Joshua and the day the Sun stood still
In the Bible there is a reference to a work, now considered lost, the book of Jasher. It is mentioned twice:
David lamented ... over Saul and over Jonathan ... Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the Book of Jasher. (2 Sam. i 17, 18).In Joshua it is mentioned in this passage:
Joshua said, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon: and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon! Is not this written in the Book of Jasher? (Joshua x 12, 13).
EMANUEL SWEDENBORG'S VISIONS CONCERNING THE BOOK OF JASHER
This mysterious reference is considered by most to be a reference to a lost work. In the visions of Emanuel Swedenborg in the 18th century, he was given further information by angels that the book of Jasher was part of an ancient work that preceded the Bible which contained the first seven chapters of Genesis:
"That there was a Word among the ancients, is evident from Moses, by whom it is mentioned, and who took something from it (Num. xxi. 14, 15, 27-30); also that the historical parts of that Word were called the Wars of Jehovah, and its prophetic parts the Enunciations. ...Besides these, a prophetic book of the ancient Word, called the Book of Jasher, or the Book of the Upright, is mentioned by David and by Joshua. By David: David lamented over Saul and over Jonathan, and made the inscription, To teach the sons of Judah the bow; behold it is written in the Book of Jasher (2 Sam. i. 17, 18). And by Joshua: Joshua said, Sun, rest not in Gibeon, and Moon in the valley of Ajalon; is not this written in the Book of Jasher? (Josh. x. 12.) Moreover, it has been told me that the first seven chapters of Genesis are in that ancient Word, and that not even a little word is wanting." (Doctrines of the New Jerusalem, in Doctrine of Sacred Scripture, n. 103)In other references to the ancient scripture that preceded our Bible, Swedenborg was told that it was extant among those in Tartary bordering China. He also was given more details as to what was contained in the book of Jasher, from which Moses drew upon it to compose the Torah:
"They said that in it also is the book of Jasher, which is mentioned in Joshua (x. 12, 13), and in the second book of Samuel (i. 17, 18); as also, that among them are the books called the Wars of Jehovah, and the Enunciations, which are mentioned by Moses (Num. xxi. 14, 15, and 27-30); and when I read in their presence the words which Moses had taken therefrom, they searched to see if they were there and found them. From this it was clear to me that the ancient Word is still among them. ...I have further heard from angels that the first chapters of Genesis, which treat of creation, of Adam and Eve, of the garden of Eden, and of their sons and posterity down to the flood, and also of Noah and his sons, are also in that Word; and were so transcribed from it by Moses." (True Christian Religion, n. 279)Later, Swedenborg has another passage concerning Jasher:
"Before the Israelitish there was a Word, the prophetical books of which were called Enunciations, and the historical, the Wars of Jehovah; and besides these, one called the Book of Jasher; which three are named in our Word: and that ancient Word was in the land of Canaan, Syria, Mesopotamia, Arabia, Assyria, Chaldea, Egypt, Tyre, Sidon, and Nineveh; but because it was full of such correspondences as signify celestial and spiritual things remotely, which gave rise to idolatries, of the Divine Providence this disappeared. I heard that Moses copied out of that Word what he related about the Creation, Adam and Eve, the Flood, and Noah, and his three sons, but no further." (True Christian Religion, Index to Relations)So the other point here is that this ancient Word which preceded our Bible was not preserved, because certain symbolic portions of it was distorted for idolatrous purposes.
So, exactly how accurate is the information received by Emanuel Swedenborg in his waking visions which he had over a period of 27 years? As most of his visions concerned God, the Divine inspiration of the Bible, the spiritual world, angels and the afterlife, it is hard to verify. But with these statements on the book of Jasher, should the book be rediscovered, we now have an independent means of verifying the information given to Swedenborg.
