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Jannes and Jambres
JANNES AND JAMBRES (jăn'ēz, jăm'brēz). Two magicians who withstood Moses and Aaron by duplicating some of their miracles. Paul, who was familiar with rabbinical traditions, named them as types of evil men of the last days (
JANNES AND JAMBRES jăn’ ĭz, jăm’ brĭz (̓Ιαννη̂ς καὶ ̓Ιαμβρη̂ς, or Μαμβρη̂ς, cited by a few MSS; for יוֹחָנִי וּמַמרֵא; Aram. Targ. ינים וימברים, possible meaning: he who seduces and he who makes rebellious). Traditional names of Egyp. sorcerers who opposed Moses before Pharaoh (
In the Exodus narrative, Moses and Aaron delivered to Pharaoh the Lord’s message that Israel be allowed to go into the wilderness to worship God, and the monarch refused (
The orthography of the names, ̓Ιαννη̂ς and ̓Ιαμβρη̂ς, G2612, (corresponding to the Targum of Jonathan on
These two names are mentioned in Scripture only in
Besides being mentioned in the Jewish Targum of Jonathan, and the Talmud, pagan writers knew of these two names. Both Pliny the Elder (1st cent. a.d.) in his Historia Natural 30, 1, 11 and Apuleius (2nd cent. a.d.) in his Apologia (or De Magia) ch. 90, refer to Jannes, whereas the neo-Platonist Numenius of Apamea (2nd cent. a.d.) referred to in Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica 9, 8, 1, was acquainted with both Jannes and Jambres, calling them holy scribes and magicians of Egypt.
Among materials connected with the Church and written in the early Christian centuries where reference is made to the names, Jannes and Jambres, are mentioned in such Gr. works as Evangelium Nicodemi (Acta Pilati) ch. 5, and the Apostolic Constitution 8, 1, and Lat. works as Evangelium Nicodemi (Gesta Pilati), ch. 5 and Cyprian, De unitate ecclesia, ch. 16.
That Paul mentions these traditional names in
E. Schürer, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of, 2nd rev. ed., sec div., vol. 3 (1891), 149-151; W. Hendriksen, Exposition of the (1965), 287, 288.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
jan’-ez, jam’-brez (Iannes kai Iambres,
1. Egyptian Magicians:
These are the names of two magicians in ancient Egypt, who withstood Moses before Pharaoh. This is the only place where the names occur in the
2. Mentioned by Pliny and Others:
Jannes and Jambres, one or both, are also mentioned by Pliny (23-79 AD), by Apuleius (circa 130 AD), both of whom speak of Moses and Jannes as famous magicians of antiquity. The Pythagorean philosopher Numenius (2nd century AD) speaks of Jannes and Jambres as Egyptian hierogrammateis, or sacred scribes.
There are many curious Jewish traditions regarding Jannes and Jambres. These traditions, which are found in the Targum and elsewhere, are full of contradictions and impossibilities and anachronisms. They are to the effect that Jannes and Jambres were sons of Balaam, the soothsayer of Pethor. Notwithstanding this impossibility in the matter of date, they were said to have withstood Moses 40 years previously at the court of Pharaoh, to whom it was also said, they so interpreted a dream of that king, as to foretell the birth of Moses and cause the oppression of the Israelites. They are also said to have become proselytes, and it is added that they left Egypt at the Exodus, among the mixed multitude. They are reported to have instigated Aaron to make the golden calf. The traditions of their death are also given in a varying fashion. They were said to have been drowned in the Red Sea, or to have been put to death after the making of the golden calf, or during the slaughter connected with the name of Phinehas.
4. Origen’s Statement:
According to Origen (Comm. on
In the Targumic literature "Mambres" occurs as a variant reading instead of "Jambres." It is thought that Jambres is derived from an Aramaic root, meaning "to oppose," the participle of which would be Mambres. The meaning of either form is "he who opposes." Jannes is perhaps a corruption of Ioannes or Iohannes (John).