peter and Paul allude to the sin of the Watchers and present Jesus as overturning the disastrous effects of their sins against humanity.
  • How the description of the antichrist, the end-times Day of the Lord, and the final judgment connect to Genesis 6 and the nephilim.

Though every topic addressed in Reversing Hermon can be found in scholarly academic literature, Reversing Hermon is the first book to gather this information and make it accessible to Bible students everywhere. The book also includes lengthy appendices on the ancient debate on the inspiration of the book of 1 Enoch, New Testament allusions to the book, and academic resources for studying 1 Enoch and the Book of Giants from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

 

Book Review: Reversing Hermon

Reversing Hermon is another well written and documented book by Michael S. Heiser. He does a great job of presenting this book with varying views on the topic of the book of 1 Enoch and how it influenced the writers of the New Testament.

In this book, you will find some surprising information that will leave you wondering and possibly persuading you to look at the Bible in a new light, that of the traditional Jewish mindset. The writers of the New Testament were Jewish and Heiser argues that they would have known their history and had access to the pseudepigrapha books like 1 Enoch that influenced their writing, as the Holy Spirit inspired them to pen God’s Words.

In Reversing Hermon, we see Heiser put his background in biblical studies, ancient Near East and his proficient understanding of both the Hebrew Bible and Semitic languages to great application. These areas of expertise allow him to help us to see the Bible in light of the cultures that preceded the writers of the New Testament and the impact those events and cultures would have had on them. He expounds on the Mesopotamian Apkallu, the Watchers, the Nephilim and of course, 1 Enoch, to show their relationship to Bible verses that we may struggle to understand.

There is a section on the date of Jesus’ birth that was intriguing and well written. The section on the Sin of the Watchers and the Genealogy of Jesus was good, but also problematic for me (I’ll explain my thoughts further on this topic in the next section). And, one cannot miss reading the Appendices at the end of this book that contain: The Question of the Inspiration of 1 Enoch in the Early Church, The Dating and Manuscript Evidence for 1 Enoch and the Book of Giants, Scholarly Bibliography on 1 Enoch and the Book of Giants, New Testament Allusions to Books of the Pseudepigrapha, The Ancient Antichrist Profile: Jew or Gentile?, and finally, the Notes. There is so much more that it gleaned by not skipping these sections.

 

My thoughts about Reversing Hermon

I enjoyed reading this book, but now wish that I had read The Unseen Realm, right after reading Supernatural and before I read this one. Why? Because he references The Unseen Realm a bit and refers the readers to it for a more detailed explanation of various topics in Reversing Hermon. So, that will be the next book that I read.

Overall, I liked the book and learned so much from it. While I had issues with a few areas discussed in Reversing Hermon, they are a matter of a different interpretation. I will only review seven of those areas of contention in this blog post. Let’s go over those now.

First, I believe that it’s very likely that the writers of the New Testament, being Jewish, were influenced by the history they knew and the texts they were likely exposed to and may have read. I’m not sure how much they had access to these texts, as they were not formally trained in the Rabbinical works, but were taught by Jesus Himself and inspired by the Holy Spirit—which I believe is what made their words more powerful to the formally educated ones of their time, such as was the case of Stephen expounding on the Bible before their council, just before they stoned him. When we take the history too far, when we read too much into what influenced them and their writing, as I felt Heiser did in this book, we can remove the great influence the Holy Spirit had on them. There is, in my mind, the possibility that while they could have been influenced by what they were taught growing up about history, it is more likely that the same Spirit of God that inspired those previous writers of the pseudepigrapha, also inspired the writers of the New Testament. As I read more and more “proof” that they used these texts to influence their writing, I found myself saddened that the Holy Spirit was left out of this equation. I would not be at all surprised to one day learn that the disciples never read any of those texts and the Holy Spirit alone gave them the words to write. Now, that would of course not include Saul (Paul), because he in fact was a Pharisee of Pharisees and I believe very well-educated and with that being said, I do believe that he too was more heavily inspired by the Holy Spirit than by former texts, but a good comprehension of those ancient texts, likely allowed the Holy Spirit to use Paul in ways that were different, not greater or less, than the other authors of the New Testament.

