The Chronology of Abraham in the Book of Jasher
W. S. Butterbauch
(A and improved translation of the Book of Jasher (Sefer HaYashar),
containing many passages missing from the commonly distributed 1840 edition, is available at http://nazarenespace.com/page/books-dvds )
The discrepancy existing between the chronology of the Hebrew text of our Bible (See Ge. 11:10-32) and that of the Greek Translation known as the LXX or Septuagint, made some 283 B. C., has occupied the attention of the theologians since the early centuries with little or no success in the solution. By a comparison of these differencies it is observed that apparently 100 years is added to the ages of seven of these postdiluvian patriarch's in the Septuagint which does not appear in the Hebrew text. This difference first begins with Arphaxad and ends with Nahor, the father of Terah. Why this differences had never been satisfactorly explained, and which of these two texts can be proved to be erroneous or which can be demonstrated to be the true and original text is the purpose of this inquiry.
Before a surveyor can calculate the amount of acreage in a given tract of ground, he must first locate an initial point with which to begin his survey. Likewise, in this instance, a search for one or more initial points must be located before success can be achieved.
It will be observed that all four chronologies, the Hebrew, Samaritan, Septuagint, and that of Josephus, agree that Noah lived to be 950 years of age; and likewise all four agree that Shem lived for a period of 152 years after the death of Noah, which took place in 2006, A. M., and that Shem dies in 2158, A. M. All four chronologies agree that Abram was born in the 70 of Terah's age. All agree that Shem went through the experiences of the Flood with his father Noah. Since all of their descendants, with the exception of Eber, LIVED AND DIES WITHIN THE LIFE PERIOD OF SHEM, we must of necessity first confine our survey underneath the roof of these two most ancient patriarchs.
Peleg was the first to die. His death occured 10 years prior to that of Noah, and Eber the last to die, dies 29 years AFTER the death of Shem. The careful reader will discern that these several births and deaths all transpired (with this one exception of Eber) within the arena of time confined to Noah and Shem. Their several life-periods are restricted within these limits, as can be seen and understood. This analogy is suddenly broken and becomes distorted in the leapfrog hops of 100 years into a future realm of hypothesis, and when projected forward according to the mathematical basis as outlined to the Septuagint, it finds the logic of former stabilized history out of joint with the data of FACT! It enters into a fog of obscurity and disjointed historical event which becomes apparent to any student of history. By comparison, we can readily see that Peleg, who was the first to die under the roof of Noah and Shem, after being projected forward to find the period of his death under the Septuagint schedule, is made to die BEYOND the Exodus, -- something is wrong, either mathematically, or else in the text, and it can only be found in the text which has previously been fabricated. Peleg, Reu, and Sezug meet their period for death after the Exodus before the birth of Abraham!!! The Septuagint schedule of time finds Isaac, Jacob and Joseph alive during the period of the Judges. When encroaching on familiar B.C. history, its chronology becomes extremely ridiculous and absurd.
Most assurdely, the Septuagint chronology has been fabricated to fit into the ideas of those Egyptian priests concerning whom Herodotus, who visited Egypt about 448 B. C., stated that their reckoning of 341 kings covering a period of 11,340 years, was questionable. Thus it has been with Septuagint chronology.
W. S. BUTTERBAUCH, M. D. Canon City, Colorado.
July 18, 1951.
THE CHRONOLOGY OF ABRAHAM
The reader must first understand the familiar relationship of Terah, the father of Abram, before he can comprehend the detailed events in the life of Abraham. The important question to be determined in this family of three brothers is the order of birth of the three, and which son is the elder, and which the younger in their family history.
" And Terah lived 70 years and begat Abram, Nahor and Haran." (Gen. 11:26) We find a parallel statement in Gen. 10:21: "Noah begat Shem, Ham and Japhet." In each instance God has designated His preference for leadership in the future work of His revealed Mystery. There is nothing said about the age of each, or the order of birth, however, we may detect that in each instance the elder is the last to be mentioned. In Gen. 10:21 we are informed that Japhet is the elder, and in the narration of Terah's family of three we observe that Haran is the last mentioned. In Isaac's family of twins, Esau was the elder, yet, Jacob is always mentioned first, thus in Terah's family, the younger, Abram, always takes precedence over the elder, having been selected by God for a special work.
With reference to Terah, there exist certain legends found in the Talmud and in the Book of Jasher, whether true or false we do not know, but suffice to say that when legend is based upon the experiences of family life in which the chain of events coincide with family relationship and history, we are justified in giving them careful consideration.
