It is obvious that Jubilees is dominated by certain interests and antipathies. It is to a large extent polemical in character, and its author desires at once to protest against certain tendencies which, in his view, threaten true religion, and to inculcate certain reforms. Incidentally it commends certain religious practices, and endeavours to invest them with enhanced sanctions. In the forefront, as its name ("the Book of Jubilees") suggests 2 stands the question of the Calendar. It is all important in the author's view that the divinely ordained principle according to which history is divided up by year-weeks (i. e. periods of 7 years) and jubilees (i. e. periods of 7 X 7 years) is recognized (Cf. i. 26 f.). Accordingly, he gives a history from Creation to Moses, in which the sequence of events is recorded and dated exactly
by jubilee-periods, or portions of such. This leads up to a final section in which the law respecting jubilees and sabbatical years is solemnly enjoined. The writer's aim seems to have been nothing less than a reformation of the Jewish Calendar. The prevailing system has led to the nation "forgetting" new moons, festivals, and sabbaths (and (?) jubilees); 1 in other words, it has produced grave irregularities in the observance of matters which were of divine obligation.
A cardinal feature of the writer's system is the jubilee-period, which consists of 7 X 7 (i. e. 49) years. Here we are confronted with a difficulty. The passage in Lev. (xxv. 8-14) which ordains the observance of the jubilee-year expressly identifies this, in the present form of the text, with the fiftieth year (Lev. xxv. 10 and 11). But it is incredible that the author of our Book would deliberately have violated the express injunctions of the Pentateuch on such a matter, and we are driven to conclude that he had a text before him in which the word "fiftieth" was absent. 2 The wording of verses 8 and 9 is ambiguous, and allows of the explanation that the jubilee-year was the forty-ninth and not the fiftieth. It is quite possible that in verses 10 and 11 "fiftieth" has been added to the text, in the interests of the rival explanation that ultimately prevailed, for, as has been pointed out already, our Book presupposes a text of the Pentateuch that is independent of and earlier than M.T. This explanation suffers from the difficulty that the LXX and other ancient versions (including the Samaritan text) support the currently received reading. But it is not improbable that on such a matter the influence of Orthodox views may have operated to bring their text of the verses into harmony with the currently accepted theory. 3
But more revolutionary is the writer's advocacy of a solar calendar. In ii. 9 he says, "God appointed the sun to be a great sign upon the earth for days and for sabbaths, and for feasts and for years and for jubilees and for all seasons of the years." In Gen. i. 14 this function is assigned to the sun and the moon; but in our Book the moon is deliberately excluded. The writer objected fiercely to the traditional calendar which was based upon the changes of the moon, and was adjusted to the solar year by means of intercalation. How can his apparent violation of the express wording of Scripture be explained? His answer would probably have been that the solar year of 364 days (cf. vi. 32) was actually the system implied in the Pentateuch. It has been pointed out by Bacon 1 that in the P sections of the Flood-narrative in Genesis a year of 364 days is pre-supposed. It is said that the Flood began on the 17th day of the second month, and ended on the 27th day of the second month the following year, i. e. reckoning by the ordinary lunar months, 12 months (= 12 X 29½ days) or 354 days + 10 days (to make up the solar year), or 364 days in all, this completing the one whole year which, according to the Babylonian source, was the length of the Flood's duration. Thus the author of Jubilees had a dogmatic basis within the text of the Pentateuch itself for his view that the true year was a solar one of 364 days. He may very well have believed that whatever may be the exact significance of Gen. i. 14, it could not override this fact. It is interesting to notice that this tradition of a solar year of 364 days should be implicit in the P sections of Genesis. There are strong reasons for believing that the author of Jubilees was a priest, and, as such, may have been acquainted in some special way with this priestly tradition. There are, however, difficulties in connexion with the reckoning of such a solar year. It is obvious that a year of 12 months, each
