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The Book of Jubilees concludes with the commandment of the Sabbath, which was given to Moses at this point. The Sabbath has been previously mentioned in Jubilees, in the account of Creation. Because there was a lot of information to convey at that point, I deferred that information to here; so here is it is:

Chapter 2 offers a rare glimpse into what constituted Sabbath observance in the pre-Talmudic period (i.e. a glimpse of how much of the Oral Law of the Talmudic period went back to (or further back than) the third century BCE):

Read more... )

I strongly suspect that the rationale that is found in the Mishna, that because the commandment to keep the Sabbath is found in the Torah next to that to construct the Tabernacle, the principal activities forbidden on the day of rest are those which went into the construction of the Tabernacle, had not yet arisen at this point (i.e. the rationale is post-facto). Chapter 50 gives a similar list of forbidden activities:

Read more... )

What stands out in this list is the prohibition of sex. Today sex between man and wife is regarded as an activity recommended for the Sabbath day. I have no idea whether this attitude towards it here represents a shift in views between then and the second century CE, or rather differences between the Pharisaic הַשְׁגָפָה and that of the sect (Saducees? Essenes?) which wrote the Book of Jubilees.

A word about the death penalty declared here for breaking the Sabbath. This is in line with the Torah, but the members of the Sanhedrin and later rabbis of the Talmud, as R. Jeremy Gordon puts it, though passionately in favour of the death penalty in theory, were passionately against its ever being carried out. They legislated impediments against it—the need for two witnesses and forewarning the perpetrator that what they are about to do carries a capital penalty—and ultimately legislated it out of existence, decreeing that only a Sanhedrin located on the Temple Mount had the authority to proclaim a death sentence, and then moving the Sanhedrin off the Temple Mount. Even beforehand, the Talmud says that any Sanhedrin which carried out the death penalty once in seven years, R. Eliezer b. Azariah says once in seventy was called a destructive Sanhedrin.

Unlike the Torah, Jubilees spells out that an exception to the Sabbath prohibitions is needed for the Temple worship to continue on the Sabbath:

Read more... )

The book concludes with another list of proscribed activities on the Sabbath:

Read more... )

Two interesting things stand out from this list: the prohibition on fasting: the two major fasts of Judaism today can both fall on Sabbath, but perhaps with the solar calendar used by the author of Jubilees that wasn't the case; presumably the book is rather talking about voluntary fasts.

The other interesting prohibition is that on making war. It would not be long after this book was written that the Hasmonean revolt broke out and put the Jews in the situation where if they refused to fight on the Sabbath, they would—and did—get slaughtered in battle, leading ultimately to the emergence of the principle of פִּקוּחַ נֶפֶשׁ, that the saving of human life overrides all commandments except for the prohibitions on idolatry, adultery and murder. But at the time that Jubilees was written, the Jews had been part of large empires for centuries, and had not needed to fight themselves.

Well, that's the end of my comments on the Book of Jubilees; I hope you found them interesting, Judith and [livejournal.com profile] ewx... is anyone else still reading this?

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Chapter 48

(Yes, we're going backwards; Jubilees does not tell the story in precisely the same order as the Torah here.)

The Hebrew Bible often has an implicit narrative of what you might call karmic retribution. Jacob deceives his father, for example, and is paid back by being deceived later on by Laban. Such examples are never pointed out; rather, they're for the reader to notice. Jubilees points out one example I've not noticed before myself, at the splitting of the Red Sea Sea of Reeds:

Read more... )
Now the Egyptians have done their worst and, as per the Divine plan, been defeated, Mastema gets locked up to allow the Israelites to get as far as the Red Sea Sea of Reeds: Read more... )

Chapter 50

I told thee of the Sabbaths of the land on Mount Sinai, and I told thee of the jubilee years in the sabbaths of years: but the year thereof have I not told thee till ye enter the land which ye are to possess.

Presumably from Moses' perspective the Jubilee years are dated from the entry to the land, and since the Israelites have not entered the land, they are not to know when they start counting towards a jubilee year. (From the perspective of the Angel of the Presence, the jubilee years are dated from Creation, and the Israelites will presumably not be permitted to enter the land until the right point...?) Though that said, the angel then goes on to give Moses enough information to work it out:

Read more... )

This is surprising, because it gives Moses access to knowledge of the future (i.e. that forty years will pass, not two, until the people enters the Land of Israel).