Second, is the term the “Watchers.” As Heiser, and others, stated, the term “Watchers” does not imply, in and of itself, whether the reference is of holy or unholy beings (angels). The term “Watchers” means, to be watchful or awake (see page 279, footnote 41 for a more detailed explanation). I agree with this definition and 1 Enoch alludes to the fact that there are both holy and unholy angels, as does the Bible. So, the problem I have is that the term “Watchers” continues to be used to signify the unholy Watchers, without saying they are unholy. It’s well and good that 1 Enoch did this and that the writers are clear in themselves of what they mean, but the problem can be for those learning of the Watchers. The assumption can wrongly be made that all Watchers are unholy, which is simply not true. The majority in fact are holy. It is believed (though not by Heiser), that only one-third of the angels fell, leaving two-thirds being still holy. To me, this lack of necessary description only creates confusion for the masses that are attempting to learn this material. And, it’s sets up for readers to be potentially and unnecessarily confused about the nature of the “Watchers” as a whole.

Third, is the issue of the flood itself and the magnitude of it. He mentions and documents his view that the flood was more localized than widespread or worldwide. His perspective is that they, “the writers of the Biblical writers knew nothing of nations in another hemisphere (the Americas) or places like India, China, or Australia.” While I agree that they may have not known about these areas, they also could have, by the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who I believe inspired them to write the words of the Bible and the historical events that transpired. If we begin to question things we read based not the fact that someone was not aware of events, people or places they wrote about, then a good portion of the Scripture is called into question. Why? Because other than what is told to them by someone else, how would Moses have been able to write about the events of Creation? What of Isaiah naming Cyrus and telling of God’s plans for him, before he was born and came into power? What of Stephen’s account of Jewish history and the sins of their fathers? What of Ezekiel, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, John (all the prophets) and the events that would not transpire until some time after their prophecy was shared? These things were told to them by the Holy spirit and therefore, can be trusted, not because they knew of these events, places and people personally, but by the very inspiration that we all trust God used, through His Holy Spirit to tell of these accounts for our good. That is what makes the Bible so incredible, undeniable and timeless…not the ones that wrote it all down, but rather because of the One that told the stories for those men to pen for us all to glean from for many millenniums to come. To base information as true or not, in God’s Word, based on someone’s personal knowledge or understanding, I believe devoids the Bible of the supernatural work that it is, for the very reason of sharing with us that only by God and His grace can these things be made known to man, when it would have otherwise been virtually impossible for them to know. So, while I believe it’s good to reason what we read in the Bible, I think it’s dangerous to allow our ability reason what we read, or the lack thereof, to quantify if His Word is true in its plain text. This is the thinking and logic that have led so many to not believe the Book of Daniel, because there is no way any human can know of those events to come so exactly, that it had to be told after the fact…that is precisely the point…it was impossible for Daniel to know such things without God, as I believe it would have been impossible for anyone to know the scale of the flood, without God’s inspiration, because He knows what He created and He also knows how widespread and pervasive the sin of the unholy Watchers had become across the globe. No animal, no human—except those on the ark—were spared, due to the corrupted genes and sin. Finally, if it were not a global flood, why did God need to take aboard the Ark, two of every kind of animal, one clean, one unclean, one male and of female after their kind and instruct Noah and his family to repopulate the earth. This only makes sense in light of the fact that it was indeed a global flood, not a localized one.

Fourth, is regards to his note 207, which states, “The angels of the seven churches in Rev. 2-3 are another possible reference to humans, though this is much disputed.” I appreciate that his wording tells me that he is not absolute in this stance, by using terms like, “possible” and “though this is much disputed.” I believe we should use the Bible to interpret the Bible, as I once heard Chuck Missler state. For this point, we can easily see that Jesus said that the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, meaning the seven churches apparently have seven angels that keep watch over them (See Revelation 1:20). So, when Rev. 2-3 follows up with “to the angels of the church of…”, we can be clear that He means, the angels (not humans) of those seven churches respectively listed. Sometimes, more often than not, again, as Chuck Missler said, “God says what He means and means what He says…when the plain text makes sense, seek no other sense.”

Fifth, see page 143 for this in more detail. Heiser states, “The point to catch is that Enoch visits the spiritual world in the “bad section of town” where the offending Watchers are being held…Enoch descended to the imprisoned fallen angels to announce their doom.” It sounds fine on the surface, but when we read 1 Enoch 13-14it states the unholy Watchers were still on the earth when they both petitioned Enoch to intercede on their behalf and when God sent Enoch back to them with His judgment. The unholy Watchers were “weeping in Abelsjâîl, which is between Lebanon and Sênêsêr, with their faces covered. And I recounted for them all the visions which I had seen in sleep, and I began to speak the words of righteousness, and to reprimand the heavenly Watchers.” (1 Enoch 13:9-10) God didn’t imprison the unholy Watchers until after they saw the death of their wives and children. Unless there is more that I’m not seeing, this is not a correct statement based on 1 Enoch. While he did get to visit heavenly realms and I believe see the lake of fire, he did not visit the unholy Watchers in their place of judgment to announce to them God’s judgment. Again, God allowed them to see their own children destroy one another, before He cast them into Tartarus where they are chained up until their time of final judgement. (For where they are being held—Tartarus or the pits of darkness or the gloomy pits of darkness—see 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6)

