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THE BOOK OF JUBILEES
The Book of Jubilees, or the Little Genesis, is mentioned by name continually in the writings of the early Fathers, and by a succession of authors reaching to Theodorus Metochita (A.D. 1332). Allusions to information contained therein, without actual naming of the origin of the statements, are very numerous, particularly in the Byzantine chroniclers, so that the work was well and widely known up to the middle of the fourteenth century; but from that time the original has been entirely lost. For four hundred years nothing but a few scattered fragments was known to exist. The age, however, which witnessed the rediscovery of “The Assumption of Moses” has been gratified by the reappearance of the Book of Jubilees. Dr. Krapff, an African missionary, found the book in Abyssinia, had it transcribed, and sent the manuscript to the University Library in Tübingen. The work was an Ethiopian version of the original, complete, indeed, in one sense, but full of errors, and not a trustworthy representation 194of the original. It was translated by Dillmann in Ewald’s Jahrbücher, ii. and iii., with an appendix containing discussions on the main points of interest. With the aid of another MS., Dillmann published the Ethiopian text in 1859.240240 Kufâlê, sive Liber Jubilaeorum . . . nuper ex Abyssinia in Europam allatus. Æthiopice ad duorum librorum MSS. fidem primum ed. Dr. Aug. Dillmann (Kiliæ et Londini 1859). Some further fragments of two old Latin translations have been set forth by Ceriani and Rönsch,241241 Ceriani, Monumenta sacra et profana ex codd. præsertim Biblioth. Ambrosianæ, Mediol. 1861, Tom. i. Fasc. i. Rönsch, Das Buch der Jubiläen oder die kleine Genesis (Leipz. 1874). and these with the Ethiopic text enable us to give a satisfactory account of this curious and long-lost work. Previously to the appearance of these publications, students who desired to know anything about the book had to refer to Fabricius’ Codex. Pseudep. V. T., wherein were collected such fragments as had been preserved by Jerome and other early writers. Some years later, A. Treuenfels242242 “Die kleine Genesis,” in Literaturbl. d. Orients, 1846, Nos. 1–6. Other works on the subject are these: A. Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrasch, Th. 1–3 (Leipz. 1853–1855). B. Beer, Das Buch der Jubil. u. sein Verhältniss zu den Midraschim (Leipz. 1856); and Noch ein Wort über d. B. d. Jub. (Leipz. 1857). Frankel in Monatsschrift f. Gesch. des Judenthums, 1856, 1857. Two treatises by Dillmann; Krüger, “Die Chronol. im Buch der Jubil.,” in Zeitschr. 1858. Rubin, Das Buch der Jubil. 1870. Ginsburg in Kitto’s Cyclopœd. There is a translation by Schodde in Bibliotheca sacra, 1885. added a few other passages discovered by himself, comparing them with the Jewish Midrashim, the correspondence with which he was the first to proclaim. But these fragments gave a very inadequate impression of the contents of the Parva Genesis, and the announcement in 1844 of the existence 195of a complete copy was hailed with delight by the learned world.
Some difficulty had occurred in earlier investigations in fixing the identity of the book from which the citations were made, owing to the different appellations under which it was known, or by which reference was made to it. The oldest reference, that in Epiphanius,243243 Hæres. xxxix.: ὡς ἐν τοῖς Ἰωβηλαίοις εὯρίσκεται, τῇ καὶ Λεπτῇ Γενέσει (al. λεπτογενέσει) καλουμένῃ. calls it “Jubilees,” or the “Book of Jubilees,” a very fitting designation of a treatise which divided the history of which it treated into periods of Jubilees, i.e. of forty-nine years, the author, in his strong partiality for the number seven, departing from the Mosaic principle which counted the fiftieth as the year of release (Lev. xxv. 10). Epiphanius and many others also name it the “Little Genesis,” Microgenesis, Leptogenesis, or τὰ λεπτὰ Γενέσεως—the minutiæ of Genesis244244 Hieron. Ep. 127, Ad Fabiol. Syncell. Chronogr. p. 3.—appellations appropriate to it, not as being less in bulk than the scriptural record, but as giving particulars of name, date, and other “small matters” not found in the canonical book, or because it divides the history into small periods. Other references are current which probably, though not with certainty, appertain to this book. Thus Syncellus245245 Chronogr. pp. 7–9; ὁ λεγόμενος βίος Ἀδάμ. more than once alludes to “what is called the Life of Adam,” quoting from it passages which occur in the “Jubilees,” so that it seems likely that the work which he names is merely a portion of the latter. The same is also true of the “Book of Adam’s Daughters,” 196mentioned in a decree of Pope Gelasius.246246 Mansi, Conc. viii. 167, where, according to Rönsch, p. 478, the correct reading is: “Liber de filiabus Adæ, hoc est Leptogenesis.” This, at any rate, proves that the book was known in the West, which, indeed, the fact of the existence of a Latin version would also show. The title “Apocalypse of Moses,” Syncellus himself applies to “Little Genesis.”247247 P. 4: ἣν καὶ Μωυσέως εἶναί φασλ τινες ἀποκάλυψιν. So, p. 49, a little before, Syncellus refers the clause in Gal. vi. 15: “Neither circumcision availeth anything,” etc., to the “Revelation of Moses.” Tischendorf in his critical note writes: “Item Syncell. teste Gb., sed ignoro locum” The clause in question is not found in our present text of “Jubilees;” but as this is confessedly very imperfect, the omission proves nothing. In the Ambrosian MS. our book is followed immediately by the “Assumption of Moses,” as though this formed an appendix to the former; and in the catalogues of Pseudo-Athanasius and Nicephorus, the “Testament (Διαθήκη) of Moses” directly precedes the “Assumption;” so that it is not unlikely that the “Testament of Moses” is merely another name for the “Book of Jubilees.” The Abyssinian Church names it the “Book of the Division of Days,” from the first words of the inscription at the beginning.