of which contains 30 days, will only yield a total of 360 days. It has been supposed that our author overcame this difficulty by inserting one intercalary day at the beginning of each quarter. Thus each three months would contain 31 + 30 + 30 (= 91) days. But this solution will not harmonize with the date assigned by our author to the Feast of Weeks, which is the "middle" of the third month (xvi. 13). Scholars are agreed that the 15th of Sivan is meant. Now the Feast of Weeks was to be celebrated on the fiftieth day, counting from the "morrow" after the Sabbath of Passover (Lev. xxiii. 15 f.) . The Pharisees, as is well known, interpreted "Sabbath" here to be the first day of the Feast (Nisan 15th), whatever the day of the week on which it fell, and reckoned from Nisan 16th, which would bring the Feast of Weeks to Sivan 6th. Another view, with which our Book agrees, interpreted "sabbath" as = "week" (as in fact it has this meaning throughout the rest of the verse). Then render: And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the (festival) week, from the day that ye bring the wave-sheaf, seven complete weeks shall there be, until the morrow after the seventh week ye shall number fifty days: the festival-week would be Nisan 15-21, and its "morrow" Nisan 22; reckoning 28 days to the month, this would leave 6 days in Nisan + 28 days in Iyar + 15 in Sivan = 49 +Nisan 22 = 50 (lays. This seems to have been the reckoning of our author. Moreover, since the year he advocates contains 364 days, the festivals would always fall upon the same day of the week, and as Nisan 1st the first day of Creation fell, according to his scheme, on the first day of the week, i. e. Sunday, it must always fall on that day; thus Nisan 14th and 21st would always fall on a Sabbath, while Nisan 22nd and Sivan 15th would always fall on a Sunday. To make the Feast of Weeks fall on the 1st day of the week was a Sadducean practice, and one that it is inconceivable that any Pharisee can ever have sanctioned or tolerated. It will be noticed, however,
that the view of our author, according to which the Feast of Weeks falls on Sivan 15th, implies a reckoning of 28 days to the months Nisan and Iyar. How is this to be reconciled with a solar year of 12 months? Eppstein supposes that our author used two reckonings, one for the civil year of 12 months, 8 of 30, and 4 of 31 days, and an ecclesiastical year of 13 months each containing 28 days. But it is difficult to believe that the writer used two systems side by side. A better solution would be that he added a week to every third month, which would make each 3 months consist of 28 + 28 + 35 days (total 91 days), or 4 + 4 + 5 weeks. It is evident that his calendar-system is based upon the number 7; thus each month consists of 4 X 7 (or 5 X 7) days, while the year consists of 52 X 7 days, the year-week of 7 years, and the jubilee of 7 X 7 years. On this reckoning the Feast of Weeks would still fall on the 15th of Sivan, but the 15th would not strictly be the "middle" of that month, which, ex hypothesi, consisted of 35 days. It might, however, be used loosely for such a date. Perhaps, too, the author desired to avoid specifying more particularly this date, because current Sadducean practice (based upon 4 different length of days assigned to the months) would not quite harmonize with it. 1 With regard to the Passover, it is noticeable that our author interprets the phrase "between the two evenings" (at which time the Passover lamb was to be slain, cf. Exod. xii. 6; Lev. xxiii. 5) to mean the third part of the day (xlix. 10); i. e. assuming the day to contain 12 hours, we may fix the third part as from 2 to 6 p.m. This, again, contradicts Pharisaic practice. Notable, too, is the mention of wine in connexion with the Passover: All Israel [i. e. in Egypt] was eating the flesh
of the Paschal lamb and drinking the wine (xlix. 6). Now this was a Pharisaic custom in later times, and has no basis, apparently, in the canonical account in Exodus. In view, however, of the fact that our author usually follows the prescriptions of Scripture with scrupulous care, the question arises whether he did not, in fact, derive this from the Pentateuch. Leszyrisky suggests 1 that the word rendered "bitter herbs" in Exod. xii. 8 ("with bitter herbs shall they eat it") was interpreted by our author to mean "wine"--the word simply means "bitter," or "what is poisonous," and a cognate form is used in connexion with wine in Deut. xxxii. 32. It is certainly curious that our author makes no mention of "bitter herbs" in connexion with the Egyptian Passover.
