Picking up from Part 17, the Jewish Encyclopedia continues, “The book of Jubilees (30.20-22) speaks of two heavenly tablets or books: a book of life for the righteous, and a book of death for those that walk in the paths of impurity and are written down on the heavenly tablets as adversaries (of God). Also, according to 36.10, one who contrives evil against his neighbor will be blotted out of the book of remembrance of men, and will not be written in the book of life, but in the book of perdition.”
The book of Jubilees is part of the Pseudo-pigrapha and not considered Scripture. However, it was a book that was well known and in use in the First Century (time of Yeshua) so it does tell us what some Jews thought and how they interpreted these expressions like the “book of life” or the “book of remembrance” and some words like “perdition.” We will recall that 2 Thes 2.3 talks about the “son of perdition” (KJV) or “destruction” (NASB). Jubilees 30.20-22 and 36.10 also has information on the book of life and the book of those w.ho will be destroyed. The book of the rashim (wicked) is not a book one would want to be written down in.
In Dan 7.10 and 1 Enoch 47.3 the “Ancient of Days” is seen as sitting on his throne with the book of life (living) opened before him. 1 Enoch 104.1 says that the tzadikim (righteous) are written before God and in 1 Enoch 108.3 the rashim (wicked) are blotted out of the book of life and the “books” of the holy ones. So, Enoch says the same thing as Daniel. Remember, a person reading this two thousand years ago would immediately understand that it is talking about Rosh Ha Shanah.
Again, the Jewish Encyclopedia says in the article called “Book of Life” that “this book is mentioned in Hermas (Vision 1.3; Mandate 8; Similtude 2); In Rev 3.5, 7.8, 17.8, 20.12-15, where two books are spoken of as being ‘opened’ before the throne, the book of life and the book of death.” The unrighteous are written into the book of death, along with their evil works, in order to be thrown into the lake of fire. Now compare Dan 7.9-10 and Rev 4.1-11. We have already established that this is Rosh Ha Shanah because “a door was opened.” When Dan 7.9-10 is coupled with Rev 4.1-11 they fit like a glove. Isa 6.1-4 is also similar and considered a Rosh Ha Shanah passage, and we will come back to Isa 6 to pick up some information on the resurrection.
What we need to realize right away is the Bible is full of chapters that are going to deal with festival terms and phrases. That is why Paul could say to the Thessalonians that “as to the times (festivals) and seasons, brethren, you have no need for anything to be written to you.” Even though we cannot keep the festivals outside of Jerusalem and the Temple today, that doesn’t mean we should not study the liturgy, the prayers, the idioms, phrases and concepts associated with them because they will help us rightly divide the word of truth (Scriptures).
In the Bible, everything has been written in a sub-language, and in order to understand what is happening, we need to understand the sub-language. There is a sub-language for the festivals and every other topic in the Bible like the Temple, eschatology,etc, and this is not given by God to be confusing. The Bible should be one of the easiest books to understand that has ever been written. God is the author and he is not the author of confusion. However, a believer will have to seek to understand what he is communicating, and that is the problem.
We are not allowed to interpret the Scriptures on our own. We are not to interpret the Scriptures by asking, “What do you see in this verse” like in most bible studies. We must go back to the phrases, concepts and idioms (the sub-language) of whatever the topic is we are studying. There is a sub-language for doctors, engineers, computer programmers and the military. In the same way, the Bible has a sub-language.
In Rev 13.8 it says, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Who are they worshiping? They are worshiping the False Messiah who is described as a seven-headed beast that rises up out of the sea in Rev 13.1 (remember this).
Rev 20.12-15 says, “And I saw the dead, both small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Notice we have both the righteous and the unrighteous being judged here. It is Yom Ha Din Yom Kippur. This is at the end of the Day of the Lord. Remember, you will be able to know what Yom Ha Din it is by the context.
Again, quoting from the Jewish Encyclopedia article called the “Book of Life” it says, “It is the book of life in which the apostle’s names are written in heaven (Luke 10.20), or the fellow workers of Paul (Phil 4.3), and the assembly of the first-born (Heb 12.23; compare with 1 Clement 14). To these books of records, allusion is made also in 1 Enoch 81.4, 89.61-77, 90.17-20, 98.76, 104.7; Apocalypse of Baruch 24.1 ; Ascension of Isaiah 9.20.” All of these last ones are out of the Pseudo-pigrapha. Our primary references should be the Scriptures at all times (Tanak, Gospels and Epistles). After that, we do have the Apocrypha, additions that are not a part of the Scriptures but are valuable resources to us. The original 1611 KJV of the Bible included the Apocrypha. Then we have the Pseudo-pigrapha which are the apocalyptic books written about the same time as the Apocrypha. Then we have the Dead Sea Scrolls and the rabbinical writings.
These contain a tremendous amount of information and every one of these have references to the book of life and the book of death and have commentaries about the language and phrases being used like awake, Ancient of Days, books are opened, the court was seated, the door was opened, etc. These will be little “diving boards” that will tell us what is happening.
So, let’s read from some of the references above from the Pseuodo-pigrapha. 1 Enoch 81.4 says, “And at that time I said: ‘Blessed is the man who dies righteous and good, concerning whom no book of iniquity has been written, and against which no guilt has been found.'” From the Apocalypse of Baruch 24.1, “For behold! The days come and the books shall be opened in which are written the sins of all those who have sinned, and again also the treasuries in which the righteousness of all those who have been righteous in creation is gathered. For it shall come to pass at that time that you shall see-and the many that are with you-the long-suffering of the Most High, which has been throughout all generations, who has been long-suffering towards all who are born (alike), those who sin and those who are righteous! And I answered and said: ‘But behold! O Lord, no one knows the number of those things which are to come.'”
In the Jewish Encyclopedia article on the “Book of Life” it says, “The Eschatological or Annual Roll Call. While the prevailing tendency among apocryphal writers of the Hasidean School was to give the book of life an eschatological meaning-and to this inclines also Targum Yonaton to Isa 4.3 and Ezek 13.9 (compare Targum Yerushalmi to Exo 32.32), the Jewish Liturgy and the Tradition relating to the New Years and Atonement days adhered to the ancient view which took the book of life in its natural meaning, preferring, from a sound practical point of view, the this-worldliness of Judaism to the heavenliness of the Essenes.”
We can see from this article that the book of life was given an eschatological meaning, especially during the time of Yeshua. We know that the book of life is tied into the concept of Yom Ha Din, so that means that it gets tied in with the annual Yom Ha Din. What is important is that we realize that at the time of Yeshua, when the Gospels, Epistles and Revelation was written, that Yom Ha Din was seen as not only an annual day of judgment, but it was also an eschatological Yom Ha Din coming on a Rosh Ha Shanah when the righteous would be judged and the unrighteous will be given time to repent.
In Part 19 we will pick up here.