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Book of Jubilees: The Book of Division

Greco-Roman Period
The book of Jubilees purports to project those things revealed to Moses during the forty days he spent on Mount Sinai (Ex. 24-18). It opens with God’s revealing to Moses the future of the Jewish people. In the persona of an angel recounting Jewish history until the time of Moses, Jubilees retells the biblical stories with embellishments and modifications. The Hebrew text was composed in Palestine before 150 B.C.E.

Moses is Summoned to the Mountain

1-1 In the first year of the Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt, in the third
month on the sixteenth day of that month, the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Come up to
me on the mountain, and I shall give you two stone tablets of the Law and the
commandment, which I have written, so that you may teach them.”

2 And Moses went up to the mountain of the Lord. And the glory of the Lord dwelt
upon Mount Sinai, and a cloud overshadowed it for six days. 3 And he called to Moses
on the seventh day from the midst of the cloud. And the appearance of the glory of the
Lord was like fire burning on top of the mountain. 4 And Moses was on the mountain
forty days and forty nights.

Moses is Instructed to Write a Book

And the Lord revealed to him both what (was) in the beginning and what will occur (in
the future), the account of the division of all of the days of the Law and the testimony. 5
And he said, “Set your mind on every thing which I shall tell you on this mountain, and
write it in a book so that their descendants might see that I have not abandoned them on
account of all of the evil which they have done to instigate transgression of the covenant
which I am establishing between me and you today on Mount Sinai for their

Moses is Told How the People Will Forsake the Lord in the Land of Promise

7 “And you, write for yourself all of these words which I shall cause you to know today,
for I know their rebelliousness and their stubbornness before I cause them to enter the
land which I swore to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give to
your seed a land flowing with milk and honey.’ 34 8 And they will eat and be satisfied, and
they will turn to strange gods, to those who cannot save them from any of their affliction.
And this testimony will be heard as testimony against them, 9 for they will forget all of
my commandments, everything which I shall command them, and they will walk after the
gentiles and after their defilement and shame. And they will serve their gods, and they
will become a scandal for them and an affliction and a torment and a snare. 10 And
manywill be destroyed and seized and will fall into the hand of the enemy because they
have forsaken my ordinances and my commandments and the feasts of my covenant and
my sabbaths and my sacred place, which I sanctified for myself among them, and my
tabernacle and my sanctuary, which I sanctified for myself in the midst of the land so that
I might set my name upon it and might dwell (there). 11 And they will make for
themselves high places and groves and carved idols. And each of them will worship his
own (idol) so as to go astray. And they will sacrifice their children to the demons and to
every work of the error of their heart.

The Murder of Prophets, the Captivity, and the Loss of the Cult

12 “And I shall send to them witnesses 35 so that I might witness to them, but they will
not hear. And they will even kill the witnesses. And they will persecute those who search
out the Law, and they will neglect everything and begin to do evil in my sight. 13 And I
shall hide my face from them, and I shall give them over to the power of the nations to be
captive, and for plunder, and to be devoured. And I shall remove them from the midst of
the land, and I shall scatter them among the nations. 14 And they will forget all of my
laws and all of my commandments and all of my judgments, and they will err concerning
new moons, sabbaths, festivals, jubilees, and ordinances.

Repentance and Restoration

15 “And afterward they will turn to me from among the nations with all their heart and
with all their soul and with all their might. And I shall gather them from the midst of all
the nations. And they will seek me so that I might be found by them. When they seek me
with all their heart and with all their soul, I shall reveal to them an abundance of peace in
righteousness. 16 And with all my heart and with all my soul I shall transplant them as a
righteous plant. And they will be a blessing and not a curse. And they will be the head
and not the tail. 17 And I shall build my sanctuary in their midst, and I shall dwell with
them. And I shall be their God and they will be my people truly and rightly. 18 And I
shall not forsake them, and I shall not be alienated from them because I am the Lord their

Moses’ Prayer of Intercession

19 And Moses fell upon his face, and he prayed and said, “O Lord, my God, do not
abandon your people and your inheritance to walk in the error of their heart. And do not
deliver them into the hand of their enemy, the gentiles, lest they rule over them and cause
them to sin against you….”

The Lord Predicts a Restoration of the People

22 And the Lord said to Moses, “I know their contrariness and their thoughts and their
stubbornness. And they will not obey until they acknowledge their sin and the sins of
their fathers. 23 But after this they will return to me in all uprighteousness and with all of
(their) heart and soul. And I shall cut off the foreskin of their heart and the foreskin of the
heart of their descendants. And I shall create for them a holy spirit, and I shall purify
them so that they will not turn away from following me from that day and forever. 24
And their souls will cleave to me and to all my commandments. And they will do my
commandments. And I shall be a father to them, and they will be sons to me. 25 And they
will all be called ‘sons of the living God.’ 36 And every angel and spirit will know and
acknowledge that they are my sons and I am their father in uprightness and righteousness.
And I shall love them.