The original language of the book is without doubt Hebrew or Aramaic. Many expressions in the version are unintelligible without reference to this text; Hebrew or Aramaic etymologies of proper names are given; and we have Jerome’s express statement248248 Ep. 127, Ad Fabiol.: “Hoc verbum [רִסָּה, Num. xxxiii. 21], quantum memoria suggerit, nusquam alibi in Scripturis sanctis apud Hebræos invenisse me novi absque libro apocrypho qui a Græcis Μικρεγένεσις appellatur. Ibi in ædificatione turris pro stadio ponitur, in quo exercentur pugiles et athletæ et cursorum velocitas comprobatur.” The passage referred to is lost in the Ethiopic version. Jerome again appeals to our book in the same Epistle, Mansio, 24: “Hoc eodem vocabulo [תֶּרַח, Num. xxxiii. 27] et iisdem literis scriptum invenio patrem Abraham, qui in supradicto apocrypho Geneseos volumine abactis corvis, qui hominum frumenta vastabant, abactoris vel depulsoris sortitus est nomen.” that certain Hebrew 197words on which he is commenting are found in what he calls “Microgenesis.” The wives of the Sethites are called by names which are expressive of beauty or virtue in Hebrew. That Seth married Azurah, restrain; Jared, Beracha, blessing; Enoch, Adni, pleasure; while Cain married his sister Avan, vice. There are also numerous passages wherein our book agrees with the Hebrew in opposition to the Septuagint,249249 E.g. Gen. xlv. 22: “Three hundred pieces of silver;” Sept. “gold.” iii. 17: “Cursed is the ground for thy sake;” Sept. “in thy works.” xv. 11: “And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away;” Sept. “sat among them.” xxxvii. 29: “Let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee;” Sept. “thy father’s.” On the other hand, some passages agree with the Greek version and not with the Hebrew. Thus Jubil. chap. xxiv.: “And the servants of Isaac digged yet another well and found no water; and they went and told Isaac that they had found no water.” The Hebrew of Gen. xxvi. 32 is: “We have found water;” but the LXX. give οὐχ εὕρομεν ὕδωρ. The introduction of Cainan as son of Arphaxad (chap. viii.) is supported by the Sept. but not by the Hebrew, and is further warranted to be original by the comparison of the number of created works, viz. twenty-two, with the number of the patriarchs from Adam to Jacob, who amount to twenty-two only by including this Cainan. See Frankel, v. p. 345. And some few differ from both. Thus Gen. xiii. 14 (Heb. and Sept.): “North, south, east, west;” Jubil. “West, south, east, north” (according to the Latin version). Gen. xxviii. 5: “ The mother of Jacob and Esau;” Jubil. “mother of Jacob.” After Gen. xxx. 28, Laban says: “Remain with me for wages, and feed my flocks again, and take thy wages,”—which has no exact counterpart in Heb. or Sept. For Gen. xxxiii. 18, where Heb. and Sept. coincide, Jubil. gives: “And Jacob moved further and dwelt towards the north in Magd Ladra Ephrathah.” In the honour paid to Joseph, Gen. xli. 43, it is proclaimed before him, “El el Waabrir,” in the Latin, “Elel et Haboid,” or “El el et abior.” From these variations it is natural to conclude that the writer used a text differing materially from the Masoretic recension. and some where it follows an independent Hebrew original. The present Ethiopic version, however, was made from a Greek and not a Hebrew original. This fact, which the history of other Abyssinian literature made antecedently probable, is confirmed by the introduction of Greek words into the text, e.g. δρῦς, βάλανος, λίψ, φάραγξ, etc. Thus, too, we have the Septuagintal forms, Mambrim for Mamre, Geraron for Gerar, Kiriath Arbok for Kirjath-Arba, Aunan for 198Aner (Gen. xiv. 24), Heliopolis for On, Gesem for Goshen. On the other hand, if the old Latin may be supposed to have been translated directly from the Hebrew,250250 For the grounds for this statement see Rönsch, § 15, where the opinions on both sides are presented, the writer himself concluding that the Latin translator had before him the Greek rather than the Hebrew text. containing as it does many grammatical forms or phrases peculiar to that language, which would hardly have escaped alteration in passing through Greek into Latin, yet the translator seems to have been well acquainted with the work of the Seventy, and to have referred to this version in rendering his original.
As to the date of the composition, nothing can with certainty be determined. The author was well acquainted with and refers to some sections of the Book of Enoch, and has adopted many of its glosses on Old Testament history.251251 See Jubil. chap. iv.; Jahrb. ii. pp. 240, 241. Thus, as Ewald and Schürer note, it is said of Enoch that “he wrote in a book the signs of heaven in the order of their months, in order that the children of 199men might know the seasons of the year, according to the order of the various months . . . . He saw in his dream the past and the future, what was going to happen to the sons of the children of men in their generations one after another down to the day of judgment. All this he saw and knew, and wrote it down as a testimony, and left it on the earth as a testimony for all the sons of the children of men, and for their generations.” This is quite a correct account of the contents of part of the Book of Enoch as it has come down to us. On the other hand, he himself has been known to, and probably, quoted by, the writer of the “Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.” There are many verbal parallelisms or plagiarisms which have been noted by Rönsch and others; there are also some details which may be derived from the same source. The account of Reuben’s crime agrees with the narrative in the Jubilees. Other matters are, Levi’s dream concerning the priesthood, and the favour which the Lord should shower upon him; the names of the wives of Levi and Judah; the war against the Canaanite kings; Zebulon’s prediction of Israel’s apostasy; Joseph’s temptations, which are plainly an imitation of Abraham’s. In these and many other passages the Testaments reproduce the facts of the Jubilees. In the chronology also there is remarkable similarity. Now, if this connection is established, as Rönsch and others 252252 Rönsch, § 11; and Dillmann, Jahrb. iii. p. 91 ff.; Sinker, Test. of the Twelve Patriarchs, pp. 41 ff. have with tolerable certainty demonstrated, we have at once a limitation of the period during which Leptogenesis was composed, and may assign it to 200some date between B.C. 100 and A.D. 100. But further limitation is possible. The author appears to have used the Second Book of Esdras, the genuine portions of which are attributed to the age immediately preceding the Christian era. Whether the writers of the New Testament were conversant with the Book of Jubilees is a question which we cannot here discuss. Certainly there are many points in the Angelology and Demonology of both which afford a striking similarity, and many expressions which are analogous or identical;253253 Thus: Abraham is inscribed in the heavenly tables as “a friend of the Lord,” chap. xix. Cf Jas. ii. 23. Noah, chap. vii., is said to have taught his sons and grandsons all God’s commandments and the way of righteousness. Cf. 2 Pet. ii. 5; and the fate of the evil angels in ver. 4; and the giving of the Law through the medium of angels, Acts vii. 53; Gal. iii. 19; Heb. ii. 2. but we will found no argument upon this. Some have traced an intentionally antichristian spirit in the work, and have thence inferred that it was produced some few years after the death of our Lord. We must at any rate date it before the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70. The seer speaks (chap. i.) of the Lord dwelling for ever in Zion, of the temple lasting to all time, and its holiness enduring to all eternity. Like Enoch (chap. lvi.), he makes Jerusalem the centre of the earth and the seat of sovereignty. Such expressions could not have been used by one who had witnessed the overthrow of the sacred city at the hands of the Romans. The great stress laid on the duty of sacrifice and of making the legal offerings points to the same conclusion. The writer must have had in his view a regular ritual, and a temple wherein sacrifices were then offered, which, as he expressly 201 says (chap. xxxii.), were to continue to the end of the world. We may therefore from the above considerations conclude that the book was composed about the middle of the first Christian century.
That Palestine was the abode of the author may be justly inferred from the language in which the work was originally written. The few striking cases, where apparently the wording of the Septuagint has been adopted, must be attributed to the translator, as the well-known animosity against the Greek version exhibited by the Palestinian Jews precludes the possibility of the author himself employing it in writing his history. The angel of the vision orders Abram to transcribe the Hebrew books, and to teach that language to his descendants (chap. xii.)—an injunction which, understood as the author intended, could be carried out in no foreign land, but only in Palestine, the home of “Adam’s primitive language.” Joseph speaks Hebrew when he makes himself known to his brethren. The stress laid upon complete separation from the heathen, and the necessity of holding aloof from all communication with exterior peoples, would have been absurd if addressed to any but dwellers in the promised land; and although attempts have been made to show that the writer was a priest of the temple of Leontopolis, in Egypt, the evidence for this theory is feeble, and the argument is based on assumptions which are unproved. There are indeed certain intimations that the author followed sometimes a different tradition from that which obtained among the Jews of Palestine, as where he enjoins that the first-fruits of a tree in its fourth year should be 202brought to the altar, and that the remainder should be eaten by the ministers of the Lord before the altar (chap. vii.); whereas, according to the Palestinian Halacha, the fruit belonged to the owner of the tree absolutely, who was bound to consume it in Jerusalem.254254See Frankel, Monatsschr. v. 384 ff.; Beer, Das Buch. d. Jubil. and Noch ein Wort. And hence arises one of the arguments for the theory that the work was composed in Egypt; but we have no proof that any of the traditions adopted by the author were especially of Egyptian origin; nor is it probable that a Hebrew treatise would emanate from that country. The Jews in Egypt, if we may believe the translator of Ecclesiasticus, had not maintained the knowledge of their ancient tongue; and the writings of Philo, the Book of Wisdom, and other works of that era, lead to the same conclusion.
