Book of Moses Essay #25
With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw
Within the Book of Moses, the stories of rescue and exaltation in the accounts of Noah and Enoch share a common motif of water. On one hand, Noah’s waters are the waters of destruction, the floods of an all-consuming deluge that cleanses the earth as a prelude to a new creation.1 On the other hand, Enoch’s waters are the waters of sorrow, the bitter tears that precede the terrible annihilating storm. Indeed, in the vision of Enoch found in Joseph Smith’s revelations, not one but three distinct parties weep for the wickedness of mankind: God,2 the heavens,3 and Enoch himself.4 In addition, a fourth party, the earth, complains and mourns—though does not specifically “weep”—for her children.5
The present Essay gives a general overview of the “chorus of weeping” described in the first part of what has been called Enoch’s “Grand Vision.”6 Subsequent Essays will discuss affinities in the ancient Enoch literature and in the laments of Jeremiah to the detailed descriptions of the individual members of this chorus we read about in Moses 7.
Isaiah 1 and Deuteronomy 32 as Models for Structuring the First Part of Enoch’s Vision
The structure of the first part of Enoch’s Grand Vision is a beautiful example of a general model best exemplified in two classic chapters of the Old Testament: Isaiah 1 and Deuteronomy 32. Before discussing these two chapters as models for Enoch’s vision, we will give some general background on them and their relationship to each other.
Ronald Bergey describes Isaiah 1 as “a case of early intertextuality” with Deuteronomy 32.7 Evidence indicates that both of these texts are very old. Despite controversy about the dating of other chapters in Isaiah, the first chapter is regarded by most contemporary scholars as belonging to “major collections of judgment speeches authentic to the prophet Isaiah ben Amoz.”8 As for the Song of Moses (Shirat Ha’azinu) that is found in Deuteronomy 32:1–43, it is thought to be “an independent composition, older than the rest of Deuteronomy,”9 “perhaps considerably older.”10
Referring to controversies about the genre of Isaiah 1, John F. Hobbins wisely cautions against pigeon-holing prophetic speeches into rigid categories:11
In my view, the greatest stumbling block to understanding is created by the false expectation that prophetic speech will adhere to any conventions beyond its own in a sustained and predictable fashion. To the contrary, prophetic discourse exploits whatever genres and topoi serve its purposes without reproducing them in full or slavishly following them. In [Isaiah] 1:2–20, notions of a deity calling on heaven and earth to witness a grievance against a client nation; of a relationship of privilege and obligation established by a deity on a nation’s behalf, whereby he is understood as father and they as sons; of procedures a parent might follow when faced with a wayward and defiant son; … and of conceivable resolutions to a quarrel between two parties, are all exploited for rhetorical ends.12
Below we will give an overview of the structure for the first part of Enoch’s Grand Vision contained in Moses 7:18–41 (see Appendix for a provisional version of the full structure), highlighting themes similar to some of those mentioned by Hobbins above in his outline of Isaiah 1, including:
· God’s call for heaven and earth to witness His grievance
· The relationship of privilege and obligation entailed by a Father and His children
· The actions God will take in view of the wayward and defiant state of His children
· God’s proposal for a merciful resolution of their troubles
Analogues to each of these themes will be seen in the summary below. In our discussion, we will draw liberally from the analyses of Hobbins and others to demonstrate how Enoch’s grand vision, like Deuteronomy 32 and Isaiah 1, artfully combines seemingly contradictory aspects of God’s “justice” and “mercy” within a single passage.
1. Zion Is Blessed, But the Residue of the People Is Cursed
The passage opens with a statement by Enoch that serves as a prologue to and catalyst for the vision. Rejoicing in the happy fate of his people, Enoch exulted: “Surely Zion shall dwell in safety forever.”13 God’s reply was a gentle rebuke, affirming Enoch’s hopes for Zion while reminding him that His Fatherly care extends beyond the righteous to those who suffer because of their wickedness: “Zion have I blessed, but the residue of the people have I cursed.”14 With “all the nations of the earth … before him,”15 Enoch witnessed that “the power of Satan was upon all the face of the earth”16 “generation upon generation.”17 Though “many … were caught up by the powers of heaven into Zion,” 18 after the testimony of angels, “Satan … had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness.”19
2. The Heavens Weep for the Residue of the People—God’s Children and Enoch’s Brethren
The opening verses of Moses 7:28–41 recall the opening verse of Isaiah 1:1 and Deuteronomy 32:1, where the heavens and the earth are called upon to witness the Lord’s lament. However, in this case the heavens are not passive observers, but rather active participants who weep with God in His sorrow.
