[Page 181]Review of Colby Townsend, “Returning to the Sources: Integrating Textual Criticism in the Study of Early Mormon Texts and History,” Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies 10, no. 1 (2019): 55–85, https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/imwjournal/vol10/iss1/6/.
Abstract: In the present article, Part 2 of 2 of a set of articles supporting Colby Townsend’s efforts to raise awareness of the importance of textual criticism, we focus on his argument that Joseph Smith created the Book of Moses names Mahijah and Mahujah after seeing a table of name variants in the Hebrew text of Genesis 4:18 in a Bible commentary written by Adam Clarke. While we are not averse in principle to the general possibility that Joseph Smith may have relied on study aids as part of his translation of the Bible, we discuss why in this case such a conjecture raises more questions than it answers. We argue that a common ancient source for Mahujah and Mahijah in the Book of Moses and similar names in the Bible and an ancient Dead Sea Scrolls Enoch text named the Book of Giants cannot be ruled out. More broadly, we reiterate and expand upon arguments we have made elsewhere that the short and fragmentary Book of Giants, a work not discovered until 1948, contains much more dense and generally more pertinent resemblances to Moses 6‒7 than the much longer 1 Enoch, the only ancient Enoch text outside the Bible that was published and translated into English in Joseph Smith’s lifetime.
In a recent article, Colby Townsend commendably pointed the attention of readers to the importance of embracing textual criticism as a key [Page 182]element of methodology for studying Latter-day Saint documents. He rightfully argues that if important textual sources are missing, mistranscribed, or misunderstood, no amount of subsequent analysis can fully compensate for what may have been lost in the mishandling of this essential prerequisite.
Although Townsend’s examples range over several topics in Latter- day Saint history and scripture, our response focuses specifically on topics relevant to the Book of Moses. In Part 1 we discussed topics related to the state-of-the-art with respect to textual criticism of the Book of Moses, along with some illustrative examples.1 In this, Part 2, we discuss material provided by Townsend in his article and in subsequent clarifying discussions with him that relate to a small set of rare personal names that are found in what seem to be variant forms within the Book of Giants, the Book of Moses, and the Bible. We will structure the present article around two questions:
- Where does the Qumran Book of Giants name Mahaway (MHWY) come from?
- Where do the Book of Moses names Mahujah (MHWY/MḤWY) and Mahijah (MHYY/MḤYY) come from?
In section 3, we build on the answers to the questions above to address a third question: “Could the Book of Moses names and the Book of Giants names have had a common origin in the ancient world?” Following a thought experiment that examines the relative similarity of the Book of Moses names to closely corresponding counterparts in Genesis 4:18 and the Book of Giants, we reflect more generally on the significance of the remarkable resemblances between the ancient Book of Giants and the Book of Moses, a work of modern scripture.
1. Where Does the Book of Giants Name Mahaway
(MHWY) Come From?
We begin our discussion of this question with a summary of Townsend’s views on the origin of the Book of Giants name Mahaway (MHWY). Adopting suggestions from current scholarship on the issue, he concludes that the name is related to the Aramaic verb to be. We will show why these suggestions are not as promising as they may seem at first glance.
Townsend: Mahaway as Creative Wordplay, Not Related to Similar Names in the Book of Moses
Though Townsend’s article gives no specific details about the origins of the Book of Giants name MHWY, he very clearly outlines his view that the names in the Book of Giants tradition and the Book of Moses tradition “are not the same, contra Nibley’s argument.”6 He continues his explanation as follows:7
The tri-literal roots for both names are in fact different, making the two different names altogether. … The fact that there is a letter difference between a “H” and a “Ḥ” moves us from one etymological study and meaning of the name to another name entirely. Mahijah/Mahujah, which are the same name, come from a root MḤH, “destroyed” or “smitten” one; and Mahaway [MHWY] comes from the root HYH, “to be,” “to happen,” “to occur,” or “to come to pass.” These are two completely separate names that are easily confused when transliterated into English from Hebrew. Nibley relied too heavily on his English transcription of both names — MHWY — and failed to recognized that the H represents two distinct letters.
[Page 184]We agree with the conclusion of Townsend that differences in spelling in ancient names such as those he describes imply more than a change in pronunciation, since the different spellings have different meanings.8 However, we think that he overstates current evidence when he concludes without qualification that the Book of Moses names Mahijah and Mahujah are necessarily identical, that they are forcibly spelled with an “Ḥ” rather than an “H,” and that they cannot be related to the Book of Giants name Mahaway.
We discuss later below the reasons for our doubts about the certainty of these conclusions. First, however, we summarize the proposals of some prominent Enoch scholars on the origins of the Book of Giants name Mahaway (MHWY). Some aspects of their proposals agree with the general spirit of the views expressed in Townsend’s article and some do not.
The first individual known to have advanced a hypothesis on the origin of the Book of Giants name MHWY was the eminent Enoch scholar Józef T. Milik, who, with the collaboration of Matthew Black, published the first English translation of the Book of Giants in 1976.9 Milik’s brief suggestions are similar to Townsend’s description above about the derivation of the name Mahaway. Speaking more broadly about the names of the three Book of Giants characters Hahyah, ʾOhyah, and Mahaway, Milik concluded that “these three names, comparable to YHWH, are causative forms of HWH/HYH [i.e., ‘to be’].”10 Thanks to Townsend, we were also made aware of a statement by another well- known Enoch scholar George Nickelsburg, who later cited Milik’s suggestion about the relationship of these three names to HWH/HYH, adding his view that they are “are evident plays on the Tetragrammaton [i.e., YHWH, the four-letter name of the Lord]. The angelic rebellion is exacerbated through blasphemy.”11
From what we have been able to discover, later scholarship has not taken up the gauntlet to pursue the suggestions of Milik and Nickelsburg about the name MHWY with a more thorough analysis. Loren T. Stuckenbruck, a well-known Book of Giants scholar, simply repeated the previous suggestion of Milik and Nickelsburg with a slight variation, concluding laconically that, in the case of Mahaway (MHWY), “perhaps some derivation from the Aramaic verb ‘to be’ (HWY) in conjunction with a mem prefix is not impossible.”12 In this he differed somewhat from Townsend, who wrote in his article that MHWY “comes from the [Hebrew] root HYH.”13 With respect to that difference from Stuckenbruck, Townsend informed us later, in [Page 185]a personal communication, that he now believes that Mahaway is related to the Aramaic verb HWY rather than to the Hebrew root HYH, as was originally stated in his article.
After Stuckenbruck made the brief conjecture above, he immediately went on to another subject. Unfortunately, the comments of all three scholars mentioned are brief, and, so far as we have been able to find out, none supports their hypothesis with more precision than what is given above. Until we learn that this subject has received more than a cursory analysis, we will have to make our own educated guesses as to the possibilities of specific linguistic forms these scholars may have had in mind when they made their suggestions.
In addition to what is mentioned above, some additional perspectives from these scholars bear discussion. Importantly, while they agree with Townsend in their suggestion that MHWY might be related to the Aramaic verb to be, Stuckenbruck and Milik differ with Townsend’s proposal in some important respects:
- In contrast to Townsend’s unqualified assertion that MHWY derives from the Aramaic verb to be, Stuckenbruck is quite tentative in his suggestions. Note that his statement on the matter cited above used the cautious words “perhaps” and “not impossible.”14 Moreover, in a summary qualification relating to his proposal, he conceded that the name MHWY “is impossible to decipher with any confidence.”15
- Milik disagrees with another aspect of Townsend’s proposal, namely the general assertion that versions of the names spelled with H and versions spelled with Ḥ are necessarily “completely separate.”16 While accepting the fact that the Book of Giants name MHWY and the biblical name element MḤWY are spelled differently in their source texts, Milik sees no difficulty in a possible historical relationship between the names. In Milik’s English translation of the Book of Giants, he wrote, without further elaboration, that the name Mahaway (MHWY) was “perhaps transformed, Genesis 4:18, into Mehujael [MḤWY-EL], son of ‘Irad.’”17 Given Milik’s suggestion and the additional evidence that we present below, it is certainly not a given that Hugh Nibley was mistaken in his conjecture that the names Mehujael (MḤWY-EL) and [Page 186]Mahaway (MHWY) are related.18 Nibley certainly knew the difference between Ḥ and H.
- In contrast to Nickelsburg’s proposal that the Hahyah, ʾOhyah, and Mahaway “are evident plays on the Tetragrammaton [i.e., YHWH, the four-letter name of the Lord],”19 it is significant that Stuckenbruck cited the possibility of wordplay on the Tetragrammaton only in connection with ʾOhyah and Hahyah, not Mahaway.20
Later on, we detail our views on why a historical relationship between the name Mehujael in Genesis 4:18, the name Mahaway in the Book of Giants, and the similar names Mahijah and Mahujah in the Book of Moses, is plausible. But first, for the benefit of the reader who understandably may be struggling to sort out the orthography of these similarly spelled names in their various Hebrew, Aramaic, and English incarnations, we now digress in order to summarize this topic.
Sorting Out the Ancient and Modern Spelling of the Similar Book of Giants, Book of Moses, and Bible Names
We begin by observing that the vowels in the English transliteration of the Book of Giants name MHWY are at present largely a matter of conjecture, since no vowels appear in the Aramaic text. Compounding the difficulty for non-specialists in recognizing similarities and differences in the spellings of ancient names is the fact that translators differ in their English transliteration. For example, the English letters j, y, and i are variously used to represent the Semitic letter yod. Thus, in English translations of the Book of Giants, we see several variants of the same name: Mahaway21 (the most common), Mahawai,22 Mahway,23 and Mahuy24 — or, with the y transliterated with a j, as is frequently done with other names containing a yod in the King James Bible — Mahuj.
Regarding Mahujah and Mahijah from the Book of Moses, we have English versions of the names containing vowels, but it is impossible to tell from the English text alone whether the second consonant in the names would have been written anciently as the equivalent of an H (as in the Book of Giants) or an Ḥ (as in Genesis 4:18). In other words, if we assume an ancient equivalent of the English name Mahijah, it could have been written either as MHYY or MḤYY. Likewise, Mahujah could have been written as MHWY or MḤWY.
