the Book of the Watchers itself, in particular 1 En. 6-11 and 12-16; 4) Why focus in particular on the role of women in the story of the fallen Watchers? Concern
about women as mediators of the relationship between the earthly and heavenly worlds is already
found in the biblical story of the cohabitation of the “sons of God” with the “daughters of men.”
Gen. 6:1-4 highlights the importance of women as the link between earth and heaven, between
God (or gods) and man (or humanity).
When men began to increase on earth, and daughters (תֹנוָּב (were born to them, the sons of God
that those among from) נָשִים) wives took they and; were) בְּנוֹת הָאָדָם) daughters of men the beautiful)
YHWH said, “My breath shall not abide in man forever, since he too is flesh; let the days
allowed him be one hundred and twenty years.” It was then, and later too, that the Nephilim appeared on
earth, when the sons of God cohabited with the daughters of men, who bore them offspring. The
heroes of old, the men of renown.
In this passage, the “daughters of man” stand at the center point, between “men” and the “sons of God.” They are the mediators between human and divine beings, providing a sexual and
reproductive link between man and God. At the point where the “sons of God” take them from
“men,” they become “women” whom the “sons” choose and then “cohabit with.” Despite their
central position, the women do not act on their own behalf; rather, the sons of God “see,” “take,”
“choose,” and “cohabit with” them. The only act that they themselves perform, rather than being
the object of others’ actions, is giving birth – although in this case they also give birth to or for
the sons of God. The text is even unclear on the identity of their children. Unlike other Genesis
passages that speak of giving birth, this sentence does not tell us to whom they gave birth.
Instead, it turns quickly to the matter of the “mighty men, the men of renown,” so that the reader
is left guessing that the women gave birth to these “mighty men,” who were perhaps so
“renowned” because their fathers were divine beings. Women may stand at the central point of
this narrative, but they are not important for themselves – rather, their importance lies in how
they furnish a link between earth and heaven. This mediating function is one of the reasons that
women are important in the Book of the Watchers. In addition to their role as the sexual partners
of the Watchers and mothers of the destructive giants, women are significant recipients, and
transmitters, of the evil teachings the Watchers pass on to them.
Women as Witches
Why would the Book of the Watchers particularly single out women as recipients of
knowledge about sorcery and divination? The image of women as witches is already built up in
certain biblical traditions that the composers of the Book of the Watchers would have known. e most detailed image of women as witches occurs in several places in the prophetic corpus,
while the picture is more mixed in legal and narrative material. Exodus 22:17, part of the
This passage is concerned with
the ritual practitioners that the people of Israel should not consult, in contrast to the practices of
the previous nations residing in Canaan; rather, they should depend upon God to give them a
prophet like Moses, and he will tell them God’s will.
Some of the terms that appear in this
passage occur in the feminine in several other places, including the abovementioned Ex. 22:17
and Lev. 20:27, which decrees death for both men and women who “have familiar spirit
See also Lev 19:31: “Do not turn to ghosts (תֹבֹאָה (and do not inquire of familiar spirits (יםִנֹעְּדִּיַה ,(to be defiled
by them (םֶהָב םָאְמָטְל ;(I am the Lord your God”; and Lev 20:6: “And if any person turns to ghosts and familiar
spirits and goes astray after them (םְיהֵרֲחַא נוֹתְזִל , (I will set my face against that person and cut him off from among
his people.” Male-only passages: Ex 7:11; Deut 18:9-18; Dan 2:2; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chron. 33:6; Isa 8:19-20,
44:24-25; Jer 27:9, 50:35-36; Ezek 21:26-28; Mic 5:11; Mal 3:5. Male and female passages: Lev 20:27. Several prophetic passages make a connection between evil women (or cities represented
as evil women) and witchcraft or sorcery. The prophetic passages also often connect sorcery and
sexual sins, and denounce foreign women (Jezebel) or cities (Nineveh, Babylon) sorceries and harlotries countless “performing of accused is Jezebel
(2 Kings 9:22). Ezekiel attacks the Israelite women “who prophesy out of their own imagination (Ezek. 13:17), using techniques of divination they learned in exile in Babylon.
Nahum 3:4 denounces Nineveh as a prostitute and sorceress: