By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
Several times in the Bible, there are references made to a work known as the book of Jasher. However, this book is not found in the 66 Books of the Bible. In this article, I would like to share with you some of the facts regarding this interesting book, and notice some of its’ many valuable gems for the devout student of the Bible.
The History Of The Book Of Jasher
The word “Jasher” is a word that simply means upright. The actual recipient of the book, as well as its’ author, is unknown.
What is known is that the book itself has a very interesting history.
Ken Johnson, in describing the history of Jasher, points out that there have been some forgeries throughout the years, and that the book of Jasher we have today enjoys a vast amount of textual evidence and ancient authentication.
“The book of Jasher is one of 13 ancient history books that are recommended reading by the Bible….If we are to believe the text itself, this history book was written over 3,500 years ago. It is approximately the same age as the biblical book of Genesis. It covers about the same time period as Genesis and Exodus but has about twice as much information in it than Genesis. It answers a lot of questions raised in Genesis….There have been at least two forgeries. One is an ethical treatise from the Middle Ages and does not exist in English currently, as far as I know. It is somewhat Gnostic in style beginning with a section on the mystery of creation. A second forgery was published in AD 1829, supposedly translated by Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus. These two are nowhere near the caliber of this book of Jasher and both are missing the information that Scripture tells us is in the real book of Jasher. This is the only Jasher that corresponds to what Scripture says it contains. Much of the extra information contained in Jasher can also be found in the Babylonian Talmud, the Mishna, and Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews. There are numerous quotes showing Rabbi Eliazar used this book of Jasher extensively in the first century AD. The Mishna was completed about AD 200, and the Talmud about AD 800. We can know for a fact that the Mishna and Talmud used this book of Jasher as a source document and not the other way around. Also, since the Ancient Seder Olam was written in about AD 169 and references Jasher, we know the book of Jasher was used by other historians in the second century AD.” (Ken Johnson, Th.D, The Book Of Jasher: A New Annotated Edition, 6 (Kindle Edition); Biblefacts Ministries; http://www.biblefacts.org)
Should The Book Of Jasher Be In The Bible?
There are several reasons why this book was not included in the canon of Scripture.
First, whenever Prophets of God wrote Scripture, they were required by God to make it known publicly to the people.
Exodus 25:16-And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you.
Deuteronomy 10:2-And I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke; and you shall put them in the ark.’
Deuteronomy 10:5-Then I turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tablets in the ark which I had made; and there they are, just as the LORD commanded me.”
Deuteronomy 31:24-26-24 So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished, 25 that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying: 26 “Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you;
Joshua 24:26-Then Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone, and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.
1 Samuel 10:25-Then Samuel explained to the people the behavior of royalty, and wrote it in a book and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.
The account of Jeremiah in this regard is especially interesting.
The Lord had commissioned the Prophet Jeremiah to write down and preaching the Word against the wicked rulers in Jerusalem. Having been thrown in prison, Jeremiah commissioned his scribe Baruch to go and preach the Word to the people.
Jeremiah 36:1-8-1 Now it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, that this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: 2 “Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day. 3 It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I purpose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.” 4 Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah; and Baruch wrote on a scroll of a book, at the instruction of Jeremiah, all the words of the LORD which He had spoken to him. 5 And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, “I am confined, I cannot go into the house of the LORD. 6 You go, therefore, and read from the scroll which you have written at my instruction, the words of the LORD, in the hearing of the people in the LORD’s house on the day of fasting. And you shall also read them in the hearing of all Judah who come from their cities. 7 It may be that they will present their supplication before the LORD, and everyone will turn from his evil way. For great is the anger and the fury that the LORD has pronounced against this people.” 8 And Baruch the son of Neriah did according to all that Jeremiah the prophet commanded him, reading from the book the words of the LORD in the LORD’s house.
The text shows us that Jeremiah as commissioned to write down the Word of God and deliver it to the people.
Later, when the wicked king Jehoiakim heard the Word of God, he did the following:
Jeremiah 36;23-And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.
Despite this, we are told:
Jeremiah 36:27-28-27 Now after the king had burned the scroll with the words which Baruch had written at the instruction of Jeremiah, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying: 28 “Take yet another scroll, and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned.
Jeremiah 36:32-Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote on it at the instruction of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And besides, there were added to them many similar words.
The Prophets of God were always required to give His Word to the people:
Isaiah 8:1-Moreover the LORD said to me, “Take a large scroll, and write on it with a man’s pen concerning Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz.