With respect to the similar King James Bible name Mehujael, twice- mentioned in Genesis 4:18, the underlying Hebrew is spelled differently in each instance. In other words, though the name is spelled [Page 187]the same way both times in English (Mehujael), in Hebrew it is spelled once as Mehujael (MḤWY-EL) and once as Mehijael (MḤYY-EL).25 Notably, on the one hand, the Book of Moses names resemble the two Hebrew versions of the name in Genesis 4:18 in that both a u and an i variant of the name exists. However, on the other hand, the Book of Moses names are also similar to the Book of Giants name in that they omit the Genesis 4:18 ending “-EL.”
As in every language, the form and spellings of names change over time and as they pass from one culture to another. In the next section we argue that, contra the arguments in Townsend’s article26 and despite a significant difference in one consonant (Ḥ [Bible] vs. H [Book of Giants]), there is currently no compelling reason why the Book of Giants name Mahaway (MHWY) could not have been related at some point in its history to the King James Bible name elements Mehuja-/ Mehija- (MḤWY- /MḤYY-) and to the Book of Moses names Mahujah (MHWY/MḤWY) and Mahijah (MHYY/MḤYY).
Continuing our discussion of the origin of the name Mahaway, we now raise three specific questions about Townsend’s proposal:
- Why is it difficult to rule out a historical relationship between the Book of Giants and biblical names? Our response to this question attempts to flesh out one possible rationale for Milik’s unelaborated suggestion that that the name Mahaway (MHWY) could have been “transformed, Genesis 4:18, into Mehujael [MḤWY-EL], son of ‘Irad.’”27
- What linguistic considerations make it unlikely that MHWY is involved in wordplay with ʾOhyah and Hahyah? We differ with Milik’s proposal that all “three names” are “comparable to YHWH” and are “causative forms of HWH/HYH [i.e., ‘to be’]”28 and also with Nickelsburg’s suggestion that the three names “are evident plays on the Tetragrammaton [i.e., YHWH, the four-letter name of the Lord].”29 Instead, in light of linguistic considerations, we side with Stuckenbruck, who cited the possibility of wordplay on the Tetragrammaton only in connection with ʾOhyah and Hahyah, not Mahujah.30 The lack of evidence for wordplay on the name Mahaway leaves the reader bereft of a rationale for why the author of the Book of Giants would have invented this name from scratch, rather than adopting an already- known name from earlier [Page 188]traditions, as he did in the case of other characters, such as Gilgamesh.
- What literary considerations make it unlikely that MHWY is involved in wordplay with ʾOhyah and Hahyah? In our discussion of this question, we agree with Stuckenbruck, who wrote, “ʾOhyah and Hahyah may be treated together, as they are referred to as prominent giant brothers (cf. 4Q530, fragment ii, line 15).”31 In our response to the question, we describe several reasons, based on literary considerations, why the name and character of Mahaway, the son of Baraq’el, should be treated separately from ʾOhyah and Hahyah, the twin sons of Shemiḥazah.
After addressing the issues raised by these questions, and while acknowledging Stuckenbruck’s conclusion that the name Mahaway “is impossible to decipher with any confidence,”32 we propose what we see as a few of perhaps many plausible alternative explanations for the origin of the name Mahaway that are consistent with our overall analysis.
Why Is It Difficult to Rule Out a Historical Relationship Between the Book of Giants and Biblical Names?
The evidence we present below suggests that we are not obliged to rule out some kind of relationship between the biblical name element Mehuja- and Book of Giants Mahaway because of a difference in spelling (Ḥ vs. H). Though Townsend recognizes that these “two completely separate names … are easily confused when transliterated into English from the Hebrew,”33 he never addresses the possibility that it would have also been easy for a similar confusion to have arisen in the work of one or more ancient authors and tradents. For example, Qumran Hebrew expert Eric Reymond has demonstrated that the confusion of H and Ḥ at Qumran goes in both directions, citing “examples of heh [H] written for etymological ḥeth [Ḥ] and vice versa.”34
Describing how such confusions could have occurred anciently as scribes copied texts, David Calabro noted that35
the Hebrew letters heh (H) and ḥeth (Ḥ) are easily mixed up, since they look very similar — especially as we read them in Hebrew hands from the period of the Dead Sea Scrolls. [Since] Townsend accepts the mix-up of the Hebrew letters waw (V) and yod (Y) in Genesis 4:18,36 he has no reason not to accept the possible mix-up of heh and ḥeth in [the biblical and Book of Giants] names.
Indeed, mix-ups of heh and ḥeth of the sort noted by Calabro are not merely conjectural, but are amply demonstrated as realities that present challenges in the work of modern Dead Sea Scrolls experts.38 For example, as one justification for their alternate reading of 4Q530 (an important source manuscript for the Book of Giants), Daniel Machiela and Andrew Perrin recognized that “the letters heh and ḥeth are at times quite similar in this scribe’s handwriting.”39
Indeed, to take an example that is directly relevant to the names under discussion, we observe that differences between scholars about whether the 4Q530 scribe wrote a heh or a ḥeth have resulted in divergent opinions about whether the name Mahaway appears or not in Fragment 7, column ii, line 7 (see Figure 3). In 1976 Milik read the Hebrew term in question as LMḤWY and translated the line as “here. From you, a second time.”43 However, Émile Puech’s more recent transcription [Page 190]reads the term as LMHWY, resulting in Edward Cook’s translation of line 7 as “hither and thither a second time to Mahaway.”44
Of course, our point here is not to take a stand on which reading of this passage in 4Q530 is correct, but rather to demonstrate that confusions of heh and ḥeth that affect transcriptions and translations today could have easily occurred in ancient times.45
Another line of evidence, based on pronunciation, also confirms the possibility of confusion between the two letters. Note that the Semitic letter ḥeth (Ḥ) was pronounced anciently as a pharyngeal fricative,46 while the letter heh (H) was pronounced more like the h in English. In addition to evidence of confusion based on transcription errors, it is possible that tendencies in local pronunciation (i.e., weakening of gutturals) in Qumran may have also contributed to spellings in which ḥeth was confused for heh.47 For example, Reymond cites Kutscher, who concluded that at Qumran, “the ḥeth was apparently pronounced very nearly like a heh.”48 Moreover, Reymond observes that visual and aural sources of error are not mutually exclusive, concluding that “although [the cited examples] may reflect ḥeth’s weakening, one must recognize that all such mistakes may not reflect aural mistakes, but rather visual gaffes, the two letters being so similar in shape.”49
In summary, despite spelling differences between the name element MḤWY- (Genesis 4:18) and the name MHWY (Book of Giants) in their extant forms, evidence relating to the possibility of transcription errors as well as the related tendencies at Qumran to weaken pronunciation of the guttural lead us to a plausible alternative to Townsend’s suggestion that MHWY was deliberately invented from scratch for the purposes of wordplay by the Book of Giants author. The well-established fact of ancient and modern confusions of H and Ḥ opens up the possibility, discussed in more detail later below, that the similar but different names in the Bible and the Book of Giants may derive from a common name that pre-dated both texts. This line of reasoning also opens up the possibility that the Book of Moses names Mahujah and Mahijah are related to the names in the Bible and/or the Book of Giants in similar fashion, as also will be argued later on.
What Linguistic Considerations Make It Unlikely That MHWY Is Involved in Wordplay with ʾOhyah and Hahyah?
At the outset of our response to this question, we would like it to be understood that the connection between the names ʾOhyah/Hahyah and the Tetragrammaton suggested by Milik, Nickelsburg, and Townsend [Page 191]seems plausible enough to us at first blush. In other words, we do not disagree up front with the straightforward argument that ʾOhyah (ʾWHYH) and Hahyah (HHYH) created aural plays or echoes on the Hebrew verb to be (HYH). However, any effort to posit a link between these two names and that of Mahaway (MHWY) by this conjecture would in addition have to explain why, if all three names were indeed invented by the Book of Giants author for wordplay, ʾOhyah and Hahya would be related to a Hebrew version of the verb (HYH), while Mahaway would be related to an Aramaic one (HWY).
In addition, we are not averse to the idea that ʾOhyah and Hahyah may indeed be “plays” on or echoes of the Tetragrammaton and may point to “angelic rebellion … exacerbated through blasphemy,”50 as Milik and Nickelsburg first conjectured, though we note that these claims demand a more precise analysis of the grammar and form of the names. Following Milik and Nickelsburg, Stuckenbruck also suggested the possibility that wordplay using ʾOhyah and Hahyah might involve the Hebrew verb to be, though, like them, he refrained from positing any specific grammatical forms or meanings for these names.51
In his brief discusion Stuckenbruck suggested theophoric ‒yāh names as an alternative explanation for ʾOhyah and Hahyah. Of course, if he is correct in this suggestion, it would apply only to ʾOhyah and Hahyah, not Mahaway. While conceding that “the matter remains uncertain,”52 Stuckenbruck sees at least one reason to favor this latter explanation (theophoric ‒yāh) over the idea of wordplay on the Hebrew verb to be. He wrote, “If … there is any analogy with many of the names of the watchers (that, e.g., carry -’el suffixes), then there is reason to prefer the [theophoric –yāh] explanation.”53
Taken together, the foregoing evidence warrants strong caution against attempting to say anything about the names ʾOhyah and Hahyah with certainty from a linguistic perspective, especially in light of the absence of precise and convincing grammatical explanations for these names.
While still conceding the possibility of wordplay for ʾOhyah and Hahyah, we find the grammatical case much weaker for Mahaway (MHWY). Why is this so?
Overwhelmingly, names in the ancient Near East and in ancient Israel follow rules of name formation. Though it is true that the name MHWY might putatively match a participial Aphel form of the Aramaic HWY (meaning “to create or cause to be”), there is a paucity of attested Aphel forms in the relevant literature. Stuckenbruck is even more diffident, [Page 192]suggesting that “the meaning of the name Mahaway … is impossible to decipher with any confidence,” speculatively offering only that “perhaps … the name includes a derivation from the Aramaic verb ‘to be’ [HWY] in conjunction with a mem prefix.”54 In other words, he does not commit to a nominal or a (participial) verbal form.
One might venture with Jeffrey L. Cooley that “perhaps the three names [ʾOhyah, Hahyah, and Mahaway] are deliberate corruptions of the Tetragrammaton, or even playing on Yahweh’s self-identification to Moses in Exodus 3:14 in which the verb [HYH] is used in the first-person imperfect three times.”55 But even in so venturing, Cooley concedes that “this proposal is, of course, highly speculative.”56 And, as observed above, the fact that ʾOhyah and Hahya would be related to a Hebrew version of the verb (HYH), while Mahaway would be related to an Aramaic one (HWY), remains unexplained.