It should be understood that the Book of Jasher is not an inspired history, neither are we justified in rejecting it wholly as fictitious. It occupies a place in history much the same as Josephus, many of whose statements are both true and erroneous. There are three different copies of Jasher extant, two of which are POSITIVELY ficticious. The historical quotations herewith made use of are not found in the ficticious copies, but come from what is supposed to be an original manuscript that found entrace into Spain shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, by certain Jews who escaped under the protection of Roman soldiers, where a few of the Jews found an asylum during the early centuries. The ablest of theologians and scholars are in doubt as to its origin. Some say it has been copied from historical incidents mentioned in the Talmud which have been enlarged upon. Te most plausible theory seems to be that the Jews who escaped from Spain, harbored among themselves certain traditional relics of early Hebrew literature. Dr. Isaac Nordheimer, professor of Oriental literature; Rabbi H. V. Nathan, and Dr. George Bush, an eminent Hebrew scholar, have all testified to the PURE RABBINICAL HEBREW of the edition from which these quotations are taken.
It was by accident that the writer came accross a statement in the Book of Jasher which reads: "Haran was 32 years old when Abram was born." Personal curiosity prompted further investigation. Could this be fact or fiction? Further evidence seemed necessary. Sometime later this additional evidence was discovered: " Nahor, son of Terah, died, in the 40 years of Isaac at 172." How solve these two statements in the chronology of Terah's family? It was evident that the solution depended upon a correct date for the birth of Abram, and that from that date the 40 of Isaac could be discovered and substantiated.
HARAN AND NAHOR, TWINS
On the basis that Abram was born in 1948, and Haran was 32 at the time of said event, it is plain that by substracting 32 from that date it would reveal the year of Haran's birth. This done, we have 1916 for the answer. Since Nahor died in the 40 of Isaac at the age of 172, and Isaac was born when Abram was 100 years of age, we find that the birth of Isaac occured in the year 2048. This date, plus the 40 of Isaac, gives us 2088 as the year of Nahor's death. This number less 172 his age at time of death, gives us 1916 as the year of Nahor's birth. Thus it becomes clear as crystal that these two brothers in the family of Terah were twins.
Wide extended research in Bible history and Chronology has thus far failed to find any reference to this fact, hence the writer claims the honor for this discovery, if such it be.
Chronologers differ in regard to the era for the birth of Abram, thus leading the reader into a labyrinth of confusion and perplexity. The most reasonable initial point from which to begin the reckoning is the date for the Flood (1656). The Hebrew text gives us 292 years from the Flood to Abram's birth, or 1948 A. M. Anno Mundi, meaning from Creation. This is taken from the Hebrew text. It is found by comparison that the Septuagint text gives us 2728 A. M., or 1275 B. C. More perplexity and more study, with no satisfactory solution. Highclass theologians fail to agree. Even Bishop Usher takes exception to the date 1948 for the birth of Abram, and says that he was born in the 130 of Terah's age, and that he was born in year 2008. He reasons as follows: Abram could not have been born in the 70 of Terah, and that it was Haran that was born on the aforesaid date. An extended study of the chronology of the Septuagint with reference to the date of Abram's birth, and by contrasting the time of Peleg's death, which was said to have taken place before the death of Noah in the 48 of Abram, it was found by the Septuagint to have taken place some 200 years before the birth of Abram AFTER THE EXODUS! This redicilous situation only served to heighten interest and to study more thoroughly the Septuagint. Samaritan, and Hebrew Chronologies to determin be the truth, if such coud be found. The details of this study had finally developed into the present "COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE HEBREW AND SEPTUAGINT TERXTS OF BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGY." With this apology of explanation, we resume our first line of investigation.
If Terah was born 222 years this side of the Flood, which date is early obtained, then the 70 of Terah is established to be 1948. No way to avoid this conclusion, but the question raised by Bishop Usher involves a new angle of reasoning. His argument rests upon the fact that a father could not be of the age of 70 (See Gen. 12:4). The existing anomaly rests in the time and order of birth of Terah's age, concerning which Bishop Usher was unaware. This is exactly what took place, and accounts for Usher's supposed discovery for the necessity of placing Abram's birth in the 130 of Terah. Almost all of the leading chronologers of the world have fallen into this pit of presumption, which was excavated by Usher in order to solve the riddle of Abram's time of birth. It is apparent that the most of them were fully satisfied with Usher's solution, as the following will illustrate:
Dr. Akers, who is author of an exhaustive work on Chronology, says: "A single correction is required. Though Terah was only 70 years old at the birth of his son, yet, as the Hebrew and the Septuagint both say (Gen. 11:32) that he died aged 205. When Abram was called, being 75 years old (Gen. 12:4) it is evident that this birth was 60 years in the life of Terah. This requires the birth of Abram, acoording to the Hebrew, to be 2008 A.M. "
Dr. Hales, renowed Chronologist, state: " Terah lived 70 years, and begat Abram, Nahor and Haran (Gen. 11:26). Abram was probably the youngest son, and Haran certainly the oldest...Abram was the son of Terah by a second wife. This appears from his apology to Abimelech for his equivocation in calling Sarah his sister. 'She is the daughter (grand-daughter) of my father, but not the daughter of my mother.' (Gen. 20:14) By the same latitude of expression, Abram called his nephew, Lot, 'his brother'. (Gen. 24:14). That Abram was born in his father's 130 year, is evident from the age of Terah at his death 205 years (Gen. 11:32) at which time Abram was 75 years old." Dr. Hales continues: "The addition of 60 years to the age of Terah at Abram's birth, was one of the most brilliant and important of Usher's improvements in Chronology."
Dr. Anstey, author of "The Romance of Bible Chronology," London, 1913, says: "Usher, in his interpretation of this question, (Abram's birth in the 130 of Terah) is regarded as one of the improvements of his system, and is proof of his acuteness and kneenness of insight into the chronological bearing of statements contained in the text of the Holy Scriptures." These honorary statements from numerous other Chronologists could be multiplied many-fold, but let these suffice.
"And the days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran." (Gen. 11:32) The supposition that Terah died at this time (in the history of Abram) was also instrumental in leading Usher into a wrong conclusion. There can be no question as to Abram's age of 75 at this time, and we also find that Terah was 145 years of age when Abram was 75 years. Proof: 145 minus 75 is 70. This was Terah's age at Abram's birth. It is also true that "Terah lived and died in Haran," but is NOT true that Terah died at the time of Abram's departure for Canaan. Abram was 135 at the time of the death of Terah. Stephen's prophecy (Acts 7:4) was not fulfilled at the time of Abram's departure for Canaan at the age of 75, but many years later at the time of the death of numerous of his relatives. Sarah dies in year 2085, born in 1958. Nahor, Abram's brother, dies in year 2088. Yes, the Lord finally removed him "in the land wherin ye now dwell " at the time of his father's death, and also many of his kindred accociated. The fulfillment of an event is often dependent upon a slow and developing finality not fully understood in the beginning. The probabilities are that Stephen did not fully understand the words he himself uttered under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The philosophy of the Supernatural far exceeds the comprehension of fallible man.
The Septuagint has a Cainan with 130 years which is not in the Hebrew or the Samaritan texts. A very grave question arises at this juncture. Ought this name to be inserted? How come this anomaly? Was there ever such a person, and if so, WHY has his name been omitted from the Hebrew genealogy? It is omitted in Gen. 10:24, 11:12, and in 1.Chron. 1:18, 24. This Cainan does not occur in the Hebrew in any of these places, so that if it had been left out in one place, and not included in another, he must have been a non-existant individual, or else have been purposely omitted in all four places for the reason that no such person existed. That his name does not appear in the Samaritan Pentateuch, or in any of the other early translations of the Hebrew, and being omitted in the Septuagint in 1. Chron. 18, and 24. WHERE SHOULD APPEAR IF GENUINE, and this particular omission in these two instances, makes the Septuagint inconsistent with itself! Dr. Hales calls attention to the fact that it is not found in those copies of the Bible used by many of the early writers, such as Berosus, Polyhistor, Josephus, Philo, Theopholus of Antioch, Africanus, Origen and Jerome. (See Smith's Dictionary of the Bible - "Cainan".)
Gregory ingeniously proves that Cainan was an imagery person. How this name come to be copied into Luke 3:36 is really the diffeculty. It has been already observed that it does not appear in 1. Chron. of the Septuagint, and that its first and only introduction appears in Gen. 11:12 of the Septuagint. We see, therefore, that apparantly this presence in Luke 3:36 has no foundation for its quotation from any of the Hebrew sources, and must rest SOLELY upon that of the single reference of Gen. 11:12 of the Septuagint. It would seem that it was not copied into Luke by inspiration. it seems clear that it did not come from any of the Hebrew texts, but from Septuagint resources. It is said to be wanting in one of the earliest Greek manuscripts of Luke. In whatever way it got into Luke we do not know. It may perchance have been copied by a copyist wholly ignorant of all the accompanying facts, as seems most reasonable to assume. It is not to be presumed that all of the copyists were scrupuously particular in all instances. The gravity of the outcome of probable haste may have seemed of little importance to a substitute copyist. However, these assumptions do not solve the problem. Since water cannot rise to a level higher than the spring from which it issues, so neither can the authority of the New Testament for its absence, from which the New Testament professes to derive its authority.
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