The author is certainly a Jew. The careful description of the Sabbath and the festivals, with their ceremonies and rabbinical observances, and the heavenly authority attributed to them, could have emanated from none but a Hebrew of the Hebrews. To the same conclusion points the elevated position ascribed to the nation of Israel. There is no Christian sentiment or opinion in the book, not even a reference to a personal Messiah.255255 Frankel (Monatsschr. v. 314) has detected a Christian influence in the wording of some passages; but the examples given are very far from being decisive. Thus in blessing Judah, Isaac says: “Be thou lord, thou and one of thy sons, over the sons of Jacob,” where nothing more than the supremacy of Judah is necessarily implied. “I will send them witnesses,” says the Lord to Moses (chap. i), “and my witnesses they will slay.” Here, it is said, is plainly introduced the Christian word μάρτυρες, where a Jew would have written “prophets,” as 2 Chron. xxxvi. 15, 16. But such expressions may fairly be laid to the account of the Ethiopian translator. Rönsch has endeavoured to show that the author levied some of his statements directly against Christian practices and doctrines: his arguments are to my mind inconclusive. 203 The only passage that can be supposed to have a Messianic meaning is one referring to Abraham’s seed (chap. xvi.): “From him would come the plant of righteousness for the generation of eternity; from him should also come the holy seed like him who had made all things” (Schodde). But this is too vague to form the basis of any notion of Christian feeling in our book. Equally free is it from Alexandrian philosophy. The author never allegorises. He expands, explains, particularises the scriptural accounts, but does not see in them types or figures of moral truths, and founds on them no philosophical speculations. He seems to stand between the apocryphal writers of the Old Testament and the composers of those pseudepigraphic books which were produced in early Christian times, as the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and the Ascension of Isaiah. The teaching concerning angels and demons differs considerably from that which obtains, e.g., in the Book of Enoch, and appears to be less developed and complete. From the reverence shown to the number seven and the marked importance attributed to the feast of the Sabbath, some have assigned the writer to the sect of Essenes;256256 See Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrasch. but the grounds of this opinion are of little weight, more especially as there is no mention of the washings and purifications which were an essential feature of this sect. Nor can the writer be a Samaritan, for, in speaking of 204the four places favoured by God in all the earth, he names Eden, Sinai, Zion, and the mountain of the east, but not Gerizim. That he was not a Sadducee is proved by his belief in angels and the immortality of the soul. We must be satisfied with conjecturing that he was a Pharisee of the dominant type, a man of learning, well read in Scripture, well acquainted with myth and legend, and belonging probably to the body of scribes. Many apocalyptic writers have, with more or less fulness, narrated the history of the Jewish nation from the earliest times unto their own; but the method pursued by our author is, as far as we know, peculiar to himself, and can have been invented only by one who was not merely conversant with the sacred text and the traditions connected with it, oral or written, but was capable of taking a comprehensive view of a great subject, and had the desire of expressing some personal views of his own, and of effecting important reforms in the observances of his co-religionists.
The form of the book is peculiar. Professing to give a history of the world from the creation to the settlement in Canaan, it breaks up this period into divisions of Jubilees, and arranges all the facts narrated in the scriptural accounts into these segments of time. In order to confer on his new matter the same authority which Scripture possessed, the writer introduces Moses as receiving this revelation of past and future from an angel of the Presence, while he tarried on Mount Sinai in the first year of the Exodus. This system of chronology is supposed to be a direct Apocalypse; it had not its origin in the days of Moses, but was known long 205before to the patriarchs, partly by tradition, partly by direct communication from God, and was a portion of the original design of God which He purposed from the creation. So the jubilee-reckoning is a heavenly system: all the history of God’s people falls into this form, and Moses could not have known it had it not been revealed to him by the Lord. Thus the author presents his work stamped with the highest sanction, and at once disarms prejudice and wins assent by assuming Divine authority for his statements. “Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights, and the Lord taught him of the past and the future; He declared unto him the division of the days and the law and the testimony, and bade him write it in a book, that his posterity might know it and be warned against breaking the commandments of the Lord. And the Angel of the Presence, who went before the camp of Israel, wrote out the revelation for Moses, and took the heavenly tables which contained the account of jubilees and weeks and days and seasons, and told him all that follows” (chap. i.). Thence to the end of the book we have history poured into this mould, the earlier part being made consistent by transferring to patriarchal times feasts and observances of later date. The events are treated with much freedom, and illustrated by amplification and tradition, so that the whole deserves the appellation which has been affixed to it, “a Haggadistic Commentary on the Book of Genesis.”257257 Dr. Bissel in Lange’s Comment. on the Apocrypha, p. 670.
We proceed to give some specimens of the treatment of Biblical stories herein, premising that many of the additions and explanations may be found in other 206apocryphal works as well as in the Talmud and Midrashim, while others are peculiar to the author, and have no existence in other treatises. We will for a moment omit chronological matters, with which our book is greatly concerned, and confine our attention to other points. Some have hoped to find herein grounds for revision of the Hebrew text of the Pentateuch; and certainly there are passages which seem to point to readings that differ from the received wording. But in the absence of the original text such indications are scarcely reliable, and nothing of importance has been elicited from them. And first, with regard to religious observances; with the view of giving indisputable authority to Mosaic ordinances, the writer refers them to primitive times far removed from the Sinaitic incidents. The feast of Pentecost dates from the covenants made by God with Noah and Abraham; the feast of Tabernacles was first celebrated by Abraham at Beersheba, and further solemnised by Jacob after his vision at Bethel. The mourning on the Day of Atonement commemorated the loss of Joseph. Other matters are manipulated in a similar manner. Many of the glosses on the inspired statements are made with a view of obviating real or supposed difficulties. Thus concerning the speech of the serpent, it is explained that in Paradise before the fall all animals spoke, but lost their power in consequence of Adam’s sin (chap. iii.). Cain and Seth took their sisters as wives; and the names of the wives of all the chief patriarchs are carefully given as if from traditional genealogies. Adam’s death at seventy years short of a thousand is a literal fulfilment of the curse, Gen. ii. 17, 207because he did die in “the day” in which he ate the forbidden fruit, one day being with the Lord as a thousand years (chap. iv.).258258 The same explanation is given by Just. Mart. Dial. c. Tryph. c. 81, cited by Dillm. and Rönsch, who have noted the particulars mentioned above. The angels brought the animals to the ark (chap. v.). Canaan, contrary to the advice of his father and his brethren, persisted in colonising the land of Libanus from Hamath to the river of Egypt; and when Japhet moved westward, his son Madai dwelt in the Median land—statements made to account for the fact that descendants of Ham and Japhet were found in the Semitic domain (chap. x.). It was Satan who induced God to order Abraham to sacrifice his son. Rebecca loved Jacob, because she knew that Abraham had been warned that that son of Isaac should be specially favoured by God (ch. xvi., xix.); and it was in the time of a great famine that Esau sold his birthright (chap. xxiv.). Reuben escaped the punishment due to his crime, because the law had not at that time been fully revealed (chap. xxxiii.). Er was slain because he would not receive the wife offered him by his father, but preferred to take one from the Canaanitish relations of his mother (chap. xli.). Judah’s ignorance at the time and subsequent repentance obtained for him forgiveness of his sin with his daughter-in-law Tamar. Moses lay for seven days in the ark, during which time his mother came and suckled him by night, and his sister watched him by day to defend him from the birds (chap. xlvii.). It was not God, but the arch-enemy, Mastemah, who hardened the hearts of the Egyptians.208
Sometimes remarks are introduced which have reference to earlier or later passages, and are intended to give a completion to the bare fact mentioned in the sacred text.259259 I avail myself here of the references in Rönsch, p. 495, and Jahrb. iii. p. 79. Of this nature is the appearance of the angels to Abraham and Sarah (chap. xvi.), in fulfilment of the promise in Gen. xviii. 14; Jacob’s tithing of his goods in Bethel (chap. xxxii.), according to his vow (Gen. xxviii. 22); his purposing to build a sanctuary there, from which he was dissuaded by the angel in his dream; Jacob’s war with seven Amorite kings (chap. xxxiv.), when he obtained the portion which he gave to Joseph (Gen. xlviii. 22).260260 This war is mentioned in the Test. of the Twelve Patr. (Test. Jud.). A different account is given in Josh. xxiv. 32. The difficulties connected with the names and number of the members of Jacob’s family that came into Egypt are not materially lightened by the statements of our book, which, omitting the two sons of Pharez and of Beriah (Gen. xlvi. 12, 17), adds in their place four sons of Dan and one of Naphtali, all of whom died prematurely in Egypt, and makes Dinah to have met her death in the land of Canaan before the removal (chap. xliv.).
