Through the frame of a mytho-historical chronicle narrated by an angel, Sefer haYovelim provides more than a gloss on most of Genesis through the giving of the Torah in Exodus. The unknown author presents a raison d’etre for the giving of the Torah itself in the context of world history, the human condition, and the existence of predation in Nature. It is one of the earliest pedagogical works (if not the earliest) explaining the purpose of Jewish teaching and practice to Jewish readers, in circumscribing the predatory passions that entered the world during the generation of the Flood. It is the earliest Jewish work providing a connection between the celebration of the festival of Shavuot (Pentecost) and the celebration of the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai.
We are grateful to Dr. James VanderKam for preparing this critical text of the Book of Jubilees (Sefer haYovelim) in its Ge’ez translation in Ethiopic script. The book of Jubilees is an early Jewish deuterocanonical text composed in Hebrew during the Second Temple period sometime before the Maccabean struggle (167 BCE). In the introduction to his translation of Jubilees, Dr. VanderKam writes:
The present writer has argued at length that Jubilees was written between 161 and 152, while George Nickelsburg and Jonathan Goldstein have defended a date just before 167 B.C.[E.] on the grounds that the author betrays his knowledge of events that occurred in the first part of Antiochus IV’s reign but is not aware of his religious edict which was promulgated in 167…. NICKELSBURG, Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981) 78-79; GOLDSTEIN, «The Date of the Book of Jubilees», PAAJR 50 (1983) 63-86. The apocalypse in Jubilees 23 plays a large part in these two attempts at dating.
Today students of the book agree that it was composed in Hebrew and that from Hebrew it was translated into Greek. It has been suggested…that a Hebrew text also served as the base for a Syriac translation, but it is not certain that there was a full Syriac translation and that, if there was one, it rendered a Hebrew rather than a Greek model. Copies of the Greek version of Jubilees then became the Vorlagen of translations into Latin and Ethiopic.
….The only version which preserves the complete text of Jubilees is the Ethiopic. The book was apparently translated from Greek at an early stage in the development of Ethiopic literature and enjoyed canonical status in the Abyssinian Church.
|Ge’ez (translation)||English (secondary translation, VanderKam)|
Mets’hafe Kufale (the Book of Division)
ዝንቱ ነገረ ኩፋሌ መዋዕላተ ሕግ ወለስምዕ ለግብረ ዓመታት ለተሳብዖቶሙ ለኢዮቤልውሳቲሆሙ ውስተ ኵሉ ዓመታተ ዓለም በከመ ተናገሮ ለሙሴ በደብረ ሲና አመ ዐርገ ይንሣእ ጽላተ እብን ሕግ ወትእዛዝ በቃለ እግዚአብሔር በከመ ይቤሎ ይዕርግ ውስተ ርእሰ ደብር።
These are the words regarding the divisions of the times of the law and of the testimony, of the events of the years, of the weeks of their jubilees throughout all the years of eternity as he related (them) to Moses on Mt. Sinai when he went up to receive the stone tablets — the law and the commandments — on the Lord’s orders as he had told him that he should come up to the summit of the mountain.
