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Second Century B.C.

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James C. VanderKam writes: "Ancient writers used several titles for Jubilees, the most frequently attested of which are the following three. (1) The Book of the Divisions of the Times: this name derives from the opening words of the text and aptly captures the author's penchant for dating events according to his peculiar chronological system. The title is found in one of the Qumran Scrolls (the Damascus Document (CD) XVI.3) and, in the abbreviated form The Book of the Divisions (or just Divisions), remains the standard designation for it in Ethiopic. (2) The Book of Jubilees: the familiar English title is a transcription of a name which, with minor variations in spelling, appears in some Greek, Syriac, and Mediaeval Hebrew references to the book. A jubilee, which the author understood as a 49-year period, serves as the major chronological unit in his calculation of dates. (3) The Little Genesis: a number of early Christian writers and, later, some Byzantine chronographers referred to Jubilees under this title. It highlights the obvious relationship of the book to Genesis but why the adjective little was added is not clear. It has been suggested that it points to Jubilees' detailed treatment of various topics which are simply mentioned or even ignored in Genesis, but, as there are instances in which Genesis offers greater detail, the hypothesis is unconvincing. It is possible that little was used pejoratively, though Jubilees enjoyed high esteem in some Christian areas; but it is at least certain that the adjective does not refer to size, since Jubilees and Genesis are approximately the same length." (Outside the Old Testament, p. 111)

James Charlesworth writes: "Jubilees contains 50 chapters and claims to be a revelation to Moses by the Angel of the Presence (1:29-2:1). This midrash on Genesis 1:1 through Exodus 12:50 depicts the episodes from creation with the celebration of the Sabbath by the angels to the Exodus from Egypt with the strict observance of the Sabbath, as written in the heavenly tablets, by the children of Israel. As the biblical account is rewritten the author takes considerable liberty with the text: supplying names for persons and places, explaining problems within the text, and whitewashing some acts (viz., Rebecca is commanded by Abraham, who saw Esau's deeds and knew Jacob was the true heir, to love and cherish Jacob more than Esau [19:16-31]). The patriarchs are perceived as the innovators of culture; writing, medicine, and plowing originated respectively with Enoch, Noah, and Abraham. There is a clear polemic against the lunar calendar (6:36-38), and a possible polemic against the idea that an angel protects Israel, since angels rule other nations but God Himself guides Israel (15:31f.; contrast 1QS 3:13ff.). The emphasis of the writing is upon the exclusiveness of the Jews (no intermarriage, no eating with the Gentiles, and a special heavenly calendar), and upon the blessed joy of the Law." (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, pp. 143-144)

Raymond F. Surburg writes: "The materials of Jubilees are supposed to have been dictated by an angel of the Presence to Moses, after the latter had ascended Mount Sinai and been told of the destinies that awaited Israel. Jubilees is a book of religious fiction, in which the author has reworked the story of the history of Israel from the creation of the world up to the time of the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai; by comparison with the canonical Genesis that covers the same territory this must be said to supplement the Biblical stories. The additional information is conjectured to have been handed down orally from father to son. Beginning at chapter 2, Jubilees parallels the account of the Hebrew Bible from Gen. 1:1 to Ex. 14:31, with frequent insertions of midrashic material. The author of Jubilees has omitted incidents and features of the canonical book. What has been added might be labeled additions and expansions. It would seem that the material omitted was done for apologetic reasons. For example, the act of deception by Abraham in Egypt, when he gave Pharaoh the false impression that Sarah was only his sister, or when Isaac was guilty of a similar act toward Abimelech. No doubt it was felt that it would be difficult to justify these events. The episode where Simeon and Levi trapped the people at Shechem into being circumcised and then murdered them when they were helpless, is omitted. The devices employed by Jacob to increase his flocks at the expense of Laban are not recorded. Likewise Genesis 49, referring to the blessings by Jacob, is not in Jubilees, because the blessings pronounced on Simeon and Levi do not agree with earlier denunciations by their father. Other additions have an apologetic tendency, as when Dinah is said to have been raped at the age of 12, or when Jacob is depicted as giving his parents presents four times a year. The longer additions of Jubilees were mostly concerned with the ceremonial. The warfare of the Amorites (34:1-9), and the war of Esau (37 and 38) are treated at length." (Introduction to the Intertestamental Period, p. 131)

