The Book of Jasher
Referred to in Joshua and Second Samuel
FROM THE ORIGINAL HEBREW INTO ENGLISH
SALT LAKE CITY: PUBLISHED BY J.H. PARRY & COMPANY 1887.
by Dr. Kenneth Johnson
This work is recommended reading by Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18. It contains about three times as much information as Genesis, covering the same time period.
There are several books which have come down to us by this title today.
One is an ethical treaty from the Middle Ages and to my knowledge has never been translated into English. This book begins with a section on the Mystery of the Creation of the World." It is clearly unrelated to the Biblical Book of Jasher.
Another is a forgery published in 1829 supposedly translated by Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus. It opens with the Chapter 1 verse 1 reading: "Whilst it was the beginning, darkness overspread the face of nature."
The third and most important is a Midrash first translated into English in 1840.
It opens with chapter 1 verse 1 reading "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and God created man in his own image." A comparison of Joshua 10:13 with Jasher 88:63-64 and 2Sam. 1:18 with Jasher 56:9 makes it clear that this Book of Jasher at least claims to be the "lost" Book of Jasher mentioned in the Bible.
The book that is published on this website is the last mentioned. (3)
The following is a list of inaccuracies or scribal errors:
Cain killed Abel with a Plough or rock.
Lamek 180 should be 182,
Terah died should be Peleg
Sarahís Abrahamís niece
Haran 32 when Abram was born
Jerad 162 not 62
Methuselah 187 not 87
4:9 shows this
210 years in Egypt
"Is not this written in the Book of Jasher?" -- Joshua 10:13. "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 10:13)
"Behold, it is written in the Book of Jasher" -- II Samuel 1:18. (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.
The Book of Jasher Uncloaked!
Virtually ignored since it was discovered, the Book of Jasher holds vital clues to interpreting and understanding Biblical chronology, from the Flood to the Exodus. A mistake made by Archbishop James Ussher, who was unfamiliar with the book of Jasher, led to a 60-year error in placing the birth of Abraham. But this error is corrected in the chrono- logical keys provided by the book of Jasher. And with these keys, an intriguing, and astounding story emerges.
William F. Dankenbring
The book of Jasher, mentioned in the Biblical books of Joshua and Second Chronicles, was faithfully translated into English from the Rabbinical Hebrew in approximately A.D. 1840. Says the translator's preface, "the ever memorable events and transactions recorded in Scripture are with many others of the most interesting nature, comprehended in the Book of Jasher; and they are all arrayed in that style of simple, unadorned majesty and precision, which so particularly distinguishes the genius of the Hebrew language/ and this, together with other numerous internal evidences, it is presumed will go far to convince the Hebrew scholar that the book is, with the exception of some doubtful parts, a venerable monument of antiquity; and that, notwithstanding some few additions may have been made to it in comparatively modern times, it still retains sufficient to prove it a copy of the book referred to in Joshua, chapter x, and 2 Samuel, chap. i. There are not more than seven or eight words in the whole book that by construction can be derived from the Chaldean language" (page iii-iv).
The title of the book in Hebrew, Sephir Ha Yasher, literally means "the book of the upright," or "the upright or correct record." Some have thought that "Jasher" was the name of a Hebrew judge in Israel, and a publication that arose in the middle of the eighteenth century (circa 1750 A.D.), purported itself to be a translation into English from a Hebrew manuscript of "Jasher" found at Gazna in Persia. That book appears to have been a fictitious book, a fraud, and most probably the work of some agnostic, cynical English skeptic, written in imitation of the language of Scripture. Its author, in his ignorance, presumed "Jasher" to have been the personal name of an ancient Hebrew figure, the original writer. But the mischievous deed was recognized by true scholars of Hebrew, for the pronoun "the" ("ha" in Hebrew) never precedes or is prefixed to proper names.
How is the Book of Jasher important to us, today? It sheds marvelous light on the Biblical story, from the time of Adam and Eve, the time of Enoch, and the account of Noah's Deluge, to the Tower of Babel, the tyrant Nimrod, and the story of Abraham and his descendants. Needless to say, I cannot discuss the details of this remarkable historical record, which completely authenticates and corroborates Scriptural history, filling in many missing details deleted in the Scriptural record, in this article. I highly recommend the book for any who desire to perfect their knowledge of the ancient times, from Adam to the Exodus.
The book of Jasher provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of Enoch, who was a righteous ruler over men, continually instructing them in truth and uprightness, and a knowledge of the Most High God. It also tells us that in the days of "Peleg," not only were the nations at Babel divided and scattered, but the earth itself was also divided. From this book we also learn that Noah and Abraham were contemporaries.
Perhaps the most important key found in the Book of Jasher is that it corrects the erroneous chronological date for the birth of Abraham assumed by many Christian commentators, in particular archbishop James Ussher. Says the Translator of the book of Jasher:
"From this book we learn that Noah and Abraham were contemporaries. How beautiful the contemplation of the meeting of these two Patriarchs, the one being a monument of God's mercy, the other having the promises of the favor and grace of God, not only to himself, but to his seed after him. This fact might be proved from Scripture; but from the 32nd verse in the 11th chapter of Genesis, most of the Christian commentators have erroneously dated the birth of Abraham 60 years later than it actually took place; as it is generally stated that he was born AM (after man, i.e., after Adam) 2008, whereas the regular calculation in the Bible leads us to 60 years earlier, viz. 1948. The only cause of this error has been that Abraham's departure from Haran, at the age of 75, is recorded close to the description of the death of Terah, at the age of 205, in Gen. ch. xi, v. 32" (p.vi).