Moses Told Again to Write

26 “And you write down for yourself all of the matters which I shall make known to you
on this mountain- what (was) in the beginning and what (will be) at the end, what will
happen in all of the divisions of the days which are in the Law and testimony and
throughout their weeks (of years) according to the jubilees forever, until I shall descend
and dwell with them in all the ages of eternity.”

The Angel of the Presence is Instructed to Write the History for Moses
27 And he said to the angel of the presence, “Write for Moses from the first creation
until my sanctuary is built in their midst forever and ever. 28 And the Lord will appear in
the sight of all. And everyone will know that I am the God of Israel and the father of all
the children of Jacob and king upon Mount Zion forever and ever. And Zion and
Jerusalem will be holy.”

The Angel of the Presence Receives the Tablets Containing the History

29 And the angel of the presence, who went before the camp of Israel, took the tablets
of the division of years from the time of the creation of the law and testimony according
to their weeks (of years), according tothe jubilees, year by year throughout the full
number of jubilees, from [the day of creation until] the day of the new creation when the
heaven and earth and all of their creatures shall be renewed according to the powers of
heaven and according to the whole nature of earth, until the sanctuary of the Lord is
created in Jerusalem upon Mount Zion. And all of the lights will be renewed for healing
and peace and blessing for all of the elect of Israel and in order that it might be thus from
that day and unto all the days of the earth.

Description of the Six Days of Creation

2-1 And the angel of the presence spoke to Moses by the word of the Lord, saying,
“Write the whole account of creation, that in six days the Lord God completed all his
work and all that he created. And he observed a sabbath the seventh day, and he
sanctified it for all ages. And he set it (as) a sign for all his works.”

2 For on the first day he created the heavens, which are above, and the earth, and the
waters and all of the spirits which minister before him-

the angels of the presence,

and the angels of sanctification,

and the angels of the spirit of fire,

and the angels of the spirit of the winds,

and the angels of the spirit of the clouds and darkness

and snow and hail and frost,

and the angels of resoundings and thunder and lightning,

and the angels of the spirits of cold and heat and winter and

springtime and harvest and summer,

and all of the spirits of his creatures which are in heaven and on earth.

And (he created) the abysses and darkness—both evening and night—and light—both
dawn and daylight—which he prepared in the knowledge of his heart. 3 Then we saw his
works and we blessed him and offered praise before him on account of all his works
because he made seven great works on the first day….

The Significance of the Sabbath

17 And he gave us a great sign, the sabbath day, so that we might work six days and
observe a sabbath from all work on the seventh day. 18 And he told us—all of the angels
of the presence and all of the angels of sanctification, these two great kinds—that we
might keep the sabbath with him in heaven and on earth. 19 And he said to us, “Behold I
shall separate for myself a people from among all the nations. And they will also keep the
sabbath. And I will sanctify them for myself, and I will bless them. Just as I have
sanctified and shall sanctify the sabbath day for myself thus shall I bless them. And they
will be my people and I will be their God. 20 And I have chosen the seed of Jacob from
among all that I have seen. And I have recorded him as my firstborn son, and have
sanctified him for myself forever and ever. And I will make known to them the sabbath
day so that they might observe therein a sabbath from all work.”

21 And thus he created therein a sign by which they might keep the sabbath with us on
the seventh day, to eat and drink and bless the one who created all things just as he
blessed and sanctified for himself a people who appeared from all the nations so that they
might keep the sabbath together with us. 22 And he caused their desires to go up as
pleasing fragrance, 37 which is acceptable before himalways….

The Laws for Keeping the Sabbath

25 He created heaven and earth and everything which he created in six days. And the
Lord made the seventh day holy for all of his works. Therefore he commanded
concerning it, “Let everyone who will do any work therein die. And also whoever defiles
it let him surely die.” 38

26 And you, command the children of Israel, and let them guard this day so that they
might sanctify it and not do any work therein, and not defile it because it is more holy
than any day. 27 And everyone who pollutes it let him surely die. And anyone who will
do any work therein, let him surely die forever so that the children of Israel might guard
this day throughout their generations and not be uprooted from the land because it is a
holy day and a blessed day. 28 And every man who guards it and keeps therein a sabbath
from all his work will be holy and blessed always like us.

