There are several references in the Bible to other texts that were not included in the Canon of Scripture. These texts are often referred to as the Non-Canonical Books or the Lost Books of the Bible. Whatever we choose to call them, we cannot deny that they continue to be of great interest to the curious bible scholar. One such text is the Book of Jasher. In the Bible, the Book of Jasher is cited in Joshua 10:12-13; 2 Samuel 1:18-27 and 2 Timothy 3:8 (as in Jannes and Jambres). In Hebrew, Jasher is referred to as the Sefer ha Yashar (Book of the Correct Record). In the LXX, Jasher is called the “Book of the Upright One.” And, in The Latin Vulgate, Jasher is called the “Book of the Just Ones.”
Anyone seeking information on Jasher will soon discover there are many opinions about the text. The consensus is that there is a genuine copy out there, but the forgeries are more prevalent. Others believe that the original copy of Jasher did exist at some point in time, but it was destroyed and whatever information was contained in it has been lost forever. Despite our fascination with the non-canonical books, we continue to harbour niggling doubts about their authenticity. We are acutely aware they have a flare for exaggeration, mysticism, and drama which most of us find difficult to understand. Perhaps, that is why they were excluded from the Holy Bible.
After much searching and reading reviews and the like about Jasher, I settled on a copy by R.H Charles from a reputable publisher and the Midrash Sefer ha Yashar or the ‘Book of the Correct Record.” I mean seriously, how could I click past such a claim? Besides that, it was accompanied with a nice story of how the text was supernaturally preserved. Call me gullible but I am a sucker when it comes to a good story. I would have liked to have also read a Kabbalistic interpretation for this study but reading two Jasher’s was all the violence I could handle. If I can spare someone else the goriness of Jasher, then I will. Winners are grinners and the Hebrews of Jasher’s world plundered their way through some of the most significant people groups in the Ancient Near East one scalp at a time.
To make this article a little easier to read I will summarize chapters and individuals under the various headings. And where necessary I will compare the R.H. Charles version with “The Correct Record” and The Bible.
Adam and The Creation Story: Chs. 1-5.
The creation story in Jasher is the same as Genesis Ch. 2. Immediately, for me that meant the text was written by a Yahwist. Confused? Then check out my Exegesis on Genesis Chs. 1-2, I explain it all in there.
In Jasher Adam and Eve have two sons and three daughters; daughters that are not mentioned in the biblical text. The daughters of Adam and Eve are further mentioned in other texts, such as Jubilees. And according to the other texts Adam’s sons’ wives were their sisters. Cain married Awan his sister and Seth married Azura. Christians are often challenged with this question: “Where did Cain get his wife from?” Equally, where did Seth get his wife from?
If we go down the path of accepting what Jasher and Jubilees says, then Christians must admit that the first family were incestuous. Something God considers wrong in other parts of the Bible (Leviticus 18:8-10). But was incest wrong for our benefit or for God’s benefit? In my opinion every Commandment of God for humans is for our benefit and incest is just one of them. Theoretically, the first family had to reproduce somehow and until God revealed his precise plan for humans, they were not in any violation of His Laws. God was right, and most cultures now avoid incest because the offspring can be susceptible to genetic disorders. I am by no means qualified to comment on the genetic makeup of Adam and Eve, but according to Genesis Ch.2 they were two separate creations.
Moving on from the first family. Jasher quite early on used two names we are all familiar with, Enoch and Enosh. Enoch, it says was a descendant of Cain and Enosh was the son of Seth. As we know Seth was a replacement child for Abel the first Shepherd who was slain by his brother, Cain. As with the biblical version, sin consumed humans and they were full of debauchery, like avoiding having children. As always when humans reached that point, it was time for a righteous person to appear on the scene and turn things around.
Another Enoch makes an appearance in the line of Cainan and Jared. And, according to Jasher, he was the Enoch that walked with God! He was a pious, holy man who shunned human company in favour of God’s presence. He was full of wisdom and lived to 366 years of age before God took him up in horses, a whirlwind, and chariots of fire. Just like Elijah the Prophet. Ironically, the “The Correct Record” states that Enoch had a son called Elisha. Both men did not experience physical death, one had a son called Elisha and the other passed his mantle to Elisha (2 Kings 2:2,4,6). It is clear in Jasher that as God prepared for Judgement, the righteous were removed (they all died). In the end only righteous Noah and his family were left, their preservation reliant on Noah’s obedience to build an Ark. If that is a pattern, then God will do the same again. If Judgment is upon us, the righteous will be removed first and still others will ride the storm in the Ark of God’s divine protection.
Noah to Nimrod: Chs.5-7.
