🔼The name Jashar: Summary
- From the verb ישר (yashar), to be straight or upright.
🔼The name Jashar in the Bible
The name Jashar occurs only once in the Bible, in the phrase "the Book of Jashar". This extra-canonical and not extant book is mentioned twice in the Bible:
- In Joshua 10:13 the Book of Jashar is listed as an authoritative reference that also reported the miraculous behavior of the sun in the valley of Gibeon and the moon in the valley of Aijalon, during Joshua's battle against the Amorite king Adoni-zedek.
- In 2 Samuel 1:18, the Book of Jashar is mentioned to contain the Song of the Bow; David's gut wrenching lament over Jonathan.
There's no telling when exactly the Book of Jashar was lost but it seems it was a collection of very old Hebrew poems. Some scholars propose that also Solomon's dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:12-13) and the Song of Deborah and Barak (Judges 5) were originally first bundled in the Book of Jashar and later incorporated into the Bible.
🔼Etymology of the name Jashar
The Encyclopedia Britannica deems the etymology of Jashar uncertain, but that's a bit harsh. Most scholars understand it to come from the verb ישר (yashar), meaning to be straight:
Verb ישר (yashar) means to be straight or level. Adjective ישר (yashar) means right or upright. Nouns ישר (yosher), ישרה (yeshara) and מישר (meshar) mean uprightness or straightness. Noun מישור (mishor) describes a level place or plain.
Verb אשר ('ashar) covers a decisive progression or a setting right, and is often applied to describe happiness and prosperity (right on!). This is not due to a curious coincidence but to the obvious correlation of righteousness and efficiency. Righteousness in the Biblical sense describes a solid grasp of natural law, which leads to high levels of technology, social liquidity and thus peace and prosperity.
Nouns אשר ('esher), אשר ('ashar) and אשר ('osher) mean happiness or blessedness. Nouns אשור (ashur) and אשר (ashur) mean a step, a walk or a going. The noun תאשור (te'ashur) refers to a kind of tree (a happy tree? a progressing tree?).
The relative particle אשר (asher) means who or which, and may or may not be related to the previous (but probably does).
The name Jashar means Upright.
That is, if Jashar actually is a name. Most scholars don't think so and both the Septuagint and the Vulgate don't speak of the Book of Jashar but the Book of the Upright (biblion tou euthous in Greek, hence our words ethics and ethical, and liber justorum in Latin, hence our words just and justice).
Why pretty much every modern translation of the Bible insists on speaking of a Book of Jashar and not a Book of the Upright is a mystery.