Habakkuk 2:2-Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.
There is no evidence that the book of Jasher was written as inspired Scripture; indeed, if it were such, it would have been delivered by the Prophets as the Word of God.
Second, once the Word of the Prophets had been Divinely confirmed by God, the people of God received these Books into the canon of Scripture.
1 Kings 8:9-Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.d
2 Kings 22:8-Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.Thus
2 Chronicles 5:10-Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they had come out of Egypt.
Daniel 9:2-in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
Thus far, we see that the people of God accepted confirmed Prophetic Books into the canon of Scripture.
As such, if Jasher was inspired Scripture, the people of God would have quickly added it into the collection of inspired Books.
Therefore, we see that Jasher is not inspired Scripture.
What Then Shall We Do With The Book Of Jasher?
Even though Jasher is not inspired Scripture, the inspired Scriptures refer to this book!
Joshua 10:13-So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.
The book of Jasher does record this event:
Jasher 88:63-64-“…and Joshua said in the sight of all the people, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou moon in the valley of Ajalon, until the nation shall have revenged itself upon its enemies… And the sun stood still in the midst of the heavens, and it stood still six and thirty moments, and the moon also stood still and hastened not to go down a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened to the voice of man, for the Lord fought for Israel.”
Again, we are told in 2 Samuel:
2 Samuel 1:18-and he told them to teach the children of Judah the Song of the Bow; indeed it is written in the Book of Jasher:
Jasher 56:9-“…only teach thy sons the use of the bow and all weapons of war, in order that they may fight the battles of their brother who will rule over his enemies.”
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul prophesies that during the Christian Age, many people will grow worse and worse.
In this context, he writes:
2 Timothy 3:8-Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith;
We will search the Old Testament in vain trying to find Jannes and Jambres.
However, the book of Jasher educates us as to the identity of these two individuals:
Jasher 79:27, 36-“And when they had gone Pharaoh sent for Balaam the magician and to Jannes and Jambres his sons, and to all the magicians and conjurors and counsellors which belonged to the king, and they all came and sat before the king… And Aaron hastened and threw the rod out of his hand before Pharaoh and before his servants, and the rod turned into a serpent.”
So, even though Jasher was not considered inspired Scripture, it is clear that the inspired Scriptures encourage people to study the book of Jasher!
With that in mind, notice some interesting tidbits that the book of Jasher provides us when we study it hand in hand with the Bible.
Insight Into The Sin Of Cain
The Bible records for us that the worship of Cain was rejected by God, while the worship of his brother Abel was accepted (Genesis 4:1-5).
While there may be additional reasons why the worship of Cain was rejected by God, the book of Jasher provides us some very interesting insights:
Jasher 1:15-16-15 And it was at the expiration of a few years, that they brought an approximating offering to the Lord, and Cain brought from the fruit of the ground, and Abel brought from the firstlings of his flock from the fat thereof, and God turned and inclined to Abel and his offering, and a fire came down from the Lord from heaven and consumed it. 16 And unto Cain and his offering the Lord did not turn, and he did not incline to it, for he had brought from the inferior fruit of the ground before the Lord, and Cain was jealous against his brother Abel on account of this, and he sought a pretext to slay him.
One reason why God rejected the worship of Cain was because Cain did not give God his best in worship.
Has that not always been a failing of mankind?
The Prophet Malachi declared:
Malachi 1:8-And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” Says the LORD of hosts.
The Law of Moses had commanded that worshippers offer their best to the Lord (Leviticus 22:19-25; Deuteronomy 15:21).
Shall we not today learn the same lesson, and approach our worship to the Lord in the spirit of reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 12:28)?
The Genetic Experiments Of The Fallen Angels And Wicked Mankind
The Bible records that some of the fallen angels interacted with humans and corrupted them in several ways. We are specifically told that the sons of God had children with humans, and that these half-angel and half-human creatures were called “nephilim” (i.e., giants-see Genesis 6:1-4).
Furthermore, according to the book of Jasher the fallen angels and nephilim were practicing horrible genetic experiments before the Flood:
Jasher 4:18-18 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.
The book of Enoch (another uninspired “recommended reading” book by the Bible) records the same:
Enoch 7:5-6-5 T hey also began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another’s flesh, and drink the blood. 6 Then the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones.
It is interesting to notice that the ancient book of Enoch (well-known to the Apostles of Christ, as a future study will document) uses the phrase “lawless ones” to refer to the fallen angels and nephilim. This may shed interesting light on Paul’s teaching of the “man of sin” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12.