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Chapter 49

The Tenth Plague, the slaying of the firstborn, being destructive of life, is attributed here to Mastema, not God:
For on this night—the beginning of the festival and the beginning of the joy—ye were eating the passover in Egypt, when all the powers of Mastema had been let loose to slay all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh to the first-born of the captive maid-servant in the mill, and to the cattle.

Mastema had been helping the Egyptians in the previous chapter; the implication, presumably, is that Mastema is not against the Israelites but against humanity wherever he is allowed by God to be. Though actually in the previous chapter the Tenth Plague is attributed, along with the others, to God; this is either a continuity error, or an implication that God does not want to sully God's own hands, or those of the Angel of the Presence, with the dirty work, and outsources it to Mastema.

Like the author of Deuteronomy, that of Jubilees can't withstand the temptation to back-project the doctrine of the centrality of worship (in the author's own time at Jerusalem) into an earlier age:

When the children of Israel come into the land which they are to possess, into the land of Canaan, and set up the tabernacle of the Lord in the midst of the land in one of their tribes until the sanctuary of the Lord has been built in the land, let them come and celebrate the passover in the midst of the tabernacle of the Lord.

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A short entry this week: The Angel of the Presence doesn't spend much time telling Moses the events of what for him are just the last month, unless there's a halachic or theological point to make. (It's curious then that later on, the attack of Amalek and the commandment to blot out the memory of Amalek is missing; presumably this is because by the time Jubilees was written, this commandment was as theoretical as it is today.)

Last week we saw the blame shifted from God to Prince Mastema (Satan) for the attempt to kill Moses on his way back into Egypt. Here Mastema similarly gets the blame for helping the Egyptian sorcerers replicate the Ten Plagues, because who else could have the power to oppose God, I suppose?

The prince Mastema stood up against you, and sought to cast you into the hands of Pharaoh, and he helped the Egyptian sorcerers, and they stood up and wrought before you the evils indeed we permitted them to work, but the remedies we did not allow to be wrought by their hands. The Lord smote them with malignant ulcers, and they were not able to stand, for we destroyed them so that they could not perform a single sign. Notwithstanding all (these) signs and wonders the prince Mastema was not put to shame because he took courage and cried to the Egyptians to pursue after you with all the powers of the Egyptians, with their chariots, and with their horses, and with all the hosts of the peoples of Egypt.

Note the "the evils we permitted them to work": God's side is in charge here!

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Chapter 47

Read more... )

Pharaoh's daughter, as I have remarked before, is not named in the Bible. The Midrash names her Batyā, but Josephus, writing several centuries before the Midrash was written, gives her the name Thermutis. Jubilees, written two and a half to three centuries before Josephus, concurs, naming her Tharmuth. (The story in Josephus of Moses leading the war against the Nubians is missing here, though.)

After Pharaoh's daughter discovers the baby, the Bible describes how Miriam manages to get Moses' own mother to act as paid wet-nurse for him. Jubilees adds to that Amram teaching him to read and write. (I'd love to know whether the author expected that to be in the Hebrew alphabet or hieroglyphics and demotic, but sadly the author does not tell us that.)

In the Bible, Moses flees into exile after killing an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew, "from his brethren"; in Jubilees the Hebrew man is specifically referred to as Moses' friend; maybe the author didn't feel ties of ethnicity were enough to motivate him to act?

Chapter 48

There's a strange incident in Exodus 4:24-26 which reads:
It came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met [Moses], and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, "Surely a bridegroom of blood are you to me." So he let him go: then she said, "A bridegroom of blood you are," because of the circumcision. וַיְהִי בַדֶּרֶךְ בַּמָּלוֹן וַיִּפְגְּשֵׁהוּ ה׳ וַיְבַקֵּשׁ הֲמִיתוֹ׃ וַתִּקַּח צִפֹּרָה צֹר וַתִּכְרֹת אֶת־עָרְלַת בְּנָהּ וַתַּגַּע לְרַגְלָיו וַתֹּאמֶר כִּי חֲתַן־דָּמִים אַתָּה לִי׃ וַיִּרֶף מִמֶּנּוּ אָז אָמְרָה חֲתַן דָּמִים לַמּוּלֹת׃
Jubilees, uncomfortable with the implication that God tried to kill Moses, changes this to Prince Mastema (Satan):
You yourself [Moses] know what He spoke to you on Mount Sinai, and what prince Mastema desired to do with you when you were returning to Egypt. Did he not with all his power seek to slay you and deliver the Egyptians out of your hand when he saw that you were sent to execute judgment and vengeance on the Egyptians? I [the Angel of the Presence] delivered you out of his hand.

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Chapter 45

Death of Jacob )

I've been using this online text of Jubilees as my source for quotations the whole way, but it's taken me this far to get around to reading the preface, which says that one of the rationales behind Jubilees is fighting against the viewpoint of the Hellenised Jews, who claim that the Levitical laws were no longer applicable, by giving them heavenly origin and pushing their observance back long before Moses.

Chapter 46

The Bible presents Jacob's sons freaking out after the death of their father, fearing that now Jacob is dead Joseph will take his revenge upon them for selling him into slavery. Not so in the Book of Jubilees:
Read more... )
When Jacob dies, his children take his body back to Cana`an to bury him, but when Joseph dies, he merely makes the Israelites swear to rebury him in Cana`an when God will at some future point pay attention to the Israelites and bring them up out of Egypt. This reason isn't good enough for Jubilees, which comes up with a midrash to explain it:
He knew that the Egyptians would not again bring forth and bury him in the land of Canaan, for Makamaron, king of Canaan, while dwelling in the land of Assyria, fought in the valley with the king of Egypt and slew him there, and pursued after the Egyptians to the gates of Hermon. But he was not able to enter, for another, a new king, had become king of Egypt, and he was stronger than him. So he returned to the land of Canaan, and the gates of Egypt were closed: none went out and none came into Egypt.
It goes on to say:
The children of Israel brought forth all the bones of the children of Jacob save the bones of Joseph, and they buried them in the field in the double cave in the mountain. And the most (of them) returned to Egypt, but a few of them remained in the mountains of Hebron, and Amram your father remained with them. Then the king of Canaan was victorious over the king of Egypt, and he closed the gates of Egypt.

Now this is interesting; what's going on here? My guess is that a continuous Israelite presence in the land of Cana`an is necessary for the Israelites to know, when they emerged from Egypt after 210 years, where their holy sites were in the land of Cana`an. Alternatively, ch. 37 decribed how the sons of Jacob imposed servitude upon the Edomites "until this day"; there would need to remain Israelites in Cana`an for that too.

But what is the narrator's point in having Amram specifically locked out of Egypt? I have no idea; what about you? Jubilees states in the following chapter that Amram returned to Egypt after an exile of what if you add up the dates (expressed in pounds, shillings and pence jubilees, weeks and years) comes out as somewhere between forty and sixty-one years.

To dip into next week's sedra briefly (because it ties in thematically here), the Bible gives the fear that the ever-multiplying Israelites will side with an enemy of Egypt in a war as a reason that the Egyptians enslaved them; Jubilees ties this in with the war referred to above explicitly says "their hearts and faces are towards the land of Canaan".

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Chapter 43

After Joseph's divining cup is found in Benjamin's money bag, and Joseph demands that Benjamin is left behind as slave for him, Judah exclaims:
Read more... )
In Jubilees, Judah does engage in the outright lie that Joseph is dead, but still (not surprisingly) weasels out of speaking the truth:
Read more... )

Chapter 44

In Genesis, as soon as Jacob learns Joseph is still alive, he sets off for Egypt, and gets as far as Be'er Sheva` before God appears to him and tells him not to fear going to Egypt. In Jubilees, he's a bit more circumspect:
Read more... )

When giving the genealogy of the sons of the Israelites as they went into Egypt, the Bible says "the sons [plural] of Dan" but lists only Ḥushim (in another place his name is metathesised to Shuḥam); Jubilees adds Samon, Asudi, 'Ijaka, and Salomon (I have no idea where it gets these names from), but then says "they died the year in which they entered into Egypt, and there was left to Dan Hushim alone."

Similarly, to Naftali's sons is added 'Iv, of whom it says "'Iv, who was born after the years of famine, died in Egypt." The narrative concludes, strangely:

Read more... )

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These are the kings that reigned in Edom before there reigned any king over the children of Israel in the land of Edom. Balaq, the son of Beor, reigned in Edom, and the name of his city was Danaba.
This king is called Bela` in the Bible (Gen. 36, end of פ׳ וַיִּשְׁלַח). I'm not sure why the name's been changed, but it's confusing, because there's a story involving Balaq king of Moab and Bile`am son of Be`or in Numbers!

Chapter 40

When Pharaoh appoints Joseph as (to use an anachronism) grand vizier, a herald goes before him proclaiming "El El wa Abirer". In the Bible the people cry before him (Gen. 41:43) "Avrech!". Does this represent an independent tradition as to what they cry? And what does it mean? The traditional commentators have tried to interpret "Avrech" as Hebrew (the KJV renders it "bend the knee"), but it's not a well-formed Hebrew word. More likely it's a mangling into Hebrew of something Egyptian (as is the name Pharaoh gives Joseph, Zaphenath-Pa`aneaḥ); does this apply to "El El wa Abirer" too?

