“Zion” and “Jerusalem” as Lady Wisdom in Moses 7 and Nephi’s Tree of Life Vision

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Editor’s Note: This article is drawn from a chapter in Samuel Zinner’s new book entitled Textual and Comparative Explorations in 1 and 2 Enoch (Provo, UT: The Interpreter Foundation/Eborn Books, 2014). The book is now available online for purchase (e.g., Amazon, FairMormon Bookstore) and will be available in selected bookstores in October 2014. The other new temple books from Interpreter are also now available for purchase. Click here for more details.

The essay traces lines of continuity between ancient middle eastern traditions of Asherah in her various later Jewish, Christian, and Mormon forms. Especially relevant in Jewish texts are Lady Wisdom (Proverbs 8; Sirach 24; Baruch 3-4), Daughter of Zion (Lamentations; Isaiah); Lady Zion and Mother Jerusalem (4 Ezra), Binah in kabbalah etc. The divine feminine in the Jewish-Christian texts Odes of Solomon 19 and Shepherd of Hermas is examined, as well as in Pauline Christian texts, namely, the Letter to the Galatians and the writings of Irenaeus (Against Heresies and Apostolic Preaching). Dependence of Hermas on the Parables of Enoch is documented. The essay identifies parallels between some of the above ancient sources and traditions about Zion and other forms of the feminine divine in 19th century America, specifically in the Mormon scriptures (Moses 7 and Nephi 11). While recognizing the corporate nature of the Enochic city of Zion in Moses 7, the essay argues that this Zion also parallels the hypostatic Lady Zion of Jewish canonical and extracanonical scriptures, especially 4 Ezra. The essay also points how the indigenous trope of Mother Earth [Page 282]parallels forms of the divine feminine stretching from the ancient middle eastern Asherah, the Jewish Lady Wisdom and Shekhinah, the Christian Holy Spirit, to the Mormon Enochic Zion.

As a new millennium was fast approaching, in 1996 Harold Bloom referred to “the most American of religions, Mormonism.”1 In the same context, Bloom writes of “Joseph Smith, greatest and most authentic of American prophets, seers, and revelators.”2 Elsewhere in the same work Bloom expresses himself more expansively on the same topic when he speaks of “Our Southern Baptists and Mormons, our Adventists, Pentecostals, and other indigenous faiths ….”3 As a person of a mixed background that includes indigenous ancestry (my great-grandmother was enrolled in the Six Nations Confederacy as a Mohawk) I find Bloom’s use of the taxonomy “indigenous” problematic if left unqualified. But if we understand the word “America” not as the particular place of Mother Earth where the first peoples lived (which at that time was called “America” by no one), but as the political system that was set in place after the genocide of the indigenous tribes,4 then perhaps the terminology can at least be understood according to Bloom’s particular modulation.

With the above in mind, we would like to cite Bloom again: “Enoch-Metatron … may be regarded as the authentic angel of America, which was initially the insight of the Mormon prophet, seer, and revelator Joseph Smith, who identified himself with [Page 283]Enoch, and by now may well be joined in an imaginative unity with his great precursor, if Mormon speculation proves true.”5 Bloom writes in this connection more fully as follows:

One sees why Smith was fascinated by Enoch, and actually identified himself with that extraordinary being. In his own final phase, Smith evidently studied Kabbalah, and came to understand that as the resurrected Enoch his ultimate transformation would be into the angel Metatron, … who is also the angel Michael and resurrected Adam. Though orthodox Islam refuses such an identification for Muhammad, the Sufis insisted upon it, and Joseph Smith thus brings together (whether he knew it or not) the three great esoteric traditions of Christian Gnosticism, Sufism, and Kabbalah.6

Complementing the individual known as Joseph Smith is the communal nature of the religious group that coalesced around him, as well as of the theological and eschatological notion of “Zion,” of which Bloom explains: “Their Zion is famously not ‘a world elsewhere’; it will be built, someday, near Independence, Missouri, according to a prophecy of Joseph Smith.”7 Although we are a non-LDS scholar who claims no expertise in Mormon literature, nevertheless it is not too difficult to recognize that despite the communal nature of [Page 284]Joseph Smith’s “Zion,”8 the latter is described in ways that make it clear enough that this “Zion” is simultaneously an individual celestial hypostasis, a paradigm which is in fact grounded in the Tanakh and in traditional Jewish exegesis thereof in both kabbalah and pseudepigrapha.9 As we will see, this trajectory is carried forward in texts of early Semitic Jesus groups (so-called “Jewish Christians”).10

Before we address the issue of the individual-communal layers of Zion, we will comment upon its (or better, her) apocalyptic and realized eschatological dimensions. In kabbalah, as in the Tanakh, Zion is the divine mother. In the holy Zohar this mother becomes the sefirah Binah, Understanding, of whom Daniel Matt explains that she is identified with “the world to come” who in fact is “always coming” and is as a consequence already and always present everywhere.11 Perhaps [Page 285]we could apply this simultaneous temporal-eternal model to the Joseph Smith prophecy lately quoted from Bloom.

In Zechariah 2:10 we find the title “daughter of Zion,” a phrase also employed in Lamentations 1:6, a book wherein Zion becomes a lady who grieves over her being conquered and destroyed. We encounter the same imagery in Isaiah 22:4: “Therefore said I: ‘Look away from me, I will weep bitterly; strain not to comfort me, for the destruction of the daughter of my people.’”12 The prophets develop the topos of the “comfort” or “consolation” that the mourning Lady Zion will receive from the Lord in the eschatological era when the peoples of Israel and of Judah will be restored. Isaiah 40 figures prominently among such passages of promise:

1 Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God.

2 Bid Jerusalem take heart, and proclaim unto her, that her time of service is accomplished, that her guilt is paid off; that she hath received of the lord’s hand double for all her sins.

3 Hark! one calleth: “Clear ye in the wilderness the way of the lord, make plain in the desert a highway for our God.”

9 O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain; O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah: “Behold your God!”

In Isaiah 66 the “daughter of Zion” becomes Mother Zion who comforts the city of Zion’s inhabitants. However, while verses 10-12 of this chapter depict Zion as the comforting mother of the people, verse 13 suddenly applies this function of comfort to the Lord, indicating that Mother Zion is ultimately God’s feminine dimension, or God portrayed as divine [Page 286]Mother. The passage significantly begins with a description of Lady Zion as a woman about to give birth, and Irenaeus, no doubt guided by Jewish-Christian apostolic tradition, sees in verse 7 a prophecy of the painless virgin birth of Jesus (Apostolic Preaching 54), which is the source of the painless delivery in Odes of Solomon 19 often described as “Gnostic” or “docetic” (one person’s “Gnosticism” can be another person’s “Jewish-Christianity”):

7 Before she was in labor
she gave birth;
before her pain came upon her
she was delivered of a son.

8 Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall a land be born in one day?
Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment?
For as soon as Zion was in labor
she brought forth her sons.

9 Shall I bring to the birth and not cause to bring forth?
says the lord;
shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?
says your God.

10 Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her;

11 that you may suck and be satisfied
with her consoling breasts;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from the abundance of her glory.

12 For thus says the lord:
Behold, I will extend prosperity to her like a river,
[Page 287]and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall suck, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and dandled upon her knees.

13 As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

14 You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bones shall flourish like the grass ….

Lady Zion is ultimately but a specialization of Asherah (who is herself ultimately a civilizational vestige of the earlier indigenous Mother Earth), another instantiation of whom appears under the guise of Lady Wisdom in Proverbs 8, who by allusion is equated with the rua elohim who hovered like a mother bird over the primordial waters of chaos, the “deep.”

22 The lord made me as the beginning of His way, the first of His works of old.

23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.

