Nazarene Space

Lost Portion of 3rd Maccabees Found in Hebrew Preface to Book of Jasher

The Hebrew Preface attached to the original Hebrew Text of the Book of Jasher has an interesting and lengthy comment:

“It is also found written in the book of the Asmoneans which has come down to us, that in the days of Ptolemy king of Egypt, he ordered his servants to go and gather all the books of laws, and all the books of Chronicles which they could finding the world, so that he might become wise through them, and by examining them become acquainted with the subjects and events of the world, and to compile from them a book in all matters of jurisdiction regarding the affairs of life, thereby to exercise pure justice. So they went and collected for him nine hundred and sixty five books and brought to him, when commanded them to go again and seek to complete the number of a thousand books, and they did so. After this, some of the persecutors of Israel stood up before him and said, O king, why wilt though trouble thyself in this manner? Send to the Jews in Jerusalem that they shall bring unto thee the book of their law which was written from them from the mouth of the Lord by their Prophets, from which thou mayest become wise, and regulate all judgments and laws according to they desire; so the king hearkened to their works, and sent to the Jews upon this matter, who sent to him this book, for they could not give unto him the book of the Lord, for they said, we cannot give the law of the Lord to a stranger. Now when this book came to the hands of Ptolemy he read it and it please him greatly, and he searched therein in his wisdom, and he examined it and found therein what he had desired, and he neglected all the other books which they had collected for him, and he blessed him who had advised him to this thing.”

“After some time the persecutors of Israel became aware of this, that the Israelites had not sent the book of the law to the king, and they came and said unto him, O king, the Israelites have treated thee with contempt, for they did not send to thee the book of the law which we had mentioned to thee, but they sent to thee another book which they had in their hands, therefore send to them that they may forward unto thee the book of their law, for from that book thou wilt obtain they desire much more than from the book which they have sent to thee; so when the king heard their words he became exceedingly wroth against the Israelites, and his anger burned within him until he sent again to them for them to forward to him the book of the law. Fearing that they might still continue to scorn him, he acted prudently with them and sent to seventy of their elders and placed them in seventy house, that each should write the book of the law, so that no alteration might be found in them, and the divine spirit rested upon them, and they wrote for him seventy books and they were all of one version, without addition or diminution. At this the king rejoiced greatly and he honored the elders, together with all the Jews, and he sent offerings and gifts to Jerusalem as it is written there. At his death, the Israelites acted cunningly with his son and took from his treasures the book of the law, but left this book there and took it not away, in order that every future king might know the wonders of the Lord, blessed be his name, and that he had chosen Israel from all nations, and that there is no God beside him.”
(Book of Jasher; Hebrew Preface form Sefer HaYashar; The Book of Jasher translated by James Trimm pp. 17-19 available at http://www.lulu.com/nazarene )

The Asmoneans (Hasmoneans) were the Maccabees. The books of the Maccabees/Hasmoneans generally do not deal with the Ptolemys. The Maccabees were rebelling against the Selucid Empire. However the book of 3rd Maccabees is mis-named, it actually has nothing to do with the Maccabees, but a totally different oppression of the Jews that took place under the Ptolomeys of Egypt.

3rd Maccabees however, only deals with the reign of Ptolemy IV, however the account summarized in the Hebrew Preface to Jasher parallels that of the well known “Letter of Aristeas” at the time of Ptolemy II. If this material were in any book of the Hasmoneans, it would have to be 3rd Maccabees, but it is not found there. Instead 3rd Maccabees begins with the time of Ptolemy IV.

However scholars have long recognized that 3rd Maccabees as we have it was once longer, and that our current text begins at some point after the original document did. The New Oxford Annotated Bible footnotes 3rd Maccabees 1:1 with “The abruptness with which the book opens and the use of the Greek conjunctive particle de indicate that the introduction to 3Macc. has not survived.” Moreover 3rd Maccabees 2:25 refers to “previously mentioned” events which were not, in our current text, previously mentioned.

So we do in fact have a book of the Hasmoneans that deals with the Ptolemys and Jews in Egypt, and which has an earlier portion which has not survived.

So we have several important discoveries here:

1. The recovery of a summary of a portion of the lost “Introduction” to 3rd Maccabees.
2. Evidence in support of the Book of Jasher.
3. Further evidence that 3rd Maccabees was originally longer, and that only a later portion of it has survived.
4. Evidence to support the authentic and ancient nature of the Hebrew Preface to the Book of Jasher. (The author of the preface was aware of information in the original “long” 3rd Maccabees, which has since been lost.