(As an aside, I find "Avrech" amusing for a completely different reason, which is an in-joke that will require a little explanation. When I worked for the BBC, there was a voice-recognition system on the internal 'phone network, which, as was the case for voice recognition in the noughties, left somewhat to be desired. Thus it would say "What name do you require?" and you would reply, say, "Paul Harding", whereupon frequently it would say "Calling Chris Thompson unless you say 'cancel'." Thus attempts to make internal 'phone calls were often punctuated with cries of "Cancel!" Now, Greek and Classical Latin both lacked letters to represent the sound "v", hence "avrech" is traditionally transcribed "abrech!", and abrech (albeit pronounced slightly differently) is the German word for "cancel!", so I have this vision in my head of the Egyptians all going "Cancel! cancel!" on their 'phones as Joseph comes along. Yes, I have a strange imagination.)

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In Sunday's episode, we saw Esau promising Isaac and Rebecca that he will maintain good relations with Jacob after their deaths, and respect the transfer of birthright to Jacob. So far, so good, but you kind of expect the story's not going to have a good outcome, and indeed it doesn't:

Chapter 37

On the day that Isaac the father of Jacob and Esau died, the sons of Esau heard that Isaac had given the portion of the elder to his younger son Jacob and they were very angry. They strove with their father, saying 'Why has your father given Jacob the portion of the elder and passed over you, though you are the elder and Jacob the younger?'
When Esau tells them why, and of the oath he swore to keep the peace with Jacob, they reply:
"We won't listen to you to make peace with him! Our strength is greater than his strength, and we are more powerful than him; we will go against him and slay him, and destroy him and his sons. And if you won't go along with us, we shall do hurt to you too!"

They come up with a plan of hiring Aramean, Philistine, Moabite and Ammonite mercenaries; when Esau tells them not to lest they be slain, they say "Well, this is just typical of you!" (as the modern translation puts it).

Showdown at Abraham's tower )

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Chapter 35

This chapter begins a three-chapter story which is not in the Bible at all. It starts with Rebecca telling Jacob she has seen in a dream that she is going to die, and him not believing her, because she's still in complete good health. Rebecca asks Isaac to make Esau swear not to harm Jacob. In the Bible Jacob and Esau depart the last time on good terms, but in Jubilees Rebecca talks about him having abandoned his parents, and carried off their possessions. Isaac says:
"I, too, know and see the deeds of Jacob who is with us, how that with all his heart he honours us. I loved Esau formerly more than Jacob, because he was the firstborn; but now I love Jacob more than Esau, for he has done manifold evil deeds, and there is no righteousness in him, for all his ways are unrighteousness and violence, [and there is no righteousness around him.] And now my heart is troubled because of all his deeds, and neither he nor his descendants is to be saved, for they are those who will be destroyed from the earth and who will be rooted out from under heaven, for he has forsaken the God of Abraham and gone after his wives and after their uncleanness and after their error, he and his children. And you dost bid me make him swear that he will not slay Jacob his brother; even if he swear he will not abide by his oath, and he will not do good but evil only. But if he desires to slay Jacob, his brother, into Jacob's hands will he be given, and he will not escape from his hands, [for he will descend into his hands.] And fear you not on account of Jacob; for the guardian of Jacob is great and powerful and honoured, and praised more than the guardian of Esau."
Esau, however, says:

"I will do all that you have told me, and I shall bury you on the day you die near Sarah, my father's mother, as you have desired that her bones may be near your bones. And Jacob, my brother, also, I shall love above all flesh; for I have no other brother in all the earth: and this is no great merit for me if I love him; for he is my brother, and we were sown together in your body, and together came we forth from your womb, and if I do not love my brother, whom shall I love?

"And I, myself, beg you to exhort Jacob concerning me and concerning my sons, for I know that he will assuredly be king over me and my sons, for on the day my father blessed him he made him the higher and me the lower. And I swear unto you that I shall love him, and not desire evil against him all the days of my life but good only.'

Chapter 36

After the death of Rebecca, Isaac puts his affairs in order prior to his own death. After giving instructions to his children:

He divided all his possessions between the two on that day and he gave the larger portion to him that was the first-born, and the tower and all that was about it, and all that Abraham possessed at the Well of the Oath.

