The passage from Jubilees, beside its biblical counterpart, illustrates several aspects of the book—how it expands the biblical text (the “rewritten Bible”), uses the jubilee (seven times seven) years as a measurement of time and traces later festivals to the time of the ancestors. It also enlarges on the lives of patriarchs such as Abram. The Jubilees text is based on the Ethiopic version as corrected on the basis of fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Rainbow in the clouds

Genesis 9:8–17

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.”

Jubilees 6:15–19

He (God) gave Noah and his sons a sign that there would not again be a flood on the earth. He put his bow in the clouds as a sign of the eternal covenant that there would not henceforth be flood waters on the earth for the purpose of destroying it throughout all the days of the earth. For this reason it has been ordained and written on the heavenly tablets that they should celebrate the festival of weeks [Shavuot in Hebrew by which name it is called by Jews; it is called Pentecost by Christians] during this month—once a year—to renew the covenant each and every year. This entire festival had been celebrated in heaven from the time of creation until the lifetime of Noah—for 26 jubilees and five weeks of years [= 1309 years]. Then Noah and his sons kept it for seven jubilees and one week of years until Noah’s death [=350 years]. From the day of Noah’s death his sons corrupted (it) until Abraham’s lifetime and were eating blood. Abraham alone kept (it), and his sons Isaac and Jacob kept it until your lifetime. During your [= Moses?] lifetime the Israelites had forgotten (it) until I renewed (it) for them at this mountain (Sinai).

The Early Life of Abram

Genesis 11:24–29

When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah; and Nahor lived after the birth of Terah 119 years, and had other sons and daughters. When Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Now these are the descendants of Terah. Terah was the of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot. Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah. She was the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah.

Jubilees 11:14–22

During the 39th jubilee, in the second week, in the first year [1870], Terah married a woman whose name was Edna, the daughter of Abram, the daughter of his father’s sister. In the seventh year of this week [1876] she gave birth to a son for him, and he named him Abram after his mother’s father because he had died before his daughter’s son was conceived. The child began to realize the errors of the earth—that everyone was going astray after the statues and after impurity. His father taught him (the art of) writing. When he was two weeks of years [= 14 years], he separated from his father in order not to worship idols with him. He began to pray to the creator of all that he would save him from the errors of mankind and that it might not fall to his share to go astray after impurity and wickedness.

When the time for planting seeds in the ground arrived, all of them went out together to guard the seed from the ravens. Abram—a child of 14 years—went out with those who were going out. As a cloud of ravens came to eat the seed, Abram would run at them before they could settle on the ground. He would shout at them before they could settle on the ground to eat the seed and would say: “Do not come down; return to the place from which you came!” And they returned. That day he did (this) to the cloud of ravens 70 times. Not a single raven remained in any of the fields where Abram was. All who were with him in any of the fields would see him shouting; then all of the ravens returned (to their place). His reputation grew large throughout the entire land of the Chaldeans. All who were planting seed came to him in this year, and he kept going with them until the seedtime came to an end. They planted their land and that year brought in enough food. So they ate and were filled.

Abram’s Journeys Begin

Genesis 11:31–12:4

Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan; but when they came to Haran, they settled there. The days of Terah were two hundred five years; and Terah died in Haran.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

Jubilees 12:1–15

During the sixth week, in its seventh year [1904], Abram said to his father Terah: “My father.” He said, “Yes, my son?” He said: “What help and advantage do we get from these idols before which you worship and prostrate yourself? For there is no spirit in them because they are dumb. They are an error of the mind. Do not worship them. Worship the God of heaven who makes the rain and dew fall on the earth and makes everything on the earth. He created everything by his word; and all life (comes) from his presence. Why do you worship those things which have no spirit in them? For they are made by hands and you carry them on your shoulders. You receive no help from them, but instead they are a great shame for those who make them and an error of the mind for those who worship them. Do not worship them.” Then he said to him: “I, too, know (this), my son. What shall I do with the people who have ordered me to serve in their presence? If I tell them what is right, they will kill me because they themselves are attached to them so that they worship and praise them. Be quiet, my son, so that they do not kill you.” When he told these things to his two brothers and they became angry at him, he remained silent.

During the fortieth jubilee, in the second week, in its seventh year [1925], Abram married a woman whose name was Sarai, the daughter of his father, and she became his wife. His brother Haran married a woman in the third year of the third week [1928], and she gave birth to a son for him in the seventh year of this week [1932]. He named him Lot. His brother Nahor also got married. In the sixtieth year of Abram’s life (which was the fourth week, in its fourth year [1936]), Abram got up at night and burned the temple of the idols. He burned everything in the temple but no one knew (about it). They got up at night and wanted to save their gods from the fire. Haran dashed in to save them, but the fire raged over him. He was burned in the fire and died in Ur of the Chaldeans before his father Terah. They buried him in Ur of the Chaldeans. Then Terah left Ur of the Chaldeans—he and his sons—to go the land of Lebanon and the land of Canaan. He settled in Haran, and Abram lived with his father in Haran for two weeks of years.