How should we view the book of Jasher, today? The translator correctly points out that although it is not divine Scripture, it nevertheless is a mighty historical and ancient work which relates directly to Biblical historical times and events. Thus the translator does not recommend it to people as Scripture, as a work of divine inspiration, but does "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" (p.vii).
The translator concludes:
"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" (ibid.).
Having said these things, let's take a close look and see how the book of Jasher, then, impacts our understanding of ancient Biblical chronology, and what it means to us, today!
Chronology After the Flood
The book of Jasher recounts the story of mankind from Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, to the destruction of Noah's Flood (chapters 1-6). The story of the post-Flood world begins in chapter 7 where we are told that Terah was 38 years old when he begat Haran and Nahor, the older brothers of Abraham (v.22). What year was this? According to the chronology, from the Flood, we discover that Noah was 600 years old at the time of the Flood (Gen.7:6). The Flood occurred in the year 2348 B.C. Noah's son Shem begat Arphaxad 2 years after the Flood (Gen.11:10), or in 2346 B.C. From that time on we can trace the descendants of Shem (see Genesis 11:10-26):
At this point, the Biblical genealogy tell us, "And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran" (Gen.11:26). Yet the book of Jasher clearly states that "Terah was thirty eight years old, and he begat Haran and Nahor" (Jasher 9:22). Therefore, the fact that the Bible says Terah was 70 when he begat Abram, Nahor and Haran, must refer to the date when ABRAM was begotten -- 32 years after his two brothers. Abram was the youngest of the three, but is listed first because the birthright became his because of his righteousness and excellency.
This is a straight-forward chronology. However, it differs from that of Archbishop James Ussher. Usher, in his mammoth chronological work, concluded erroneously that Abram was born seventy five years before Terah his father died. Terah died at the age of 205 (Gen.11:32). The next chapter of Genesis tells us that God told Abram to leave his country and Abram did so at the age of 75 (Gen.12:1-4). Ussher assumes that Terah's death and Abram's departure for Canaan was the same year -- therefore, since Terah died in 1921 B.C., Abram's birth would have been, according to Ussher, 75 years sooner -- in 1996 B.C. Notice! This date is precisely 60 years later than the true date for Abram's birth! Unfortunately, Archbishop Ussher did not have access to the book of Jasher when he calculated the birth of Abram!
When this correction is made, however, it suddenly frees up our understanding of events that occurred after the Flood. Much of this illumination comes from the book of Jasher!
Nimrod and the Birth of Abram
Now let's pick up the story of Nimrod, the world's first tyrant, after the Flood. The book of Jasher gives us a very interesting insight into Nimrod's kingdom and personality. The story begins with his father Cush. We read:
"And Cush, the son of Ham, the son of Noah, took a wife in those days, in his old age, and she bare a son, and they called his name Nimrod, saying, At that time the sons of men began to rebel and transgress against God, and the child grew up, and his father loved him exceedingly, for he was the son of his old age.
"And the garments of skin, which God made for Adam and his wife, when they went out of the garden, were given to Cush. For after the death of Adam and his wife, the garments were given to Enoch, the son of Jared, and when Enoch was taken up to God, he gave them to Methuselah, his son. And at the death of Methuselah, Noah took them and brought them to the ark, and they were with him until he went out of the ark. And in their going out, Ham stole those garments from Noah his father, and he took them and hid them from his brothers. And when Ham begat his firstborn Cush, he gave him the garments in secret, and they were with Cush many days. And Cush also concealed them from his sons and brothers, and when Cush had begotten Nimrod, he gave him those garments through his love for him, and Nimrod grew up, and when he was twenty years old he put on those garments.
"And Nimrod became strong when he put on the garments, and God gave him might and strength, and he was a mighty hunter in the earth. . . . And when Nimrod was forty years old, at that time there was war between his brethren and the children of Japheth, so that they were in the power of his enemies. . . . And when Nimrod had joyfully returned from battle, after having conquered his enemies, all his brethren . . . assembled to make him king over them, and they placed the regal crown upon his head.
"And he placed TERAH THE SON OF NAHOR the prince of his host, and he dignified him and elevated him above all his princes" (Jasher 7:23-41).
Notice! Although the Bible does not mention these fine details in the Scriptural narrative, nevertheless, Terah, Abram's father, was the commander-in-chief of Nimrod's army! He was a very important man in the post-Flood world, and in the government of Nimrod. This occurred when Nimrod was about forty years of age. The account goes on:
". . . . And Nimrod dwelt in Shinar . . . and his kingdom became very great . . . and Nimrod reigned in the earth over all the sons of Noah, and they were all under his power and counsel (he was the first World Ruler). And all the earth was of one tongue and words of union, but Nimrod did not go in the ways of the Lord. . . . And Terah, the son of Nahor, prince of Nimrod's host, was in those days very great in the sight of the king and his subjects, and the king and princes loved him, and they elevated him very high.
"And Terah took a wife and her name was Ambhelo the daughter of Cornebo; and the wife of Terah conceived and bare him a son in those days. Terah was SEVENTY YEARS OLD when he begat him, and Terah called the name of his son ABRAM, because the king had raised him in those days, and dignified him above all his princes" (Jasher 7:44-51).
The book of Jasher therefore plainly tells us Abram was born to Terah when he was 70 years old -- not 135, as Archbishop Ussher thought. The story continues that at the birth of Abram, the astrologers and wise men of Nimrod's kingdom saw a horrifying sign in the heavens, which they understood to mean that the child born to Terah that night would grow up and possess the earth, and would kill all the kings of the earth, posing a great threat to Nimrod himself. A plot was hatched to kill the child. Terah managed to save Abram by substituting the child of one of his servants instead, and then hid Abram, his mother and nurse, in a cave for ten years (Jasher 8:33-36).
