"AN OVERVIEW OF THE BOOK OF JASHER
(CALLED THE UPRIGHT BOOK)
AUTHORIZED KING JAMES BIBLE"
Logos Research Associate
- The notice below appeared in the 1840 New York Observer
The Book of Jasher In the book of Joshua 10:13, it is
said, Is this not written in the book of Jasher? And in 2 Samuel I. 18, 19, it is
recorded, Behold it is written in the book of Jasher, the beauty of Israel is slain upon
thy high places; how are the mighty fallen! In Homes Introduction to the study of the
Scriptures there is an account of various writings that claim to be the book of Jasher, and
among the rest is one written in Rabbinical Hebrew, said to have been discovered in
Jerusalem at its capture by Titus. This book has been translated into English, and has just
been published in a beautiful octavo volume of 260 pages.
This volume forms what may at least be termed a literary curiosity. The
translator lays no claim for this book as a work of inspiration, but as a monument
of history comparatively covered with the ivy of the remotest ages; as a work possessing in
its language all the characteristic simplicity of patriarchal times; and as such he
conceives it peculiarly calculated to illustrate and confirm the sacred truths handed down
to us in the Scriptures.
That the present work is a faithful translation of a veritable Hebrew
original we cannot doubt after perusing the testimonies of such men as Professors
Nordheimer, Turner, and Bush of this city, who have all examined it, and upon comparison
pronounced the English version in general correct; although it will be observed that these
gentlemen carefully abstain from uttering any opinion as to the authenticity of the work,
or its value as auxiliary in any sense to revelation. There can be no question as to its
being the same work with that mentioned by Home as printed at Venice in 1613, and from
internal evidence we think it may be dated as far back as any of the kindred fictions of
the Talmud, and perhaps to a period coeval with the recently Anglicized Book of Enoch,
of which Prof. Stuart has given an elaborate account in the January number of the Biblical
Repository. A certain value no doubt attaches to any book faithfully transmitted to us from
so remote a period of the past, and if we should find in it no traces whatever of
historical verity, we may still be interested or amused to see into what wild extravaganzas
a. Rabbinical fancy may run, and with what ingenuity it may graft upon the majestic
simplicity and brevity of the sacred narrative a luxuriant offshoot of fables, fictions,
allegories, and dreams.
My purpose in writing this overview is to see if Jasher is historical and
actually does coincide with the Bible as stated in the "Notes of the Press" and the
Here are some of the things that were said about Jasher back in 1840.
N.Y. Observer: "translator thinks a monument of history"
Albion: "in no instance contradicting the Old Testament text"
Philadelphia Spirit of the Times: It differs but little from the Bible"
In the Preface page VI -- "every thing that we have in Jasher we find recorded in
the Bible, with this difference, that in Jasher the occurrences of the Bible are amplified and
detailed at length" M. M. Noah
Since I am not a Hebrew scholar, I cannot attest to the accuracy of the translation from
Hebrew into English. Therefore, I will take the word of the experts. The Bible reference
quoting Jasher in 2 Samuel 1:18 is taken from Jasher 56:9. The reference in Joshua 10:13 comes
from Jasher 88:64. The book of Jasher also mentions books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus,
Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, and 1 Chronicles.
Historical Information In Jasher -- Jasher May Fill In Some Historical Gaps
The book of Jasher has some areas that seen likely to be historical. Other areas look as if
they explain more clearly certain passages in the Bible. Here are some examples.
In Jasher 2:27-31 Lemech kills Cain and then Tubal Cain by accident. Could this explain
Genesis 4:23-24 as a lament and not a boast?
Another example is Jasher 4:18 "And their judges and rulers went to the daughters
of men and took their wives by force from their husbands according to their choice, and the
sons of men in those days took of the cattle of the earth, the beasts of the field and the
fowls of the air, and taught the mixture of the animals of one species with the other, in order
therewith to provoke the Lord; and God saw the whole earth was corrupted its ways upon earth,
all men and all animals." This may explain the statement of God in Genesis 6:5 which says,
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every
imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
Consider for a moment what we read in Jasher 5:8-9 "For thus saith the Lord, behold
I give you a period of one hundred and twenty years; if you will turn to me and forsake your
evil ways, then will I also turn away form the evil which I told you, and it shall not exist,
saith the Lord. And Noah and Methuseleh spake all the words of the Lord to the sons of men, day
after day, constantly speaking to them.
Jasher says, Noah and Methuseleh preach for 120 years before the flood. But there is more.
In Jasher 5:15-16 Noah marries Enochs daughter. "Noah went and took a wife, and he
chose Naamah the daughter of Enoch, and whe was five hundred and eighty years old. And Noah was
four hundred and ninety years old, when he took Naamah for a wife."
