Jubilees

Jubilees

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The Book of Jubilees (Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

: ספר היובלים Sepher hayYobhelim), sometimes called Lesser Genesis (Leptogenesis), is an ancient Jewish religious work, considered one of the pseudepigrapha by Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Churches. However, Jubilees is considered canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as well as Ethiopian Jews, where it is known as the Book of Division (Ge'ez
Ge'ez language
Ge'ez is an ancient South Semitic language that developed in the northern region of Ethiopia and southern Eritrea in the Horn of Africa...

: Mets'hafe Kufale).

It was well known to Early Christians, as evidenced by the writings of Epiphanius
Epiphanius of Salamis
Epiphanius of Salamis was bishop of Salamis at the end of the 4th century. He is considered a saint and a Church Father by both the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches. He gained a reputation as a strong defender of orthodoxy...

, Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr, also known as just Saint Justin , was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue survive. He is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church....

, Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

, Diodorus of Tarsus
Diodorus of Tarsus
Diodore of Tarsus was a Christian bishop, a monastic reformer, and a theologian. A strong supporter of the orthodoxy of Nicaea, Diodore played a pivotal role in the Council of Constantinople and opposed the anti-Christian policies of Julian the Apostate...

, Isidore of Alexandria
Isidore of Alexandria
Isidore of Alexandria was an Egyptian or Greek philosopher and one of the last of the Neoplatonists. He lived in Athens and Alexandria toward the end of the 5th century AD. He became head of the school in Athens in succession to Marinus, who followed Proclus.-Life:Isidore was born in Alexandria...

, Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville
Saint Isidore of Seville served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien"...

, Eutychius of Alexandria, John Malalas
John Malalas
John Malalas or Ioannes Malalas was a Greek chronicler from Antioch. Malalas is probably a Syriac word for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus .-Life:Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to...

, George Syncellus
George Syncellus
George Syncellus was a Byzantine chronicler and ecclesiastic. He had lived many years in Palestine as a monk, before coming to Constantinople, where he was appointed syncellus to Tarasius, patriarch of Constantinople...

, and George Kedrenos. However, it was so thoroughly suppressed in the 4th century that no complete Hebrew, Greek or Latin version has survived. There is conjecture among western biblical scholars that Jubilees may be a rework of material found in the canonical books of Genesis and Exodus.

The Book of Jubilees claims to present "the history of the division of the days of the Law, of the events of the years, the year-weeks, and the jubilees of the world" as revealed to Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 (in addition to the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 or "Instruction") by Angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

s while he was on Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai , also known as Mount Horeb, Mount Musa, Gabal Musa , Jabal Musa meaning "Moses' Mountain", is a mountain near Saint Catherine in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. A mountain called Mount Sinai is mentioned many times in the Book of Exodus in the Torah and the Bible as well as the Quran...

 for forty days and forty nights. The chronology given in Jubilees is based on multiples of seven; the jubilees
Jubilee (Biblical)
The Jubilee year is the year at the end of seven cycles of Sabbatical years , and according to Biblical regulations had a special impact on the ownership and management of land in the territory of the kingdoms of Israel and of Judah; there is some debate whether it was the 49th year The Jubilee...

 are periods of 49 years, seven 'year-weeks', into which all of time has been divided. According to the author of Jubilees, all proper customs that mankind should follow are determined by God's decree .

Manuscripts of Jubilees


Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

 (DSS), the only surviving manuscripts of Jubilees were four complete Ge'ez texts dating to the 15th and 16th centuries, and several quotations by the Church fathers such as Epiphanius
Epiphanius of Salamis
Epiphanius of Salamis was bishop of Salamis at the end of the 4th century. He is considered a saint and a Church Father by both the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches. He gained a reputation as a strong defender of orthodoxy...

, Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr, also known as just Saint Justin , was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue survive. He is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church....

, Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

, Diodorus of Tarsus
Diodorus of Tarsus
Diodore of Tarsus was a Christian bishop, a monastic reformer, and a theologian. A strong supporter of the orthodoxy of Nicaea, Diodore played a pivotal role in the Council of Constantinople and opposed the anti-Christian policies of Julian the Apostate...