Death Used As A Deliverance For God’s People
In the book of Jasher, we are told that God was allowing the righteous to die so that they would not see the terrible devastation that the Flood would bring:
Jasher 4:20-20 And all men who walked in the ways of the Lord, died in those days, before the Lord brought the evil upon man which he had declared, for this was from the Lord, that they should not see the evil which the Lord spoke of concerning the sons of men.
Jasher 5:5-And all who followed the Lord died in those days, before they saw the evil which God declared to do upon earth.
Jasher 5:21-And all the sons of men who knew the Lord, died in that year before the Lord brought evil upon them; for the Lord willed them to die, so as not to behold the evil that God would bring upon their brothers and relatives, as he had so declared to do.
The Prophet Isaiah echoed this sentiment when He declared that through death, God was delivering the righteous from evil to come:
Isaiah 57:1-2 (NLT)-1 Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. 2 For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die.
Speaking of the original language of this passage, one scholar has written:
“But behind all the malignity a purpose is at work which no- one ponders … understands. Devout men : literally ‘men of unfailing love’, those whom the Lord loves with a never- failing love. Taken away … taken away : the first is plural, the second singular; the general truth followed by the particular case. It is always the same: the death of the righteous (those right with God) is never simply the inevitable end that comes to all, neither is it ever accidental or untimely, but always purposeful, deliberate, a ‘taking away’ in order to be spared from evil (1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Kgs 22:20) and brought into peace and rest. As they lie in death : literally ‘they lie upon their beds’, an entering into comfort. Walk uprightly is the last phrase in the MT , just as the righteous is the first; those who are ‘right with God’ display an upright life as others watch them.” (J. Alec Mottyer, Isaiah: Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, 6849-6855 (Kindle Edition); Nottingham, England; Intervarsity Press)
Even the great enemy of death is used by God to bring blessing to His people. How powerfully the book of Jasher illustrates this!
Young Animals Brought To The Ark
Students of the Bible have long wondered how representatives of all of the animals on Earth were able to fit on the Ark (Genesis 6:19-20; 7:1-3).
The book of Jasher provides an interesting perspective that may provide a partial answer to this question:
Jasher 6:3-5-3 And the Lord brought this about on the next day, and animals, beasts and fowls came in great multitudes and surrounded the ark. 4 And Noah went and seated himself by the door of the ark, and of all flesh that crouched before him, he brought into the ark, and all that stood before him he left upon earth. 5 And a lioness came, with her two whelps, male and female, and the three crouched before Noah, and the two whelps rose up against the lioness and smote her, and made her flee from her place, and she went away, and they returned to their places, and crouched upon the earth before Noah.
Notice that according to Jasher, it was primarily the young of the species that God brought to the Ark.
Of course, this makes sense on several counts.
First, the young would be typically very small and would not require as much living area as a full-grown animal.
Second, a younger animal would mean less waste to excrete and manage.
Third, young animals would require less food and supervision.
Fourth, young animals would ensure that a larger percentage would be hibernating during the long voyage.
Fifth, with younger creatures, there would be less chance of hostile interaction between species.
Finally, the younger the animals on the Ark, the better chance of survival after the Flood.
There is, indeed, much more that could be said about this incredible book.
In many ways, the book of Jasher is a great aid in better understanding the Word of God; and its’ value is made clear by the fact that Holy Write itself encourages people to study from it!
One of the great lessons from the book of Jasher is the horrible and wretched condition of mankind that has arisen as a result of sin. It is because of sin that suffering and death entered into the Creation (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:17-19).
Yet in the midst of one of the darkest hours of humanity, God promises to one Day send a Savior to the world who would conquer the devil and bring redemption to Adam’s race (Genesis 3;15). This Savior was prophesied about throughout the Patriarchal and Mosaic Ages, and the Son of God Himself was eventually brought into the world of sinful man:
Acts 10:43-To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
The Son of God came and fulfilled the Law’s requirements, becoming the perfect Sacrifice for the sins of mankind:
Luke 24:44-47-44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. 46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
By His death, burial, and resurrection on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), Jesus has defeated the powers of darkness (Colossians 2:15) so that all believers who repent of their sins and are baptized into Him will receive the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 2:11-13).
Why not obey His call today?
If you are a child of God who has left the Lord, will you not today repent of your sins and confess them to Him in prayer? He promises sweet forgiveness to His erring children who return to Him (1 John 1:8-2:2).
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.