He said: "This larger portion I will give to the firstborn." But Esau said, "I have sold to Jacob and given my birthright to Jacob; to him let it be given, and I have not a single word to say regarding it, for it is his."

So far, so good, but you kind of expect the story's not going to have a good outcome, and indeed it doesn't.

To be continued...

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Chapter 41

(Yes, this is out of sequence; the story of Judah and Tamar takes place later in the Book of Jubilees than in Genesis.) Gen. 38 states that Er, Judah's eldest son, was killed by God because he was "wicked in the sight of the Lord". Jubilees concurs but adds beforehand:
But he hated her, and did not lie with her, because his mother was of the daughters of Canaan, and he wished to take him a wife of the kinsfolk of his mother, but Judah, his father, would not permit him.

In the Bible, after Er and Onan have died, Judah will not allow his third son Shelah to marry the unfortunate Tamar. Jubilees, seeking to preserve the reputation of Judah, shifts this blame onto his wife, the daughter of Shua`, unnnamed in the Bible but here named as Bedsu'el.

The Biblical version of the story ends with, "Judah said, 'She has been more righteous than me, because did not give her to Shelah my son.' And he knew her again no more." Jubilees fleshes this out more:

Read more... )
The narratorial angel then uses this as the opportunity to lay down to Moses the law, to teach the Israelites, concerning punishment for those who sleep with their mothers- and daughters-in-law; concluding:
Read more... )

Chapters 35–38

Back where we were (chapter 35), there now follows a three-chapter story which is not in the Bible at all, about Isaac's death. The Bible told this non-chronologically, at an earlier point, to wrap up the story of Isaac; I'm going to defer it until next week because this week's post is long enough already, and there's otherwise only one paragraph to next week's post.

Chapter 39

In the narrative of the attempted seduction of Joseph by Potiphar's wife, she locks the door and Joseph has to break through it to get out. Presumably this is intended to depict an ancient origin for the prohibition on יִחוּד, a man and woman who are not married to each other being left alone in the same space. (I have no doubts that such a custom did actually go back to the Patriarchal age.)

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Chapter 34

This chapter starts with an episode with no Biblical precedent whatsoever (unless it's Abraham's intervention in the war of the four kings and the five kings):
Read about the war between Jacob and the seven kings of the Amorites. )

I think this is there as foreshadowing for the story we'll get to next week.

The story of how Joseph was sold into slavery is simplified: Joseph's premonitory dreams are missing, and the attempts by Reuben and Judah to talk the other brothers into not killing him elided to just "They changed their minds and sold him to Ishmaelite merchants" (missing out the confusion in the Biblical text between Ishmaelites and Midianites).

Potiphar, who buys Joseph, is described in the Bible as סְרִיס פַּרְעֹה שַׂר הַטַּבָּחִים. This is translated as "an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard," which is misleading. סְרִיס is elsewhere translated as "eunuch"; evidently eunuchs could reach high status if the one word can also mean "officer". As for "captain of the guard", שַׂר הַטַּבָּחִים means more literally "chief executioner". I'd be intrigued to know what the Ge'ez text says in Jubilees; the out-of-copyright translation I use for my postings here says "chief eunuch" but my modern translation "court official"; the second description in both is "chief cook!" Jubilees also describes him as "priest of the city of Elew", which makes explicit the identification of the Biblical Potiphar, Joseph's master, and Poti-phera priest of On, Joseph's future father-in-law; and indeed in Ch. 40, Joseph's wife is described as the daughter of Potiphar, priest of Heliopolis, the chief cook.

Jacob's mourning for the loss of his son is intensified in Jubilees:

On that day Bilhah heard that Joseph had perished, and she died mourning him, and she was living in Qafratef, and Dinah also, his daughter, died after Joseph had perished. And there came these three mournings upon Israel in one month.
This is again used to provide justification for the date of a Mosaic festival:
Read more... )

The goat is, of course, relevant to both Joseph's story and Yom Kippur. (In actuality, the date of Yom Kippur was probably set so that Israelites, who had come to the Temple (or earlier, the Tabernacle) for Succoth might also be there on Yom Kippur a few days earlier, as Yom Kippur is not in itself a pilgrimage festival.)

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Chapter 31

In Gen. 35:2, Jacob tells his household to put away their foreign gods. The narrative continues (v.4) They gave to Jacob all the foreign gods in their possession, and all the earrings in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak by Shechem. )For the author of Jubilees, with his attitude towards righteousness, this isn't good enough:
Read more... )

Note that this is the first mention of Rachel stealing her father's teraphim; the story of Rachel taking them and sitting on them so Laban couldn't find them when he searched her possessions is completely missing, presumably so as to miss the implication that Rachel was actually taking them for use in worship.