, Isidore of Alexandria
Isidore of Alexandria
Isidore of Alexandria was an Egyptian or Greek philosopher and one of the last of the Neoplatonists. He lived in Athens and Alexandria toward the end of the 5th century AD. He became head of the school in Athens in succession to Marinus, who followed Proclus.-Life:Isidore was born in Alexandria...

, Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville
Saint Isidore of Seville served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien"...

, Eutychius of Alexandria, John Malalas
John Malalas
John Malalas or Ioannes Malalas was a Greek chronicler from Antioch. Malalas is probably a Syriac word for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus .-Life:Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to...

, George Syncellus
George Syncellus
George Syncellus was a Byzantine chronicler and ecclesiastic. He had lived many years in Palestine as a monk, before coming to Constantinople, where he was appointed syncellus to Tarasius, patriarch of Constantinople...

, and George Kedrenos. There is also a preserved fragment of a Latin translation of the Greek that contains about a quarter of the whole work. The Ethiopic texts, now numbering twenty-seven, are the primary basis for translations into English. Passages in the texts of Jubilees that are directly parallel to verses in Genesis do not directly reproduce either of the two surviving manuscript traditions; consequently, the lost Hebrew original is thought to have used an otherwise unrecorded text for Genesis and the early chapters of Exodus, one that was independent of either the Masoretic text
Masoretic Text
The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible and is regarded as Judaism's official version of the Tanakh. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and...

 or the Hebrew text that was the basis for the Septuagint. As the variation among parallel manuscript traditions that are exhibited by the Septuagint compared with the Masoretic text and which are embodied in the further variants among the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

 have demonstrated, even canonical Hebrew texts did not possess any single 'authorized' manuscript tradition, in the first centuries BC.

A further fragment in Syriac in the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

, titled Names of the wives of the patriarchs according to the Hebrew books called Jubilees suggests that there once existed a Syriac translation. How much is missing can be guessed from the Stichometry of Nicephorus
Stichometry of Nicephorus
The Stichometry of Nicephorus is a stichometry by Patriarch Nicephorus I of Constantinople. It is significant in that it counts the number of lines of various Christian texts, many of which were later suppressed by the church and lost...

, where 4300 stichoi or lines are attributed to The Book of Jubilees.

Between 1947 and 1956, approximately 15 Jubilees scrolls were found in five caves at Qumran
Qumran
Qumran is an archaeological site in the West Bank. It is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, near the Israeli settlement and kibbutz of Kalia...

, all written in Hebrew. The large quantity of manuscripts (more than for any biblical books except for Psalms, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Exodus, and Genesis, in descending order) indicates that Jubilees was widely used at Qumran. A comparison of the Qumran texts with the Ethiopic version, performed by James VanderKam, found that the Ethiopic was in most respects an accurate and literalistic translation.

Origins


The first biblical scholar to propose an origin for Jubilees was Robert Henry Charles
Robert Henry Charles
Robert Henry Charles was an English biblical scholar and theologian. He is known particularly for English translations of apocryphal and pseudepigraphal works, and editions including Jubilees , the Book of Enoch , and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs which have been widely used.He was...

 (1855–1931). Charles proposed the author of Jubilees may have been a Pharisee and that Jubilees was the product of the midrash
Midrash
The Hebrew term Midrash is a homiletic method of biblical exegesis. The term also refers to the whole compilation of homiletic teachings on the Bible....

which had already been at work in the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 Chronicles
Books of Chronicles
The Books of Chronicles are part of the Hebrew Bible. In the Masoretic Text, it appears as the first or last book of the Ketuvim . Chronicles largely parallels the Davidic narratives in the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings...

. However, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

 (DSS) at Qumran in 1947, Charles' Pharisaic hypothesis of the origin of Jubilees has been almost completely abandoned.

The dating of Jubilees has been somewhat problematic for biblical scholars. While the oldest extant copies of Jubilees can be assigned on the basis of the handwriting to about 100 BC, there is much evidence to suggest Jubilees was written prior to this date. For example, the author of Jubilees seems to be aware of 1 Enoch's "Book of Dreams"; of which, the oldest extant copy (DSS-13 4Q208) has been carbon dated to ca. 200 BC.