27 When He established the heavens, I was there; when He set a circle upon the face of the deep,

28 When He made firm the skies above, when the fountains of the deep showed their might,

29 When He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not transgress His commandment, when He appointed the foundations of the earth;

30 Then I was by Him, as a nursling; and I was daily all delight, playing always before Him.

Famously Sirach 24:23 transforms Proverbs 8’s Lady Wisdom into the celestial hypostatic archetype of the earthly scroll of the Torah of Moses: “All this is the book of the covenant of the Most High God, the law which Moses commanded us [Page 288]as an inheritance for the congregations of Jacob.” Sirach 24:10 has Lady Wisdom explain of herself that she “was established in Zion”13 (rsv), and so she also coincides with Lady Zion. Similarly, in an allusion to Deuteronomy 30’s Torah, Baruch 3 asks concerning “wisdom”:

29 Who has gone up into heaven, and taken her,
and brought her down from the clouds?

30 Who has gone over the sea, and found her,
and will buy her for pure gold?14

Baruch 3:37-4:1 then establishes an identity between this celestial Lady Wisdom and the personified earthly Torah scroll:

3:37 Afterward she appeared upon earth
and lived among men.

4:1 She is the book of the commandments of God,
and the law that endures for ever.
All who hold her fast will live,
and those who forsake her will die.15

The next major development in this trajectory occurs in 4 Ezra 9:38:

When I said these things in my heart, I lifted up my eyes and saw a woman on my right, and behold, she was mourning and weeping with a loud voice, and was deeply grieved at heart, and her clothes were rent, [Page 289]and there were ashes on her head.

The prophet Ezra speaks with this sorrowing woman and learns that she grieves because after being barren for thirty years, she was blessed with a son who on the day of his wedding fell and died as he “entered his wedding chamber” (9:43-47-10:1). The woman is grieving and refuses to eat. Ezra upbraids the woman in chapter 10:

6 “You most foolish of women, do you not see our mourning, and what has happened to us?

7 For Zion, the mother of us all, is in deep grief and great affliction.

8 It is most appropriate to mourn now, because we are all mourning, and to be sorrowful, because we are all sorrowing; you are sorrowing for one son, but we, the whole world, for our mother.

9 Now ask the earth, and she will tell you that it is she who ought to mourn ….”

We then read in verse 27:

And I looked, and behold, the woman was no longer visible to me, but there was an established city, and a place of huge foundations showed itself.

Next in chapter 10 Ezra is perplexed about his vision of the grieving woman and has the following exchange with the angel Uriel, wherein the vision is explicated as follows:

[Page 290]30 and behold, I lay there like a corpse and I was deprived of my understanding. Then he grasped my right hand and strengthened me and set me on my feet, and said to me,

31 “What is the matter with you? And why are you troubled? And why are your understanding and the thoughts of your mind troubled?”

32 I said, “Because you have forsaken me! I did as you directed, and went out into the field, and behold, I saw, and still see, what I am unable to explain.”

33 He said to me, “Stand up like a man, and I will instruct you.”

38 He answered me and said, “Listen to me and I will inform you, and tell you about the things which you fear, for the Most High has revealed many secrets to you.

39 For he has seen your righteous conduct, that you have sorrowed continually for your people, and mourned greatly over Zion.

40 This therefore is the meaning of the vision.

41 The woman who appeared to you a little while ago, whom you saw mourning and began to console —

42 but you do not now see the form of a woman, but an established city has appeared to you —

43 and as for her telling you about the misfortune of her son, this is the interpretation:

44 This woman whom you saw, whom you now behold as an established city, is Zion.

45 And as for her telling you that she was barren for thirty years, it is because there were three thousand years in the world before any offering was offered in it.

[Page 291]46 And after three thousand years Solomon built the city, and offered offerings; then it was that the barren woman bore a son.

47 And as for her telling you that she brought him up with much care, that was the period of residence in Jerusalem.

48 And as for her saying to you, ‘When my son entered his wedding chamber he died,’ and that misfortune had overtaken her, that was the destruction which befell Jerusalem.

49 And behold, you saw her likeness, how she mourned for her son, and you began to console her for what had happened.

50 For now the Most High, seeing that you are sincerely grieved and profoundly distressed for her, has shown you the brilliance of her glory, and the loveliness of her beauty.

51 Therefore I told you to remain in the field where no house had been built,

52 for I knew that the Most High would reveal these things to you.

53 Therefore I told you to go into the field where there was no foundation of any building,

54 for no work of man’s building could endure in a place where the city of the Most High was to be revealed.

55 Therefore do not be afraid, and do not let your heart be terrified; but go in and see the splendor and vastness of the building, as far as it is possible for your eyes to see it,

56 and afterward you will hear as much as your ears can hear.

[Page 292]Obviously this woman, who is Lady Zion, is also the Lady Wisdom of Proverbs 8 who dwelt with God before creation.

About the same time 4 Ezra was written, ca. 100 ce or earlier (we would argue by a Semitic follower of Jesus, that is, a Jewish Christian or Ebionite; we suspect the same scenario would be applicable to texts such as 2 Baruch, the Apocalypse of Abraham, and especially the Testament of Abraham),16 some of the Shepherd of Hermas’ earliest layers were being composed in Rome. In our judgment the prophet Hermas, like the author of 4 Ezra, was a Semitic follower of the persons of James and Jesus. In the Visions of Hermas, the prophet sees an ancient celestial Lady who gives him a mysterious book as well as a vision of the construction of a tower. Later the Lady appears youthful and rejuvenated:

Vision 2: 4(8):1 Now, brethren, a revelation was made unto me in my sleep by a youth of exceeding fair form, who said to me, “Whom thinkest thou the aged woman, from whom thou receivest the book, to be?” I say, “The Sibyl” “Thou art wrong,” saith he, “she is not.” “Who then is she?” I say. “The Church,” saith he. I said unto him, “Wherefore then is she aged?” “Because,” saith he, “she was created before all things; therefore is she aged; and for her sake the world was framed.”

Vision 3: 3(11):4 I say unto her, “Lady, since thou didst hold me worthy once for all, that thou shouldest reveal all things to me, reveal them.” Then she saith to me, “Whatsoever is possible to be revealed to thee, shall be revealed. Only let thy heart be with God, and doubt not in thy mind about that which thou seest.”

[Page 293]10(18):3 Now she was seen of me, brethren, in my first vision of last year, as a very aged woman and seated on a chair.

10(18):4 In the second vision her face was youthful, but her flesh and her hair were aged, and she spake to me standing; and she was more gladsome than before.

10(18):5 But in the third vision she was altogether youthful and of exceeding great beauty, and her hair alone was aged; and she was gladsome exceedingly and seated on a couch.17

There is a similar transformation of the mourning Mother Jerusalem in 4 Ezra 10:25: “While I was talking to her, behold, her face suddenly shone exceedingly, and her countenance flashed like lightning ….” This transformation is described in verse 50 as “the brilliance of her glory, and the loveliness of her beauty.”

In Hermas Parable 9 we learn that the Lady is simultaneously the Church, the Holy Spirit, and the Son of God:

1(78):1 After I had written down the commandments and parables of the shepherd, the angel of repentance, he came to me and saith to me; “I wish to show thee all things that the Holy Spirit, which spake with thee in the form of the Church, showed unto thee. For that Spirit is the Son of God.”

The Lady who is the Church (Ecclesia) and the theme of the building of the tower are clearly similar to 4 Ezra’s pre-existent Lady who is hypostatic Zion. What is more, just as Ezra is commanded to fast and to go out to an undeveloped field, and is troubled by his vision and told to stand up “like a man,” so [Page 294]Hermas is instructed to fast, is taken by the Spirit to a distant location in nature, is troubled by his visions, and is told at the conclusion of Vision 1, “Play the man, Hermas.” Both texts speak of secrets and their revelation.18

We should not overlook the isomorphism that links Hermas’ Lady Ecclesia who is the “Son of God” and 4 Ezra 10:45-49 where it becomes clear, at least upon a careful reading, that the celestial Jerusalem’s “son” is none other than the hypostatic earthly city of Jerusalem. This may shed a new light on 4 Ezra 2:42-48, where “the Son of God” is likely thought of as the single or individualized hypostatic earthly city of Jerusalem. The same passage’s “great multitude” would then constitute a sort of refraction of the individual hypostasis manifested in the mode somewhat comparable semantically to a collective singular. Verse 43 describes the Son of God: “In their midst was a young man of great stature, taller than any of the others … he was more exalted than they.” This is quite similar to Hermas Parable 9:

12(89):7 “Didst thou see,” saith he, “the six men, and the glorious and mighty man in the midst of them, him that walked about the tower and rejected the stones from the building?” “I saw him, Sir,” say I.

