What is the Book of Jasher?

The Book of Jasher


(Translated in 1840; Published by J.H. Parry & Co. in 1887)

What is the history behind the Book of Jasher?

"According to rabbinic legend, the book of Jasher and several other ancient non-biblical Hebrew texts were brought from Jerusalem to Spain after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. One of the officers of Titus, Sidrus by name, was a believer in the God of the Hebrews. He made sure several sacred texts made it out of Jerusalem and into the Spanish city of Sevilia for safe keeping. The Sephardic rabbinate kept the texts safe. In the year AD 1613, the first official printed Hebrew copy of the book of Jasher was published in Venice, Italy. The first translation from the Hebrew version of Jasher into English was completed in AD 1840." (Ken Johnson, Ancient Book of Jasher, Biblefacts Annotated Edition, p.5)

Has the text been corrupted over the centuries?

"The ancient scrolls of this book were in poor condition when the book was printed in Hebrew in 1613.

"This text is not inspired by God, and was simply an extremely accurate history book, highly recommended by Scripture itself. The text does show signs of some corruption. There are obvious scribal errors – and more than likely embellishments – added to the original text. We must remember this scroll may be over 3,500 years old." (Ken Johnson,  Ancient Book of Jasher, Biblefacts Annotated Edition, p.6)

"He [the translator] does not recommend it to their notice 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.

"But in making these observations, he is far from offering it as a perfect record. Like all other ancient writings, (except the inspired volume,) it has in some respects suffered from the consuming hand of time; and there is reason to believe that some additions have been made to it. In fine, it contains a history of the lives and memorable transactions of all the illustrious characters recorded in sacred history, from Adam down to the time of the Elders, who immediately succeeded Joshua." (An excerpt from the "Translator's Preface")

The Book of Jasher in Scripture:

"Then spake Joshua to Yahuwah in the day when Yahuwah delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. 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 in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day." (Joshua 10:12-13)

"And when they were smiting, the day was declining toward evening, and Joshua said in the sight of all the people, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou moon in the valley of Ajalon, until the nation shall have revenged itself upon its enemies. And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Joshua, and the sun stood still in the midst of the heavens, and it stood still six and thirty moments, and the moon also stood still and hastened not to go down a whole day." (Jasher 88:63-64)

"And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son: (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 1:17-19)

"And Jacob said unto Judah, I know my son that thou art a mighty man for thy brethren; reign over them, and thy sons shall reign over their sons forever. Only teach thy sons the bow and all the weapons of war, in order that they may fight the battles of their brother who will rule over his enemies." (Jasher 56:8-9)

The Holy Spirit inspired the authors of Scripture to reference the Book of Jasher as a trustworthy history book.  One could not ask for a stronger recommendation than that of Scripture itself.

The Holy Spirit inspired the authors of Scripture to reference the Book of Jasher as a trustworthy history book.  One could not ask for a stronger recommendation than that of Scripture itself.

The Book of Jasher fills in many of the details not mentioned in Scripture.  It sheds light on many enigmatic passages.  For example:

"Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was." (2 Timothy 3:8-9)

Scripture makes no mention of "Jannes and Jambres" withstanding Moses.  What was Paul referring to?  The Book of Jasher provides the answer:

"And when they had gone Pharaoh sent for Balaam the magician and to Jannes and Jambres his sons, and to all the magicians and conjurors and counsellors which belonged to the king, and they all came and sat before the king. . . . And Balaam the son of Beor the magician answered the king, saying, These [Moses and Aaron] are none else than magicians like ourselves. Now therefore send for them, and let them come and we will try them, and the king did so." (Jasher 79:27-31)

Another example: In Joshua, chapter 6, Joshua is instructed to march around Jericho with the men of war and the priests with the Ark of the Covenant for seven days.  Which day, then, was the Sabbath?  Would Yahuwah command the men of war and the priests to march around with the Ark on the Sabbath?  The Book of Jasher provides the answer by telling us that the march began on the first day of the month (New Moon Day).  In light of the lunar-solar calendar, this means that the seventh day of the march was on the sixth day of the week.  They never marched on the Sabbath.  (Incidentally, this is a problem for honest Saturday Sabbatarians, as they must posit that Joshua, along with his men of war, the priests, and the Ark of the Covenant marched around Jericho on the Sabbath.)

"And it was in the second month, on the first day of the month, that [Yahuwah] said to Joshua, Rise up, behold I have given Jericho into thy hand with all the people thereof; and all your fighting men shall go round the city, once each day, thus shall you do for six days. . . And on the seventh day they went round the city seven times, and the priests blew upon trumpets." (Jasher 88:14, 17)

Yet, another example: Scholars and Bible students have long debated who it was that purchased Joseph, son of Jacob.  Was it the Ishmaelites or the Midianites?