James Trimm
WNAE http://www.wnae.org

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James Trimm

Views: 86

Comment by Joseph S on December 30, 2009 at 11:07am
Is your legal defense fund trying to get the House of Israel 10tribes recognized by the House of Judah in Judea? Why do the unrighteous babylonian rabbis have so much power and the righteous of the House of Judah go unrecognized...without a voice? do you know what I am talking about or are you asleep still..........
Comment by James Trimm on December 30, 2009 at 5:29pm
No. this is the reason for the legal defense fund:

http://nazarenespace.ning.com/profiles/blogs/way-international-seek...
Comment by James Trimm on December 31, 2009 at 9:38am
No that was not my point. I don't think they concocted Jasher, only that they substituted it for the Torah in their dealings with Ptolemy II. I think more research needs to be done on Jasher. Currently we only have one 17th century CE witness to the text, no ancient copies... these are all factors that may be considered.
Comment by Mikha El on December 31, 2009 at 9:39am
Troy,

Could you post verses that you feel exist in Jasher that are contradicting Torah? Thanks
Comment by Mikha El on December 31, 2009 at 11:41am
Troy,

I am of the opinion that what one may consider a contradiction, another may not. This being the case, let's take a closer look at the 3 instances you've mentioned with this mindset...

1)Does Chapter 53 contain arrogance towards Yosef as you have written?

verse 6: And Y'hudah took Benyamin by the hand, and they came before Yosef, and they bowed down to him to the ground.

They were obviously humble here! Furthermore, I don't see them rising up against Yosef anywhere in the rest of the chapter. Speaking against all of Egypt yes, against Yosef, no.

2) I have the event mentioned at 27:16. Is this impossible? Has "tradition" always been correct in every aspect? No, of course not.

3) Psa 136:15 But shook off Pharaoh and his army in the Sea of Reeds, For His kindness is everlasting;

The above was taken from the ISR which is based on the Massoretic Hebrew. I don't see it stating that Pharoah drowned in the Red Sea.

Knowing this mindset, how can we then say with certainty contradictions with Torah exist?
Comment by Joseph S on December 31, 2009 at 1:16pm
HI...Although I tend to agree with mihka el here on the first two points I am of the opinion that Pharoah did drown in the Red Sea. There is extra biblical evidence concerning his drowning but since I am not a scholar I did not document it for posterity. What set my mind was along the lines of the physical evidence that is on the 'strip' of land some 80 feet below the water, that pathway the Hebrews took to cross the sea. On both sides of that pathway the land drops off to about 4,000+ feet. On the strip of land that the Hebrews crossed there is evidence of chariot wheels and other items. These are encrusted now but side view sub-sonic or sonar has revealed their content. I have seen video of this shot by independent researchers....and is this so hard to believe....I don't think so. The Ron Wyatt museum has evidence of this. We believe in a man from God who died on a cross and was resurrected three days later. we call Him the Son of God. Someone else could easily say that that belief is a very big stretch of the imagination....but we believe. It is not anymore of a stretch of the imagination for an independent researcher to provide us with fruit of his/her labor, especially when the colleges and universities are trying very hard to do satan's will in keeping it hidden. From what I can see Pharoah died in the red Sea. Also, there is written in stone by stone carvers a story, uncovered by secular archeologists, of a pharoah who died when chasing the hebrews out of his country. The story makes him look like a hero who died for his country in ridding the country of a mortal enemy but it is a story of the same pharoah. I am not a scholar, and the scholars can fight over what to believe. I believe in Yah and His word and the evidence I have seen has helped me in my belief.
Comment by Joseph S on December 31, 2009 at 1:31pm
HI again...Yahushua is the Messiah and if I told you something personal about He and I you would probably slam me for it, nevertheless, if I have had a personal contact with my Lord (Our Lord) then isn't it personal? It's valid to me. what I know I will not say but it is very encouraging to me and very inspirational to me....I am not commanded to tell anyone, but if I were commanded then I certainly would and you would hear of it....and it would be 'inspired' communication. to say the 'gospels' is not 'inspired' is a mistake you are making. Keep it up. Scholars are usually not very humble, and that is what is required to enter into the kingdom of Heaven...just read the 'sermon on the mount'....Blessed are the humble, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...your argument is with the Messiah. He inspires me, not you. He inspired those men 'back then' for your education. You may comment and narrate but when you are inspired you are changed. Look into the 'gospels' and see all the requirements for being in the kingdom....those who put their hand to the plow, but pull back are not worthy of the kingdom...that's one.Better to find out now while the Holy Spirit is with you, inspiring you, than to find out later, the harder way.....just my opinion of course, and since I am not a scholar, not much to listen to.
Comment by James Trimm on December 31, 2009 at 2:39pm
The Principle of Inspiration
(An excerpt from my book Hermeneutics at http://www.lulu.com/nazarene )

One primary guiding principle to understanding the Scriptures is the Principle of Inspiration. In seeking to understand the Scriptures we must accept as an axiom that Elohim has given in the Scriptures a revelation of Himself and His will. We must understand that through the Scriptures Elohim is seeking to communicate ideas from His mind to us.