Sixth, on that last note, of them being bound up until their time of judgment, Heiser speculates as follows, “I consider the released Watchers to be part of the enemies described as “Gog and Magog” in league with Satan.” (see page 317, note 269) While I agree with him that Gog is an entity and not a place and Magog is a place, I do not agree that the unholy Watchers will part of the uprising, because it says very clearly in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude v. 6 that they will be chained up until their judgment…after their judgment they are headed for the lake of fire. There is nowhere that I know of speaks of their release until the time of their judgment, except one place in 1 Enoch 10:12, “And when their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgement…” (emphasis mine). In light of this though, we have no real measure of what Enoch means by seventy generations? Something tells me that this will conclude at the time of their judgment.

Seventh and finally, there is a section that discusses the genealogy of Jesus, as I mentioned above, and the main area of discussion was to show how Matthew in his listing of the genealogy of Jesus, had the sin of the unholy Watchers in mind. The part that got me was on the topic of Ruth. Let me lay out a little of the information, so you can better understand my contention with the argument. I will however not be detailing it, as I believe it’s best to read it in its entirety for Heiser to flesh out his point-of-view.

Admittedly, this one bothered me the most…let’s look at why. In Reversing Hermon, commonality was sought among the four women mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus. Fair enough, I’m all for looking for patterns. The book begins by the story of Tamar, proceeds to Rahab’s, then covers Ruth’s story, and finally Bathsheba’s. The stories of Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba did not surprise me, because they are laid out in the Bible, except for the fact that it was apparently believed that Tamar was somehow connected with Canaanite sacred prostitute (see page 77 for more information). Also on page 77 in the story of Tamar, it’s said that Judah married a Canaanite woman named Shuah, when in fact (and later rightly stated) she was unnamed and the daughter of a Canaanite man by the name of Shua.

Okay, let’s discuss my concerns with what was said of Ruth. Heiser mentioned that the word “feet” is a well-known euphemism for genitalia. You can see where this going and perhaps why it upset me. The scene being discussed was that of the threshing floor. It is said that she was sexually inappropriate with Boaz during this scene and “that rabbinic tradition altered the meaning of past of the Ruth story to ‘clean up” Ruth’s ancestry.” And Heiser writes, “Scholars of the Hebrew Bible have long recognized that what Ruth does at the threshing floor (Ruth 3) is overtly sexual. Ruth exposes the ‘feet’ of Boaz while he is sleeping after he had ‘eaten and drunk’ when ‘his heart was merry,’ and then lies down (Ruth 3:7). The Hebrew words translated ‘feet’ (regel) is a well-known euphemism for genitalia in the Hebrew Bible (e.g., to ‘cover one’s feet,’ meaning relieve oneself: Judges 3:24; 1 Samuel 24:4). By uncovering Boaz’s ‘feet’ (genitalia), Ruth is, in effect, offering herself as a wife to Boaz.” What!? And this raised a few questions for me, again also frustrating me. Let’s go over why I think this is false in every respect that I can think of…

