Christians are divided about whether the Apocrypha should be included in the Old Testament Canon. God is not divided about it. He knows which Books are His Word and which are not. Since Jesus said that His people are to live “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), we need to know if the Apocrypha is God’s Word.
First, let’s look at the fact that many legitimate books mentioned in the Bible are not addressed as God’s Word. Copies of these books have not been found yet, but they would be of great historical significance if they were discovered and authenticated. Some may have been included in Old Testament Books like Kings and Chronicles, though we don’t have proof of that.
The Book of Jasher – “So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.” Joshua 10:13 ….. “Then David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son, and he told them to teach the children of Judah the Song of the Bow; indeed it is written in the Book of Jasher.” 2 Samuel 1:18
The Book of the Wars of the Lord – “Therefore it is said in the Book of the Wars of the Lord: ‘Waheb in Suphah, The brooks of the Arnon, And the slope of the brooks That reaches to the dwelling of Ar, And lies on the border of Moab.” Numbers 21:14-15
The Annals of Jehu – “Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, indeed they are written in the book of Jehu the son of Hanani, which is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel.” 2 Chronicles 20:34
The Annals of the Book of the Kings – “Now concerning his sons, and the many oracles about him, and the repairing of the house of God, indeed theyare written in the annals of the book of the kings. Then Amaziah his son reigned in his place.” 2 Chronicles 24:27
The Book of the Records of the Chronicles – “And when an inquiry was made into the matter, it was confirmed, and both were hanged on a gallows; and it was written in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king … That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.” Esther 2:23; 6:1
The Annals of the Prophet Iddo – “Now the rest of the acts of Abijah, his ways, and his sayings are written in the annals of the prophet Iddo.” 2 Chronicles 13:22
The Acts of Solomon – “Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon?” 1 Kings 11:41
The Sayings of Hozai – “Also his prayer and how God received his entreaty, and all his sin and trespass, and the sites where he built high places and set up wooden images and carved images, before he was humbled, indeed they are written among the sayings of Hozai.” 2 Chronicles 33:19
The Chronicles of King David – “Joab the son of Zeruiah began a census, but he did not finish, for wrath came upon Israel because of this census; nor was the number recorded in the account of the chronicles of King David.” 1 Chronicles 27:24
The Book of Samuel the Seer, The Book of Nathan the Prophet, The Book of Gad the Seer – “Now the acts of King David, first and last, indeed they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer.” 1 Chronicles 29:29
The Book of Nathan the Prophet, The Prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, The Visions of Iddo the Seer – “Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat?” 2 Chronicles 9:29
Now let’s look at those books included in many Bibles as the Word of God that have been in dispute for hundreds of years to see whether they are His Word. We’ll begin with 1 Esdras, which is included in the Septuagint. 1 Esdras is regarded as part of the canon of Scripture by many churches in the East and part of the Apocrypha by many churches in the West. What should we do with it?
1 Esdras– The material included in 1 Esdras parallels the last chapters of 2 Chronicles and the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. It begins with Josiah – “And Josias held the feast of the passover in Jerusalem unto his Lord, and offered the passover the fourteenth day of the first month …” (1 Esdras 1:1) and ends with Ezra reading the Law to Israel – ” Then took Esdras the book of the law before the multitude: for he sat honourably in the first place in the sight of them all. And when he opened the law, they stood all straight up. So Esdras blessed the Lord God most High, the God of hosts, Almighty.” (1 Esdras 9:45-46)
One addition in 1 Esdras not found in Ezra is 1 Esdras 3:1 – 5:3, also known as The Three Guardsmen Story. It details a competition among three of King Darius’ guards about what was strongest. The winner of the contest asked Darius to remember his vow to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. According to 1 Esdras 4:47, “Then Darius the king stood up, and kissed him, and wrote letters for him unto all the treasurers and lieutenants and captains and governors, that they should safely convey on their way both him, and all those that go up with him to build Jerusalem.”
A problem with that, in addition to the Book of Ezra saying nothing about the guardsmen’s competition, is that according to the Book of Ezra, King Darius issued his decree because of a letter sent to him by Tattenai who was a Persian governor in charge of Samaria and some areas of Judah. Zerubbabel and Jeshua were rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem and Tattenai and his companions asked who had commanded them to build the Temple and finish the wall. This led to Tattenai writing a letter to King Darius asking him to see if in fact Persian King Cyrus had issued a decree to build the Temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 5). King Darius commanded a search of the royal archives and the decree of King Cyrus was found. That led King Darius to write back to Tattenai with this decree: “Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the region beyond the River, and Shethar-Boznai, and your companions the Persians who are beyond the River, keep yourselves far from there. Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God on its site.” (Ezra 6:6-7) So, it was writings between Governor Tattenai and King Darius that led to the Darius decree, not because a guard requested it of Darius following a competition with other guardsmen.
Those discrepancies are a big concern because they disagree with the clear Word of God. I cannot accept 1 Esdras as Inspired by the Holy Spirit.
In the next part of our study we will look at 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 Esdras. Did God inspire their writing? Are they “The Word of God”?
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
Building Confidence Through Evidence
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”