The absence of viable grammatical proposals for Mahaway, as for the other names, is telling and ultimately renders any connection of MHWY with the Aramaic HWY, let alone wordplay involving the Tetragrammaton and the other giant names, a matter of speculation.
Leaving aside the unsupported idea that Mahaway was invented from scratch for the purposes of wordplay, a direct dependence of Mahaway on Mehujael is also doubtful. Sometimes names are shortened and theophoric elements are removed from the ends of the names, but much more rarely are root letters deliberately changed. Apart from deliberate scribal dysphemisms (e.g., Meribbaal to Mephibosheth), we think it would be very difficult to find examples of both types of deliberate changes in a single name, especially for discernible literary purposes.
As argued above, the clear ad hoc character of the names ʾOhyah and Hahyah strikes a stark contrast with the different character of Mahaway’s name. Having established the doubtful basis of any suggestion that Mahaway is involved in wordplay with these characters based on linguistic arguments, as well as the alternative suggestion that the name is directly dependent on the Bible, let us now consider the same question from a literary perspective.
What Literary Considerations Make It Unlikely That MHWY Is Involved in Wordplay with ʾOhyah and Hahyah?
The short answer to this question is that throughout the Book of Giants narrative, ʾOhyah and Hahyah constitute a deliberate and distinctive pair. By itself, the fact that Mahaway (MHWY) stands outside this pairing makes it more difficult to argue that this name has the same literary function. This and related considerations throw additional doubt on the already unlikely argument that the name Mahaway was invented from scratch to facilitate wordplay with ʾOhyah and Hahyah.
Throughout the long, intertwined history of the two characters corresponding to ʾOhyah and Hahyah, across many different cultures and traditions, they have always been presented as a pair58 — indeed very often as a pair of twins with rhyming names. When described as a single unit, as they so often are, they are variously labeled as “demonic twins,” “angels twain,” “two youths,” and so forth.59 James Russell gives these selected highlights of the far-flung origins and history of this twosome:60
Originally the two are Ṣemiḥaza or Ṣemḥazai, and ʾAzael; and the former has two sons, Hiya and Hiwa. The rhyming names of the latter were chanted, the Talmud notes, by boatmen as they strained at their ropes. The Manichaean version of the Book of Giants knows Ṣahmizād and his sons ʾOhyā and Ahyā. A Sogdian text equates the former with Sām; and [Page 194]the twin angels are in Persian named as Sām and Narīman. The Avestan epic hero of the cycle of the kavis, Kǝrǝsāspa, belongs to the Sāma clan and is called naire.manah-, “manly- minded”; so the Iranizing version of the narrative has equated the fallen angels, it would seem, with him. In Parthian the giants themselves are kaw-ān, “kavis.” Later Jewish lore stresses the rhymed character of the twins’ names by calling them ʾAza and ʾAzael. The giants in the earth practice telling lies (Aramaic šqrh, kdbyn); and in the apocryphal Book of Jubilees (8.1–4) the Watchers (Greek egrēgoroi, Aramaic ʾirin), who unlike the vigilant angels of the heavenly host are fallen beings, are said to have initiated divination using astrology. So the apocryphal literature of Jews, Christians, and Manichaeans that existed at the dawn of Islam had a pair of fallen angels whose names sometimes rhymed and who lied and invented magic.
Now let’s consider details about the distinctiveness of the ʾOhyah/Hahyah pair as they are found specifically in the Book of Giants. After this analysis, it will become evident why, when we try to group ʾOhyah, Hahyah, and Mahaway as a threesome, Mahaway always seems to be the “odd man out” — not merely for the linguistic considerations discussed in the previous section, but in addition for literary reasons. The table below summarizes some obvious differences between Mahaway and the other two characters.
|Do the names occur elsewhere in ancient literature of pre-Christian era?||No||Yes|
|Explicit wordplay||Rhyming names; “Heave!” “Ho!” wordplay||Not an obvious part of the rhyming/punning wordplay|
|Relationship with Enoch||No personal acquaintance||Spoken to “very lovingly”|
Table 1. Summary of some obvious differences between the ʾOhyah/Hahyah pair and the standout Mahaway.
[Page 195]Do the names occur elsewhere in the ancient literature of the pre-Christian era? In contrast to name variants of the Book of Giants characters Mahaway, Gilgamesh, and Humbaba that are scattered in various places, the names ʾOhyah and Hahya do not occur in the ancient literature of the pre-Christian era (except in the Book of Giants itself), suggesting that they are of later origin than the others. Moreover, while story characters equivalent to ʾOhyah and Hahya appear in several derivative medieval Jewish61 and Islamic62 accounts of the two dreamers, characters with names relating to Mahaway, Gilgamesh, or Humbaba go conspicuously unmentioned in these late accounts. This fact highlights the virtual inseparability of ʾOhyah and Hahya, as well as their literary independence from Mahaway, Gilgamesh, and Humbaba.
In a related hint that supports this conclusion, a medieval Enoch account written in Arabic depicts a king named Yamaḥuel (suggested by Reeves and Reed as a a reference to the biblical Meḥujael) who is identified with a group of idolatrous adversaries of Enoch.63 Thus, while the story contains a name with arguable affinity to Mahaway, a pair of characters corresponding to ʾOhyah and Hahyah does not appear in the tale — again providing some (admittedly more limited) support for the argument that ʾOhyah and Hahyah are best understood as a literary twosome rather than a trio that includes Mahaway.
Explicit wordplay. Mahaway is not an obvious part of the sorts of rhyming and punning wordplay in which ‘Ohya and Hahyah participate in various accounts of their exploits. On the other hand, the tradition of rhyming wordplay in the Book of Giants is so integral to these characters that it continues into late midrash, where the names of ‘Ohya and Hahyah are given the similarly rhyming names of Hiwwa (hyww’) and Hiyya (hyy’).64 Expanding on the explicit rhyming of the names, midrash also explicitly connects them to a wordplay on the “Heave!” and “Ho!” cry of heavy laborers,65 leading André Caquot to go so far as to suggest that their names may have actually originated in these interjections.66 Remarkably, the rhyming tradition of the twin names is picked up in many languages and cultures in other forms. For example, Qur’an 2:102 and related Islamic traditions relating to the ʾOhyah and Hahyah characters give us Hārūt and Mārūt,67 the rhyming names perhaps having their origin in pre-Christian Armenian words for “plants” (hawrot) and “waters” (mawrot).68 These names may also relate to Haurvatāt and Amǝrǝtāt, “the rhyming pair amongst the seven Amǝša Spǝntas, the ‘Holy Immortals’ of the Avesta.”69 And, continues James Russell, “at the proverbial world’s edge skulk the giants of Biblical apocalyptic myth Gog70 and Magog, … [Page 196]known to Armenians also by their Arabicized forms Yaǰuǰ and Maǰuǰ, from which Armenian ǰoǰ, ‘giant,’ may derive.”71
Role. While Mahaway primarily plays the role of a serious-minded, message-bringing mediator,72 ʾOhyah and Hahyah are depicted as ineffectual quarrelers,73 dreamers,74 and worriers75 — Doppelgängers afflicted with nagging Doppelträumes. In their appointed role, they seem almost to be sketched with the pen of a skilled caricaturist who has introduced a measure of comic relief that both pervades the larger narrative and persists in the very details of their Tweedledum- Tweedledee- like names. Like Hergé’s Dupond and Dupont, part of the silliness of the two brothers is in the paradoxical fact that their “most singular quality is what is common to them,”76 most obvious in the style of the tellings of their two complementary dreams.
Relationship with Enoch. Ironically, the physically powerful ʾOhyah and Hahyah are uncharacteristically shy when it comes to posing questions to Enoch. On the other hand, Mahaway is depicted in the Book of Giants as someone who moves easily between the world of the gibborim and the world of Enoch, having met personally with the prophet on at least two occasions.77 Thus, Mahaway, to whom Enoch himself had once called out “very lovingly,”78 seems to have a different and unique relationship to the prophet, and, by way of contrast to ʾOhyah and Hahyah, is otherwise portrayed quite sympathetically in the Book of Giants overall. As Jens Wilkens observes: “One is tempted to postulate an emotional relationship between [Mahaway] and Enoch. The former obviously is not as corrupted as his fellows.”79
There is a hint of pathos in an ancient passage that seems to highlight the contrast between the violent slaughter of Enoch’s adversaries en masse to the more singular and personal description of the dramatic death of the prominent80 Mahaway by the supreme head of the angelic host: “the great angel has slain that messenger whom they had.”81
Father. While a single father, Shemiḥazah,82 sired the twin brothers, Mahaway describes himself as a son of Baraq’el.83 The idea that Shemiḥazah’s name was associated with a name of God (perhaps adding support for Stuckenbruck’s proposal of a theophoric –yāh termination in the names of Shemiḥazah’s sons ʾOhyah and Hahyah84) is suggested by Michael Langlois, who interprets the name as “Shem sees” (i.e., “the Name sees),”85 where “the Name” refers to God.
Here we conclude our examination of Townsend’s proposal for the origin of the Book of Giants name Mahaway. In the first place, we have discovered no conclusive reason why the MḤWYʾL of Genesis and the [Page 197]MHWY of the Book of Giants could not have had a common origin in an ancient name that predated both books. Second, we have presented both linguistic and literary reasons that make it unlikely that Mahaway was involved in wordplay with the names ʾOhyah and Hahyah, thus, in our view, significantly weakening the plausibility of the only rationale offered for the theory that Mahaway was a deliberate, de novo literary creation.
Abandoning further discussion of this seemingly unlikely option, we now sketch out what we see as a more satisfactory explanation for the name MHWY.
Is There a More Satisfactory Explanation for the Book of Giants Name MHWY?
Is it possible that the name Mahaway, rather than being created ad hoc by the author of the Book of Giants, instead had its origins in an already existent name, retained in the same or similar form that came down to the author from a tradition independent of the Bible? There is a precedent for this scenario in the author’s use of the equally distinctive name of Gilgamesh, a character whose literary history is known to have pre-existed the Book of Giants. Could the same have been true for Mahaway? In this section, we suggest reasons why it would be difficult to rule out this explanation.
Our discussion of some plausible origins for the name Mahaway that might have predated the Book of Giants will rest on an examination of three questions:
- Was the Book of Giants primarily derived from the Bible and 1 Enoch?