29 Make known and recount to the children of Israel the judgment of the day that they
should keep the sabbath thereon and not forsake it in the error of their hearts. And (make
known) that it is not permitted to do work thereon which is unlawful, (it being) unseemly
to do their pleasure thereon. And (make known) that they should not prepare thereon
anything which will be eaten or drunk, which they have not prepared for themselves on
the sixth day. And (make known that it is not lawful) to draw water or to bring in or to
take out any work within their dwellings which is carried in their gates. 30 And they shall
not bring in or take out from house to house on that day because it is more holy and it is
more blessed than any day of the jubilee of jubilees. On this day we kept the sabbath in
heaven before it was made known to any human to keep the Sabbath thereon upon the

The Danger in Failing to Observe a 364-Day Calendar

6-32 And you (Moses), command the children of Israel so that they shall guard the years
in this number, three hundred and sixty-four days, and it will be a complete year. And no
one shall corrupt its (appointed) time from its days or from its feasts because all (of the
appointed times) will arrive in them according to their testimony, and they will not pass
over a day, and they will not corrupt a feast. 33 But if they are transgressed, and they do
not observe them according to his commandment, then they will corrupt all of their
(fixed) times, and the years will be moved from within this (order), and they will
transgress their ordinances. 34 And all of the sons of Israel will forget, and they will not
find the way of the years. And they will forget the new moons and (appointed) times and
sabbaths. And they will set awry all of the ordinances of the years. 35 For I know and
henceforth I shall make you know—but not from my own heart, because the book is
written before me and is ordained in the heavenly tablets of the division of days—lest
they forget the feasts of the covenant and walk in the feasts of the gentiles, after their
errors and after their ignorance.

36 And there will be those who will examine the moon diligently because it will corrupt
the (appointed) times and it will advance from year to year ten days. 39 37 Therefore, the
years will come to them as they corrupt and make a day of testimony reproach and a
profane day a festival, and they will mix up everything, a holyday (as) profaned and a
profane (one) for a holy day, because they will set awry the months and sabbaths and
feasts and jubilees. 38 Therefore, I shall command you and I shall bear witness to you so
that you may bear witness to them because after you have died your sons will be
corrupted so that they will not make a year only three hundred and sixty-four days….

Abraham’s Farewell Testimony for Isaac

21-1 And in the sixth year of the seventh week of this jubilee Abraham called Isaac, his
son, and he commanded him, saying, “I am old and I do not know the day of my death
and I am filled with my days. 2 Behold I am one hundred and seventy-five years old, and
throughout all of the days of my life I have been remembering the Lord and sought with
all my heart to do his will and walk uprightly in all his ways. 3 I hated idols, and those
who serve them I have rejected. And I have offered my heart and spirit so that I might be
careful to do the will of the one who created me 4 because he is the living God. And he is
holy, and faithful, and he is more righteous than all (others) and there is no accepting of
persons with him or accepting of gifts because he is a righteous God and he is the one
who executes judgment with all who transgress his commandments and despise his
covenant. 5 And you, my son, keep his commandments and ordinances and judgments,
and do not follow pollutions or graven images or molten images. 6 And do not eat any
blood of beasts or cattle or any bird which flies in heaven.

7 And if you slaughter a sacrifice as an acceptable burnt offering of peace, slaughter it,
but pour out its blood on the altar. And offer up all the fat of the burnt offering on the
altar with fine flour kneaded with oil, together with its libation. You will offer it all
together on the altar (as) a burnt offering, (as) a sweet aroma before the Lord, 8 and the
fat of the thanksgiving offering you will place upon the fire which is on the altar. You
shall remove the fat which is on the belly, all of the fat of the internal organs and the two
kidneys, all of the fat which is on them and on the thighs and the liver together with the
kidneys. 9 And you will offer all of this up as a sweet aroma which is acceptable before
the Lord together with its (fruit) offering and its libation for a sweet odor, the bread of a
burnt offering to the Lord. 10 And eat its flesh on that day and on the second (day), but
do not let the sun of the second (day) set upon it until it is consumed. And do not let it
remain until the third day because it will not be acceptable since it was not chosen.

Therefore, it will not be eaten. And all of those who eat it will raise up sin against
themselves. Because thus I have found written in the books of my forefathers and in the
words of Enoch and in the words of Noah. 11 And you shall put salt in all of your
offerings, and you shall not omit the salt of the covenant from any of your offerings
before the Lord….

16 And at all of the (appointed) times be pure in your body and wash yourself with
water before you go to make an offering upon the altar. And wash your hands and your
feet before you approach the altar. And when you have completed making the offering,
wash your hands and feet again. 17 And let there not be seen any blood upon you or your
garments. Be careful, my son, be extremely careful of blood. Cover it in the earth. 18
And, therefore, do not eat blood because it is life, and you shall not eat any blood….

21 I see, my son,

every deed of mankind, that (they are) sins and evils;

and all of their deeds are defilement and corruption and contamination;

and there is no righteousness with them.

22 Be careful not to walk in their ways,

and to tread in their path,

or to commit a mortal sin before God Most High

so that he will hide his face from you,

and deliver you into the power of your sin,

and uproot you from the earth,

and your seed from beneath the sky,

and your name and seed will perish from all the earth.