And they [Joseph's brothers] sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites [Ishmaelites] came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt. (Genesis 37:25-28)

The Book of Jasher clears up this apparent discrepancy:

And they [Joseph's brothers] went and sat on the opposite side, about the distance of a bow-shot, and they sat there to eat bread, and whilst they were eating, they held counsel together what was to be done with him, whether to slay him or to bring him back to his father. They were holding the counsel, when they lifted up their eyes, and saw, and behold there was a company of Ishmaelites coming at a distance by the road of Gilead, going down to Egypt. And Judah said unto them, What gain will it be to us if we slay our brother? . . . Behold this company of Ishmaelites going down to Egypt, Now therefore, come let us dispose of him to them, and let not our hand be upon him, and they will lead him along with them, and he will be lost amongst the people of the land, and we will not put him to death with our own hands. And the proposal pleased his brethren and they did according to the word of Judah. And whilst they were discoursing about this matter, and before the company of Ishmaelites had come up to them, seven trading men of Midian passed by them, and as they passed they were thirsty, and they lifted up their eyes and saw the pit in which Joseph was immured . . . And the Midianites saw that Joseph was of a comely appearance and well-favored; they desired him in their hearts and were urgent to purchase him from his brethren. And the sons of Jacob hearkened to the Midianites and they sold their brother Joseph to them for twenty pieces of silver, and Reuben their brother was not with them, and the Midianites took Joseph and continued their journey to Gilead. They were going along the road, and the Midianites repented of what they had done, in having purchased the young man, and one said to the other, What is this thing that we have done, in taking this youth from the Hebrews, who is of comely appearance and well favored. Perhaps this youth is stolen from the land of the Hebrews, and why then have we done this thing? and if he should be sought for and found in our hands we shall die through him. Now surely hardy and powerful men have sold him to us, the strength of one of whom you saw this day; perhaps they stole him from his land with their might and with their powerful arm, and have therefore sold him to us for the small value which we gave unto them. And whilst they were thus discoursing together, they looked, and behold the company of Ishmaelites which was coming at first, and which the sons of Jacob saw, was advancing toward the Midianites, and the Midianites said to each other, Come let us sell this youth to the company of Ishmaelites who are coming toward us, and we will take for him the little that we gave for him, and we will be delivered from his evil. And they did so, and they reached the Ishmaelites, and the Midianites sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver which they had given for him to his brethren. (See Jasher 42.)

One final and intriguing example: In Genesis 36, we find a curious detail recorded by Moses for which there is no apparent explanation.

And these are the children of Zibeon; both Ajah, and Anah: this was that Anah that found the mules [H3222: yêm] in the wilderness, as he fed the asses of Zibeon his father. (Genesis 36:24)

The word translated "mules" here is yêm [H3222]. The meaning of this word is "uncertain."

H3222: meaning uncertain, meaning perhaps mules or hot springs (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Dictionary)

The Book of Jasher makes clear the intended meaning of yêm, and in doing so, let’s us know why Moses made this seemingly random remark about Anah. The yêm were chimeras. This was clearly a story that Moses and his readers were familiar with.

28And the sons of Shobal were Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam, and the sons of Zibeon were Ajah, and Anah, this was that Anah who found the Yemim in the wilderness when he fed the asses of Zibeon his father. 29And whilst he was feeding his father's asses he led them to the wilderness at different times to feed them. 30And there was a day that he brought them to one of the deserts on the sea shore, opposite the wilderness of the people, and whilst he was feeding them, behold a very heavy storm came from the other side of the sea and rested upon the asses that were feeding there, and they all stood still. 31And afterward about one hundred and twenty great and terrible animals came out from the wilderness at the other side of the sea, and they all came to the place where the asses were, and they placed themselves there. 32And those animals, from their middle downward, were in the shape of the children of men, and from their middle upward, some had the likeness of bears, and some the likeness of the keephas, with tails behind them from between their shoulders reaching down to the earth, like the tails of the ducheephath, and these animals came and mounted and rode upon these asses, and led them away, and they went away unto this day. 33And one of these animals approached Anah and smote him with his tail, and then fled from that place. 34And when he saw this work he was exceedingly afraid of his life, and he fled and escaped to the city. 35And he related to his sons and brothers all that had happened to him, and many men went to seek the asses but could not find them, and Anah and his brothers went no more to that place from that day following, for they were greatly afraid of their lives. (Jasher 36:28-35)

Flavius Josephus (a first-century Romano-Jewish historian), when referring to the Book of Jasher, said:

"by this book are to be understood certain records kept in some safe place on purpose, giving an account of what happened among the Hebrews from year to year, and called Jasher or the upright, on account of the fidelity of the annals." (Flavius Josephus, quoted by Ken Johnson in Ancient Book of Jasher, Biblefacts Annotated Edition, p.5)


The Book of Jasher, while it might contain a few scribal errors or later embellishments, is a very credible history book, which Scripture itself recommends reading/referencing.  The Book of Jasher, however, is not inspired, nor does it claim to be.

Click here to download the Book of Jasher.

Note: Some have objected to the Book of Jasher on the grounds that it is not Scripture.  While it is true that it is not Scripture, it is a Biblically endorsed history book.  It would make little sense for one to reference secular historians when necessary, but reject the history book recommended by Scripture itself.  (We must bear in mind, of course, that there are some scribal errors and likely some later embellishments.  Any apparent discrepancies found in the Book of Jasher should always yield to the inspired record of Scripture.  The Book of Jasher, because it is not inspired, should never be used to establish doctrine.)