And yet, many scholars continue to ascribe to Robert Henry Charles
Robert Henry Charles
Robert Henry Charles was an English biblical scholar and theologian. He is known particularly for English translations of apocryphal and pseudepigraphal works, and editions including Jubilees , the Book of Enoch , and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs which have been widely used.He was...

's view that Jubilees could not have been written before the events of 1 Maccabees, due to perceived cryptic references within the text. As a result, general reference works such as the Oxford Annotated Bible and the Mercer Bible Dictionary conclude the work can be dated to 160–150 BC.

Subsequent use


Jubilees was immediately adopted by the Hasmoneans, and became a source for the Aramaic Levi Document. Jubilees remained a point of reference for priestly circles (although they disputed its calendric proposal), and the Temple Scroll
Temple Scroll
The Temple Scroll is one of the longest of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Among the discoveries at Qumran it is designated: 11QTemple Scrolla.1 It describes a Jewish temple which has never been built along with extensive detailed regulations about sacrifices and temple practices...

 and "Epistle of Enoch" (1 Enoch 91:1–10, 92:3–93:10, 91:11–92:2, 93:11–105:3) are based on Jubilees. It is the source for certain of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs is a constituent of the apocryphal scriptures connected with the Bible. It is a pseudepigraphical work comprising the dying commands of the twelve sons of Jacob. It is part of the Oscan Armenian Orthodox Bible of 1666. Fragments of similar writings were...

, for instance that of Reuben.

There is no official record of it in Pharisaic or Rabbinic sources, and it was among several books that were left out of the canon established by the Sanhedrin
Sanhedrin
The Sanhedrin was an assembly of twenty-three judges appointed in every city in the Biblical Land of Israel.The Great Sanhedrin was the supreme court of ancient Israel made of 71 members...

 (possibly at the so-called Council of Jamnia
Council of Jamnia
The Council of Jamnia or Council of Yavne is a hypothetical late 1st-century council at which it is postulated the canon of the Hebrew Bible was finalized....

, c 80 AD, though this theory has been largely discredited, see Development of the Jewish Bible canon
Development of the Jewish Bible canon
Rabbinic Judaism recognizes the 24 books of the Masoretic Text, commonly called the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible, as authoritative. Evidence suggests that the process of canonization occurred between 200 BCE and 200 CE. A popular former theory is that the Torah was canonized c. 400 BCE, the Prophets c....

 for details). Sub rosa, many of the traditions which Jubilees includes for the first time are echoed in later Jewish sources, including some 12th-century midrashim which may have had access to a Hebrew copy. The sole exception within Judaism are the Beta Israel
Beta Israel
Beta Israel Israel, Ge'ez: ቤተ እስራኤል - Bēta 'Isrā'ēl, modern Bēte 'Isrā'ēl, EAE: "Betä Ǝsraʾel", "Community of Israel" also known as Ethiopian Jews , are the names of Jewish communities which lived in the area of Aksumite and Ethiopian Empires , nowadays divided between Amhara and Tigray...

 Jews formerly of Ethiopia, who regard the Ge'ez text as canonical.

The book of Jubilees was evidently held in high regard, and sometimes quoted, by the Early Church Fathers. In the 4th century, after Bishops had been appointed by the Roman Emperor Constantine
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

, they rejected many of the books, including Jubilees, that later were also absent the Masoretic version. The Oriental Orthodox Churches have continued to consider Jubilees an important book of the Bible and older than Genesis. It is only because of its canonical status in the Oriental Orthodox Churches that the book in its entirety has managed to survive at all.

Content


Jubilees covers much of the same ground as Genesis, but often with additional detail, and addressing Moses in the second person as the entire history of creation, and of Israel up to that point, is recounted in divisions of 49 years each, or "Jubilees". The elapsed time from the creation, up to Moses receiving the scriptures upon Sinai during the Exodus, is calculated as fifty Jubilees, less the 40 years still to be spent wandering in the desert before entering Canaan — or 2,410 years.

Four classes of angels are mentioned: angels of the presence
Angel of the Presence
In Judeo-Christian tradition, the Angel of the Presence is an entity or multiple entities variously considered angelic or else identified with God Himself...

