Herein, we continue considering Michael Heiser’s “Preliminary Investigation” and “brief overview” which contains some “very tentative” conclusions and some things about which he is “still thinking…and my views may change.” This is all in regards to “brief overview into the matter of serpentine / reptilian beings in the Hebrew Bible.” The first segment left off with a consideration of a Dead Sea Scroll fragment and a text from 1 Enoch with which we now continue (find my full write up here).
The referenced Dead Sea fragment, 4QAmram consists of 4Q543, 545-548 and is known as the Testament of Amram and also the Visions of Amram. Following are the relevant portions from the translation by Robert Eisenman and Michael Wise from their book Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered (Penguin Books, 1993 AD):
Manuscript C – Column 1
(1) A copy [of the book of the words of the vis]ion of Amram the son of Kohath, the son of Levi
Manuscript B – Fragment 1:9-15
[… I saw Watchers] in my vision, the dream-vision. Two (men) were fighting over me, saying … and holding a great contest over me. I asked them, ‘Who are you, that you are thus empo[wered over me?’ They answered me, ‘We] [have been em]powered and rule over all mankind.’ They said to me, ‘Which of us do yo[u choose to rule (you)?’ I raised my eyes and looked.] [One] of them was terr[i]fying in his appearance, [like] a serpent, [his] cl[oa]k many-colored yet very dark… [And I looked again], and … in his appearance, his visage like a viper, and [wearing …] [exceedingly, and all his eyes …]
Manuscript B – Fragment 2:1-6
[… em]powered over you … [I replied to him,] ‘This [Watcher,] who is he?’ He answered me, ‘This Wa[tcher …] [and his three names are Belial and Prince of Darkness] and King of Evil.’ I said, ‘My lord, what dom[inion …?’] [’and his every way is darkened, his every work da[rk]ened. In Darkness he … [Yo]u saw, and he is empowered over all Darkness, while I [am empowered over all light.] [… from] the highest regions to the lowest I rule over all Light, and over al[l that is of God. I rule over (every) man]
Manuscript B – Fragment 3:1-2
[of His grace and peace. Over all the sons of Lig]ht have] I been empowered.’ I asked him, [What are your names … ?’] He [s]aid to me, ‘[My] three names are [Michael and Prince of Light and King of Righteousness.’]
1 Enoch 20:7-8
Saraqael, 7 one of the holy angels, who is set over the spirits, who sin in the spirit. Gabriel, one of the holy 8 angels, who is over Paradise and the serpents and the Cherubim. Remiel, one of the holy angels, whom God set over those who rise.
1 Enoch 71:7
7 And round about were Seraphin, Cherubic, and Ophannin: And these are they who sleep not And guard the throne of His glory.
1 Enoch 61:10
10 And He will summon all the host of the heavens, and all the holy ones above, and the host of God, the Cherubic, Seraphin and Ophannin, and all the angels of power, and all the angels of principalities, and the Elect One, and the other powers on the earth (and) over the water On that day shall raise one voice, and bless and glorify and exalt in the spirit of faith, and in the spirit of wisdom, and in the spirit of patience, and in the spirit of mercy, and in the spirit of judgement and of peace, and in the spirit of goodness, and shall all say with one voice: “Blessed is He, and may the name of the Lord of Spirits be blessed for ever and ever.”
Since Gabriel, is said to be, over “serpents and the Cherubim” then serpents are assumed to be a reference to Seraphim. The other two text (for some reason Heiser listed chapter 71 before 61) list the “Seraphin, Cherubic, and Ophannin” beings (as per Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10 the wheels within wheels are ‘owphan (Strong’s H212) or ophanim. FYI: Heiser is spelling the terms with the Aramaic masculine plural ending “in,” of which the Hebrew is “im”).
I agree that “the ‘serpent’…in the Eden story of Genesis 3 was not a snake – it was a divine being” but was not a Seraph (and was not an Angel) but rather, particularly as per Ezekiel 28, was a Cherub:
You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire…
For an elucidation on the correlation, within the Ezekiel 28, between the leader (ruler, prince) of Tyre and the Cherub, see Is lucifer a fallen angel? (contra Jim Brayshaw).
We will consider the similarities and differences between Angels, Watchers, Cherubim, Seraphim, etc. within the next segment.
Here are links to Michael S. Heiser’s books:
The Façade (The Façade Saga) Volume 1
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