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Dead Sea Scroll Proves Ancient Origin of Book of Jasher!

  Dead Sea Scroll Proves Ancient Origin of Book of Jasher!
James Scott Trimm

The Book of Jasher is one of the "Lots Books of the Bible."  There are two references to The Book of Jasher in the Tanak:

“And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still
(Joshua 10:13)

(Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)
(2 Samuel 1:18)

In his recounting of the event of the prolonged day of Joshua 10 the first century Jewish Roman historian Josephus identifies the Book of Jasher mentioned by Joshua as one of “the books laid up in the Temple” (Ant. 5:1:17). Thus the Book of Jasher was known to Josephus and was known to be among the books laid up in the Temple in the first century.

The 1625 edition of Jasher has a Preface, which says in part (translated from the Hebrew):

...when the holy city Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus, all the military heads went in to rob and plunder, and among the officers of Titus was one whose name was Sidrus,... who went in to search, and found in Jerusalem a house of great extent...

According to the preface this Sidrus found a false wall in this house with a hidden room. In this room he found an old man hiding with provisions and many books including the Book of Jasher The old man found favor with Sidrus who took the old man and his books with him.

The preface says “they went from city to city and from country to country until they reached Sevilia [a city in Spain].” At that time “Seville” was called “Hispalis” and was the capital of the Roman province of Hispalensis. The manuscript was donated to the Jewish college at Cordova, Spain.

According to the 1625 edition of Jasher the first printed edition of the Book of Jasher was published in Naples Italy in 1552. However no copies of the 1552 edition are known to have survived. The earliest surviving Hebrew edition known is the 1625 edition.

Title Page to the 1625 Hebrew Edition of the Book of Jasher

One of the chief objections given by skeptics to the authenticity of the 1625 Hebrew printing of the Book of Jasher is that our oldest known surviving copy is this printed Hebrew edition of 1625.  Some have argued that the book itself was a forgery created by Rabbis in the Middle Ages.  

Recently, while doing research for the Book of Jasher Study Project I discovered yet an important evidence for the ancient origin of this book, and incredible parallel with a document found among the Dead Sea Scrolls known as the Genesis Apocryphon.  

The Genesis Apocryphon records a conversation between the biblical figure Lamech, son of Methuselah, and his son, Noah, as well as first and third person narratives associated with Abraham.  

We read in the Book of Jasher (in parallel to Gen. 12:19-20):

29 And in the morning the king called for Abram and said to him, What is this thou hast done to me? Why didst thou say, She is my sister, owing to which I took her unto me for a wife, and this heavy plague has therefore come upon me and my household.
30 Now therefore here is thy wife, take her and go from our land lest we all die on her account. And Pharaoh took more cattle, men servants and maid servants, and silver and gold, to give to Abram, and he returned unto him Sarai his wife.
31 And the king took a maiden whom he begat by his concubines, and he gave her to Sarai for a handmaid.
32 And the king said to his daughter, It is better for thee my daughter to be a handmaid in this man's house than to be mistress in my house, after we have beheld the evil that befell us on account of this woman.
33 And Abram arose, and he and all belonging to him went away from Egypt; and Pharaoh ordered some of his men to accompany him and all that went with him.
(Jasher 15:29-33)

The Genesis Apocryphon gives a first person account of these same events as given in the first person by Abraham himself with striking similarity:

So he called me to himself and asked me,"What have you done to me because of your wife [Sar]ai? You told 27me,'She is my sister,' yet she was actually your wife! I took her as my own wife! Here she is; take her, go, depart from 28all the provinces of Egypt! But first, pray for me and my house that this evi]l spirit may be exorcised from us." So I prayed for him, that blasphemer, 29and laid my hands upon his [he]ad. Thereupon the plague was removed from him, the evil [spirit] exorcised [from him, and he was hea]led. The king rose and [in]formed 30me . . . and the king swore to me with an oath that [he had not touched] her. Then [they brought] m[e] 31S[ar]ai. The king gave her much [silver and g]old, and great quantities of linen and purple-dyed garments [ . . . ] [he put them] 32before her, and before Hagar as well. He restored her to me and assigned men to escort [me out of Egypt . .
(Genesis Apocryphon Col. 21 lines 26-32)

In both accounts Pharaoh gives Abram and Sarai gold and silver and other riches when they are escorted out of Egypt!

This is important because the Genesis Apocryphon was lost from the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, until its discovery among the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947.  This document would not have been available to Jews in the middle ages!

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