Metatron is a mysterious angel who appears only in Jewish mystical texts, particularly within the Kabbalistic tradition. But unlike most angels, Metatron is unique. He is depicted as the most powerful of all the angels, so powerful, in fact, that has been called little Yahweh.
Metatron is believed to have once been Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, who was elevated to angelic status. There aren’t any other angels who started out as humans.
Interestingly, Metatron is only mentioned in non-canonical books, that is, books that were left out of the bible. There’s no mention of him in the Christian Old Testament or the Hebrew bible, the Tanakh. All this has made him a mysterious and even controversial figure.
Who is Enoch?
In order to uncover the origins of Metatron, we must first look at the story of Enoch, a figure who is shrouded in mystery himself. Enoch is mentioned briefly in a few verses in the bible, but his entire story is based on speculations that arise from them.
Genesis 5:18-24 gives us the main passage about Enoch in the Bible. It details his lineage (as the son of Jared and the father of Methuselah), his age, and notably his righteous life. The passage concludes with the famous verse, “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away,”.
This is important because it implies that Enoch didn’t die, but instead, was spirited away by God.
We next hear of Enoch in the New Testament, in Hebrews 11:5, where he’s mentioned in the context of faith.
The verse states, “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: ‘He could not be found, because God had taken him away.’ For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.”
And again, his unique departure from this world is reinforced. He’s mentioned one more time in the bible, this time in Jude 1:14-15, and is cited as a prophet. This isn’t much to go on, and you might even forget that Enoch ever existed, if you only took the Bible into account.
The Apocryphal Texts
Which is why we have to turn to the apocryphal texts, particularly the Book of Enoch (also known as 1 Enoch). It’s here that we can truly understand Metatron’s transformation from Enoch.
This ancient Jewish work, which wasn’t included in the standard Biblical Canon, offers a more detailed account of Enoch’s experiences and his spiritual journey. It describes his revelations, and his visits to heaven in the form of travels, visions, and dreams. He becomes a revealer of secrets and a witness to heavenly mysteries.
This text, revered in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church but considered apocryphal in Jewish and most Christian traditions, provides the foundation for the later mystical interpretation of Enoch as Metatron.
The transformation of Enoch into Metatron is more explicitly discussed in other Jewish mystical texts, such as the Babylonian Talmud and the Zohar.
These describe how Enoch became the most exalted angel because of his righteousness and devotion to God. His transformation is physical, as he turns into a heavenly creature.
What Does Metatron Look Like?
Metatron is said to have 36 wings, a number signifying his elevated rank among the heavenly beings. His face is portrayed as radiating intense light, which reflects his role as a bearer of divine knowledge.
Additionally, Metatron is often depicted holding a quill or a scroll, symbolizing his duty as the scribe of God’s decrees.
Once he reaches heaven as an angle, he is transformed into a powerful being. The description goes thus:
“This Enoch, whose flesh was turned to flame, his veins to fire, his eyelashes 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.” Gershom Scholem (1946).
Metatron, once Enoch, now embodies both the human experience and the transcendental nature of the angelic. He symbolizes the profound connection between the human and the divine in Jewish mysticism.
Metatron’s Role in Heaven
Metatron’s new role in the heavens is multifaceted. As a scribe, his duties include recording the deeds of humanity, guiding and supporting the spiritual development of souls, and governing the flow of divine energy into the physical world.
He is a powerful intermediary, a bridge between the Creator and Creation. So much so that, he’s called the Lesser Yahweh.
In 3 Enoch, Metatron says of God, “He … called me, ‘The lesser YHVH’ in the presence of his whole household in the height, as it is written, ‘my name is in him.'” (3 Enoch, 12:5, P. Alexander’s Translation.)
This title implies that Metatron has an exalted position in heaven and is exceptionally close to Yahweh (God). The controversy among scholars and theologians regarding Metatron’s title as the ‘Lesser Yahweh’ is quite natural, given its potential challenge to traditional views of the angelic hierarchy.
This title raises compelling questions: If Metatron is referred to as a ‘lesser’ form of Yahweh, does it imply that God is sharing His divine powers? Such an idea could appear to stretch the boundaries of monotheism.
However, it’s important to note that the term ‘Lesser’ is crucial here. It serves to clearly differentiate Metatron from the Almighty — the ‘greater’ Yahweh. In doing so, this distinction helps to uphold the fundamental Jewish principle of monotheism, while simultaneously recognizing Metatron’s elevated status within the divine realm.
This careful balancing act reflects the intricate and nuanced nature of theological interpretation in Jewish mysticism.
Another intriguing aspect associated with Metatron is the concept of Metatron’s Cube. This geometric figure is a symbol derived from the Flower of Life, which is composed of thirteen circles. When these circles are connected by straight lines, it forms a complex structure known as Metatron’s Cube.
This symbol is not directly mentioned in traditional Jewish texts but has been adopted in various mystical and esoteric traditions. It’s a powerful representation of sacred geometry, symbolizing the underlying patterns and structures of the universe.
Metatron’s Cube is thought to represent the interconnectedness of all things in the cosmos, reflecting the belief that everything in the universe is part of a divine, geometric plan. In modern esotericism, it is sometimes used as a symbol of protection, balance, and harmony, believed to act as a visual expression of the energy flows of the universe, as governed by an entity as powerful as Metatron.
Metatron remains the most intriguing angel, known for his unique origins and extraordinary powers. Just as God incarnated as Jesus to walk among humans, Enoch also underwent a transformation to become Metatron, taking his place among the celestial beings. While he plays no role in canonical texts, he has inspired much esoteric speculation.