Book of the Wars of the Lord
The Book of the Wars of the Lord (סֵפֶר מִלְחֲמֹת יהוה) is one of several non-canonical books referenced in the Bible which have now been completely lost. It is mentioned in Numbers 21:14–15, which reads:
- "From there they set out and camped on the other side of the Arnon, which is in the desert and bounding the Amorite territory. For Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites. That is why the Book of the Wars of the LORD says: '... Waheb in Suphah and the ravines of Arnon, and at the stream of the ravines that lead to the dwelling of Ar, which lies along the border of Moab.'"
Amongst academics[who?], it is generally thought to be a collection of victory songs or poems, although some readers[who?] have suggested it may be a prose military history. David Rosenberg suggests in his The Book of David that it was written in 1100 BCE or thereabouts. It has been suggested by the theologian Joseph Barber Lightfoot that the book was one and the same as the mysterious biblical Book of Jasher.
The Book of the Wars of the LORD is cited in the medieval Book of Jasher (trans. Moses Samuel c. 1840, ed. J. H. Parry 1887) Chapter 90:48 as being a collaborative record written by Moses, Joshua, and the children of Israel.
An interesting reference to an unnamed book is mentioned in Exodus 17:14, where God commanded Moses to inscribe an Israelite military victory over the Amalekites in the book and recount it later in the hearing of his successor Joshua. The book is not specifically mentioned by name. However, some Torah scholars such as Moses ibn Ezra have suggested this book may refer to Book of the Wars of the Lord.
- Student, Gil. On the Authorship of the Torah. (Aishdas.org) The author writes: "So far, we have seen the talmudic and midrashic evidence that the forefathers, including Moshe, wrote books other than the Torah that were maintained and studied. However, there is also much internal evidence that there were other books written. Consider the following verses," after which the author cites as examples of lost books Exodus 17:14 (words written in remembrance of the destruction of Amalek), Exodus 24:7 (Book of the Covenant), Numbers 11:26 (recorded ones), Numbers 21:14 (Book of the Wars of the LORD), and Numbers 33:2 (Journeys).
- Book of Jasher 90:48
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