Who is Penemue?

I remember being in high school, sitting in the library stacks of a local college, and reading through the First and Second Books of Adam and Eve and the First and Second Books of Enoch. I wasn’t there doing research for a class, or out of any sense of religious scholarly duty; I was there because I had just discovered a cool new band called Fields of the Nephilim, and was curious about their name. My investigation into the word “Nephilim” led me quickly down a path to lamia and grigori and whole host of fantastical creatures and stories.

They were only stories to me, because I wasn’t raised to have faith in any religious text. But the fact that Abrahamic mythologies were so abstract, absurd, literary and weird had been lost in the standardized and watered-down versions of the stories that I had been exposed to up until that point. I had taken for granted that there was “the story” of creation, and “the story” of Adam and Eve, and “the story” of the fallen angels (my mom had encouraged me to read Divine Comedy at an early age), and that everyone throughout history had pretty much agreed on the major plot points. In that library I learned exactly how chaotic and fragmented the history of human religious story-telling truly was.

I was also fascinated by the level of detail included in some of these ancient texts. I was already aware of the gist of the whole “angelic war in heaven” and the fall of lucifer; but the books of Enoch provided a level of detail that made my eyes pop. The Book of Enoch literally names-and-shames the angels involved in the the “fall from grace” and enumerates very specifically what they did wrong, and how they were to be punished. I remember scanning over Chapter 68 in that book:

Behold the names of those angels. These are their names. The first of them is Samyaza; the second, Arstikapha; the third, Armen; the fourth, Kakabael; the fifth, Turel; the sixth, Rumyel; the seventh, Danyal; the eighth, Kael; the ninth, Barakel; the tenth, Azazel; the eleventh, Armers; the twelfth, Bataryal; the thirteenth, Basasael; the fourteenth, Ananel; the fifteenth, Turyal; the sixteenth, Simapiseel; the seventeenth, Yetarel; the eighteenth, Tumael; the nineteenth, Tarel; the twentieth, Rumel; the twenty-first, Azazyel.

These are the chiefs of their angels, and the names of the leaders of their hundreds, and the leaders of their fifties, and the leaders of their tens.

The name of the first is Yekun: he it was who seduced all the sons of the holy angels; and causing them to descend on earth, led astray the offspring of men.

The name of the second is Kesabel, who pointed out evil counsel to the sons of the holy angels, and induced them to corrupt their bodies by generating mankind.

The name of the third is Gadrel: he discovered every stroke of death to the children of men. He seduced Eve; and discovered to the children of men the instruments of death, the coat of mail, the shield, and the sword for slaughter; every instrument of death to the children of men. From his hand were these things derived to them who dwell upon earth, from that period for ever.

The name of the fourth is Penemue: he discovered to the children of men bitterness and sweetness; And pointed out to them every secret of their wisdom. He taught men to understand writing, and the use of ink and paper. Therefore numerous have been those who have gone astray from every period of the world, even to this day. For men were not born for this, thus with pen and with ink to confirm their faith; Since they were not created, except that, like the angels, they might remain righteous and pure. Nor would death, which destroys everything, have effected them; But by this their knowledge they perish, and by this also its power consumes them.

The name of the fifth is Kasyade…

(Enoch I, Chapter 68)

Whoah! Let’s stop right there.

Like, what?

My eyes lingered on the description of the fallen angel Penemue: fallen from grace and shamed for introducing written language to the human race! Not only that, but worthy of a relatively long rant in the context of this chapter. Yekun, who arguably incited the whole conspiracy to interfere with humanity: one sentence. Gadrel, who gave humankind weapons of war: one sentence. Penemue, who taught them how to write: an entire paragraph, to make sure that you don’t come away from this little parable with an insufficient appreciation of how wicked and horrible written knowledge really is!

“I like this demon,” I remember thinking to myself. “If I were going to be a demon, I would want to be Penemue.”