12(89):8 “The glorious man,” saith he, “is the Son of God, and those six are the glorious angels who guard Him on the right hand and on the left ….”

In light of these 4 Ezra-Hermas links, it may be that the latter’s “tower” is intended to be thought of in part not only as [Page 295]the Jerusalem temple being rebuilt, but as the earthly city of Jerusalem’s restoration as well.

As we have remarked, we suspect that the main portion of 4 Ezra, chapters 3-14, is Ebionite in provenance. We do not see why chapters 1-2 could not have been written around the same general time as 3-14. The only difference is that chapters 1-2 stem from a Jewish-Christian source (perhaps from Rome or Corinth) that is distinct from the Jerusalem Ebionite trajectory reflected in chapters 3-14. Hermas, a prophet from Rome, reflects knowledge of the underlying traditions reflected throughout both 4 Ezra 1-2 and 3-14. Hermas’ thought is deeply Jacobean and therefore “Jerusalemite.” Consider his text’s many parallels to the diction and theology of the Letter of James, yet without necessarily knowing that epistle, which suggests that he was in touch with a still living oral tradition that had emanated from James the Righteous’ preaching and teaching. Neither is there any trace at all in Hermas of Pauline terminology or theology.

Furthermore, Hermas never once names the “Son of God” that he refers to; neither the name “Jesus” nor the title “Christ” occurs anywhere in the quite extensive text of the Shepherd of Hermas. Interestingly, although the Gospel of Thomas employs the name “Jesus,” the text never calls him “Christ.” This obviously overlaps with the non-Christic layer of Hermas. It may be that Hermas’ “Son of God” expresses himself more expansively than in a single individual such as Jesus. Perhaps Hermas’ Son of God is dual, as in the parable in Matthew 21:33ff. where a “servant” and a “son” are killed (alluding to Jesus and John the Baptizer), or as in Zechariah 4:14’s “two anointed,” which implies two Messiahs (cf. the hotly debated two-messiahs expectation at Qumran, and the rabbinic Messiah ben Joseph and Messiah ben David). In fact, Hermas’ “Son of God” shares a prominent feature in common with James the Righteous, for in Vision 2 we read at 4(8):1 of Lady Ecclesia (elsewhere identified as the Son of God), “and for [Page 296]her sake the world was framed.” This accords with the Thomas gospel logion 12, which describes “James the Righteous” as “the one for whose sake heaven and earth came into being.”

We know that James, like Peter and John, was called a “pillar,” literally, a “standing one,” of Jerusalem.19 Cf. Zechariah 4:14 once more: “These are the two anointed ones, that stand (העמדים) by the Lord of the whole earth.” If we read Galatians 4:24-26 in the light of Paul’s tensions with James the Righteous documented earlier in Galatians chapters 1-2, then reading verses 24-26 between the lines, so to speak, we might see hints that James was viewed as an instantiation of the celestial Jerusalem, symbolized by Sarah — just as Sarah underlies the Lady Zion/Jerusalem of 4 Ezra and the Lady Ecclesia of Hermas, as demonstrated by J. Ford-Massingberd, as we shall soon document.

We should also mention that Hermas’ “angel of righteousness” of Commandment 6 may in some way be connected to James (“Jacob” in Greek and Hebrew) the Righteous, since the patriarch Jacob was thought of as the earthly instantiation of a celestial angel named Israel, according to the Prayer of Joseph (in our view a Jewish-Christian text): “I, Jacob, who speak to you, and Israel, I am an angel of God, a ruling spirit, and Abraham and Isaac were created before every work of God ….”20 Compare the structure of “and Abraham and Isaac were created before every work of God” with that of Hermas Vision 2 4(8):1’s “she was created before all things; … and for her sake the world was framed.”

At this point we would like to mention that, as we have documented in chapter 16 of the present monograph, the Ezra [Page 297]figure of 4 Ezra has absorbed several aspects of the prophet Enoch, and 4 Ezra’s author was familiar with the Parables of Enoch. The similarities shared between 4 Ezra and Hermas open up the possibility that Hermas may have known the Parables of Enoch as well (we will demonstrate presently that he indeed did), and this might even have something to do with Hermas’ section title Parables. 1 Enoch 40:9’s angel Phanuel, “who is set over the repentance unto hope of those who inherit eternal life,” which is from Enoch’s first parable, is clearly reflected in Hermas Parable 9 13(90):3: “For all these things I gave thanks unto the Lord [cf. 1 Enoch 40:3, ‘those four presences as they uttered praises before the Lord of glory’], because He had compassion [cf. 1 Enoch 40:9, ‘Michael, the merciful and long-suffering’] on all that called upon His name [cf. 1 Enoch 40:6, ‘pray and intercede … and supplicate in the name of the Lord of Spirits’], and sent forth the angel of repentance to us that had sinned against Him, and refreshed our spirit, and, when we were already ruined and had no hope of life, restored our life.”21 Hermas’ angel of repentance is “the shepherd” after which his book is named.

Although the Parables of Enoch do not speak of a Lady Zion or Jerusalem, Lady Wisdom does make a prominent appearance in 1 Enoch 42. By contrast, 2 Enoch 55:3 refers explicitly to Jerusalem: “For to-morrow I shall go up on to heaven, to the uppermost Jerusalem to my eternal inheritance.”22 Enoch’s celestial inheritance or lot is a prominent trope scattered throughout the Parables of Enoch. We would suggest that 2 Enoch 55’s “uppermost Jerusalem” is the equivalent of 4 Ezra’s “Zion, the mother of us all,” which brings to mind Galatians [Page 298]4:26’s “the Jerusalem above” who “is our mother,” symbolized by the once barren but now fruitful Sarah. Thus 2 Enoch 55’s celestial Jerusalem is the individual personified Lady Zion, equivalent to the Lady Wisdom of 1 Enoch 42.

In this model, the transfigured Enoch, whom 3 Enoch calls Metatron, is the male partner of the feminine divine Lady Wisdom or Shekhinah, which accords with later kabbalistic paradigms.

Before continuing we should note that J. Ford-Massingberd documents in two profoundly enlightening essays how the grieving Lady Zion of 4 Ezra and the aged but subsequently rejuvenated Lady of Hermas are both built out of the figure of the matriarch Sarah, who is at first barren and elderly, yet who then becomes youthful and fecund. These same traditions contributed to various early Christian and Semitic Christian traditions, including notions concerning the Virgin Mary, traces of which are also detectable in a passage such as Revelation 12 where a celestial Lady labors to bring forth a son. Ford-Massingberd notes how Genesis Rabbah 38,14 gives Sarah the title or name “Zion.”23 We have written elsewhere, commenting on Ford-Massingberd’s two essays in question: “Hebrew literature is also fond of the wordplay between ‘sons’ (banim) and ‘builders’ (bonim). The wordplay occurs in some manuscripts of Isaiah 49:17 and 54:13. The latter, starting with verse 11, contains imagery of stones and building and this passage is referred to Sarah in Jewish tradition”:24

[Page 299]11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will set thy stones in fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.

12 And I will make thy pinnacles of rubies, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy border of precious stones.

13 And all thy children shall be taught of the lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

This gives us the background of Hermas’ visions of the tower’s construction, a symbol of the earthly Church, which is built out of stones, that is, the sons or children of the celestial Lady Ecclesia whose imagery and person are rooted in Sarah. Hermas’ choice of the term “tower” is of particular interest in light of 1 Enoch 89, which deploys the same word to describe the Temple of Jerusalem in its various instantiations. Verse 50 speaks of “a tower lofty (nāwa) and great (ʿābiy),” and explains that “the tower was elevated and lofty.” We believe that 1 Enoch 89’s terminology has influenced Hermas’ “tower” visions. Moreover, a case can be made that relevant passages in both Hermas (regarding the Lady with a book) and 1 Enoch 89 (“lofty and great”; “elevated and lofty”) have left their mark on Qurʾān sūra 43:4 which describes the “mother of the book,” umm alkitāb, as “exalted/lofty, wise,” ʿaliyyun akīm. The Mother of the Book is “wise” because she is none other than a reverberation of the Lady Wisdom of Jewish scriptural tradition.