The account goes on to tell us that Haran, Abram's oldest brother, took a wife when he wad 39 years of age, and when he was 42, she bare to him Sarai, in the tenth year of Abram's life (Jasher 9:1-4). Thus Sarai was ten years younger than Abram, whom she would later marry. She was born in 2046 B.C. This means that Haran was born 42 years earlier, in 2088 B.C., and was 32 years older than Abram. This is also corroborated in Jasher 12:16, where we read, "and Haran was in those days that Abram was born thirty and two years old." He was born when Terah his father was 38.
When Abram was ten years old, he came out of the cave. The king Nimrod and all his soothsayers thought he was long dead by this time. However, taking no chances, we read that:
"And when Abram came out from the cave, he went to Noah and his son Shem, and he remained with them to learn the instruction of the Lord and his ways, and no man knew where Abram was, and Abram served Noah and his son Shem for a long time.
"And Abram was in Noah's house thirty nine years, and Abram knew the Lord from three days old, and he went in the ways of the Lord until the day of his death, as Noah and his son Shem had taught him; and all the sons of the earth in those days greatly transgressed against the Lord, and they rebelled against him, and they served other gods, and the forgot the Lord who had created them in the earth . . . . And Terah had twelve gods of large size, made of wood and stone, after the twelve months of the year. . . " (Jasher 5-8).
Thus Abram, from age 10 to 49, was in the house of Noah, learning the truth of God! This would have been from the year 2046 (the year Sarai was born) until the year 2007 B.C. During this time, "king Nimrod reigned securely, and all the earth was under his control, and all the earth was of one tongue and words of union" (Jasher 9:20).
At this time Nimrod and his great men took counsel to build a "strong tower, and its top reaching heaven: (verse 21). While they built it, they "imagined in their hearts to war against him and to ascend into heaven" (v.25). As the Scriptures tell us, and the book of Jasher confirms, the gigantic tower was destroyed in a mighty paroxysm. Says the book of Jasher, "And as to the tower which the sons of men built, the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up one third part thereof, and a fire also descended from heaven and burned another third, and a third part is left to this day, and it is of that part which was aloft, and its circumference is three days' walk" (v.38).
This tremendous event would have occurred just before Abram left the house of Noah in the year 2007 B.C. The tower of Babel catastrophe, therefore, would have occurred somewhere around the year 2008 B.C. It was shortly after this awesome lesson from the heavens, that Abram comes forth from hiding and exile, and returns to the house of his father Terah.
Abram Confronts Nimrod
When Abram was 50 years old, he left Noah's house and returned to his father's house. Terah was still steeped in idolatry, and still captain of the host of Nimrod (Jasher 11:13-15). Abram remonstrated with his father about his strange gods (verses 26-50). Incensed, Terah reported this incident to Nimrod , who sent soldiers to seize Abram. Nimrod, all his princes, and Terah were present, when Abram witnessed before them, urging the king to repent of his follies and wickedness, his idolatries, and to serve the "God of the whole universe, who created thee, and in whose power it is to kill and keep alive" (Jasher 11:54-55). He ended his testimony, saying, "O foolish, simple, and ignorant king, woe unto thee forever" (v.56).
Nimrod was so indignant and full of wrath, that he ordered Abram put into prison, and then asked his counselors what ought to be done with him. They counseled that Abram should be thrown alive into a flaming furnace and be burned to death (Jasher 12:6). For three days and nights a mighty fire was prepared in the king's furnace, and all the inhabitants of the land stood to see Abram being brought out to be burned. Jasher estimates the crowd at about 900,000 (Jasher 12:7-8).
What happened? Jasher relates:
"And the Lord loved Abram and he had compassion over him, and the Lord came down and delivered Abram from the fire and he was not burned. But all the cords with which they bound him were burned, while Abram remained and walked about in the fire. . . .
"And Abram walked in the midst of the fire three days and three nights, and all the servants of the king saw him walking in the fire, and they came and told the king . . . . And when the king heard their words his heart fainted and he would not believe them. . . and the king rose to go and see it, and he saw Abram walking to and fro in the midst of the fire . . ." (Jasher 12:24-28).
At this time Abram was 50 years old. Nimrod was the son of Cush, the son of Ham. Ham begat Cush probably 2346 B.C., two years this side of the Flood. If Cush were 251 years of age, when he begat Nimrod, then Nimrod would have been born in 2095 B.C. Remember, he was expressly born in Cush's old age, "the son of his old age" (Jasher 7:23). Thus he would have been about 30 years younger than Terah, the chief over his host. He would have been approximately 40 years older than Abram.
Keep this date in mind, for later we will see how well it correlates with another date signpost we will discover in the book of Jasher! There are many "date links" given in the book of Jasher which are unavailable anywhere else.
Abram's Place of Safety
After this, king Nimrod had a disturbing dream, which his counselors interpreted to mean that "the day will come when Abram and his seed and the children of his household will war with my king, and they will smite all the king's horses and all his troops . . . this means nothing else but the seed of Abram which will slay the king in latter days" (Jasher 12:53-55). Abram got secret word of this and the conspiracy to have him killed, and "Abram hastened and ran for safety to the house of Noah and his son Shem, and he concealed himself there and found a place of safety" (v.61).
Terah came to visit his son, after he had been with Noah for a month, at which time Abram encouraged his father to come with him to Canaan, so that they would both be delivered from the hand of Nimrod (v.65). Terah hearkened to his son's wisdom, and they came as far as the land of Haran, and remained there (Jasher 13:1). "And Abram remained in the land of Haran three years, and at the expiration of three years the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, I am the Lord who brought thee forth from Ur Casdim, and delivered thee from the hands of all thine enemies. And now therefore if thou wilt hearken to my voice and keep my commandments, my statutes and my laws, then will I cause thy enemies to fall before thee, and I will multiply thy seed like the stars of heaven . . ." (Jasher 13:3-4). At this time God told Abram, "Arise now, take thy wife and all belonging to thee and go to the land of Canaan and remain there . . ." (v.5).
