Andrei A. Orlov

The Glorified Jacob-Israel


an excerpt from A. Orlov, From Apocalypticism to Merkabah Mysticism: Studies in the Slavonic Pseudepigrapha (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, 114; Leiden: Brill, 2007)




.... Scholars have previously noted that in Ladder the fiery Face not only embodies God’s Glory but also seems to represent the heavenly counterpart of Jacob.[1] They observe that the bust of fire, labeled in Ladder as the Face, can be associated with the heavenly “image” of Jacob engraved on the Throne of Glory.[2] The traditions about the heavenly “image” of Jacob are present in several targumic[3] texts,[4] including Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, Targum Neofiti,[5] and Fragmentary Targum.[6]

In Targ. Ps.-J. to Gen 28.12 the following description can be found:

He [Jacob] had a dream, and behold, a ladder was fixed in the earth with its top reaching toward the heavens ... and on that day they (angels) ascended to the heavens on high, and said, Come and see Jacob the pious, whose image is fixed (engraved) in the Throne of Glory ()rqy ysrwkb )(ybq hylyd Nynwqy)d), and whom you have desired to see.[7]

A distinctive feature of this description is that the heavenly counterpart of Jacob, his “image,” is engraved on a very special celestial entity, on the Throne of Glory. Engraving on the Throne might indicate an association with the Kavod since the Throne is the central part of the Kavod imagery – the seat of the anthropomorphic Glory of the Lord. The image engraved on the Throne might be an allusion to the face,[8]  the fiery face, since it is engraved on the fiery and glorious Throne of the Glory.

Besides the tradition of “engraving” on the Throne, some Jewish materials point to an even more radical identification of Jacob’s image with Kavod. Jarl Fossum’s research[9]  demonstrates that in some traditions about Jacob’s image, his “image” or “likeness” is depicted not simply as engraved on the heavenly Throne, but as seated upon the Throne of Glory.[10] Fossum argues that this second tradition is original. Christopher Rowland proposed that Jacob’s image is “identical with the form of God on the throne of glory (Ezek. 1:26f.).”[11] J. Fossum offers additional support for this idea by pointing out that the Hebrew forms of the Greek loan word ei0kw&n, used in the Targums and Gen. R. 68.12, are synonymous with  Mlc  and  twmd.[12] He further suggests that “Nynwqy)  or )nqwyd can thus be seen to denote a bodily form, even that of God, that is the Divine Glory.”[13]

The hypothesis about the identification of Jacob’s image and the Divine Glory returns us again to the imagery of God’s Kavod with which, as has been shown earlier, the Face in Ladder and 2 Enoch is closely associated. ............

....... Enochic materials may also correlate the Face of God (divine Kavod) with the heavenly counterpart of the visionary. In 2 Enoch, the Face of the Lord seems to play an important role in the description of Enoch’s heavenly counterpart. 2 Enoch 39:3-6 depicts the patriarch who, during his short trip to the earth, retells to his children his earlier encounter with the Face. Enoch relates:

You, my children, you see my face, a human being created just like yourselves; I am one who has seen the face of the Lord, like iron made burning hot by a fire, emitting sparks. For you gaze into my eyes, a human being created just like yourselves; but I have gazed into the eyes of the Lord, like the rays of the shining sun and terrifying the eyes of a human being. You, my children, you see my right hand beckoning you, a human being created identical to yourselves; but I have seen the right hand of the Lord, beckoning me, who fills heaven. You see the extent of my body, the same as your own; but I have seen the extent of the Lord, without measure and without analogy, who has no end.[1]

Enoch’s description provides a series of analogies in which the earthly Enoch compares his face and parts of his body with the attributes of the Lord’s Face and body. For this investigation, however, another juxtaposition is most pertinent. It is a contrast between the two identities of the visionary: the earthly Enoch (“a human being created just like yourselves”) and his heavenly counterpart (“the one who has seen the Face of God”). It appears that Enoch tries to describe himself in two different modes of existence: as a human being who now stands before his children with a human face and body and as the one who has seen God’s Face in the celestial realm. These descriptions of two conditions (earthly and celestial) occur repeatedly in tandem. It is possible that the purpose of Enoch’s instruction to his children is not to stress the difference between his human body and the Lord’s body, but to emphasize the distinction between this Enoch, a human being “created just like yourselves,” and the other angelic Enoch who has been standing before the Lord’s face. Enoch’s previous transformation into the glorious one and his initiation into Sar ha-Panim in 2 En. 22.7 support this suggestion.  It is unlikely that Enoch somehow completely abandoned his supra-angelic status and his unique place before the Face of the Lord granted to him in the previous chapters. An account of Enoch’s permanent installation can be found in chapter 36 where the Lord tells Enoch, before his short visit to the earth, that a place has been prepared for him and that he will be in the front of Lord’s face “from now and forever.”[2] Finally, in chapter 43,[3] Enoch introduces himself to his children as the Governor[4] of the World. [5]  This title gives additional proof for the fact that the permanent installation of Enoch-Metatron in the heavenly offices, including the office of the Prince of the World (Mlw(h r#), has already taken place. The importance of this account for the idea of the heavenly counterpart in 2 Enoch is apparent because it points to the simultaneous existence of Enoch’s angelic double installed in heaven and its human counterpart, whom God sends periodically on missionary errands. Targumic and rabbinic Jacob accounts also attest to this view of the heavenly counterpart when they depict angels beholding Jacob as one who at one and the same time is installed in heaven and is sleeping on earth.[6]

The idea about the heavenly counterpart of the visionary found in 2 Enoch is also present in another early Enochic account. One of the booklets of 1 (Ethiopic) Enoch attests a similar tradition. Scholars have previously observed[7] that the Similitudes seem to entertain the idea of the heavenly twin of a visionary when it identifies Enoch with the Son of Man.[8] For a long time, students of the Enochic traditions were puzzled by the fact that the Son of Man, who in previous chapters of the Similitudes has been distinguished from Enoch, becomes suddenly identified in 1 Enoch 71 with the patriarch. James VanderKam suggests that this puzzle can be explained by the Jewish notion, attested in several ancient Jewish texts, that a creature of flesh and blood could have a heavenly double or counterpart.[9] To provide an example, VanderKam points to Jacob’s traditions in which the patriarch’s “features are engraved on high.”[10]  He stresses that this theme of the visionary’s ignorance of his higher angelic identity is observable, for example, in Prayer of Joseph.

It is noteworthy that in the Similitudes, similarly in 2 Enoch and Ladder,[11] the theme of the heavenly counterpart seems to conflate with the imagery of God’s Kavod. 1 Enoch 71:5 reports that Enoch is brought by Michael to the fiery structure, surrounded by the rivers of living fire, which he describes as “a something built of crystal stones, and in the middle of those stones tongues of living fire.”[12]

There is no doubt that the fiery “structure” in the Similitudes represents the Throne of Glory, which, in another booklet of 1 Enoch, is also described as the crystal structure issuing streams of fire.[13] An explicit reference to the Throne of Glory in 1 En. 71:8,[14] immediately after the description of the fiery “crystal” structure, makes this clear.

Similarities between 1 Enoch 71 and 2 Enoch 22 in the depictions of Kavod and Enoch’s transformation near the Throne of Glory are also apparent.

a.  In both accounts (1 En. 71:3-5 and 2 En. 22:6), Enoch is brought to the Throne by archangel Michael.

b.  Angelology of the Throne in 1 Enoch, as in 2 Enoch and Ladder,[15] includes three classes of angelic beings: ophanim, cherubim and seraphim.

c. Both Enochic accounts speak about the transformation of the visionary. Enoch’s metamorphosis in 1 Enoch 71 recalls the description of the luminous transformation of Enoch into a glorious heavenly being from 2 En. 22:8-9.

d. In both cases, the transformation takes place in front of the fiery “structure,” a possible source of both transformations.

e.  Studies in the past have noted that in both accounts the transformation of the visionary takes place in the context of the angelic liturgy (2 En. 21:1-22.10; 1 En. 71:11-12).[16] The same feature is also observable in Ladder 2.15-18.