Now there are many different theories of inspiration, and the exegete will need to understand the nature of the inspiration of the Scriptures in order to properly apply the Principle of Inspiration to exegesis. The following are some of the theories of inspiration held by various groups and persons:

Natural Inspiration - This theory holds that the Scriptures were only inspired" in that they were written by men of great genius.

Illumination - This theory hold that the Scriptures were only inspired in that they were written by men who had been enlightened.

Inspiration of Degree - This theory holds that the authors of the Scriptures were only inspired relative to other men, that they were simply more inspired that other men.

Inspiration in Part - This theory holds that the authors of the Scriptures were only inspired when speaking of those things beyond their natural knowledge.

Conceptual Inspiration - This theory holds that the concepts and ideas in the Scriptures were inspired, but not the specific words. For example, this theory would hold that the concept of loving ones neighbor was inspired, but the actual articulation of the words was purely human.

Fallible Inspiration - This theory holds that while the Scriptures were inspired, their authors were sill only faulty humans, and could still contain error.

Verbal, Plenary Inspiration - This theory holds that Elohim oversaw but did not dictate to individual personalities who would then compose and write all the actual words of His revelation without error.

Inspiration by Dictation - This theory holds that Elohim gave the Scriptures to man in much the way that a businessman dictates a letter to a secretary. The secretary writes the actual letter, but its thoughts, ideas and words are strictly those of the businessman.

Only the last two of these theories are compatible with the doctrine of the infallibility of the Scriptures.

Now as an exegete one must recognize that different portions of the Scriptures were inspired in different ways.

For example, much of the Torah, including the Ten Commandments, was dictated. Many sections of the Prophets, such as Isaiah, also indicate dictation with phrases such as "Thus says YHWH"".

On the other hand the author of Ecclesiastes~ (Solomon) states no less than 36 times that he is writing of those matters that he had, as a man, discovered "under the sun" or "under heaven" in his search to learn "by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven" (1: 13). When Solomon writes in this book such things as "all is vanity" (1:2, 14) that men have no more value than animals (3:14-21) or that the dead have no reward (9:5) he is not giving us Elohim's inspired revelations on these Subjects, but rather Elohim inspired Solomon to write a book about how the world appear in the absence of the knowledge of Elohim.

Another example is 1Corinthinans Chapter 7. This chapter unusually delineates Paul's opinions from YHWH's commands. "But this I say as to the weak (or sickly) not by commandment" (7:6); "it is not from me but from the Lord" (7: 10); "I say-I, not the Lord" (7:12); "the rule I lay down" (7:17); "I do not have a command from the Lord, but I offer an opinion" (7:25) and "in my opinion" (7:40). Among the personal opinions Paul lays out in this chapter is a controversial call to remain unmarried (7:8)

Certainly inspiration in general must be understood as reaching to the words and even the letters themselves. In Matthew 22:31-32 Yeshua himself formulates an exegesis, which depends upon the actual wording of the Torah. And in Galatians 3:16 Paul's exegesis also presupposes that the specific words chosen in the text of the Torah are inspired.
- Ecclesiastes is written on the Pashat level as shown in the chapter on levels of understanding.

Within ancient Jewish hermeneutics the Principle of Inspiration led to a fundamental dispute about how the Scriptures should be understood.

The School of Akiva taught that when Elohim speaks, every word and every letter is divinely inspired and has some implication. Akiva's school therefore sought and found hidden meanings in even the very Hebrew letters of the text.

On the other hand the school of Ishmael countered this approach and claimed that since inspiration means that Elohim is seeking to reveal something of himself to us. Thus when Elohim speaks to man He speaks as a man would to another man, without buried hidden meanings.
Comment by James Trimm on December 31, 2009 at 2:41pm
We should continue the Book of Jasher discussions in the Book of Jasher group (I think it would be instructive).

Troy, why don't you repost your concerns there.
Comment by James Trimm on December 31, 2009 at 2:57pm
Just cut and paste.

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