A MEDIEVAL HEBREW MANUSCRIPT OF THE BOOK OF JASHER
A medieval Hebrew manuscript claiming to be the book of Jasher was published in Naples in 1552, and later in Venice in 1613 (or 1625). It was translated into Latin in 1732, and was later translated into English in 1840. Apparently after it was published in Venice, Leon Modena issued a statement that it was not the book of Jasher, and falsely grouped it among other late Jewish writings of a completely different character, the Zohar and Kabbalah (from Sefer haYashar (midrash)
Behold, it [the Zohar] is like Sefer ha-Yashar, which they printed (without my knowledge and without the knowledge of the sages here in Venice, about twenty years ago). Although I removed the fantasies and falsehoods from it, [eg,] that it is the Sefer ha-Yashar mentioned in Scripture, there are still those who claim that it was discovered during the time of the destruction [of the temple]. But who can stop those who imagine in their minds whatever they wish.
— Leon Modena, Ari Nohem, before 1648
Oddly, Wikipedia calls this Hebrew work a midrash, or a commentary or interpretation of scripture among the Jews. However upon internal examination it is nothing like a midrash: it is a longer version of the Bible as found in the Torah, from the time of Adam to the entry of Joshua in the land of Canaan. There has been little critical examination of this work, except for one publication from 1986 by Dan Joseph of the Hebrew University. Although the Naples publication is not extant, he concluded from the Hebrew and other indicators that it was written in Naples in the 16th century, or possibly earlier in Spain or southern Italy.
There are definitely late additions to this Hebrew work; for example, there are late references in the table of nations after the flood of Noah that were probably taken from the Hebrew work Josippon that was published in southern Italy in the 10th century, which contains many historical and chronological mistakes. This is probably one of the reasons Dan Joseph thought this Hebrew work was probably composed after this time in southern Italy as well. However, unlike Josippon, the chronology of Jasher happens to be very accurate. Hebrew scholars who examined the original text for the 1840 translation, thought that it was written in very pure Rabbinical Hebrew.
INTERNAL EVIDENCE THAT JASHER IS MUCH OLDER
So there the story would end. Except for some very "odd" facts: this Hebrew work that claims to be the book of Jasher has internal evidence that it is much, much older. The evidence indicates there was a much more older copy, which was later corrupted by a Rabbinical scribe. But there is enough there to show that this Hebrew work of Jasher may in fact be based on an older original that is indeed the lost book of Jasher as mentioned in the Bible, as it does contain the text as mentioned in Joshua and 2 Samuel. So what "odd" facts are there? First, we have these references to Oswiris in Egypt:
"And he resolved to go to Egypt, to Oswiris the son of Anom king of Egypt... " (Jasher 14:2)This of course is a reference to the god Osiris of the Egyptian pantheon. Anom may be a Hebrew play on the Egyptian god Amon. The names of Amon and Osiris perhaps may have been derived from the first century work On the Worship of Isis and Osiris by Plutarch, for the cult of Osiris was long dead, having expired during the Graeco-Roman era and was exterminated in the fourth-sixth centuries A.D.
Osiris on his throne
So maybe this Jewish author was familiar with Plutarch. But then we have this reference to a wise advisor to the Babylonian king Nimrod named "Anuki" (Jasher 12:52). This one is interesting. As explained earlier in Jasher: the Lost book of the Bible, as foreseen by Swedenborg:
"This is probably based on the Sumerian sky-god Anu, or based on "Anunnaki" (or "Anunnaku" or "Ananaki") a group of Mesopotamian deities which appear in the Babylonian creation epic, Enuma Elish. The name Anunnaki means "those of royal blood" or "princely offspring." In later Assyrian and Babylonian myth, the Anunnaki were said to be the sons of Anu ("heaven") and his consort Ki ("earth") — again, a possible derivation for the name Anuki. The names of these Sumerian gods were forgotten until they were rediscovered on cuneiform tablets in the nineteenth century. Anyone composing a midrash in medieval times would have no knowledge of this."Another interesting name pops up: the son of Nimrod has the name of Mardon:
And all the earth was of one tongue and words of union, but Nimrod did not go in the ways of the Lord, and he was more wicked than all the men that were before him, from the days of the flood until those days.This particular proverb may be quoted in 1 Sam. 24:13. Mardon, son of Nimrod, is a reference to the Babylonian god Marduk, just as Oswiris of Egypt is a reference to the Egyptian god Osiris. But now we have a problem: the problem here, is the ancient Babylonian gods Anu, the Anunnakki, and Marduk were completely forgotten in medieval times. They were unknown until these names were recovered on Sumerian and Akkadian tablets in the 19th century, long after the first appearance of the book of Jasher.
