The Watchers (Aramaic, עִירִין iyrin) is a term found in the Old Testament Book of Daniel, and later sources, which is connected to angels. In Daniel, these are obedient angels, in the Book of Enoch they are referred to as fallen angels.


In Daniel 4:13, 17, 23 there are three references made to a the class of "watcher, holy one" (watcher, Aramaic `iyr, holy one Aramaic qaddiysh). The term is introduced by Nebuchadnezzar who describes how he saw "a watcher, a holy one come down (singular verb) from heaven." The singular verb indicates that "a watcher, a holy one" are two titles for the same being or class of being. Nebuchadnezzar then describes how in his dream the watcher says that Nebuchadnezzar will eat grass and be mad and that this punishment is "by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones" in order that "the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men." After hearing the king's dream Daniel considers for an hour and then responds:

Daniel 4:23 And whereas the king saw a watcher, a holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and [let] his portion [be] with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him; KJV

The presentation in Daniel of these "watchers, holy ones" may be a depiction of Babylonian religion, that is an attempt by the author of this section of Daniel to present Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian gods recognising the power of the God of Israel as "Most High."[1] The version of this dream and its interpretation differs from the Aramaic of the Massoretic Text to the Greek of the Septuagint. For example in the Aramaic text it is ambiguous who is telling the story of verse 14, whether it is Nebuchadnezzar himself, or the watcher in his dream.[2]

Dead Sea Scrolls and Pseudepigrapha

Book of Enoch

The term "Watchers," is common in the Book of Enoch found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Book of the Watchers is the name for one section of the book (1 Enoch 6-36). It occurs in the Aramaic fragments in the phrase irin we-qadishin, "Watchers and Holy Ones", known from Aramaic Daniel.[3] The Aramaic irin "watchers" is rendered as "angel" (Greek angelos, Coptic malah) in the Greek and Ethiopian translations, although the usual Aramaic term for angel malakha does not occur in Aramaic Enoch.[4] The dating of this section of 1 Enoch is around 2nd-1st Century BCE. This book is based on one interpretation of the Sons of God passage in Genesis 6, according to which angels married with human females, giving rise to a race of hybrids known as the Nephilim. The term irin is primarily applied to disobedient Watchers who numbered a total of 200, and of whom their leaders are named, but equally Aramaic iri ("watcher" singular) is also applied to the obedient archangels who chain them, such as Raphael (1 Enoch 22:6).

Genesis 6, the Sons of God

The watchers story in Enoch derives from the sixth chapter Genesis, where the "Origin of the Nephilim" is described and the "Sons of God" who beget them are mentioned:

When men began to multiply on earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw how beautiful the daughters of man were, and so they took for their wives as many of them as they chose. Then the Lord said: "My spirit shall not remain in man forever, since he is but flesh. His days shall comprise one hundred and twenty years." At that time the Nephilim appeared on earth (as well as later), after the sons of God had intercourse with the daughters of man, who bore them sons. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-4)

Here, the "sons of God" are given no specific name or erections; they could represent fallen angels, heavenly beings that mate with human women. The Book of Enoch regards these as the same angels who are referred to as the Benei Ha-Elohim (Eng. Sons of God) in the Book of Genesis. According to this belief, their sins filled the Earth with violence and the world was destroyed as a result of their intervention.

Names of 1 Enoch Watchers

In the Book of Enoch, the watchers are angels dispatched to Earth to watch over the humans. They soon begin to lust for human women, and at the prodding of their leader Samyaza, they defect en masse to illicitly instruct and procreate among humanity. The offspring of these unions are the Nephilim, savage giants who pillage the earth and endanger humanity. Samyaza and associates further taught their human charges arts and technologies such as weaponry, cosmetics, mirrors, sorcery, and other techniques that would otherwise be discovered gradually over time by humans, not foisted upon them all at once. Eventually God allows a Great Flood to rid the earth of the Nephilim, but first sends Uriel to warn Noah so as not to eradicate the human race. While Genesis says that the Nephilim remained "on the earth" even after the Great Flood, Jude says that the Watchers themselves are bound "in the valleys of the Earth" until Judgment Day. (See Genesis 6:4 and Jude 1:6, respectively)

There are 20 leaders in the Book of Enoch also called 1 Enoch the section that mentions them reads:

7. And these are the names of their leaders: Sêmîazâz, their leader, Arâkîba, Râmêêl, Kôkabîêl, Tâmîêl, Râmîêl, Dânêl, Êzêqêêl, Barâqîjâl, Asâêl, Armârôs, Batârêl, Anânêl, Zaqîêl, Samsâpêêl, Satarêl, Tûrêl, Jômjâêl, Sariêl. 8. These are their chiefs of tens." - R. H. Charles translation, The Book of the Watchers, Chapter VI.

These are the leaders of 200 angels in 1 Enoch that are turned into fallen Angels because they took wives, mated with human women, and taught forbidden knowledge.

  • Araqiel (also Arakiel, Araqael, Araciel, Arqael, Sarquael, Arkiel, Arkas) [5] taught humans the signs of the earth. However, in the Sibylline Oracles, Araqiel is referred to not as a fallen angel, or Watcher, but as one of the 5 angels who lead the souls of men to judgement, the other 4 being Ramiel, Uriel, Samiel, and Azazel.
  • Armaros (also Amaros) in Enoch I taught men the resolving of enchantments.
  • Azazel[6] taught men to make knives, swords, shields, and how to devise ornaments and cosmetics.
  • Gadriel taught the art of cosmetics.
  • Baraqel (Baraqiel) taught men astrology[7]
  • Bezaliel mentioned in Enoch I, left out of most translations because of damaged manuscripts and problematic transmission of the text.
  • Chazaqiel (sometimes Ezeqeel) taught men the signs of the clouds (meteorology).[5]
  • Kokabiel (also Kakabel, Kochbiel, Kokbiel, Kabaiel, and Kochab),[8] is a high-ranking, holy angel but, in general apocryphal lore and also in Enoch I, he is a fallen Watcher, resident of nether realms, and commands 365,000 surrogate spirits to do his bidding. Among other duties, he instructs his fellows in astrology.
  • Penemue[9] "taught mankind the art of writing with ink and paper," and taught "the children of men the bitter and the sweet and the secrets of wisdom."
  • Sariel (also Suriel) taught mankind about the courses of the moon (at one time regarded as forbidden knowledge).[10]
  • Samyaza (also Shemyazaz, Shamazya, Semiaza, Shemhazi, Semyaza and Amezyarak) is one of the leaders of the fall from heaven.[11]
  • Shamsiel, once a guardian of Eden,[12] served as one of the 2 chief aides to the archangel Uriel (the other aide being Hasdiel) when Uriel bore his standard into battle, and is the head of 365 legions of angels and also crowns prayers, accompanying them to the 5th heaven. He is referred to[13] as one of the Watchers. He is a fallen angel who teaches the signs of the sun.[14]

Damascus Document (CD)

A reference to the "fall of the watchers from heaven" is found in Hebrew in the Damascus Document 2:18 echoing 1 Enoch 13:10.[15]


The term "Watchers" appears also in some other Enochic texts counted among the "Old Testament Pseudepigrapha," specifically in the Book of Jubilees (Jub. 3:15, 5:1), and Slavonic Enoch.

Slavonic Enoch

The Greek term egrḗgoroi (ἐγρήγοροι)) or Grigori is transliterated into Slavonic in the Second Book of Enoch. In 2 Enoch 18 (Slavonic Enoch) the "Grigori" (egregoroi) are located in the fifth heaven, and from among them 200 princes fall.[16]

Rabbinical and later literature


The Zohar makes reference to the "watchers" of Nebuchadnezzar's dream.

Christian writers

Some early Christian writers accepted the interpretation in the Book of Enoch of the sons of God in Genesis and made reference to "watchers." Generally, later theologians, such as Augustine, interpreted the Genesis "sons of God" as referring to the descendants of Seth and the "daughters of man", in turn referring to the descendants of Cain.[17][18] This "Sethian" interpretation is found in Byzantine and Syriac traditions such as the Kitab al-Magall.[19]

Clement of Alexandria, influenced by Hellenistic cosmology, attributed the movement of the stars and the control of the four elements to angelic beings. Sinistrari attributed bodies of fire, air, earth, and water to these beings, and concluded that the "watchers" were made of fire and air . Cardinal Newman, writing in the mid-19th century, proposed that certain angels existed who were neither totally good nor evil, and had only "partially fallen" from the Heavens.

In modern times various writers have written on 1 Enoch's story of the fallen angels for the mass market.[20][21]


  1. Daniel: A Commentary p69 Norman W. Porteous - 1965 "... of the watchers, the decision by the words of the holy ones' may reflect the influence of the Babylonian belief in "
  2. Aramaic Daniel and Greek Daniel: a literary comparison p45 T. J. Meadowcroft - 1995 "14 of the MT the reader wonders who is telling the story, the watcher or Nebuchadnezzar. For a brief moment it does not seem to matter because the dream and its reason ('so that the living might know..."
  3. Gabriele Boccaccini Enoch and Qumran origins: new light on a forgotten connection 2005 p157 "Exceedingly common in 1 Enoch is the term "Watchers," which gives its name to an entire book of Enoch (1 En 6-36). It occurs in the phrase 'irin we-qadishin, "Watchers and Holy Ones,""
  4. Nickelsburg, G. 1 Enoch 1 Hermeneia p44
  5. 5.0 5.1 in Enoch I
  6. in Enoch I
  7. from Enoch I
  8. in The Book of the Angel Raziel
  9. in I Enoch 69.8
  10. In the Enoch books
  11. is referred to in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Vocabulaire de l' Angelologie.
  12. in the Zohar
  13. in Jubilees
  14. In I Enoch
  15. Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible DDD "Watchers" p893 K. van der Toorn,Bob Becking,Pieter Willem van der Horst
  16. Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible DDD "Watchers" p893 K. van der Toorn,Bob Becking,Pieter Willem van der Horst
  17. Later Judaism and almost all the earliest ecclesiastical writers identify the "sons of God" with the fallen angels; but from the fourth century onwards, as the idea of angelic natures becomes less material, the Fathers commonly take the "sons of God" to be Seth's descendants and the "daughters of men" those of Cain.
    Jerusalem Bible, Genesis VI, footnote.
  18. Julius Africanus at CCEL
  19. Kitab al-Magall
  20. Collins, Andrew (2001) From the ashes of angels: The forbidden legacy of a fallen race. Bear & Company. ISBN 978-1879181724
  21. Lumpkin, Joseph B. (2006) Fallen angels watchers, and the origins of evil. Fifth Estate. ISBN 978-1933580104

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