  1. Why would rabbinic tradition be so concerned to “clean up” Ruth’s ancestry, when they felt no need to clean up Tamar’s and Rahab’s, before Ruth, nor Bathsheba’s, after Ruth. That reasoning makes no sense to me.
  2. Because there is a word that has a euphemism that speaks of something else, are we to use or infer that euphemism each time the word is used? I pray not, because if that is the case, when we read, “And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet, and listened to His teaching” (Luke 10:39 ESV, emphasis mine), we get an entirely inappropriate and erroneous reading of this passage. But it can be said that I’m quoting the New Testament which is in Greek, so a different word could be used. Let’s look at an example of the Hebrew Word for “feet” and the context in other passages. The Hebrew word Heiser references is regel (Strong’s 7272). Incidentally, the word used in the case of Ruth and Boaz is margeloth (Strong’s 4772) and it only appears in the Old Testament five times. Four times in the book of Ruth (3:4, 3:7, 3:8, and 3:14) and once in Daniel 10:6. In the case of Daniel 10:5-6, I’m reminded of the description of Jesus we find Revelation 1:13-15. Surely the scholars would not argue that this holy being in Daniel 10:6 is referring to his genitals—whether it’s an angel or Jesus Himself. And, I believe God did this on purpose, there is no confusion that feet in both of these contexts means…feet. But, for the sake of fairness, let’s look at this word regel in more detail. While its word origin is the same as regel, it’s plain text definition is, you guessed it, feet. When you look at regel, it’s plain text definition is also feet. Regel occurs 245 times in the Old Testament and this is the breakdown as follows: accompany (1), after (1), attend (1), feet (139), follow (2), followed (2), following (1), foot (60), footstep (1), footstool (1), four-footed (6), haunt (1), heels (1), hoof (1), journey (1), legs (5), pace (2), relieve (1), step (1), steps (2), swift-footed (1), times (4), toes (2), turned (1). Clearly, by this breakdown of the word’s usage, we see that it is indeed used more times for feet and foot than any other usage. And, since we are to use the entirety of God’s Word, not man’s, to interpret His Word and with the help of the Holy Spirit, this tells me that the word feet in God’s Word, means exactly what it says—more times than not—feet. In each case that it is used in another context, the verse indicates what is meant by the word. In this case, I honestly do not believe that it, in any way, infers that she uncovered his genitals, as proposed by the scholars.
  3. The scholars, God bless them, have taken a woman of the Bible, that God, not ONE. SINGLE. TIME. mentions in any kind of sinful sexual manner, and have debased her name and character, for no just cause, other than scholarly speculation. The problem is, what if they have influenced the new believers into believing their speculation? What if they have marred her character for no cause other than intellectual exercising? God, not one to hold back on the true nature and sins of all the women listed in the genealogy of our Lord Jesus, I believe would have said more of Ruth if there was more to be said. I believe she is the way God depicted, while not perfect, I do believe she desired to walk uprightly before Him and He honored her for turning away from the idols of Moab to follow Him and that had this to say of her, “Then he said, ‘May you be blessed of the Lord, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.” (Ruth 3:10-11) That does not sound like a woman who is prone to inappropriate nor sinful sexual intentions. I do believe that God had Boaz tell us of her true character, so we could know, in light of ungodly speculations like these, what kind of woman she really was and a good example to us all.
  4. Lastly, the speculations did not stop by only marring of Ruth’s character, but reach to do the same for Naomi’s…stating that it was Naomi that enticed Ruth to do such ungodly behavior.

All-in-all, I’m very disappointed that such speculation made it into print and further disappointed that it would be repeated without refuting such allegations on their character, because what does this also say about Boaz. Since Boaz and Ruth are a type of Jesus and His bride, this frustrates me all the more. Again, if Ruth, Naomi, or Boaz had engaged in any such dealings, we can clearly see by all of God’s Word, He would have told us so. And while it can be said that God did not include the sins of the unholy Watchers, I do believe the angelic host, who can learn from their mistakes, have been told and seen all that happened. For us, God reserves the majority of lessons in the Bible to humans, for which we as fellow humans can learn. Why then does He share information about Satan, so we can learn about our enemy that we battle each day.  Let us not put forth any disparaging words towards anyone and certainly not without just cause that is supported clearly by God’s Word. But, even so, I don’t think we, as fellow sinners saved by God’s grace and redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, ought to disparage anyone. Though, we can share stories God shares in His Word, “for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16 NASB)

Incidentally, there is a mention in note 152 (page 297) that makes no sense to me, based on my understanding of the sin of the unhoy Watchers and God’s need to set things right again. The statement is, “Because Rahab is connected to Boaz in Matt. 1:5, this same presumptive connection to giants is also true of Ruth due to her connection to Boaz. Ruth, of course, is one of the four women in Jesus’ genealogy….” Okay, the problem is any connection with the sin of the unholy Watchers shown up in the bloodline of Jesus does not sit well with me. Why? Because the very nature of the sin of the unholy Watchers is that they defiled themselves by having sexual relations with human women and they corrupted the human genome in doing so, as well as that of animals of the earth, birds of the air…and likely fish of the sea (leading to legends to half man, half animal/bird/fish creatures we hear of). This made God sorry that He made us, reflected in a very sad verse found in Genesis 6:6…not because of what man was doing, but because of what was being done to man, His imagers. 

The problem then is if the mixing of angelic genes with human genes, was, in God’s eyes, worthy of bring a global flood to wipe the earth clean and using those on the Ark to repopulate the earth, then it is improbable for the seed of a giant to be in the bloodline of Jesus. Why? Because I believe these souls, those of the unholy Watchers, giants, Nephilim, Rephaim, Anakim, etc, are not redeemable. They are corrupted because they are the mixing of species, angelic with humans, angelic with animals, birds, fish, etc. Noah was, I believe, a foreshadowing of Jesus, and it says he was perfect in his ways. I don’t think that simply means that he was righteous in his behavior, but pure, uncorrupted by angelic genes, in his DNA. Jesus, was/is, perfect, in every single sense of the word, including in His bloodline. There could be not corruption of the giants in His DNA for Him to be perfect, sinless and blameless and to be able to take on the sins of the world and reverse the sins of the Watchers. I believe He came here to save us, to redeem us and in doing so, showed the fallen angels, that they can indeed come to earth, love and engage with mankind and remain sinless, though tempted He was, the Bible says, in every manner. So, once again, I disagree that this is true of the genealogy of Jesus.

Can I be wrong on any or all my points of disagreement? Absolutely. I’m certainly not a scholar, but these are my interpretations of God’s Word and why I believe the statements are not true in light of His Word. I also believe, in my humble and non-scholarly opinion, that one day we will all stand before God and Jesus and say, “ahhh, that’s what You meant” or “ahhh, that’s what happened!” We will all find we had some things right and some things wrong.

With all that said, be sure to not miss three parts of this book that offer some interesting insights, like the date of Jesus’ birth, with historical evidence that supports it and the insight into the mysterious passages of 1 Corinthians 11:13-15, about why women should where a head covering. Both are very eye-opening. I do agree with the date of Jesus’ birth and the section on the head covering is as Heiser says, “a controversial proposal that sounds truly bizarre but that nevertheless has profound explanatory power for this perplexing passage.” And let me tell you, it is definitely bizarre, but in light of the sins of the unholy Watchers, this argument makes more sense than a lot of other things I’ve heard. While I’m not 100% sure I agree with the argument, I did find it intriguing and a good contender for a reasonable possibility that may explain the mystery of 1 Corinthians 11:13-15. Finally, I found the background and history of the baptism very interesting and it helped me to see that wonderful blessing in a whole new light.

 

Would I Recommend Reversing Hermon

Absolutely. I know with all that I wrote in the previous section, one might think that I would not recommend it, but there is so much that this book does help to shed light on that I do believe either lines up with God’s Word or that God’s Word holds no obvious stances on the topic, like if 1 Enoch was used to inspire the writers of the New Testament (except perhaps the verse that says “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” 2 Tim 3:16 KJV).

This book will not disappoint and while you, as I did, may not agree with every point (there were quite a few more that I didn’t mention), it still has so much to offer in allowing us to see God’s Word with fresh eyes. What do I mean? Even the points that I didn’t agree with in this book, pressed me into prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to help me discern what I was reading and into God’s Word, to be like the Bereans “…and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11 KJV)

It is my opinion that this book is good for all believers, but can be challenging I believe for new believers, as they may not be able to discern, yet, the areas that I believe raises some serious theological questions and others that were a matter of interpretation. The seriousness of the theological questions is when we fail to take God at His Word, when He is clear about His Word, such as the global flood and the character of Ruth. It doesn’t only bring these events and people into question, but what God says about them, which brings Him into question and that is a major problem.

This is a great book for someone who has been studying God’s Word for a while and would like to learn more about the events surrounding 1 Enoch. And, if you enjoy reading books that challenge you, you will certainly enjoy this book. I found that even on points that I didn’t agree with, I pressed in God’s Word and sought the reason why what I was reading didn’t makes sense to me, based on Scripture. It’s good to see varying points of view, as long as we have the Holy Spirit guiding us to discern what aligns with God’s Word and what doesn’t. Either way, we learn and grow as a result of it.

 

And, that’s a wrap… Reversing Hermon

I hope you found this review helpful. If so, please share it with your family and friends, so they can learn about this great book too. You can click here or on any image of the book on this page to see it on Amazon. Thanks for taking the time to read this review and God bless!

Ally

 

“This book is about the important influence that the story of the sin of the Watchers in 1 Enoch 6-16 had on the thinking of New Testament authors…My task in this book is to remove the scales of our own tradition from our eyes, at least as it relates to the importance of the Watcher story of 1 Enoch for understanding portions of the New Testament.”

-Michael S. Heiser, Reversing Hermon

 

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