Noting that, in the Hebrew Bible, law, but not narrative, is attributed to Moses, this paper argues that the notion of the “Torah of Moses” as revealed literature, word for word dictation to Moses, is to be traced to a late Second Temple construction of the Pentateuch as apocalypse. The move is evident in the Book of Jubilees, who introduces his work with a detailed account of revelation at Sinai that includes his own work, the “Divisions of the Times,” an apocalypse, but not the “Torah of Moses.” However, as Jubilees overlaps with Genesis in great measure and, it is argued, refrains from alluding to the Pentateuch throughout, the claim would seem to be that the “Divisions of the Times” actually preceded the Pentateuch as one of its sources. The implications of this view for understanding Rewritten Bible and interpretation in the late Second Temple period are considered.




London: W. Davis, 1682, 1:36-59. For the French original, see Pierre Gibert, ed., Histoire critique du Vieux Testament (1678): Suivi de lettre sur l’inspiration (Paris: Bayard, 2008). On Simon, see Jean-Louis Ska, “Richard Simon: Un pionnier sur les sentiers de la tradition,” rsr 97 (2009): 307-16.


Marc Brettler, “Torah,” in The Jewish Study Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 2. See also James A. Sanders, Torah and Canon (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972), 3.


See, in particular, On Abraham 1.1-6. On discursive practices responsible for a shaping of the Pentateuchal material as exemplary, see Hindy Najman, Past Renewals: Interpretive Authority, Renewed Revelation, and the Quest for Perfection in Jewish Antiquity (Leiden: Brill, 2010). Kugel, Traditions, 15-17, sees an approach to the Bible as a “Book of Instruction” as an intrinsic component of ancient interpretation. For the pedagogical bias in our interpretation of the Bible, see David Lambert, How Repentance Became Biblical: Judaism, Christianity, and the Interpretation of Scripture (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), especially 91-92. See, also, John Barton, Oracles of God: Perceptions of Ancient Prophecy in Israel after the Exile (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1986), 154-78.


Ibid., 134. See, also, Ulrich, “From Literature to Scripture,” 8-9.


See Najman, “Interpretation as Primordial Writing,” 381-88.


James C. VanderKam, “Revealed Literature in the Second Temple Period,” in From Revelation to Canon: Studies in the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Literature (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 1-30, esp. 27.


Werman, “תורה and תעודה,” 77-78.


Cf. VanderKam, “Studies on the Prologue,” 271; and Kugel, “Jubilees,” 20. Both call upon a rabbinic reading to support this approach: “ ‘Tablets’ refer to the Ten Commandments, ‘torah’ to Scripture [i.e. the Pentateuch], ‘the commandment” to Mishnah, ‘that I have written’ to the Prophets and Writings, ‘to teach them’ to gemara, teaching that all of these were given to Moses at Sinai” (b. Ber. 5a). But, there is little reason to push the rabbinic penchant to atomize, supposing each term to have its own separate referent, back on Jubilees.


Brevard Childs, The Book of Exodus: A Critical, Theological Commentary (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1974), 499, suggests that the verse underwent a later addition that expanded the apparent contents of the revelation in question.


Kugel, Jubilees, 64-65.


Ibid., 65.


Werman, “תורה and תעודה,” 78, recognizes the literary connection to the “Commandment” Torah but assumes that it is to be identified with the Pentateuch.


See, also, James C. VanderKam, “The End of the Matter? Jubilees 50:6-13 and the Unity of the Book,” in Heavenly Tablets: Interpretation, Identity and Tradition in Early Judaism, ed. L. LiDonnici and A. Lieber (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 267-84, esp. 279-80.


See, also, Najman, “Interpretation as Primordial Writing,” 397. Jubilees, thereby, bridges a divergence in language between Exod 24:12 and Exod 31:18, which originates, in part, in a source critical difference—E versus P. See, above, n. 51 and 55.


See the resulting suggestions in Kugel, Jubilees, 27; and Armin Lange, “From Literature to Scripture: The Unity and Plurality of the Hebrew Scriptures in Light of the Qumran Library,” in Helmer and Landmesser, One Scripture or Many? 51-107, esp. 104-5.


Lambert, Repentance, 123-26.


Segal, Jubilees, 288-89.


Ibid., 215-16.


As Reed writes, “Jubilees’ epistemology centers on a view of heaven as the ultimate source for all true knowledge” (“Enoch and Mosaic Traditions,” 363). That places Jubilees within a wide-ranging form of idealism that betrays traces of what is generally labeled as Platonism. Platonism, in any event, provides a helpful model for understanding the relationship between the Pentateuch, “Commandment” and “Testimony” Torot, and Heavenly Tablets as one of emanation. The Torah of Moses may be an attenuated, decidedly human affair, mixed in content and, ultimately, incomplete, but it is a reflection of works that are themselves divinely-authorized copies of the heavenly tablets that are the truest, most essential repository of the world’s hardwiring, divine law and events. Cf. Philo’s theory of the Law of Moses as a copy of a copy. On this, see Najman, “The Law of Nature,” 73-86, and “A Written Copy of the Law of Nature: An Unthinkable Paradox?” in Past Renewals, 107-20. On Jubilees and Hellenism, see Cana Werman, “Jubilees in the Hellenistic Context,” in LiDonnici and Lieber, Heavenly Tablets, 133-58, esp. 152-56. See Wright, “Jubilees, Sirach” 122-25, for the sense in which the sage in Ben Sira has direct access to the very source of Torah, namely, Wisdom, and, therefore, is in a position to render its meaning.


Najman, “Torah of Moses,” 213. Najman’s work has been particularly influential in moving us beyond the earlier consensus view of treating pseudepigraphy as pious fraud.


See Segal, “Between Bible and Rewritten Bible,” 10-28.


Lambert, Repentance, 123-26. See, also, David Lambert, “Did Israel Believe that Redemption Awaited its Repentance? The Case of Jubilees 1,” cbq 68 (2006): 631-50.

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