, angels of sanctifications, guardian angels over individuals, and angels presiding over the phenomena of nature. Enoch was the first man initiated by the angels in the art of writing, and wrote down, accordingly, all the secrets of astronomy, of chronology, and of the world's epochs. As regards demonology, the writer's position is largely that of the deuterocanonical writings from both New and Old Testament times.

The Book of Jubilees narrates the genesis of angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

s on the first day of Creation and the story of how a group of fallen angel
Fallen angel
Fallen angel is a concept developed in Jewish mythology from interpretation of the Book of Enoch. The actual term fallen angel is not found in either the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament. Christians adopted the concept of fallen angels mainly based on their interpretations of the Book of...

s mated with mortal females, giving rise to a race of giants known as the Nephilim
Nephilim
The Nephilim are the offspring of the "sons of God" and the "daughters of men" in Genesis 6:4, or giants who inhabit Canaan in Numbers 13:33. A similar word with different vowel-sounds is used in Ezekiel 32:27 to refer to dead Philistine warriors....

. The Ethiopian version states that the "angels" were in fact the disobedient offspring of Seth (Deqiqa Set), while the "mortal females" were daughters of Cain. This is also the view held by most of the earliest commentators. Their hybrid children, the Nephilim in existence during the time of Noah
Noah
Noah was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the tenth and last of the antediluvian Patriarchs. The biblical story of Noah is contained in chapters 6–9 of the book of Genesis, where he saves his family and representatives of all animals from the flood by constructing an ark...

, were wiped out by the great flood. However, Jubilees also states that God granted ten percent of the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim to try to lead mankind astray after the flood.

Jubilees makes an incestuous reference regarding the son of Adam and Eve, Cain and his wife. In chapter iv (1-12) (Cain and Abel), it mentions that Cain took his sister Awan to be his wife and Enoch was their child. Also, it mentions that Seth (another son of Adam and Eve) married his sister Azura.

According to this book, Hebrew is the language of Heaven, and was originally spoken by all creatures in the Garden, animals and man, however the animals lost their power of speech when Adam and Eve were expelled. Some time following the Deluge, the earth is apportioned into three divisions for the three sons of Noah
Sons of Noah
The Seventy Nations or Sons of Noah is an extensive list of descendants of Noah appearing in of the Hebrew Bible, representing an ethnology from an Iron Age Levantine perspective...

, and his sixteen grandsons. After the destruction of the tower of Babel
Tower of Babel
The Tower of Babel , according to the Book of Genesis, was an enormous tower built in the plain of Shinar .According to the biblical account, a united humanity of the generations following the Great Flood, speaking a single language and migrating from the east, came to the land of Shinar, where...

, their families were scattered to their respective allotments, and Hebrew was forgotten, until Abraham was taught it by the angels.

Jubilees also contains a few scattered allusions to the Messianic kingdom. RH Charles in 1913 wrote: "This kingdom was to be ruled over by a Messiah
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

 sprung, not from Levi
Levi
Levi/Levy was, according to the Book of Genesis, the third son of Jacob and Leah, and the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Levi ; however Peake's commentary suggests this as postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite...

 — that is, from the Maccabean family — as some of his contemporaries expected — but from Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

. This kingdom would be gradually realized on earth, and the transformation of physical nature would go hand in hand with the ethical transformation of man until there was a new heaven and a new earth. Thus, finally, all sin and pain would disappear and men would live to the age of 1,000 years in happiness and peace, and after death enjoy a blessed immortality in the spirit world."

Jubilees 7:20–29 is possibly an early reference to the Noahide laws
Noahide Laws
The Seven Laws of Noah form the major part of the Noachide Laws, or Noahide Code. This code is a set of moral imperatives that, according to the Talmud, were given by God as a binding set of laws for the "children of Noah" – that is, all of humankind...

.

Sources


Jubilees bases its take on Enoch on the "Book of Watchers", 1 Enoch 1–36.

Its sequence of events leading to the Flood match those of the "Dream Visions", 1 Enoch 83–90. However the direction of dependence is controversial.

External links