Reversing Hermon in Matthew 1 –
I have to admit this is the first book I’ve read by Dr. Michael Heiser and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Frankly, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to read this book, that is, until pursuing C.C. Fenn’s review on Amazon. For sure one of the best reviews I’ve read in a long time.
In any case, I purchased Reversing Hermon: Enoch, The Watchers & the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ and really appreciated seeing the subject through Dr. Heiser’s eyes. In this book Dr. Heiser elevated the discussion of Genesis 6 from the oft sensationalist speculation to a historical and Biblical grounding which provides answers to several of the Bible’s more challenging passages.
More importantly Dr. Heiser looked at the subject in light of the Spirit of Prophecy, that is, as it relates to YHWH’s redemptive plan through Yeshua (YHWH’s Salvation). In short Dr. Heiser makes the case that Yeshua’s messianic mission included not only the rectification of Adam and Eve’s sin, but also the evil wrought by those of the angelic host who left their intended estate and sowed their rebellious evil on this earth.
In terms of scholarship Dr. Heiser did something in this book which is rather rare today. Dr. Heiser looked at this complex subject in light of its 2nd temple era context. The 2nd temple era and it influence on Biblical history and Bible prophecy (in my opinion) is far too often ignored when trying to understand some of the Bible’s most important prophetic passages.
The book is organized into four parts:
• PART I – Genesis 6:1-4 in its Original Ancient Contexts
• Chapter 1 – The Sons of God and Nephilim
• Chapter 2 – The Sin of the Watchers in 1 Enoch and Other Enochian Tests
• Chapter 3 – The Mesopotamian Apkallu, the Watchers, and the Nephilim
• PART II – Reversing Hermon in the Gospels
• Chapter 4 – The Sin of the Watchers and the Birth of Jesus
• Chapter 5 – The Sin of the Watchers and the Genealogy of Jesus
• Chapter 6 – The Sin of the Watchers and the Ministry of Jesus
• PART III – Reversing Hermon in the Epistles
• Chapter 7 – The Sin of the Watchers and Human Depravity
• Chapter 8 – The Sin of the Watchers and the Head Covering of 1 Corrintians 11
• Chapter 9 – The Sin of the Watchers and Baptism
• PART IV – Reversing Hermon in the Book of Revelation
• Chapter 10 – The Sin of the Watchers, the Nephilim, and the Antichrist
• Chapter 11 – The Sin of the Watchers and the Apocalypse
Of these chapters 2, 5, 7, 9 really stood to me. I especially appreciated learning about the congruency of the Enochian narrative in Biblical and the historical record. I frankly had no idea the subject was as well testified to in ancient history.
Dr. Heisers discussion of the Mosaic law in Chapter 7 was especially interesting. It provided a new and intriguing angle from which to view the Torah and its purpose. This subject provided me with much food for future thought and reflection.
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The weakest part of the book, in my opinion, were the authors speculation regarding Revelation 12 as an astronomical sign which dates the birth of Yeshua to the 1st of Tishri in 3 BC. I admit up front I don’t know enough about astronomical signs to test Dr. Heiser’s theory but Biblical and historically speaking Tishri 1 3 BC as the birth of the Messiah is problematic for several reasons. First, the prophecy of Daniel 9 dates the coming of the Messiah to 5-4 BC. A 4 BC date for the Birth of Yeshua also best fits the chronological evidence of Matthew, Luke and Josephus.
The most unsettling aspect of the book was the Dr. Heiser’s exploration of 1 Cor. 11 and the subject of a woman’s head covering and its 2nd temple historical context. Not that it couldn’t be true but it is certainly outside my comfort zone.
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By far my favorite part of the book was the Dr. Heiser’s exploration of the lineage of Jesus in Matthew 1. Dr. Heiser opens Chapter 5 with the following quote:
“Admit it. You think genealogies are boring. While I wouldn’t claim that all biblical genealogies are filled with theological insights, I can promise you that the genealogy of Jesus is different. As we’ll see, it has some amazing features that link it with the expectation of a messianic reversal of sin of the Watchers.”