As additions to the inspired account may be mentioned such particulars as these: Adam took five days to name all the animals which came unto him, and having seen them all, found none like himself, which could be a helpmate for him (chap. iii.); as soon as Eve had eaten of the fruit, she was ashamed, and made herself a garment of fig leaves; Adam was seven years in the garden of Eden, 209where he guarded the ground from birds and beasts, collected and stored the fruits, “dressed and kept it;” in the days of Jared the angels came down to earth to teach men righteousness (chap. iv.); Adam was the first who was buried in the earth; Cain met with his death by the fall of his house, a just retribution, that he who had slain his brother with a stone should himself be killed by a stone; the three sons of Noah built three towns on Mount Lubar, the part of Ararat on which the ark grounded, and where Noah was afterwards buried (chap. vii.). To these may be added the prolix account of Noah’s distribution of the earth among his sons, and the curse laid on either who sought to take any portion which had not fallen to his share (chap. ix.); the statement about the position of the Tower of Babel, that it stood between the territory of Assyria and Babylon in the land of Shinar, and that the asphalt used in its construction was brought from the sea and the springs in Shinar; the explanation of the selection of Levi for the priesthood by the principle of taking the tithe for God’s use, Jacob counting upwards from Benjamin and thus reckoning Levi as the tenth; Jacob’s wrath at the deception practised on him in the matter of Leah and his angry speech to Laban, “Take thy daughter and let me be gone, for thou hast dealt ill with me;” Joseph’s observation of his brethren’s return to better feeling before he made himself known to them; the war between the kings of Canaan and Egypt, which was the reason of Joseph’s interment in the Holy Land being postponed till the Exodus. We have also an intercalation between vers. 1 and 2 of Gen. xlvi., showing how Jacob, fearing 210to go down into Egypt, waited patiently for a vision, and on the seventh day of the third month celebrated the feast of harvest; and a long addition between vers. 27 and 28 of Gen. xxxv., containing Rebecca’s advice to Jacob, and her exacting an oath from Esau not to injure his brother, and many other particulars, including Leah’s death and burial. Here may be mentioned Jacob’s war with the Amorite kings, which is also recorded in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (Testam. Jud.). The identification of some of the names of the cities of these kings is very difficult. The first is Thapha (Tapho, Lat.), which is probably Tappuah (Josh. xii. 17); the second, Aresa (Arco, Lat.); the third, Saragan, cannot be identified; the fourth, Selo (Silo, Lat), is doubtless Shiloh; and the fifth, Gaiz (Gaas, Lat.), is the Gaash of Judg. ii. 9. The Amorites combined against Jacob to rob him of his cattle and to destroy him and his family; and the patriarch, with his three sons, Levi, Judah, and Joseph, went out against them, slew the five kings, and made the people tributary. So again the account of Enoch is much enlarged, and gives evident proof of reference to the Book of Enoch, so called. “He was the first of men who taught learning and wisdom; he wrote in a book the signs of heaven according to the order of the months; he bare testimony to the generations of men, showed them the weeks of the jubilees, and the days of the years, and the sabbatical year. In his visions he saw the past and the future, how it should happen to the sons of men until the day of judgment, and wrote it all in a book. After the birth of Methuselah he was for six years with the angels, who instructed him in heavenly 211and earthly lore, which he transcribed at their dictation. He bore testimony against the angels who had sinned with the daughters of men. And for his reward he was taken away from among the sons of men, and carried by angels into the garden of Eden, where he learned the judgment and the eternal punishment of sinners, and wrote it all in a book.” This is indeed a fairly complete account of the contents of the Book of Enoch as known to us. Sometimes the speeches of the actors in the Biblical drama are altered and lengthened. Thus Gen. xliv. 9 becomes: “he shall die, and we with our asses will become servants of thy lord;” ver. 10: “Not so; the man with whom I find it I will take as servant; but ye, go home in peace;” ver. 15 (in order to eliminate the idea of divination): “Know ye not that such a man as I, who drink from this cup, dearly loves his cup?” and ver. 20, instead of “his brother is dead,” “one is gone and was lost, so that we have never found him again.”
Under the same category come the names of the wives of the patriarchs from Adam to Terah, and those of the sons of Jacob (whence these details are derived is wholly unknown); the number of Adam’s sons, who seem to have been twelve in all; the four sacred spots in the earth, Eden, the mountain of the East (probably Lubar),261261 See the identity of this mountain discussed by Rönsch, pp. 504 ff. If this mountain be the peak of Ararat, then the four holy places correspond respectively to Adam, Noah, Moses, and David. Sinai, and Zion; the inscription found by Canaan, son of Arphaxad, containing astronomical lore taught to the forefathers by the angels (chap. viii.);262262 Comp. Joseph. Antiq. i. 2. 3. the 212division of the earth by lot among the sons of Noah; the mention of the forty-three years consumed in the building of the Tower, with the avowed intention of thereby ascending to heaven (chap. x.); the beginning of war and the practice of slavery among the sons of Noah; the introduction of idolatry by Ur, who built a town which he called after his father Kesed (chap. xi.);263263 Here doubtless is an attempt at accounting for the name “Ur of the Chaldees,” Gen. xi. 28. Jacob’s yearly presents to his father and mother after his return from Mesopotamia; the assertion that Zebulon and Dinah were twins, that Zilpah and Bilhah were sisters (chap. xxviii.); the dream of Levi about his future priesthood (chap. xxxii.); the death of Bilhah and Dinah for grief at the loss of Joseph (chap. xxxiv.); the war which, at the instigation of his sons, Esau makes with Jacob after Isaac’s death, and wherein he himself falls by his brother’s hand, and his forces are defeated and slain (chaps. xxxvii., xxxviii.); the failure in the annual rise of the Nile, which was the cause of the famine in Egypt; the hostilities between the Egyptians and the Canaanites, during which the remains of the other sons of Jacob, except Joseph, were taken into Canaan and buried in the cave of Machpelah on Mount Hebron;264264 In Acts vii. 16, St. Stephen says the patriarchs were buried at Sychem, and Jerome affirms (Ep. 86) that their sepulchres were shown there in his day. Josephus, Antiq. ii. 8. 2, agrees with our book; but in Bell. Jud. iv. 8. 7 introduces the same story with λέγουσι. Perhaps some jealous feeling against Samaria may have led to the alteration of the locality in popular tradition. the lingering of some of the Jews in Canaan after this business of sepulture, and among them, Amram, who 213returned to Egypt shortly before Moses’ birth (chaps. xlvi., xlvii.); the name of Pharaoh’s daughter, Tharmuth (Lat. Termot); the order for the drowning of the Israelites’ children executed for seven months only; Moses’ instruction for twenty-one years by his father Amram, and his residence at Pharaoh’s court for the same period; the binding of the evil spirit from the fourteenth to the eighteenth day, to give the Israelites time to escape from Egypt (chap. xlviii.).
We have mentioned the introduction of the names of persons who are not specially designated in Scripture. Names are also affixed to places, rivers, etc., which are elsewhere not defined, or are called differently. Thus Shem’s possession extends from the mountain Rafu (Rhiphaei M.), where the river Tona (Tanais) flows, to the sea Miot (Pal. Mæotis) and Karaso (Chersonese). Adam’s second place of abode is the land Eldad. Ham claims territory up to the fiery mountains, and westerly unto the sea Atil (Atlantic) and “the end at Gadith” (Gades). To Japhet appertains the district of Lag (Liguria), the mountain of Kilt (Kelts), the country to the west of Para (?), opposite to Apherag (Africa), and to his son Ijoajon (Javar) the land Adlud (Italy) and the neighbouring islands. Then Jacob after his return dwells at Akrabit; Rachel bears her son Benjamin in Kebrathan (Gen. xxxv. 16, Sept.). The Amorites build two towns, Robel and Thamuathares; the king of Canaan pursues the Egyptians up to the walls of Eromon (Heroopolis).