- What evidence exists for threads from ancient Mesopotamia in the Book of Giants?
- Might the history of the Book of Giants name MHWY trace back to Mesopotamia?
Was the Book of Giants Primarily Derived from the Bible and 1 Enoch?
While a simple theory for the origin of the Book of Giants might consider it merely as a “rewritten Bible” with some dependence on 1 Enoch, biblical scholarship is increasingly giving way to methods that require, as John Reeves and Annette Yoshiko Reed describe, “a shift away from the older scholarly obsession with ‘origins’ whereby the study of scriptures often focused on the recovery of hypothetical sources behind them.”86 [Page 198]With specific respect to the sources of the Qumran library, André Lemaire observes that “accepted texts” as we think of them today simply did not exist at the time the scrolls were copied:87
Since we live more than two thousand years after the Qumran manuscripts were copied, we may be tempted as modern readers to recognize … [a] direct link with the books of the Bible. Such a conclusion seems obvious from the titles given to certain manuscripts. … However these titles may give the false impression that the Aramaic manuscripts of Qumran were centered on the Bible and dependent on it even though the Bible itself … did not yet exist. A bibliocentric vision of this sort appears anachronistic.
Going further, John Reeves explains:88
The … “Bible” and Qur’an are magnetized nodes within a common “text network” that share a lexicon of ancestral heroes, places, and narrativized events, a lexicon not limited by the constraints of canon or its lemmata governed by the “tyranny of canonical assumptions.” Within this lexicon resides a rich reservoir of revered tales, ancestral folklore, and tribal traditions about the pre-Deluge era that antedate their varying literary presentations in works such as the many redacted forms of Genesis, the Enochic Book of Watchers, renditions of the Second Temple book of Jubilees, and so-called rewritten components of the biblical primeval history (Genesis 1–11). Therein also resides the cultural memory — and perhaps even physical exemplars — of the written sources and editorial moves that preceded the later formal crystallization of discrete textual entities such as proto-Masoretic “Genesis” or “Jubilees.”
The skepticism of scholars such as Reeves, Reed, and Lemaire about characterizing works such as the Book of Giants as part of a “rewritten Bible” further extends to doubts about the idea of it being a “rewritten 1 Enoch.” In addition to the considerations raised above, it should be remembered that the Book of Giants was “very popular at Qumran,” more popular than 1 Enoch itself.89 More significantly, the Book of Giants is arguably the oldest extant Enoch manuscript, and therefore, according to Nickelsburg, essential in “reconstruct[ing] the literary shapes of the early stages of the Enochic tradition.”90 For these reasons and more, the Book of Giants is a document that should “be taken seriously in its [Page 199]own right,”91 rather than seen merely as an intriguingly anomalous yet insignificant afterclap of 1 Enoch.
In summary, Stuckenbruck describes three factors that make the Book of Giants distinctive from contemporary Jewish works:92
- Whereas the other Enochic compositions are “pseudepigrapha” in the technical sense, the Book of Giants seems not to have been a first-person account attributed to Enoch himself (contra Milik … ). … In the Book of Giants Enoch is never clearly portrayed as a first person narrator; and furthermore, none of the Book of Giants materials unambiguously cast Enoch in the role of being the recipient of visions or dreams. …
- Secondly, the Book of Giants distinguishes itself in the role assigned to Enoch. As just mentioned, he is not the recipient of dreams; instead he functions in the narrative as a dream interpreter par excellence as he clarifies the meaning of the ominous visions given to the giants. …
- Thirdly, and most significant … , the author(s) of the Book of Giants cast the spotlight on the gigantic offspring of the watchers more than any other extant Jewish document written or copied during the Second Temple period. … It is only in the Book of Giants that any of the giants are actually given proper names.
Notwithstanding the unique nature of the narrative and the unrivaled prominence and antiquity of the Book of Giants at Qumran, the first reflex of some scholars is to attribute any resemblances to 1 Enoch to “borrowing” from the latter source. As part of a larger effort to counter such reflexive tendencies, Reeves has demonstrated with a well-argued example that the tale of Hārūt and Mārūt, though sharing some affinities with 1 Enoch, is actually more dependent in its conceptual foundations on the book of Jubilees.93 He has concluded that the relative neglect of Jubilees in scholarly circles, “a work … that does not necessarily ‘rewrite’ any of the ‘canonical’ versions,”94 can be attributed, at least in part, to misconceptions about Jubilees itself that relegate it (like the Book of Giants) to a secondary, derivative status:95
Speaking in both conceptual and archaeological (i.e., physical) terms, it seems to be more responsible to view Jubilees as simply one pre-canonical manifestation of the rich pool of sub-textual ancestral traditions that also surface in related but distinctive forms of the biblical books of Genesis-Exodus [Page 200]as well as in other places outside those books that utilize many of the same characters, stories, and themes.
What Evidence Exists for Threads from Ancient Mesopotamia in the Book of Giants?
In contrast to the idea that the Book of Giants is primarily dependent on the Bible and 1 Enoch, current scholarship sees hints of more ancient and complex roots for the text than were once acknowledged. For example, André Caquot, among others, has argued that “the reference to Gilgamesh argues for the original of the Book of Giants in an eastern diaspora.”96 Extending arguments of other scholars that are based solely on Mesopotamian names in the Book of Giants, Matthew Goff’s significant reconstruction of the plot of the Book of Giants demonstrated that the text “creatively appropriates motifs” from the Gilgamesh epic.97 Going further, Joseph Angel has subsequently concluded from his review of the evidence that the composition “preserves only the remains of a complex allegory, whose original referents cannot be recovered.”98
Other studies specifically suggest that caution should also be exercised in assuming any direct dependence at all of the Book of Giants on 1 Enoch. Indeed, André Lemaire concludes that it is a bad idea to begin with to try and assimilate the Book of Giants to 1 Enoch, because “these two literary traditions are different and have had a different literary posterity.”99 He goes on to explore evidence that bears on specific questions of transmission, gathering new evidence of contact between cuneiform culture and the Jews from additional references in the Book of Giants (e.g., descriptions of the “tablet” or “board” — lwh — that parallel the Akkadian lē’u). He also brings in relevant evidence from the Prayer of Nabonidus.
As another recent example, in a comparison of Ezekiel 1, Daniel 7, 1 Enoch 14, and the Book of Giants, Amanda M. Davis Bledsoe100 argues that 1 Enoch 14’s adoption of the Danielic idea of the deity shows only that this idea was “accepted even at a late period, and does not automatically make [1 Enoch 14] older even if the tradition may be observed in generally more ancient writings.” More generally, she concluded “that all three of these texts drew from a common tradition(s) regarding the heavenly throne and then adapted it to fit within their individual context.”101 In other words (according to Bledsoe), Daniel, 1 Enoch, and the Book of Giants independently draw on “common tradition(s)” that are older than any of the three texts. Going further, Stuckenbruck concludes that the Book of Giants “has preserved the throne-theophany in an earlier [Page 201]form” than what one finds in Daniel 7 and that “Daniel’s redaction of this tradition was [independently] shaped by other Enochic traditions” found in 1 Enoch 14 and 90.102
The conclusions of Bledsoe can be compared to the analogous mention of Noah, Daniel, and Job in Ezekiel 14:14, 20. The mention of these individuals in Ezekiel does not make the books of Ezekiel and Job late compositions because Ezekiel mentions Daniel. Nor does it make the canonical book of Daniel an early composition because Ezekiel mentions him here. These verses can be cited as evidence that well-established traditions concerning Noah, Daniel, and Job existed during Ezekiel’s time (late 7th‒6th centuries bce), if one accepts Ezekiel’s authorship of the passage (there is no convincing reason not to accept such!). The important point to be made is that such statements do nothing to help us establish the precise dating of any canonical book of scripture — this on account of the nature of the use and reuse of tradition. Just as Noah, Daniel, and Job traditions were established and venerable enough for Ezekiel to invoke them, so the intertwined texts of the Enochic tradition should be viewed in a similar light.103
Might the History of the Book of Giants Name MHWY Trace Back to Mesopotamia?
Before examining specific possibilities for the origin of the name Mahaway in Mesopotamia, we should ask: What do we know generally about the source of the names in the Book of Giants? With respect to twenty fallen archangels (Watchers) that appear in that work and elsewhere, the highlight of Michael Langlois’ survey is both the antiquity and diversity of the names.104 We have seen a glimpse of the diversity in the names of ʾOhyah, Hahyah, and Mahaway, where the first two names appear to be of late origin, while the roots of the third are less clear but, as we argue above, seem to be older.
Why is the age and the origin of the names important? Because, as is being increasingly established by scholars, there are significant — and in several respects unique — strands of Mesopotamian influences in the Book of Giants that set it apart from the more well-known 1 Enoch writings, including likely influences on names. While we have argued this point more generally earlier in the article, we now want to stress its implications by a closer examination of the similarly spelled names in the Bible, the Book of Giants, and the Book of Moses.
As with the Book of Giants name Mahaway and the Book of Moses names Mahujah/Mahijah, the etymology of the biblical name Mehujael [Page 202]remains uncertain. As Richard Hess observes, “It is generally agreed that Mehujael is composed of two elements, the second of which is ʾl, “god” [sic] but the first element is generally disputed.”105
We should not rule out the possibility that the name Mehujael is older, perhaps much older, than the biblical text of Genesis as we have it today. If one limits one’s investigation of Mehujael to possible West Semitic etymologies, “West Semitc mḥʾ, ‘to smite,’ and a participial form of ḥyh, ‘to live’” are the most viable options for the disputed first element.106 However, limiting our search to West Semitic etymologies is an unreasonable requirement, since the ultimate origin of Mehujael and Mahaway seems as likely to be East Semitic as West Semitic. For example, although Ronald Hendel narrowly considers only Hebrew onomastics for the name Mehujael,107 Nahum Sarna108 and Richard Hess,109 following Umberto Cassuto,110 suggest that the name might be explained on the basis of the Akkadian maḫḫû, denoting “a certain class of priests and seers.”111 And what was the role of these seers? Among other things, the royal archives of the Old Babylonian kingdom of Mari recount the comings and goings of maḫḫû as intermediaries and messengers, bearing words of warning from the gods for the king,112 a role that can be compared to that of Mahaway.