James C. VanderKam writes: "Jubilees is a work that draws upon the early Enoch booklets (which it mentions) and Aramaic Levi. It is a retelling of the biblical stories from creation to the scene at Mt. Sinai, often reproducing parts of Genesis-Exodus but also adding to or substracting from them. The original language of the book was almost certainly Hebrew, since all of the fourteen or fifteen fragmentary copies of it found at Qumran are in that language. The oldest of these copies (4Q216) can be dated to approximately 125-100 BCE; consequently, the book was almost certainly written before that time. As the author seems to know the Enochic Book of Dreams (1 Enoch 83-90) which was written in the late 160s BCE, a date of around 150 BCE seems likely for Jubilees. The Hebrew text of the book was translated into Greek and possibly Syriac and later lost until the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. The Greek version (also lost) served as the basis for translation into the Latin and Ethiopic languages. The only complete text of the book is in Ethiopic, but comparison of the Ethiopic text with the Hebrew fragments shows that it is a reliable rendition." (An Introduction to Early Judaism, p. 97)

Leonhard Rost writes: "The date of composition can be determined with some precision. R. H. Charles points out that Levi (32:1) is called 'priest of the Most High God,' a title used only by the Hasmonean high priests. If the account of the destruction of Samaria (30:4-6) were interpreted as referring to the fate of Samaria when it was captured by Hyrcanus, we would be dealing with the last years of this particular Hasmonean and could follow Charles in proposing the period 109-105. There is nothing to contradict this hypothesis in the appearance of fragments at Qumran." (Judaism Outside the Hebrew Canon, p. 132)

Emil Schürer writes: "Notwithstanding its many salient features of a characteristic nature, it is still difficult to say amid what circles the book had its origin. Jellinek regards it as an Essenian work of an anti-Pharisaic tendency. But although a good many things in it, such as its highly developed angelology, its secret books, its doctrine of the continued existence of the soul without any resurrection of the body (iii. 24), seem to favour the hypothesis of an Essenian origin, yet there are others that but the more decisively preclude such a hypothesis. It says nothing about those washings and purifications that formed so important a feature of Essenism. It is true the author strongly reprobates the eating of blood, still he by no means expresses his disapproval of animal sacrifices as was so emphatically done by the Essenes. Still less are we to think of a Samaritan origin as Beer is disposed to do, for this hypothesis again is precluded by the fact that the author speaks of the garden of Eden, the mount of the east, Mount Sinai, and Mount Zion as being 'the four places of God upon earth' (ii. 241, 251), and thus excludes Gerizim from the number. Again, Frankel's view, that the book was written by a Hellenistic Jew belonging to Egypt, is no less untenable. For, as will be seen immediately, the language in which it was originally composed was not Greek but Hebrew. There cannot be a doubt that the greater number of the peculiarities by which this book is characterized are such as it has in common with the prevailing Pharisaism of the time. And one might refer to this without further ado were it not that several difficulties stand in the way, such as its opposition to the mode of reckoning adopted in the Pharisaic calendar (ii. 246), and its doctrine of a continued existence of the soul apart from any resurrection (ii. 24). But it would be absolutely erroneous again if, in consequence of these facts, and because of the decided prominence given to the tribe of Levi (iii. 39 sq.), we were to suppose that a Sadducee was the author of our work, for its elaborate angelology and its doctrine of immortality are of themselves sufficient to render such a supposition impossible. The truth of the matter would rather seem to be this, that the author, while of course representing in all essential respects the standpoint of the dominant Pharisaism of his time, gives expression to his own personal views only in connection with one or two particulars here and there (so also for example Dillmann, Rönsch, Drummond)." (The Literature of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus, pp. 137-138)

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