In chapter 1 of the present monograph we explain how Enoch the Son of Man and Lady Wisdom constitute a syzygy, a supernally wedded pair. We also explain the Parables of Enoch as a pre-Mosaic inliteration of hypostatic Lady Wisdom, a veritable hypostatic Torah (a word that literally means “instruction,” “teaching”) of the seventh antediluvian [Page 300]patriarch. Just as Baruch portrays Lady Wisdom descending to earth to walk among humans in the form of the Mosaic Torah, so in 1 Enoch Lady Wisdom descends to walk upon the same earth in the form of the three Parables of Enoch. This is a sort of targumic reformulation of 1 Enoch 1:4, which itself is then restated and reformulated in 1:9, the latter verse being famously quoted in Jude 14:

4 The Holy Great One will come forth from His dwelling,
And the eternal God will tread upon the earth, (even) on Mount Sinai,
[And appear from His camp]
And appear in the strength of His might from the heaven of heavens.

9 And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones ….

According to the scenario in 1 Enoch 1, when God walks upon earth the wicked will be judged, but the righteous rewarded. According to chapter 5:8, which continues the same scene presented in chapter 1, “And then there shall be bestowed upon the elect wisdom, / And they shall all live ….” This “wisdom” is the hypostatic Lady Wisdom inliterated (that is, textually incarnated) in the form of the three Parables of Enoch, which/who, like the Mosaic Torah, bestows life, because she is the tree of life.

Enter now Joseph Smith’s story of Enoch’s end in Moses 7. We quote the passages most relevant for present purposes:

14 There also came up a land out of the depth of the sea, and so great was the fear of the enemies of the people of God, that they fled and stood afar off and went upon the land which came up out of the depth of the sea.

17 … And the Lord blessed the land ….

[Page 301]18 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.

19 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.

20 And it came to pass that Enoch talked with the Lord; and he said unto the Lord: Surely Zion shall dwell in safety forever. But the Lord said unto Enoch: Zion have I blessed, but the residue of the people have I cursed.

21 And it came to pass that the Lord showed unto Enoch all the inhabitants of the earth; and he beheld, and lo, Zion, in process of time, was taken up into heaven. And the Lord said unto Enoch: Behold mine abode forever.

23 And after that Zion was taken up into heaven, Enoch beheld, and lo all the nations of the earth were before him;

24 And there came generation upon generation; and Enoch was high and lifted up, even in the bosom of the Father, and of the Son of Man;…

27 And Enoch beheld angels descending out of heaven, bearing testimony of the Father and Son; and the Holy Ghost fell on many, and they were caught up by the powers of heaven into Zion.

28 And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?

[Page 302]29 And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?

30 And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever;

31 And thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep?

47 And behold, Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, even in the flesh; and his soul rejoiced, saying: The Righteous is lifted up, and the Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world; and through faith I am in the bosom of the Father, and behold, Zion is with me.

48 And it came to pass that Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children ….

49 And when Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept, and cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, wilt thou not have compassion upon the earth? Wilt thou not bless the children of Noah?

56 And he heard a loud voice; and the heavens were veiled; and all the creations of God mourned; and the [Page 303]earth groaned; and the rocks were rent; and the saints arose ….

58 And again Enoch wept and cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the earth rest?

62 … to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.

63 And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other;

64 And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest.

65 And it came to pass that Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, in the last days, to dwell on the earth in righteousness for the space of a thousand years;

68 And all the days of Zion, in the days of Enoch, were three hundred and sixty-five years.

69 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.

[Page 304]We find the following congruences between these verses and the Jewish and Jewish-Christian sources discussed in the first part of this chapter: Although we would not press this particular parallel too far, nevertheless Moses 7:14’s “There also came up a land out of the depth of the sea” does remind us structurally of 4 Ezra 13:3: “And I looked, and behold, this wind made something like the figure of a man come up out of the heart of the sea. And I looked, and behold, that man flew with the clouds of heaven ….” To us there seems to be an intimate connection between verse 14’s and 17’s “land” and verse 18’s “people Zion.” Verse 18’s “they were of one heart and one mind” recalls Shepherd of Hermas Parable 9, 17(94):4, “they had one understanding and one mind, and one faith became theirs and [one] love,” and 18(95):4, “the Church of God shall be one body, one understanding, one mind, one faith, one love.”25 Again, Moses 7:19’s “the people of God” strikes the reader as synonymous with the same verse’s “the City of Holiness, even Zion,” and verse 20 seems to create the same impression. In other words, by “city” the passage does not refer to streets, to stone or wood buildings, but to a group of people. This is congruent with Hermas’ tower that is constructed out of stones which symbolize human beings, in accord with, although not necessarily influenced by, 1 Peter 2:5’s “ living stones … built into a spiritual house…” a notion quite possibly influenced by Essenic thought.26

[Page 305]However, although the Moses 7 passage’s Zion possesses a communal character, such seems simultaneously inseparable from the above-documented individual celestial hypostasis called Lady Zion and Lady Wisdom, who is also the Holy Spirit and Shekhinah, all specializations of Asherah,27 who is but a vestige of the earlier indigenous Mother Earth, who has been transformed in a “citified” Ancient Near Eastern mode. Consequently, when we read in verse 21, “and lo, Zion, in process of time, was taken up into heaven. And the Lord said unto Enoch: Behold mine abode forever,” Zion’s ascent may be compared to the ascent of Lady Wisdom in 1 Enoch 42:2: “Wisdom returned to her place, / And took her seat among the angels.” In the Enochic Parables, just as Lady Wisdom ascends to heaven, so her masculine counterpart, the seventh antediluvian patriarch, ascends to heaven, as is so dramatically related in 1 Enoch 70-71. Such a dual ascent seems to us to be depicted in Moses 7:23-24:

23 And after that Zion was taken up into heaven, Enoch beheld, and lo, all the nations of the earth were before him;

24 And there came generation upon generation; and Enoch was high and lifted up, even in the bosom of the Father, and of the Son of Man ….

Significantly, after Enoch ascends to heaven in 1 Enoch 71, he is named “the Son of Man,” the title we find in verse 24 cited above. Verse 24’s “bosom of the Father” from a Syrian Jewish-Christian perspective would be the Holy Spirit (= Lady Wisdom) as celestial Mother and Spouse (cf. Odes of Solomon 19). Even in the Parables of Enoch Lady Wisdom ascends before [Page 306]the patriarch and scribe does, so that one might indeed think of his ascent as a delayed (temporally viewed) journey to Lady Wisdom in heaven. The Father’s bosom as the maternal Holy Spirit in verse 24 would lend intelligibility to the mention of “the Holy Ghost” in verse 27. Interestingly, in verse 28 there begins an accentuation upon the divine sorrow and weeping, which recalls the sorrowing Lady Zion of 4 Ezra, suggesting that in Moses 7 the weeping is being carried out by God in a feminine mode equivalent to Lady Zion. The femininity of this weeping would then be linked to the previous verse’s “Holy Ghost,” again the celestial Mother. Even though the Holy Ghost in Mormon tradition is thought of as being of the appearance of “a man,” this could arguably be interpreted in a more inclusive sense of “human,” and it is certainly the case that the divine Spirit appears at times in masculine mode and at other times in feminine mode in both Jewish and Jewish-Christian sources. Recall that for Hermas the Holy Spirit who is Lady Ecclesia is simultaneously the masculine “Son of God,” and the latter is also the angel Michael according to Hermas, all of which lends weight to the authenticity of the tradition in the Coptic Cyril Gospel of the Hebrews citation which declares that the earthly Mary pre-existed in heaven as the angel Michael. We could thus compare the pair Enoch-Metatron with the dual Mary-Michael.