23 Turn yourself aside from all their deeds and from all their defilement;

and keep the commands of God Most High,

and perform his will, and act uprightly in all things.

24 And he will bless you in all your deeds, and he will raise up from you a righteous plant in all the earth
throughout all the generations of the earth; and my name and your name shall not cease from beneath
heaven forever.

Moses’ Experience in Midian and Encounter with Mastema 40

48-1 And on the sixth year of the third week of the forty-ninth jubilee you went and
dwelt in the land of Midian five weeks and one year and you returned to Egypt on the
second week in the second year in the fiftieth jubilee. 2 And you know what was related
to you on Mount Sinai, and what Prince Mastema desired to do with you when you
returned to Egypt, on the way when you met him at the shelter. 3 Did he not desire to kill
you with all of his might and save the Egyptians from your hand because he saw that you
were sent to execute judgment and vengeance upon the Egyptians? 4 And I delivered you
from his hand and you did the signs and wonders which you were sent to perform in
Egypt against Pharaoh, and all his house, and his servants, and his people….

The Escape from Egypt and Mastema’s Deeds

9 And Prince Mastema stood up before you and desired to make you fall into the hand
of Pharaoh. And he aided the magicians of the Egyptians, and they stood up and acted
before you. 10 Thus we 1et them do evil, but we did not empower them with healing so
that it might be done by their hands. 11 And the Lord smote them with evil wounds and
they were unable to stand because we destroyed (their ability) to do any single design. 12
And despite all the signs and wonders, Prince Mastema was not shamed until he had
become strong and called to the Egyptians so that they might pursue after you with all the
army of Egyptians, with their chariots, and with their horses, and with all the multitude of
the peoples of Egypt.

13 And I stood between the Egyptians and Israel, and we delivered Israel from his hand
and from the hand of his people. And the Lord brought them out through the midst of the
sea as through dry land. 14 And all of the people whom he brought out to pursue after
Israel the Lord our God threw into the middle of the sea, into the depths of the abyss
beneath the children of Israel. Just as the men of Egypt cast their sons into the river he
avenged one million. And one thousand strong and ardent men perished on account of
one infant whom they threw into the midst of the river from the sons of your people.
15 And on the fourteenth day, and on the fifteenth, and on the sixteenth, and on the
seventeenth, and on the eighteenth Prince Mastema was bound and shut up from
(coming) after the children of Israel so that he might not accuse them. 16 And on the
nineteenth day we released them so that they might help the Egyptians and pursue after
the children of Israel. 17 And he hardened their hearts and strengthened them. And it was
conceived of by the Lord our God that he might smite the Egyptians and throw them into
the midst of the sea. 18 And on the fourteenth day we bound him so that he might not
accuse the children of Israel on the day when they were requesting vessels and clothing
from the men of Egypt—vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and vessels of bronze—so
that they might plunder the Egyptians in exchange for the servitude which they subjected
them to by force. 19 And we did not bring the children of Israel from Egypt in their

The Sabbath and Jubilee Years

50-1 And after this law I made you know the days of the sabbaths in the wilderness of
Sin which is between Elim and Sinai. 2 And I also related to you the sabbaths of the land
on Mount Sinai. And the years of jubilee in the sabbaths of years I related to you. 3 But
its year I have not related to you until you enter into the land which you will possess. And
the land will keep its sabbaths when they dwell upon it. And they will know the year of

4 On account of this I ordained for you the weeks of years, and the years, and the
jubilees (as) forty-nine jubilees from the days of Adam until this day and one week and
two years. And they are still forty further years to learn the commands of the Lord until
they cross over the shore of the land of Canaan, crossing over the Jordan to its western
side. 5 And jubilees will pass until Israel is purified from all the sin of fornication, and
defilement, and uncleanness, and sin and error. And they will dwell in confidence in all
the land. And then it will not have any Satan or any evil (one). And the land will be
purified from that time and forever….

33. Trans. O. S. Wintermute in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, ed. J. H. Charlesworth (Garden City,
NY- Doubleday, 1985), vol. 2, pp. 52-55, 57-58, 68, 94-96, 139-140, 142.

34. Deut. 31-20.

35. Prophets.

36. Hos. 2-1(1-10 in English Bibles).

37. As a sacrifice on the altar.

38. The text enjoins the death penalty not only for all Sabbath violations but even for ritual impurity on that

39. The author argues against the use of lunar months since 12 lunar months equal 354 days, 10 days less
than the author’s incorrect solar year of 364 days. In fact, the Rabbinic Jewish calendar intercalated extra
months every three years or so, so as to synchronize with the correctly calculated solar calendar of 365¼

40. Another name for Beliar (Belial), the chief of the forces of evil.

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