And he made gods of wood and stone, and he bowed down to them, and he rebelled against the Lord, and taught all his subjects and the people of the earth his wicked ways; and Mardon his son was more wicked than his father.
And every one that heard of the acts of Mardon the son of Nimrod would say, concerning him, From the wicked goeth forth wickedness; therefore it became a proverb in the whole earth, saying, From the wicked goeth forth wickedness, and it was current in the words of men from that time to this. (Jasher 7:46-48)
Babylonian Marduk with his dragon Mushussu
It is highly unlikely for a medieval Jew of southern Italy to have known these long forgotten Babylonian gods. Moreover, from the book of Jasher we know that the name of the two Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses were named Jannes and Jambres:
"And when they had gone Pharaoh sent for Balaam the magician and to Jannes and Jambres his sons, and to all the magicians and conjurors and counsellors which belonged to the king, and they all came and sat before the king." (Jasher 79:27)These two magicians are named by the apostle Paul in the 1st century A.D. (see 2 Tim. 3:8). These names are also found in Jewish tradition, but where does the tradition come from?
EVIDENCE FROM THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE BOOK OF JASHER
A close examination of the book of Jasher is that it follows the same chronology as the Masoretic version of the Torah. The current theory of scholars, is a Rabbinical Jew just copied from scripture and added additional material. But this is problematic: if one examines the numbers closely, at times it can be seen a digit was missed or dropped. Simple math exposes the error. Yet the chronology itself is highly accurate. This indicates that a Rabbinical Jew in southern Italy was working with a much older copy, something that was passed hand to hand until the invention of the printing press. For example, again from Jasher: the Lost book of the Bible, as foreseen by Swedenborg:
"Jasher ii. 37 states that Jared lived 62 years when the number should be 162. This exact scribal error appears in the Samaritan Pentateuch, which was not known to the western world until after the book of Jasher was published. The Samaritan Pentateuch represents an ancient textual tradition, as some of its readings have been found in the Dead Sea scrolls."And then, we have this statement concerning the Pharoah that reigned at the time of the Exodus:
"Melol was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned ninety four years, and all Egypt called his name Pharaoh after the name of his father, as it was their custom to do to every king who reigned over them in Egypt." (Jasher 63:9)This is an extremely long reign. Ninety four (94) years is a long time. And it just so happens from modern Egyptology we know exactly who this Pharoah was: Pepi II Neferkare, the last Pharoah of the Old Kingdom before the kingdom suddenly and mysteriously collapsed. According the Egyptian king lists, he reigned exactly 94 years. And this again was not known until the advent of modern Egyptian archaeology in the 19th century. Again, no way could a Rabbinical Jew know this during medieval times.
Pharoah Pepi II as a child on his mother's lap
This brings up a whole other topic on the chronology of the ancient world. There has been much speculation on the date of the Exodus, with some historians denying that it ever happened. This is not only because many misinterpret a late reference to the city of Ramesses in the book of Genesis, but also there is the larger problem of how things are dated in the ancient Middle East based on Egyptian chronology. What this reference to the book of Jasher indicates is that the Exodus occurred right at the sudden collapse of the Old Kingdom. Some scholars indicate that portions of the Ipuwer Papyrus actually dates from the collapse of the Old Kingdom, which happens to mention many of the same plagues described in the book of Exodus.
