3 Enoch is an Old Testament Apocryphal book. 3 Enoch purports to have been written in the 2nd century CE, but its origins can only be traced to the 5th century. Other names for 3 Enoch include "The Third Book of Enoch", "The Book of the Palaces", "The Book of Rabbi Ishmael the High Priest" and "The Revelation of Metatron".
Modern scholars describe this book as pseudepigraphal, as it says it is written by "Rabbi Ishmael" who became a "high priest" after visions of ascension to Heaven. However, inasmuch as the 2nd century Tanna Rabbi Ishmael likely lived (90 CE – 135 CE) after the Destruction of the Second Temple (in 70 CE), it is possible that this refers to the earlier Tanna of the same name, Ishmael ha-Kohen who, as his name implies, was in fact a high priest in the Temple (and may have been the later Rabbi Ishmael's grandfather.) Rabbi Ishmael is a leading figure of Merkabah literature.
The name Sefer Hekhalot (Hekhalot meaning palaces or temples), along with its proposed author, places this book as a member of Hekalot or Merkabah lore. Its contents suggest that 3 Enoch's contents and ideas are newer than those shown in other Merkabah texts. The book does not contain Merkabah hymns, it has a unique layout and adjuration. All these facts make 3 Enoch unique not just among Merkabah writings, but also within the writings of Enoch.
3 Enoch contains a number of Greek and Latin words. This book, unlike 1 Enoch, appears to have been originally written in Hebrew. There are a number of indications suggesting that the writers of 3 Enoch had knowledge of, and most likely read, 1 Enoch.
Some points that appear in 1 Enoch and 3 Enoch are:
- Enoch ascends to Heaven in a storm chariot (3 Enoch 6:1; 7:1)
- Enoch is transformed into an angel (3 Enoch 9:1–5; 15:1–2)
- Enoch as an exalted angel is enthroned in Heaven (3 Enoch 10:1–3; 16:1)
- Enoch receives a revelation of cosmological secrets of creation (3 Enoch 13:1–2)
- The story about precious metals and how they will not avail their users and those that make idols from them (3 Enoch 5:7–14)
- A hostile angel named Azaz'el/Aza'el and two others like him are mentioned in passing (3 Enoch 4:6; 5:9)
This Enoch, whose flesh was turned to flame, his veins to fire, his eye-lashes to flashes of lightning, his eye-balls to flaming torches, and whom God placed on a throne next to the throne of glory, received after this heavenly transformation the name Metatron.— Scholem, Gershom G (1961) , Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, p. 67.
- Craig A. Evans (1992). Noncanonical Writings and New Testament Interpretation. p. 24.
- Swartz, Scholastic Magic, 178ff
- Alexander, Philip, 3 Enoch, p. 245.
- Dan, Joseph, The Ancient Jewish Mysticism, p. 110.
- Schäfer, The Hidden and Manifest God, 144.
- Enoch, Elijah and Einstein's Theory of Relativity
- The Etymology of the Name "Metatron"
- Hebrew book of 3 Enoch (in English translation)