The Feast of Tabernacles, too, as described in our Book (xvi. 10-31), has certain peculiar features. In particular, the specifically Pharisaic custom of pouring water on the altar 2 at the Feast is not mentioned or recognized. Now as early as the time of Alexander Jannæus (102-76 B.C.) the Pharisees tried to enforce the adoption of this custom upon the Sadducean priest-king, who, to show his contempt, allowed the water, which should have been poured solemnly on the altar, to run over his feet. The protest that ensued was followed later by a massacre of Pharisees. It is difficult to believe that our author, a few years earlier, if he was himself a Pharisee, could have been ignorant of this custom, which was based upon old popular tradition. His silence concerning it is much more probably deliberate. The custom was objectionable, from the Sadducean standpoint, because it had no basis in the written Law. The custom of wearing wreaths upon the head which is here prescribed (xvi. 30) is also unknown to tradition; nor has it, apparently, any Scriptural basis, unless it was inferred as an act of rejoicing, from the words "and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days" (Lev. xxiii. 40), taken in conjunction with the
command (in the preceding clause) to take "branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook." Wearing a wreath of palm-leaves may have been regarded as one of the ways in which this command was to be fulfilled.
Even more striking are the sections which give directions about the observance of the Sabbath (l. 1-13; cf. ii. 29-30). These directions are very severe. The following actions are prohibited on the Sabbath under penalty of death: travelling by land or sea, buying or selling, drawing water, carrying burdens out of the house, killing or striking, snaring beasts, birds or fish, fasting or making war, marital intercourse. The last prescription is in direct opposition to Pharisaic practice, as is also the severe penalty imposed for non-observance of the various prescriptions. It is interesting to notice that these agree with the practice still maintained by the Falashas, Samaritans, and Ḳaraite Jews. Probably this rigid view of sabbath-observance was cherished in specially pious priestly circles at the time when our author wrote. In this connexion it may be noted that our Book, in its interpretation of the law about the fruit of newly-planted trees given in Lev. xix. 23-24, agrees with the view of the Samaritans and Ḳaraite Jews in directing that the first fruits of the fruit of the fourth year should be offered on the altar, and what remained given to the priests. According to Pharisaic practice what remained was to be eaten by the owners within the walls of Jerusalem.
Another point in which Jubilees upholds a view which is certainly not Pharisaic is on the question of the law of retribution, the so-called lex talionis. It is well known that while the Sadducees insisted on the strict letter of the Law, "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," the Pharisees strove to mitigate its harshness by the substitution (except in the case of murder) of compensating money-payments. Moreover, the Mishna directs that where the death-penalty is inflicted it is to be carried out by the
sword (cf. Sanhedrin ix. i: "These are to be beheaded"). Our Book, however, seems to wage a polemic against such views in no uncertain language:
Take no gifts for the blood of man, 1 lest it be shed with impunity, without judgement; for it is the blood that is shed that causes the earth to sin, and the earth cannot be cleansed from the blood of man save by the blood of him who shed it. And take no present or gift for the blood of man; blood for blood (xxi. 19 f.).
In iv. 31 f. the circumstances of Cain's death are described: his house fell upon him and he died in the midst of his house; for with a stone he had killed Abel, and by a stone was he killed in righteous judgement. For this reason it was ordained on the heavenly tables: "With the instrument with which a man kills his neighbour, with the same shall he be killed; after the manner that he wounded him, in like manner shall they deal with him."