Abram's First Trip to Canaan
Abram went to Canaan, and dwelt there 3 years. Jasher records, "At that time, at the end of three years' of Abram's dwelling in the land of Canaan, in that year Noah died, which was the fifty-eighth year of the life of Abram; and all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years and he died" (Jasher 13:9).
Noah was 600 years when the Flood came. He lived beyond the Flood 350 more years, and died in the year 1998 B.C. Abram was born in 2056 B.C. Thus Noah indeed died in Abram's 58th year, just as the book of Jasher tells us!
The book of Jasher then tells us, "And in the tenth year of Abram's dwelling in the land of Canaan (7 more years, or in the year 1991 B.C., when Abram was 65) there was war between Nimrod king of Shinar and Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Nimrod came to fight with Chedorlaomer and to subdue him. For Chedorlaomer was at that time one of the princes of the hosts of Nimrod. . . . And Nimrod assembled all his princes and subjects, about seven hundred thousand men, and went against Chedorlaomer, and Chedorlaomer went out to meet him with five thousand men . . . And all those kings fought there, and Nimrod and his people were smitten . . . and there fell from Nimrod's men about six hundred thousand . . . And Nimrod fled and returned in shame and disgrace to his own land, and he was under subjection to Chedorlaomer for a long time" (Jasher 13:12-16).
Jasher continues the story of Abram: "And it was in the fifteenth year of Abram's dwelling in the land of Canaan, which is the seventieth year of the life of Abram (the year 1986 B.C.), and the Lord appeared to Abram in that year and he said to him, I am the Lord who brought thee out from Ur Chasdim to give thee this land for an inheritance. Now therefore walk before me and be perfect and keep my commandments . . . And thou shalt come to thy fathers in peace and in good age, and the fourth generation shall return here in this land and INHERIT IT FOREVER" (Jasher 13:17-19).
Now notice carefully! God told Abram that He would give him the land from the river of Egypt, the Nile, to the river Euphrates -- and he then told Abram that he would die, peaceably, and in a good old age -- but notice now! Abram would RETURN in the fourth generation, and inherit the land FOREVER! This is a prophecy for the FUTURE! In this instance, the fourth "generation" means 4,000 years, for a full "generation" is a thousand years in fulfillment -- one "day" (II Pet.3:8-10). Abram was born and lived circa 2,000 B.C. Four "generations" or four thousand years from that time brings us to circa 2000 A.D.! This is one more astonishing evidence that we are surely living in the generation of the END TIME!
note by L.C.Geerts : I disagree with Dr. Johnson that four generations means 4,000 years. This statement is inspired on Christian dogmas and beside the truth because four generations counts at the most a time span of about 400 years. Furthermore Jasher did not mention a period of 4000 years but a period of four generations. Did God intend to say 430 years ?
Abram's SECOND Journey to Canaan!
Now let's continue the story of Abram. "At that time Abram returned and went to Haran, to see his father and mother, and his father's household, and Abram and his wife and all belonging to him returned to Haran, and Abram dwelt in Haran five years. And many of the people of Haran, about seventy two men, followed Abram and Abram taught them the instruction of the Lord and his ways, and he taught them to know the Lord. In those days the Lord appeared to Abram in Haran, and he said to him, Behold, I spoke unto thee these twenty years back saying, Go forth from thy land, from thy birth-place and from thy father's house, to the land which I have shown thee to give it to thee and to thy children . . . Now therefore arise, go forth from this place, thou, thy wife, and all belonging to thee . . . and rise to return to the land of Canaan.
"And Abram arose and took his wife Sarai and all belonging to him . . . and they came out to go to the land of Canaan. And Abram went and returned to the land of Canaan, according to the word of the Lord. And Lot the son of his brother Haran went with him, and Abram was SEVENTY FIVE YEARS OLD when he went forth from Haran to return to the land of Canaan" (Jasher 13:20-26).
This was the SECOND time Abram went to the land of Canaan! The first time was when he was 55 years of age. This was 20 years later, when he was 75 years of age. The Bible does not tell us about these two different times Abram went to the land of Canaan. The book of Genesis telescopes and shortens much of the real story, giving us the highlights, as it were. But the book of Jasher fills in many very interesting and astounding details, giving us the true chronological order of the various events, births, and deaths, of the patriarchs, and recounts for us their activities and lives.
This second time Abraham went to Canaan, is also recorded in the book of Genesis, chapter 12. Here we are told that Abram departed, at age seventy five, taking Sarai, Lot, and all his substance with him (Gen.12:3). This was the year 1981 B.C.
Let us now skip down to the next events noted in the book of Jasher. Abraham was dwelling in the plain of Mamre many years, and his nephew Lot had decided to move down to the Sodom valley (Jasher 15). At that time, a war broke out.
War in the Middle East!
"At that time Chedorlaomer king of Elam sent to all the neighboring kings, to Nimrod, king of Shinar, who was then under his power, and to Tidal, king of Goyim, and to Arioch, king of Elasar, with whom he had a covenant, saying, Come up to me and assist me, that we may smite all the towns of Sodom . . . for they have rebelled against me these thirteen years. And these four kings went up with all their camps, about eight hundred thousand men . . . And these nine kings made war in the valley of Siddom; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah were smitten before the kings of Elam" (Jasher 16:1-4).
At this time, Abraham delivered his nephew Lot who had been taken captive by the kings who attacked Sodom. He smote them at night, when their troops were drunken and feasting, in a sudden surprise attack with only 318 men (Jasher 16:7). It is another intriguing story, whose details are filled out more completely in the book of Jasher.
