In this post I will be citing from the pseudepigraphal work 1 Enoch, which is a pre-Christian Jewish writing, that gives us an idea of how some of the Jews understood the Son of Man whom the prophet Daniel saw and wrote of in his inspired writing. Here is the passage in question:
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14 New International Version (NIV)
As the citations will show, the compiler(s)/editor(s) clearly of 1 Enoch believed that this rather remrakble human figure that Daniel foresaw is an eternal divine Being who exists alongside the Ancient of Days, i.e., God the Father, whom Enoch calls the Head of Days and the Lord of the Spirits.
The following is taken from The Jewish Book of 1 Enoch with Illustrations, translated by George Henry Schodde, foreword by Pinchas Shir and Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, pp. 37-43. All bold and/or capital emphasis will be mine.
1. And this is the second Parable concerning those who deny the name of the dwellingplace of the holy and of the Lord of the spirits. 2. They will not ascend to heaven, and will not come on the earth; such will be the portion of the sinners who deny the name of the Lord of the spirits, who are thus preserved to the day of suffering and sorrow. 3. On that day the chosen One will sit upon the throne of glory and will choose among their [i.e. men’s] deeds and places without number, and their spirit will become strong in them when they see my Chosen One and those who have called upon my holy and glorious name. 4. And on that day I will cause my Chosen One to dwell among them and will transform heaven and make it a blessing and a light eternally. 5. And I will transform the earth and make it a blessing, and will cause my chosen ones to dwell thereon; and those who have committed sins and crimes will not step on it. 6. For I have seen and satisfied with peace my just ones, and have placed them before me; but for the sinners there awaits before me a judgment, that I may destroy them from the face of the earth.
1. And there I saw one who had a head of days [i.e. was old], and his head was white like wool; and with him was a second whose countenance was like the appearance of a man, and his countenance was full of agreeableness, like one of the holy angels. 2. And I asked one of the angels, who went with me, and who showed me all the secrets, concerning this son of man, who he was and from where he was, and why he goes with the Head of Days? 3. And he answered and said to me: “This is the son of man, who has justice, and justice dwells with him, and all the hidden treasures he reveals, because the Lord of the spirits has chosen him, and his portion overcomes all things before the Lord of the spirits in goodness to eternity. 4. And this son of man, whom you have seen, will arouse the kings and mighty from their couches, and the strong from their thrones, and will loosen the bonds of the strong, and will break the teeth of sinners. 5. And he will expel the kings from their thrones and from their kingdoms, because they do not exalt him and praise him, and do not acknowledge humbly why the kingdom was given to them. 6. And he will expel the countenance of the strong; and shame will fill them: darkness will be their dwelling-place and worms will become their couches, and they will have no hope of rising from their couches because they do not exalt the name of the Lord of spirits. 7. And these are they who master the stars of heaven, and raise their hands against the Most High, and tread the earth and live thereon, and all their doing is injustice and their doing manifests injustice, and their power is in their riches, and their faith is in gods which they have made with their hands, and they have denied the name of the Lord of the spirits. 8. And they will be cast out of the houses of his congregations, and of the faithful who hang on the name of the Lord of the spirits.”
1. And at that place, I saw an inexhaustible fountain of justice, and around it many fountains of wisdom and all the thirsty drank out of them and were filled with wisdom, and their dwellingplaces were with the just and holy and chosen. 2. And at that hour that Son of man was called near the Lord of the spirits, and his name before the Head of days. 3. And before the sun and the signs were created, before the stars of heaven were made, his name was called before the Lord of the spirits. 4. He will be a staff to the just and the holy, upon which they will support themselves and not fall, and he will be the light of the nations, and he will be the hope of those who are sick in their hearts. 5. All who live upon the earth will fall down before him and bend the knee to him and will bless and praise him and will sing psalms to the name of the Lord of the spirits. 6. For this purpose, he was chosen and hidden before him BEFORE THE WORLD WAS CREATED, and he will be before him to eternity. 7. And the wisdom of the Lord of the spirits has revealed him to the holy and the just, for he preserves the portion of the just, because they have hated and despised this world of injustice, and have hated all its deeds and ways in the name of the Lord of the spirits; for in his name they will be saved, and he will be the revenger of their lives. 8. And in those days the countenances of the kings of the earth, and of the mighty who possess the earth, will be bent down on account of the deeds of their hands, for on the day of their terror and trouble their souls will not be saved. 9. And I will put them into the hands of my chosen, like straw in fire and like lead in water; thus they will burn before the face of the just, and sink before the face of the holy, and no trace of them will be found. 10. And on the day of their trouble, there will be rest on the earth; before him, they will fall and not rise again, and there will be no one to take them with his hands and lift them up because they have denied the Lord of the spirits and his Anointed. The name of the Lord of the spirits be blessed!
