Saturday, January 20, 2024

The Dragon Imprisoned (20.1–3)


And I saw an angel descending from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he seized the dragon—the ancient snake who is the slanderer and the satan—and bound him for a thousand years. And he threw him into the abyss, and shut and sealed it over him, so he would not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were complete. After these things he must be released for a short time.


The conquest of the Roman Empire by the Anointed One naturally leads to the temporary defeat of the emperors’ source of power, the satan, still encoded as the Leviathan-like dragon of chaos. The temporary imprisonment of the dragon, rather than its total defeat, may have been inspired by the myth of the Watchers in 1 Enoch. When these angels disobeyed God they were imprisoned, with their sentencing for final punishment being withheld until the eschaton. Asael, one of the leaders of the Watchers, was chained within Doudael, a valley of jagged rocks and darkness. The letter 2 Peter identifies Doudael with Tartarus, the deepest part of the underworld in Greek mythology. In the theology of Plato, the souls of sinners would be confined to Tartarus for one thousand years before being reincarnated, a potential influence on the duration of the dragon’s imprisonment in ‘the abyss’ (literally ‘the bottomless’).



24.22 They will be gathered together like prisoners in a pit; they will be shut up in a prison, and after many days they will be punished.


Gorgias Now in the days of Cronos there existed a law respecting the destiny of man, which has always been, and still continues to be in Heaven—that he who has lived all his life in justice and holiness shall go, when he is dead, to the Islands of the Blessed, and dwell there in perfect happiness out of the reach of evil; but that he who has lived unjustly and impiously shall go to the house of vengeance and punishment, which is called Tartarus.

Republic 10 And they told one another of what had happened by the way, those from below weeping and sorrowing at the remembrance of the things which they had endured and seen in their journey beneath the earth (now the journey lasted a thousand years), while those from above were describing heavenly delights and visions of inconceivable beauty.

1 Enoch

10.4–5, 12 To Raphael he said, ‘Go, Raphael, and bind Asael foot and hand, and cast him into the darkness; and make an opening in the wilderness that is in Doudael. Throw him there, and lay beneath him sharp and jagged stones. And cover him with darkness, and let him dwell there for an exceedingly long time. […] bind them for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, until the day of their judgment’

14.5 ‘from now on you will not ascend into heaven for all the ages; and it has been decreed to bind you in bonds in the earth for all the days of eternity.’

21.6 ‘These are the stars of heaven that transgressed the command of the Lord; they have been bound here until ten thousand years are fulfilled—the time of their sins.’

88.1 I then saw one of those four who had come out earlier seizing that first star, binding his hands and feet, and throwing him into the abyss—this abyss was narrow and deep, empty and dark.

Testament of Levi

18.12 And Beliar shall be bound by him. And he shall grant to his children the authority to trample on wicked spirits.


8.2 the demon […] fled […] But Raphael followed him, and at once bound him there hand and foot.

Sibylline Oracles

1.98–103 Watchers […] were mighty, of great form, but nevertheless they went under the dread house of Tartarus, guarded by unbreakable bonds, to make retribution, to Gehenna of terrible, raging, undying fire.

8.196–197 the destroyer of all, destroys the malignant abyss with bonds


10.7–9, 11 Then our god told us to imprison each one. When Mastema, the leader of the spirits, came, he said, 'Lord Creator, leave some of them before me; let them listen to me and do everything that I tell them, because if none of them is left for me I shall not be able to exercise the authority of my will among humanity. For they are meant for destroying and misleading before my punishment because the evil of humanity is great.' Then he said that a tenth of them should be left before him, while he would make nine parts descend to the place of judgment. […] We acted in accord with his entire command. All of the evil ones who were depraved we imprisoned in the place of judgment, while we left a tenth of them to exercise power on the earth before the satan.


3.27 ‘But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.’

2 Enoch

J 7.1–2 And those men picked me up and brought me to the second heaven. And they showed me, and I saw a darkness greater than earthly darkness. And there I perceived prisoners under guard, hanging up, waiting for the measureless judgment. And those angels have the appearance of darkness itself, more than earthly darkness. And unceasingly they made weeping, all the day long.

A 10.1–3 and they showed me there a very frightful place; every kind of torture and torment is in that place, and darkness and gloom. And there is no light there, but a black fire blazes up perpetually, and a river of fire is coming out over the whole place, with cold ice; and places of detention and cruel angels and carriers of torture implements, tormenting without pity.


6 And the angels who did not keep their own position, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains in deepest darkness for the judgment of the great day.

2 Peter

2.4 For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment

Testament of Moses

10.1–2 'Then his kingdom will appear throughout his whole creation. Then the devil will have an end. Yea, sorrow will be led away with him. Then will be filled the hands of the messenger, who is in the highest place appointed. Yea, he will at once avenge them of their enemies.'

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