I wanted to take a break from the chaos and events of the world for a day or so, and dive into the examination of Scripture. So, I hope you're willing to take this little journey with me. The first question you should be asking is, "Why would we consider anything non-canonical when it comes to Jesus?" Here is my answer, which may differ from yours, and that is okay. I believe that everything in the Bible is about Jesus. But I don't think that everything there is to know about Jesus is in the Bible. And I give you John 21:25 as evidence ... Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would [have to] be written. I'm not sure we could lift the immense and massive book our Bible would be if everything about Jesus was contained within its pages. Therefore, I surmise that we if we believe that God loves it when we search for His truth (Proverbs 25:2), then I am permitted to use the discernment I receive from the Holy Spirit to examine and consider if other texts align with our Holy Scripture. So, I simply ask for a few minutes of your time to consider some interesting aspects of Scripture that I have come across.
But there is a non-canonical history book that sheds much more light on this segment of Joseph's life, and which has some interesting connections to words spoken by our Lord and recorded in the Bible. It is called the Book of Jasher. It is thought to have been written over 3500 years ago, and much of its writings were the basis for the Talmud and Mishna in the Jewish religion. There have been many forgeries throughout the centuries, and corrupt versions have tarnished its relevance. But many acknowledged first century historians and theologians quoted from it, and its mention in the Bible gives it credibility, in my opinion. Through careful analysis, I have chosen a book titled Ancient Book of Jasher by author Ken Johnson, a Doctor of Theology, who writes and lectures on a variety of issues related to Bible prophecy, ancient history, and the coming apostasy.
And before anyone thinks that I am calling Jasher equal to the Bible, I assure you that I am not. I do not consider it to be inspired by God. But I do think it is a reliable history source for understanding more of what the Bible reveals to us. Couple that with the fact that the Bible, itself, references the Book of Jasher three times, and I believe God intends for us to pursue more revelation from it as long as it confirms Scripture. (NOTE: these references include Joshua 10:12-14; 2nd Samuel 1:17-18; and 2 Timothy 3:8, where the names of Jannes and Jambres are mentioned. These men were among the magicians who challenged Moses and Aaron in Pharaohs's court, and are referenced in Exodus 1:15 and 7:10-12. But they are not named. It is only in Jasher 79:27 that we find out who and why Timothy mentions them in the Bible).
I will add one more testimony to my reasons for at least considering Jasher in my study of the Bible. The acclaimed Jewish historian Josephus, who was born shortly after Christ's crucifixion and was present during that first century when Christianity lit the world on fire, wrote this about the Book of Jasher (which was in wide use that first century)... by this book are to be understood certain records kept in some safe place on purpose, giving an account of what happened among the Hebrews from year to year, and called Jasher, or the Upright, on account of the fidelity of the annals".
Finally, now I'm about to reveal what has fascinated me in regards to the story of Joseph and his connection to the recorded words of Jesus.... In Genesis 37:24, the Bible says, "And they (Joseph's brothers) took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was not water in it". My spirit comprehends that this pit was a region of captivity for Joseph, and it was dry and without the Living Water of God. But Jasher reveals more to this simple sentence. Jasher 41:28 reads, "And they took him and cast him into a pit, and in the pit there was no water, but serpents and scorpions. And Joseph was afraid of the serpents and scorpions in the pit. And Joseph cried out with a loud voice, and the Lord hid the serpents and scorpions in the sides of the pit, and they did no harm unto Joseph.
Immediately, my spirit highlights Luke 10:19, in which Jesus says to His disciples, Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. To me, this is evidence of God's sovereignty in a life. He is showing us that He has been preparing for the glory of Christ and His coming Kingdom throughout redemptive history. In Joseph's case, it is the Lord's authority that rules over the serpents and scorpions in the pit. But when Jesus is our Savior and we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we have been given His authority to rule against the power of the Enemy (serpents and scorpions) in our own personal pits and regions of captivity.
Within that same passage, in Jasher 41:30-31, Joseph calls out to his brothers from the pit, "If I have sinned against you, are you not the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? If they saw an orphan, they had compassion over him, or one that was thirsty, they gave him water to drink, or one that was naked, they covered him with garments? And how then will you uphold your pity from your brother, for I am of your flesh and blood, and if I have sinned unto you, surely you will do this on account of my father!" Sound familiar? In Matthew 25:31-40, Jesus has just finished speaking to His disciples about the Parable of the Talents, and pronounces what the Final Judgment will entail: When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Are you as amazed as I am that Jesus quotes the words of Joseph, who lived 1600-1700 years before Him? And this account was recorded in a Book written 1500 years before His crucifixion? In Matthew, Jesus is identifying the actions of a righteous man -- who is blessed by His Father -- with the same actions Joseph credits to those who are authentic sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! Jesus states that those who are righteous and feed the hungry, give water to those who are thirsty (for the Living Water), welcome the stranger, and clothe the naked will inherit the Kingdom. Again, the Book of Jasher provides us with more historical information than the Book of Genesis, but it is all in the character and sovereignty of the Lord to deliver His Kingdom to those He has chosen since the foundation of the world.
Joseph was chosen to provide and protect the nation of Israel during the 7-year famine. He went from being a prisoner in a region of captivity (Egypt; representative of Sin) to becoming a Prince within that kingdom he was sold into. Jesus delivers us from our own prisons of sin in the kingdom of darkness into our inheritance as Princes and Princesses in His Kingdom on earth. Joseph received the blessings and benefits of God's authority in the midst of his fear in the pit. As sons and daughters of the King, Jesus bestows our own authority [upon us] to battle the Enemy, where we experience no fear because we know who and whose we are.
The Book of Jasher is not inspired. But its references in the Bible do not preclude me (or you) from gleaning deeper revelation of the magnificence of God's glory and His profound involvement in the history of the world. I am overwhelmed when I find these jewels that support Scripture and help broaden my vision of how big our God is. Does this make the Bible less relevant or somehow devalue Holy Scripture? Absolutely not! I simply believe my Father is pleased when I glorify Him by searching for more of Him. Proverbs 25:2 makes that perfectly clear ... It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. Whether you read the Book of Jasher or not is certainly your choice. Listen to your spirit; seek the Holy Spirit's guidance, and honor His counsel. Pray that the Father will reveal His desire in the matter. And then be blessed by what you hear. And I thank you for allowing me to share a little bit of my journey in seeing how God is revealing the Kingdom throughout the entire Bible. I'm only on Genesis 37 in my third pilgrimage through Scripture. I can't wait to share more of what I discover!
Isaiah 30:21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.