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Empire has the latest on Darren Aronofsky’s Noah Film, scheduled for release in 2014:

Written by John Logan (Gladiator, The Aviator, Hugo and many more) and Aronofsky himself, it’s not a traditional retelling of the age-old bible story but a radical reimagining, complete with giant angels called ‘Watchers’.

Russell Crowe as Noah

Russell Crowe as Noah

Along with Russell Crowe as Noah, Jennifer Connelly will play Noah’s wife, Naameh, Douglas Booth and Logan Lerman play Noah’s sons, Shem and Ham (not sure what happened to Japeth), Emma Watson plays a close friend of Shem’s, Ila, Anthony Hopkins plays Noah’s grandfather Methuselah, and Ray Winstone plays “an as-yet unnamed character who acts as Noah’s enemy”.

“Watchers”, as fans of Remnant of Giants will well know, is the name given to the angels who descend from heaven to earth in 1 Enoch 6-16 (that is, in The Book of Watchers). 1 Enoch 6-16 is one of the earliest “retellings” of a curious episode which is narrated immediately before the story of the Flood in Genesis 6:1-4:

When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. Then Yahweh said, “My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days – and also afterward – when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.

According to 1 Enoch 6, the Watchers were originally angels (i.e., “sons of God”) in heaven with God. But they were enticed by the beauty of human women to come down to earth. Under their leader Shemihazah, they take some of the women as wives and have children by them. Their children are half-breed giants, whose wreck havoc on the earth. However, the bodies of the giants are  later destroyed by the Flood, and only their spirits remain: these evil spirits become what are known as “demons”.

Yet there are at least three other explanations of the origins of the Watchers in ancient Jewish texts. In the Azazel-stratum of The Book of Watchers, the angels provide illicit knowledge to humans, such as metal-working, magic, and astronomical secrets. This is their main crime, rather than their sex with human women. The Life of Adam and Eve provides a third account of the Watchers, explaining that some angels, while in heaven, made a direct challenge to the authority of God, in an attempt to usurp his heavenly throne. What provoked them was their envy of God’s creation of Adam. A fourth account of the Watchers occurs in The Animal Apocalypse, also within 1 Enoch. Here the rebellious angels are first sent to earth by God in order to rule over humankind, rather than rebelling against God. But later on they abuse their legitimate authority, by using excessive force, tyranny, and exercising injustice. Later Christian accounts of the fall of the Watchers tend to emphasise the leader of the Watchers – and this leader becomes known as Satan. Many of the stories of the Watchers declare that, at the end of time, the Watchers will be destroyed in Hell for their rebellion against God. But from the time of the Flood to the end of time, 1 Enoch states that the Watchers were bound in chains in Hades, awaiting their final punishment.

Aronofsky takes elements of each of these accounts of the origin of the Watchers, but creates his own distinct version of why the Watchers came down to earth.

According to the biblical chronology in the Hebrew Masoretic Text of the Bible, Methusaleh died in the year preceding the Flood, some 99 years after Yahweh told Noah to build an ark. The Masoretic Text dates Methusaleh’s death to 1656 Anno Mundi and the Flood to 1657 Anno Mundi. Things get more confusing in some Septuagint versions of the Bible, where  according to the chronology, Methusaleh survives some 17 years after the Flood.

The name of Noah’s wife doesn’t appear in the Bible, and neither do the names of the wives of Ham, Shem, and Japeth. But “Naamah”, identified as the daughter of Lamech and sister of Tubal-Cain, is the name given to the wife of Noah in Genesis Rabbah (בראשית רבה), traditionally dated to the third century AD. In the much earlier, 2nd century BC book of Jubilees (ספר היובלים), Noah’s wife is called “Emzara”, and she is identified as the daughter of Rake’el, son of Methusaleh (Jub. 4.33). The name “Emzara” also appears in a text from Qumran which retells the book of Genesis, 1QApGen (6.7).

See the trailer here: