Why is the book of Jasher not in the Bible?

 

Many people question why the book of Jasher, yā-šār, is not in the Bible. They say that this book is mentioned in the Bible and so as the Bible itself mentions it, not once but twice, these are Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18, it should be considered scripture and so should also be included as a part of the Bible. Many do in fact, consider it to be scripture. Of course, if the Bible refers to it by name as support for its own writings, then why wouldn’t it be classed as authorised scripture? If it is good enough to reference as support, why isn’t it good enough to be included within the authorised canon? It is often claimed that this is a lost book, that it once was included as scripture but was removed at some point, by someone.  The Catholic Church would seem to take the main brunt of the accusations on this one.

The main answer I see given in response to these questions, an answer I personally have used in the past but in actual fact, think is a totally unsatisfactory answer, is, just because the Bible mentions the book does not mean that it is inspired and should be included. While it is a correct statement, we must remember that Paul utilised nonbiblical writings within his letters, to me, this is a very weak and basic argument and, rightly so, does not normally convince anyone that says the book of Jasher should be included. All it does is circle reason the book is non inspired because it is not included. This may satisfy those who already believe we have an inspired and correct canon of scripture, but it isn’t going to convince those that can see the book is referenced and believe it was removed.

So why is the Book of Jasher not included in the Bible? What is the correct answer?

Why the book of Jasher is not in the Bible

Image result for book of jasher

I decided to study the real reason that the book was not included as scripture. Was it really removed by the Catholic Church. What I found during this study was quite surprising.

The simple fact is there was no book of Jasher, that was written BC anyway, and was referenced in the Bible. The Bible does NOT reference this book at all because it did not exist until AFTER the NT had been written. It is an AD construct.  The book of Jasher which we know of today, is not the book of Jasher that is referenced in the Bible, even if there was such a book. 

Today the book of Jasher, can be purchased in printed book form, quite readily available in some bookstores and the internet. However, it’s important to note here that there are actually a number of different works known by this title, at least 5 possibly up to 12. ALL of which were composed much later than Biblical times and certainly later than the date it would have had to have existed as per the OT references to it. NONE of the books of Jasher which have been “discovered” are the “book of Jasher” that is referenced in the Bible, despite their claims to the contrary. They are all much later attempts to create a book that was deemed to be missing. In simplistic terms, they are forgeries. 

Earliest Hebrew

The earliest Hebrew that is available comes in printed form, printed in Venice dated 1625. This is actually considered by many to be a copy of the original book of Jasher. According to this edition of the text there was an edition that was published in 1552 in Naples Italy. However, there are no copies of this and there is no collaborating evidence that supports this claim. 

It is written in paraphrase style similar to those of Jewish liturgical writings of this period and follows the pattern of the rabbinical parashot which would suggest, at least, that it was composed by rabbinical writers much later than its supposed origin which would be at least 2000 years earlier. It also includes chapters and verses something that was not included in ANY of the original Biblical writings. Chapters were the creation of Stephen Langton around 1227. Langton was the archbishop of Canterbury. Verses were a later addition by Stephanus in 1551 AD.

The 1625 text was published by Joseph ben Samuel. This text was accepted as being authentic and was subsequently printed in numerous places throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries.  These include, in 1628 in Krakow, Prague 1668 and Amsterdam in 1707. 

Joseph ben Samuel gave 2 different stories for how the Hebrew survived, both stories are included in his preface. None of the claims made by Joseph Samuel have ever been confirmed. We have nothing that supports the claims that he made about the discovery of the book. 

The first story claims that the Hebrew text was first discovered when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD in a secret chamber along with other books. The man that found this work was called Sidrus, an officer of Titus. Sidrus would later find himself in Spain along with the book of Jasher. A copy of this book then was taken to Naples and it is that copy that was being published. 

The second story actually dates the book of Jasher even earlier than the first story.  It is claimed in the story that the book of Jasher was actually sent to King Ptolemy II when he wanted to get a copy of the Hebrew Torah. Supposedly, the Jews did not trust King Ptolemy II and so sent the book of Jesher instead of the Torah. It was after this that King Ptolemy II, having found out about the switch, would bring the 70 Jewish scholars to Alexandria and the translation of the Septuagint would take place. King Ptolemy, therefore, had the book of Jasher along with the Septuagint. 