Further strengthening Cassuto’s argument for the derivation of the name is the agreement he finds in the word maḫḫû behind Mehujael, the name of Mehujael’s son Methusael (a name that is “analogous not only in form but also in meaning”113), and the name of Mehujael’s grandson Lamech, which Cassuto sees as likely to have come from the Mesopotamian word lumakku, also signifying a certain class of priests.114 Significantly, Hess reports that while the root lmk is unknown in West Semitic, it is found both in third millennium bce personal names and in names from Mari in Old Babylon in the early second millennium bce.115
With respect to Cassuto’s analysis and other possible Mesopotamian etymologies for these names we also note that Methusael may instead constitute a Hebraization of the widely accepted, but still (as yet) theoretical and unattested Akkadian form, mutu ša ili (“man of god”). In any case, Mesopotamia seems to be a good place to look in terms of obtaining more precise etymologies for the names in the Genesis genealogies.
Since Cassuto opens the door to considering Akkadian maḫḫû (“estatic, prophet”116) as the source of the first element in Mehujael, we can also consider the word maḫḫû (“great”) as a possible source. The latter term derives from Sumerian MAḪ (adj. “high, exalted, supreme, [Page 203]great, lofty, foremost, sublime”117). If Cassuto is right that Lamech can be connected to Akkadian lumakku, we do well to note that lumakku or lumaḫḫû (which can also mean “chief, ruler”118) also appears to derive from Sumerian MAḪ (LÚ.MAḪ = “great man”). This may have some further bearing on the etymology of the Book of Moses name “Mahan”119 [spelled “Mahon” in OT1 of the Joseph Smith Translation120].
In summary, most scholars recognize that the surprise appearance of the names Gilgamesh and Ḥobabish in the Book of Giants is due to direct and/or indirect influences of some kind from the Akkadian Gilgamesh epic.121 Milik was the first to note this as the first and “only mention of Gilgamesh outside the cuneiform literature” as well as to recognize that the name Ḥobabish derives from Humbaba, the monster slain by Gilgamesh.122 Matthew Goff, among others, has clarified and amplified the relationship among the Old Babylonian epic and the fragmentary Aramaic Enoch text.123 Since some scholars accept that the root mḫḫ may sit behind the name Mehujael, is it possible that Mahaway (and, as we argue below, potentially the Book of Moses Mahujah and Mahijah) was independently derived from this same root, having come down to the author through extracanonical traditions rather than invented ad hoc or borrowed and altered from the Bible? We do not see any reason why this plausible scenario should be ruled out. Indeed, in consideration of the totality of the analysis above, we find this explanation more likely than any other.
2. Where Do the Book of Moses Names
Mahujah and Mahijah Come From?
Townsend: “Mahujah/Mahijah” As a Rewrite of Genesis Inspired by Reading
Seeing it as “unlikely” that Joseph Smith was “dependent on an ancient manuscript or source,”124 Townsend proposes that the names Mahujah and Mahijah were included in the Book of Moses as the result of one of the two following scenarios:
- Concluding, by analogy to similar situations in the Book of Mormon, that the personal name Mahijah in Moses 6:40 is an eponym for the place name mentioned in Moses 7:2, he argues that the name Mahujah was mistakenly substituted for Mahijah in that verse during the dictation process.125 In that process, the vowels u and i might have been confused, leading to the appearance of both names in later [Page 204]manuscripts and publications — Mahijah in Moses 6:40 and Mahujah in Moses 7:2. Arguments for and against this scenario are discussed in Part 1 of the present article, published previously.126
- As an alternative scenario, Townsend proposes that Joseph Smith created the Book of Moses names Mahijah and Mahujah after seeing a table of name variants in the Hebrew text of Genesis 4:18 in a Bible commentary written by Adam Clarke.127 The table includes an entry containing the two similar names: Mehujael and Mehijael. Because Joseph Smith and his associates lacked the expertise to read and recognize these variants in Hebrew, even in the dubious case that a Hebrew Bible might have been in their possession, Clarke’s table (or perhaps some equivalent in another English commentary) appears to Townsend to be the only reasonable purely historical explanation at present (apart from the possibility of scribal error mentioned above) for how they could have knowingly and deliberately inserted both name spellings in the Book of Moses. We now discuss look at this hypothesis in more detail.
In support of Townsend’s proposal that Joseph Smith may have borrowed the names Mehujael and Mehijael from Clarke’s table and altered them afterward to read Mahujah and Mahijah, Townsend cites Thomas Wayment and Haley Wilson-Lemmon’s128 conclusions that Joseph Smith used Clarke’s commentary as a translation aid. A table on page 151 of the commentary lists transliterations of two Hebrew variants, Mehujael and Mehijael, that appear in Genesis 4:18. From this evidence, Townsend concludes, “It was possible, contrary to recent opinion, that Smith and his contemporaries were aware of the spelling difference of the name found in Genesis 4.”129
Townsend should be commended for identifying this possible textual source, and it seems that there is indeed a possibility that Smith could have incorporated his knowledge of this table in his translation of the Book of Moses. However, a first observation that should be made is that Wayment himself has drawn attention to the fact that “there are no parallels to Clarke between Genesis 1–Genesis 24.”131 Townsend’s statement above that “it was possible, contrary to recent opinion,” suggests the possibility that he is prepared to adduce evidence, not cited by Wayment and Wilson-Lemmon, that supports the presence of parallels between Genesis 1–24 and Clarke’s or other Bible commentaries which Joseph Smith could have known. We have not at present seen evidence of such parallels, so we cannot comment further.
Regardless of whether or not Joseph Smith utilized a published commentary as a translation aid during the earliest phases of his work on the Bible, what is most lacking in Townsend’s argument that the Prophet relied on Clarke’s table as he translated the relevant verses in the Book of Moses is a credible rationale for why Joseph Smith would have been motivated to do so. Readers will have to judge for themselves the likelihood that Joseph Smith would actually have had the time, patience, and — most importantly — a compelling reason to search through Clarke’s commentary for two variant names he could use for an obscure, twice-mentioned character in his Genesis translation, presumably in [Page 206]order to give it more credibility. It should be remembered that he had no hesitation in previously publishing scores of strange-looking names in the Book of Mormon for which there was no biblical precedent.132
As a counter-example to any idea that the Prophet was looking for ways to include specific biblical evidences for the Book of Moses additions to the Genesis story, we note that Joseph Smith seems to have been aware that the biblical book of Jude explicitly cites Enoch133 (though he explicitly evinced no awareness of 1 Enoch, the source Jude was quoting). If the Prophet had in reality been on the lookout for ways to bolster the case for the authenticity of his Bible translation, the most obvious thing he could have done would be to include the relevant verses from Jude somewhere within his Enoch account. But this he did not do.
As we continue down this line of thinking, the questions multiply. Why would it have been important for Joseph Smith to preserve both name variants, rather than normalizing them into a single English spelling in the Book of Moses, as is almost always done in ancient manuscripts and modern translations of Genesis 4:18?134 Moreover, if Joseph Smith were aware of Clarke’s table, why did he not also make changes to the names in his translation of Genesis 4:18? And why do both of Joseph Smith’s versions of the names omit the theophoric suffix “-el,”135 thus differing from the Hebrew text of the Bible and yet (coincidentally?) agreeing with its Dead Sea Scrolls136 equivalent in the Book of Giants?
Evidence from Joseph Smith’s name translations in Genesis 4:18– 19 also casts doubt on the idea that he would have been interested in meticulous scrutiny of Clarke’s table of spelling variants for two versions of the name Mehujael he could alter and use in his account of Enoch. Within the span of the few lines that contain his rendering of the biblical name Mehujael, we find three examples of variant name spellings: Mehujael/Mahujael, Mathusael/Mathusiel, Lameh/Lamech.138 The evidence provided by these variants gives the impression that these name spellings were based simply on what the scribes heard Joseph Smith read, rather than on an effort to conform to the Bible or other written documents for consistency.
[Page 207]We realize that answers to secondary questions such as these might be formulated with some additional effort. But in our minds such questions are overshadowed by the lack of satisfactory answers to the central questions about whether, in view of the issues discussed above, the possibility of Joseph Smith’s use of the table was reasonable and likely, and was propelled by a convincingly argued motive. In view of the current state of the evidence, we find Clarke’s table to be an unlikely explanation for the inclusion of the variant names Mahujah and Mahijah in the Book of Moses.
3. Could the Book of Moses Names and the Book of Giants Names Have a Common Origin?
At this juncture, we propose a thought experiment of sorts. Let us suppose that for some unspecified reason Joseph Smith was determined to borrow a biblical name to use as a character in his JST Genesis account of Enoch. Let us further suppose that, since neither he nor his associates had a copy of the Bible in Hebrew or read Hebrew in 1830, he had two English translations of the Bible he could borrow from. One would be a King James Bible in which the name he was determined to use was spelled Mehujael; and a second would be a Bible in which the name was spelled Mahaway. Though the example is admittedly absurd, its purpose is to make it very plain to the reader that there is no reason, based solely on the most common English translations of both the King James and Book of Giants versions of the name, to prefer the idea that Joseph Smith borrowed and altered the name Mehujael in “inventing” the Book of Moses names Mahujah and Mahijah over the idea that he borrowed and altered the name Mahaway. (Of course we do not believe the Book of Moses names were invented by borrowing from and altering names in either of these sources.)
Six aspects of a possible linguistic connection between Mahujah and Mahaway are:
- H vs. Ḥ. Townsend’s article asserts without qualification that the Hebrew root that sits behind them contains a Ḥ.139 However, we observe that there is nothing about the Book of Moses names themselves that can be used by proponents of their ancient origin to argue directly for a Hebrew Ḥ behind them, since the English gives us only an indeterminate h. Thus, so far as we can determine without further explanation, the argument advanced by Townsend that the Genesis 4:18 and Book of Moses [Page 208]names are related can only be indirect, resting solely on the claim that Joseph Smith borrowed them from the Bible in one way or another — presumably from the Genesis 4:18 names of Mehujael and Mehijael.140 A corollary to the assertion that Mahijah and Mahujah must have been derived from Genesis 4:18 is the argument that the Book of Moses names cannot be related to Mahaway in the Book of Giants.141 However, when we unpack the argument that a connection between the Book of Moses names and Mahaway is impossible, it becomes evident that it, too, is forcibly dependent on one’s having also previously accepted the borrowing hypothesis — and is likewise independent of anything related to the English names as we have them in the Book of Moses. Thus we conclude that the h in the original names behind “Mahujah/Mahijah” is not constrained to be an Ḥ (like Mehujael, as argued by Townsend), but could just as easily have been an H (like Mahaway). On the basis of the “H/Ḥ” question alone, independent of other arguments, it is as likely that “Mahujah/Mahijah” is related to Mahaway as it is to Mehujael.