Noah the righteous man deliberately did not marry or have any children because he was aware that the world as he knew it was about to end. Despite his hesitation, God told him he must marry and have children. Bear in mind we already have a date for Noah entering the Ark and it is recorded in the biblical text as being in the six-hundredth year of his life (Genesis 7:6). According to Jasher, Noah married Namaah the daughter of Enoch when he was 498 years old, and she was 580 years old. She bore him three sons, Ham, Shem, and Japheth. The rest of the Noah story pretty much aligns with the biblical text. Except for Ham’s sin against his father, Noah.
Namaah was the daughter of Enoch, she was eighty-two years older than Noah at the time of their marriage. She shared the same name as another interesting character in Jewish folklore. Namaah means pleasant and lovely, but she is also the fourth sea-demon who has a ravenous sexual appetite. She is blamed for men remaining unsatisfied even after sex and for teaming up with Lilith and seducing Adam to breed demon spawn. Okay, enough of that…Hopefully Noah’s Namaah was Namaah in name only and nothing like the folklore demon.
However, Namaah did give birth to Ham, and it appears he was no good. Gossip abounds as to the reasons why Noah cursed Ham’s offspring. I have heard that Ham violated his father sexually and that is what is meant by, “Uncovering Noah’s nakedness.” (Genesis Ch.9). Others are shocked that something as innocent as seeing your father naked would warrant such a harsh curse upon Ham. But I think, the story goes a lot deeper when we read from the non-canonical books. According to Jasher, a family heirloom of Adam and Eve’s which held supernatural powers was in Noah’s possession and Ham unlawfully stole it and passed it to Nimrod his descendant.
The stolen ‘garments’ of Adam and Eve is throughout Jewish literature. And so is Nimrod who benefited greatly from the stolen garment. Jasher states that Nimrod was even at the birth of Abram celebrating with Terah. There was also concern about Nimrod being a threat to Abram’s life, simply because Abram was born under a Star. I will cover that in the next section. Jasher states that Nimrod lived in Babel, and people called him, Amraphel. However, most scholars now agree that Amraphel was in fact, the Hammurabi and not Nimrod. Also, since Jasher states that Nimrod died prematurely at 215 years of age because Esau chopped off his head. And why did Esau set his mind on chopping off Nimrod’s head? To take possession of the garments. I used a text called Tree of Souls to find out what these garments were. It did not suffice to just call them ‘garments’, and I could not determine what their significance was in the first reading.
Tree of Souls states that Adam and Eve were originally clothed in garments of light. Like Clouds of Glory and that makes perfect sense to me. Rather than being naked, they must have looked magnificent in their spiritual covering. When they sinned, the Lord had to substitute the covering with covering of skin (Genesis 3:21). The Lord made these garments, hence the supernatural relevance ascribed to them. I discovered in Tree of Souls that even the second earthly garments had a description. It states, they were made of a “Hornlike substance, smooth as a fingernail and beautiful as a jewel.” (Tree of Souls, p.437). Since Jasher states that Esau eventually cut off Nimrod’s head, it was Esau who inherited the garments. On the day Isaac granted Jacob the Blessing, Esau left his garment at home. Rebecca stole it and placed it on Jacob and Jacob became the recipient of the garment’s supernatural powers (Genesis 27:15).
As we have seen in Jasher there is a transition of power passed down through the Righteous Ones from Adam and Eve. An outward expression of this power consisted of a mantle (garment of animal skin) worn by Adam and Eve. I believe in Jasher, Noah still got drunk and while he was in that state Ham stole his mantle (his covering). This in fact is what made Noah so angry, and it all makes perfect sense to me now. Ham was the father of Cush and as we see later Cush and Moses contended for power. But the real benefactor of the stolen mantle of power was Nimrod. The power behind Nimrod, the first settler of Shinar (Babylon) was never intended for him and because of that Babylon will always remain an enigma for God’s Chosen People. As night follows day in the annuals of the Abrahamic religions, it was time for the Almighty to raise up another righteous soul to combat the evil brought about by Nimrod.
To be continued…
Author: Cheryl Mason
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2020. Midrash Sefer Ha Yasher the Book of The Correct Record. 1st ed. YBS, p.30.
Charles, R.H., 1887. The Book of Jasher. Salt Lake City: J.H. Parry & Company, pp.10, 26, 78,
Dennis, G., n.d. The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic & Mysticism. 2nd ed. Woodbury, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications.
n.d. The Holy Bible Authorized King James Version. Nashville: Collins World.
Sacred Texts. 2021. The Book of Jubilees. [online] Available at: <https://www.sacred-texts.com/index.htm> [Accessed 16 July 2021].
Schwartz, H., 2004. Tree of Souls the Mythology of Judaism. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, p.437.