Book of Jasher (biblical references)

The Book of Jasher (also, Jashar) or the Book of the Upright or the Book of the Just Man (Hebrew: סֵפֶר הַיׇּשׇׁר; transliteration: sēfer hayyāšār) is an unknown book mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. The translation "Book of the Just Man" is the traditional Greek and Latin translation, while the transliterated form "Jasher" is found in the King James Bible, 1611.

Biblical references

The book appears to be referenced from around the reign of David. 2 Samuel 1:18 states:

To teach the Sons of Judah the use of the bow; behold it is written in the Book of the Upright (per haYYāšār; Hebrew: עַל־סֵפֶר הַיׇּשׇׁר; literally, "upon the Book of the Upright").

David's lament for Jonathan immediately follows.[1] The King James Version of the English Bible has the phrase "the use of" in italics, showing that it is material the translator(s) added in order to render the original text into what they considered understandable and comfortable English. Other versions, such as the English Standard Version, indicate that what David taught the people was The Bow, that is, a poetic lament regarding the death of Saul and Jonathan.[2] If the interpretation offered in the ESV footnote is to be accepted, then The Bow is a lament or a tune that was — at the time of the composition of the Book of Samuel — also included in the extra-canonical Book of Jashar.

The Book of Jasher is also mentioned in the Biblical Book of Joshua amid the descriptions of Joshua's military exploits in the land of Canaan, specifically after Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, and his allies attacked Gibeon for allying themselves with Israel and Joshua and the Israelites came to Gibeon's aid (Joshua 9-10). When "YHWH gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel", Joshua told the sun to stand still over Gibeon and the moon to stand still over Valley of Aijalon (Joshua 9:1-2). Then the Book of Joshua 10:13 states:

And the Sun stood still, and the Moon stayed,
until the people had avenged themselves on their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of the Upright (per haYYāšār)?[3]

The presence of this event in a book of poetry has been interpreted as a poetic description of the prolonged battle.[4] Some think the reference to the Book of Jashar was inserted because Joshua wanted to show to those who disbelieved the event that others, besides himself, accepted it and recorded it, thus authenticating the event.

The Septuagint translation renders sefer hayashar in both cases as 'Book of the Just'. The reference to the bow is here missing, so that the text reads:

And he gave orders to teach it the sons of Iouda: behold it is written in the Book of the Just.[5]

According to the Medieval Jewish scholar Rashi, Sefer HaYashar refers to the Pentateuch, as a fulfillment of Jacob's prophecy regarding Ephraim — “His seed will fill the nations” (Gen. 48:19) — and that this prophecy refers to Joshua's renown after the miracle of the standing of the sun.[6]

See also


  1. Blue Letter Bible, KJV 1 Sam. 1:18.
  2. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV): Containing the Old and New Testaments. Wheaton: Crossway. 2007.
    ESV 2 Samuel 1:17-18 text reads: "And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar. He said: …."
    ESV 2 Samuel 1:18 footnote 1, at "he said it," reads: "Septuagint; Hebrew the Bow, which may be the name of the lament's tune."
  3. Blue Letter Bible, KJV Josh. 10:13.
  4. Harry Whittaker. Bible Studies. Cannock: Biblia. pp. 72–73. 'The sun stood still.'
  5. Blue Letter Bible, LXX 2 Sam. 1:18, accessed 14 January 2014.
    The LXX text recorded in BLB is: καὶ εἶπεν τοῦ διδάξαι τοὺς υἱοὺς Ιουδα ἰδοὺ γέγραπται ἐπὶ βιβλίου τοῦ εὐθοῦς.
  6. "Yehoshua - Joshua - Chapter 10". The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary. The Judaica Pressurl=
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