The legendary lore connected with Abraham is a study in itself. Many of the following Sagas are found in the Targum and elsewhere; but the labour of identifying 214them or tracing them to their sources is, for Bible students, more curious than profitable. The child Abram was, from very early years, filled with loathing for the vices of those among whom he lived. When only fourteen, he separated himself from his father, refusing to worship his idols, and praying to the great Creator to save him from being led astray by the evil practices of his countrymen. At his command the ravens refrained from devouring the seed that was sown in the fields; more than this, he invented a kind of drill, which was attached to the plough, and covered up the seeds as they were sown. As he grew older, he spoke seriously to his father about the folly and wickedness of worshipping idols; and Terah assented to his words, but dared not openly avow his sentiments for fear of his relations, who would slay without scruple all who opposed the prevailing religion. But when he was sixty years old, Abram could endure it no longer, and set fire to the temple by night; and Haran, his brother, perished265265 Gen. xi. 28. in the attempt to save the idols. Upon this, Terah and his family removed to Charran,266266 This is the first call, Acts vii. 2–4; Gen. xi. 31. where they remained fourteen years. Here Abram learns the futility of astrology, shows entire dependence upon God, prays for deliverance from evil spirits who lead men’s hearts astray, and is told by an angel not to return to Ur, but to leave his father’s house, and to travel to Canaan. During his life he was subject to ten great trials or temptations:267267 These are variously given in rabbinical tradition. See Rönsch, pp. 382 ff. Only the tenth is actually numbered in “Jubilees.”—1. The departure 215from his native land. 2. The famine which occasioned his retreat to Egypt. 3. The abduction of his wife. 4. The war with the kings. 5. The painful rite of circumcision. 6. The dismissal of Ishmael. 7. The expulsion of Hagar. 8. The sterility of Sarah. 9. The offering of Isaac. 10. The death and burial of Sarah. It is said that while the descendants of Noah down to Abraham’s time violated the command not to eat blood, Abraham strictly observed it, and taught it to his posterity. Variations from the received ritual observed in the celebration of festivals sometimes occur in our book. The beginnings of the first, fourth, seventh, and tenth months are to be observed as feasts, as they had already been observed by Noah. In the case of the feast of Tabernacles, no mention is made of the custom of drawing water from the pool of Siloam, and pouring it out solemnly at the altar, to which our Lord is supposed to allude in John vii. 37, 38. The omission may possibly be intended to befriend the Sadducees, who made the practice a subject of contention with the Pharisees, urging that it was never formally ordained by Moses, and therefore ought not to be observed.268268 See the authorities, ap. Rönsch, p. 514. Not, as already remarked, that the author was a Sadducee, but he may have wished to write in a conciliatory spirit, and not unnecessarily to obtrude points of difference. Other omissions are the injunction of fasting on the Day of Atonement, the exclusion of the uncircumcised from the Passover, and the appointment of Pentecost about the middle of the third month without specially naming the day. The time for the observance of the Passover is thus ordained: “The children of Israel 216shall keep the Passover on its appointed day, the fourteenth day of the first month, between evenings, in the third part of the day unto the third part of the night; for two parts of the day are given to the light, and the third to night. This is that which the Lord hath commanded, that thou shouldst do it between evenings. And it shall not be done (sacrificed) in the morning, at any hour of the light, but in the confines of the evening. And ye shall eat it in the evening unto the third part of the night, and what remains after the third part of the night shall be burned with fire.” The author divides the day and the night into three parts each; his “evening” consists of the third part of the day and the first two parts of night, his “morning” of the last part of the night and the first two parts of the day. The whole ceremony connected with the lamb must take place within the limits of the “evening” thus defined; it must be killed in the last third of the day, and eaten within the first two parts of the night, or, as he puts it, “unto the third part of the night,” i.e. exclusive.269269 Krüger, Die Chronol. im B. d. Jub. p. 298. This interpretation of the phrase, “between the two evenings,” Ex. xii. 6, and the other directions, express the practice which obtained in the writer’s time, and offer a possible solution of what has always been a subject of dispute.
Explanations of the meaning of names are sometimes given.270270 These examples are collected by Rönsch, pp. 496 ff., and Frankel, Monatsschr. v. pp. 380 ff. Thus Eden is interpreted pleasure, which reminds one of the LXX. παράδεισος τῆς τρυφῆς, Paradisus voluptatis, Vulg. Sala (son of Cainan) is dismissal; 217modern authorities make it to signify extension. Phalek is division, “for in his days the sons of Noah began to divide the earth.” Ragev (= Reu or Ragau) is so named “because the sons of men have become evil” (chap. x.). Seruch refers to his turning away in order to commit wickedness (chap. xi.). Ur Kasdim takes its appellation from its founder Ur, and his father Kesed (chap. xi.). Tharah (Terah), son of Nakhor (Nahor), was so called by his father “because the birds stole and devoured the seeds sown in the fields.”
Corrections of passages in the inspired narrative misunderstood, or liable to be misinterpreted, are offered, and supposed omissions or gaps are supplied from other sources. Some of these intercalations have been given above. The following are a few further examples. On the day that Adam fell, the mouths of all animals were closed, and they spoke no more as heretofore; our first parents were clothed in order to show their superiority to the beasts of the earth, and the directions concerning apparel were given to the Israelites to differentiate them from the heathen; the gradual deterioration of men was induced by the efforts of evil demons, who, until checked by God’s interference, exercised terrible power upon earth; Noah’s sons were saved, not for their own, but for their father’s sake; the blessing of Shem (Gen. ix. 26, 27) was, “Blessed be the Lord God of Shem, and may the Lord dwell in his habitations;” it was at a religious festival that Noah drank wine; Terah abode in Charran when Abram left his home, but prayed his son to come and fetch him when he was settled in his new abode; Hagar died before Sarah, and it was after the 218death of both that Abraham married Keturah; before his death Abraham summoned Ishmael and his twelve sons, Isaac and his two sons, and the six sons of Keturah with their children, and gave them a solemn charge to cultivate purity and righteousness, and to live at peace with each other; Judah and Levi remained at home with their father (while the other sons were sent forth to tend the herds), and received special blessings and prerogatives from Isaac; for his action against the Shechemites, Levi was highly honoured, and his posterity was elected to the everlasting priesthood; Joseph withstood the solicitations of Potiphar’s wife for a full year, being then seventeen years old; he was beloved by all the courtiers, because he was perfectly upright and fair, took no bribes, and behaved with affability to all; Jacob his father gave him two portions in the land of Canaan, and thenceforward Joseph lived in peace, and nothing evil happened to him till the day of his death.