In verse 29 Enoch asks the Lord why he weeps, just as in 4 Ezra the prophet asks Lady Zion why she weeps. The Lord’s weeping, as we have argued, is performed by God in feminine mode. This makes sense of verse 56’s resurrection of saints, for the combination of the feminine maternal Spirit weeping and a subsequent resurrection suggests that in part the weeping occurs in the form of the groans of the resurrection-birth (recall that resurrection is called a birth in both Acts 13:33 and Revelation 12:2 and 5). This recalls Romans 8, where alluding to the general resurrection Paul speaks of the divine Spirit in [Page 307]the feminine mode of a mother in the pains of birth. Romans 8:22 refers to the groaning and travail of the creation (which would encompass both the heavens and the earth, with which we may compare Moses 7:56’s “the heavens were veiled; and all the creations of God mourned; and the earth groaned”); in Romans 8:26, the Spirit groans in travail. Obviously Paul here is thinking of the Holy Spirit as an expectant mother, and he presupposes the traditional notion of Mother Earth in verse 22 and holds her to be a symbol of the divine Mother, the Holy Spirit.

Moses 7:30’s “thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever” is of interest as well. The divine bosom is the source, not of God’s justice (cf. “also thou art just”), but of God’s mercy and kindness. Verse 30 links together God’s “bosom” — which word (kolpos) in John 1:18 means “womb” — together with the trope “thou art merciful and kind.” This gives us an intriguing parallel to the Islamic basmala, that is, bi smi llāhi l-raḥmāni l-raḥīm(i): “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,” which could just as well be rendered, “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Kind.” The two divine names al-raḥmān and al-raḥīm, the Merciful and the Compassionate, are both derived from the Arabic word for “womb,” raḥm (the same holds true for their Hebrew cognates),28 which may also be rendered “bosom” if we wish to employ older English parlance. Enoch’s proclamation in verse 47, “through faith I am in the bosom of the Father, and behold, Zion is with me,” indicates an equivalency, even theological identification, between the Father’s bosom and Zion. In verse 48, the earth weeps (cf. 4 Ezra 10:9, “Now ask the earth, and she will tell you that it is she who ought to mourn”), and she [Page 308]is called “the mother of men,” which accords with Lady Zion’s description in 4 Ezra 10:7 as “the mother of us all” who is in mourning. In verse 56 the personified Earth groans and the saints are raised, which brings us back to Romans 8. Here it would be instructive to quote Tecumseh: “The sun is my father and the earth is my mother. On her bosom I will rest.”29

Verse 62 speaks of “a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City … there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.” According to verse 63, God’s people referred to in verse 62 as “my people” will be met by Enoch and Enoch’s “city,” which in the context, we would argue again, is meant in the sense of people, not of crass stone or wood buildings or of city streets. Verse 64 again seems to establish a synonymy between Mother Earth and Lady Zion: “And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion and … the earth shall rest.” The preceding verse 63 seems to describe a union between the earthly and the heavenly saints who are both merged into the divine “bosom” or womb, which, as we have argued, alludes on various levels to the Holy Spirit, Lady Zion, and Lady Wisdom. This all recalls the Parables of Enoch’s trope of the intimate union that subsists between the individual Chosen One, who is the Son of Man, and the plural chosen ones. In 1 Enoch 71:16 the Son of Man and his followers are clearly all joined together in some mystical mode:

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 for ever and ever and ever.

[Page 309]This scenario of a virtual mystical union between God, the Son of Man, and the latter’s followers is anticipated already in the third Parable in 1 Enoch 62:

14 And the Lord of Spirits will abide over them,30
And with that Son of Man shall they eat
And lie down and rise up for ever and ever.

To appropriate Hermas’ terminology, not only are Enoch’s people “one body, one understanding, one mind, one faith, one love,” but Enoch and his people constitute an inseparable mystical unity, a single spiritual organism or entity which can be described by the mytheme of the Pauline dogma of the church as body and Christ as head of that same body. There can be only a single individual in such a case, which is far more profound a unity than the one denoted by a mere grammatical collective singular. This mystical union between Enoch’s people called “Zion” and the patriarch himself is powerfully intimated by verse 68: “And all the days of Zion, in the days of Enoch, were three hundred and sixty-five years.” The concluding verse 69 is especially rich: “And Enoch and all his people walked with God,” that is, as a single mystical organism, “and he dwelt in the midst of Zion;” — this could mean both that Enoch dwelt in the midst of his people (which would be impossible to avoid given the corporate mystical union between them) and that Enoch was united with the Lady Wisdom of 1 Enoch 42, which may be equivalent to the hypostatic Righteousness of 1 Enoch 71:14, “And righteousness abides over him,” and 16, “righteousness never forsaketh him,” since 1 Enoch 48:1 establishes the synonymy of wisdom and righteousness: “And in that place I saw the fountain of righteousness / Which was inexhaustible: / And around it were many fountains of wisdom ….” This should be understood as follows: “And in that place I [Page 310]saw the fountain that belongs to Lady Righteousness / Which was inexhaustible: / And around it were many fountains that belong to Lady Wisdom ”

Moses 7:69 concludes, “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.” Clearly, from the context of the entire chapter “Zion” denotes the people of Enoch, so that Zion being received into the divine bosom or womb does not refer to any city buildings, streets, etc., but to the Enochic saints who are virtual hypostases of Enoch. Enoch and his people form a single mystical person. This would seem to be both presupposed and confirmed by the statement, “Zion is Fled,” for this implies not that one individual named Enoch vanished together with a second and separate collectivity of his followers, but that only a single entity ascended to heaven, whom we may designate enoch-zion, or perhaps even as a single word, enochzion. With the fleeing or disappearance of Zion, we may compare 4 Ezra 10:27, where the weeping woman, who is really Mother Jerusalem, vanishes and becomes a city: “And I looked, and behold, the woman was no longer visible to me, but there was an established city.”

We believe that the general thrust of our exegesis can be strengthened by the famous vision of the tree of life in 1 Nephi 11:

8 And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me: Look! And I looked and beheld a tree; and it was like unto the tree which my father had seen; and the beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow.

9 And it came to pass after I had seen the tree, I said unto the Spirit: I behold thou hast shown unto me the tree which is precious above all.

[Page 311]10 And he said unto me: What desirest thou?

11 And I said unto him: To know the interpretation thereof — for I spake unto him as a man speaketh; for I beheld that he was in the form of a man; yet nevertheless, I knew that it was the Spirit of the Lord; and he spake unto me as a man speaketh with another.

12 And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look! And I looked as if to look upon him, and I saw him not; for he had gone from before my presence.

13 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.

14 And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou?

15 And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.

16 And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?

17 And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.

18 And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.

19 And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away [Page 312]in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!

20 And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.

21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?

22 And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.

25 … and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.

26 And the angel said unto me again: Look and behold the condescension of God!

27 And I looked and beheld the Redeemer of the world, of whom my father had spoken; and I also beheld the prophet who should prepare the way before him. And the Lamb of God went forth and was baptized of him; and after he was baptized, I beheld the heavens open, and the Holy Ghost come down out of heaven and abide upon him in the form of a dove.

Before commenting on these verses, we would like to cite verse 1 of the same text:

For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, [Page 313]which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.

This is quite close to the situation we find at the beginning of the Shepherd of Hermas:

… as I walked I fell asleep. And a Spirit took me, and bore me away through a pathless tract, through which no man could pass: for the place was precipitous, and broken into clefts by reason of the waters. When then I had crossed the river, I came into the level country.

Nephi’s request for an interpretation of the tree of life goes unanswered in any direct mode via speech from an angel or the Spirit. But clearly verse 13 forcefully denotes that the tree has many specializations or hypostases that are theologically equivalent to said tree. Among them are verse 13’s “great city of Jerusalem,” which is easily equivalent to Moses 7’s Lady Zion, “the city of Nazareth,” which can be called Lady Nazareth (there is no rule that tells us only Zion or Jerusalem can be a celestial Lady), and the Virgin Mary. This implies a theological and hypostatic equivalency and continuity between the tree of life, Lady Jerusalem, Lady Nazareth, and the Virgin Mary. These are all ultimately specializations or refractions of Asherah, a dim reflection of the earlier indigenous Mother Earth. We know that the Gospel of the Hebrews apparently portrayed the Virgin Mary as the Holy Spirit or at least as the latter’s celestial counterpart or spiritual double/twin, given that Jesus there speaks of “my mother, the Holy Spirit,” and indeed verses 18 and 19 of the Nephi tree of life vision refer to Mary and the Spirit respectively. Verses 22 and 25 explain that the tree is the love of God, which is congruent with the feminine imagery that enframes the vision and its interpretation.

The vision concludes in verse 27 with the descent of the Holy Spirit at Jesus’ baptism in the form of a dove, which harks back [Page 314]to Jewish exegesis that sees in the “Spirit of God” of Genesis 1:2 a divine mother bird hovering over the waters of chaos (an image mirrored in the opening scenes of the indigenous Finnish Kalevala). The diction of verse 27 here is suggestive, “I beheld the heavens open, and the Holy Ghost come down out of heaven and abide upon him in the form of a dove,” because this accords well with 1 Enoch 71:14’s statement about the glorified Enoch, the Son of Man: “And righteousness abides over him.” Again, this is likely a hypostatic Righteousness, none other than Lady Wisdom who is the Holy Spirit. Thus we come full circle.

We should mention that 4 Ezra 2 combines the images and themes of the divine mother, Mother Jerusalem, and the tree of life both as a single tree and as twelve trees:

12 The tree of life shall give them fragrant perfume, and they shall neither toil nor become weary.

17 Do not fear, mother of sons, for I have chosen you, says the Lord.

18 I will send you help, my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah. According to their counsel I have consecrated and prepared for you twelve trees loaded with various fruits,

19 and the same number of springs flowing with milk and honey, and seven mighty mountains on which roses and lilies grow; by these I will fill your children with joy.

With this we may compare the twelve mountains of Hermas Parable 9 and the six mountains of 1 Enoch 52, the latter being partly inspired by the seven mountains of 1 Enoch 17-19 and 24-26. Especially relevant is 1 Enoch 24:4:

[Page 315]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 blooms and wood wither not for ever.

This has shaped Hermas Parable 8’s tree upon a mountain, and this tree, which is obviously the tree of life, is identified in good Jacobean (Jamesian) fashion as both the Torah (“law”) and as the Son of God, that is, the tree of life is both the feminine Lady Torah or Wisdom and the masculine Son of God, in general accord with Hermas’ overall androgynous theology:

1(67):1 He showed me a [great] willow, overshadowing plains and mountains, and under the shadow of the willow all have come who are called by the name of the Lord.

3(69):2 “Listen,” saith he; “this great tree which overshadows plains and mountains and all the earth is the law of God which was given to the whole world; and this law is the Son of Cod preached unto the ends of the earth. But the people that are under the shadow are they that have heard the preaching, and believed on Him.”

This same androgynous model surfaces in 2 Clement 14,31 a passage obviously cognate with the theology of Hermas:

[Page 316]Wherefore, brethren, if we do the will of God our Father, we shall be of the first Church, which is spiritual, which was created before the sun and the moon And I do not suppose ye are ignorant that the living Church is the body of Christ: for the scripture saith, God made man, male and female. The male is Christ and the female is the Church. And the Books and the Apostles plainly declare that the Church existeth not now for the first time, but hath been from the beginning: for she was spiritual, as our Jesus also was spiritual, but was manifested in the last days that He might save us.32

Theodore A. Bergren translates the last statement more accurately as “that she might save us.”33 Part of the eschatological salvation effected by Lady Ecclesia comes in the form of Mother Jerusalem’s children’s alleviation from toil and weariness spoken of in the lately quoted 4 Ezra 2:12, as well as verse 18’s “help” and verse 19’s “milk and honey” and “joy.” All of these constitute elements of the eschatological “comfort” promised Lady Zion and her children throughout Isaiah, as documented in this chapter’s first section. This comfort is personified in the maternal entity known as the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, in John chapters 14 16. Although the trope of comfort is lacking in the Parables of Enoch, cognate themes are noticeable there, namely, that of “rest” and “peace,” as we see in 53:7, “And the righteous shall have rest ” and 45:6, “For I have provided and satisfied with peace My righteous ones / And have caused them to dwell before Me.”

[Page 317]It is not impossible that Joseph Smith may have known the Parables of Enoch, since Richard Laurence’s English version of 1 Enoch was published in 1821, a version of which was published in America in 1828.34 However, it is not necessary to resolve such an historical question (on which we do not claim to be an expert, and which we therefore consider an open question) in order to appreciate Moses 7 and the Nephi vision of the tree of life as integral texts within themselves and in the form in which they have been transmitted. In any case, from the perspective of Christian theology, Jesus’ acquaintance with the historical Tanakh does not detract from the genius of his teachings that are based upon and inspired by his reading of the Torah scroll, for example. In the end, perhaps history is not as important as the sacred kingdom of the symbol and of the imaginal, to invoke a term coined by Henry Corbin.35 This of course is not to say that history doesn’t matter, but it is to put the larger picture of things into a clearer perspective, and indeed the imaginal (which is by no means a pejorative term and which does not denote the valence “fictive”) and the perspectival overlap significantly. In any case, it might prove fruitful to apply to Joseph Smith’s modern-era Enoch writings Michael Stone’s model whereby he posits that at least some ancient post-canonical literature (especially a work like 4 Ezra) may have been created under the impact of visionary [Page 318]experiences rather than having been authored exclusively by imitating previous literary works.36

Moses 7:30 refers to “millions of earths like this,” and verse 31 speaks of “all thy creations.” This reminds us of the holy Zohar I:5a which teaches that each time the Torah is interpreted in an esoteric sense, that interpretation ascends in the form of a feminine hypostatic word to God and 70,000 new worlds are created from the interpretation that (or more precisely, “who”) has ascended. The Derridean trope of text as world (cf. the notion of “there is nothing outside text”) in this manner receives a fresh and startling layer of meaning. For the Zohar, all heavens and all earths are exegetical worlds that spring into being through the interpreted word. (In modern physics terms we would say that the cosmos, “its,” consists of information, “bits”). This is eminently compatible with the rabbinic tradition which holds that God created the world by reading the Torah, a notion ultimately based on Proverbs 8’s record of Lady Wisdom, who as the hypostatic Torah can be called Lady Torah, who assisted God in creation, effected by God’s spoken word of command, “Let there be!”

To create is to build, to construct, to arrange, to put in order, or in Genesis terms, to bring order out of chaos. Enoch builds a city who is Lady Zion, but Lady Zion is not other than Lady Wisdom who is Lady Torah. On one level we could posit that Enoch therefore builds by means of Lady Torah, just as God creates via her (a refraction of Genesis’ account of creation being effected through the spoken word). However, on a deeper level, and one more congruent with Jewish tradition, we can say that Enoch builds Lady Torah herself, that is, he composes [Page 319]his trifold Parables which constitute the Enochic hypostatic (oral) Torah.37 To build the “city of holiness,” which may be seen as a cipher for “Spirit of holiness” (the Holy Spirit), is to write and to interpret the text of Lady Torah. This agrees with tradition’s portrayal of Enoch as the “scribe” of righteousness. Contextually read, the Gospel of Thomas logion 32 portrays the act of interpretation (here specifically of Jesus’ secret words, based on Jesus’ distinctive interpretation of the Torah) as a city (no doubt Jerusalem, that is, hypostatic Lady or Mother Jerusalem) being built on a high mountain, and this exegetical city cannot be hidden, which alludes to Thomas’ trope of the meaning of Jesus’ secret words being manifestly or openly revealed: “Jesus said: ‘A city that is being built upon a lofty mountain and being strengthened cannot fall, neither can she be hidden.’” This is immediately followed in logion 33, which insists on not hiding the light but preaching or proclaiming it. Logion 32’s city on a lofty mountain immediately calls to mind 1 Enoch 87:3, “And those three that had last come forth grasped me by my hand and took me up, away from the generations of the earth, and raised me up to a lofty place, and showed me a tower raised high above the earth, and all the hills were lower,” and 89:50, “a tower lofty and great was built on the house for the Lord of the sheep, and that house was low, but the tower was elevated and lofty, and the Lord of the sheep stood on that tower.”