1:1 ወኮነ በቀዳሚ ዓመት በፀአቶሙ ለደቂቀ እስራኤል እምነ ግብጽ በወርኅ ሣልስ አመ ዐሡሩ ወሰዱሱ ለውእቱ ወርኅ ተናገሮ እግዚአብሔር ለሙሴ እንዘ ይብል ዕርግ ኀቤየ ውስተ ደብር ወእሁበከ ክልኤ ጽላተ እብን ዘሕግ ወዘትእዛዝ ዘመጠነ ጸሐፍኩ ታለብዎሙ። 1:2 ወዐርገ ሙሴ ውስተ ደብረ እግዚአብሔር ወኀደረ ስብሐተ እግዚአብሔር ውስተ ደብረ ሲና ወጸለሎ ደመና ሰዱሰ ዕለተ። 1:3 ወጸውዖ ለሙሴ በዕለተ ሳብዕት በማእከለ ደመና ወርእየ ስብሐተ እግዚአብሔር ከመ እሳት ዘይነድድ ውስተ ርእሰ ደብር። 1:4 ወሀሎ ሙሴ ውስተ ደብር አርብዓ ዕለተ ወአርብዓ ሌሊተ። ወአመሮ እግዚአብሔር ዘቀዳሚ ወዘኒ ይመጽእ ነገሮ ኩፋሌ ኵሉ መዋዕላት። ወለሕግ ወለስምዕ 1:5 ወይቤሎ አንብር ልበከ ውስተ ኵሉ ነገር ዘአነ እነግረከ በዝንቱ ደብር ወጸሐፍ ውስተ መጽሐፍ ከመ ይርአዩ ትውልዶሙ ከመ ኢኀደግዎሙ በእንተ ኵሉ እኩይ ዘገብሩ ለአስሕቶ ሥርዓት ዘአነ እሠርዕ ማእከሌየ ወማእከሌከ ዮም ለትውልዶሙ በደብረ ሲና። 1:6 ወይከውን ከመዝ አመ ይመጽእ ኵሉ ዝነገር ላዕሌሆሙ ወያአምሩ ከመ ጸደቁ እምኔሆሙ በኵሉ ፍትሖሙ ወበኵሉ ምግባሮሙ ወያአምሩ ከመ ህልወ ኮንኩ ምስሌሆሙ።
1:1 During the first year of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, in the third month — on the sixteenth of the month — the Lord said to Moses: «Come up to me on the mountain. I will give you the two stone tablets of the law and the commandments which I have written so that you may teach them». 1:2 So Moses went up the mountain of the Lord. The glory of the Lord took up residence on Mt. Sinai, and a cloud covered it for six days. 1:3 When he summoned Moses into the cloud on the seventh day, he saw the glory of the Lord like a fire blazing on the summit of the mountain. 1:4 Moses remained on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights while the Lord showed him what (had happened) beforehand as well as what was to come. He related to him the divisions of all the times — both of the law and of the testimony. 1:5 He said to him: «Pay attention to all the words which I tell you on this mountain. Write (them) in a book so that their offspring may see that I have not abandoned them because of all the evil they have done in straying from the covenant between me and you which I am making today on Mt. Sinai for their offspring. 1:6 So it will be that when all of these things befall them they will recognize that I have been more faithful than they in all their judgments and in all their actions. They will recognize that I have indeed been with them.
1:7 ወአንተኒ ጸሐፍ ለከ ኵሎ ዘቃለ ዘአነ አየድዐከ ዮም እስመ አአምር ምረቶሙ ወክሳዶሙ ይቡሰ ዘእንበለ አብኦሙ ውስተ ምድር እንተ መሐልኩ ለአብርሃም ወለይስሐቅ ወለያዕቆብ እንዘ እብል ለዘርእክሙ እሁብ ምድረ እንተ ትውሕዝ ሐሊበ ወመዓረ። ወይበልዑ ወይጸግቡ 1:8 ወይትመየጡ ኀበ አምላክ ነኪር ኀበ እለ ኢያድኅንዎሙ እምኵሉ ምንዳቤሆሙ። ወትስማዕ ዛቲ ስምዕ ለስምዕ 1:9 እስመ ይረስዑ ኵሎ ትእዛዝየ ኵሎ ዘአነ እኤዝዞሙ ወየሐውሩ ድኅረ አሕዛብ ወድኅረ ርኵሶሙ ወድኅረ ኀሳሮሙ ወይትቀነዩ ለአማልክቲሆሙ ወይከውንዎሙ ማዕቀፈ ወለምንዳቤ ወለፃዕር ወለመሥገርት 1:10 ወይትሐጐሉ ብዙኃን ወይትአኀዙ ወይወድቁ ውስተ እደ ፀር እስመ ኀደጉ ሥርዓትየ ወትእዛዝየ ወበዓላተ ኪዳንየ ወሰንበታትየ ወቅድሳትየ ዘቀደስኩ ሊተ በማእከሎሙ። ወደብተራየ ወመቅደስየ ዘቀደስኩ ሊተ በማእከለ ምድር ከመ እሢም ስምየ ላዕሌሁ ወይኅድር። 1:11 ወገብሩ ሎሙ ፍሥሐታተ ወኦመ ወግልፎ ወሰገዱ ዘዘ ዚአሆሙ ለስሒት ወይዘብሑ ውሉዶሙ ለአጋንንት ወለኵሉ ግብረ ስሕተተ ልቦሙ። 1:12 ወእፌኑ ኀቤሆሙ ሰማዕተ ከመ አስምዕ ሎሙ ወኢይሰምዑ ወሰማዕተኒ ይቀትሉ ወለእለሂ የኀሥሡ ሕገ ይሰድደዎሙ ወኵሎ ያፀርዑ ወይዌጥኑ ለገቢረ እኩይ በቅድመ አዕይንትየ 1:13 ወአኀብእ ገጽየ እምኔሆሙ ወእሜጥዎሙ ውስተ እደ አሕዛብ ለፂዋዌ ወለሕብል ወለተበልዖ። ወአሴስሎሙ እማእከለ ምድር ወእዘርዎሙ ማእከለ አሕዛብ 1:14 ወይረስዑ ኵሉ ሕግየ ወኵሎ ትእዛዝየ ወኵሎ ፍትሕየ ወይስሕቱ ሠርቀ ወሰንበተ ወበዓለ ወኢዮቤለ ወሥርዓተ።