- a or e after the M. English transcriptions of Mahaway and “Mahujah/Mahijah” are similar in that they contain an a after the M, differing from the King James English transcription of the name Mehujael. However, because the spelling of the name in JST Genesis 4:18 is given both ways, Mehujael and Mahujael, we will not count this as a difference with the Bible.
- a, i, or u following the H/Ḥ. Townsend has argued that the “‘u’ sound [in Mahujael and Mahujah] also distinguishes the name from the [a sound in] Mahawai in the Book of Giants.”142 But it must be remembered that the Book of Giants fragments have come to us with only consonants, and thus the English transliteration of this name is conjectural. Put simply, we have no idea what the vocalization of MHWY was. For instance, some translators render it Mahway, leaving out the vowel following the h entirely.143 Calabro further explains,144 “The vocalization Mahway, while perhaps possible for a pre-Masoretic stage of Hebrew (so possibly valid for the period of the Dead Sea [Page 209]Scrolls), would not work in Masoretic Hebrew. … Another possibility is ‘Mahuy’ (with a long ‘u’), which would be a Hebrew passive participle form.” It should be additionally noted that the original pronunciation of the biblical name Mehujael was similarly uncertain, as evident in the variety of spellings attested in the ancient witnesses (e.g., Greek (LXX) Maiēl, Latin Maviahel, Syriac maḥwāʾyēl), which struggle to offer a pronunciation of this consonant string. As Hess notes, “the Samaritan Pentateuch avoids the issue by omitting the disputed syllable”145 — i.e., mḥyʾl.146 Hess goes further, arguing that “the fact that the Hebrew text was not harmonized attests to the care taken in preserving such differences, even when they exist side by side.”147Though we do not accept extant evidence as sufficient to admit Townsend’s proposal that the Book of Moses variants Mahujah and Mahijah are due either to an English transcription error or to Joseph Smith’s use of Clarke’s table, a confusion of i and u in the names Mahijah and Mahujah is possible, being exactly the kind of graphical error that one would expect if the similarly written letters waw and yod (or their equivalents in another language) were to have been mistranscribed by an ancient author at some point in time.148 As an interesting alternative to this surmise, Cassuto argues that such variations, whether in form or content, are often deliberate.149
For all the reasons listed above, we find that the u and i in the names Mahujah and Mahijah do not reliably indicate that the names are of different origin than the name Mahaway.
- Lack of “-EL” termination in Mahujah and Mahaway. We have previously noted that Townsend’s arguments that Mahujah and Mahaway were copied from the Bible and then altered contain no particular explanation (besides, perhaps, coincidence) for the fact that neither one of the similar names contains the theophoric ending (“-EL). In this respect the fact that both names lack the “-EL” that is present in both variants of the Genesis 4:18 name makes their English versions more similar to each other than to the biblical names. Though the JST contains inconsistencies [Page 210]in name spelling, such as the ones we have discussed earlier (most often a difference in the spelling of vowel sounds), we have found no instances in JST manuscripts where something as obvious as an “-EL” termination was dropped.
- Missing a after the y in Mahaway. As Cassuto mentions, the form Meḥūy (with a terminating y similar to the Book of Giants name Mahaway, whose vowels would be no less accurately rendered in the form Mehūy) and the form Meḥūyā used in the biblical Mehujael (presumably similar, in our view, to the ancient form Meḥūyā behind the English name Mahujah in the Book of Moses — see the discussion of the terminating h in the point immediately below) differ only in that the latter form has retained the a “as a fossilized relic of the accusative termination.”150 Apart from the “fossilized relic” at the end, the forms of the Book of Moses and Book of Giants names are identical to each other and to the primary name elements in Genesis 4:18.
- h at the end of the English spellings of Mahujah/Mahijah. The Book of Moses names terminate with an h in their English spellings. This makes them different from both the names in both Genesis 4:18 and in the Book of Giants. That said, it is impossible to know from the manuscript evidence alone whether the “-jah” termination of the Book of Moses names was meant to stand for the name of the God of Israel (Psalm 68:4), or if the h on the end of the English version of the name is present for some other reason. For example, given the prevalence of “-jah” terminations in Old Testament names (e.g., Elijah), it would not be surprising that an English-speaking scribe who heard the JST Genesis name pronounced during the dictation process would have written the name with an h at the end to make the spelling conform to this common naming convention.
|[Page 211]Feature match to Book of Moses||Book of Giants||Genesis 4:18|
|1. Plausible “H/Ḥ.” match||+||+|
|2. Plausible English vowel match after “M”||+||+|
|3. Plausible vowel match after “H/Ḥ.”||+||+|
|4. No “-EL” termination||+||–|
|5. Plausible match of the name form termination||+||+|
|6. Plausible match of English “h” termination||–||–|
Table 2. Table showing the plausibility of feature matches of the names in the Book of Giants and Genesis 4:18 to the names in the Book of Moses.
Of the six comparative elements in Table 2, five (1, 2, 3, 5, 6) indicate that Mahujah and Mahijah are as similar to Mahaway as they are to Mehujael. One element (4) indicates that Mahujah and Mahijah resemble Mahaway more than they do Mehujael. We conclude that, based on orthographic features alone, the names Mahujah and Mahijah are slightly more similar to Mahaway than to Mehujael. Thus, any argument that Mahujah and Mahijah are more similar to the Bible names based on surface features of the most common English versions of the names Mehujah and Mahaway is mistaken.
Significance of the Resemblances between the Book of Moses and the Book of Giants
The similarities between the names Mahijah, Mahujah, and Mahaway are not trivial details, but rather significant markers in scholarly efforts to identify the relationships among the Book of Giants, the Book of Moses, and the rest of the extant Enoch literature. For instance, non-Latter-day Saint scholar Salvatore Cirillo, drawing upon the similar conclusions of Book of Giants expert Loren Stuckenbruck,151 considers the names of Enoch’s adversaries, notably including Mahaway, as “the most conspicuously independent content” in the Book of Giants, being “unparalleled in other Jewish literature.” Moreover, according to Cirillo, “the name Mahawai in the Book of Giants and the names Mahujah and Mahijah in the Book of Moses represent the strongest similarity between the Latter-day Saint scriptures on Enoch and the pseudepigraphal books of Enoch (specifically the Book of Giants).”
[Page 212]Although we have no evidence that Enoch scholar Józef Milik was aware of the Book of Moses chapters that contain the names Mahujah and Mahijah, we have separate accounts from Hugh Nibley and Gordon Thomasson that Matthew Black, Milik’s collaborator on the first English translation of the Book of Giants — someone who certainly knew enough about ancient Hebrew and Aramaic to make an expert judgment about any notable resemblances in other sources to that text — was impressed enough with the correspondence between the names in the Book of Moses Enoch account and the prominent and unique appearance of the similar name in the Book of Giants that he made a previously unplanned trip to Brigham Young University to learn more.152 According to Thomasson, Professor Black153
acknowledged that the name Mahujah could not have come from 1 Enoch. He then formulated a hypothesis, consistent with his lecture, that a member of one of the esoteric groups he had described previously [i.e., clandestine groups who had maintained, sub rosa, a religious tradition based in the writings of Enoch that pre-dated Genesis] must have survived into the 19th century, and hearing of Joseph Smith, must have brought the group’s Enoch texts to New York from Italy for the prophet to translate and publish.
During the intervening years, no documentary evidence has surfaced that bears out Black’s unsupported hypothesis that Joseph Smith somehow obtained access to an Enoch manuscript like the Book of Giants from an esoteric religious group in Europe.154 On the other hand, during this same span of time, much additional evidence has come forth linking Joseph Smith’s translation of the Book of Moses Enoch account to a variety of relevant ancient textual traditions, including several from the Book of Giants. The Mahijah/Mahujah parallel is just one of many ancient connections for which there is no completely satisfying historical explanation. In our view, the idea that these correspondences have come by coincidence or through borrowing and alteration is unconvincing. Instead, we are persuaded that they are due to common traditions that pre-date both texts, as Matthew Black apparently felt compelled to believe.
Although the combined fragments of the Book of Giants scarcely fill three pages in the English translation of García Martinez,155 we find in it the most extensive series of significant parallels between a single ancient text and Joseph Smith’s account of Enoch’s preaching mission and subsequent battles with his enemies. These resemblances range [Page 213]from general themes in the story line to specific occurrences of rare expressions in corresponding contexts. Some of these correspondences are summarized in Table 3.
|Event||Book of Moses||Book of Giants|
|Secret works and murders||6:15||1Q23, 9+14+15:2‒4|
|A “wild man”||6:38||4Q531, 22:8|
|Mahijah/Mahaway questions Enoch||6:40||4Q530, 2:20‒23|
|Enoch reads record of deeds||6:46‒47||4Q203, 7b col. ii; 8:1‒11|
|Trembling and weeping after Enoch reads||6:47||4Q203, 4:6|
|Call to repentance||6:52||4Q203, 8:14‒15|
|Conceived in sin||6:55||4Q203, 8:6‒9|
|Enoch defeats gibborim||7:13||4Q531, 22:3‒7|
|The “roar of wild beasts”||7:13||4Q531, 22:8|
|Imprisonment of wicked gibborim||7:38||4Q203, 7B 1:5|
|Repentant gathered to holy city/cities||7:16‒18, 69||Mani Book of Giants, Text G|
|The earth cries out against the sinners||7:48||4Q203, 9‒10|
Table 3. Examples of parallel themes and expressions in the Book of Giants and Moses 6‒7 accounts of Enoch’s preaching mission, battles, and gathering of the righteous.156
Summing Up Our Views
In this article, we have considered Townsend’s arguments that the author of the Book of Giants and Joseph Smith created remarkably similar names for an important character in their respective Enoch accounts. One might well ask, “What are the chances that they would come up with these closely resembling names independently?”
