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Lost Books Referenced from the Old Testament

Julian Spriggs M.A.

This page contains a list and description of the lost books or documents which are referenced in the Old Testament.

The Book of Jasher

The Hebrew title of this book means, the Book of the Upright or the Book of the Just Man. It appears to be a collection of songs or poetry. It is referenced twice in the OT.

The first is in the Book of Joshua. After God gave Joshua victory over King Adonizedek of Jerusalem and the five kings of the Amorites at Gibeon, Joshua prayed for the sun and moon to stand still. “In the day when the LORD gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua spoke to the LORD; and he said in the sight of Israel, ‘Sun stand still at Gibeon, and Moon, in the valley of Aijalon.’ And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in mid-heaven, and did not hurry to set for about a whole day.” (Josh 10:12-13).

The second is in Second Samuel, following the death of Saul and Jonathan, “David intoned this lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan. (He ordered that the The Song of the Bow be taught to the people of Judah; it is written in the Book of Jashar).” (2 Sam 1:17-18).

There are several books claiming to be the Book of Jashar, but these are dismissed as later forgeries, including one published by the Mormon Church.

The Book of the Wars of the Lord

This is referred to in the Book of Numbers at the time Moses lead the Israelites along the River Arnon, which forms the boundary between the land of Moab and the land of the Amorites. “The Israelites set out, and camped in Oboth. They sent out from Oboth, and camped at Iye-abarim, in the wilderness bordering Moab toward the sunrise. From there they set out and camped in the Wadi Zered. From there they set out, and camped on the other side of the Arnon that extends from the boundary of the Amorites; for the Arnon is the boundary of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites. Wherefore it is said in the Book of the Wars of the LORD, ‘Waheb in Suphah and the wadis. The Arnon and the slopes of the wadis that extend to the seat of Ar, and lie along the border of Moab’" (Num 21:10-14).

This book probably included a historical record of the years in the wilderness, particularly accounts of the battles fought as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. It has been suggested that this is another name for the Book of Jasher. Some Jewish rabbis suggested that this is the unnamed book referred to in the Book of Exodus after the defeat of the Amalekites (Ex 17:14). It is also referenced in one of the medieval books claiming to be the Book of Jasher.

The Manner of the Kingdom

This is also known as the Book of Statutes or 3 Samuel, even though it is not named in the OT. Following the public anointing of Saul as king of Israel, “Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship; and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the LORD.” (1 Sam 10:25). This probably referred to the laws about kings in Deuteronomy (Deut 17:14-20), including not to acquire many horses, wives or riches for himself, and to have a copy of the law of God, which he should read each day, and obey it. The book was laid up before the LORD, being kept in the tabernacle.

The Book of the Chronicles (or Annals) of the Kings of Israel

This is referenced eighteen times in the Books of Kings (1 Kg 14:19, 15:31, 16:5,14,20,27, 22:40, 2 Kg 1:18, 8:23, 10:34, 13:8,12, 14:28, 15:11,15,21,26,31) in the summary at the end of the reigns of each of the kings from Jeroboam I to Pekah. This is the reference at the end of the account of the reign of Jeroboam I, “Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred and how he reigned, are written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel.” (1 Kg 14:19).

It appears to be the official court records from the northern kingdom of Israel, and the main source of historical information about the northern kingdom of Israel used by the author of the Book of Kings. Chronicles are records of current events, the official record of all the significant political events during a king's reign, which were kept for safety in the state archives. It is most likely that these were destroyed when Samaria was captured and destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BC.

These chronicles are not the same as the Biblical books of 1 and 2 Chronicles, which were written much later following the return from exile in 539 BC.

The Book of the Chronicles (or Annals) of the Kings of Judah

This is referenced fifteen times in the Books of 1 and 2 Kings (1 Kg 14:29, 15:7,23, 22:45, 8:23, 12:19, 14:18, 15:6,36, 16:19, 20:20, 21:17,25, 23:28, 24:5 ) in the summary of the end of the reigns of most of the kings from Rehoboam to Jehoiakim. This is the reference at the end of the account of the reign of Rehoboam, “Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah?” (1 Kg 14:29).

They were the court records kept in the royal archives in Jerusalem, and the main historical source for the southern kingdom of Judah used by the author of the books of Kings. It contains no reference to queen Athaliah, who usurped the throne for seven years, or her son Ahaziah. It is most likely that these were destroyed when Jerusalem was captured in 598 BC, or when it was destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians.

Again, these are not the same as the Biblical books of Chronicles.

The Acts of Solomon

This is referenced once, in the summary at the end of the reign of Solomon. “Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, all that he did as well as his wisdom, are they not written in the Book of the Acts of Solomon” (1 Kings 11:41). It was the source of information for the author of the Book of Kings about the reign of Solomon. It contained the court records of the significant political events, as well as records of his wisdom, and other biographical material. It could also have included a copy of the treaty between Solomon and Hiram of Tyre.

