A friend shared a link to a recent article by Dr. Jeffrey Tomkins of the Institute for Creation Research titled “Mount Hermon Was Flood-Formed.” Dr. Tomkins’ point is that those of us who believe that the Book of 1 Enoch adds to our understanding of theology make an error when pointing to Mount Hermon, on the border between Israel, Syria, and Lebanon, as the site of the rebellion of the Watchers:
Regardless of where one stands on the controversial issue of nephilim, there’s one geographical aspect of the whole debate that’s decidedly in error. In fact, this is a common type of historical error some Christians make in other geographical speculations concerning the Bible. Specifically, it’s the important issue of the Genesis Flood and its relation to the current global landscape. The popular but errant idea that the present-day Mount Hermon is the same geological feature that existed in the pre-Flood world serves as an important teaching point. […]
The world that existed before the Flood was totally destroyed, and the present-day (post-Flood) Mount Hermon, which is mostly composed of sedimentary Flood rock, cannot be the pre-Flood Mount Hermon alluded to in the Book of Enoch.
Dr. Tomkins makes a good point. We can’t know that Mount Hermon, where it sits today, is where the sons of God mentioned in Genesis 6:1–4 conspired to corrupt humanity. We don’t know that even Hermon existed prior to the Flood.
Likewise, we can’t assume that the Tigris and Euphrates in Genesis 2:14, which flowed out of Eden, were anywhere near the modern rivers that bear those names. The world today looks very little like the pre-Flood world.
But in this case, it doesn’t matter.
The Book of Watchers (chapters 1–36 of 1 Enoch) was probably written around 250 BC. It’s clear that the author(s) put great importance on Mount Hermon. It’s named as the place where the Watchers made a mutual pact to go through with their sin.
About the time the book was being written, a Greek-language inscription was carved onto a three-ton limestone slab and lugged up to the summit of the 9,232-foot mountain and left inside a small temple, which is, to this day, the highest man-made place of worship on the planet. The text (adapted from a new translation by Dr. Doug Hamp) reads:
According to the command of the great Bull El, those swearing an oath in this place go forth.
I show in The Second Coming of Saturn why the Canaanite creator-god El, who was believed to reside on Mount Hermon, should be identified with Shemihazah, the chief of the rebellious Watchers who swore their mutual oath on the mountain’s summit.
Amorite texts from Ugarit, written during the time of the Judges about a thousand years earlier, point to the region between Hermon and the Sea of Galilee as central to their religion. It was the location of El’s mount of assembly, Bashan, the ancient kingdom of Og, was believed to be the literal entrance to the netherworld, and the Epic of Aqhat makes several geographic references that point to the Sea of Galilee, especially in the context of the underworld gods–the Rephaim.
Going back further, to the time of Abraham, the Old Babylonian text of the Epic of Gilgamesh called the cedar forest around Hermon the “secret dwelling of the Anunnaki,” the former great gods of Sumer who became, over time, judges in the underworld.
Now, all of this would be nothing more than historical curiosity (and nitpicking on my part) if Jesus himself hadn’t made that mountain a focal point of his ministry. It was at Caesarea Philippi, which is at the foot of Mount Hermon, that he asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” (Actually, he first asked, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” That’s important, because the title “the Son of Man,” which Jesus used of himself more than 80 times, appears first in the Book of Parables–chapters 37–71 of the Book of 1 Enoch, which was completed right around the time of Jesus’ birth.)
So, Jesus declared his divinity to his disciples at the base of Mount Hermon. And then, a week later, Jesus took Peter, James, and John “up a high mountain.” The only peak that fits that description in the vicinity of Caesarea Philippi is Mount Hermon. There, he was transfigured into a being of light–sending a flare into the spirit realm to declare his divinity to the Fallen.
The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter where Hermon was prior to the Flood. It could even be that the mountain now sits on top of the entrance to Tartarus, where the sinful angels now wait, chained in darkness, for the final judgment (2 Pt. 2:4; Jude 6–7).
What we do know is that Mount Hermon was venerated as a holy place by pagans for about 2,000 years before the birth of Jesus, and he chose that specific location to declare his divinity to his disciples and to the spirit realm.
That makes Mount Hermon important and relevant to Christians today regardless of where, or whether, it stood before the Flood.