In the form the passage was originally dictated in OT1, the momentum of the previous narrative is carried forward as it steadily builds up to an almost unbearable intensity of sorrow. The weeping “God of heaven”20 leads out in a heavenly “chorus”21 that eventually comes to include “all the workmanship of [His] hands”22 —at which point Enoch, the protagonist of the account, also joins in, with full heart and soul.
In a few verses that precede Moses 7:28, we see additional support for the logic of the OT1 narrative that has God weeping and Enoch bearing record. Note the significant sequence when angels descend “out of heaven” to warn the earth,23 followed by angels that come down “out of heaven” to bear testimony of the Godhead.24 In parallel to this sequence, we are then told that the “God of heaven” weeps, while Enoch bears record.25 Such references seem to be anticipated in the statement of God in Moses 6:63: “All things are created and made to bear record of me.”
2a. Enoch’s question: “How is it that thou canst weep?” Enoch is dumbfounded when he sees God weep. Mirroring a pattern found elsewhere in scripture,26 Enoch’s initial, indirect inquiry (“How is it that the heavens weep?”27) is immediately followed with a more pointed version of the question: “How is it that thou canst weep?”28
Despite the plural “heavens” that are mentioned in OT1’s initial description of the addressee of Enoch’s question, any ambiguity about whether the “thou” in the question (“How is it that thou canst weep?”) refers to the “heavens” or to “God” is resolved not only by the singular “thou” but also by his description of his interlocutor as being not only “holy and from all eternity to all eternity” but also as the Creator of the heavens and the earth.29
Note also that the answer to Enoch’s question comes directly from God. Since God’s answer is given with no intervening explanation, it is evident that the reader is meant to understand that God and the members of His heavenly retinue are perfectly conjoined as one in their sorrow, as Terryl Givens rightly observed.
Remarkably, other accounts from the ancient Near East also describe how the heavens (or, more precisely, the heavenly host) joined the chief divinity in weeping over impending destruction. For example, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which scholars have linked to the Enoch account in the Book of Giants,30 the goddess Ishtar laments her support for the destruction of humanity, portrayed as her children, by means of a cataclysmic flood:31
The goddess cried out like a woman in childbirth,
Belet-ili wailed, whose voice is so sweet:
“The olden times have turned to clay,
because I spoke evil in the gods’ assembly,
How could I speak evil in the gods’ assembly,
And declare a war to destroy my people?
“It is I who give birth, these people are mine!
And now, like fish, they fill the ocean!”
In response, the heavenly host join in a chorus of weeping over the dire situation:32
The Anunnaki gods were weeping with
wet-faced with sorrow, they were weeping [with her,]
their lips were parched and stricken with fever.
2b. The Lord’s judgment: “I will send in the floods upon them.” Book of Moses parallels to the general model of Isaiah 1 and Deuteronomy 32 continue in this section: Having called all Creation together to witness His suffering, the Lord now explains His grievance and describes the “punishment for defection.”33
The Lord’s compassion for the victims of wickedness compels Him to put an end to the machinations of those who have stubbornly-persisted in “hat[ing] their own blood,” being wholly “without affection” for both God and man.34 As Abraham Heschel expresses it with respect to Isaiah 1:35
The destructiveness of God’s power is not due to God’s hostility to man, but to His concern for righteousness, to His intolerance of injustice. The human mind seems to have no sense for the true dimension of man’s cruelty to man. God’s anger is fierce because man’s cruelty is infernal.
In marked contrast to the descriptions found in the pseudepigraphal 1 Enoch, where the wicked Watchers are condemned for eternity without possibility of reprieve,36 the God of the Book of Moses, while condemning the sin, is moved by mercy for the sinner. He sorrows for the (self-induced) suffering of the wicked (v. 37) and provides a way for their salvation by offering the gift of the atonement of Christ (v. 39) and its accompanying invitation to “all men, everywhere” (v. 52) to repent and be made whole. Sadly, because of the “agency” God irrevocably gave humankind in the beginning (v. 32), He realizes that there is nothing he can do to help them unless they freely choose love over hate (v. 33). The needlessness of their suffering brings God great sorrow.37
First comes the call to heaven and earth to witness the indictment of Israel on charges of disloyalty; then, the playing off of Yahweh’s love for the people, the love of a father for his children, against the people’s insensate disobedience. … The tone is one of exasperation.
