Pre-Biblical Hebrew Documents

Long before the Torah account became the official declaration–and well before the version known as the Old Testament became installed as the official accounting of how everything came into being, there were many documents written in Hebrew that were held as sacred but which over time became conveniently lost or purposely suppressed. Among those was a text known as The Book of the Story of Adam, which is alluded to in Genesis 5:1 (where it reads, “This is the book of the generations of Adam”) and which implies that the ten generations from Adam to Noah had been more detailed.

In spite of heavy censoring of pre-biblical texts, a few of those early poetic Hebrew-style writings have been discoverd, but most are known primarily through brief fragments that have been quoted from in authorized books such as Numbers 21:14 (“Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the Lord…”); Joshua 10:13 (“Is it not written in the book of Jasher?”); and in Samuel 1:18 (“…behold, it is written in the Book of Jasher.”)

Among the documents that were shoved into oblivion were epic accounts such as The Book of the Wars of Yahweh; another was known as the Book of Yashar. Both of these covered a more in-depth account of the Israelites’ alleged desert ordeal and a more grandiose version of the invasion of Canaan than the account passed down as the authorized version now found in Exodus and Numbers. From the book of Joshua 18:9 it can be discerned that another seven-part version once existed which glowingly described the coveted land of Canaan and its cities. In the book of Isaiah, 34:16, it says, “Seek ye out the book of the Lord, and read…” The book referred to there was the text known as The Book of Yahweh which was likely a collection of allegorical fables about the habits and traits of animals from which moral significance could be drawn.

Other books which would probably throw a different light on things held sacred by their mythic references might well have been presented in documents known as: 1) Acts of Solomon, 2) the Book of Geneaology, 3) the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah, 4) Of Kings of Israel, and 5) Of the Sons of Levi.

It would be up to much later generations to add to the sacred accounts in attempts to clarify Mosaic Law and add moral, historical and anecdotal texts. But they, too, dipped into mythic material to validate the prescribed laws, social customs and rituals. With these little pieces of an ancient puzzle we are privileged to see how the so-called “revealed word of God” evolved.

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