The book of Jasher contains an absorbing account of the sins of the people of Sodom, and why God became furious with them, and the account of their divine judgment.
The Birth of Isaac and Death of Terah
Picking up the story, the book of Jasher also records the miraculous birth of Isaac when Abraham was 100 years of age. Since Abraham was born in 2056 B.C., the birth of Isaac would have occurred in the year 1956 B.C. Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned, and "Shem and Eber and all the great people of the land, and Abimelech king of the Philistines . . . came to eat and drink and rejoice at the feast which Abraham made" (Jasher 21:5). "Also Terah . . . came from Haran, they and all belonging to them, for they greatly rejoiced on hearing that a son had been born to Sarah" (v.6).
The next chronological link in the story, comes in chapter 22 of Jasher.
"And Terah died in that year, that is, in the thirty-fifth year of the birth of Isaac son of Abraham. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and he was buried in Haran" (Jasher 22:33-34).
Terah was born in 2126 B.C. The Scriptures also tell us he was 205 years old when he died (Genesis 11:32). This means he died in the year 1921 B.C. On the other hand, Isaac was born in the 100th year of Abraham. Abraham was born in 2056. This puts the birth of Isaac in the year 1956 B.C. If we subtract 35 years from 1956, we come up with 1921 -- the very same year.
Thus the Bible, and the book of Jasher, are in complete agreement on Biblical chronology from Flood, down through the birth of Terah, Abraham's father, to Abraham, and down to the birth of Abraham's promised son, Isaac!
The Binding of Isaac and Death of Sarah
The intriguing account of the "binding of Isaac" is then recounted in the book of Jasher, the story of the near sacrifice of this wonderful and obedient son, which is also recounted in the book of Genesis (chapter 22). Isaac at this time was 37 years old (Jasher 22:41). Therefore, this event would have occurred in 1919 B.C.
This was a very traumatic experience, especially for Sarah, who was devoted to her son, and who at one point was told that he had been "sacrificed" by Abraham. Not knowing the truth, that Isaac had been spared, her heart was heavy with grief, but she still had faith in God. When she heard that Isaac was still alive after all, she could hardly take in the good news, and joyous at this wonderful news, her heart was overcome, and she died soon thereafter, but in joy, not in grief. This is not the place to go into this incredible story, nor the time, but it is recommended reading for all students who are serious about the Bible and its message. The year would have been 1919 B.C.
Sarah died at the age of 127 years (Jasher 24:1). She was born ten years after Abraham, or in 2046 B.C. This would put her death in the year 1919 B.C., the same year as the "binding of Isaac," actually following shortly after it.
Sarah was buried with great pomp and ceremony, as befits a queen. "And Abraham buried Sarah with pomp as observed at the interment of kings, and she was buried in very fine and beautiful garments. And at her bier was Shem, his sons Eber and Abimelech, together with Anar, Ashcol and Mamre, and all the grandees of the land followed her bier" (Jasher 24:13-14).
Births of Jacob and Esau
The next important event chronicled in the book of Jasher is Isaac, the son of Abraham, taking a wife. "And Isaac took Rebecca and she became his wife, and he brought her into his tent. And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebecca, the daughter of his uncle Bethuel, for a wife" (Jasher 24:44-45). Isaac married Rebecca, when he was forty years of age, so this would have been in the year 1916 B.C.
Rebecca bore no children for many years. But the book of Jasher records, "And in the fifty-ninth year of the life of Isaac the son of Abraham, Rebecca his wife was still barren in those days" (Jasher 26:1). Isaac's 59th year would have been 1897 B.C.
Rebecca asked her husband Isaac to pray for her to have children, even as Abraham had prayed for Sarah, who also had been barren. Isaac does so, and the Lord heard his earnest prayer, and Rebecca conceives (Jasher 26:2-8). She had twins -- Esau and Jacob -- who struggled for dominance even while in her womb. This would have been circa 1896 B.C., when God answered Isaac's prayer, and the prayers of Shem, Eber, and Abraham, and Esau and Jacob were born! Isaac was 60 years old when Jacob and Esau were born.
The book of Jasher goes on to tell us, "and the boys grew up to their fifteen year, and they came amongst the society of men. Esau was a designing and deceitful man, an excellent hunter in the field, and Jacob was a man perfect and wise, dwelling in tents, feeding flocks and learning the instructions of the Lord and the commandments of his father and mother" (Jasher 26:17).
The chronology of Jasher therefore informs us that Rebecca conceived when Isaac was 59, 19 years after she married Isaac. She delivered two children the following year. Therefore, Esau and Jacob were born in 1896 B.C. Fifteen years later, when they were strapping youths and Esau had become an excellent hunter, would have been the year 1881 B.C.
The Death of Righteous Abraham
"And it was at that time that Abraham died, in the fifteenth year of the life of Jacob and Esau, the sons of Isaac, and all the days of Abraham were one hundred and seventy five years, and he died and was gathered to his people in good old age, old and satisfied with days, and Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him" (Jasher 26:29). All the kings and princes of Canaan came to Abraham's funeral, to bury him, and all the people of Haran, and all the princes and grandees among the sons of Abraham by the concubines. Born in 1896 B.C., Jacob and Esau would have been 15 years of age in 1881 B.C. Abraham would have been 175 years of age.
Says Jasher of this remarkable man of faith and obedience to God: "And there arose not a man who feared God like unto Abraham, for he had feared his God from his youth, and had served the Lord, and had gone in all his ways during his life, from his childhood to the day of his death. And the Lord was with him and delivered him from the counsel of Nimrod and his people, and when he made war with the four kings of Elam he conquered them. And he brought all the children of the earth to the service of God, and he taught them the ways of the Lord, and caused them to know the Lord. And he formed a grove and he planted a vineyard therein, and he had always prepared in his tent meat and drink to those who passed through the land, that they might satisfy themselves in his house. And the Lord God delivered the whole earth on account of Abraham" (Jasher 26:34-38).
