Ancient Jewish apocalyptic literature of the centuries following the first century and time of Christ shows astounding evidence that the Rabbis believed and wrote about a mysterious Being who was anciently especially chosen by God the Father, who was considered above all the other angels, and who was even known as the “lesser Yahveh.” Who was this mysterious and enigmatic Being? Could it have been the Logos – the One who became known as Jesus Christ? Here’s the evidence!
William F. Dankenbring
An ancient book, sometimes called “3 Enoch,” or the “Hebrew Apocalypse of Enoch,” dates to the fifth and sixth century, and purports to be an account by R. Ishmael, a rabbi of that time, who – like Enoch – had visions of heaven, God’s throne, and His chariot, and received unique revelations from a super-archangel whose name was “Metatron.”
This book dates to the period when the visible Christian church, with headquarters in Rome, was repudiating the prophecies of Enoch. Being written by a Jewish rabbi of that time, it illustrates a widespread Jewish theology of heaven and its occupants.
Says the translator, P. Alexander, this book is written in Hebrew, and was also known by different titles – The Third Book of Enoch, The Book of the Palaces, The Book of Rabbi Ishmael the High Priest, and The Revelation of Metatron. Rabbi Ishmael was a famous Jewish scholar who lived during the Bar Kochba period, roughly 135 A.D. Some of the document no doubt traces back to his time and even earlier, but it was redacted and edited and finalized later, although the actual date is in dispute. I wish to cite a number of key references from this Enoch because they illustrate with tremendous veracity and authority that the concept of a heavenly DIVINE BEING, next to the Ancient of days, or Supreme God, is well known and was greatly accepted by Jewish rabbis of the first few centuries of the present era. To them, it did not conflict with the idea of “One God” at all.
One scholar, H. Odeberg, states that a passage in 3 Enoch which “appears to describe Metatron as a primordial being” actually “dates from a time not later than the first century A.D.” (Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudopigrapha, p.226). It is acknowledged that 3 Enoch “contains some very old traditions” (p.229). The book describes heavenly visions, such as Enoch experienced, and from which it gets its name, although the author was not Enoch himself, but one who like Enoch was gifted with special revelations from God.
What does this book tell us about the Jewish concept of heaven and God’s throne?
3 Enoch presents God in the image of an emperor and His court. He has His heavenly palace, His throne, “and, in Metatron, His grand vizier” (p.241). Says P. Alexander, “By far the most significant angel in 3 Enoch is Metatron. Metatron’s position in the heavenly world is briefly and accurately summed up in the title ‘The lesser YHWH’; he is the HIGHEST of the archangels and GOD’S VICE-REGENT. Like the Holy One himself, he has a throne and presides over a celestial law court” (p.243).
The name “Metatron” itself has prompted much speculation as to its meaning. The Latin metator was used of “anyone who prepares the way.” The Greek word metaturannos means “one next to the ruler.” The Greek meta thronon means “next to the divine throne,” “the second throne.”
Says P. Alexander, “The powerful ‘angel of the Lord’ in the Old Testament (who is sometimes hard to distinguish from God himself) may be the prototype of 3 Enoch’s Metatron” (p.246). In a Dead Sea scroll (11Qmelch) the personage known as Melchizedek “appears as being exalted over all the angels,” and it is stated that He will “preside over a heavenly assize and exact punishment, with the help of the other angels” (p.249). The Qumran community apparently regarded Melchizedek as the high priest of the heavenly Temple – the same role in which Metatron is pictured in 3 Enoch.
Thus Metatron is the same personage as Melchizedek – and the apostle Paul identifies Melchizedek as none other than the One who became Jesus Christ! Paul writes that Melchizedek, to whom Abraham paid a tithe of all (Gen.14:18-20), was “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but MADE LIKE the Son of God, REMAINS a priest continually” (Heb.7:1-3).
Notice! This person had no parents, humanly speaking. He was KING of Salem, or Jerusalem, meaning, “king of peace” (verse 2). His name, itself, means “King of righteousness.” He pre-existed the Universe, having no “beginning of days.” He is an ETERNAL being, having “no end of life.” Thus His beginning had to be BEFORE CREATION, as “days” are defined as a product of the earth turning on its axis causing night and day.