Even if, for a moment, we were to grant the hypothesis that Joseph Smith created the name Mahujah directly or indirectly through his knowledge of Genesis 4:18, why did he pick this name for his account instead of some other? If it were an arbitrary choice, why did he not [Page 214]pick Irad or Methusael or the more prominent Lamech from the same verse, or some other name from the surrounding verses instead? Why is Mahujah the only named character in the Enoch chapters of the Book of Moses apart from Enoch himself — and also the only other plausibly biblically related name besides Enoch in the Book of Giants as well?
Going further, one of the most important parallels in the Book of Giants and Book of Moses names is that, in contrast to the biblical name, they both lack the theophoric element (-el). If Joseph Smith derived the names Mahujah and Mahijah by adapting them from Genesis 4:18, why wouldn’t he, for the sake of consistency, have dropped the “-el” in his translation of the Bible verse itself? And if, instead, he were deliberately trying to create a new and distinctive name with the theophoric ending “-jah,” what sufficiently important purpose would that have served for him to have gone to that trouble?
Moreover, since the author of the Book of Giants was apparently not completely bound to the written tradition and had the liberty to include names unattested elsewhere, such as ʾOhyah and Hahyah, to facilitate wordplay, as some have suggested, why wouldn’t he have invented a name that was more similar to the other two instead of the more distinctive name Mahaway? And why would Joseph Smith, who has sometimes drawn criticism for the many new names that have been included in his scripture translations, have been averse to “making up” just one more?
Instead, both authors are, without a viable explanation for motive, putatively seen as creating a name that is coincidentally very similar to one found in the same Bible verse, then using these modified names to serve as a moniker for a prominent character who just happens to function in an analogous role within two independent accounts of the prophet Enoch.
After a review of the evidence, readers may understandably wonder: Were the names Mahujah and Mahijah merely borrowed and adapted from the Bible? Our analysis at the beginning of this article revealed that the evidence for this conjecture is weak and unlikely. On the other hand, could Joseph Smith have been aware of the names through an unknown Aramaic manuscript of the Book of Giants that was translated into English and secretly made available to him before its discovery by scholars at Qumran in 1948? Were the names somehow transferred to Joseph Smith through an unknown esoteric group, as Professor Black proposed? Once again, purely historical explanations disappoint. Such proposals are based purely on speculation and can provide no answers about the identity of these putative collaborators, how they stumbled [Page 215]upon such a manuscript, why they secretly translated it into English and made it available to Joseph Smith, and how the Prophet either hid this fraud from his associates or persuaded them to collude with him. As the chain of required conjectures grows, their cumulative likelihood diminishes.
A more convincing conclusion, in our view, is that these names — along with other evidences of antiquity in the Book of Moses Enoch account — were directly restored from the ancient world through the process of divine revelation.
We are grateful that Townsend’s article has highlighted the importance of textual criticism, a key and often foundational aspect of Latter-day Saint scholarship that requires ongoing attention. Though our conclusions diverge from his in several respects, he has graciously helped us correct some of the errors in our initial analysis and in our interpretation of his views. That said, any remaining mistakes in our response to his article are, of course, ours. We hope that readers will avail themselves of the work of patient scholars who have made existing resources available to us — and look forward to seeing additional resources for textual criticism in the future made available through the efforts of Townsend and others.
If there is any merit in this article, it is due in large measure to the excellence of its reviewers. Sincere thanks to David Calabro, Kent Jackson, Donald W. Parry, and Stephen T. Whitlock for their valuable comments. We are especially grateful to Colby Townsend for his cordial collaboration, including many important suggestions and corrections. We also thank anonymous reviewers whose selfless efforts have improved this article. Notwithstanding the significant contributions of the reviewers, the authors bear responsibility for its remaining faults.
Milik translates lines 5–7 as follows: “(5) [ … ] to you, Mah[awai … ] (6) the two tablets [ … ] (7) and the second has not been read up till now [ … ]” (Milik and Black, The Books of Enoch, 314).
Though only a small part of the “H” can be seen in the photograph of the manuscript we have reproduced here, Florentino Garcia Martinez, “The Book of Giants (4Q203),” in The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English, ed. Florentino Garcia Martinez, 2nd ed., trans. Wilfred G. E. Watson (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1996), 260‒61; Fragment 7, column ii, lines 5‒7, p. 260, like, Milik, reads the end of line 5 as “MH.” By way of contrast, Loren T. Stuckenbruck, The Book of Giants from Qumran: Texts, Translation, and Commentary (Tübingen, DEU: Mohr Siebeck, 1997), 84 and John C. Reeves, Jewish Lore in Manichaean Cosmogony: Studies in the Book of Giants Traditions, Monographs of the Hebrew Union College 14 (Cincinnati, OH: Hebrew Union College Press, 1992), 110 see only “M” and not “MH” in this particular fragment. Attesting to the complexity of interpreting these fragments is a later transcription by Stuckenbruck where he interprets the last nearly complete letter of line 7 as a Hebrew “B” rather than an “M” (Donald W. Parry and Emanuel Tov, eds. The Dead Sea Scrolls Reader, 2nd ed. [Leiden, NDL: Brill, 2013], 1:945). Despite the ambiguities in this particular photograph, scholars agree that Mahaway’s full name appears in [Page 218]other, more complete and readable fragments from the Book of Giants.
In evaluating Nibley’s suggestion, Latter-day Saint scholar David Calabro observes that Nibley, while brilliant, was more of a philologist than a linguist, “and as such he did not generally focus on laying out the details of linguistic connections. He was also treating connections at a broad literary level, taking for granted that words and names sometimes get garbled in transmission” (David Calabro, e-mail message to author, January 24, 2018).
While maintaining the possibility of a correspondence between the ancient equivalent of these names, Calabro explained why we cannot posit a direct equivalence between all of them (including the related names Mahujael/Mahijael in Genesis 4:18) in their current forms (ibid.):
The -ah in Mahujah and Mahijah is problematic if you are interpreting the current forms of these names as equivalents of both Mahawai and also of Mehuja-/Mehija- in Mahujael/ Mahijael at the same time. In other words, Mahujah can = MHWY + Jah or Mehjael can = Mahujael can = Mahujah + El, but both equations can’t be applied to the current forms of these names at the same time.
[Page 219]Of course, Calabro observes, the rules were different in earlier times, since “dropping of final vowels only happened sometime between 1200 and 600 bce” (ibid.):
But it’s unlikely that the names in [the Book of] Moses are making a point of this. Joseph left the rest of the biblical names untouched. And if Lehi, Paul, and Jude all had access to the Book of Moses (as I believe they did), the name would have dropped any final short vowels before the text was finished being transmitted.
That said, Calabro goes on to explain why the connections between these names are not unlikely, even in the face of these considerations (ibid):
Very often in pseudepigraphal traditions, you get names that sound similar (or sometimes not even similar), just garbled a bit. It’s frequent in Arabic forms of biblical names: Ibrahim for “Abraham” (perhaps influenced by Elohim or some other plural Hebrew noun), Isa for Yasu “Jesus,” etc. So Mahujah, Mahijah, Mehujael/
Mehijael, and [Mahaway] could all be connected, with something getting mixed up in transmission.
With respect to correspondences between Mahujah and Mahijah, Nibley (Nibley, Enoch, 278; Nibley, “Churches in the Wilderness,” 157) argues that they are variants of the same name, given that “Mehuja-el” appears in the Greek Septuagint as “Mai-el” (Cécile Dogniez and Marguerite Harl, eds. Le Pentateuque d’Alexandrie: Texte Grec et Traduction, La Bible des Septante [Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 2001], Genesis 4:18, p. 145; Pietersma, Albert, and Benjamin G. Wright, eds. A New English Translation of the Septuagint and the Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included under that Title, NETS: New English Translation of the Septuagint [Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2007], Genesis 4:18, p. 8) and in the Latin Vulgate as Mawiah-el (Robert Weber, ed. Biblia Sacra Vulgata, 4th ed [Stuttgart, DEU: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1990], Genesis 4:18, p. 9). Since the Greek version had no internal “Ḥ,” Nibley reasons that “Mai-” could come only from “Mahi-” (MḤY-).
J. W. Wevers likewise writes that the Septuagint spelling of Mai-el [in Genesis 4:18] “follows the Samaritan tradition of [Mahi-el]” [Page 220](John William Wevers, Notes on the Greek Text of Genesis [Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1993], 62n4:18), with the only difference being the dropped “h.” According to Nibley, the Mahawai version that we see in the Book of Giants is probably related to Genesis 4:18. It shows up in the Latin Vulgate as “Maviahel” likely because Jerome went to the Hebrew version for his translation. He didn’t use the “Ḥ” either and made the “W” a consonant (“v”) instead of a vowel (“u”) in his transliteration. This is why in the Douay-Rheims Bible (based on the Vulgate), we see the name rendered as “Maviael.” See more on Genesis 4:18 below.
Note that the grandfather of the prophet Enoch also bore a similar name to Mahawai/Mahujah: Mahalaleel (Genesis 5:12– 17; 1 Chronicles 1:2; Moses 6:19‒20. See also Nehemiah 11:4). As a witness of how easily such names can be confused, observe that the Greek manuscript used for Brenton’s translation of the Septuagint reads “Maleleel” for “Maiel” in Genesis 4:18 (Lancelot C. L. Brenton, The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English [Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005], Genesis 4:18, p. 5).
The recent debunking of the myth of “Elvis Presley’s” copy of the Book of Mormon is an amusing but legitimate cautionary tale about the importance of doing one’s homework before placing too much credence in such suppositions (Keith A. Erekson, “Elvis has Left the Library: Identifying Forged Annotations in a Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies Quarterly 57, no. 4 : 51-77, https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/elvis-has-left-library-identifying-forged-annotations-book-mormon).
In Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 6:7, p. 174; Nickelsburg and VanderKam, 1 Enoch 2, 69:3, p. 297, Baraq’el is the ninth chief, under the leader Shemiḥazah, of the Watchers who descended on Mount Hermon and “swore together and bound one another with a curse” (Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 6:5, p. 174) as they determined to “choose [Page 229]… wives from the daughters of men” (ibid.). In Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 8:3, p. 188, we learn the secrets that each of the heads of the Watchers revealed to mankind. Elsewhere, we read of their responsibilities of each of these in the governing of the seven heavens (Nickelsburg and VanderKam, 1 Enoch 2, 60:13‒15, p. 224; C. Mopsik, Hénoch, 14:4, p. 109, 17:1‒3, pp. 110‒11).