Esau the Hunter Ambushes Nimrod!
After the death of Abraham, when Esau was 16 years of age, he went into the wilds to hunt game, as was his custom. Jasher tells us:
"And Esau at that time, after the death of Abraham, frequently went into the field to hunt. And Nimrod king of Babel, the same was Amraphel, also frequently went with his mighty men to hunt in the field, and to walk about in the cool of the day. And Nimrod was observing Esau all the days, for a jealousy was formed in the heart of Nimrod against Esau all the days.
"And on a certain day Esau went into the field to hunt, and he found Nimrod walking in the wilderness with his two men. And all his mighty men and his people were with him in the wilderness, but they removed at a distance from him, and they went from him in different directions to hunt, and Esau concealed himself for Nimrod, and he lurked for him in the wilderness. . . .
"And Nimrod and two of his men that were with him came to the place where they were when Esau started suddenly from his lurking place, and drew his sword, and hastened, and ran to Nimrod and cut off his head.
"And Esau fought a desperate fight with the two men that were with Nimrod, and when they called out to him, Esau turned to them and smote them to death with his sword. . . . And when Esau saw the mighty men of Nimrod coming at a distance, he fled, and thereby escaped; and Esau took the valuable garments of Nimrod, which Nimrod's father had bequeathed to Nimrod, and with which Nimrod prevailed over the whole land, and he ran and concealed them in his house.
"And Esau took those garments and ran into the city on account of Nimrod's men, and he came into his father's house weary and exhausted from fight, and he was ready to die through grief when he approached his brother Jacob and sat before him. And he said to his brother Jacob, Behold I shall die this day, and wherefore then do I want the birthright? And Jacob acted wisely with Esau in this matter, and Esau sold his birthright to Jacob, for it was so brought about by the Lord. . . . .
"And when Nimrod the son of Cush died, his men lifted him up and brought him in consternation, and buried him in his city, and all the days that Nimrod lives were two hundred and fifteen years and he died" (Jasher 27:1-15).
Nimrod was slain by Esau when Esau was 16 years of age. At that time, we are here told, Nimrod himself was 215 years of age. Since Esau was 16 in the year 1880 B.C., when Nimrod was killed, and Nimrod was 215 in that same year, then we can calculate the actual birth year of Nimrod. Nimrod was born in the year 2095 B.C. Notice how beautifully all these figures correlate together!
Nimrod, born to Cush in his old age, would have been an old man at this time, when Esau, the young "sport," saw his chance and assassinated the old king! At this time Esau stole the garments God had made for Adam and Eve, which Nimrod had been given by his father Cush who himself had stolen them from Noah. Evidently, Esau saw these as his means and way to power and kingship in the earth. Yet not long later, famished and feeling on the verge of death, Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of bean soup!
The book of Jasher continues:
"And the days that Nimrod reigned upon the people of the land were one hundred and eighty-five years; and Nimrod died by the sword of Esau in shame and contempt, and the seed of Abraham caused his death as he had seen in his dream.
"And at the death of Nimrod his kingdom became divided into many divisions, and all those parts that Nimrod reigned over were restored to the respective kings of the land, who recovered them after the death of Nimrod, and all the people of the house of Nimrod were for a long time enslaved to all the other kings of the land" (Jasher 27:16-17).
After his untimely death, Nimrod's kingdom did not endure. It became all divided up into the hands of the original kings of the various lands which he had conquered.
After Nimrod -- Jacob and Esau
After this time, a number of deaths of prominent, righteous men are recorded in the book of Jasher. Two years later, "Shelach, the son of Arphaxad, died in that year, which is the eighteenth year of the lives of Jacob and Esau; and all the days that Shelach lived were four hundred and eighty three years and he died.
"At that time Isaac sent his younger son Jacob to the house of Shem and Eber, and he learned the instructions of the Lord, and Jacob remained in the house of Shem and Eber thirty two years, and Esau his brother did not go, for he was not willing to go, and he remained in his father's house in the land of Canaan" (Jasher 28:17-18).
The year Shelach died, then, was 1880 B.C. In that same year Jacob was sent to the house of Shem and Eber, to learn the ways of God, even as Abraham had been, and he remained there for 32 years -- from 1880 until 1848 B.C., when he returned to Isaac and Rebecca. Esau in the meantime, roamed widely in his hunting trips, and when he was 40 years of age he married a Canaanite woman living in the land of Seir (Jasher 28:22-23).
At this point, the book of Jasher gives us another vital benchmark. We read:
"And it came to pass in those days, in the hundred and tenth year of the life of Isaac, that is, in the fiftieth year of the life of Jacob, in that year died SHEM the son of NOAH; Shem was 600 years old at his death. And when Shem died Jacob returned to his father in Hebron" (Jasher 29:24-25).
Shem died then in the year 1846 B.C. He was born 98 years before the Flood (he was 100 years old two years after the Flood -- see Gen.11:10), and died 500 years after the birth of Arphaxad (Gen.11:11). The Flood occurred in 2348 B.C. Since Shem was 600 when he died, and since he was born 2446 B.C, his death would have been in 1846 B.C.
Since the book of Jasher shows that Jacob was 50 years old and Isaac was 110 at this point in time, when Shem died, these facts once again confirming that Jacob's birth was in 1896, (fifty years before), and the birth of Isaac was in 1956 B.C. (110 years before).
