The Book of Jubilees

I finally got around to researching and reading the book of Jubilees. I couldn’t resist posting a few observations. It is a fascinating book to say the least. Jubilees was present among the dead sea scrolls and fragments of it have been found that are a little older. So it is a genuinely ancient text. It seems to come from the intertestamental period. Scholars generally date it to the Maccabean period or about 150 BC.

What I found in the book was a blending scripture and fable. It comes from the same time frame in which the mishna (oral tradition) was developing and the two are likely part of the same movement. With Jubilees we can find the early stages of many fables found in jewish tradition. Two hundred years later in the gospels we see Jesus condemning those traditions (Matthew 15:3,6). And two hundred years after that we see the fables in their final blasphemous form appear in the talmuds.

Many of the stories in Jubilees come from scripture but are distorted to support jewish bigotry. Here are a few examples. When Abraham rescues lot there is a mention of tithing but no mention of Melchezedek. The idea of a jew tithing to a gentile was revolting to the prejudiced jewish mind of the period (Jubilees 13:25,26). Isaak’s covenant with Abimelech is distorted to make Abimelech appear evil (Jubilees 24:26,27). Isaak’s blessing to Esau is totally changed (Jubilees 26:34).

Jubilees gives us a snapshot of what is going on in the minds of scribes during the Maccabean period. Clearly they hated all gentiles. It is a very interesting read but a reader should keep in mind that it’s not scripture. One thing about it that I thought was cool was that the writer seems to have a totally accurate understanding of demonology. We do see this in scripture but not until the new testament. There are several mentions of Mastema (Satan) that are not in scripture though.

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