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Book of Jubilees
JUBILEES, BOOK OF. A Jewish apocalyptic book written in the intertestamental period. It gives a history of the world from the creation to the giving of the law, and defends Pharisaical views against liberal Hellenistic tendencies. See also Apocalyptic Literature.
JUBILEES, BOOK OF (τὰ ̓Ιωβηλαι̂α or οἱ̓ ̓Ιωβηλαι̂οι, הַיּוֹבְלִים); also known as “The ” (ἡ λεπτὴ Γένεσις; בְּרֵאשִׁית זוּסָא); Apocalypse of Moses; The Testament of Moses, and other titles. A book generally included among the so-called Pseudep. of the OT. A halachicaggadic midrash to Genesis-
The most common designation “Jubilees” refers to the fact that the book divides into jubilee periods of forty-nine years each the history of the world from the time of creation to the giving of the law on
The book was written originally in Heb., but only fragments of several MSS in this language are preserved, having been discovered recently. An Ethiopic tr., dating back prob. to the 6th cent. a.d., was found and published in the middle of the 19th cent., and fragments of a Lat. tr., dating back prob. to the 5th cent., came to light in 1861, covering about one fourth of the whole. Both the Ethiopic and the Latin trs. go back to a Gr. tr. of the original Hebrew fragments of the book found at Qumran correspond closely to the Ethiopic and Latin trs. It therefore can be assumed that these provide relatively good versions of the original text.
The author claimed that an angel spoke to Moses upon God’s order and dictated the complete history of creation and that of early mankind until Moses’ own time. He was bidden to write down everything he heard. The angel is supposed to have used the heavenly chronological tablets for this dictation, namely “the tables of the divisions of years—from the time of creation—of the law, and of the testimony of the weeks of jubilees, according to the individual years, according to the number of the jubilees...” (1:29). Through these traditions the Israelites were supposed to get information about “the laws of the seasons, and the seasons according to the division of their days” (50:13). The laws were to be observed upon the threat of divine punishment.
The theology expressed in Jubilees differs in many respects from that of the OT. The author expected a Messiah sprung from Judah, without however attaching much significance to this figure. A messianic kingdom was to be brought about gradually, resulting in one thousand years of peace and happiness. A final judgment was expected at the end of this messianic age. There is no hope for the resurrection of the body expressed, but rather an immortality of the souls of the righteous after death was to take place. There are parallels in the belief in angels and demons between Jubilees and the NT, views which were shared also by the Pharisees, but not by the Sadducees (cf.
A matter of much scholarly debate is the calendar for the festive seasons suggested in Jubilees. It seems quite likely that the Qumran community used the one claimed to be the law of God in this book, which was radically different from that calendar which was used by the Pharisees and Sadducees respectively. It is this evidence in particular, which makes it likely that the author was not a Pharisee, but a Qumran covenanter. It is certain, in any case, that Jubilees influenced that community more than any other group in Judaism.
Jubilees expressed the view that there was no hope whatsoever for the Gentiles. Complete separation from them was the best course of action. This certainly was in the most radical way practiced at Qumran; but it was the opposite of what the early Christians learned to do (cf.
R. H. Charles (ed.), “The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the,” vol. II (1913), 1-82; R. H. Pfeiffer, History of the Times: with an Introduction to the Apocrypha (1949), 68ff.; A Dupont-Sommer, The Jewish sect of Qumran and the Essenes: New Studies on the , tr. from the French by R. D. Barnett (1956), 108ff.; C. Rabin, “Qumran Studies,” Scripta Judaica II (1957), 77ff.; O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction, tr. by Peter R. Ackroyd (1966), 606ff.