When Jacob had many years earlier tricked his father into giving him the blessing intended for Esau, we were told Isaac's eyes had grown dim in his old age. What happens afterwards in Jubilees )

Isaac then blesses these grandsons of his, and once again the narrative imputes justification from the patriarchal age for something which actually arose much later: Read more... ) Having returned to Bethel, where God had appeared to him before he fled, now Jacob performs lots of sacrifices, for which Jubilees gives dates corresponding with the later festival of Succoth. Read more... )
Rebecca went and returned to her house to his father Isaac, and Jacob sent by her hand rams and sheep and billy-goats that she should prepare a meal for his father such as he desired.
Sound familiar?
And he went after his mother till he came to the land of Kabratan, and he dwelt there.

Where? This book explains, which perhaps I should read;* it looks like it has better commentary than the copy of Jubilees I read.

* Subtext: If I want to turn this blog series into a talk for Limmud the way I did my Samaritan Torah notes. I'm making no promises about this, though!

Chapter 33

Reuben sleeping with Bilhah )

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Chapter 29

When Jacob returns to Cana`an, Jubilees pauses to talk about how the Rephaim were destroyed by God on account of their evil deeds, but misses out altogether the episode of Jacob wrestling with the angel (which is the source of the name Israel, "Wrestles with God", which God still gives him here, but without explaining the reason), and reduces the confrontation and reconciliation of Jacob and Esau to a single sentence. Possibly this is because the traditional enmity between Israel and the Edomites (by now called Idumaeans) was still ongoing at the time Jubilees was written,* and the author didn't want to dwell on their reconciliation.

* This being shortly before the Hasmoneans conquered the Idumaeans and gave them the choice between conversion to Judaism or exile, which the consequences of which are that, when, a couple of centuries later, King Agrippa I (who, as a descendant of Herod, was patrilineally an Idumaean though in other ancestry Jewish), read in public Deuteronomy 17:15, stating that “you may not put a foreigner over you” as king, his eyes ran with tears, but the people cried out, “Don’t fear, Agrippa, you are our brother, you are our brother!” Unfortunately when Edom later became associated with first Rome then Christianity, the ancient animadversity towards it became reinstated in Jewish feeling.

After Jacob returns to Cana`an, he lives some time near Shechem, until forced to flee after his sons kill its inhabitants after the rape of Dinah, then he travels to Bethel, and only then does he go south to visit his aged father. One might have thought he would have done this immediately after he returned. Jubilees tries to exonerate him, thus:

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There's no indication, by the way, that Abraham built any tower in the Bible. This is the first mention of it here; it will prove significant, if briefly, in terms of plot later.

There's also no mention in the Bible that Rebecca was still alive when Jacob returned to Cana`an, but there's also no mention anywhere of her death, just, obscurely, that her wet nurse Deborah died at this point. (In Jubilees, she's with Jacob because she is accompanying Rebecca with Jacob to Bethel.)

Chapter 30

The story of the rape of Dinah starts in the Bible with by saying וַתֵּצֵא דִינָה בַּת־לֵאָה אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה לְיַעֲקֹב לִרְאוֹת בִּבְנוֹת הָאָרֶץ׃ "Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land," which, it strikes me, has a slight undertone of "If Dinah hadn't gone to socialise with the Canaanite girls, Shechem wouldn't have seen her and she wouldn't have got raped."

Jubilees avoids this entirely; not only is this verse missing, the story starting with "there they carried off Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, into the house of Shechem, the son of Hamor, the Hivite, the prince of the land, and he lay with her and defiled her", but the very next sentence imputes innocence to Dinah by saying, with no Biblical justification at all, "she was a little girl, a child of twelve years." Though, come to think about it in Biblical times, that wasn't so young at all. I wonder what words the original Hebrew used here. (I'll probably have to go on wondering: apart from fragments among the Dead Sea Scrolls, we don't have the original text; it's primarily preserved in Ge'ez, the sacred language of Ethiopia.)