“Since Baraq’el is composed from the name of ‘lightning’ followed by the theophoric suffix, [Mahuja/Mahaway, his son,] was given the Iranian equivalent Virogdad, ‘created by lightning’” (Caquot, “Les Prodromes”, 50). Cf. Henning, who first recognized Virogdad as having affinities to Baraq’el (Milik and Black, The Books of Enoch, 300, 311) in the Manichaean fragments of the Book of Giants (Reeves, Jewish Lore, 147n202; 138n98). According to Jubilees 4:15 (Wintermute. “Jubilees.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, ed. James H. Charlesworth [Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983], 4:15, p. 2:61. See also 61‒62 note g.), Baraq’el is also the father of Dinah, the wife of Enoch’s grandfather, Mahalaleel. If one assumed the descriptions in the relevant accounts were consistent (of course, a very far-fetched assumption), this would make the prophet Enoch a first cousin once-removed to Mahujah.
In the Doctrine and Covenants we also encounter the name Baraq’el (= Baurak Ale, D&C 103, 105). Note that Joseph Smith’s approach is simply to follow the lead of his Hebrew teacher, J. Seixas, who seems to have transliterated both the Hebrew letters kaph and qoph with a “k,” so it is difficult to trace what original name he is transliterating). It was sometimes used as a code name for Joseph Smith (David J. Whittaker. “Substituted Names in the Published Revelations of Joseph Smith,” BYU Studies 23, no. 1 : 107). Nibley, Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price, 268 observes:
Baraq’el is interesting, … because[, in the Book of Giants,] Baraq’el is supposed to have been the father of [Mahujah]. … A professor in Hebrew at the University of Utah said, “Well, Joseph Smith didn’t understand the word barak, meaning ‘to bless.’” William W. Phelps had previously suggested that “Baurak Ale” meant “God bless you.” [see Whittaker, “Substituted Names,” 107]). But “Baraq’el” means the “lightning of God” (see Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, [Page 230]180). The Doctrine and Covenants is right on target in that.
The name sounds, as Shaked has suggested, as though it might be simply Hebrew ha-šēm ha-zeh, literally “this name,” maybe a cautious circumlocution. Pious Jews refer to God discreetly as Hashem, “The Name.”
However, David Calabro strongly disagrees: “This suggestion seems extremely unlikely to me. The “h” in Shemiḥazah is the ḥeth, while that in ha-shem ha-zeh is just heh” (Calabro, May 18, 2020).
Scholars of the Hebrew Bible and specialists in ancient Judaism and Christianity have increasingly come into conversation around the trajectories of biblical interpretation and the continued lives of authoritative writings within and between religious communities. Alongside traditional source-critical, redaction-critical, and text-critical inquiries into the Torah/ Pentateuch, for instance, new approaches have emerged in the attempt to recover what James Kugel has termed “the Bible as It Was” (James L. Kugel., The Bible As It Was [Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1997]) — that is, not simply the text of this or that biblical book as it came to be fixed in writing, but also the much broader array of common exegetical motifs and legends through which premodern peoples encountered the primeval and patriarchal past. What has emerged, in the process, is a new sense of the degree to which premodern Jews, Christians, and Muslims — as well as Samaritans, Manichaeans, “gnostics,” and others — participated in preserving and developing a common store of traditions about figures such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses.
So too with Enoch. The traditions associated with this figure, however, expose the limitations of modern notions [Page 231]of “the Bible” to capture the scope, dynamism, and complexity of premodern discourses about the biblical past. There has been much attention, for instance, to Jewish and Christian traditions about the fallen angels in relation to the exegesis of Genesis 6. What such studies have shown, however, is the impossibility of accounting for the history of interpretation without a sense of the ample influence of Enochic and other texts now commonly deemed “noncanonical.” So too with Genesis 5 and traditions about Enoch, which took form from an ancient matrix of Mesopotamian traditions that continued to be developed in new ways in writings produced alongside and after what we know now as “the Bible.”
Traditions surrounding Enoch thus offer especially rich foci for tracing the transmission and transformations of traditions across religious boundaries. In light of new insights into scribal practices and textual fluidity from the biblical and related manuscripts among the Dead Sea Scrolls, it has become clear that the process of the formation of “the Bible” was much longer and more complex than previously imagined. Likewise, the recent growth of concern for the mechanics of written and oral transmission and pedagogy among ancient Jews has redescribed biblical “authorship” in continuum with interpretation, redaction, collection, and transmission — wherein oral/aural and written/visual components, moreover, often remained intertwined in various ways in various settings. Just as these insights lead us to question the assumption of any clear line between scripture and interpretation in relation to the Torah/Pentateuch, so they also open the way for integrating what we know of the formation, transmission, and reception of Enochic literature into a more complete picture of the biblical past as remembered by premodern Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others.
If the identification of Qumran fragments belonging to [the Book of Giants] is correct, the work was very popular at Qumran: about ten copies were found, in four caves. The significance of these numbers becomes apparent when compared to those of the Aramaic book of [1 Enoch] itself: only seven copies found, all in a single cave. The only books more popular at Qumran are Psalms (36 copies), the books of the Pentateuch (23‒24, 16, 12‒13, 9, 35 copies respectively), Isaiah (21), Jubilees (17), and the Community Rule (13); the Damascus Document and Rule of the Congregation each have ten.
The common remark was, they are “lost books”; but it seems the Apostolic Church had some of these writings, as Jude mentions or quotes the Prophecy of Enoch, the seventh from Adam.
Though the portion of Joseph Smith’s history in which this quote appears was not compiled before about January 1843 when William W. Phelps began assisting Willard Richards in this task, Joseph Smith “dictated or supplied information for much of A-1” and was well-acquainted enough with the New Testament to make his knowledge of these verses in Jude plausible if not probable by December 1830 and January 1831 when the account of Enoch was translated.
Note also that the Prophet quoted a passage from Jude’s citation of Enoch (Jude 1:14) in a letter to the Saints in Missouri written on December 10, 1833 (Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1969], 10 December 1833, 36. Cf. Smith, The Joseph Smith Papers, Letter to Edward Partridge and Others, 10 December 1833, 72, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letter-to-edward-partridge-and-others-10-december-1833/4).
[Page 237]Furthermore, he used Jude 1:14‒15 in connection with his teachings about Enoch on October 5, 1840 (See J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 5 October 1840, 170; Joseph Smith, Jr., Andrew F. Ehat, and Lyndon W. Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, 1980, 41, https://rsc.byu.edu/out-print/words-joseph-smith-contemporary-accounts-nauvoo-discourses-prophet-joseph; Smith, Jr., The Joseph Smith Papers, Instruction on Priesthood, 5 October 1840, 6, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/instruction-on-priesthood-5-october-1840/.
For example, it is interesting that JST has Mahujah instead of Mehujah, which the MT also has written as Mehijael (same w/y spelling issue as in Mahujah and Mahijah – the LXX-A, Peshitta, and Vulgate all point to Mehijael or Mahijael), I’m drawn to the idea that the name derives from ḤYY/ḤYH and means “God gives life.” However, a paronomastic connection with MḤY/MḤH (“wipe out,” “annihilate” — i.e., “blot out”) is also intriguing, especially since this name occurs in the degenerate line of Cain before the Flood (cf. the use of this verb in Genesis 6:7 and 7:4). I’m even more intrigued by a possible connection between this root and the name-title “Mahan” in “Master Mahan,” which could easily be MḤN (with N as an appellative), which might suggest the idea of “destroyer” or “annihilator.”
Nibley also suggests the following (Nibley, “Churches in the Wilderness,” 157):
The man who boldly put the questions to Enoch himself was Mahijah, the asker. And, since we are playing games, what the Ma- most strongly suggests is certainly the all-but-universal ancient interrogative, Ma, who? Or what? So that the names Mahujah and Mahijah both sound to students of Semitics like questions. In the newly discovered texts from Ebla (Tel-Mardikh) the same names are written with Ma- (Amorite) and Mi (Phoenician-Hebrew).
Nor is this an isolated example. On the contrary, such divergences are due to a common practice, in general use, which accords with oriental principles of thought and literary taste, although incongruous with European intellectual and aesthetic criteria. When two variant traditions exist, they are both quoted, side by side, so as not to invalidate one of them. Not only can there be no objection to this thesis — contrary to the opinion of several scholars whose judgment is molded by European ways of thinking, to which they are habituated — but we may go further and regard the practice referred to as the customary and favorite method followed by Scripture. Whenever it is possible to vary the phrasing, the Bible endeavors to do so in order to avoid monotony, and such variation is considered a mark of literary elegance. Even the repetitions, which are a heritage from oral epic poetry (see above, pp. 212 f.), are not, in the written books, [Page 240]literal, if a change of formulation is at all possible. What has been said of the form applies also to the content. In the next action we shall discuss an interesting example of two traditions different from each other in content; and countless other instances may be found in biblical and Talmudic literature. With reference to variations in form, which are also numerous, it will suffice to mention two examples: the name Peniel and Penuel (Genesis 32:31‒32), and the refrains at the end of the stanzas in the Psalms, which in most cases do not recur in exactly the same wording, but alter their phrasing slightly from time to time.
On the week [the Milik and Black translation of the Aramaic Enoch fragments] appeared in 1976, I spent several days with Dr. Black. He was greatly impressed by certain parallels between the Qumran Book of Enoch and Joseph Smith’s. When I started asking for explanations he would switch to other topics. … He is president of the St. [Page 241]Andrews Golf Club in Scotland, the oldest in the world, and greatly preferred talking golf with Billy Casper, who also happened to be visiting here at the time, than splitting heads about the Book of Enoch. He did say a number of times, shaking his head in a bemused fashion, “Someday we will find out where Joseph Smith got that. … Someday a source will turn up.” Which I doubt not for a moment, since we already have an impressive sampling. I am afraid it will not be what Brother Black is hoping for.
See also the video excerpt of an interview of Hugh Nibley recorded in connection with a National Interfaith Conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls, 20 November 1992, in the Kresge Auditorium of Stanford University (Nibley, “What Did Hugh Nibley Have to Say About the LDS Enoch and the Aramaic Book of the Giants?”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tTuzRQ6bcI). His comments on his encounter with Black appear at about 6:04‒6:50.
Go here to see the one thought on ““Where Did the Names Mahaway and Mahujah Come From? A Response to Colby Townsend’s “Returning to the Sources,” Part 2 of 2”” or to comment on it.