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📖 ספר היובלים | መጽሐፈ ኩፋሌ | Sefer haYovelim (the book of Jubilees, in Ge’ez)

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….[1] 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)
መጽሐፈ ኩፋሌ
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 ወይትመየ