In the Bible, Jacob is troubled by the fact Shim`on and Levi massacre the inhabitants of Shechem. His response in Gen. 34:30 may be interpreted as just fear of reprisals from the Canaanites, but when it comes to his deathbed blessing of his children, what they get in Gen. 49:5-7 is actually more like a curse. Jubilees, however, perhaps wanting to impress upon its readership that rape of Jewish women by non-Jews is utterly unacceptable, goes into a long rant justifying Shim`on and Levi's action, starting:

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lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)

Chapter 28

In much the same way that the story of Eliezer Abraham's servant's selection of Rebekah as a wife for Isaac is missing, so too is that of Jacob's first meeting with Rachel, along with the line "and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had for her":
He went on his journey, and came to the land of the east, to Laban, the brother of Rebecca. He was with him, and served him for Rachel his daughter one week [of years].
When Laban fobs Jacob off with Leah, and responds to Jacob's remonstrances with "It is not the done thing in our country to marry off the younger daughter before the older", the angelic narrator of Jubilees adds:
It is indeed not right to do this; for thus it is ordained and written in the heavenly tablets, that no one should give his younger daughter before the elder; but the elder, one gives first and after her the younger; the man who does so, they set down guilt against him in heaven, and none is righteous that does this thing, for this deed is evil before the Lord. Now command the children of Israel that they do not this thing; let them neither take nor give the younger before they have given the elder, for it is very wicked.

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Chapter 24

The author of Jubilees is unaware of the midrash which explains the red lentil stew which Jacob made as a mourning meal for the death of Abraham:
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Isaac swears an oath of peace with Abimelech king of Gerar. The author of Jubilees is disquieted at this oath of friendship between a Hebrew and their traditional enemies the Philistines, and adds:
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Strong stuff!

Chapter 26

When Isaac said "The hands are the hands of Esau, but the voice is the voice of Jacob", why did he continue to accept Jacob's subterfuge? The Bible doesn't give an answer; Jubilees supplies one:
Read more... )
When Esau returns from the hunt, and discovers he has been deceived, he cries out "Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, my father!" Isaac responds:
Behold, your dwelling shall be from the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above; And by your sword shall you live, and shall serve your brother; and it shall come to pass when you shall have the dominion, that you shall break his yoke from off your neck. הִנֵּה מִשְׁמַנֵּי הָאָרֶץ יִהְיֶה מוֹשָׁבֶךָ וּמִטַּל הַשָּׁמַיִם מֵעָל׃ וְעַל־חַרְבְּךָ תִחְיֶה וְאֶת־אָחִיךָ תַּעֲבֹד וְהָיָה כַּאֲשֶׁר תָּרִיד וּפָרַקְתָּ עֻלּוֹ מֵעַל צַוָּארֶךָ׃

Now, הִנֵּה מִשְׁמַנֵּי הָאָרֶץ יִהְיֶה מוֹשָׁבֶךָ, "Your dwelling shall be from the fatness of the earth", can mean either "Your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth," making this a blessing, or "Your dwelling shall be far from the fatness of the earth," making it a curse. Jubilees (predictably) goes for the latter, and then, not content with that, adds to the end:

You shall sin a complete sin unto death, And your seed shall be rooted out from under heaven.

Chapter 27

The Bible continues: "Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, Let the days of mourning for my father be at hand, then will I kill my brother Jacob. These words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son," and told him to flee to Ḥaran. But wait; how could Rebekah know something Esau only said in his heart? Jubilees provides the answer by supplying, after "were told to Rebekah": "in a dream". In the Bible, Jacob meekly goes along with his mother's plan; in Jubilees, he is more assertive:
Jacob said, 'I am not afraid; if he tries to kill me, I will kill him!' But she said to him: 'Let me not be bereft of both my sons on one day.'

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lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)

Chapter 19

The story of Eliezer Abraham's servant's selection of Rebekah as a wife for Isaac is completely missing in the Book of Jubilees; I wonder why:
In the fourth year thereof he took a wife for his son Isaac and her name was Rebecca [the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Nahor, the brother of Abraham] the sister of Laban and daughter of Bethuel; and Bethuel was the son of Melca, who was the wife of Nahor, the brother of Abraham.
Why did Rebekah favour Jacob when Isaac loved Esau more? Jubilees makes this Abraham's suggestion:
Abraham saw the deeds of Esau, and he knew that in Jacob should his name and seed be called; and he called Rebecca and gave commandment regarding Jacob, for he knew that she (too) loved Jacob much more than Esau. He said to her, "My daughter, watch over my son Jacob, For he shall be in my stead on the earth, And for a blessing in the midst of the children of men, and for the glory of the whole seed of Shem. For I know that the Lord will choose him to be a people for possession unto Himself, above all peoples that are upon the face of the earth. And behold, Isaac my son loves Esau more than Jacob, but I see that you truly love Jacob. [...]"

