Revisiting SEFER (Book)

I love books! I’m a library technician and I’m surrounded by books at work. My desk is piled high with books that need my attention… and that just makes me happy.

To call the Bible a book doesn’t give it justice, even though the word Bible comes from the Greek word for book (biblio). It’s much more than just a book. The Bible is actually a collection of various books (or, more aptly, scrolls), written over centuries of time, by various writers. It’s a library within itself… and it’s an incredible gift that we all have access to! 

Missing Books/Scrolls Mentioned in The Bible

Within the Bible there are numerous mentions of other books that we don’t have access to… they are lost to time and, unless an archaeologist has a really great day, we will likely never be able to read their contents. Check out these many titles, which we actually can’t “check out.” (That’s a little library humour for you!):

The Book of Jashar, could be a book written about or by Jashar, but the word jashar (yashar) literally means upright so it more likely to be The Book of the Upright, similar to the idea of a book of the righteous. This book is referred to twice  in the Bible.

Joshua recalled a time when miraculous events occurred which had been noted in the Book of Jashar:

Joshua 10:12-14

Then Joshua spoke to YHWH on the day when YHWH turned the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,

“Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, at the Valley of Aijalon!”

So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies.

Is it not written in the Book of Jashar [Sefer ha-Yashar]? [Quote:] And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hurry to go down for about a whole day. There was no day like that before it or after it, when YHWH listened to the voice of a man; for YHWH fought for Israel.

So the Book of Jashar contained prophecy. It also contained poetry:

David recited (in honour of Saul and Jonathan who had died in battle) the Mourning Song of the Bow which was a poem that originally belonged in the Book of Jashar. The poem, which included specific mention of Saul and Jonathan, repeated the phrase “How the mighty have fallen” and included lines such as this:

2 Samuel 1:23

“Saul and Jonathan, beloved and delightful in life, And in their deaths they were not separated;

They were swifter than eagles, They were mightier than lions.”

With the amount of times Saul and Jonathan are mentioned, the Book of Jashar must have been written sometime after Saul’s reign as king.

David’s reign was actually recorded in many of the missing books:

1 Chronicles 29:28-30

Then he [David] died at a good old age, full of days, riches, and honor; and his son Solomon reigned in his place. Now the acts of King David, from the first to the last, are written in the Chronicles of Samuel the Seer, in the Chronicles of Nathan the Prophet, and in the Chronicles of Gad the Seer, with all of his reign, his power, and the circumstances which came upon him, Israel, and all the kingdoms of the land.

The Chronicles of Samuel the Seer could be another name for what we know as 1st and 2nd Samuel, but it could also be a different book, lost to us.

The Chronicles of Nathan the Prophet was mentioned again, later, in regards to king Solomon’s reign:

2 Chronicles 9:29-30

Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, from the first to the last, are they not written in the Records of Nathan the Prophet, in the Prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the Visions of Iddo the Seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat? 

The Scroll of Abijah the Shilonite (which could be a reference to 1 Kings 14:2-18) was also mentioned in 2 Chronicles 12:15; and the Scroll of Iddo the Seer was also mentioned in 2 Chronicles 12:15 and 2 Chronicles 13:22.

Other books mentioned in the Bible, but are missing today, are:

  • Book of the Wars of the Lord: Numbers 21:14
  • Chronicles of the Kings of Israel & Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. (This could be the same as 1st & 2nd Kings): 1 Kings 14:19, 1 Kings 14:29 & 1 Kings 16:5, 1 Kings 16:20
  • Samuel’s Scroll on the Rights of Kingship: 1 Samuel 10:25
  • Acts of Solomon: 1 Kings 11:41
  • Annals of King David: 1 Chronicles 27:24
  • Written Sayings of Shemaiah the Prophet: 2 Chronicles 12:15
  • Books of the Kings of Judah & Israel (These might be the same as 1st & 2nd Kings): 2 Chronicles 16:11, 2 Chronicles 32:32
  • Chronicles of Jehu, which are in the Book of the Kings of Israel (This could be a reference to1 Kings 16:1-7, which speaks of Jehu’s prophecy against Baasha): 2 Chronicles 20:34
  • Study/Treatise/Exposition (Midrash) on the Book of Kings (This may be an indication of an early commentary on the Book of Kings, which our modern Bibles have broken into two books, 1st & 2nd Kings): 2 Chronicles 24:27 
  • The Acts of Uzziah (The reference to this book indicates that it was written by the prophet Isaiah, who was a contemporary to King Uzziah): 2 Chronicles 26:22
  • Vision of Isaiah (This could be referring to the book of Isaiah, which we have, or it could be a different set of writings): 2 Chronicles 32:32
  • Acts of the Kings of Israel (This book is mentioned in regards to the life of king Manasseh. It may be same as the Book of the Kings of Israel mentioned above): 2 Chronicles 33:18
  • Sayings of the Seers [Khoza’i]: 2 Chronicles 33:19
  • Lamentation Songs for Josiah (A collection of songs lamenting the death of king Josiah): 2 Chronicles 35:25 
  • Chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia: Esther 2:23, Esther 6:1, Esther 10:2
Image (without words) by Gerhard G. (pixabay.com)