Here is a summary of contents from The Ten Plagues - Live from Egypt:
(For a lengthier discussion of the papyrus and the historical background of the Exodus, seeJewish Action, Spring 1995, article by Brad Aaronson, entitled When Was the Exodus? )
|IPUWER PAPYRUS - LEIDEN 344||TORAH - EXODUS|
|2:5-6 Plague is throughout the land. Blood is everywhere.|
2:10 The river is blood.
2:10 Men shrink from tasting - human beings, and thirst after water
3:10-13 That is our water! That is our happiness! What shall we do in respect thereof? All is ruin.
|7:20 …all the waters of the river were turned to blood.|
7:21 ...there was blood thoughout all the land of Egypt …and the river stank.
7:24 And all the Egyptians dug around the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river.
|2:10 Forsooth, gates, columns and walls are consumed by fire.|
10:3-6 Lower Egypt weeps... The entire palace is without its revenues. To it belong [by right] wheat and barley, geese and fish
6:3 Forsooth, grain has perished on every side.
5:12 Forsooth, that has perished which was yesterday seen. The land is left over to its weariness like the cutting of flax.
|9:23-24 ...and the fire ran along the ground... there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous.|
9:25 ...and the hail smote every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field.
9:31-32 ...and the flax and the barley was smitten; for the barley was in season, and flax was ripe.
But the wheat and the rye were not smitten; for they were not grown up.
10:15 ...there remained no green things in the trees, or in the herbs of the fields, through all the land of Egypt.
|5:5 All animals, their hearts weep. Cattle moan...|
9:2-3 Behold, cattle are left to stray, and there is none to gather them together.
|9:3 ...the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which is in the field... and there shall be a very grievous sickness.|
9:19 ...gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field...
9:21 And he that did not fear the word of the Lord left his servants and cattle in the field.
|9:11 The land is without light||10:22 And there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt.|
|4:3 (5:6) Forsooth, the children of princes are dashed against the walls.|
6:12 Forsooth, the children of princes are cast out in the streets.
6:3 The prison is ruined.
2:13 He who places his brother in the ground is everywhere.
3:14 It is groaning throughout the land, mingled with lamentations
|12:29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive that was in the prison.|
12:30 ...there was not a house where there was not one dead.
12:30 ...there was a great cry in Egypt.
|7:1 Behold, the fire has mounted up on high. Its burning goes forth against the enemies of the land.||13:21 ... by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.|
|3:2 Gold and lapis lazuli, silver and malachite, carnelian and bronze... are fastened on the neck of female slaves.||12:35-36 ...and they requested from the Egyptians, silver and gold articles and clothing. And God made the Egyptians favour them and they granted their request. [The Israelites] thus drained Egypt of its wealth.|
So if any historian states that there is no evidence for the Exodus, they are wrong. What is wrong here are the traditional dates for Egyptian chronology, but this is too broad a topic to go into depth here. The Ipuwer Papyrus was definitely unknown to a medieval Jewish scribe. How is it that the book of Jasher points to the same Pharoah as this papyrus? Even today, very few propose that the Exodus took place during the collapse of the Old Kingdom of Egypt.
One last point: the book of Jasher is missing the prophecy of 400 years from the time of Abraham to the Exodus in Genesis 15. If a medieval scribe is copying from Genesis, why omit this story? Or did it happen the other way around: Moses composed Genesis from Jasher, and incorporated that prophecy when it was realized to have been true?
EVIDENCE FROM THE ASTRONOMY OF THE BOOK OF JASHER
This was a nice surprise when I first discovered this. Comparing the Masoretic chronology with ancient records of the Middle East from Babylon and Assyria, I had determined that Abraham was born in 1953 B.C. The book of Jasher records an unusual astronomical event:
"And it was in the night that Abram was born, that all the servants of Terah, and all the wise men of Nimrod, and his conjurors came and ate and drank in the house of Terah, and they rejoiced with him on that night. And when all the wise men and conjurors went out from the house of Terah, they lifted up their eyes toward heaven that night to look at the stars, and they saw, and behold one very large star came from the east and ran in the heavens, and he swallowed up the four stars from the four sides of the heavens. And all the wise men of the king and his conjurors were astonished at the sight, and the sages understood this matter, and they knew its import. And they said to each other, this only betokens the child that has been born to Terah this night, who will grow up and be fruitful, and multiply, and possess all the earth, he and his children for ever, and he and his seed will slay great kings, and inherit their lands" (Jasher viii. 1-4).I had discussed this earlier in The Astronomy of the Birth of Abraham (1953 B.C.). First, what is significant about this is that the story of the birth of Abraham is prophetic of the star of the three wise men that appeared at the time of the birth of Jesus. Why would a Jew from the medieval era invent such a story? Unless it was already there in a more ancient manuscript, which was actually prophetic.