Could it be possible that Nimrod was Amraphel? Jasher 11:6 says, "Nimrod dwelt in
Babel, and he there renewed his reign over the rest of his subjects, and he reigned securely,
and the subjects and princes called his name Amraphel, saying that at the tower his princes and
men fell through his means." Genesis 14:1 & 9 identifies Amraphel as the King of
Could Shem have been Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18)? Jasher 16:11 certainly points us in that
direction. It says, "And Adonizedek King of Jerusalem, the same was Shem, whent out with
his men to meet Abram and his people, with bread and wine, and they remained together in the
valley of Melech." It is an interesting possibility to consider that Abraham and his
descendants traveled back and forth to visit Shem and Eber.
In Jasher 75:1-20 we read that the children of Ephraim, son of Joseph, lose all but 10 men
in a war in Gath. It certainly seems possible that this could coincide with 1 Chronicles
These are some of the possible historic events listed in Jasher
Below are some other tidbits mentioned in Jasher seem historically plausible.
Jasher 6:17 there were about 700,000 men outside of the ark before the flood.
Jasher 28:26-29 Leah and Rachel were twins.
Jasher 48:42-48 70 steps (representing languages of the world) to the throne.
Jasher 49:13-18 The Angel of the Lord teaches Joseph all languages of man.
Jasher 79:43-57 Pharoah looks in Egyptian chronicles but cant find name of Jehovah.
Moses tells of the Lord-God of Gods-the Creator. Pharoah declares his own godship.
- Questionable Teachings In Jasher
There problematic statements in Jasher. For example
Jasher 3:23-- An angel of the Lord calls Enoch from heaven and wished to make him reign over
sons of God as he had reigned over sons of men upon Earth.
Jasher 3:38 -- Mentions snow before the flood. This doesnt seem possible because there
wasnt any rain yet according to Genesis 2:5-6 and 7:4.
Jasher 22:46, 47 & 54 -- Sounds exactly like Job 1:6-8 with Satan talking to God.
Jahser 8 Records the birth of Abram. In the account there is a star from the East seen
by wise men and conjurors, which sounds similar to the birth of Christ.
Jasher 43:40-46 A wolf speaks to Jacob. Biblically the only animal that speaks is
Balaams ass (Numbers 22:28-30.)
Jasher 44:62-68 This passage is bizarre. God has an 11 month old baby talk and tell of
his mothers (Potiphars wife) advances toward Joseph.
Then there are the wars of Jacob and his sons Chapters 34, 35, and 37-40. And also the
wars of Zepho (of Chittim) and Angeas, King of Africa (which is Dinhabah) chapters 61:23-25,
62:25-27, 63:10-35, and 64. I am putting these into the questionable category (although they
could be somewhat possible) because they are not in the Bible and this overview is based
biblical based evaluation of Jasher.
- Contradictions To The Bible In Jasher
There are also many contradictions to the Bible in the book of Jasher. Here are just a few
Jasher 13:5 says that Abram went to the land of Canaan at the age of 50 then back to Haran
and back to Canaan at age 75, Genesis 12:4 states that Abram was 75 when he departed Haran.
Jasher 18:9 states that one of the angels tells Abraham that Sarah will have a son, but Gen.
17:16 says that God told Abraham.
Jasher 22:44-45 says the Lord got the idea of presenting Isaac as an offering from Isaacs
boast to Ishmael. We know, of course, that God is sovereign and as it says in Gen. 22:1-2 &
12 that the Lord was testing Abraham.
Genesis 28:5 states that Isaac sent Jacob to Padan-aram unto Laban but Jasher 29:11 says
that he fled to the house of Eber and hid there for 14 years.
Jasher 47:9 says Isaac dies, according to the chronology of Jasher, Joseph was in Egypt but
in Gen. 35:29 Isaac died before Joseph had his dreams.
Simeon could not be bound in Jasher 51:37 but in Genesis. 42:24 Simeon is bound before their
Jasher 51:26-32 -- The brothers tell Joseph (whom they dont recognize) that they are
looking for their brother (him). Genesis 42:6-14.
Jahser 78:12-13 -- Pharaoh proclaims no more straw but same amount of bricks (before Moses
goes to Pharaoh.) Exodus 5:1,7-8 says it happened after Moses confronts Pharaoh.
Jasher 80:1 "and at the end of two years the Lord sent Moses to Pharaoh" while
Exodus 7:14-15 says, "The Lord said unto Moses get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning.