The Book of Life

The most notable book, that we don’t have access to, is The Book of Life. The Book of Life is a scroll (book) which is said to contain the record of all who chose life and, the Creator of Life, YHWH. [For a very helpful, detailed and accessible dive, check out Dr. Michael Heiser’s Naked Bible podcast on the subject].

The Book of Life could be a literal book in heaven; it could also be a metaphor for the idea that YHWH keeps track of all of His creation. Those recorded in the Book of Life will carry on living; life continues for those who align with the Creator. Those whose names are blotted out in the Book of Life will have their life snuffed out at the end of days.

King David, in his distress, hoped that his enemies names would be wiped out of the Book of Life:

Psalm 69:27-28

Add guilt to their guilt, and may they not come into Your righteousness.

May they be wiped out of the Book of Life [mi-sefer khayyim], and may they not be recorded with the righteous.

Yeshua’s (Jesus’) disciple John had a vision which looked forward to the end of the story. John’s Revelation included five mentions of the Book of Life (Revelation 3:5, 13:8, 17:8, 20:15 and 21:27). The last mention is found in John’s description of Heaven:

Revelation 21:22-27

I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life [Biblio tes Zoes].

YHWH keeps track. He knows those who truly love Him and He knows those who have accepted His invitation to come home. 

YHWH’s Book of Life, or the Egyptian Book of the Dead?

One could assume that the Egyptian Book of the Dead was the opposite of the Book of Life, but we can’t really compare them in that way. The Egyptian Book of the Dead is actually a modern Western translation of the original Egyptian title. A more accurate translation would read The Book of Coming Forth by Day, which was a manual of spells to pass the tests needed to successfully live beyond death. You had to prove your worth after death and the Book of the Dead was a manual to help you do that.

In the Book of Life YHWH gathered the names of those who already passed the proverbial “test”. Really, there was no “test” to gain eternal life, it was just a choice that each human would make on their own. The Book of Life wasn’t a manual, it was simply a list of YHWH’s family members… all who would join Him in His Kingdom at the end of days.

The book of Daniel looked to the future and recorded that …at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the Book [ba-sefer], will be rescued (Daniel 12:1b).

The Book of Life is the guest list for YHWH’s Kingdom and it includes all who accepted the invitation to come. And everyone of them will become more than guests, but full fledged family members, living in the Kingdom with their Creator. The Bible isn’t a manual to survive the next life, it’s a book that helps us in this life, and points to the next. Give it a read, and maybe you’ll find that out for yourself. 

For more on the Hebrew word for Book/Scroll, click below:

SEFER

 

Next week: SHAME 

2 thoughts on “Revisiting SEFER (Book)”

  1. Thank you Sarah for another excellent study. The subject of missing works mentioned in the OT has always been a fascinating one for me. It is a wonder we still have the great bulk of works from that ancient time and are blessed without measure to have so much preserved OT Scripture which is largely taken for granted.

    I discovered your work fairly recently. When I took a closer look a week ago I decided to take a deep dive. I found your archives and started from the beginning. I have currently completed the first four months. I began my research in this general field many years ago and in the process of reading your work recalled many studies I have made.

    I have noticed so far that you have few comments (again, reading from the beginning). Maybe that will change as I go further. I understand the nature of this format does not necessarily lend itself to in-depth interaction though the subject matter, being so rich and far reaching, often demands it. In other words, one’s interests are easily kindled when presented with another’s work in the same general field though I am certainly not as proficient as you in this specific field.

    Like you, I love books. I love old books. And you are dealing with the very oldest books here. Over the last forty years Christianity in general has been blessed with an opportunity to benefit from a new look into an old field from a Hebrew perspective. Would that more were interested or paid attention when the Lord is speaking in such a profound way.

    I appreciate your work. Shalom

    Like

    1. Hi RJ… I really appreciate your encouraging words. I started the blog really for myself, so that I could get a solid handle on Biblical Hebrew vocabulary. It’s nice to know that others have benefited from the studies too. It’s become a ministry, to myself and others, that seems to have a life of its own! As an historian I recognize that the best way to read any sort of document is to know the historical and cultural perspective and to study the text in the original language… it just opens so many new doors to the heart of the content! It’s wonderful that people are starting to revisit the Bible in this new light… but there’s a long way to go. I will carry on until my race is finished! Shalom! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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