Jacob Versus Esau -- the Rivalry
After this, we come to the story of Isaac growing old and desiring venison from his son Esau, after which he promises to "bless him." Rebecca and Jacob pull a trick on Isaac, and Jacob disguises himself as Esau, and "steals" his birthright (which really wasn't Esau's any more anyway, since he had already sold it to Jacob.
Esau is so enraged at this act of trickery, that he vows to kill Jacob. We read, "And Jacob was very much afraid of his brother Esau, and he rose up and fled to the house of Eber the son of Shem, and he concealed himself there on account of his brother, and Jacob was sixty three years old when he went forth from the land of Canaan from Hebron, and Jacob was concealed in Eber's house fourteen years on account of his brother Esau, and he there continued to learn the ways of the Lord and his commandments" (Jasher 29:11).
Jacob therefore must have fled to Eber's abode 13 years after Shem's death in 1846. This would put his flight in 1833 B.C. Ishmael, the brother of Isaac, died the following year, "in the sixty fourth year of the life of Jacob" (Jasher 29:18). Jacob continued hiding at Eber's place for 14 years, or until 1819 B.C. Jacob became homesick, and returned to Hebron, only to learn that Esau had neither forgotten nor forgiven him for stealing his "blessing." Alarmed, Isaac and Rebecca counsel Jacob to flee to Haran, to her family there, for refuge, and to find a mate for himself. "Jacob was seventy seven years old when he went out from the land of Canaan from Beersheba" (Jasher 29:30). This would have been the year 1819, showing he did not dilly dally long in Canaan, when his life was at great risk!
Two years later, we read, "And in the second year of Jacob's dwelling in Haran, that is in the seventy ninth year of the life of Jacob, in that year died Eber the son of Shem, he was four hundred and sixty four years old at his death" (Jasher 30:16). This would have been 1817 B.C.
After Jacob dwelt 20 years with Laban, serving him, marrying his two daughters Leah and Rachel, Jacob noted that conditions were getting difficult for him and his growing family. Laban had changed his wages deceitfully ten times, and sought to impoverish Jacob, but God turned his conniving trickery into a blessing for Jacob, and supernaturally blessed his sheep. At the end of 20 years, God appeared to Jacob, and told him to go back to Canaan (Jasher 31:37, 32:3).
Of course, this meant he would encounter Esau once again. Esau indeed came out to seek vengeance on Jacob, but the book of Jasher informs us:
"And the Lord heard the prayer of Jacob on that day, and the Lord then delivered Jacob from the hands of his brother Esau. And the Lord sent three angels of the angels of heaven, and they went before Esau and came to him. And these angels appeared to Esau and his people as two thousand men, riding upon horses furnished with all sorts of war instruments, and they appeared in the sight of Esau and all his men to be divided into four camps, with four chiefs to them. And one camp went on and they found Esau coming with four hundred men toward his brother Jacob, and this camp ran toward Esau and his people and terrified them, and Esau fell off the horse in alarm, and all his men separated from him in that place, for they were greatly afraid. And the whole of the camp shouted after them when they fled from Esau, and all the warlike men answered, saying, Surely we are the servants of Jacob, who is the servant of God, and who then can stand against us? (Jasher 32:27-32).
Four times such camps of angels ran at Esau and his men, terrifying them and causing them great anguish and astonishment. No doubt many of them wet their breeches that day. After these awesome, frightening events, Esau's heart was temporarily changed, and instead of seeking to destroy his brother, he came to him in peace. He concealed his hatred in his heart, because of his fear (32:39-40). The return of Jacob to Canaan would have been 20 years after he left, or the year 1799-1800 B.C.
"And it was in those days, in that year, being the hundred and sixth year of the life of Jacob, in the tenth year of Jacob's coming from Padan-aram, that Leah the wife of Jacob died; she was fifty one years old when she died in Hebron" (Jasher 41:2). This would have been the year 1790 B.C. Leah therefore was born 1841 B.C.
The Story of Joseph
In the following year, Joseph, the son of Jacob, being a younger son, was "seventeen years old" when he dreamed a dream that seemed to exalt him over his brothers, causing them great anger and animosity (Jasher 41:9). This may have been in 1789 B.C., following the death of Leah. Soon they had enough of his "sass," and counseled to get rid of him -- permanently. Joseph was sold as a slave and would up a slave of Potiphar in Egypt. The next year, when Joseph was 18 years of age, 1788 B.C., that he came to the attention of Potiphar's wife, who fell in deep lust with the young Hebrew lad (Jasher 44:14-16). She later accused Joseph of attempting to rape her, and Potiphar, believing her report, had Joseph cast into the king's prison; "and Joseph was in the house of confinement twelve years" (Jasher 44:76; see also 46:20). This period of imprisonment in the dungeon would have been from 1788 to 1776 B.C. Joseph was thrown into the prison at the age of 18, and remained there 12 years, or until age 30.
During this period, Isaac died at the age of 180 years. "And Jacob and Esau fell upon the face of their father Isaac, and they wept, and Isaac was one hundred and eighty years old when he died in the land of Canaan, in Hebron, and his sons carried him to the cave of Machpelah, which Abraham had bought. . . . And all the kings of the land of Canaan went with Jacob and Esau to bury Isaac . . ." (Jasher 47:10-11). The year would have been 1776 B.C., the final year of Joseph in the dungeon.
The story of how Joseph was delivered from prison, and interpreted the Pharaoh's dreams, and became second-in-command throughout all the land of Egypt, is well known. The book of Jasher again gives a much more detailed picture of the story. The author declares, "And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, and Joseph went out before the king, and he became the king's second in Egypt" (Jasher 49:38). Joseph built himself a beautiful mansion, "like unto the houses of kings" (v.39), "three years was Joseph erecting his house" (v.40). Joseph even had an army, numbering 40,000 troops.
