My readers may well have heard of the Apocrypha, and some Bibles (particularly those published by the Roman Catholic church) have actually printed these extra books in their editions of the Scriptures. But the Old Testament Bible speaks about a number of “lost” books, and although the names of these books may be found in the text of the Bible, none of them is today to be found – with the exception of one, namely The Book of Jasher. To begin this chapter it has been considered necessary to make a few comments about Jasher, so that the Book may find its way into the homes and libraries of more Christians, and may as a result add richness and colour to the Biblical stories of Genesis.
First of all, its name. The book was written in pure Rabbinical Hebrew, and has the title SEPHER HA-YASHAR. Sepher is Hebrew for “scroll, or book.” Ha is the definite article, “the”, and Yashar means “upright.” Some have erroneously thought that Jasher was a proper name, but no Hebrew-speaking scholar would fall into that trap, because the definite article is never used before proper names in the Bible. Hence we need to translate the title as “The Book, or Scroll of the Upright, or Upright One”. Whether the Upright One is the title of a person, one cannot decide just by looking at the title alone, but on reading the book, it is clear that it contains numerous records, exactly as found in Genesis, and therefore in both books, we find multiple authorship, where fathers have passed their records to their sons, and sons to grandsons, each one adding his own journal notes to comprise a family, or national, record. Hence Jasher must be considered as meaning “Book the Upright”. Or “Virtuous, Genuine, Reliable Record”.
The language. As I said, the language is pure Rabbinical Hebrew. A note from Isaac Nordheimer, Professor of Oriental Literature, written from the University of New York, April 10th, 1840, reads, “I have compared a large portion of the translation of the Book of Jasher with the original Hebrew, and find it faithfully and eloquently rendered into English. The Hebrew itself is of a very pure character.”
The origin of the book. The Hebrew preface to the book tells us that it was taken from a hidden library of books connected with the Temple in Jerusalem at, or just before, the siege of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D.70. Together with many other important and valuable books, it was taken to Seville in Spain, and from thence to Naples in Italy, which at the time was under the sway of the king of Spain. It seems that copies were made during those early years, which were diligently compared with the original, and found to be faultless, (a practice minutely observed by Hebrew Scribes in their work with O.T. writings.) After many centuries of its preservation the time arrived when books could be printed. It was found that facilities for printing were available in Venice, and so a copy was taken there in the 1830s, and after being translated into English, printed in 1840. Mr Mordecai M. Noah wrote the preface to the book in April 1839, after which he gives the Translator’s Preface, and the Hebrew Preface, before supplying the complete text of the work in 267 pages, each of two columns, there being 91 chapters in all. Twice in the O.T. we find this book mentioned, first of all in Joshua 10:13, “Is not this written in the Book of Jasher?” and 2 Samuel 1:18, “Behold it is written in the Book of Jasher.” Dr. Horne (mentioned in the next paragraph) wrote about this book that it was first printed in Venice in 1613, in the Hebrew language.
A forgery. Another book purporting to be the genuine Book of Jasher was published in 1829. The title page says that it was a translation from the Hebrew of a book found in the city of Gazna in Persia by Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus, Abbot of Canterbury. The Rev. Dr. Horne, in his “Introduction to the Study of Scripture” mentioned that there had been various fabrications of the Book of Jasher, the most remarkable being the one just mentioned, which he said was originally published in England in 1750 by a person called Illivc, and purporting to be the translation of a work found in Persia by Alcuin. It was republished in Bristol in 1829, containing 62½ pages, with copious notes, making out that Jasher was one of the Judges, which immediately condemns the work as a forgery, as explained above.
We are now in a position to examine the chronology of Jasher, which is more extensive than Genesis.
The Antediluvian Patriarchs.
|Chapter||Verse||Chronology||Tally of Years|
|2||1||In the 130th year of Adam’s life, . . Eve bare a son, . . . Seth.||130|
|2||2||Seth lived 105 years and begat a son called Enosh||235|
|2||10||Enosh lived 90 years and he begat Cainan||325|
|2||15||When Cainan was 70 years old he begat 3 sons and 2 daughters|
|2||16||And the name of the firstborn was Mahlallel||395|
|2||37||And Mahlallel lived 65 years and begat Jered||460|
|2||37||And Jered lived 62 years and begat Enoch (Should be 162)||622|
|3||1||And Enoch lived 65 years and begat Methuselah||687|
|3||12||Enoch ruled the sons of men (after birth of Meth.) for 243 years||687 – 930|
|3||13||And Methuselah lived 87 years and begat Lamech (Should be 187)||874|
|3||14||In the 56th year of Lamech, Adam died, being 930 years old. (This gives us the authority to correct the above two numbers, which could be printer’s errors.)||930|
|3||17||Adam’s death was in the 243rd year of the reign of Enoch||930|
|4||1||All the days of Enoch were 365 years, . and he ascended into heaven||987|
|4||9-10||When Lamech was 160 years old, Seth died, being 912 years of age. (Should be 168 years, because 1042 – 168 = 874, Lamech’s birth)||1042|
|4||11-13||Lamech was 180 years old when his wife Ashmua conceived and bare a son, whom he called Noah.||1056|
|5||1||In Noah’s 84th year Enoch son of Seth died at 905 years of age. Should read Enosh, not Enoch, a printer’s error)||1140|
|5||2||In Noah’s 179th year Cainan son of Enosh died at 910 years of age||1235|
|5||3||In Noah’s 234th year Mahlallel son of Cainan died at 895 years.||1290|
|5||4||In Noah’s 336th year Jered son of Mahlallel died at 962 years. (Should be 366th year because 962 + 460 = 1422, and 1056 + 366 = 1422. Another printer’s error)||1422|
|5||6-8||In Noah’s 480th year the Lord said “I give you a period of 120 years in which to repent.”||1536|
|5||15-16||When Noah was 498 years of age he took to wife Naamah daughter of Enoch, who was 580 years old. Hence Naamah was born when Enoch was 352 years of age, because 1554 – 580 = 974, and 974 – 622 = 352. This was just 13 years prior to his translation.)||1554|
|5||18||Noah was 502 years old when Naamah bare Shem||1558|
|5||19||In Noah’s 195th year, Lamech the father of Noah died at 770 years. (Two printing errors here. Noah’s 595th year, and Lamech’s 777th.)||1651|
|5||34||In Noah’s 595th year he began to construct the Ark, and made it in 5 years.||1651|
|6||13-14||In Noah’s 600th year, at the end of 7 days, the flood waters were upon the earth, and it rained 40 days and 40 nights.||1656|
This is the complete list of chronological notices in Jasher, for the antediluvian patriarchs. The result is found to be identical to that in Genesis, once the printer’s errors have been corrected. There can be no other cause of error, because by simple arithmetic the steady flow in the tally of years demands these corrections to the record. Sadly, I do not have a copy of the original Hebrew,otherwise I could check for myself that this assertion is true. But under the circumstances, I don’t think anyone would take another line of reasoning than that which has been suggested.
In the next chapter we shall take a look at the post-diluvian chronology up to the date of the Exodus.