You have to admit that his is a pretty bold statement. But Dr. Heiser goes on to explain, based upon the work of New Testament scholar Amy Richter, that the four women mentioned or implied in Matthew 1 are connected to Yeshua redemptive purpose as it relates to reversing the evil brought into this world by the fallen angelic host. He further explains that these women by their inclusion, would emphasis in the Jewish readers mind the events of Genesis 6, events and their implications which are only understood within the context of the 2nd temple era Jewish reader.
This Enochian angle of Yeshua lineage did indeed seem a bit farfetched to me at first glance but after some reflection I realized Dr. Heiser may have more of a point than even he may realize. This relates to a statement Dr. Heiser made earlier in chapter 4 regarding “astral prophecy”. I quote,
“In briefest terms, and with respect to a biblical perspective ( as opposed to pagan polytheism’s conception), astral theology was the idea that the One who made the celestial objects in the heavens (sun, moon, stars) to be for “signs and seasons” and to mark time (Genesis 1:14) could use those object to communicate.”
You see as Dr. Heiser notes repeatedly in this book, the New Testament must be understood with the context of the 2nd temple. No place in the Bible better illustrates this fact than the lineage of Yeshua in Matthew 1. Indeed Matthew’s genealogy of Yeshua is far from boring. I’ll get back to the four women in Yeshua lineage in a moment but to really understand their importance you must see the lineage of Yeshua from a 2nd temple perspective that the Jewish reader would have intuitively grasp.
First, if you list the names as given by Matthew you will find there are 41 generation between Abraham and Yeshua. Now arrange them into the three generation groupings described by Matthew in verse 17. What you will find is that while Matthew implied that Yeshua was the 14th generation he is actually the 13th as given. Matthew cleverly shows that Yeshua is both the 13th and 14th generation.
To a Jewish reader they would have immediately made the connection to the Bible’s calendar as described in Gen. 1:14. You see the lunar side of the Biblical calendar, which orders the divine appointment or “signs and seasons” of Genesis 1:14 as described by Dr. Heiser, are governed by two internal lunar cycles of 13 or 14 days of waxing and waning light each month. Further, during the 7 sacred Biblical festival’s each year 13 or 14 sacrifices are commanded to be offered. That the apostle Paul understood this messianic symbolism is shown in Ephesian’s 2:13-14 where he describes the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles which Yeshua’s death and resurrection abolished. This wall during the 2nd temple era which prevented Gentiles from accessing the temple proper (and by implication the presence of YHWH) was accessed by 14 steps and entry to the temple granted by one of 13 gates.
What this demonstrates is that indeed Matthew had a redemptive message woven into the lineage of Yeshua in Matthew 1 which supports in a fascinating way Dr. Heiser position that the women of Matthew 1, may also fit into this redemptive “matrix”.
Further to Dr. Heiser’s point is the fact that the 41 generations between Abraham and Yeshua and the 3 generational groupings of Yeshua’s ancestors has a larger chronological context that some of his Jewish readers would have likely understood. You see, a reasonable case could be made that there were 41 jubilee cycles between Abraham and Yeshua (as represent by the 41 generations). But more importantly, using the chronology of the MT text of the Old Testament there were in fact 41 jubilee cycles between Adam and Abraham. (For those who appreciate a bit of irony its worth noting that we are living in the 41st jubilee from Yeshua.)
So Matthew, by arranging Yeshua’s lineage into 41 generations (he left out four kings to do this) linked the Messianic redemptive symbolism of the sacrificial system with the Old Testament chronology between Adam and Abraham. But here is the intriguing part which I hadn’t realized until reading Dr. Heiser’s book.
