Enoch elaborates on the Nephilim story in Genesis 6:1-4. The Nephilim (aka the Watchers) were angels in heaven who saw the women on Earth and lusted after them. At their leader, Semjaza’s request, two hundred of them made a pact to descend from heaven, take the women as wives, and beget children. During this time, they also imparted knowledge to mankind, including:
- they taught them charms and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants. (1 Enoch 7:2)
- Azazel taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all 2 colouring tinctures. (1 Enoch 8:1)
- Semjaza taught enchantments, and root-cuttings, ‘Armaros the resolving of enchantments, Baraqijal (taught) astrology, Kokabel the constellations, Ezeqeel the knowledge of the clouds, Araqiel the signs of the earth, Shamsiel the signs of the sun, and Sariel the course of the moon. (1 Enoch 8:3)
Obviously, I can’t prove or disprove that the Watchers gave mankind the knowledge that Enoch claims. However, if you look at the archaeological evidence, the evolution of mankind’s intellect isn’t as sudden as it may appear. The cutting of roots, or agriculture, was a pretty slow worldwide development taking place over 9,000 years, just as the use of metals was gradual – from copper to iron – over a period of 5000 years.
We know that the Watchers gave mankind knowledge before the Flood (assuming 5600 BCE), so you can probably argue that agriculture does generally fit into this model. However, use of metal came after the Flood and was gradually adapted, so not all metal was known to humanity at once. We also know that people adorned themselves with jewelry well before the Neolithic period – back at least 25,000 years, so that also doesn’t quite fit the story. However, by the time of the Bronze Age, humanity had adapted pretty much all of what the Watchers allegedly gave civilization, including awareness of the more esoteric subjects such as astrology, charms, and enchantments.
Other cultures have myths of deities imparting knowledge to their people. The Golden Bough recounts the story of Osiris giving civilization and agriculture to the peoples of the world. ‘Reigning as a king on earth, Osiris reclaimed the Egyptians from savagery, gave them laws, and taught them to worship the gods. Before his time the Egyptians had been cannibals. But Isis, the sister and wife of Osiris, discovered wheat and barley growing wild, and Osiris introduced the cultivation of these grains amongst his people, who forthwith abandoned cannibalism and took kindly to a corn diet. Moreover, Osiris is said to have been the first to gather fruit from trees, to train the vine to poles, and to tread the grapes. Eager to communicate these beneficent discoveries to all mankind, he committed the whole government of Egypt to his wife Isis, and traveled over the world, diffusing the blessings of civilization and agriculture wherever he went. In countries where a harsh climate or niggardly soil forbade the cultivation of the vine, he taught the inhabitants to console themselves for the want of wine by brewing beer from barley.” (see Sacred Texts for full Golden Bough text)
The Chinese attributed these teachings to mythic heroes of past. Shennong (Shen Nung) whose name means ‘Spirit of Agriculture’ was said to have brought the skills of agriculture to his people. He also was known to collect herbs for medicinal purposes. He had a hole in his belly so he could observe the effects of different herbs on himself. Fuxi was part man from his waist up and part snake from his waist down. He imparted knowledge of carpentry and towns building along with the knowledge of the Eight Trigrams. The Yellow Emperor invented the calendar and learned the ways of the sun and the moon. His consort invented silk spinning.
The point of all of this is that no one really knows why people started domesticating animals, producing crops, and living in societies. Our current anthropological theories see the transformation as a gradual process, but myths of old have been trying to explain this for millennia.