Book of Jasher (biblical references)

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The Book of Jasher (also spelled Jashar, Hebrew: סֵפֶר הַיׇּשׇׁר; transliteration: sēfer hayyāšār), which means Book of the Upright or the Book of the Just Man is an unknown book mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. The translation "Book of the Just Man" is the traditional Greek and Latin translation, while the transliterated form "Jasher" is found in the King James Bible, 1611.

Biblical references[edit]

The book is mentioned twice in the Hebrew Bible.

In Joshua[edit]

According to the Book of Joshua, while Joshua was winning a battle against Adonizedek (king of Jerusalem) and his allies, Joshua told the sun and moon to stand still, to give the Israelites more time in which to fight.[1] Joshua 10:13 then states:

And the Sun stood still, and the Moon stayed,
until the people had avenged themselves on their enemies.
Is this not written in Sefer HaYashar?[2]

The presence of this event in a book of poetry has been interpreted as a poetic description of the prolonged battle.[3]

According to the medieval Jewish scholar Rashi, "Sefer HaYashar" in this verse refers to the Pentateuch: Jacob's prophecy regarding Joshua's ancestor Ephraim — “His seed will fill the nations”[4] — was fulfilled when Joshua's victory gave him renown among the various nations who heard of the victory.[5]

In Samuel[edit]

According to the Book of Samuel, when David spoke his lament over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, he began as follows:

To teach the Sons of Judah the use of the bow; behold it is written in the book of Jasher.[6]

The King James Version of the English Bible includes the words "the use of" in italics, material its translator(s) added to render the text into what they considered understandable and comfortable English. According to some other translations (such as the English Standard Version), David taught his Judeans "The Bow", which they hypothesize to be a poetic lament of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan.[7] According to this interpretation, this "Bow" was a lament or a tune contained in the Book of Jashar or which that book also says was taught to the Israelites.

The Septuagint translation renders sefer hayashar in both cases as 'Book of the Just'. It also misses the reference to the bow. It reads:

And he gave orders to teach it the sons of Iouda: behold it is written in the Book of the Just.[8]

In Kings[edit]

A possible third reference appears in I Kings 8. In the Septuagint (though not in the Hebrew text or in most translations), verse 8:53 says that the preceding prayer of Solomon is written "in the book of song" (ἐν βιβλίῳ τῆς ᾠδῆς). The Hebrew version of this could be ספר השיר, which is the same as "Sefer HaYashar" with two letters transposed. This suggests that the book's name could be related to its function as a book of song, and the second word of the name might have originally been שיר ("song") or ישיר ("he will sing").[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Joshua 9:1-2
  2. ^ Joshua 10:13
  3. ^ Harry Whittaker. Bible Studies. Cannock: Biblia. pp. 72–73. 'The sun stood still.'
  4. ^ Genesis 48:19
  5. ^ "Yehoshua - Joshua - Chapter 10". The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary. The Judaica Press.
  6. ^ Blue Letter Bible, KJV 1 Sam. 1:18.
  7. ^ The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV): Containing the Old and New Testaments. Wheaton: Crossway. 2007.
    ESV 2 Samuel 1:17-18 text reads: "And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar. He said: …."
    ESV 2 Samuel 1:18 footnote 1, at "he said it," reads: "Septuagint; Hebrew the Bow, which may be the name of the lament's tune."
  8. ^ Blue Letter Bible, LXX 2 Sam. 1:18, accessed 14 January 2014.
    The LXX text recorded in BLB is: καὶ εἶπεν τοῦ διδάξαι τοὺς υἱοὺς Ιουδα ἰδοὺ γέγραπται ἐπὶ βιβλίου τοῦ εὐθοῦς.
  9. ^ Alexander Rofeh, Yehoshua bin Nun beToldot Hamesoret Hamikrait, 8