It was still in existence when the Book of Kings was compiled, but probably destroyed along with the Annals of the Kings of Judah when Jerusalem was captured or destroyed by the Babylonians.

Books referenced in the Books of Chronicles

The author of 1 and 2 Chronicles, who was probably Ezra, gives many references to his sources of information. These include official government records, as well as writing and records from the prophets. These would be documents that were taken to Babylon by the exiles, where they were preserved and brought back to the Land by the returning exiles.

The Book of the Kings of Israel

This is referenced twice in the Books of Chronicles. The first is at the conclusion of the long genealogy at the start of 1 Chronicles, “So all Israel was enrolled by genealogies; and these are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel.” (1 Chr 9:1).

The second is in the summary of the reign of Jehoshaphat, “Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, from first to last, are written in the Annals of Jehu son of Hanani, which are recorded in the Book of the Kings of Israel” (2 Chr 20:34). Jehu son of Hanani was a prophet during the reign of Baasha of Israel (1 Kg 16:1-7), and during the reign of Jehoshaphat of Judah (2 Chr 19:2).

This book could be the Annals of the Kings of Israel or Judah described above.

The Annals or Chronicles of King David

These were probably court records from the reign of David, including political and military events. It may have been written by the Biblical prophet Nathan.

The author of Chronicles says that the results of the census made by David were not entered into the Annals of King David. “David did not count those below twenty years of age, for the LORD has promised to make Israel as numerous as the stars of heaven. Joab son of Zeruiah began to count them, but did not finish; yet wrath came upon Israel for this, and the number was not entered into the account of the Annals of King David.” (1 Chr 27:24)

The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel

This is referenced seven times in the Book of 2 Chronicles, in the summary of the reigns of each of the following kings: Asa (16:11), Amaziah (25:26), Jotham (27:7), Ahaz (28:26), Hezekiah (32:32), Josiah (35:27) and Jehoiakim (36:8). This is the reference for Asa, “The acts of Asa, from first to last, are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.” (2 Chr 16:11). It is possible that these are references to the biblical book of Kings.

The Acts or Annals of the Kings of Israel.

This is also called The Acts and Prayers of Manasseh, and may be the same as the Annals of the Kings of Judah and Israel. This is referenced once in the summary at the end of the account of the reign of the wicked King Manasseh, “Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, his prayer to his God, and the words of the seers who spoke to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, these are in the Annals of the Kings of Israel.” (2 Chr 33:18). There is also a reference to another book referred to as the records of the seers (2 Chr 33:19), which is described below.

The Commentary, or Midrash, on the Book of the Kings

This is referenced once in the Book of 2 Chronicles, in the summary of the reign of Joash, “Accounts of his (Joash’s) sons, and of the many oracles against him, and the rebuilding of the house of God are written in the Commentary on the Book of Kings. And his son Amaziah succeeded him.” (2 Chr 24:27). This book is lost, and nothing is known about it.

The written instructions of David the King of Israel, and the written instructions of Solomon his Son.

This unnamed document is referred to during the description of the Passover that was celebrated by King Josiah, when the holy ark was placed in the temple built by Solomon. “Make preparations by your ancestral houses by your divisions, following the written instructions of King David of Israel and the written instructions of his son Solomon” (2 Chr 35:4).

References to prophetic writing and records

The author also refers to the writings of various prophets. These could contain the words they brought from God, as well as details of their lives and ministry as a prophet.

Samuel, Nathan and Gad

In the summary of the reign of David, references are made to records of three prophets, Samuel, Nathan and Gad, “Now the acts of King David, from first to last, are written in the records of the seer Samuel, and in the records of the prophet Nathan, and in the records of the seer Gad, with accounts of all his rule and his might and of the events that befell him and Israel and all the kingdoms of the earth” (1 Chr 29:29). These were three of the prophets during the reign of David.

The records of Samuel the Seer

This is also called The Book of Samuel the Seer, or The Acts of Samuel the Seer. This would describe the life and ministry of the prophet Samuel. It may be referencing the biblical book of Samuel, originally one book in the Hebrew Scriptures.

The records of the prophet Nathan

This is also called the Book of Nathan the Prophet, or the Acts (or History) of Nathan the Prophet. Nathan was the prophet who rebuked David following his adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam 12:1). This book is also referenced in the summary of the reign of Solomon, along with the prophets Ahijah and Iddo (2 Chr 9:29), see below.

The records of the seer Gad

This is also called Gad the Seer, or The Acts of Gad the Seer. The prophet Gad was sent by God to rebuke David after he took a census of Israel (2 Chr 21:9-13, 18-19).