1. For wisdom is poured out like water, and glory does not cease before him to all eternity. 2. For he is powerful in all the secrets of justice; and injustice, like a shadow, will end, having no stability, because the Chosen One has arisen before the Lord of the spirits and his glory is to all eternity, and his power to all generations. 3. In him dwells the spirit of wisdom, and the spirit of him who imparts understanding, and the spirit of doctrine and of power, and the spirit of those asleep in justice. 4. And he will judge the secrets, and no one will be able to speak a vain word before him, because he is the Chosen One before the Lord of the spirits, according to his will.
1. And in those days the earth will return that entrusted to it, and Sheol will return that entrusted to it, which it has received, and hell will return what it owes. 2. And he will choose the just and holy from among them, for the day has come that they be saved. 3. And the Chosen One in those days will sit upon his throne, and all the secrets of wisdom will proceed from the thoughts of his mouth, for the Lord of the spirits has given it to him and has honored him. 4. And in those days the mountains will skip like rams, and the hills spring like lambs satisfied with milk, and they will all be angels in heaven. 5. Their faces will shine in gladness, because the Chosen One has arisen in those days, and the earth will rejoice, and the just will live thereon, and the chosen will walk and move thereon.
1. And after those days, at that place, where I had seen all the visions of that which is hidden—for I was taken up by the whirling of the wind and carried toward the west— 2. there my eyes saw the secrets of heaven, all things that will be on the earth, a mountain of iron, and a mountain of copper, and a mountain of silver, and a mountain of gold, and a mountain of soft metal, and a mountain of lead. 3. And I asked the angel who went with me, saying: “What are those things which I have seen in secret?” 4. And he said to me: “All these things which you have seen are for the power of his Anointed, that he may command and be powerful on the earth.” 5. Then this angel of peace answered and said to me: “Wait for a little, and you will see, and there will be revealed to you every secret that the Lord of the spirits has planted. 6. These mountains which you have seen, the mountain of iron, and the mountain of copper, and the mountain of silver, and the mountain of gold, and the mountain of soft metal, and the mountain of lead, all these will be before the Chosen One like wax in the presence of fire, and like the water which falls down from above on these mountains, and will be weak before his feet. 7. And it will come to pass in those days that no one will save himself, not with gold and not with silver: no one will be able to save himself or to flee. 8. And there will be no iron for war and no clothing for a breast-plate; metal will not aid and zinc will not aid, and will not be beaten out, and lead will not be desired. 9. And all these things will disappear and be destroyed from the face of the earth when the Chosen One will appear before the face of the Lord of the spirits.”
1. And there my eyes saw a deep valley, whose mouth was open, and all those who dwell upon the earth and sea and islands will bring him gifts and presents and tokens of submission, but that deep valley will not be filled. 2. And they commit crimes with their hands, and everything they make they devour criminally, they, the sinners; but they will be destroyed in the presence of the Lord of the spirits, they, the sinners, and will be chased from off the face of his earth continually to all eternity. 3. For I have seen the angels of punishment, going and preparing all the instruments for Satan. 4. And I asked the angel of peace who went with me: “These instruments, for whom have they been prepared?” 5. And he said to me: “These are prepared for the kings and the mighty of this earth that they be destroyed with them. 6. And after this the Just and Chosen One will cause the house of his congregation to appear; From now on it will not be hindered in the name of the Lord of the spirits. 7. And these mountains will be in his presence like the earth, and the hills will be like a fountain of water, and the just will rest from the oppression of the sinners.”