God’s reminder to the people in Moses 7:33 that He is “their Father” is consistent with similar descriptions in Isaiah 140 and Deuteronomy 32.41 The pointed emphasis on God’s filial relationship to humankind is significant in light of Bergey’s observation that such “father-son imagery” is “rare in the prophets and elsewhere in the Hebrew scriptures.”42 According to Heschel, Isaiah “pleads with us to understand the plight of a father whom his children have abandoned.”43
Importantly, the defiant defection of the people does not lessen God’s love, nor does it slacken His patient, painstaking effort to bring them to their senses. As Heschel observes:44
There is sorrow in God’s anger. It is an instrument of purification and its exercise will not last forever.
2c. The Lord’s lament: “Misery shall be their doom.” Further demonstrating that God’s foremost concern is over the misery of His children, He quickly abandons the theme of judgment, and launches into a stanza of lament. Hobbins aptly captured the pathos45 of the corresponding passage in Isaiah 1 as follows:46
The nation’s malaise [is described] as though the nation were an injured and uncared-for body, with the implication that, if not for estrangement, it would be cared for by the one committed to do so. The tone is accusatory and plaintive at the same time, a return to the text’s emotional point of departure.
The Book of Moses passage ends poignantly with God’s recital of the tragic fate of his rebellious children, followed by a rhetorical question:47
But behold, their sins
shall be upon the heads of their fathers;
Satan shall be their father,
and misery shall be their doom;
and the whole heavens shall weep over them,
even all the workmanship of mine hands;
wherefore should not the heavens weep,
seeing these shall suffer?
2d. The Lord’s mercy: “Inasmuch as they will repent.” Describing the next part of the pattern in Isaiah 1, Hobbins writes:48 “Yahweh’s decision not to blot the people out entirely, despite the defection, is then recounted.” Similarly, in Moses 7:38–39, God explains that His “Chosen” will suffer for the sins of the penitent and release them from “prison,” “inasmuch as they will repent.”49
Enoch’s question about the weeping of the heavens in verse 29 had formed the opening of a powerful inclusio whose closing bookend is finally found in verse 40. Having concluded His answer to Enoch, God now reiterates his solidarity with the sorrowing of the heavens (“Wherefore, for this shall the heavens weep”), while in eloquent brevity He acknowledges the overflow of that bitter cup to the earth and its creatures (“yea, and all the workmanship of my hands”).
3. Enoch Weeps and His Heart Swells “Wide as Eternity”
Only now does the realization of the depth of God’s empathy finally draw out Enoch’s full response as “his heart swelled wide as eternity”—in other words, as wide as God’s heart.50 Now Enoch unites his own voice with the heavenly chorus of weeping in a grand finale.51
Note that in the OT2 revision of Moses 7:28, in contrast to the OT1 dictation that appears in the canonized version of the Book of Moses, Enoch weeps prematurely, thus defusing the deliberate forestalling of the dramatic moment of Enoch’s sympathetic resonance with the heavens until after God’s poignant speech.52
Beyond the beautiful literary unity and the striking echoes of the narrative structure to two notable Old Testament exemplars, what do we find of interest in this passage? These verses provide an overwhelming witness of the depth of God’s love as the central theme of the chapter, where “justice, love, and mercy meet in harmony divine.”53
Daniel C. Peterson54 has discussed at length the resemblance between the composition of this chorus of weeping and three similar voices within the laments of the book of Jeremiah: the feminine voice of the mother of the people (corresponding in the Book of Moses to the voice of the earth), the voice of the people (corresponding to Enoch), and the voice of God Himself. We will describe each of these three voices in turn, plus the weeping voice of the heavens, in the next few Essays.55
This article is adapted from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Ryan Dahle. “Textual criticism and the Book of Moses: A response to Colby Townsend’s ‘Returning to the sources’.” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship (2020): in press. www.templethemes.net.
Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 106–107, 137–151.
Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Ryan Dahle. “Textual criticism and the Book of Moses: A response to Colby Townsend’s ‘Returning to the sources’.” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship (2020): in press. www.templethemes.net.
Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 125–138, 140–141, 144–146, 148–150.
Givens, Terryl L., and Fiona Givens. The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life. Salt Lake City, UT: Ensign Peak, 2012, pp. 24–25, 105–106.
Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986, pp. 11–16, 198–199, 220, 244–248, 266–268.
Nibley, Hugh W. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004, pp. 284–285.
Appendix: Provisional Proposal for Structuring the First Part of Enoch’s Grand Vision
Appendix: Provisional Proposal for Structuring the First Part of Enoch’s Grand Vision
The text below generally follows the OT1 manuscript as originally dictated, with spelling, grammar, and punctuation modernized. Exceptions and notable differences in subsequent editions are shown in square brackets and described in the endnotes. Italicized text within brackets indicates phrases added to clarify implicit parallels. Different colors indicate different speakers: blue for God, green for Enoch, red for the angels, and black for the narrator. We are grateful to Noel Reynolds for sharing his expertise in structuring scripture, though any resulting faults are ours.
1. Zion Is Blessed, But the Residue of the People Is Cursed
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 [have56] I blessed,
but the residue of the people have I cursed.
1a. Zion Is Taken to Heaven, But the Seed of Cain Had Not Place Among Them
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.
22 And Enoch also beheld
the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam;
and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam
save it was the seed of Cain,
for the seed of Cain were black,
and had not place among them.
1b. Enoch Is in the Bosom of the Father, But the Power of Satan Is Upon All the Earth
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;
and behold, the powers of Satan [were57] upon all the face of the earth [for generation upon generation].
1c. Angels Cause Many To Be Caught Up Into Zion, But Satan Veils the Earth With Darkness
25 And he saw angels descending out of heaven;
and he heard a loud voice saying:
Wo, wo be unto the inhabitants of the earth.
26 And he beheld Satan;
and he had a great chain in his hand,
and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness;
and he looked up and laughed,
and his angels rejoiced.
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.
2. The Heavens Weep for the Residue of the People — God’s Children and Enoch’s Brethren
28 And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people,
and he wept;58
and Enoch bore record of it, saying:
How is it that the heavens weep,
and shed forth [their59] tears as the rain upon the mountains?
2a. Enoch’s Question: How Is It That Thou Canst Weep?
29 And Enoch said unto the heavens:60
How is it that thou canst weep,
seeing thou art holy,
and from all eternity to all eternity?61
30 And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth,
yea, and 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?
2b. The Lord’s Judgment: “I Will Send in the Floods Upon Them”
32 The Lord said unto Enoch:
these thy brethren;
they are the workmanship of mine own hands,
and I gave unto them their knowledge,
in the day I created them;
and in the Garden of Eden,
gave I unto man his agency;
33 And unto thy brethren have I said,
and also given commandment,
that they should love one another,
and that they should choose me, their Father,62
they are without affection,
and they hate their own blood;
34 And the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them;
and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them,
for my fierce anger is kindled against them.
I am God;
Man of Holiness is my name;
Man of Counsel is my name;
and Endless and Eternal is my name, also.
I can stretch forth mine hands
and hold all the creations which I have made;
and mine eye can pierce them also,
and among all the workmanship of mine [hands]63
there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren.
2c. The Lord’s Lament: “Misery Shall Be Their Doom”
37 But behold,
their sins shall be upon the heads of their fathers;
Satan shall be their father,64
and misery shall be their doom;
and the whole heavens shall weep over them,
even all the workmanship of mine hands [shall weep];
should not the heavens weep,
seeing these shall suffer?
2d. The Lord’s Mercy: “Inasmuch As They Will Repent”
38 But behold,
these which thine eyes are upon shall perish in the floods;
I will shut them up
a prison have I prepared for them.
39 And [behold]
[he whom65] I have chosen hath pled before my face.
he suffereth for their sins; inasmuch as they will repent
in the day that my Chosen shall return unto me,
and until that day
they shall be in torment;
for this shall the [heavens66] weep,
yea, and all the workmanship of mine hands [shall weep].
3. Enoch Weeps and His Heart Swells “Wide As Eternity”
41 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Enoch,
and told Enoch all the doings of the children of men;
wherefore Enoch knew,
and looked upon their wickedness, and their misery,
and stretched forth his arms,
and his heart swelled wide as eternity;
and his bowels yearned;
and all eternity shook.
Agourides, S. “Apocalypse of Sedrach.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 605-13. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.
Alexander, Philip S. “3 (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 223-315. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.
Andersen, F. I. “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 91-221. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.
Bergey, Ronald. “The Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:1-43) and Isaianic prophecies: A case of early intertextuality.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 28, no. 1 (2003): 33-54. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/030908920302800102. (accessed April 5, 2020).
Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., Jacob Rennaker, and David J. Larsen. “Revisiting the forgotten voices of weeping in Moses 7: A comparison with ancient texts.” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 2 (2012): 41-71. www.templethemes.net.
Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014. www.templethemes.net.
Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005.
Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.
Faulring, Scott H., and Kent P. Jackson, eds. Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible Electronic Library (JSTEL) CD-ROM. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. Religious Studies Center, Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2011.
George, Andrew, ed. 1999. The Epic of Gilgamesh. London, England: The Penguin Group, 2003.
Gillum, Gary. Observations of Hugh Nibley. In Brigham Young University Library. https://sites.lib.byu.edu/nibley/journal/. (accessed May 4, 2020).
Givens, Terryl L., and Fiona Givens. The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life. Salt Lake City, UT: Ensign Peak, 2012.
Goff, Matthew. “Gilgamesh the Giant: The Qumran Book of Giants’ appropriateion of Gilgamesh motifs.” Dead Sea Discoveries 16, no. 2 (2009): 221-53.
———. “The sons of the Watchers in the Book of Watchers and the Qumran Book of Giants.” In Ancient Tales of Giants from Qumran and Turfan: Contexts, Traditions, and Influences, edited by Matthew Goff, Loren T. Stuckenbruck and Enrico Morano. Wissenschlaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 360, ed. Jörg Frey, 115-27. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2016.
Heschel, Abraham Joshua. 1962. The Prophets. Two Volumes in One ed. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007.
Hobbins, John F. 2007. The rhetoric of Isaiah 1:2-20: An exploration (last revised 2 February 2007). In Ancient Hebrew Poetry. https://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/files/isa_1_220_rhetoric.pdf. (accessed April 5, 2020).
Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1985.
Kósa, Gåbor. “The Book of Giants tradition in the Chinese Manichaica.” In Ancient Tales of Giants from Qumran and Turfan: Contexts, Traditions, and Influences, edited by Matthew Goff, Loren T. Stuckenbruck and Enrico Morano. Wissenschlaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 360, ed. Jörg Frey, 145-86. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2016.
Laurence, Richard, ed. 1821. The Book of Enoch, the Prophet: Translated from an Ethiopic Manuscript in the Bodleian Library, the Text Now Corrected from His Latest Notes with an Introduction by the [Anonymous] Author of ‘The Evolution of Christianity’. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1883. http://archive.org/details/bookofenochproph00laur. (accessed January 15, 2013).
Lemaire, André. “Nabonide et Gilgamesh: L’araméen en Mésopotamie et à Qoumrân.” In Aramaica Qumranica: Proceedings of the Conference on the Aramaic Texts from Qumran in Aix-en-Provence 30 June-2 July 2008, edited by Katell Berthelot and Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 94, eds. Florentino Garcia Martínez, Peter W. Flint and Eibert J. C. Tigchelaar, 125-44. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2010. http://www.digitorient.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/LemaireAramaicQumranica.pdf. (accessed April 11, 2020).
Martinez, Florentino Garcia. “The Book of Giants (4Q203).” In The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English, edited by Florentino Garcia Martinez. 2nd ed. Translated by Wilfred G. E. Watson, 260-61. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1996.
Maxwell, Neal A. That Ye May Believe. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1992.
Nickelsburg, George W. E., ed. 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1-36; 81-108. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001.
Parry, Donald W., and Emanuel Tov, eds. The Dead Sea Scrolls Reader Second ed. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2013.
Peterson, Daniel C. “On the motif of the weeping God in Moses 7.” In Reason, Revelation, and Faith: Essays in Honor of Truman G. Madsen, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, 285-317. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2002.
Reeves, John C. Heralds of that Good Realm: Syro-Mesopotamian Gnosis and Jewish Traditions. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 41, ed. James M. Robinson and Hans-Joachim Klimkeit. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1996.
Roberts, J. J. M. 1992. “The motif of the weeping God in Jeremiah and its background in the lament tradition of the ancient Near East.” In The Bible and the Ancient Near East: Collected Essays, edited by J. J. M. Roberts, 132-42. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2002.
Tigay, Jeffrey H., ed. Deuteronomy. The JPS Torah Commentary, ed. Nahum M. Sarna and Chaim Potok. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 1996.
Woodworth, Jed L. “Extra-biblical Enoch texts in early American culture.” In Archive of Restoration Culture: Summer Fellows’ Papers 1997-1999, edited by Richard Lyman Bushman, 185-93. Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History, 2000.
Notes on Figures
Figure 1. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9b/Michelangelo_Buonarroti_027.jpg (accessed April 6, 2020). Public domain. For more on the background of this painting see J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, caption for Figure M7-6, p. 112.
1 One reader has remarked as follows:
It seems like water is always associated with death and destruction. What is important is what comes after the water whether the water is a flood, rain, or immersion. So we have the example of baptism (already covered in Moses 6), the rebirth of the earth after Noah’s cleansing flood and even the fertility and growth that is associated with the aftermath of the storms brought by the Aztec deity Tlaloc. So different types of water events that all represent trials and all that can have positive outcomes.
The questions is what is the outcome from the weeping? An increase of empathy or compassion?
In an unfinished and unpublished paper Hugh Nibley wrote: “Why then did the world have to be a vale of tears? For learning and for testing: to be without experience of the whole spectrum of suffering would leave one woefully unequipped to deal with the throngs of anguished spirits and sinful inhabitants that to our certain knowledge swarm around us. If our mission is to save others, we must know what they must be saved from” (As quoted in G. Gillum, Observations, Entry for 3 Dec 1997).
2 Moses 7:28–29. See Essay #28.
3 Moses 7:28, 37, 40. See Essay #27.
4 Moses 7:41, 49. See Essay #28.
5 Moses 7:48–49, 54, 61, 64. See Essay #26.
6 R. D. Draper et al., Commentary, p. 122.
7 R. Bergey, Song of Moses.
8 Ibid., p. 37.
9 J. H. Tigay, Deuteronomy, Excursus 30, p. 510.
10 Ibid., Excursus 30, p. 513.
11 J. F. Hobbins, Rhetoric of Isaiah 1:2-20, p. 10.
12 Hobbins goes on to mention significant resemblances elsewhere in the Old Testament ibid., p. 10):
In terms of deployment of topoi and themes, Isaiah 1:2–20 compares well, if not in every detail, with Deuteronomy 32:1–43, Hosea 4:1–19, and Micah 6:1–16. Its affinities with Micah 1:2–3:12, Amos 5:18–27, and Psalm 50 deserve note. It also shares language and themes with texts now integral to Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.
13 Moses 7:20.
14 Moses 7:20.
15 Moses 7:23.
16 Moses 7:24.
17 Moses 7:24.
18 Moses 7:27.
19 Moses 7:26.
20 Moses 7:28.
21 For an extensive discussion of this “chorus” of weeping and its resemblances to Jeremiah and other ancient accounts in J. M. Bradshaw et al., Revisiting.
22 Moses 7:40.
23 Moses 7:25.
24 Moses 7:27.
25 Moses 7:28. With regard to Enoch’s bearing record of God’s weeping, note the emphasis in both Mosiah 18:9 and 24:14 on standing “as witnesses” of God through similar sympathetic interaction.
26 R. D. Draper et al., Commentary, p. 128 give instances of the indirect approach:
in Abraham’s appeal to the Lord not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah before his nephew Lot and family escaped (see Genesis 18:23–32), and in Jared’s requests through his brother that they keep their language and, later and most important, that the Lord lead their families to a promised land (see Ether 1:34, 38).
27 Moses 7:28.
28 Moses 7:29.
29 Moses 7:29–30.
30 E.g., M. Goff, Gilgamesh the Giant; A. Lemaire, Nabonide et Gilgamesh.
31 A. George, Gilgamesh, 11:117–124, p. 92.
32 Ibid., 11:125–127, p. 92.
33 J. F. Hobbins, Rhetoric of Isaiah 1:2-20, p. 11.
34 The Lord’s “test of affection” described in the Book of Moses Enoch account is echoed in 2 Enoch 30:14–15, where the Lord instructs Adam: “And I said to him, ‘This is good for you, but that is bad,’ so that I should come to know whether he has love toward me or abhorrence, and so that it might become plain who among his race loves me” (F. I. Andersen, 2 Enoch, 30:14 [J], p. 152).
Significantly, the hard words described in Job 21:7-15 seem to have been directly witnessed, not by Job, but by Enoch himself (P. S. Alexander, 3 Enoch, 4:3, p. 258): “When the generation of the Flood sinned and turned to evil deeds, and said to God, ‘Go away! We do not choose to learn your ways’ [cf. Job 21:14], the Holy One, blessed be he, took me [Enoch] from their midst to be a witness against them in the heavenly height to all who should come into the world, so that they should not say, ‘The Merciful One is cruel!’” See J. C. Reeves, Heralds, p. 187. For a list of ancient sources, see ibid., pp. 183, 200n17.