Jasher 80:2-51 lists these Plagues;
1. Waters into blood (v. 3) / Exodus 7:20
2. Frogs (v. 6) / Exodus 8:6
3. Lice (v. 10) / Exodus 8:17
4. The Lord sent all kinds of beasts into Egypt and destroyed all Egypt ( v.13) / Not
5. Fiery serpents, scorpions, mice, weazles, toads (v. 14) / Not in Exodus
6. Flies, hornets, fleas, bugs, gnats (v. 15) / Exodus 8:24
7. All reptiles and winged animals came and grieved the Egyptians (v.16) / Not in
8. God ordered the Sulanuth from the sea, she had long arms, 10 cubits in length and
she went upon the roofs and uncovered the raftering and flooring and stretched forth her
arm and removed locks and bolts and opened the houses of Egypt. (v. 19-21) / Not in
9. Pestilence (v.24) / Exodus 9:3
10. Burning inflammation (v. 27) / Not in Exodus
11. Boils (v. 28) / Exodus 9:10
12. Hail and fire (v. 30-31) / Exodus 9:23
13. Locusts (v. 33) / Exodus 10:13
14. Darkness (v.36) / Exodus 10:22
15. First born killed (v. 43) / Exodus 12:29
- Wholly Unbiblical Portions of Jasher
There are also many areas that are completely unbiblical.
In Jasher 42:30-41, Rachel talks to Joseph from the grave. This is of course necromancy and
is an abomination unto the Lord (Deuteronomy 18:11-12).
According to 53:18-22 Benjamin used a "map (or chart) of stars" to find Joseph.
Deuteronomy 18:10 forbids this. It is an abomination to be "an observer of times"
Judah threatens Joseph 54:1-68 with annulations but Genesis 44:14-34 is a plea for Benjamins
Chapter 71 of Jasher states that Moses was 18 years old when he left Egypt. (Could this be
Rabbinical tradition?) He didnt go to Midian but to Cush and becomes king (72:34-36) and is
king over Cush for forty years (73:2), then he goes to Midian where Reuel puts him in prison
for 10 years because Reuel thinks Moses is wanted by the Cushites. In the book of Acts
(7:23-30) Stephen, inspired by the Holy Spirit, stated the Moses was in Egypt for 40 Years
before going to Midian for another 40 years.
Jasher 81:3-4 claims that the Israelites sojourned in Egypt for 210 years whereas the
Scripture says in Exodus 12:40-41 it was 430 years.
Jasher 81:40-41says that all but Pharaoh perished in the Red Sea. Pharaoh thanks the Lord
and the Lord sends an angel who casts him upon the land of Ninevah where Pharaoh reigned for a
long time. Scripture (Exodus 14:23 & 28) states that all perished.
Jasher 32:1-40 -- Esau comes to harm Jacob but angels of the Lord scare Esau, v.55 Esau
fears Jacob. Genesis 33:3 Jacob bows seven times to Esau.
Jasher 43:35 -- Isaac went from Hebron to comfort Jacob, his son, because Joseph is dead
(sold). Gen. 35:27-29 Isaac died before Joseph even dreamed his dreams.
Jasher 81:38 -- "And the Waters of the sea were divided into twelve parts."
Exodus 14:22 "And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry
ground and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left."
- From The Authors Imagination?
There are the areas that seem to come from the imagination of the writer, such as Jasher
7:24-30; This passage says the skins that God made for Adam and his wife went to Enoch after
their death, then to Methuselah, then to Noah, then Ham stole them and gave them to Cush. They
were then passed to Nimrod who became strong when he put on the "magic" garments.
Jasher 27:1-11 says that Esau kills Nimrod and takes Adams skins.
Jasher 36:30-35 -- 120 terrible animals from the wilderness came to the asses of Anan. Their
shape was from the middle downward of the children of man, and from their middle upward some
the likeness of bears, some keephas with tails behind them from between their shoulders
reaching down to earth.
Jasher 61:15 -- Zepho kills beast, half man and half animal, "from the middle upward it
resembled a man, and from the middle downward it resembled an animal."
Jasher 67:8-52 -- Balaam, Job, and Reuel in Egypt at the same time. Reuel takes Josephs
stick and returns to Midian.
Jasher 70:1-33 -- At age 3 Moses puts Pharaoh's crown on his head.
Jasher 73 -- King Moses of Cush raises storks to devour serpents that guard city.
Jasher 77:26-51-- Moses beholds the sapphire stick (67:41) in the garden of Reuel with the
name of Lord God on stick. (Adam took stick from Eden then it came to Noah, then to Shem, then
to Abraham to Isaac, Jacob took it then in Egypt and he gave it to Joseph. After Joseph died
Reuel took it and planted it.)
It is obvious that "The Book Of Jasher" is certainly not inspired by the Lord. I
heartily disagree with the those in the introduction of the volume that claim "they find
nothing in Jasher that contradicts the Bible. Therefore, I can only conclude that while Jasher
is an interesting book to read, the reader must be very discerning as to the truth of all or
any of the writings in Jasher.
(If you are interested in a copy of the Book of Jasher, they are available
from Dr. David Browns Antiquarian Books and Reprints. Call (414) 768-9754 or