Secondly, I had checked this story in the book of Jasher and looked up anything significant in an astronomy program Dance of the Planets for the year 1953 B.C. Sure enough, there was a grand conjunction of all 5 planets in the year 1953 B.C. It is a very rare alignment, and had occurred again before the birth of Jesus in 6 B.C. Here is a chart showing the astronomical alignment of 6 B.C.:
Some propose it was this alignment which was the actual star of Bethlehem. But a medieval Jewish scribe would have no knowledge of this as it requires precise mathematical and astronomical knowledge.
Later, I researched this further, and discovered that in 1993 NASA scientists determined that this grand conjunction of 1953 B.C. was observed in ancient China, and became the basis of the start of the Chinese calendar. Jesuits had earlier searched for this date and had failed. From PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE JET PROPULSION LABORATORY (NASA):
Astronomers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the U.S. Naval Observatory have solved the ancient mystery of the origin of the Chinese calendar, it was reported to the 182nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society today in Berkeley, Calif. Kevin Pang of JPL and John Bangert of the Naval Observatory said they have found a date in 1953 B.C. when the sun, moon and five planets all lined up in the sky at dawn -- providing the basis for the beginning of the Chinese calendar.
...Orientals have always considered a
five-planet alignment as a favorable omen, signaling the dawn of a new age and the world's renewal. While the beginning of a day is dawn, a five-planet conjunction occurring at dawn, with a new moon, and the start of spring would truly be the beginning of all cycles, he said. For calendar makers, such a moment would also be an ideal starting point for counting days, months, years and planetary periods.
...In the latest search for the Holy Grail of Chinese
astronomy, Pang and Bangert were aided by computer-generated planetary ephemerides and a clue from an ancient text. Pang found a passage in a 1st century B.C. text of Hong Fan Zhuan, that says: "The Ancient Zhuanxu calendar (invented in about 2000 B.C.) began at dawn, in the beginning of spring, when the sun, new moon and five planets gathered in the constellation Yingshi (Pegasus.)" The book was written by Liu Xiang who lived from 77 to 9 B.C. Pang said this was all the hint he and Bangert needed. A computer search of planetary positions in the 2000 B.C. era gave only one possible match -- March 5, 1953 B.C. Before dawn on that day, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn lined up like a pearl necklace in the eastern sky, next to the Great Pegasus Square, he said. The planets all spanned but a few degrees. The new moon occurred shortly thereafter when the sun, moon, and five planets all lined up in Pegasus, exactly as Liu had stated. The dawn of March 5, 1953 B.C. was indeed the beginning of a day, month, year and all known planetary cycles, the magic moment Chinese and Jesuit astronomers searched for over 2000 years, Pang said.
What few people realize, is this same event is recorded in the book of Jasher - where one star swallows up four other stars. In ancient times planets were known as "wandering stars." Note people had been searching for this for centuries, and only was discovered recently in 1993 by NASA using a computer.
So knowing that Abraham was born in 1953 B.C., we can calculate backwards and determine the dates for all the older patriarchs. When we get to the time before the flood, the chronology starts to become symbolic, and is based on astronomical cycles at the time (see The Ancient Astronomy of the Bible. Before the flood, we have the strange story of Enoch:
"And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." (Gen. 5:21-24)The number 365 years is obviously symbolic of the 365 days in a year, with an endless cycle being represented by Enoch being caught up into heaven. From Abraham's birth in 1953 B.C, calculating backwards we can determine that Enoch lived from 3279 to 2914 B.C. The book of Jasher contains a bit more information on Enoch, and notes another strange number:
"And Enoch taught them wisdom, knowledge, and the ways of the Lord; and he made peace amongst them, and peace was throughout the earth during the life of Enoch. And Enoch reigned over the sons of men two hundred and forty-three years, and he did justice and righteousness with all his people, and he led them in the ways of the Lord." (Jasher 3:11-12)And then we have this later reference:
"And it was in the year of Adam's death which was the two hundred and forty-third year of the reign of Enoch, in that time Enoch resolved to separate himself from the sons of men and to secret himself as at first in order to serve the Lord." (Jasher 3:17)So, looks like an insignificant reference at first. Why point out that Enoch reigned 243 years? This would mean his reign started in 3214 B.C. with the birth of his son Methuselah, and ended in 2971 B.C. the year in which Adam died. For modern astronomers, the time 243 years is very significant, for this is the exact time needed for Venus transits across the Sun to repeat - they repeat every 243 years. It just so happens, that on November 17, 3214 B.C. and on November 17, 2971 B.C. there were transits of Venus across the face of the Sun, each separated by 243 years. The last time a Venus transit occurred was in 2004 and 2012, each repeating the transit which had occurred 243 years earlier in 1761 and 1769:
This requires very accurate astronomical knowledge, done over centuries. Note that there is another sub-period of 129.5 years between Venus transits of separate cycles, which would probably explain this passage:
And they assembled in all, one hundred and thirty kings and princes, and they made Enoch king over them and they were all under his power and command. (Jasher 3:10)These numbers, although based on astronomical cycles, are also symbolic of spiritual truths.
Here is a time lapsed photo of the Venus transit of 2012:
And here is highly detailed video of the Venus transit of 2012 from NASA:
A COMPARISON BETWEEN JASHER AND SWEDENBORG'S REFERENCES
So is the book of Jasher, as represented in this medieval Hebrew manuscript, the one foreseen by Swedenborg in his visions? A Latin translation was published in Leipzig in 1732 (Dissertatio de Libro recti, "Dissertation on the book of the Upright"). by Johann Georg Abicht, professor of theology at the University of Halle-Wittenberg. There is the possibility that Swedenborg thus had access to a Latin version. In 1735 he was in Leipzig where he published a three volume work entitled Opera philosophica et mineralis ("Philosophical and mineralogical works"), However, the way Swedenborg references the book of Jasher does not indicate knowledge of this obscure dissertation. He describes it as a lost work, but possibly available in the region of Tartary bordering China. Moreover, the way he references the contents of the book of Jasher shows a slight error, an error that would not have been made if he was drawing from the Latin dissertation. There would be no reason for him to state that it was extant in Tartary; moreover, Swedenborg was shown to be exactly right in his visions on other occasions (see The Confirmed Clairvoyance of Emanuel Swedenborg).
So lets repeat here what Swedenborg said concerning the ancient Word which he was told about in his visions, which included the book of Jasher:
Moreover, it has been told me that the first seven chapters of Genesis are in that ancient Word, and that not even a little word is wanting." (Doctrines of the New Jerusalem, in Doctrine of Sacred Scripture, n. 103)
I have further heard from angels that the first chapters of Genesis, which treat of creation, of Adam and Eve, of the garden of Eden, and of their sons and posterity down to the flood, and also of Noah and his sons, are also in that Word; and were so transcribed from it by Moses." (True Christian Religion, n. 279)
I heard that Moses copied out of that Word what he related about the Creation, Adam and Eve, the Flood, and Noah, and his three sons, but no further." (True Christian Religion, Index to Relations)
These statements do not exactly refer to the book of Jasher, but rather the ancient Word which included the book of Jasher. However I think it refers to the book of Jasher. But a slight "error" is made here. First, the book of Jasher does not include the first chapter of Genesis which describes the seven days of creation. Note that after the seven days of creation, the second chapter begins as follows:
"These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Gen. 2:4-7)The book of Jasher begins as follows:
"And God said let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and God created man in his own image. And God formed man from the ground, and he blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul endowed with speech." (Jasher 1:1-2)Scholars who have examined the literary style of Genesis have noted that the seven days of creation likely came from a different source than the creation story of Genesis 2. And the book of Jasher confirms that. This was long before there was any textual criticism of the Bible.
It is from this point, Genesis chapter 2, that we find the first seven chapters of Genesis in the book of Jasher, albeit with a bit more detail. Thus Swedenborg's statement that the first seven chapters of Genesis are found in it is slightly incorrect. And yet it is highly accurate. The first seven chapters of Jasher parallels the story of seven chapters of Genesis, from chapter 2 through chapter 8. Genesis chapter 9 speaks of God's covenant with Noah - this is completely missing in the book of Jasher. Thus Swedenborg first misunderstood the information given to him. Thus he states Moses copied from this ancient Word the story of Adam up to Noah and his three sons, "but no further." This is slightly incorrect - for Moses stopped at Genesis 8 and included additional material in Genesis 9. Genesis 10 includes the table of nations from Noah and his three sons, and this has been corrupted or added in the book of Jasher by incorporating material from Josippon. However after that, additional material was pulled in from Jasher to compose other portions of the Torah.
And if it sounds like the Bible was put together in a haphazard way, it was not, for there is a spiritual sense in the sequence of the story, even though in the literal sense things may appear disjointed.
SWEDENBORG ON THE HERESY OF CAIN
Swedenborg wrote a massive spiritual commentary on Genesis and Exodus entitled Heavenly Arcana (aka Arcana Coelestia, or "Heavenly Secrets"). Literal events are not as they appear in the sense of the letter, behind each story there is a spiritual truth. For example the story of Cain killing his brother Abel is symbolic of how a branch of the ancient race of Adam departed from love and charity, killing it within their heart, and began following a heresy of belief or faith alone symbolized by Cain. Cain is given a mark so that no one would kill him out of revenge. Likewise, in the book of Revelation there is described a corrupt Christian religion where worshipers are given the "mark of the beast" - this is nothing other than the belief of salvation by faith alone.
In the book of Jasher, there is an interesting detail given concerning the sacrifices of Abel and Cain:
And it was at the expiration of a few years, that they brought an approximating offering to the Lord, and Cain brought from the fruit of the ground, and Abel brought from the firstlings of his flock from the fat thereof, and God turned and inclined to Abel and his offering, and a fire came down from the Lord from heaven and consumed it.And unto Cain and his offering the Lord did not turn, and he did not incline to it, for he had brought from the inferior fruit of the ground before the Lord, and Cain was jealous against his brother Abel on account of this, and he sought a pretext to slay him. (Jasher 1:15-16)When we analyze the spiritual symbolism of scripture as presented in Heavenly Arcana, animals and beasts represent affections, thus here love and charity, the offering of Abel. Plants symbolize the truth of faith (plants create oxygen from light, light is a symbol of truth), which is here the offering of Cain. Swedenborg saw that in the spiritual sense Cain represented faith separate from charity, and this particular detail in the book of Jasher is consistent with what Swedenborg saw in his vision.