It is true that a school of Pharisees (the School of Shammai) still, to some extent, upheld, in theory at any rate, the severer and older view. But this does not alter the fact that it was a distinctive tenet of the Sadducees; and it is difficult to believe that any Pharisee can, at any time, have used such unqualified language as that employed in the extracts given above. 2
At this point we may well ask what was the author's attitude towards the belief in a future life? At the time when he wrote the doctrine of the resurrection of the body had become well established in certain Jewish circles. In the Book of Daniel it had received classical expression. It was a cherished belief of the Pharisaic party. Now our Book does not in any way accept such a belief. The one passage in which the language employed might, at first sight, suggest a hint of such a belief is a sentence describing the happiness of the righteous in the age of felicity which is to dawn:
And at that time the Lord will heal His servants,
And they will rise up and see great peace,
And drive out their adversaries (xxiii. 30).
But here there is probably no reference to the idea of a resurrection. As Charles points out, the words "shall rise up" have here "apparently no reference to the resurrection, and mean merely that when God heals His servants (cf. Rev. xxii. 2) they become strong." The clause in the preceding verse, all their days will be days of blessing and healing (cf. also i. 29) renders "this view the most probable." On the other hand, the opening words of xxiii. 31
And their bones will rest in the earth,
And their spirits will have much joy,
though they are susceptible of another interpretation, may point to a belief that the righteous dead are destined to enjoy a blessed immortality. But it is to be noticed that no emphasis is laid on the idea; and in any case no countenance is given to the doctrine of resurrection. This attitude accords with the Sadducean position. What the Sadducees maintained was that the resurrection doctrine could not be proved from the Pentateuch. They did not assert that the personality was annihilated at death, or deny the doctrine of immortality--indeed, it is by no means impossible that some sections of the Sadducean party accepted this doctrine; but in general their position towards this question--apart from that of the bodily resurrection--was cautious and reserved. And this certainly seems to be the attitude of our author. It should be noted that Sheol is represented--somewhat vaguely and in poetical passages--as a place of punishment for the wicked (vii. 29; xxii. 22; xxiv. 31). This looks like the converse of the idea that the righteous dead are destined to enjoy a blessed immortality. In this connexion a word may be said about the angelology and demonology of our Book. These are in a fairly advanced stage, and imply much the same development as is to be seen in 1 Enoch and the Testaments of
the XII Patriarchs. There are three classes of angels, two of a superior order, the angels of the presence, and the angels of sanctification (Cf. ii. 2, 18), and, besides these, a numerous inferior order who presided over natural phenomena (ii. 2). It is noteworthy that the two superior orders are represented as observing the Sabbath, and as fulfilling the prescriptions of the Law regarding circumcision, etc.; they even observe in heaven the great festivals, such as the Feast of Weeks (vi. 18). 1 Various activities are assigned to the angels in connexion with mankind throughout our Book. 2
Over against the angelic orders there stands a well-organized demonic kingdom, presided over by "the prince of the Mastêmâ" (cf. xvii. 16; xlviii. 2; xviii. 9, 12, etc.). 3 Among the Satanic beings that appear in our Book is Beliar (i. 20).