In the chronology of our book many points are noteworthy. We have the formal announcement: “These are the words of the division of the days, according to the law and the testimony, according to the events of the years in sabbatical years and in jubilees.” The Flood occurs A.M. 1353; and from the Creation to the Exodus, the period comprised in the work, the author reckons forty-nine jubilees, one year-week, and two years, i.e. 2410 years, and makes the passage of the Jordan to occur A.M. 2450. This date is composed exactly of fifty jubilees of forty-nine years each, and allows a new jubilee period to commence with the entrance into the promised land. Then his year consists of fifty-two weeks, i.e. 219364 days. ‘The sun,’ he says, ‘was made for a great sign upon the earth to regulate days, and sabbaths, and years, and jubilees, and all seasons’ (chap. ii.); “but the moon confuses and mars the order, and comes every year ten days in advance” (chap. vi.); and the only way of preventing confusion and error in the whole system of feasts, is to make the year number 364 days. Taking for granted that a new jubilee began at the entrance of the Israelites into Canaan, he had to arrange his chronology accordingly, and he therefore reckons, as we have said, fifty jubilees of forty-nine years each to the close of the wanderings in the desert. In very many particulars he agrees entirely with the Masoretic texts of Genesis and Exodus, but he takes liberties or follows a different reading in other passages. To give a few examples:—Jared was sixty-two years old when he begat Enoch, the present Hebrew text giving his age as one hundred and sixty-two; Methuselah’s son Lamech was born when his father was sixty-seven (187, Heb.); Lamech was fifty-three (182, Heb.) when he begat Noah. These details are supported partly by the Septuagint, partly by the Samaritan Pentateuch. But in enumerating the post-diluvian patriarchs, the author is greatly at variance with existing authorities. Arphaxad begets Cainan seventy-four years after the Flood;271271 The introduction of Cainan between Arphaxad and Salah is authorised by the LXX., but the chronology is different. Those who desire to enter further into the chronology of the Jubilees will find help in Dillmann, and in Zeitschrift der Deutsch. morgenl. Gesellschaft, 1858, pp. 279 ff., only rejecting the writer’s unwarrantable conclusion that the book was written some three hundred years B.C. Cainan begets Salah in his fifty-seventh year; Salah begets Eber in his sixty-seventh; Eber, Peleg in 220his sixty-eighth; Peleg, Reu in his sixty-first; Serug, Nahor in the 116th year after the birth of Reu; Nahor, Terah in his sixty-second year. All these numbers differ from those in the Hebrew and the Septuagint. On the question of the “four hundred and thirty years,” in Ex. xii. 40, the Jubilee Book would seem to agree with the LXX. in reading “in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan;” for the date of Isaac’s birth is fixed A.M. 1980, i.e. 430 years before the Exodus, and thus the reckoning includes the sojourn in Canaan; but it dates the arrival of Jacob in Egypt at A.M. 2172, thus making the residence of the Israelites in that country last for two hundred and thirty-eight years. The arrangement of the years of Moses’ life is not altogether in accordance with Scripture. He is born A.M. 2330, is introduced at the king’s court at the age of twenty-one, kills the Egyptian and flees when he is forty-two, and remains in Midian for thirty-six years. Joseph’s birth is set A.M. 2134, he is sold when seventeen years old, was a slave for ten and in prison for three years, and held supremacy in Egypt for eighty years, dying at the age of 110, “in the second year of the sixth week (year-week) of the forty-sixth jubilee,” A.D. 2242. This would make him only 108 years old at his death. There are very many other passages where the dates given do not harmonise with preceding or succeeding statements. Some of these miscalculations are doubtless ascribable to clerical errors in MSS., some are corrected in the old Latin versions, but a great number of deviations remain which can only be explained by carelessness in the translator, or lapse of memory in the writer. Abraham 221is born A.M. 1876; he dies at the age of 175, “in the first week of the forty-fourth jubilee, in the second year,” i.e. A.M. 2109, which is quite wrong, and would make him 233 years old at his death. And if, as Dillmann proposes, we read “the forty-third jubilee,” we shall set his decease in A.M. 2060, which is still nearly ten years wrong according to the jubilee date of his birth. Such manifest mistakes we should be inclined to attribute to the scribe or the translator, rather than to the author himself. His plan, indeed, required great skill and precision. Starting from the principle that the period from the creation to the entrance into Canaan consisted of fifty jubilees of forty-nine years each, and being dominated by the idea of the sacredness and preponderance of the number seven, he had to fit events into their proper place in this septenary system. And certainly, if we consider the use of numbers in Holy Scripture and the mystery which attaches to them, we cannot but allow the importance of the number seven. In his zeal, however, for the use of this number, our author sometimes introduces it where Scripture is silent, sometimes for this purpose even alters the wording of his text. Thus he affirms that God opened seven sluices in heaven to produce the Flood, and that Benjamin’s mess was seven times as great as his brethren’s. But other considerations lead us to think that there is a significance in the scriptural employment of this number which is not to be disregarded. Its continual recurrence in the Revelation of St. John confirms this view. It is the number of forgiveness, of covenant, of holiness, perfection, and rest. The idea of rest, of course, meets us 222at the close of the work of creation; but there are many other instances of a similar use. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, never tasted death, but was translated and entered into his rest; six times seven stations brought the Israelites to the promised land; on the seventh day the walls of Jericho fell down, and the people took possession of the city, after they had marched round it seven times with seven priests blowing seven trumpets. I need here hardly mention the sabbatical year and the year of jubilee, by the former of which the soil obtained a period of rest after being cropped for six successive years, and by the latter the state, the body politic, had its rest and sanctification, for then estates returned to their original possessors, and slaves were manumitted. All the feasts were more or less connected with the sabbatical system. The Passover and the feast of Tabernacles lasted each of them seven days; seven weeks after the Passover came Pentecost; the great Day of Atonement occurred in the seventh month of the year, itself a sacred month; the days of holy convocation were seven. Further, the blood of propitiation was sprinkled seven times before the mercy-seat; seven were the pieces of furniture pertaining to the tabernacle; seven were the branches of the sacred candlestick.272272 Some of the above remarks concerning the number seven are quoted from an article contributed by me some years ago to a now forgotten Review.
With such grounds for giving considerable importance to the number seven, our author with great skill reduced his historical facts to these dimensions; and it is not unlikely that many errors have crept into the present 223text from the scribes’ or translators’ neglect of this principle, and that many difficulties might be removed by the restoration of the septenary reckoning where it seems to be neglected. Where the chief dates, the epochs assigned to leading events, are not divisible by seven, we may reasonably conclude that there is some error in our versions which did not exist in the original, or that some passages have perished which would have introduced consistency in statements now incomplete or contradictory. The intended precision in the text, which to some events assigns not only the year, but even the month and the day, is attained by a comparison of the various dates afforded by the Hebrew, by arbitrary alterations, by rabbinical glosses, and by the introduction of later holy days and seasons into these earlier times. Many of the dates thus obtained are interesting. Thus the Fall takes place on the seventeenth day of the second month in the year 8; Abel offers his sacrifice in his twenty-second year at the full moon of the seventh month = the feast of Tabernacles, A.M. 99; Noah is born A.M. 709, and dies at the age of 950, A.M. 1659, having observed the feast of Weeks for 350 years, and being contemporary with Adam for more than 200 years. The sons of Noah were born thus:—Shem in 1207, Ham in 1209, and Japhet in 1212, and the Flood began in 1308; Noah divides the earth among his three sons in 1569; the tower of Babel was begun in the fourth week of the thirty-fourth jubilee = 1645 A.M., and the construction was stopped forty-three years afterwards. Abram leaves Egypt in 1961, when Tanis was built, and receives the covenant of circumcision on the feast of 224First-fruits in 1979; Isaac is born on the same festival in the following year; he marries Rebecca in the same year that his father married Keturah; Abraham before he dies (A.M. 2060), blesses and instructs Jacob. Jacob is sixty-eight years old when he is sent away to Mesopotamia, A.M. 2114. Isaac dies (A.M. 2162) in the same year that Joseph, being then of the age of thirty, is raised to be next to King Pharaoh. The birth of Pharez and Zarah coincides with the end of the seven years of plenty in Egypt.
In the above chronological arrangements there are many inconsistencies and inaccuracies which are easy to point out; but the labour is hardly profitable, as the dates have been quoted merely to give a notion of the treatment employed which satisfied the author’s requirements, and not with any idea of effecting an improvement in the received chronology, faulty and deceptive as it undoubtedly is. The subject has been taken in hand by Krüger (in Zeitschrift der Deutsch. morgenl. Gesellschaft, 1858), who has examined most of the chronological statements in the book, showing their various inconsistencies and correcting errors where possible.
There are passages relating to events then future, sometimes not told in prophetic character. Thus it is said (chap. xxxviii.): “There were kings who reigned over Edom, before that a king reigned over the children of Israel, even unto this day. There was a king in Edom, Balak son of Beor, the name of whose city was Dinaba.” But commonly many matters of later history are assigned to early times, especially those that are concerned with ceremonial and ritual observances. Thus the Sabbath 225was observed by the angels in heaven273273 This notion is found also in the Assumption of Moses, chap. i. 17. before it was appointed for men at the end of the creation. The law about the purification of women after childbirth (Lev. xii.) is traced to the fact that Adam was made in the first week and Eve in the second; hence the enactment, “seven days for a man-child and two weeks for a maid-child.” And the further law concerning the time of separation after parturition is grounded on the introduction of Adam into Eden forty days after his creation, and of Eve eighty days after her formation. This law is still observed in the Abyssinian Church. At sunrise on the day that Adam was banished from the garden, he offers incense composed of the four ingredients specified in Ex. xxx. 34; Cain’s fate was an example of the law of retaliation afterwards re-enacted, Lev. xxiv. 18 ff.; the use of the jubilee periods was taught by Enoch to his contemporaries; Noah does all in accordance with the Mosaic Law, offering sacrifice of the appointed animals, and first-fruits and drink-offerings. The law of tithes is established from the time of Abraham, who also celebrated the feast of First-fruits and of Tabernacles, and made it an ordinance for ever according to Lev. xxiii. 34 ff. Abraham anticipates the special instructions concerning laying salt on the sacrifice, using certain wood for the fires,274274 There are some fourteen trees mentioned whose wood may be used in the sacrificial fire (chap. xvi.). Many of these cannot be identified. A wood offering is spoken of Neh. x. 34, xiii. 31. Abraham’s incense consists of the seven substances mentioned in Ecclus. xxiv. 15. purifications, and 226washings. The prohibition against intermarrying with the Canaanites was originally uttered by the same patriarch; and the rule concerning the betrothing of the elder daughter before the younger was transcribed in the heavenly tables, which also enacted the punishment of death for Israelites guilty of mixed marriages or harlotry. The Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month (Lev. xxiii.) was established by Jacob in memory of the loss of Joseph. Joseph resisted the temptation of Potiphar’s wife because he knew of the eternal law against adultery which had been delivered to Abraham and transmitted by him to his children; and Judah’s sin with his daughter-in-law Tamar led to the statute against such incestuous unions, and the punishment of them by fire. It was at the feast of Tabernacles that Levi was consecrated to be priest by his father in Bethel, when “he clothed him in sacerdotal robes, and filled his hands,” offering very ample sacrifices, and assigning to him from that day forward not only the first-fruits, but also the second tithe which was now introduced. We may add that, according to our book, there was much esoteric teaching which was not openly divulged to the people, but was communicated to the patriarchs in secret writings and by them transmitted to posterity.
Having given the above sketch of the contents of our book, we may now briefly examine the author’s teaching upon certain points of doctrine, and then we shall be better able to come to some conclusion concerning the aim and tendency of the document.
The teaching concerning angels and demons is in many respects such as is found elsewhere. The former are 227often called Watchers, as in other apocalyptic works. The Angel of the Presence and his companions convey God’s will to men, instruct them in all useful knowledge of things in heaven and in earth, and execute God’s wrath against sinners. The serpent is not identified with Satan in the account of the Fall. The great flow of iniquity overspreading the earth is traced to the intercourse of angels with the daughters of men, which introduced a race of beings gigantic in stature as in wickedness. And when God determined to destroy men with the Flood, he punished the sinning angels by confining them in the depths of the earth till the great day of judgment. But a race of evil demons sprang from them,275275 The same idea is found in the Book of Enoch xv. 8-10. who vexed and deceived and tortured the sons of Noah so grievously that they came to their father and asked his intercession to free them from their malice. And Noah prayed to God to check their power and withhold them from having dominion over the righteous seed. And the Lord commanded His angels to take and bind them and cast them into the place of torment. But Mastema,276276 Mastema is often mentioned in Lepto-Genesis, generally with the epithet “supreme,” “highest.” The Hebrew word Mastemah is found in Hos. ix. 7, 8, in the sense of “hatred,” where the LXX. translate μανία and Aquila ἐγκότησις. The word in the Ethiopian is written Mastema, in the Latin Mastima, and in later Greek Mastiphat. In the apocryphal Act. Apost. (ed. Tischend., Lips. p. 98) the form is Mansemat. the chief of the demons, requested that some might be left to execute his will in the earth; and God permitted one-tenth of them to remain, reserving the rest for the place of judgment. And to counteract the 228diseases which the demons had introduced among mankind, one of the good angels taught Noah the use of medicines and the virtues of herbs, all which lore he wrote in a book and imparted to his son Shem before his death. There is some appearance of a classification of angels in Lepto-Genesis. The highest is the Angel of the Presence, who leads the Israelites in the pillar of fire and cloud; the second are the archangels, or the angels of blessing; the third are the angels of the elements, who direct the powers of nature. These were all created on the first day with the heaven and earth (chap. ii.); and their agency is introduced on every occasion. Nothing happens or is done without their co-operation. They bring men’s sins before God. Adam was indebted to them for learning his work in Eden, Enoch for his knowledge of all things in heaven and earth. It was they who bound the fallen angels, taught Noah the use of feast days, presided at the division of the earth among his sons, came to inspect the Tower of Babel. Abram was called by an angel to the Land of Promise, and instructed in the Hebrew tongue; by an angel was his hand arrested at the sacrifice of Isaac. Angels unfold the future to Abram and to Jacob, save Moses at the inn from the demon who thought to slay him, bring to naught the devices of the Egyptian magicians.
Concerning the immortality of the soul, though it is an article of the author’s creed, very little is said, nothing concerning the resurrection of the body. Speaking of the prosperity of Israel in the latter days, the writer observes (chap. xxiv.): “They shall see the punishment 229of their enemies, and their bones shall rest in the earth, but their spirit shall have much peace, and they shall know that the Lord is He who keeps justice and shows mercy on hundreds and thousands and on all who love Him.” If, as is probable, the author wished his work to be acceptable to all his countrymen without regard to sects and parties, the omission of a tenet repudiated by the powerful sect of the Sadducees may be accounted for.
The idea of a personal Messiah is nowhere recognised. Moses is told to write the account of his revelation for the use of posterity, “till the Lord should descend and dwell with them for ever and ever, and His sanctuary should be raised in their midst, and He Himself should be seen by them, that all might know that He is the God of Israel” (chap. i.). So in the Assumption of Moses the seer looks forward to no earthly monarch or heaven-sent delegate who should fill the throne of David and lead the people to victory, but he expects the manifestation of Jehovah Himself, as in the wilderness of old, guiding and ruling with some evident token of His presence. In Lepto-Genesis, Zion is to be the seat of this Epiphany; for “in the new creation Zion shall be sanctified, and through it shall all the world be purified from guilt and uncleanness for ever and ever” (chap. iv.). And as for Israel, it is written and firmly established, that if they turn to the Lord in righteousness, He will remove their guilt and forgive their sin,” and compassion shall be shown to all who turn from all their misdeeds once a year” (chap. v.), i.e. on the Day of Atonement. In another place (chap. xv.) the author says, that God has 230appointed no one to reign over Israel, neither Spirit nor angel, but that He Himself is their only Lord and Sovereign. Other nations have their appointed guardian angels, and depend less directly upon God for government, but Israel is guided and protected by the immediate interference of the Lord.277277 Comp. Deut. xxxii. 8, 9, 12, Sept., and Ecclus. xvii. 17. He is the first-born, chosen out of all the peoples, selected to be the depositary of the law, and bound to mark his superiority to the rest of the world by the observance of the Sabbath and the rite of circumcision. In his family is the race of priests who intercede with God for all flesh and do Him acceptable service. The writer is copious in enunciating the preeminence of his people, and looks forward to a time when, as a reward for their repentance and renewed adherence to God, they should triumph over their enemies and reign supreme in the earth. What is to become of the rest of the world is nowhere definitely expressed, as in pursuance of his plan the seer was not bound to extend his gaze beyond the occupation of the Promised Land and the results consequent thereon; and if he looks forward to a time when Israel shall revolt from God and disobey His law, he is really recalling the warnings given in Deuteronomy with only faint allusion to the events of later times or the prospects of a dim futurity. At the same time the narrow insularity of the writer and his contempt for, and hatred of other nations are continually appearing in his pages, so that what Tacitus (Hist. v. 5) says of the feeling of the Jews may certainly be predicated of our author: “Adversus omnes alios hostile odium.” Ammon and Moab, the Edomites and Amorites, are exhibited as 231the enemies of God’s people, the object of Heaven’s curse, and doomed to destruction. The feud with the Canaanites dates from very early times. They were to be exterminated, not merely for their enormous wickedness which cried aloud for chastisement, but chiefly because Canaan the son of Ham seized on the region from Lebanon to the brook of Egypt which appertained to the inheritance of Shem, thus dispossessing the righteous seed. While Israel was under God’s immediate rule and guidance, other nations were governed not merely by guardian angels, but by demons who alienated them from the Lord. And the reward of Israel’s repentance is to be found in the utter subjection of enemies and the heavy punishment inflicted on subject peoples.