1. And I looked and turned toward another side of the earth, and I saw there a deep valley with a burning fire. 2. And they brought the kings and the powerful, and put them into the deep valley. 3. And there my eyes saw how they make instruments for them, iron chains of immense weight. 4. And I asked the angel of peace, who went with me, saying: “These chain instruments, for whom have they been prepared?” 5. And he said to me: “These have been prepared for the hosts of Azâzêl, to imprison them and put them into the lowest hell: and their jaws will be covered with rough stones, as the Lord of the spirits has commanded. 6. Michael and Gabriel, Rufael and Fanuel, they will overpower them on that great day, will throw them on that day into the oven of burning fire, that the Lord of the spirits may avenge himself on them on account of their injustice, because they became subject to Satan, and have led astray those who dwell on the earth.” 7. And in those days the punishment from the Lord of the spirits will come, and all the repositories of water, which are above in the heavens, and also the fountains of water, which are under the heavens, and which are under the earth, will be opened. 8. And all the waters will be joined with the waters which are above in the heavens, but the water which is in high heaven is the masculine, and the water which is beneath on the earth is the feminine. 9. And then will be destroyed all those who dwell on the earth and those who dwell under the ends of heaven. 10. And through this, they know their injustice, which they have done on the earth, and therefore they are destroyed.
1. And after that the Head of Days repented and said: “In vain have I destroyed all who dwell on the earth.” 2. And he swore by his great name: “From now on I will not act this way towards all those who dwell on the earth, and I will place a sign in the heavens; and it will be a token of fidelity between me and them to eternity, as long as heaven is above the earth. 3. And then it will be according to my command; when I desire to overpower them by the hand of the angel on the day of trouble and suffering, before this my anger and my punishment, my anger and my punishment will remain over them,” says the Lord of the spirits. 4. “You mighty kings, who will dwell on the earth, you will be about to see my Chosen One, as he sits on the throne of my glory, and judges Azâzêl and all his associates, and all his hosts in the name of the Lord of the spirits.”
I will let Bible skeptic and critic Dr. Bart D. Ehrman unpack the implications of Enoch’s testimony:
“… For our purposes a precise date is not particularly important. What matters is the exalted character of the Son of Man. Many great and glorious things are said in the Similitudes about this person–who now is thought of as a divine being, rather than, say, as the nation of Israel. We are told that he was given a name ‘even before the creation of the sun and the moon, before the creation of the stars’ (1 En. 48. 2-3). We are told that all the earth will fall down and worship him. BEFORE CREATION he was concealed in the presence of God himself, but he was always God’s chosen one, and it is he who revealed God’s wisdom to the righteous and holy, who will be ‘saved in his name,’ since ‘it is his good pleasure that they have life’ (48. 2-7).
“At the end of time, when all the dead are resurrected, it is he, the ‘Elect One,’ who will sit on God’s throne (51.3). From this ‘throne of glory’ he will ‘judge all the works of the holy ones in heaven above, weighing in the balance their deeds’ (61.8). HE HIMSELF IS ETERNAL: ‘He shall never pass away or perish before the face of the earth.’ And ‘all evil shall disappear before his face’ (69.79)…
“At one point the cosmic judge of the earth is called the messiah–a term we will consider more fully in the next chapter. For now, it is enough to say that it comes from the Hebrew word for anointed and was originally more used of the king of Israel, God’s anointed one (i.e., the one chosen and favored by God. Now the ruler anointed by God is not a mere mortal; HE IS A DIVINE BEING WHO HAS ALWAYS EXISTED, who sits beside God on his throne, who will judge the wicked and the righteous at the end of time. He, in other words, is elevated to God’s own status and functions as the divine being who carries God’s judgment on the earth. This is an exalted figure indeed, as exalted as one can possibly be without actually being the Lord God Almighty himself. It is striking that A LATER EDITION to the Similitudes, chapters 70-71, identifies this Son of Man as none other than Enoch. In this SOMEWHAT LATER VIEW, it is a man, a mere mortal, who is exalted to this supreme position next to God. As this exalted being, the Son of Man is worshiped and glorified by the righteous.” (Ehrman, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee [HarperOne, First edition 2014], 2. Divine Humans in Ancient Judaism, pp. 66-67; bold and capital emphasis mine)
Ehrman acknowledges that Enoch identifies the Son of Man as an eternal Being, one who has always existed, a significant admission. Ehrman further states:
“In an interesting and compelling study, Alan Segal, a scholar of ancient Judaism, argues that the rabbis were particularly concerned about a notion, which was evidently widespread in parts of Judaism, that along with God in heaven there was a chosen power on the divine throne. Following these Jewish sources, Segal refers to these two–God and the other–as the ‘two powers in heaven.’ The Son of Man figure whom we have just examined would be one such divine figure, as he shares the status and power of God…” (Ibid., p. 68; bold emphasis mine)