The one who finds the meaning of Jesus’ secret sayings must proclaim or make known their explanation. In logion 56 finding the meaning of Jesus’ secret words is likened to finding a corpse. This in part harks back to the model we find in 4 Ezra 10, where the scribe is troubled and becomes like a corpse before finding the interpretation and meaning of secrets:

[Page 320]30 and behold, I lay there like a corpse and I was deprived of my understanding.38 Then he grasped my right hand and strengthened me and set me on my feet, and said to me,

31 “What is the matter with you? And why are you troubled? And why are your understanding and the thoughts of your mind troubled?”

38 He answered me and said, “Listen to me and I will inform you, and tell you about the things which you fear, for the Most High has revealed many secrets to you.”

In zoharic terms, Enoch can be said to build the Knesset Israel, the Assembly of Israel. In the Zohar, the Knesset Israel is simultaneously both the individual celestial Shekhinah, the divine feminine, and the earthly community of Jews. This is deeply similar to Paul’s model of the mystical union that subsists between Christ and the Church, which is no doubt based in part on ancient Jewish esoteric notions. It is as if the people of Israel are the earthly embodiment (or incarnation) of the Holy Spirit, Shekhinah, just as Enoch together with his followers, “the chosen ones,” constitute a single mystical organism according to the Parables of Enoch. As we have seen, in the Parables, Enoch is similarly inseparable from Lady Wisdom; her ascent in 1 Enoch 42 and the patriarch’s ascent in chapters 70-71 are but two sides of a single exegetical coin or mythologoumenon.

According to Genesis 4:17 Enoch the son of Cain “built a city,” which Genesis sees as a sign of human decadence. This Enoch was the father of Irad (עירד). This stands in contrast to [Page 321]Enoch son of Jared (ירד) who “walked with God and was not, for God took him,” according to Genesis 5:24. It seems as if the rabbis sensed some sort of hidden connection between these two Enochs, and this may help explain some of the rabbinic reticence when it came to the figure of Enoch. To build a city and to write a text are both signs of the city life that the Genesis author sees as a betrayal of the original divine ideal for humans. 1 Enoch 69:9-10 ascribes the invention of writing to the fallen Watcher Penemue: “And he instructed mankind in writing with ink and paper, and thereby many sinned from eternity to eternity and until this day. For men were not created for such a purpose, to give confirmation to their good faith with pen and ink.” (Ironically, according to Islamic tradition, it was Enoch who invented writing). Incidentally, this might indicate that the Parables of Enoch, of which 1 Enoch 69 forms a part, were originally composed and used strictly as oral texts intended for liturgical use, as Nickelsburg suggests.39

We would propose that such ambivalent feelings about the invention of writing in part explains the negative imagery of the “corpse” in both 4 Ezra 10 (and its Danielic inspirations) and the Thomas gospel involved in the act of textual interpretation. Scrolls (including those for the Torah) were made out of the hides of animal corpses. In contrast to this, the original Lady Wisdom was instantiated in the form of a living tree, namely, the tree of life. Glaringly, the Second Temple is of no concern to the author/s of the Parables of Enoch, and the Apocalypse of Weeks avoids direct mention of it, but 1 Enoch 91:11 seems to allude to it, but only as a “foundation of violence” and “structure of deceit.”40 Perhaps in part this reflects a nostalgia [Page 322]for the days of the original mobile tabernacle in the desert, which is more compatible with humanity’s hunter and gatherer origins, which was replaced later by the sedentary temple, necessarily in a context of civilization (i.e., citification), which Genesis implies is a betrayal of the more nomadic and simple or local pastoral mode of life envisaged as the original divine ideal for humanity. In this connection it is worth recalling that Moses 7:62 specifically speaks of a tabernacle, not of a temple: “a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City … there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.”

Enoch, the masculine counterpart of the feminine Lady Wisdom, lived “at the ends of the earth” (1 Enoch 106:8), away from civilization. He is like the Lady Wisdom of 1 Enoch 42:2: “Wisdom went forth to make her dwelling among the children of men, /And found no dwelling-place.” Where do Enoch and Lady Wisdom find their dwelling-place? The answer may be found in 1 Enoch 39:7, which says of the Chosen One: “I saw his dwelling-place under the wings of the Lord of Spirits.” At the ends of the earth Enoch lives closer to the animals than to humans, which is to say he abides with the angels (cf. 1 Enoch 42:2, according to which Lady Wisdom has “her place” and “seat among the angels”), who are called “animals” both throughout Ezekiel 1 (ayot) and in Mark 1:13 (thēriōn).41 The most prominent anatomical animal aspect of the angels is of course their bird wings (see 1 Enoch 61:1 where the angels “took to themselves wings and flew”). When the Lord of Spirits is pictured as having wings in 1 Enoch 39:7, this should be taken seriously and in an indigenous sense, and must not be vitiated by positing any purely “symbolic,” “metaphorical,” or “poetic” valence. In this context we are reminded of an [Page 323]Arapaho Ghost Dance song, on which note we will bring our Enochic observations to an end:

My father, my father —
I am looking at him,
I am looking at him.
He is beginning to turn into a bird,
He is beginning to turn into a bird.42

 

1. Harold Bloom, Omens of Millennium: The Gnosis of Angels, Dreams, and Resurrection (NY: Riverhead Books, 1996), p. 70. He repeats the same language on pp. 224-225: “This most American of religions.”

2. Ibid., p. 224.

3. Ibid., p. 3.

4. On the genocide of the first peoples of “America,” see David Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World (Oxford/NY: Oxford University Press, 1992).

5. Harold Bloom, Omens of Millennium: The Gnosis of Angels, Dreams, and Resurrection, p. 46.

6. Ibid., p. 80. For a more skeptical view of kabbalistic influences on Joseph Smith, see William J. Hamblin, “‘Everything Is Everything’: Was Joseph Smith Influenced by Kabbalah?” FARMS Review of Books 8/2 (1996): pp. 251–325. We thank Jeffrey M. Bradshaw for supplying us with a copy of Hamblin’s review. Bloom’s qualifying term “evidently” arguably suggests that the question of historical influences of kabbalah upon Joseph Smith is not an entirely settled matter in Bloom’s own opinion.

7. Ibid., p. 225. Bloom’s emphasis “Their” refers to those called “Reorganized Mormons” led by Joseph Smith’s direct descendants.

8. This communal nature of Zion is deftly examined by David J. Larsen, “Enoch and the City of Zion: Can an Entire Community Ascend to Heaven?” BYU Studies Quarterly 53, no. 1 (2014): pp. 25-37.

9. We personally advocate this term be replaced with “deuterepigrapha,” coined by us in analogy to “deutero-Pauline” and ”deuterocanonical.”

10. We qualify the taxonomy “Jewish Christian” because not all early Semitic groups that followed Jesus considered him to be the Messiah or Christ; we see this trend in the Gospel of Thomas and in the Hebrew version of the Gospel of Matthew preserved by Shem-Tob; see George Howard, Hebrew Gospel of Matthew (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1995). Others saw Jesus as a teacher, the true prophet (this was the Ebionites’ position), or as Messiah designate, that is, he would become the Messiah in the apocalyptic future. Alternatively, some Jewish Christians held that Jesus had not been the Messiah during his earthly ministry but became such upon his ascension (traces of this idea are preserved in the early chapters of Acts). Others understood the human Jesus as separate from the celestial Messiah with whom the former was united (we see this in the Odes of Solomon and among some early Ebionite positions alluded to already in 1 Corinthians and 1 John). We discuss these topics at length in Samuel Zinner, The Gospel of Thomas in the Light of Early Jewish, Christian and Islamic Esoteric Trajectories (London: Matheson Trust, 2011).