Inflated with the notion of the superiority of Israel, the author can ill admit errors in the conduct of the chief fathers of the race, and takes pains to palliate the faults which are attributed to them in the canonical accounts, or to pass them over in silence. They are in his view paragons of virtue and piety, scrupulous observers of the ritual and ceremonial law before it was publicly enacted. Such excellent personages could not greatly err. Thus Abram’s deceit in the matter of Sarai at the court of Pharaoh is left unrecorded, while various particulars of his early piety, learning, and devotion, not mentioned in Genesis, are painted in glowing colours. In Isaac’s question to Jacob the omission of the name Esau—‘Art thou my very son?” and his answer, “I am thy son”—clears Jacob from a verbal falsehood; just as the alteration in Gen. xliv. 15, mentioned above, is intended to secure Joseph from the charge of practising divination 232Isaac repents of his partiality for Esau and learns to regard Jacob as his true son and heir; so Jacob in late life loves and honours Leah, having freely forgiven the treacherous part which she once had played. His piety is exhibited in every circumstance of his life; when he flees from Laban, he prays and worships the God of his fathers before he sets forth; he affords a pattern of filial devotion by his obedience to his parents, and the care he takes in ministering regularly to their wants. Not to weary the reader with particulars, one can say shortly that the book is filled with the glorification of the patriarchs, who were represented as adorned with every virtue, and as genuine Israelites, observers of the Mosaic Law, moral and ceremonial.
A few words may now be added concerning the object and intention of this treatise. The aim of the writer is not difficult to define. In the first place, he evidently desired to explain difficulties which had met him in reflecting on the statements of Scripture. Some things had been misunderstood; he would interpret them aright. Some things were obscure; he would make them clear. Some omissions occurred; he would supply the missing links. Some points were only hinted at or too briefly stated; he would develop these intimations into complete and well-rounded statements. Especially seemed the glosser’s hand to be needed in arranging the chronology of the patriarchal times. In this matter, however, as we have shown above, he has not been uniformly successful, his arithmetic being sometimes faulty and landing him in impossible results. As he claims credit for his statements on the ground of a heavenly revelation, we should 233be inclined to attribute these errors to copyists; but unfortunately they are of such frequent occurrence, and many of them are so interwoven with the narrative, that they must be assigned to the author’s carelessness or his inability to keep in hand all the links of his long history. Another object was in the writer’s mind. Around the sacred record of Genesis and Exodus had arisen a rank growth of legends, additions, and traditionary statements; some features of Biblical characters were exaggerated, the merest hints were expanded into detailed narratives, and sagas took the place of the simple authentic accounts. In the Alexandrian school persons and events were idealised into abstractions, and became merely metaphors and pictures of vices and virtues. The Book of Jubilees recalls men from these speculations to plain historical, or quasi-historical, facts. It makes the heroes of the Bible living characters. Discarding much legendary matter, it claims for the narrative, with its many additions to the sacred text, a supreme importance, and tells the tale of the patriarchs in an authoritative style which enforces acceptance, and with such amplification as requires no further increment. It recounts early history in the spirit of the writer’s own day. We here are shown what a pious Jew felt and believed at the commencement of the Christian era. His opinions on momentous topics, such as Satan, the immortality of the soul, future judgment, are intimated or distinctly set forth. The writing aims to be a popular work, such an one as would seize upon the mind of the less instructed, whether Jews or proselytes, and hold them to their faith by fear as well as reverence. Hence come the exaggerated penalties 234for certain common offences, and the claim of primitive revelation for many peculiarly Jewish observances. Compared with the heavenly origin and hoar antiquity of Jewish customs, morals, and ritual, all other religions were inferior and of no account; and the Hebrew must be known among all nations by his strict adherence to the precepts of his forefathers. Having this object in view, the writer takes special pains to enforce certain portions of the Mosaic Law, both by glorifying its origin and by denouncing vengeance on its infringement. Notably is this the case with the law of sacrifice and offering. He is most particular in showing the customs of the earliest patriarchs in this matter, how that they never failed to make offerings on every suitable occasion, how that Abraham delivered to Isaac most stringent commands concerning sacrifice, and how highly honoured was Levi as the father of the priestly family. In other cases the inculcation of a command goes far beyond Scripture in strictness. The man who eats blood shall be utterly destroyed, he and his seed for ever, as long as the earth exists (chap. vi.). The father who gives his daughter, or he who gives his sister, in marriage to a heathen shall be stoned to death, and the wife shall be burned with fire (chap. xxx.). The Sabbath is broken even by speaking of taking a journey, or of buying and selling, by lighting a fire, by drawing water, etc.,278278 Among Sabbath-breakers is reckoned, according to Dillmann’s version, “der bei seinem Weibe schläft,” a deduction from Ex. xix. 15. and the offender is to be put to death. A second tithe is due to the Lord, and must be paid for ever by all true 235Israelites. Only certain named (chap. xxi.) woods are to be used for the fire of the burnt-offering. The feast of Tabernacles is to be celebrated with garlands on the head, and with a procession round the altar seven times on every day of the festival. There is a multitude of other strict and irksome enactments, which, as they were in force in the time of our Lord, justified His saying of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. xxiii. 4): “They bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders.” One sees in the Jubilees the spirit and temper which met our blessed Lord in His earthly teaching, the way in which a strong and dominant party used the Old Testament to support their objects. Close observance of the law, minutiae of ceremony, strictness of ritual, were enjoined by our author with the view of differentiating his own people from all other nations, and raising them to the highest eminence as specially favoured by God, and bound to uphold their just prerogatives. They were subject to many perilous attractions at this time. Greece with its science and culture, Rome with its might and supremacy, alike drew away adherents from Hebraism. Many had become ashamed of their religion and their very nationality. Herod’s party was Jewish only in name. It may be that the teaching, miracles, and example of Christ had also begun to move men’s minds. All these dangers required some counteracting energy to resist their influence. Our author offers his book as a panacea. The law, which he endeavours to enforce, was of no human origin, and of no ephemeral existence; it was eternal, always written in the heavenly tablets, and intended to last and to be executed for ever 236and ever. Evidently he desires to reanimate the spirit of Judaism, which he saw to be endangered by contact with its surroundings; and, taking no prominent side in the contest of parties, he wishes to combine all true Israelites together in resistance to the worldly or heathen influences around them, which were undermining the faith of the people, and introducing laxity and innovation, to unite under one banner the divided elements of the holy nation, “till the sanctuary of the Lord should be raised on the hill of Zion, and the portion of Israel should be holiness, and peace, and blessing, from henceforth and for ever” (chap. i.).
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