Chapter 20

Why was Abraham so insistent that Isaac not take a Canaanite wife, and why was Isaac so grieved when Esau did? Genesis does not give us an answer, but Jubilees fills that gap, in the form of Abraham giving instructions to his children:
Do not allow them to take to themselves wives from the daughters of Canaan; for the seed of Canaan will be rooted out of the land.

Chapters 22-23

Jubilees has an extended, and slightly odd, description of the death of Abraham, in which Jacob plays an important part. First Abraham gathers his family, and spends some time commanding and blessing Jacob, then:

The two lay together on one bed, and Jacob slept in the bosom of Abraham, his father's father; he kissed him seven times, and his affection and his heart rejoiced over him. And he blessed him with all his heart and said: [still more blessings].

He placed two of Jacob's fingers on his eyes, and he blessed the God of gods, and he covered his face and stretched out his feet and slept the sleep of eternity, and was gathered to his fathers. And notwithstanding all this Jacob was lying in his bosom, and knew not that Abraham, his father's father, was dead. And Jacob awoke from his sleep, and behold Abraham was cold as ice, and he said 'Father, father'; but there was no reply, and he knew that he was dead. And he arose from his bosom and ran and told Rebecca, his mother; and Rebecca went to Isaac in the night, and told him; and they went together, and Jacob with them, and a lamp was in his hand, and when they had gone in they found Abraham lying dead. And Isaac fell on the face of his father and wept and kissed him. And the voices were heard in the house of Abraham, and Ishmael his son arose, and went to Abraham his father, and wept over Abraham his father, he and all the house of Abraham, and they wept with a great weeping.

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lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)

Chapter 16

Gen. 19 describes how the progenitors of the nations of Ammon and Moab were the result of the incest of their mothers with their own father. Deuteronomy makes clear that the Israelites are not to hold this against these nations:
And when you come nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give you of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession.
Despite this, and despite the Toraitic injunction against punishing children for the sins of their parents, Jubilees takes a less accommodating stance, though deferring punishment until the end of days:
Behold, it was commanded and engraven concerning all [Lot's] seed, on the heavenly tablets, to remove them and root them out, and to execute judgment upon them like the judgment of Sodom, and to leave no seed of the man on earth on the day of condemnation.
Jubilees finds precedent for the celebration of Succoth in the life of Abraham, after the angel has announced to Abraham and Sarah that, as well as Sarah being pregnant, Abraham would have six more children:
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(Wreaths upon their heads?) Whilst there is no derivation of the festivals from the lives of the Patriarchs in the Bible, the rabbis would, a few centuries after Jubilees was written, declare that the lives of the Patriarchs were a sign for what would happen to their descendants.

Chapter 17

Why did God test Abraham with the Binding of Isaac? Jubilees makes it at the instigation of Mastema, similar to God's testing of Job:
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Chapter 18

The Binding of Isaac story finishes in Jubilees with:
Abraham went to his young men; they arose and went together to Beersheba, and Abraham dwelt by the Well of the Oath. He celebrated this festival every year, seven days with joy, and he called it the festival of the Lord according to the seven days during which he went and returned in peace. And accordingly has it been ordained and written on the heavenly tablets regarding Israel and its seed that they should observe this festival seven days with the joy of festival.
So that's a justification for Pesach from the lives of the Patriarchs too, though a week one, and a wholly unnecessary one too IMO in the light of its justification based upon the Exodus.

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lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)

Chapter 12

In the midrash, Teraḥ is portrayed as a maker of idols, against whom Abram rebels. The author of Jubilees, whilst approving of Abram as rejecting idolatry in favour of monotheism, is obviously concerned at his filial impiety, and seeks to ameliorate it:
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The Midrash, commenting on the Biblical verse "Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees" famously describes how Nimrod cast Abram into a fiery furnace for destroying his father's idols; and how only after he survived did Abram's brother Haran decide to follow his example, as a result of which he got burned. Jubilees, however, tells a quite different story:
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In Gen. 12, God tells Abram, without any reason given, to get up and leave his country. Jubilees gives a reason for this: it's in response to a prayer of Abram's:
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Again, Jubilees seems to be troubled by Abram's filial impiety at leaving his father and not coming back to him:
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That said, of course, Abram never returned and fetched his father.

Chapter 15

In Gen. 17, God commands the just-renamed Abraham to circumcise himself and all the males in his household as a sign of the covenant between him and God. But why circumcision as such a sign? Jubilees provides an answer:
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Lethargic Man (anag.)

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