Both stories are undoubtedly fictitious and used simply to try and legitimise the publication of 1625. There are some scholars that believe it to have first been written sometime between the 11th and 13th Centuries most likely in Spain

 

Joseph ben Samuel almost certainly created the story about Sidrus having gone into Spain before the book was taken to Naples, because Spain is the likely place for the origination of the text and so the story was fabricated in order to place the book in Spain.   

Nothing that Ben Samuel claimed has ever been proven or supported by evidence.  

The 1625 Hebrew text was later published in Yiddish in 1664 and then into Latin in 1732. 

It remained unchallenged as authoritative until 1828, when in early November of that year, The Bristol Gazzette newspaper featured an article regarding the upcoming publication of the book of Jasher by Philip Rose who was a publisher based in Bristol. The article claimed that the publication was an English version of an ancient Hebrew scroll that had been discovered in Persia back in the 8th Century by the well-known churchman, Alcuin.  

However, the text published by Philip Rose was in fact simply the republication of a text that was created by a man named Jacob Ilive in 1751. Jacob was a serial forger and even spent 3 years in jail from 1756 for writing a blasphemous letter.  This book of Jasher was nothing more than a forgery that was claimed to be the missing book of Jasher. It is this text that is usually asserted as being the authentic book of Jasher today. 

Later that same month an article was featured in the London Courier newspaper, regarding Mr Moses Samuel of Liverpool who had also come to possess a copy of the book of Jasher. A Jew from North Africa has supposedly given him this Hebrew copy.  Mr Samuel was said to be in the process of translating the text. 

 

The text of Jacob Ben Samuel was first published in English in 1840 by Mordecai Manuel Noah. 

 

Lack of attestation to the book of Jasher. 


None of the early church fathers quoted from the book of Jasher, nor do they make reference to such a book. The book has never been included in any Jewish or Christian canon of scripture. The book is not even included in the Ethiopic canon, which does include the book of Enoch. Another important point of note is that there are no dead sea scrolls that contain anything of this book. Not one single fragment. In fact, we have no Hebrew manuscripts or fragments of this book before the 1625 text. If the book of Jasher was a book that is quoted in the Bible, then it simply disappeared for over 2000 years. The “rediscovery” of this book is highly dubious and simply not supported by evidence. 

 

The book of Jasher offers a contradictory understanding of Genesis chapter 6 from what we find in the book of Enoch. 

While Enoch records the sons of God in Genesis 6:2 and 6:4 who took wives of the daughters of men as being angels, the book of Jasher records this as being judges and rulers. 

“And their judges and rulers went to the daughters of men and took their wives by force from their husbands according to their choice, and the sons of men in those days took from the cattle of the earth, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and taught the mixture of animals of one species with the other, in order therewith to provoke the Lord; and God saw the whole earth and it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon earth, all men and all animals”
(Jasher 4:18).

Contradictions between the book of Jasher and the biblical texts. 

There are many contradictions between the book of Jasher and the biblical texts. I shall just give a few examples.

The Bible records that the red sea was parted into 2, one part on the left and the other on the right. 

Exodus 14: 21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left

The book of Jasher records that the red sea was divided into 12 parts. 

Jasher 81:38 And the waters of the sea were divided into twelve parts, and the children of Israel passed through on foot, with shoes, as a man would pass through a prepared road.

 

The book of Genesis says that Isaac was 40 years old when he took Rebecca as his wife. 

Genesis 25:20 And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian.

 

The book of Jasher records that Rebekah was just 10 years old at the time 

Jasher 24:39 And they all blessed the Lord who brought this thing about, and they gave him Rebecca, the daughter of Bethuel, for a wife for Isaac. 40 And the young woman was of very comely appearance, she was a virgin, and Rebecca was ten years old in those days.

While the bible does not record the age of Rebekah, it is very unlikely that Rebekah was just 10 years old when she became the wife of Isaac. 