Says P. Alexander, “A number of clear parallels between the heavenly Melzhizedek of Qumran and the Metatron of 3 Enoch at once suggest themselves: both figures hold exalted, if not pre-eminent, positions among the angels; both are heavenly judges . . .” (p.250). Both also had “earthly lives” – as did Jesus Christ!
Now let’s notice what 3 Enoch reveals about this mysterious figure known as “Metatron” in Jewish apocalyptic, mystical literature of the early centuries of the present era! Let us examine how this being’s pre-existence compares with the stated pre-existence of the Christ, the Nazarene – Jesus, the “Son of God” and the “Son of man.”
In 3 Enoch, Rabbi R. Ishmael begins with a vision wherein he ascended to behold God’s chariot in heaven. He prayed for God to protect him, as he felt very insecure in this awesome place. He relates, “At once the Holy One, blessed be he, summoned to my aid his servant Metatron, Prince of the Divine Presence” (3 Enoch 1:4). In 3 Enoch, the overwhelming majority of chapters begin with a reference to “Metatron, Prince of the Divine Presence.”
In chapter 3, the Rabbi asks Metatron, “What is your name?” He replies, “I have seventy names, corresponding to the seventy nations of the world, and all of them are based on the name of the King of the kings of kings; however, my King calls me ‘Youth.’” (3:1-2). Compare this with Proverbs 8, where Solomon speaks of Wisdom as being “brought forth” in the beginning. Solomon quotes Wisdom as saying, “When He appointed the foundations of the earth, then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him” (Prov.8:22-25, 29-30).
Metatron was called “Youth,” by God the Father, the Ancient of days. This implies that as compared to the Father, the super-archangel Metatron has a beginning, a time when He was “youthful.” Yet He became the Prince over all God’s Creation, and Co-ruler of the Universe!
R. Ishmael then asked Metatron, “Why are you called by the name of your Creator with seventy names? You are greater than all the princes, more exalted than all the angels, more beloved than all the ministers, more honored than all the hosts, and elevated over all potentates in sovereignty, greatness, and glory . . .” (3 Enoch 4:1).
Who was this being called Metatron?
Metatron said to Rabbi Ishmael, “Out of the love which he had for me, more than for all the denizens of the heights, the Holy One, blessed be he, fashioned for me a majestic robe . .. . He fashioned for me a kingly crown . . . He set it upon my head, and He called me, ‘The lesser YHWH’ in the presence of his whole household in the height, as it is written, ‘My name is in him’”(3 Enoch 12:1-5).
The book of 3 Enoch then tells of an episode where a certain Aher came to behold Metatron, and set his eyes on him, and was afraid and trembled, “when he saw me seated upon a throne like a king, with ministering angels standing beside me as servants and all the princes of kingdoms crowned with crowns surrounding me. Then he opened his mouth and said, ‘There are indeed two powers in heaven!’” (3 Enoch 16:2-4). Of course, he was mistaken – there are not two Gods in heaven, both equal to one another. Rather, Metatron was subordinant and subject to the authority of God the Father, even as Jesus Christ said, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).
In section called “Appendix to 3 Enoch,” with additional chapters and material, we read more of Metatron. Notice!
“Metatron is Prince over all princes, and stands before him who is exalted above all gods. He goes beneath the throne of glory, where he has a great tabernacle of light . . .” (15B:1).
“The Holy One, blessed be he, said: I made him strong, I took him, I appointed him, namely Metatron my servant, who is unique among all the denizens of the heights. . .” (48C:1).
“I made honor, majesty, and glory his garment; beauty, pride, and strength his outer robe, and a kingly crown . . . I bestowed on him some of my majesty, some of my magnificence, some of the splendor of my glory, which is on the throne of glory, and I called him by MY NAME, The Lesser YHWH, Prince of the Divine Presence, knower of secrets.’ Every secret I have made known to him in love, every mystery I have made known to him in uprightness.
“I have fixed his throne at the door of my palace, on the outside, so that he might sit and execute judgment over all my household in the height. I made every prince stand before him to receive authority from him and to do his will. I took seventy of my names and called him by them, so as to increase his honor. . . .