Next we come to the story of Lamech, a descendant of Cain, who had two wives Adah and Zillah. In the book of Genesis, he approaches his wives and begs forgiveness for killing a man. Swedenborg explains the spiritual sense of this story as follows:
And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice ye wives of Lamech, and give ear unto my speech; for I have slain a man to my wounding and a boy to my hurt. By Lamech vastation is signified, as before; that he "said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, give ear unto my speech" is confession, that is not made except where the church is — which, as has been stated, is signified by his wives. "I have slain a man to my wounding" signifies that faith was extinguished — faith, as before, being signified by a man; "a boy to my hurt" signifies that charity was extinguished. By a wound and hurt [or bruise] is signified that there was no more soundness — by a wound, that faith was desolated, by a bruise, that charity was devastated. (Heavenly Arcana, n. 427)Swedenborg then explains why slaying a man here represents how the ancient worship of faith alone separate from charity became extinguished, and died out. For religion of the memory alone, and not of the life, will become extinguished in the process of time. Such is happening to the Protestant church, slowly, but this is the end of the church should they not recognize their error. But its a bit hard to figure out how Swedenborg derived that the "slaying of a man" represents that the worship of faith alone was extinguished. He shows why, but this spiritual meaning is confirmed by an additional detail given in the book of Jasher:
"And Lamech was old and advanced in years, and his eyes were dim that he could not see, and Tubal Cain, his son, was leading him and it was one day that Lamech went into the field and Tubal Cain his son was with him, and whilst they were walking in the field, Cain the son of Adam advanced towards them; for Lamech was very old and could not see much, and Tubal Cain his son was very young.So, the man that Lamech killed was his own ancestor, Cain, who represented the heresy of faith separate from charity or love. His eyes were dim, signifying when one becomes a part of religion that becomes separate from life, the truth becomes diminished. So again, the spiritual meaning given to Swedenborg is again consistent with the book of Jasher. Also from spiritual symbolism as explained in Heavenly Arcana, a bow signifies doctrine, an arrow a falsehood derived from doctrine, so every detail here has a spiritual significance. Adopting a false doctrine or belief will eventually mislead one down the wrong path, causing a departure from love, thus killing it.
And Tubal Cain told his father to draw his bow, and with the arrows he smote Cain, who was yet far off, and he slew him, for he appeared to them to be an animal.
And the arrows entered Cain's body although he was distant from them, and he fell to the ground and died." (Jasher 2:26-28)
SWEDENBORG ON THE SYMBOLISM OF ABRAHAM
To the Jews, Genesis and much of scripture is all about how the Jewish race is better and more holy than everyone else. This, in fact, is a falsehood - for what makes scripture holy is the symbolism behind it. Israel is not the land of Israel, but is symbolic of the kingdom of heaven. In Heavenly Arcana, it is revealed that the patriarchs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob represent the Lord Jesus Christ. Abraham specifically represents Jesus during his childhood, who like Jesus also goes down to Egypt. The revelation given to Swedenborg continues on the revelation of the New Testament, showing how all of scripture is focused on the Lord and his church. Swedenborg describes the representation of Abraham as the Lord in his childhood, gathering basic knowledge, in the following passage:
"The things told of Abram's sojourn in Egypt represent and signify the Lord's first instruction. Abram is the Lord; Sarai as a wife is truth to be adjoined to the celestial, Sarai as a sister is intellectual truth; Egypt is knowledge. The progress from outward knowledges even to celestial truths is described; this was according to Divine order, that the Lord's Human Essence might be conjoined to His Divine Essence, and at the same time become Jehovah." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1402)And this brings us full circle back to the book of Jasher, where it is described how Abraham was born during a grand conjunction of the planets in 1953 B.C. - just as Jesus was born around the time of a similar grand conjunction in 6 B.C. The wise men of Babylon understood this and explained the significance to king Nimrod, just as the wise men of the east came to Israel and explained the significance of the star of Bethlehem to king Herod. Nimrod then attempts to kill the baby, but kills another baby instead; in the same manner Herod slaughters the children of Bethlehem in the hopes of slaying Jesus and likewise fails. Thus it can be seen here how the book of Jasher is indeed a prophetic work. Hopefully more scholarship will be done on it in the future, once scholars recognize the value of the manuscript.
So based on this research, once I had arranged in 2012 to publish a digital version of all the theological works of Emanuel Swedenborg, I thought about it and decided to add the English translation of the book of Jasher as well. All of these are put together in a massive digital work on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, The Divine Revelation of the New Jerusalem: Expanded Edition. Those who understand the spiritual symbolism in scripture can see much more depth in this Hebrew work of the book of Jasher.