f.  In both accounts Enoch falls on his face before the Throne.[17]

g.  The manner in which Enoch is greeted near the Throne of Glory in 1 En. 71:14-17 evokes the scene from 2 En. 22:5-6, where the Lord personally greets Enoch. In both accounts we have an address in which the visionary is informed about his “eternal” status. [18]


These features of both Enochic accounts, entertaining the idea of the heavenly twin, point to the importance of the vision of the Kavod in the process of acquiring knowledge about the heavenly counterparts of the visionaries. It is not coincidental that in Jacob’s tradition, which also attests the idea of the heavenly counterpart, the vision of God’s glory also becomes an important theophanic motif. It is clearly recognizable in the targumic Jacob’s accounts and the Ladder, where reports about Jacob’s angelic counterpart are creatively conflated with theophanic traditions about the vision of God’s Kavod.


[1] Andersen, “2 Enoch,” 163.

[2] 2 Enoch 36:3. Andersen, “2 Enoch,” 161.

[3] A similar testimony can also be found in the passage of 2 Enoch preserved in the Slavonic collection of ethical writings, “The Just Balance” (Merilo Pravednoe), in which the existence of 2 Enoch was first made public. Cf. M. N. Tihomirov, Merilo Pravednoe po rukopisi XIV veka (Moscow: AN SSSR, 1961).

[4] Andersen translates the title as “the manager of the arrangements on earth,” see Andersen, “2 Enoch,” 217.

[5] On this title of Enoch and its connection with the office of the Prince of the World, see Orlov, “Titles of Enoch-Metatron in 2 Enoch,” 82-85.

[6] Targ. Neof. to Gen 28:12: “...and behold, the angels from before the Lord ascended and descended and observed him [Jacob]” (Targum Neofiti 1: Genesis, 140); Gen. R. 68.12: “...they ascended on high and saw his features and they descended below and found him sleeping” (Midrash Rabbah, 2.626).

[7] See J. VanderKam, “Righteous One, Messiah, Chosen One, and Son of Man in 1 Enoch 37-71,” in J. H. Charlesworth et al. (eds.), The Messiah: Developments in Earliest Judaism and Christianity. The First Princeton Symposium on Judaism and Christian Origins (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), 161-91 (182-83); M. A. Knibb, “Messianism in the Pseudepigrapha in the Light of the Scrolls,” DSD 2 (1995) 177-80; Fossum, The Image of the Invisible God, 144-45; C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, Luke-Acts: Angels, Christology and Soteriology (WUNT, 2/94; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1997), 151.

[8] It is important to note that in the Similitudes, the Son of Man is depicted as seated on the Throne of Glory. See 1 En. 62:5; 69:29.  Fossum observes that “in the ‘Similitudes’ the ‘Elect One’ or ‘Son of Man’ who identified as the patriarch Enoch, is enthroned upon the ‘throne of glory.’ If ‘glory’ does not qualify the throne but its occupant, Enoch is actually identified with the Glory of God.” Fossum further concludes that “...the ‘Similitudes of Enoch’ present an early parallel to the targumic description of Jacob being seated upon the ‘throne of glory’” (The Image of the Invisible God), 145.

[9] VanderKam, “Righteous One, Messiah, Chosen One, and Son of Man,” 182-83.

[10] VanderKam, “Righteous One, Messiah, Chosen One, and Son of Man,” 182-83.

[11] A notable detail in the description is that during his ascension Enoch, in a manner similar to Jacob’s vision of the ladder, sees the angelic “movements” and the angelic “faces.” In 1 En. 71:1 he reports about  “...the sons of the holy angels treading upon flames of fire, and their garments (were) white, and their clothing, and the light of their face (was) like snow” (Knibb, The Ethiopic Book of Enoch, 2.165).

[12] Knibb, The Ethiopic Book of Enoch, 2.166.

[13] In the Book of the Watchers 14:18-19 the Throne of Glory is also described as a crystal structure surrounded of the rivers of fire. The reference to “crystal” structure also recalls the depiction of the Throne in Ezek. 1.26, where it is described as a throne of sapphire (ryps).

[14]  1 En. 71:7: “And round about (were) the Seraphim, and the Cherubim, and the Ophannim; these are they who do not sleep, but keep watch over the throne of his glory” (Knibb, The Ethiopic Book of Enoch, 2.166).