Nathan, Ahijah and Iddo

In the summary of the reign of Solomon, references are made to the records of three prophets, Nathan, Ahijah and Iddo, “Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, from first to last, are they not written in the history of the prophet Nathan, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of the seer Iddo concerning Jeroboam son of Nebat” (2 Chr 9:29).

The history of the prophet Nathan is described above.

The prophecy of Ahijah the Shilohite

Ahijah was the prophet who brought God’s word to Jeroboam I, the first king of the northern kingdom of Israel (1 Kg 14:2-18), condemning him for what the Book of Kings refers to as ‘the sin of Jeroboam’, and predicting the exile beyond the River Euphrates. The reference to the prophecy of Ahijah may be to this passage in the First Book of Kings, rather than to a distinct document.

The Visions of Iddo the seer

This is also called the Story or Annals of the Prophet Iddo. Iddo was an otherwise unknown prophet during the reigns of the three kings, Solomon, Rehoboam and Abijah in Judah.

This book is referenced in the summary of the reign of Solomon as described above. It is also referenced in the summary of the reign of Rehoboam, “Now the acts of Rehoboam, from first to last, are they not written in the records of the prophet Shemaiah and of the seer Iddo, recorded by genealogy?” (2 Chr 12:15). In the summary of the reign of Abijah, “The rest of the acts of Abijah, his behaviour and his deeds, are written in the story of the prophet Iddo” (2 Chr 13:22)

The records of the prophet Shemaiah

As noted above, in the summary of the reign of Rehoboam, reference is also made to the records of the prophet Shemaiah (2 Chr 12:15). It was Shemaiah who brought the word from God commanding Rehoboam not to go and fight against Jeroboam, following the rebellion of the northern ten tribes. A command that Rehoboam actually obeyed. (2 Chr 11:11-4). He also brought a word to Rehoboam when Shishak of Egypt attacked Judah, saying that because Rehoboam had abandoned God, God will abandon Judah to Shishak (2 Chr 12:5-8).

The Acts of Uzziah, or the book by the prophet Isaiah

Isaiah son of Amoz prophesied during the reigns of four of the kings of Judah, including Uzziah and Hezekiah (Is 1:1).

In the summary of the reign of Uzziah, there is this reference, “Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, from first to last, the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz wrote.” (2 Chr 26:22). And in the summary of the reign of Hezekiah is this reference, “Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and his good deeds, are written in the vision of the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel” (2 Chr 32:32).

This probably refers to the OT Book of Isaiah. The second reference could refer to the account about Hezekiah in 2 Kings (2 Kg 18:13 - 2 Kg 21:19), a copy of which also appears in the Book of Isaiah (Is 36-39).

The Chronicles of the seers, or the Sayings of Hozai

This is the second book referenced in the summary of the reign of Manasseh, “His prayer, and how God received his entreaty, all his sin and his faithlessness, the sites on which he built high places and set up the sacred poles and the images, before he humbled himself, these are written in the records of the seers” (2 Chr 33:19).

It also contains historical information about the terrible reign of Manasseh, with a particular emphasis on this idolatry and rebellion against Yahweh.

The Laments for Josiah

This is referenced after the tragic death of Josiah at the Battle of Megiddo in 609 BC, “All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. Jeremiah also uttered a lament for Josiah, and all the singing men and singing women have spoken of Josiah in their laments to this day. They made these a custom in Israel; they are recorded in the Laments” (2 Chr 35:25).

This is almost certainly not referring to the OT Book of Lamentations, which Jeremiah wrote about twenty years later following the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. The mourning for Josiah is also described in the apocryphal book of 1 Esdras (1 Esdras 1;32), but without any mention of the writing of the lamentation. It is likely that this book was part of a larger collection of laments held in the temple or palace archives in Jerusalem.

Persian records of King Ahasuerus

The Book of the Annals of the Persian king Ahasuerus, his official court record, is referenced three times in the book of Esther, where the annals play a significant part in the story of Esther and Mordecai, “In those days, while Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and conspired to assissinate King Ahaserus. But the matter came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. When the affair was investigated and found to be so, both the men were hanged on the gallows. It was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.” (Est 2:20-23). “On that night the king could not sleep, and he gave orders to bring the book of records, the annals, and they were read to the king.” (Est 6:1). “King Ahasuerus laid tribute on the land and on the islands of the sea. All the acts of his power and might, and the full account of the high honour of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the annals of the kings of Media and Persia?” (Est 10:1-2).

Post exilic - The Book of the Annals

Another book of annals is referenced in the Book of Nehemiah, “The Levites, heads of ancestral houses, were recorded in the Book of the Annals until the days of Johanan son of Eliashib.” (Neh 12:23). This appears to contain official records from the post-exilic period, particularly naming the priests and Levites.