What is the attitude of our author towards the Messianic Hope? The hope for the coming of the Messianic King who should spring from the old Royal House of David was always cherished among the masses of the people, and in times of unusual stress was apt to flame up in vivid expression. The Pharisees, who themselves sprang from the ranks of the people, were naturally influenced by this tradition, and gave literary expression to it in the Psalms of Solomon (70-40 B.C.?). But at the time when our author wrote the desire for a Messianic King of the House of David was probably only latent. A period of national prosperity came in during the reign of John Hyrcanus, and the people generally were well content. It is not to be supposed, however, that the popular hope had completely died away. It was merely quiescent. On the other hand,
there was a party, which no doubt had its seat in the priesthood, and may represent the old Sadducean party, that claimed for the priesthood not only sacerdotal but also ruling functions: Levi's descendants are not only to be priests, but also the civil rulers of the nation, and this view receives expression in our Book (cf. xxxi. 15). Now it is well known that the Pharisees objected to the double office being exercised by one person, and when Alexander Jannæus assumed the title of "king" this feeling broke out into open hostility. At a somewhat later time a Pharisaic author in the Psalms of Solomon, looking back upon the terrible events that followed the breakup of the Hasmonean dynasty, evidently regards the bloody chastisement which the Jews had to endure at that time from the hands of the Romans as the punishment inflicted on the people for having acquiesced in the usurpation by the Hasmoneans of the royal dignity which had been reserved for the Messianic prince of the House of David. Especially significant in this connexion is the promise recounted in our Book of Levi (xxxii. i): And he abode that night at Bethel, and Levi dreamed that they had ordained and made him the Priest of the Most High God, him and his sons for ever. This, originally the title of the priest-king Melchizedek (Gen. xiv. 18), was revived by the Maccabean princely High Priests, and there is some evidence that in certain (? Sadducean) quarters it was expected that the Messiah would spring from the tribe of Levi, and even from the priestly ruling Maccabean house. 1 The one possible reference to the hope of a Messiah from Judah in our Book occurs in the blessing of Judah, xxxi. 18:
A prince shall thou be, thou and one of thy sons over the sons of Jacob;
Here Judah is addressed, and is singled out for special honour by the side of Levi. This was only
natural, as the Jews derived their name from the tribe of Judah, who may be regarded as a sort of symbol of the nation generally. But who is meant by "one of thy sons"? Some would see in this a reference to the expected Messiah, but if this be so it is very vague. It is much more likely that the historic David is meant. The priestly author is significantly silent about a Davidic Messiah. Any Messiah he may have hoped for would, according to his view, spring from the tribe of Levi. He does not accept the view that the Davidic dynasty is of eternal duration, even ideally. May he not, too, have been thinking, in the address to Judah, of Judas Maccabæus? 1 Judas by his warlike exploits had shed a new glory on the name "Judah." But Judas himself belonged to the priestly family of the Hasmoneans, and it would be easy for our author to see in him the embodiment of the glories of the tribe of Judah, without diminishing the claims of the priestly tribe to civil as well as sacerdotal primacy.
In the same context (xxxi. 20) two lines occur in the address to Judah which run as follows:
And when thou sittest on the throne of the honour of thy righteousness,
There will be great peace for all the seed of the sons of the beloved.
[paragraph continues] The exact meaning of these words is not clear. They can hardly refer to the expected Messiah from David's House, because in that case the context would demand the use of the third person, whereas the second person is employed and Judah is being addressed. Leszynsky suggests that here in the Hebrew original there may be an allusion to the Sadducees, suggested by a word-play in the Hebrew word for "righteousness" (sedek). But even so the sentence is not clear. Is our author still thinking of Judas Maccabæus? If so, he may mean "and when thou (Judas), in the person of thy High-Priestly successors, sittest as Priest-king on thy Sadducean
throne of honour." It must be admitted that this is not very convincing, and the sentence remains obscure and uncertain in meaning. But of the high position assigned by our author to the tribe of Levi there can be no doubt. The lofty position of High-Priest and civil ruler is assigned to Levi as a reward for the destruction of Shechem (cf. xxx. 17-23; xxxii. 1-3). As Kohler says: "The Levites are represented as the keepers of the sacred books and of the secret lore entrusted to them by the saints from of yore (xlv. 16; cf. x. 14). This indicates that the priests and Levites still included among themselves, as in the days of the author of the Book of Chronicles, the men of learning, the masters of the schools, and that these positions were not filled by men from among the people, as was the case in the time of Shammai and Hillel." Other features of our Book entirely accord with this. For instance, the glorification of the Patriarchs in which our author loves to indulge is the development of a tendency already marked in the Priestly Sections of the Hexateuch. 1 In Jubilees they become saints of the Law. Incidents which might reflect discredit upon them (such as that described in Gen. xii. 11-13) are omitted. Abram is represented as having known the true God from his youth (xi. 16-17; xii. i ff.). Jacob is "a model of filial affection and obedience." A noticeable feature is also the insistence upon the unique position of Israel among the nations, and its rigid separation from the latter. Circumcision is a sign of Israel's elect position (xv. 26) and a privilege which they enjoy in common with the two chief orders of angels (xv. 27). This is also true of the Sabbath, which the same angelic orders observe with Israel. It is needless to add that our author glorifies the Law, which is of heavenly origin and everlasting validity. This is his estimate of the Law in its narrow sense, i. e. the Pentateuch. It is by this criterion that he measures everything. It is true that Jubilees
contains incidents and amplifications which are not to be found in the written Torah. But the author is careful to base everything that is of legal obligation upon the letter of the Law itself. Anything that he allows himself to introduce by way of amplification or addition serves merely to enhance the obligation of the written precept.