[15] The Ladder also refers to three classes of angels, ophanim (many-eyed ones), cherubim and seraphim, right after the remark about the Throne: “...the fiery Throne of Glory ... and the many-eyed (ones) just I saw in my dream, holding the four-faced cherubim, bearing also the many-eyed seraphim” (Lunt, “Ladder of Jacob,” 408).

[16] Fletcher-Louis, Luke-Acts, 154.

[17] 1 En. 71:11: “And I fell upon my face” (Knibb, The Ethiopic Book of Enoch, 2.166); 2 En. 21:2 : “I fell on my face” (Andersen, “2 [Slavonic Apocalypse of] Enoch,” 135).

[18] 1 En. 71:14-15: “You are the Son of Man who was born to righteousness, and righteousness remains over you...and so you will have it for ever and for ever and ever” (Knibb, The Ethiopic Book of Enoch, 2.166-67); 2 En. 22:5-6: “Be brave, Enoch! Don’t be frightened! Stand up, and stand in front of my face forever” (Andersen, “2 Enoch,” 138-39).


[1] J. Fossum, The Image of the Invisible God (NTOA, 30; Freiburg: Universitätsverlag; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1995), 135-51(143).

[2] “… [in the Ladder] in the fiery bust of the terrifying man we are probably correct to see the heavenly ‘image’ of Jacob” (Fossum, The Image of the Invisible God, 143, n. 30).

[3] The same tradition can be found in rabbinic texts. Gen. R. 68:12 reads: “...thus it says, Israel in whom I will be glorified (Isa. xlix, 3); it is thou, [said the angels,] whose features are engraved on high; they ascended on high and saw his features and they descended below and found him sleeping.” (Midrash Rabbah [10 vols.; London: Soncino Press, 1961], 2.626). On Jacob’s image on the Throne of Glory, see also Gen. R. 78:3; 82:2; Num. R. 4:1; b. Hul. 91b; PRE. 35.

[4] On the traditions about Jacob’s image engraved on the Throne see E. R. Wolfson, Along the Path: Studies in Kabbalistic Myth, Symbolism, and Hermeneutics (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995), 1-62, 111-86.

[5] “And he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was fixed on the earth and its head reached to the height of the heavens; and behold, the angels that had accompanied him from the house of his father ascended to bear good tidings to the angels on high, saying: “Come and see the pious man whose image is engraved in the throne of Glory, whom you desired to see.” And behold, the angels from before the Lord ascended and descended and observed him” (Targum Neofiti 1: Genesis [trans. M. McNamara; Aramaic Bible, 1A; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992], 140).

[6] “... And he dreamt that there was a ladder set on the ground, whose top reached towards the heavens; and behold the angels that had accompanied him from his father’s house ascended to announce to the angels of the heights: ‘Come and see the pious man, whose image is fixed to the throne of glory….’” (M. L. Klein, The Fragment-Targums of the Pentateuch According to Their Extant Sources [2 vols.; AB, 76; Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1980], 1.57 and 2.20).

[7] Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Genesis, 99-100; Biblia Polyglotta Matritensia. IV. Targum Palaestinense in Pentateuchum, 1.195.

[8] Hekhalot Rabbati (Synopse §164) attests to the tradition of Jacob’s face engraved on the throne of glory: ydwbk )sk l( yl hqwqx )yh# Mhyb) bq(y wynp; see P. Schäfer, with M. Schlüter and H. G. von Mutius, Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur (TSAJ, 2; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1981), 72.

[9] Fossum, The Image of the Invisible God, 140-41.

[10] Fossum notes that this tradition is already observable in some versions of the Fragmentary Targum which do not contain the verb “engraved” or “fixed” (The Image of the Invisible God, 141). He also points to a certain baraita (b. Hul. 91b) that seems to attests to the same tradition (139-40).

[11] C. Rowland, “John 1:51, Jewish Apocalyptic and Targumic Tradition,” NTS 30 (1984) 498-507 (504).

[12] Fossum, The Image of the Invisible God, 142.

[13] Fossum, The Image of the Invisible God, 142.