 

The book of Jasher records Joseph talking to Rachel his dead mother 

Jasher 42:30 And Joseph reached his mother’s grave, and Joseph hastened and ran to his mother’s grave, and fell upon the grave and wept. 31 And Joseph cried aloud upon his mother’s grave, and he said, O my mother, my mother, O thou who didst give me birth, awake now, and rise and see thy son, how he has been sold for a slave, and no one to pity him. 32 O rise and see thy son, weep with me on account of my troubles, and see the heart of my brethren. 33 Arouse my mother, arouse, awake from thy sleep for me, and direct thy battles against my brethren. O how have they stripped me of my coat, and sold me already twice for a slave, and separated me from my father, and there is no one to pity me. 34 Arouse and lay thy cause against them before God, and see whom God will justify in the judgment, and whom he will condemn. 35 Rise, O my mother, rise, awake from thy sleep and see my father how his soul is with me this day, and comfort him and ease his heart. 36 And Joseph continued to speak these words, and Joseph cried aloud and wept bitterly upon his mother’s grave; and he ceased speaking, and from bitterness of heart he became still as a stone upon the grave. 37 And Joseph heard a voice speaking to him from beneath the ground, which answered him with bitterness of heart, and with a voice of weeping and praying in these words: 38 My son, my son Joseph, I have heard the voice of thy weeping and the voice of thy lamentation; I have seen thy tears; I know thy troubles, my son, and it grieves me for thy sake, and abundant grief is added to my grief. 39 Now therefore my son, Joseph my son, hope to the Lord, and wait for him and do not fear, for the Lord is with thee, he will deliver thee from all trouble. 40 Rise my son, go down unto Egypt with thy masters, and do not fear, for the Lord is with thee, my son. And she continued to speak like unto these words unto Joseph, and she was still.41 And Joseph heard this, and he wondered greatly at this, and he continued to weep; and after this one of the Ishmaelites observed him crying and weeping upon the grave, and his anger was kindled against him, and he drove him from there, and he smote him and cursed him.


So, what about these 2 supposed references to the book in the Bible itself?

Let’s have a look at the first reference in the book of Joshua

Joshua 10:13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.

The truth is, and this is FUNDAMENTAL to understanding these references, ‘Jasher’ does not even refer to a person called Jasher. Jasher simply is NOT a name, it is an ADJECTIVE. This is so very often totally ignored or in most cases not even known. The KJV has transliterated the Hebrew הַיָּשָׁ֑ר hay-yā-šār; simply meaning the upright one. Again, this is NOT a name. There is no name Jasher and there is no book of Jasher (that existed at the time of the reference anyway).

When we understand that this is not referring to a book written by a person called Jasher but rather a person who is THE JASHER or hay-yā-šār we get a much clearer understanding.  It is written in the scroll/book (the Hebrew word translated as book is סֵ֣פֶר sê-p̄er )  of the upright one (The Jasher)

The reference here is to where this is written. We do not need to go outside of the Bible itself to find where this is in fact written. It is actually written in the Book of Habakkuk

Habakkuk 3:11 The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear.

Habakkuk was a prophet and therefore one who was upright. He is THE Jasher, the upright one referenced in Joshua.

The second supposed reference to the Book of Jasher is in 2 Samuel 1:18

2 Samuel 1:18 (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)

However, when we look at the word Jasher in the Hebrew we again see that it is הַיָּשָֽׁר׃ hay-yā-šār., and again it is not referring to a book written by a person called Jasher but rather it is written in the book of THE Jasher (hay-yā-šār) or rather the book of the upright one.

Many people incorrectly think that the reference to what is written in the book of Jasher is the statement “Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow”. And so, as this statement is not found anywhere in the Bible, it is assumed that it was written in the book of Jasher. BUT when we look at the book of Jasher this is actually not the case. This statement is not found there either. The statement David taught the children of Judah the use of the bow is not included in the book of Jasher and so this argument simply fails.

But it is this understanding that it must have been, which is what causes the confusion. This is NOT in fact what is being made reference to at all.

So, what is it referring to? What is written in the book of Jasher or more correctly THE Jasher, the upright one is “the bow”.

“The Bow” is actually the name of the lamentation song that David wrote after he had heard of the death of his friend Jonathan 2 Samuel chapter 1.

It is this SONG, which is translated as the use of, that David bade teach the children. And it is this SONG that is written in the book of (the) Jasher.   

So where is this song written. It is actually written in the BIBLE, in fact it is written in the SAME book and SAME chapter as the reference to it is made, 2 Samuel.