If we take the three generational groupings of Yeshua’s ancestors as representative of the 3 Biblical ages of 41 jubilee cycles each, you’ll find that the offspring of the women mentioned in Matthew 1 have a direct connection to the Enochian events and thus prove beyond reasonable doubt that there is a connection between these women and the events Enoch, the fallen angel’s and YHWH’s redemptive plan.
The four offspring of the women mentioned in Matthew 1 are as follows:
• Phares the 5th generation
• Booz (Boaz) the 11th generation
• Obed the 12th generation
• Solomon the 15th generation (1st of the 2nd generational grouping)
If each of the three 14 generational groupings represent 41 jubilee cycles in a larger chronological context then the each generation in the three groups (of 14) is equal to 2.928 jubilee cycles.
• Pares falls in the 5th generation which represents the 12th, 13th and 14th jubilee cycle from Adam. It was during the 13th jubilee cycle from Adam (the 623rd yr.) that Enoch was taken to heaven.
• Boaz was the 11th generation representing the 29th, 30th and 31st jubilee cycles from Adam. It was during the 29th jubilee cycle form Adam, in the 365th year of Noah’s life that Jared died. As Dr. Heiser explains according to the book of Enoch it was during the days of Jared that the fallen angel’s (on Mt. Hermon) made their agreement to defile the women of earth.
• Obed was the 12th generation representing the 33rd, 34th and 35 jubilee cycles from Adam. It was during this period of time that Shem was born during the 32nd jubilee cycle form Adam. It was through Shem, the son of Noah that YHWH’s would work out His redemptive plan for mankind by bringing forth Yeshua, the promised righteous seed. Then during the 34th jubilee in the 600th year of Abraham’s life the Deluge took place cleansing the earth of evil which the fallen angles had wrought.
• Solomon was the 15th generation from Abraham or the 1st generation in Matthew 2nd grouping of 14. This 15th generation represented the 42nd, 43rd, and 44th jubilee cycle from Adam. It was during this period of time that YHWH made all of His covenants with Abraham which promised that through his “seed” all nations of the earth would be blessed. Further it was in the 100th year of Abraham’s life exactly on the 43rd jubilee cycle from Adam that Isaac was born. It was also during the 44th jubilee cycle from Adam that YHWH honored Abraham’s faith (in his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac) by swearing (shaba) the first oath He, the living God of the Bible, swore with any man in the Bible. It was this oath that Moses mentions in Due. 7:9, Daniel mentions in Daniel 9:4, and Zechariah mentions in Luke 1.
So there you have it. As Amy Richter and Dr. Heiser claim, and incredible as their claims may sound, Matthew did indeed have the story of the Enoch, the fallen angels, the flood, and YHWH’s redemptive plan of Reversing Hermon in mind when he penned that inspired list nearly two thousand years ago. Who said genealogies were boring?
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This review has gone on far too long but in closing for those who would like to see confirmation for another one of Dr. Heiser’s points in Chapter 9 regarding Baptism, its redemptive context and its relationship to the events of Flood, you’ll find it in Daniel 9:26 where it describes the Messiah as “cut off”. This cutting off or “karath” would have harkened the Jewish reader back to the first occurrence of this word where it is used to described the waters of the flood which karath mankind from the face of the earth. Thus one again showing that it was the promised messiah the seed of Adam, Shem and Abraham that reversed the effects of not only the sin of Adam and Even but also the corrupting evil wrought by the fallen angelic hoard in the days leading up to the flood.
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In summary, I can’t say that I agree with all of Dr. Heiser’s points but he sure has given me food for thought. I started the book skeptical but finished it convinced that there is far more to the Genesis 6 than I ever understood. Dr. Heiser has made a compelling case that part of Yeshua’s redemptive purpose was in fact to combat the angelic evil which has been corrupting mankind since the flood. After you read this book I’d encourage you to open your Bible’s and see if these things be so.
Author: Dr. Michael S. Heiser
Book Title: Reversing Hermon: Enoch, the Wachers & the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse