Bible Study Resources - Tips, Online Bible Search, Devotions

Leave a 75th Birthday Greeting to Honor Dr. Michael Youssef for His Ministry!

Should Christians Read the Book of Jubilees?

Should Christians Read the Book of Jubilees?

Jubilee. That’s not a word that I remember hearing much until I began reading the Bible. It’s a happy-sounding word, though. Growing up in Missouri, I think my earliest associations with the word connected it to Ozark Mountain bluegrass music. In my young mind, “jubilee” had something to do with stompin’ and shoutin’ and celebrating. So, if you’d have asked me at the age of 12 about the Book of Jubilees, I’d likely have thought it was a book filled with joyful songs. 

What is the Book of Jubilees? When was it written, and by whom? Should it be included in the Old Testament? Is it something that Christians should still read today? It’s not a book of mountain-moving bluegrass tunes, but what is it?   

What Is the Book of Jubilees?

You might get a clue as to what the book of Jubilees is if you are made aware of its other title: Lesser Genesis. The book is a retelling of Genesis and part of Exodus divided into 49-year periods. This is the books claim for itself: 

“THIS is the history of the division of the days of the law and of the testimony, of the events of the years, of their (year) weeks, of their Jubilees throughout all the years of the world, as the Lord spake to Moses on Mount Sinai when he went up to receive the tables of the law and of the commandment, according to the voice of God as he said unto him, 'Go up to the top of the Mount.' 

The name “Book of Jubilees” is given to it because the chronology is divided into these 49-year periods, known as a jubilee. If you’ve ever heard of the year of jubilee (Leviticus 25:1-13) they came every 50th year. It was part of the Sabbath structure that was built into the people of God. Jubilees, then, came to be measured by a year of weeks (7x7) or 49. 

The Book of Jubilees will be very familiar to a reader of the book of Genesis. In many regards, the story parallels that of the Book of Genesis. Yet in many places, there are additional details provided. In Jubilees, we are told the names for Adam and Eve’s daughters (Azura and Awan), the four different classes of angels (angels of presence, angels of sanctifications, guardian angels, and those presiding over nature), and gives a precise 2,410 years from creation to the giving of the Law. 

Jubilees also tells us that Hebrew, the language of heaven, was the original language spoken by all creation—including animals. It also gives an older origin to the Mosaic Law and has many of the patriarchs observing laws and festivals which the Torah would place later in time. This helps us to understand some of the purpose. It is clear that the author is arguing for a specific calendar system and is attempting to give the origins for contemporary Jewish laws and customs. Instituting a jubilee calendar would have ensured faithfulness to the actual day to celebrate religious festivals and certain holy days. 

While it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact date most scholars place its around 100-200 BC. Its use by the Essene sect and the Qumran community also helps us understand the book’s purpose and origin. Should we listen? Is this inspired?  

Why Isn't the Book of Jubilees Included in the Bible?

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is a mouthful of nonsensical syllables brought to life by Mary Poppins. It’s a word you use when you need to say something but you have nothing to say. And if you say it loud enough you will sound rather precocious. There is a word used in Old Testament studies that might sound just as nonsensical but actually helps us in classifying religious books written during the same period as the Old Testament. That word is pseudepigrapha.   

The books from the Old Testament period are classified into three categories. First, are the canonical books. These are the 39 books accepted by all. The second category is the Apocrypha, these are the books accepted by some. These would be those books, like 1 & 2 Maccabees, that are included in the Roman Catholic canon. The third grouping is known as pseudepigrapha—these are rejected by all because they are falsely attributed. Pseudepigrapha means “falsely inscribed”. The Book of Jubilees falls into this third category. 

There are a few reasons why this isn’t found in the Bible. First, as mentioned, is due to its false claim of authorship. The book, clearly written late in the history of the Jewish people, claims to have been authored by Moses. Such a dubious claim immediately fails the test of authenticity. The God who cannot lie does not write under a deceptive or false name. 

One other point to mention is that an acceptance of The Book of Jubilees into the canon would immediately place it in contradiction with Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The dating of the law according to this book would have undercut Paul’s argument in Galatians. Such a contradiction would also be one of the reasons why this is not considered Scripture. But should Christians still read it? Can we benefit from reading this book?

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Anna Pritchard 

Should Christians Read the Book of Jubilees?

I am not one to ever say that someone should not read any book. However, I will always say that a book should be read fairly and discerningly. In other words, this book purports to be a history. This means it should be read as such and we should also consider the claims that the author makes. If it’s shown to be untrustworthy in a known area (such as when the Law was given) this should immediately cause us to treat suspect the book's other claims (the names of Adam and Eve’s daughters). We weigh the claims in the Book of Jubilees much the way that we weigh claims in other historical books.   

There is always a temptation for believers to want to know more than what God has chosen to reveal. We find interest in filling in some of those gaps in our knowledge. We want to know about the early life of Christ and so when something like the Book of Thomas claims to fill in those gaps—we listen. The same can be said for some of the Old Testament history. There are many places where the Bible simply does not speak. We are intrigued, then, when a book claims to tell us definitively the origins of the Nephilim. But we should consider these cautious words of John Calvin: 

Indeed, vanity joined with pride can be detected in the fact that, in seeking God, miserable men do not rise above themselves as they should, but measure him by the yardstick of their own carnal stupidity, and neglect sound investigation; thus out of curiosity they fly off into empty speculations. They do not, therefore, apprehend God as he offers himself, but imagine him as they have fashioned him in their own presumption. When this gulf opens, in whatever direction they move their feet, they cannot but plunge headlong into ruin.

When Scripture does not speak upon something we do not have an authoritative word on the matter. Therefore, we cannot say with any certainty the names of Adam and Eve’s children. God did not see fit to tell us. It’s fine to read a book like this. It’s fine, perhaps, to read this history and understand that a Jewish sect a couple hundred years before Jesus were believing these things. It can be helpful for us to understand the culture and beliefs in that time. But if we begin to treat these works as equally authoritative—or even somehow more authoritative than even a contemporary work of history—we do ourselves an injustice. 


The Book of Jubilees is an interesting read. It is interesting to see how a Jewish sect used, and even tailored the Old Testament story, to fit their own worldview. It can even be helpful to learn what could have been some oral tradition floating around during the time of Jesus. It’s helpful to know these things. But we should know what it is that we are reading and apply it accordingly. This is not Scripture. It does not have the weight of Scripture. Proceed accordingly.

Photo Credit: iStock/Getty Images Plus/Chinnapong 

Mike Leake is husband to Nikki and father to Isaiah and Hannah. He is also the lead pastor at Calvary of Neosho, MO. Mike is the author of Torn to Heal and Jesus Is All You Need. His writing home is and you can connect with him on Twitter @mikeleake. Mike has a new writing project at Proverbs4Today.

This article is part of our larger resource library of Christian questions important to the Christian faith. From core beliefs to what the Bible says about angels, we want to provide easy to read and understand articles that answer your questions about Christian living.

What Do Christians Believe?
How Old Is the Earth?
Who Is My Neighbor in the Bible?
What Does God Look Like?
Are Guardian Angels Real?
What Does it Mean to Be Zealous for God?

Related podcast:

The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.

Related video:

Although it is human nature to question and try to find the reasoning behind God’s ways, I truly believe most of our “why” questions result from ignorance about Who God is or a lack of faith in what He is doing. Read more here.

Stock Footage & Music Courtesy of Thumbnail by Getty Images