Hebrew Voices #33 – The Lost Book of Jasher

In this episode of Hebrew Voices, The Lost Book of Jasher, Nehemia Gordon speaks with Israel Prize winner and the world’s foremost expert on the Book of Jasher, Prof. Emeritus Joseph Dan. The Tanakh mentions a book called Sepher Ha-Yashar, which seemingly disappeared off the face of the Earth thousands of years ago. An English translation of Jasher then showed up in 1840 claiming to be this lost Biblical book. If this is the original Jasher mentioned in Joshua and 2 Samuel, it would be more important than the Dead Sea Scrolls! If you ever wondered about the Book of Jasher mentioned in the Bible, you will want to listen to this interview.

I look forward to reading your comments!

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Show Notes:

The original cover page of Sepher HaYashar, published by Samuel the Little of Fez in Venice 1625 reads: "The Book of Yashar, an ancient book written in ancient times… [which includes] many stories not mentioned in the legends of our Sages. And perhaps this is the Book of Yashar mentioned in Scripture."

Original (uncensored) title page of Sepher HaYashar, Venice 1625

Original (uncensored) title page of Sepher HaYashar, Venice 1625

Yehudah Arye of Modena censored Sepher HaYashar, forcing Samuel the Little of Fez to change the cover title of the 1625 edition to read: "The Book of Yashar, which includes some stories and legends of our Sages…"

Censored title page of Sepher HaYashar, Venice 1625.

Censored title page of Sepher HaYashar, Venice 1625.

"Some events do take place but are not true; other are--although they never occurred." Elie Wiesel

"In literature... certain things are true though they didn't happen, while others are not, even if they did." Elie Wiesel

  • Leaves Heal says:

    Thank you for this perspective / analysis!

  • SisterCarrie says:

    In ancient Egypt there was fiction but it usually contained an historical element. Midrashim are legends, but how is one to be sure where they do not contain the truth? For instance, the Book of Jasher claims that Moses was a king in the land of Kush in the 55th year of the king of Egypt. Few pharaohs reigned that long but one, Thutmose III, did reign almost exactly that long. As I point out in my book, “Manetho Demystified”, Pseudo-Dionysius wrote: “In the Year 490, the king of Egypt died and Cencheres reigned for sixteen years. This was he who waged a contest with Moses with the help of Jannes and Jambres the magicians. It was about him that Moses said: He drowned Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea.”

    One can see by the year given by Pseudo-Dionysius that he is following the number stated in the Book of Exodus for the sojourn of the Hebrews―430 years from the promise to Abraham―which is actually supposed to be the time when Moses fled from Egypt. So Pseudo-Dionysius is observing the same reckoning as Eusebius but supplies the year of the return of the lawgiver in order to confront a new pharaoh. According to the math of Eusebius, reckoning backwards from the reign of a Roman emperor, Moses left Egypt in 1510 BCE–in the Year 430. The Year 490, then, is 1450 BCE, the precise year that Thutmose III died after 54 years on the throne and Amenhotep II succeeded. The latter’s throne name was “Aakheperure” and he is the “Cencheres” of Pseudo-Dionysius for linguistic reasons I explain in my book. Marianne Luban

  • Ronald Peloquin says:

    Thank you Nehemiah i was about to completely swallow down whole as truth, the book of jasher, that i downloaded from u tube. I will read it but now i know that professor Dan and you show me that it was made in the medieval period. It is not the one in the book of joshua and 2nd samuel ib.c. watch your wall often. Does your friend keith johnston believe it is the ancient book of jasher? Thanks again from Ron Peloquin.

  • What was the name of the book that the Professor Dan wrote that he wanted you to read before the interview. Is there 1 in English?

    • Wysdym says:

      “ Defer HaYashar by Joseph Dan. 1986”

  • Fran Brashear says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Nehemia and Prof. Joseph Dan. Truly looking forward to your future interview. You both are a blessing…beacons of truth!

  • Elliot Hass says:

    Enjoyed this. Very informative. We need truth.

  • Yvonne says:

    Neihemia and Professor Dan. This was such a blessing.

  • Matt says:

    Who is the artist and what is the name of the song used in your opening? I really like it. great episode by the way, what a blessing.