In defiance of the Lord’s entreaty to “love one another, and … choose me, their Father” (Moses 7:33), the wicked are depicted as “say[ing] unto God, … Depart from us: for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit should we have if we pray unto him?” (Job 21:14–15. Cf. Exodus 5:2; Malachi 3:13–15; Mosiah 11:27; Moses 5:16). Reeves characterizes these words as “a blasphemous rejection of divine governance and guidance … wherein the wicked members of the Flood generation verbally reject God” (ibid., p. 188). Enoch is said to have prophesied a future judgment upon such “ungodly sinners” who have “uttered hard speeches … against [the Lord]” (Jude 1:15, G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 1:9, p. 142. See also 5:4, p. 150; 27:2, p. 317; 101:3, p. 503. 2 Peter 2:5 labels this same generation as “ungodly”).
35 A. J. Heschel, Prophets, 1:80.
36 Jed Woodworth eloquently summarizes this contrast (J. L. Woodworth, Enoch, pp. 191–192):
What is the fate of those who perish in the flood? In [1 Enoch], there is one fate only: everlasting punishment. Those who are destroyed in the flood are beyond redemption. For God to be reconciled, sinners must suffer forever. Enoch has nothing to say because God has no merciful side to appeal to. In Joseph Smith, however, punishment has an end. The merciful side of God allows Enoch to speak and be heard. God and Enoch speak a common language: mercy. “Lift up your heart, and be glad; and look,” God says to Enoch after the flood (Moses 7:44). There is hope for the wicked yet (Moses 7:37–38):
I will shut them up; a prison have I prepared for them. And that which I have chosen hath pled before my face. Wherefore, he suffereth for their sins; inasmuch as they will repent in the day that my Chosen shall return unto me, and until that day they shall be in torment.
The Messiah figure in [1 Enoch 45–47] and in Joseph Smith function in different ways. In Joseph Smith, the Chosen One will come to earth at the meridian of time to rescue the sinners of Enoch’s day. After the Messiah’s death and resurrection, “as many of the spirits as were in prison came forth, and stood on the right hand of God” (Moses 7:57. Compare 1 Peter 3:20). The Messiah figure in [1 Enoch] does not come down to earth and is peripheral to the text; he presides over the “elect” around God’s throne (R. Laurence, Book of Enoch, 45:3–5, pp. 49–50, 56:3, p. 64) but does not rescue the sinners of Enoch’s day. “In the day of trouble evil shall [still] be heaped upon sinners” (ibid., 49:2, pp. 55–56. Cf. 49:3–4, p. 54), he tells Enoch [in that account].
Similar in attitude to the Book of Moses and somewhat different in tone from 1 Enoch, the Book of Giants records Enoch’s hope for them if they repent (F. G. Martinez, Book of Giants (4Q203), 8:14–15, p. 261): “set loose what you hold captive … and pray” (D. W. Parry et al., DSSR (2013), 4Q203, 8:14–15, p. 481). For discussions of hints in Mani’s Book of Giants that some of the wicked repented and were saved as the result of Enoch’s preaching, see M. Goff, Sons of the Watchers, pp. 124–127; G. Kósa, Book of Giants Tradition, pp. 173–175.
37 See Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s discussion of this passage (N. A. Maxwell, That Ye May, pp. 29, 81):
Enoch saw the God of Heaven weep over needless human suffering. …
God’s empathy is not to be defined by man’s lack of empathy or by our sometimes stupid and cruel use of moral agency!
All of us should be very careful, therefore, about seeming to lecture God on suffering. God actually weeps over the suffering of His children. Enoch saw it! He questioned God about those divine tears-especially in view of God’s omnipotence and His omniscience. Why cry over one people on one planet—especially in view of how far God’s vast creations stretch out?
The Lord rehearsed for Enoch that humanity and this earthly habitat are “the workmanship of [God’s] own hands,” and, further, that He gave us our knowledge and our agency. Most strikingly, the Lord then focused on the fact that the human family should love one another and should choose God as their Father. The two great commandments! Then the Lord lamented, yet “they are without affection, and they hate their own blood.”
38 See the comparison of key words in R. Bergey, Song of Moses.
39 J. F. Hobbins, Rhetoric of Isaiah 1:2-20, p. 11, 13.
40 See the Lord’s declaration to the people: “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. … children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord” (vv. 2, 4).
41 See the explicit description of God as a “father” (vv. 6–7) to His “children” (vv. 5, 8, 20)—His “sons” (vv. 8, 19) and “daughters” (v. 19).