1:7 «Now you write this entire message which I am telling you today, because I know their defiance and their stubbornness (even) before I bring them into the land which I promised by oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: ‘To your posterity I will give the land which flows with milk and honey’. When they eat and are full, 1:8 they will turn to foreign gods — to ones which will not save them from any of their afflictions. Then this testimony will serve as evidence. 1:9 For they will forget all my commandments — everything that I command them — and will follow the nations, their impurities, and their shame. They will serve their gods, and (this) will prove an obstacle for them — an affliction, a pain, and a trap. 1:10 Many will be destroyed. They will be captured and will fall into the enemy’s control because they abandoned my statutes, my commandments, my covenantal festivals, my sabbaths, my holy things which I have hallowed for myself among them, my tabernacle, and my temple which I sanctified for myself in the middle of the land so that I could set my name on it and that it could live (there). 1:11 They made for themselves high places, (sacred) groves, and carved images; each of them prostrated himself before his own in order to go astray. They will sacrifice their children to demons and to every product (conceived by) their erring minds. 1:12 I will send witnesses to them so that I may testify to them, but they will not listen and will kill the witnesses. They will persecute those too who study the law diligently. They will abrogate everything and will begin to do evil in my presence. 1:13 Then I will hide my face from them. I will deliver them into the control of the nations for captivity, for booty, and for being devoured. I will remove them from the land and disperse them among the nations. 1:14 They will forget all my law, all my commandments, and all my verdicts. They will err regarding the beginning of the month, the sabbath, the festival, the jubilee, and the decree.
1:15 ወእምዝ ይትመየጡ ኀቤየ እማእከለ አሕዛብ በኵሉ ልቦሙ ወበኵሉ ነፍሶሙ ወበኵሉ ኀይሎሙ ወአስተጋብኦሙ እማእከለ ኵሉ አሕዛብ ወየኀሥሡኒ ከመ እትራከቦሙ ሶበ ኀሠሡኒ በኵሉ ልቦሙ ወበኵሉ ነፍሶሙ ወእከሥት ሎሙ ብዙኀ ሰላመ በጽድቅ 1:16 ወአፈልሶሙ ተክለ ርትዕ በኵሉ ልብየ ወበኵሉ ነፍስየ ወይከውኑ ለበረከት ወአኮ ለመርገም ወይከውኑ ርእሰ ወአኮ ዘነበ። 1:17 ወአሐንጽ መቅደስየ ማእከሎሙ ወአኀድር ምስሌሆሙ ወእከውኖሙ አምላከ ወእሙንቱኒ ይከውኑኒ ሕዝብየ ዘበአማን ወዘበጽድቅ 1:18 ወኢየኀድጎሙ ወኢይትናከሮሙ እስመ አነ እግዚአብሔር አምላኮሙ።
1:15 «After this they will return to me from among the nations with all their minds, all their souls, and all their strength. Then I will gather them from among all the nations, and they will search for me so that I may be found by them when they have searched for me with all their minds and with all their souls. I will rightly disclose to them abundant peace. 1:16 I will transform them into a righteous plant with all my mind and with all my soul. They will become a blessing, not a curse; they will become the head, not the tail. 1:17 I will build my temple among them and will live with them; I will become their God and they will become my true and righteous people. 1:18 1 will neither abandon them nor become alienated from them, for I am the Lord their God».
