Because some of the books mentioned in the Tanach are not found there today, such as the book of Jasher, the book of the Acts of Solomon, the book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel and Judah, the book of the prophet Nathan, Samuel and Gad, the book of Ahijah the Shilonite, the book of Ado and many others?

  • The Torah itself mentions the book of Yashar in Yehoshua 10:13. The Talmud in Avodah Zarah 25a mentions that this is refers to the book of Bereishis- Genesis. - aish.com/the-book-of-jasher
    – Shmuel
    Nov 13, 2022 at 18:09
  • And where is it in Genesis that the sun and moon would stop for the Israelite army to take revenge on their enemies? Or in relation to what the writer of Joshua was referring to when he mentioned this book in that context of the battle?
    – Thales
    Nov 13, 2022 at 20:51
  • The Daat Zkenim cites a Midrash, which cites Genesis 32:32. - 'והנה השמש והירח וגו, “and behold, the sun and the moon, etc.” we read in B’reshit Rabbah 84,11, that when Joshua commanded the sun to stand still in Joshua 10,12, the sun refused to accept his command until he added: “did you not bow down to my forefather already?” (Joshua was descended from Ephrayim, son of Joseph) Upon hearing this, the sun complied with Joshua’s command.
    – Shmuel
    Nov 13, 2022 at 21:00
  • They were lost, unfortunately (the unfortunately is my opinion, I've heard people state that if something wasn't preserved then it's no loss because we don't need it).
    – Harel13
    Nov 13, 2022 at 21:05
  • 1
    Short gloss of interesting theories I've seen over the years: It has been academically theorized that Kings contains most of Acts of Solomon and a hypothetical reproduction was attempted at least once (to my knowledge). Likewise, an attempt at reproducing a chapter from Jasher was also made a few years ago. Some have also hypothesized that much of Kings is based on the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel and much of Chronicles is based on the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. The other books are basically lost for now, although an apocryphal version of Book of Gad is known from Coucin, India.
    – Harel13
    Nov 13, 2022 at 21:15

1 Answer 1


Traditionally, these books are thought to have been lost to time.

In Seder Eliyahu Zuta, Additions to Eliyahu Zuta, Introduction 8 it says:

"והדעת נותנת כי דברי אגור בן יקה (משלי ל׳, א׳) ודברי למואל (שם ל"א) היו ג"כ ספרים שלמים מאלה עניני החינוך. אלא שנכתבו בסגנון אחר. ולא העתיקו אנשי חזקיהו מהם רק מעט. אם מפני שלא ראו עוד צורך בהם. או מה שנראה יותר. שנאבדו ספריהם והנשאר מהאבדון העתיקו וחברום אל משלי שלמה. וכמו כן הרבה דברים בספר קהלת."
"And it is to be believed that the words of Agur ben Yakeh (Proverbs 30:1) and the words of Lemuel (ibid. 31) were also complete books filled with teachings about education. But they were written in a different style. And the men of Chizkiyahu only copied from them a little bit, perhaps because they did not need the rest. Or perhaps what seems more likely, that these books were lost, and whatever was left from that which was lost they copied and attached to the Proverbs of Shlomo. And so too many things from Kohelet."

Rabbi Tanchum Hayerushalmi wrote in the introduction to his commentary on the Book of Yonah:

"...עם מה שאמרנו גם על ספר עובדיה, שקשה להניח שהיה נביא דגול שלא נתגלה אליו בחייו אלא בעניין אחד בלבד. בכתוב נאמר במפורש שליונה ע"ה ספר, ובו נבואות וסיפורים רבים. יודעים זאת ממה שנאמר בספר מלכים, שניבא על ירבעם בן יואש מלך ישראל, הוא הכתוב על אודותיו "כדבר ה' אשר דבר ביד עבדו יונה בן אמתי הנביא אשר מגת החפר" (מלכים ב' י"ד, כ"ה). ואין ספק שהסיפור הזה הוא חלק ממנו, וזה מה שמצאנו ממנו, ושאריתו אבדה, עם כל מה שאנו חסרים, כגון תחיית המתים והמשפטים ורזי התורה וסודות הנבואות, וכל המדעים שחכמי אומתנו ורבותיהם עסקו בהם, ואבדו ממנו בגלות ונשכחו ועברו אל אומות אחרות, עד שנאלצנו לבקש אותם בספריהם...וספרים שנזכרו במקרא ולא נמצאו הם ראיה על ספרים אחרים שלא נזכרו, ובהם גם ספר הישר וספר דברי נתן הנביא וגד החוזה..."
"...along with that which we said about the Book of Ovadiah, that it's difficult to believe that there was a great prophet to whom only once did God apppear to him in his lifetime, for only one issue. It says explicitly in the text that Yonah peace be upon him had a book which included many prophecies and stories. We know this from that which is stated in the Book of Kings, that he prophesied about Yerov'am ben Yoash King of Israel, as it is written: "in accordance with the promise that the LORD, the God of Israel, had made through His servant, the prophet Jonah son of Amitai from Gath-hepher" (Kings 2:14:25). Undoubtedly this story [told in the Book of Yonah] is only part of the entire book, and this is what we found from that book, and the rest was lost, along with all that has already been lost to us, such as understanding of the resurrection and laws and secrets of the Torah and secrets of prophecies, and all the knowledges that the sages of our nation and our rabbis studied, and were lost from us during the diaspora and passed on to other nations, until we had to search for these in their books...and the books mentioned in Tanach and are not found today bear witness to other books which were not mentioned, among them the Book of Yashar and the Book of the Words of Natan the Prophet and Gad the Seer..."

As a side-note, as I mentioned in the comments, it is thought by some modern scholars that some of the 24 books of Tanach that we have today preserve portions of some of these books. And a number of decades ago a fascinating inscription was found in Deir Alla, Jordan preserving a story about none other than the Tanachic Bilam. Some think that the inscription preserves a portion of a lost book of Bilam's prophecies, which may or may not be the text of Bilam mentioned here in the Talmud.

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