11. See Daniel C. Matt, The Zohar. Vol. 1. Pritzker Edition (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2001), p. 22.

12. In this chapter all of our Tanakh citations are taken from the 1917 Jewish Publication Society Tanakh.

13. All of our citations from the so-called Apocrypha are taken from the RSV.

14. The Gospel of Thomas logion 3 transforms this personified Torah and Lady Wisdom into the divine “kingdom,” which agrees with the later kabbalistic portrayal of the sefirah Malkhut, Kingdom, as a specialization of the feminine divine personified presence known as Shekhinah, who is also the Holy Spirit.

15. “All who hold her fast will live, and those who forsake her will die.” Cf. Thomas logion 1, “Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not taste of death,” and Thomas logion 3, “But if you fail to know yourselves then you will persist in poverty and you will become that poverty.”

16. On such questions in general, see James R. Davila, The Provenance of the Pseudepigrapha: Jewish, Christian or Other? (Leiden: Brill, 2005).

17. J. B. Lightfoot translation.

18. The constellation of being “troubled” followed by revelation of secrets is paralleled in the Thomas gospel’s incipit and logia 1-2, which immediately precede the already-mentioned logion 3, which confirms Thomas’ underlying Judaic wisdom matrix. Note that the meaning of the name Hermas would have been understood to mean “the Interpreter,” which would have relevance for Thomas logion 1, “Whoever finds the interpretation ….”

19. See David Wenham and A. D. A. Moses, “‘There Are Some Standing Here ’ Did They Become the ‘Reputed Pillars’ of the Jerusalem Church? Some Reflections on Mark 9:1, Galatians 2:9 and the Transfiguration,” Novum Testamentum 36, 2 (1994): pp. 146-163.

20. Allen Menzies, ed., The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Vol. IX (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1912), p. 341.

21. Surprisingly, in his commentary on the Parables of Enoch, Nickelsburg overlooks all of these Hermas-1 Enoch 40 correspondences; see George W. E. Nickelsburg; James C. VanderKam, 1 Enoch 2: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 37-82 (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress Press, 2011), pp. 130-134.

22. R. H. Charles edition.

23. J. Ford-Massingberd, “A Possible Liturgical Background to the Shepherd of Hermas,” Revue de Qumran vol. 6, no. 24 (March 1969): pp. 531-551, and idem, “‘Thou art Abraham and upon this Rock…’” The Heythrop Journal (July 1965): pp. 289-301.

24. Samuel Zinner, Self and Other in the Abrahamic Religions: Explorations in German Romanticism and Jewish Mysticism (London: Matheson Trust, forthcoming), p. 214.

25. Although this is similar to language found in Ephesians, Hermas does not depend on Ephesians here, as is ably demonstrated by Joseph Verheyden, “The Shepherd of Hermas and the Writings that later formed the New Testament,” Andrew F. Gregory, Christopher Tuckett, eds., The Reception of the New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers (Oxford/NY: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 293-329, and John Muddiman, “The Church in Ephesians, 2 Clement, and the Shepherd of Hermas,” Andrew F. Gregory, Christopher Tuckett, eds., Trajectories through the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers (Oxford/NY: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 107-121, especially pp. 117-118.

26. See e.g., 1QS, the Rule of the Community, Col. VIII, 7-9.

27. For one particular Mormon exegete’s work who sees Asherah in the Book of Mormon, see Daniel C. Peterson, “Nephi and His Asherah,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9/2 (2000): pp. 16–25, 80–81. We thank Jeffrey M. Bradshaw for supplying us with a copy of Peterson’s essay.

28. We discuss these divine names and their etymology in Samuel Zinner, The Praeparatio Islamica: An Historical Reconstruction, with Philological-Exegetical Commentary on Selected Qurʾānic Āyāt Based on Ancient Hebrew, Syro-Aramaic, Mandaic, Samaritan and Hellenistic Literatures (London: Matheson Trust, forthcoming).

29. James Mooney, The Ghost Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890. Fourteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology. Part 2 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1896), p. 721.

30. Cf. “shall abide over them” with 1 Enoch 71:14, “And righteousness abides over him.”

31. Going against the grain of general scholarship, Karl Paul Donfried, The Setting of Second Clement in Early Christianity (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1974) presents good evidence to conclude that 2 Clement is a first-century CE work from Corinth that dates to a time soon after 1 Clement.

32. Lightfoot version.

33. See Theodore A. Bergren, “Mother Jerusalem, Mother Church: Desolation and Restoration in Early Jewish and Christian Literature,” in Esther G. Chazon, David Satran and Ruth A. Clements, eds., Things Revealed: Studies in Early Jewish and Christian Literature in Honor of Michael E. Stone (Leiden: Brill, 2004), pp. 243-259, specifically p. 257; emphasis added.

34. For one Mormon’s view on this question, see the extremely interesting and intriguing comments (especially those regarding Matthew Black) in Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, “Sorting Out the Sources of Scripture,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 9 (2014): pp. 215-272, especially pp. 254-257. We thank the author for supplying us with a copy of his essay. For a contrary view, see Salvatore Cirillo, Joseph Smith, Mormonism and Enochic Tradition (2010). Durham theses, Durham University: <http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/236/>. Accessed 9 June 2014.

35. Cf. as well Paul’s Middle Platonic dictum, “for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

36. See the chapter, “Apocalyptic — Vision or Hallucination?” in Michael E. Stone, Selected Studies in Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha (Leiden: Brill 1991), pp. 419-428. See also the following work fundamentally influenced by Stone’s thesis in this regard, Angela Kim Harkins, Reading with an “I” to the Heavens: Looking at the Qumran Hodayot through the Lens of Visionary Traditions (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2012).

37. We may perhaps compare the three Parables of Enoch with the later threefold division of the Tanakh, namely, Torah, Neviʿim, and Ketuvim.

38. This is inspired by Daniel’s being troubled (Daniel 2:1, 3; 7:15, 28) and his sick prostration (8:27). Thomas’ being troubled (logion 2) as a stage of knowledge has nothing to do with Greek philosophy, but is purely Danielic and Ezran in origin.

39. See George W. E. Nickelsburg; James C. VanderKam, 1 Enoch 2: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 37-82, pp. 37-38.

40. See George W. E. Nickelsburg, “The Temple according to 1 Enoch,” <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8knRHDarss>. Accessed 8 June 2014. However, “foundation” and “structure” may also allude to the activities of scriptural exegesis.

41. On Mark 1:13’s animals as angels, see Margaret Barker, The Revelation of Jesus Christ Which God Gave to Him to Show to His Servants What Must Soon Take Place (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996), p. 211.

42. James Mooney, The Ghost Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890, p. 973.

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About Samuel Zinner

Samuel Zinner (Ph.D. University of Nebraska-Lincoln) is a multidisciplinary researcher and Holocaust scholar who contributed to German Scholars and Ethnic Cleansing 1920-1945 (Oxford/NY: Berghahn Books, 2004), which was awarded the American Library Association’s prestigious “Choice Outstanding Academic Book of the Year Award” for 2005. His books and essays on ancient and modern history and literature have been published internationally in a variety of languages. He has contributed articles to Holocaust and Genocide Studies (Oxford University Press), Religions/Adyan (Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue), and other academic journals. He is currently engaged in researching American indigenous history and culture.

3 thoughts on ““Zion” and “Jerusalem” as Lady Wisdom in Moses 7 and Nephi’s Tree of Life Vision

  1. Wonderful article.
    Have you noted the blessings of Judah and Joseph by Jacob?
    If Wisdom or Zion is Jehovah’s syzygy, she cannot be The Mother. If The Mother is The Tree of Life that cherubims guard from men and The Tree that returns in the heavenly city, Wisdom must be aman, or surrogate, as Christ is surrogate for The Father. Wisdom is noted as being a brook or stream of water, possibly the arm of the Lord. Anyone can become a tree of life by keeping Torah, Psalm 1.
    Have you considered that the Song of Solomon is not inspired scripture for the members of the church, but is rather a private note?

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