"At the revolution of the year, in the second year of Joseph's reigning over Egypt, the Lord gave great plenty throughout the land for seven years as Joseph had spoken, for the Lord blessed all the produce of the land in those days for seven years, and they ate and were greatly satisfied" (Jasher 50:7). Joseph stored the excess grain in silos and treasuries. For seven years they stored up all the extra, surplus grain, knowing that the seven years of famine were coming. These seven bountiful years would have been 1775-1769. Therefore, the crushing years of famine and drought would have been 1768-1762.
The story of the reconciliation of Joseph with his brothers who had sold him into slavery, is well known. The book of Jasher adds much more detail to this incredible Biblical epic.
Ultimately, at the closing stages of the famine, Jacob and his entire family go to Egypt, to live with Joseph, where they are given the choice land of Goshen in the Nile Delta for their inheritance. They live there many years and are incredibly blessed. Jacob blesses the two children of Joseph, born in Egypt, Ephraim and Manasseh, and adopts them as his own. The book of Jasher tells us: "And Joseph was very aged, advanced in years, and his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, remained constantly in the house of Jacob, together with the children of the sons of Jacob their brethren, to learn the ways of the Lord and his law" (Jasher 55:35).
"And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years, and the days of Jacob, and the years of his life, were a hundred and forty seven years" (Jasher 56:1). Thus Jacob was 147 years old when he died. Since he was born in 1896, his death occurred in the year 1749 B.C. Since he was in Egypt 17 years, then Jacob immigrated to Egypt in the year 1766 B.C.
Chronology and the Exodus Saga
In the book of Exodus, we read an amazing statement: "Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt" (Exodus 12:40-41).
Now, Archbishop Ussher in his chronology counts this period of time beginning with the sojourn of Abraham in Canaan, which he dates to 1921 B.C., the year that Terah, the father of Abraham died, and the year he believed that Abraham first went to Canaan (Gen.12:1-3), that is, Abraham's 75th year (Gen.12:4).
However, we have seen in the book of Jasher that indeed Terah died in 1921 B.C. But Abraham's departure for Canaan when he was 75 years of age took place in the year 1981 B.C., or sixty years earlier than Ussher suggests.
What events, then, can we tie the figure 430 years to, during which the "children of Israel sojourned"?
Obviously, the death of Terah is one linch pin. It is 430 years indeed from the death of Terah, Abraham's father, to the Exodus from Egypt in 1491 B.C.
Interestingly, the death of Terah coincides also with the 35th year of Isaac, the son of Abraham. This was only two years before the supreme test when Abraham took Isaac to Mount Moriah to be a "human sacrifice." Although God did not require Abraham to go through with this deed.
Why would the death of Terah be significant as the starting point of the 430 years of suffering and affliction of the children of Israel?
Could it be partly because Terah, with his power and authority, and widespread respect, was a protective influence over Abraham and his children, so long as Terah lived? No doubt he did his best to help his son so long as he was alive, supplying information, news, and vital intelligence from his own networks as the one-time commander of the hosts of Babylon. Then, just two years after this change in the life of Abraham and his descendants, God called upon Abraham for the greatest sacrifice a parent can make -- to sacrifice his own son (Genesis 22).
In very real and meaningful sense, the "binding of Isaac" pictures the GREATEST travail and suffering human beings can be required to suffer. The loss of one's own son, or daughter, or children, is the greatest trauma a parent can suffer. The binding of Isaac very likely occurred on Passover eve, at the very time the Passover lambs were sacrificed at the Temple!
If we count the beginning of the sojourn of Israel from the death of Terah, as Ussher does, then his date for the Exodus is entirely correct. Abraham himself did not first enter Canaan on that date, but 60 years earlier. However, the Scripture in Exodus speaks of "the sojourning of the CHILDREN of Israel," and not Abraham himself. Although Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are all considered "Israel," in the greater sense, since they are the three great Patriarchs, the sojourning -- when Abraham, Isaac, and their families were completely cut off from outside support -- would have begun at the death of Abraham's father, Terah. His death would have marked the time when they were entirely "on their own," as it were.
The book of Jasher sheds marvelous light on the chronology of the years between the Flood and the children of Israel entering Egypt. It does not alter the frame of Ussher's chronology. Creation would still be in 4004 B.C. The Flood would still be in 2348 B.C. The only changes would be the birth dates of Abraham and his children, by putting them all 60 years earlier. This means the sojourn in Egypt itself also began 60 years earlier than Ussher's date.
This happy coincidence provides us an additional 60 years of the children of Israel in Egypt to reproduce like rabbits so their progeny, by the time of the Exodus, includes 600,000 males, besides women and children. Ussher's chronology puts the sojourn of Jacob and his family in Egypt as beginning in 1706. He puts the Exodus in 1491. The difference is only 215 years total, for Jacob's family to grow from 70 people to something like 2-3 million!
However, the reconstruction of the chronology from the Flood to the Sojourn in Egypt gives us another 60 years -- or a total of 275 years in Egypt, for Israel to reproduce and multiply -- another two generations to accomplish the exponential growth rate required!
Also, by backing up the birth of Abraham by 60 years, suddenly many pieces of the historical puzzle begin to click, and fit together. Now we see Abraham was actually taught by Noah himself the ways of the Lord. Isaac also was taught by Noah and Shem. Jacob also spent years in the house of Shem and Eber. The new chronology also helps us to pinpoint in history the Tower of Babel cataclysm, the birth of Nimrod, and Nimrod's rise to power, his relationship to Terah, Abraham's father, and his dealings with Abraham himself, and his children, and his murder at the hands of Esau, Isaac's son. It's all quite a fascinating story. Read it -- for yourself!