“As it is written, ‘So the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty: he carries out my will.’ It does not say here, ‘I carry out,’ but, ‘he carries out,’ which teaches us that Metatron stands and carries out every word and every utterance that issues from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be he, and executes the decree of the Holy One” (3 Enoch 48C:1-10).
How clear it is that this personage, Metatron, is another name for the Pre-existent Logos, the One who carries out EVERY WORD AND UTTERANCE of God the Father – that is, He is the same One as the “Word” of God – the LOGOS – the Pre-Existent Jesus Christ!
Notice it again –
“. . . Metatron stands and carries out every word and every utterance that issues from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be he, and executes the decree of the Holy One” (10).
In comparison, we read in the gospel of John:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1-5).
The Greek word for “Word” here is Logos and means “utterance, word, speech, #3056 in Strong’s Concordance, and means literally “something said (including the thought), by implication a topic . . . also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive; by extension, a computation; spec. (with the article in John) the Divine Expression (i.e. Christ) – account, cause, communication . . . matter, mouth, preaching, question, . . . speaker, speech, talk, thing . . . tidings, treatise, utterance, word, work.”
“Metatron” is another name for the Celestial Being who became the Lord Jesus Christ – Yeshua Ha Moshiach – the Messiah!
Enoch prophesied of this truth. The Jews during the time of Christ should have seen and understood it, because they had the book of Enoch. They had all the Old Testament prophecies. They knew the writings of Philo. They had the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.
3 Enoch declares further of Metatron:
“These are the seventy names – each of them like the sacred name on the chariot, engraved on the throne of glory – which the Holy One, blessed be he, took from his sacred name and bestowed on Metatron – seventy names by which the ministering angels the King of the king of kings in heaven above. . . .
“The angel Metatron, Prince of the Divine Presence, Prince of Torah, the angel, Prince of Wisdom; the angel, Prince of Understanding; the angel, Prince of Glory; the angel, Prince of the Palace; the angel, Prince of Kings; the angel, Prince of Rulers; the angel, Prince of the exalted, lofty, great and honored Princes, who are in heaven and earth, said, YHWH the God of Israel is my witness . . . .” (3 Enoch 48D:5-6).
This Being says He was the One who revealed the Divine Name to Moses at the burning bush – the “Angel of the Lord” (Exodus 3:2-6, 13-15). The other angels, according to the account in 3 Enoch, did not think mankind should have knowledge of the full meaning of the name YHWH or YHVH – YAHVEH. They said, “Why are you revealing it to flesh and blood?”
Metatron said to them when they questioned Him about it, “Because the Omnipotent One has given me the authority from the high and exalted throne, from which all the sacred names proceed with fiery lightnings.” He goes on, “But their minds were not set at ease until the Holy One, blessed be he, rebuked them and drove them out of his presence with a rebuke, saying to them, ‘I wished, I desired, I ordered it, and entrusted it to my servant Metatron alone, because he is unique among all the denizens of the heights. Metatron brought it out from my storehouses and committed it to Moses, and Moses to Joshua, Joshua to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets . . .’” (48D:8-10).
Metatron is another name for the Angel of the LORD – the One who appeared to Moses and said, categorically, “I AM WHO I AM. And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”’ Moreover God said to Moses . . . This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations” (Exodus 3:13-15).
Jesus Christ said plainly that this great individual was He Himself. He told the Pharisees, “Mose assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58).
There is no question, no doubt at all, that Jesus Christ pre-existed His human form as the Logos, the Word of God, the Angel of the Lord, Melchisedek, the Son of God, and Metatron – the “Lesser YHVH.” He bore God’s name – He was God’s “Son,” from the beginning of Creation, “the image of the invisible God, the FIRSTBORN over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible” (Col.1:15-16).
Therefore Titus spoke of Him as “our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Therefore Jude wrote of Him as “God our Saviour” (Jude 25). Therefore the apostle Thomas, who doubted the resurrection of Christ, when he put his fingers into his wounds, and his hand into his side, worshipped Him, saying, “My Lord and my GOD!” (John 20:28).
Those who do not understand this fundamental truth are indeed lost and perishing. For as John wrote, “He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (I John 2:22-23).
Do you know the real Jesus Christ – the Logos who became flesh and blood? Do you really know your Saviour? It’s time you did!