Finally, his eschatology is essentially that of one who is primarily interested in the Law. In xxiii. 12-31, he introduces an apocalyptic passage which gives a history of the Maccabean times from the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes to the Messianic Kingdom, the advent of which is just at hand. A dark picture is drawn of the inroads of Hellenism, and of its disintegrating effects upon the observance of. the Law and the covenant (xxiii. 16-20); the warlike efforts of the Maccabees to reclaim the Hellenizers to Judaism are then described (xxiii. 20-22), and the cry of the nation for deliverance from its calamities (xxiii. 23-25). Then follows a passage (xxiii. 26-32) in which, as a consequence of Israel's renewed study of the Law, a happier period follows. The Messianic Kingdom is to be "brought about gradually by the progressive spiritual development of man and a corresponding transformation of nature." Its members are "to attain to the full limit of 1000 years in happiness and peace." Prof. Charles 1 adds: "The writer of Jubilees, we can hardly doubt thought that the era of the Messianic Kingdom had already set in."
The important point to notice about this picture is that the dawn of the happier Age is brought about by renewed study and observance of the Law:
And in those days the children will begin to study the laws,
And to seek the commandments,
And to return to the Path of righteousness (xxiii. 26).
The result is a gradual transformation of men and their environment. There is no catastrophe. It is
doubtful whether the author clearly envisages a final judgement, though there may be an allusion to such, in rather vague language, in xxiii. 30 f. The tone throughout is priestly, and it can hardly be doubted that the author was a priest.
xv:2 This is obscured by such titles as "the little Genesis," "the Apocalypse of Moses," etc.
xvi:1 vi. 34; cf. i. 10.
xvi:2 So Leszynsky, Die Sadduzäer, pp. 156 ff.
xvi:3 It should be noted that the Talmud (T.B., Ned., 61a) refers to the view (held by R. Jehuda) that the jubilee-period was forty-nine years.
xvii:1 In Hebraica, vol. viii. (1891-2), cited by Charles on vi. 32.
xix:1 Thus the Abyssinian Jews (Falashas), maintaining old practice, reckon the 50 days from Nisan 21, as our author does, but fix Sivan 12 as the date for the Feast of Weeks, as they use alternate months of 30 and 29 days. It should be noted that the author of 1 Enoch lxxii.-lxxxii. also advocates a year of 364 days.
xx:1 Op. cit., pp. 207 ff.
xx:2 Cf. R.W.S.2, p. 401 f.
xxii:1 This would be allowed in certain cases of homicide (not deliberate murder) by the Rabbinical Law.
xxii:2 Cf., however, xlviii, 14 note.
xxiv:1 Besides the above there were the seventy angelic patrons of the nations (xv. 31 and note) and the guardian angels of individuals (xxxv. 17).
xxiv:2 For details see Charles, op. cit., p. lvii f.
xxiv:3 This is the right form of the expression (not "prince Mastêmâ"): "Mastêmâ" in derivation and meaning = "Satan" (cf. x. 8 note).
xxv:1 Cf. Test. Levi, xviii.; Reuben, vi.; Ps. cx. 4 (? addressed to Simon Maccabæus). The Pharisees objected to the use of this title.
xxvi:1 So Leszynsky.
xxvii:1 See Carpenter, Hexateuch, i. 123 (cited by Charles).
xxviii:1 Op. cit., p. lxxxvii.