On Jude 1:14-15
Version Date: June 17, 2021.
This article shows that Jude 1:14-15 corresponds to De 33:2-3. In other words, De 33:2-3 quotes Enoch and is the source of the prophecy mentioned in Jude 1:14-15. As will be shown here, Jude 1:14-15 is not a word-for-word translation of De 33:2-3. Rather, it rephrases some of the content of De 33:2-3 and states it more explicitly, using more words. The text of Jude 1:14-15 is:
(Jude 1:14) προεφητευσεν δε και τουτοις εβδομος απο αδαμ ενωχ λεγων ιδου ηλθεν κυριος εν μυριασιν αγιαις αυτου
(Jude 1:15) ποιησαι κρισιν κατα παντων και εξελεγξαι παντας τους ασεβεις αυτων περι παντων των εργων ασεβειας αυτων ων ησεβησαν και περι παντων των σκληρων ων ελαλησαν κατ αυτου αμαρτωλοι ασεβεις
An English translation of Jude 1:14-15 would be, "But Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied also to these, saying, 'Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones to do judgment against all and to convict all their ungodly concerning all their ungodly deeds which they have wickedly committed, and concerning all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.'"
A question to be addressed here is whether the passage is about the second coming of the Lord or about the time when the Lord came down on Mount Sinai (Ex 19:20). It can be noticed that when the prophecy of Enoch was rendered in Greek, the word ηλθεν "came" was used instead of ελευσεται "will come". This provides evidence that the prophecy was fulfilled by the time the epistle was written. Therefore, the prophecy is about the coming of the Lord on Mount Sinai.
Considering ποιησαι κρισιν κατα παντων "to do judgment against all", when the Lord came on Mount Sinai he began to convict people concerning sin so that they may understand their sin, repent, and believe. Note that a similar wording is used in η διακονια της κατακρισεως "the ministry of condemnation" in 2Co 3:9; the compound word κατακρισεως of 2Co 3:9 consists of κατα and κρισις, which also appear together in Jude 1:15 in the phrase κρισιν κατα παντων. Now προεφητευσεν δε και τουτοις "prophesied also to these" indicates that the prophecy of Enoch is addressed also to the men mentioned in Jude 1:4, the law convicting them as sinners in need of repentance (1Ti 1:9-10).
Considering also εν μυριασιν αγιαις αυτου "with ten thousands of his holy ones," it should be noted here that in this passage a holy one does not denote a man but a heavenly being. To see this, let's note that the gender of μυριασιν αγιαις "holy ones" is feminine, in agreement with the gender of δοξας "glorious ones" in Jude 1:8.
(De 33:2) ויאמר יהוה מסיני בא וזרח משעיר למו הופיע מהר פארן ואתה מרבבת קדש מימינו אשדת למו
(De 33:3) אף חבב עמים כל קדשיו בידך והם תכו לרגלך ישא מדברתיך
The translation of De 33:2-3 proposed here is, "And he said, 'The LORD came from Sinai and dawned from Seir on Israel. He shone forth from Mount Paran and came with a retinue of holiness from his right hand, a multitude increased 10,000 times. Thou judgedst the nation. Surely with all his holy ones in thy hand he convicted peoples, for they have even oppressed at thy very feet; he took thy cases." This translation differs considerably from other translations of De 33:2-3. Differences are mainly due to the following two reasons. First, the Hebrew text is followed here as written, without any emendations. For example, the word אשדת of De 33:2 is translated as written, without emending it to אש דת "fiery law", as in the Qere. Second, De 33:2-3 contains a significant number of rare words for which the meaning is not nearly as obvious as for the words that are commonly used in the Bible. It should not be surprising, however, to find rare words in De 33:2-3, since Jude 1:14 indicates that Moses was quoting an ancient prophecy; Enoch, who spoke the prophecy, lived a long time before Moses. The translation above, while showing that Jude 1:14-15 has the same message as De 33:2-3, differs from De 33:2-3. The fact that the message of De 33:2-3 is worded differently in Jude 1:14-15 does not conflict with the claim that De 33:2-3 is the source of the prophecy mentioned in Jude 1:14-15. Among the quotations included in the Bible, there are many that quote a saying, stating exactly what was said, and there are others that quote something that was stated explicitly or implicitly, in which the focus is on emphasizing what was stated, not the exact form in which that thing was stated.
In the following paragraphs, De 33:2-3 is interpreted by considering the meaning of a number of key Hebrew words that appear in this passage.
מרבבת from רבב
In De 33:2-3, the words of Enoch likely begin with ואתה מרבבת "and came with a retinue increased 10,000 times." This could be inferred from the fact that in Jude 1:14 the quotation begins with ιδου ηλθεν κυριος εν μυριασιν αγιαις αυτου "Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones." Since Jude 1:14 mentions ten thousands (plural), instead of just ten thousand, it can be seen that both De 33:2 and Jude 1:14 indicate a multiple of 10,000 for the number of holy ones. The form מרבבת was parsed as a pual participle feminine construct of רבב "to multiply by 10,000", just as מרבבות in Ps 144:13. Since the form is spelled מרבבת instead of מרבבות, a singular number was assumed. Thus, מרבבת refers to a single multitude, not several multitudes. The word refers to the multitude that came with the Lord, a multitude that was 10,000 times larger than in other instances. An alternative interpretation of מרבבת is that the word means "from ten thousands", consisting of מן "from" and the plural of רבבה "ten thousand". However, it seems unlikely that the passage would state that the Lord came to Mount Sinai after departing from ten thousands of angels, since the focus is not on God's glory in heaven but on the glory that was revealed when he came down on Mount Sinai.
אשדת from אשד
The definition of the word אשד in the BDB lexicon is "foundation, bottom, lower part (slope)"; it appears in Nu 21:15, in which it clearly refers to a region at the bottom of a valley. Indeed, Israel camped beyond the border of Moab, which was the Arnon River (Nu 21:13). They camped on the אשד, which extended to the region of the Moabite city of Ar (Nu 21:15). Since the river was the border and a river flows at the bottom of a valley, the אשד must have referred to the lower region, to the relatively flat valley floor. The verb אשד does not appear anywhere else outside of De 33:2; its meaning, however, could be guessed from the noun אשד of Nu 21:13. If the noun אשד means "bottom", the corresponding verb אשד would mean "to bottom", which could be interpreted "to uncover the facts", that is, "to judge". Thus, אשדת "Thou judgedst" corresponds to ποιησαι κρισιν "to do judgment" in Jude 1:15. An alternative interpretation is to translate אשדת as if it were written אש דת "fiery law". However, a literal interpretation of the Bible has to interpret the text as written.
חבב from חוב
The form חבב could be parsed as the polel of חוב "to be guilty", indicating that the Lord showed the peoples to be guilty. Thus, חבב עמים "he convicted peoples" corresponds to εξελεγξαι παντας "to convict all" in Jude 1:15. In the context of Mount Sinai, the peoples included Israel and the foreigners who had joined them (Ex 12:38, Nu 11:4). The "holy ones in thy hand" were angels carrying out the work of the Lord. An alternative interpretation is that חבב is a participle of a verb חבב meaning "to love". However, note that the verb חבב does not appear anywhere else in the Bible.
תכו from תכך
The verbal form תכו could be obtained from a verb תכך. With the possible exception of Pr 29:13, this verb is not used elsewhere in the Bible. Nonetheless, its meaning can be inferred from the word תך which means "injury, oppression". Thus, the meaning of the form תכו is inferred as "they have oppressed". The Lord is well aware of everything done on earth, for everything is done at his feet, the earth being his footstool (Is 66:1). An alternative interpretation is that תכו comes from a verb תכה meaning "to be led, assembled". However, there is no evidence for the verb תכה and its meaning, excepting that they seem to fit the alternative interpretation of the verse.
מדברתיך from דברה
Considering the form מדברתיך, it could be noted that the word דברה appears in דברתי of Job 5:8 with the meaning "case", as in a legal case (see Holladay's lexicon). Thus, ישא מדברתיך "He took from thy cases" can be understood in the sense that "He addressed thy cases", that is, he brought before the people the cases that God had against them, by convicting them of sin, and he refuted the cases that the people had against God by showing God's holiness. The Lord began doing this when he came down on Mount Sinai and continued it as he revealed his holy law. The ending of Jude 1:15 emphasizes the cases that people had against God and mentions that God convicted those who spoke harshly about him. When the Lord gave the law, he revealed himself as holy, while the ungodly must have imagined other things about him, so as to excuse their sinful actions. It can be seen that ישא מדברתיך provides the source for εξελεγξαι παντας τους ασεβεις αυτων ... περι παντων των σκληρων ων ελαλησαν κατ αυτου αμαρτωλοι ασεβεις "to convict all their ungodly ... concerning all the harsh things that the ungodly sinners spoke against him" (Jude 1:15). The מ prefix of מדברתיך indicates that the Lord did not address all cases when he gave the law. An alternative interpretation of מדברתיך is that it involves the plural of a word דברת meaning "word, pronouncement". However, this word does not appear elsewhere in the Bible and the only evidence for its meaning might be that the related word דבר means "word".
It could be noted that De 33:2-3 addresses God both at the second person and at the third person. The third-person references are understood to be to God the Son, who appeared as the Angel of the LORD. The second-person references are understood to be to God the Father. An alternative interpretation has been to follow somewhat loosely the Hebrew text so as to avoid having both the second and the third person references. Sometimes בידך "in thy hand" is translated "in his hand", as if the text had בידו instead of בידך. In other translations, כל קדשיו "all his holy ones" is rendered "all thy holy ones" or "all holy ones", as if the text had כל קדשיך or כל קדשים instead of כל קדשיו. However, a literal interpretation of the Bible has to follow closely the text.
The following table summarizes how Jude 1:14-15 can be obtained from De 33:2-3. As understood here, the text of Jude 1:14-15 rephrases and states more explicitly certain parts of De 33:2-3; it also applies the prophecy of Enoch to the unsaved persons mentioned in Jude 1:4. The appeal of the epistle has not been to treat them harshly but to try to save them (Jude 1:21-23).