In the Hellenistic Context



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Jubilees


[ ]the tongue that is between them up to the Tina River and [ ] all the land of the north till it reaches [ ] (about 23 letters)

and this boundary passes (through) the waters of the Great Sea till it reaches [ ] (2 words)

he apportioned to Japheth and to his sons to inherit as an eternal inheritance

[Now] Shem my son divided his share amongst his sons, and first fell to [E]l[am] in the north by the waters of the Tigris, until it reaches the R[e]d [S]ea to its sources that in the north,


and turns to the west to Ashur till it reaches the Tigris

Japhet also divided between his sons. First, he gave to Gomer, in the north up to the Tina River,


and after him to Magog,

and after him to Madai

and after him to Javan, all the islands near Lud.
And between the tongue [near] Lud and the second tongue to Tubal [ ] in the land

And to Meshech the sea [ ] (3-4 words)


[and] to Tiras [ ] [f]our [ ] the tongue of the sea that is near the portion of the sons of Ham. (cols. 16–17)

For Japheth there emerged a third share on the other side of the Tina River22 toward the north of the mouth of its waters. It goes toward the northeast, (toward) the whole area of Gog23 and all that is east of them. It goes due north and goes toward the mountains of Qelt,24 to the north and toward the Mauq Sea.25 It comes to the east of Gadir as far as the edge of the sea waters. It goes until it reaches the west of Fara. Then it goes back toward Aferag26 and goes eastward toward the water of the Me’at Sea.27 And it goes to the edge of the Tina River toward the northeast until it reaches the bank of its waters toward the mountain range of Rafa. It goes around to the north. This is the land that emerged for Japheth and his children as his hereditary share which he would occupy for himself and his children throughout their generations forever: five large islands and a large land in the north. (8:25–29)

Shem, too, divided (his share) among his sons. There emerged a first share for Elam and his children to the east of the Tigris River until it reaches the east of the entire land of India, in Erythrea28 on its border, the waters of the Dedan,29 all the mountains of Mebri and Ela,30 all of the land of Susan, and everything on the border of Farnak as far as the Erythrean Sea and the Tina River.31

For Asshur there emerged as the second share the whole land of Asshur, Nineveh, Shinar, and Sak32 as far as the vicinity of India (where) the Wadafa River rises (9:2–3).
Japheth, too, divided the land among his sons as an inheritance. There emerged for Gomer a first share eastward from the north side as far as the Tina River.

North of him there emerged (as a share) for Magog all the central parts of the north until it reaches the Me’at Sea.

For Madai there emerged a share for him to occupy on the west of his two brothers as far as the islands and the shores of the islands.33

For Javan there emerged as the fourth share every island and the islands that are in the direction of Lud’s border.

For Tubal there emerged as the fifth share the middle of the tongue which reaches the border of Lud’s share as far as the second tongue,34 and the other side of the second tongue into the third tongue.

For Meshech there emerged a sixth share, namely all the (region on the) other side of the third tongue until it reaches the east of Gadir. For Tiras there emerged as the seventh share the four large islands within the sea which reach Ham’s share (9:7–13; VanderKam, Jubilees, slightly revised).35



This comparison illustrates at a glance the considerable similarity between the account of the division of the earth among Noah’s sons in the Genesis Apocryphon and in Jubilees. Nonetheless, there are significant differences. The account in Jubilees is longer and more detailed, including many details unknown to the author of the Genesis Apocryphon, which predates Jubilees.

In the Apocryphon the description of the northern region of Japheth’s portion is extremely brief: “All the land to the north.” In contrast, Jubilees provides a detailed description of the region: the mountains of Qelt (= the Alps or the Pyrenees), the Mauq Sea and Gadir. Because of the fragment's poor preservation, one line in the Apocryphon is illegible and may have included these details. However, it is noteworthy that, in listing the division of Japheth’s portion among his sons, Jubilees adds geographical details, whereas the Apocryphon, here well preserved, omits them, laconically stating, “And after that to Magog, and after that to Madai, and after that to Javan….” Jubilees describes Magog’s portion as stretching from the north to the Sea of Me’at, and Madai’s portion includes “the islands and up to the coasts of the islands,” that is, the British Isles. It is also noteworthy that Meshech’s portion in Jubilees extends as far as Gadir—a detail apparently lacking in the Genesis Apocryphon. The three or four undecipherable words in this line are not sufficient to describe the “tongues” in Meshech’s portion or to refer to Gadir.

Another area in which geographical details found in Jubilees are lacking in the Genesis Apocryphon relates to the southern part of Japheth’s portion. According to Jubilees Japheth’s boundary runs to the west of Far (a name for Africa), that is, from the westernmost point in Europe, returning from there to Aferag (another name for Africa), eastward to the Me’at Sea, and still farther east to the source of the Tina River in the mountains of Rafa. The Apocryphon, however, mentions only the Great Sea (“and this boundary passes [through] the waters of the Great Sea”). The Me’at Sea and the mountains of Rafa, mentioned because of Jubilees' familiarity with Greek geographical science, are missing from the Apocryphon.

There are also prominent differences in the division of the earth among the sons of Shem. According to the Genesis Apocryphon, Elam’s portion consists only of the region of the Tigris—from the north of the Tigris to the Red Sea (= the Persian Gulf). In Jubilees, however, Elam’s portion extends not to the west but to the east—to India, the Indian Ocean, the Iranian plateau (if that is indeed the meaning of “the Mountains of Mebri and Ela”) and the land of Susan (“the side of Farnak” is difficult to identify). Asshur’s portion also extends eastward in Jubilees but not in the Apocryphon. In Jubilees it consists of Asshur, Nineveh, Shinar and Sak, up to the approaches of India (we cannot identify the Wadafa River). The Genesis Apocryphon places Asshur’s portion west of the Tigris.

Comparison of additional chapters in Jubilees with their parallels in the Genesis Apocryphon suggests that Jubilees author was familiar with, and reworked, the Genesis Apocryphon for his own purposes.36 If so, Jubilees' account of the division of the earth can be regarded as a revised, expanded version of the account found in the Genesis Apocryphon. Furthermore, I submit that the manner in which he reworked and expanded his material, by introducing Hellenistic-scientific additions to the latter’s description of the parcellation of the world,37 clearly indicates his extensive conversance with Hellenistic science.

Based upon the particulars found in Jubilees' description of the division of the earth, it seems likely that the author of Jubilees had at his disposal a detailed, presumably written, description of the Ionic map. His use of that literature was quite astute, for his primary purpose was to reject its influence. The map enabled the author of Jubilees to ignore the dozens of nations listed in Genesis 10, providing him with the means to enhance Shem’s standing. Shem receives the “ideal” continent, and the most fertile region in that continent falls into the hands of Abraham’s ancestor Arpachshad.38 This region also contains the omphalos of the world, Mount Zion. The rulers of Asia, Greece and Rome, violate the oath sworn by the sons of Noah not to encroach on one another’s territory and are consequently doomed.39 Seeking to erect a barrier between the Jewish people and a foreign (in his view, idolatrous) culture, and to combat that culture, Jubilees borrowed a weapon from Hellenistic culture itself: “It is remarkable how energetically and independently the Jews turned Greek ideas on their heads,” as Momigliano says of the book of Judith; Schmidt shows, rightly, that the same is true of Jubilees.40





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