2 Samuel 1:19 The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen! 20Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.21Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil. 22From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.

2 Samuel 1:23 Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. 24Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel. 25How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places. 26I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. 27How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!

2 Samuel is the book in which the song which David said to teach is written. Samuel is the Jasher (hay-yā-šār). It is not stating that it is written in a separate book.  

How can we know this?

The language used in verse 18 is very important.

Notice that we have the word BEHOLD. Behold is used to indicate something that needs to be taken notice of, to look upon. Here the word BEHOLD is telling us to take notice of what then follows, which is the very song that it says is written in the book of the Jasher. Behold the song “the bow” that David said to teach the children of Judah is written in the book of the Jasher the righteous one, and then the song “the bow” is written, in the book of THE Jasher, 2 Samuel.

When we compare this language to the first reference, we see that in the first reference we are posed a question is not this written in the book of Jasher? We are not told to behold. We have a reference to separate place of where it is written.

Joshua 10:13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.

But the use of Behold in 2 Samuel brings our attention to what follows, in 2 Samuel.

Furthermore, when we see the term “it is written” elsewhere in the Bible it is in reference to a separate place where it is written.  BUT it is preceded by the word AS. We see the term “AS” it is written in,

A few of the many examples found in the OT.

Joshua 8:31 as Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.

1 Kings 2:3 and keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:

Daniel 9:13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lordour God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.

Again, this is not what precedes the use in 2 Samuel. We are not told as it is written in …..but to BEHOLD it is written ……

One objection to Habukkuk being the Jasher is that Habukkuk lived much later than Joshua, Joshua died before Habukkuk lived and so Joshua could not have referenced him. 

While on the face of it this may seem like a logical objection ultimately it can be shown incorrect with a little bit of study. 

Habakkuk lived and wrote around 600Bc. The book of Joshua is generally ascribed to have taken on written form around 550bc during the Babylonian exile. If this date were correct then the writings or teachings of Joshua which would have existed but not in official book form before this date, were then formulated officially into a “book” at this time. If this is the case, then the book of Joshua was written after Habakkuk was written and so it would not be a problem for the book of Joshua to reference the book of Habakkuk and refer to Habakkuk as the Jasher. Now obviously it can still be argued that if the writings of Joshua or his teachings were simply written down in official form in 550bc he still wouldn’t have been able to have referenced Habakkuk. Again, just a little bit of study will show how there was no need for Joshua himself to have referenced Habakkuk at all. This was simply a later interpolation into the book of Joshua. It is very clear, regardless of the actual date the book of Joshua was written, whether it be 550bc as most scholars believe or in fact an earlier composition or even written by Joshua himself, that the book contains MANY later interpolations that could only have been added to the book at a later date by a later writer. Let’s have a look at this and demonstrate this claim. I shall give just a few of examples to prove this.

First of all, the book of Joshua records the death of Joshua 

Joshua 24:29 And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. 30 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.

This was clearly the work of a later author and could not have been written by Joshua.

There is evidence of even more later interpolations within the book.

Caleb’s conquest of the city of Hebron is recorded in the book. 

Joshua 15: 13And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the LORD to Joshua, even the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron. 14And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak.

Caleb’s conquest was after Joshua had died. Joshua could not have included this himself.

Furthermore, we see the king of Hormah mentioned in Joshua 12:14

Joshua 12:14 The king of Hormah, one; the king of Arad, one;

Hormah is the Hebrew חָרְמָה chormah

However, the town of Hormah did not exist at the time of Joshua. Hormah did not come into existence until the time of Judah, when the town of Zephath, a Canaanite town was destroyed, and the name changed to Hormah. 

Judges 1:  17 And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah.


The reference to the king of Hormah could only have been a later interpolation back into the book by a later author who was already aware of this fact. 


While I personally would not assert that Joshua wasn’t the author of the book of Joshua, the date of authorship of the book of Joshua nor the actual author, does not in any way prove that Habakkuk is not the Jasher.

Having seen that later interpolations most certainly did occur the objection to Habakkuk being the Jasher referenced cannot be substantiated. 

The fact is the book of Jasher has not been removed from the Bible because there was no book of Jasher. The use of THE Jasher is a reference to the sacred and inspired texts which are included in the Bible.  

This writing will be expanded on.

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