42 R. Bergey, Song of Moses, p. 39.
43 A. J. Heschel, Prophets, 1:80. For an example that depicts the anguish of the rejected father but—in contrast to Deuteronomy 32, Isaiah 1, and Moses 7 — without tendering any hope of forgiveness, see S. Agourides, Sedrach, 6:1–6, p. 610:
And God said unto him: “Be it known to you, that everything which I commanded man to do was within his reach. I made him wise [cf. Moses 7:32] and the heir of heaven and earth, and I subordinated everything under him and every living thing flees from him and from his face. Having received my gifts, however, he became an alien, an adulterer and sinner. Tell me, what sort of a father would give an inheritance to his son, and having received the money (the son) goes away leaving his father and becomes an alien and in the service of aliens [cf. Luke 15:11–15]. The father then, seeing that the son has forsaken him (and gone away), darkens his heart and going away, he retrieves his wealth and banishes his son from his glory, because he forsook his father. How is it that I, the wondrous and jealous God, have given everything to him, but he, having received them, became an adulterer and sinner?”
44 A. J. Heschel, Prophets, 1:83.
45 In the older sense of the term described in ibid., pp. 269–272 (“the ancient classical ideas of pathos [that] included all conditions of feeling and will in which man is dependent on the outer world”), not its more recent and limited sense of “painful emotion” (p. 272) and the modern notion that the “sublime” and the “pathetic” “have nothing to do with each other” (p. 270).
46 J. F. Hobbins, Rhetoric of Isaiah 1:2-20, pp. 13–14.
47 Moses 7:37. Somewhat of a more sympathetic variant to Hobbins’ description of the passage as “a leading question and exclamation that recall by way of context and choice of terminology the status of the addressees as punished and disobedient children” (ibid., p. 13).
48 Ibid., p. 11.
49 Moses 7:38–39.
50 T. L. Givens et al., God Who Weeps, pp. 24–25.
51 Moses 7:41.
52 Compare S. H. Faulring et al., Original Manuscripts, OT1, Moses 7:28, pp. 105–106 to ibid., OT2, Moses 7:28, p. 618. In the present Essay, the narrative drama of OT1 is described only in summary fashion. Additional examples of where the reading of OT2 is inferior to OT1 could be given.
For example, the replacement of “bosom” by “presence” in OT2 breaks the connection to a meaningful string of six uses of the term “bosom” in varying contexts within the chapter (Moses 7:24, 30, 31, 47, 63, 69). See a summary discussion of this key term in J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, pp. 143–144). Moses 7 is the only chapter in the Book of Moses in which the word “bosom” appears. It shows up in a key part of the culminating verse of the chapter, when God receives Zion “up into his own bosom” (Moses 7:69). For more on the term “bosom” and its role in this chapter, see Essay #30.
Moreover, Elder Maxwell notes the importance of the seemingly inconsequential three-letter word “yet,” which is omitted in OT2 (N. A. Maxwell, That Ye May, p. 205, emphasis in original):
Notice, however, what reassured and assuaged Enoch most about Jesus amid His creations: “And yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever.”
The omission of this tiny adverb greatly weakens the strength of the phrase.
53 Hymns (1985), Hymns (1985)#195, How Great the Wisdom and the Love.
54 D. C. Peterson, Weeping God, building on the analysis of Jeremiah found in J. J. M. Roberts, Motif of the Weeping God. Peterson also discusses analogues in the Mesopotamian lament literature.
55 See Essays #26–28.
56 OT1 reads “hath.”
57 OT1: “the powers of Satan was.”
58 Taking God’s weeping as a form of divine speech.
59 OT1: “her”; OT2 revision by Sidney Rigdon: “their.”
60 The 2013 Latter-day Saint canonized version reads: “unto the Lord.”
61 OT1 reads (S. H. Faulring et al., JST Electronic Library, Moses 7:28–29 OT1):
the g God of heaven looked upon the residue of the peop[le a]nd he wept and Enock bore record of it saying how is it the heavens weep and Shed fourth her tears as the rain upon the Mountains and Enock said unto the heavens how is it that thou canst weep seeing thou art holy and from all eternity to all eternity
OT2 reads (ibid., Moses 7:28–29 OT2):
the God of Heaven< Enock> look=ed upon the residue of the people & wept. And Enoch bore record of it Saying how is it the heavens weepthe heavens wept also> & shed forth h[ er] tears upon the Mountains And Enoch S†aid unto the heavens how is it that thou canst weep Seeing Thou art holy & from all eternity to all eternity
The symbol “†” that is shown between the “S” and the “a” in the transcription of OT2 Moses 7:28 above signals a change from lowercase to uppercase in the manuscript.
62 OT2 has: “serve me their God.”
63 OT1: “hand.”
64 OT2: “master.”
65 Following OT2. OT1 reads: “that which.”
66 OT1 reads “heaven.