1:19 ወወድቀ ሙሴ በገጹ ወጸለየ ወይቤ እግዚኦ አምላኪየ ኢትኅድግ ሕዝበከ ወርስተከ ለሐዊር በስሕተተ ልቦሙ ወኢትመጥዎሙ ውስተ እደ አሕዛብ ከመ ይኰንንዎሙ ወከመ ኢይግበርዎሙ ከመ ይኅጥኡ ለከ። 1:20 ይትለዐል እግዚኦ ምሕረትከ ላዕለ ሕዝብከ ወፍጥር ሎሙ መንፈሰ ርቱዐ ወኢይኰንኖሙ መንፈሰ ቤልሖር ለአስተዋድዮቶሙ ቅድሜከ ወለአዕቅጾቶሙ እምኵሉ ፍኖተ ጽድቅ ከመ ይትሐጐሉ እምቅድመ ገጽከ። 1:21 ወእሙንቱ ሕዝብከ ወርስትከ ዘባላሕከ በኀይልከ ዐቢይ እምእደ ግብጽ። ፍጥር ሎሙ ልበ ንጹሐ ወመንፈሰ ቅዱሰ ወኢይትዐቀጹ በኃጢአቶሙ እምይእዜ ወእስከ ለዓለም።
1:19 Then Moses fell prostrate and prayed and said: «Lord my God, do not allow your people and your heritage to go along in the error of their minds, and do not deliver them into the control of the nations with the result that they rule over them lest they make them sin against you. 1:20 May your mercy, Lord, be lifted over your people. Create for them a just spirit. May the spirit of Belial not rule them so as to bring charges against them before you and to trap them away from every proper path so that they may be destroyed from your presence. 1:21 They are your people and your heritage whom you have rescued from Egyptian control by your great power. Create for them a pure mind and a holy spirit. May they not be trapped in their sins from now to eternity».
1:22 ወይቤሎ እግዚአብሔር ለሙሴ አነ አአምር ተዋሥኦቶሙ ወኅሊናሆሙ ወይቡሰ ክሳዶሙ ወኢይሰምዑ እስከ ሶበ ያአምሩ ኃጢአቶሙ ወኃጣውአ አበዊሆሙ። 1:23 ወእምድኅረ ዝንቱ ይትመየጡ ኀቤየ በኵሉ ርትዕ ወበኵሉ ልብ ወበኵሉ ነፍስ። ወአወቂ ቍልፈተ ልቦሙ ወቍልፈተ ልበ ዘርኦሙ ወእፈጥር ሎሙ መንፈሰ ቅዱሰ ወአነጽሖሙ ከመ ኢይትመየጡ እምድኅሬየ እምይእቲ ዕለት እስከ ለዓለም 1:24 ወትተሉ ነፍሶሙ ኀቤየ ወበኵሉ ትእዛዝየ ወይገብሩ ሎሙ ትእዛዛትየ ወእከውኖሙ አበ ወእሙንቱ ይከውኑኒ ውሉደ። 1:25 ወይሰመዩ ኵሎሙ ውሉደ አምላክ ሕያው ወየአምሮሙ ኵሉ መልአክ ወኵሉ መንፈስ ወያአምርዎሙ ከመ እሙንቱ ውሉድየ ወአነ አቡሆሙ በርትዕ ወበጽድቅ ወአፈቅሮሙ።
1:22 Then the Lord said to Moses: «I know their contrary nature, their way of thinking, and their stubbornness. They will not listen until they acknowledge their sins and the sins of their ancestors. 1:23 After this they will return to me in a fully upright manner and with all (their) minds and all (their) souls. I will cut away the foreskins of their minds and the foreskins of their descendants’ minds. I will create a holy spirit for them and will purify them in order that they may not turn away from me from that time forever. 1:24 Their souls will adhere to me and to all my commandments. They will perform my commandments. I will become their father and they will become my children. 1:25 All of them will be called children of the living God. Every angel and every spirit will know them. They will know that they are my children and that I am their father in a just and proper way and that I love them.
1:26 ወአንተ ጸሐፍ ለከ ኵሎ ዘንተ ነገረ ዘአነ አየድዐከ በዝንቱ ደብር ዘቀዳሚ ወዘደኃሪ ወዘይመጽእ ሀሎ በኵሉ ኩፋሌ መዋዕል ዘበሕግ ወዘበስምዕ ወበሱባዔሆሙ ለኢዮቤልዎን እስከ ለዓለም። እስከ ሶበ እወርድ ወአኀድር ምስሌሆሙ በኵሉ ዓለመ ዓለም።
1:26 «Now you write all these words which I will tell you on this mountain: what is first and what is last