Who is Jannes and Jambres in the Bible?
If you are looking for a little background on the Biblical character Jannes and Jambres, then this article is for you. It will cover the historical background, the characters based on Jannes and Jambres, and some Jewish traditions related to them. But before you read any further, I recommend you read the entire book so you can get a better understanding of this unique pair of sisters.
Jannes and Jambres
If you’re a Christian, you’ve no doubt heard of Jannes and Jambres, the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses and his people. However, you may not know that Jannes and Jambres actually do not appear in the Bible, even though both names appear in the Greek translation of that passage. This is due to differences in spelling and translations. It is also possible that Jannes and Jambres are corruptions of Ioannes.
In the Bible, Jannes and Jambres are not mentioned by name, but are mentioned in fragments of the Exodus story. They were magicians and could change a staff into a snake. However, this does not mean that these men were Egyptian. However, the name “Jannes” was used by Eusebius and other early Christians as a prototypical magician. They were also mentioned by Numenius in the Praeparatio evangelica (9.8).
The names of Jannes and Jambres have been mentioned in early Christian lit, although there is no clear evidence about their origins. The Greek texts, such as the Targum of Jonathan, spell the names Iannes and Iambres; the Talmud uses Yannis and Mamre’; and the early Christian writers Origen and Schurer, mention Jannes and Jambres. However, it is possible that the names originated in Jewish oral tradition and were later associated with a book. The name of the Jewish apocryphal book referred to by Origen and Schurer also suggests that the apocryphal book was composed before Christ.
Jannes and Jambres are biblical characters who opposed Moses. Whether you agree with them or not, they are spiritual anomalies who have eaten away at the Christian faith. But it isn’t enough to dismiss them outright. The historical context of Jannes and Jambres in the Bible should serve as a cautionary tale.
They are Egyptian magicians mentioned in various sources as an opponent of Moses. Although their names are not mentioned in Exodus, the Jewish tradition appears to associate them with the sorcerers mentioned in Exodus 7:11ff. This tradition is also reflected in the Targum, which refers to both Jannes and Jambres by name. Some scholars think that Jannes and Jambres were members of various classes of priests in Egypt.
Although only a single passage in the Bible mentions Jannes and Jambres, these characters are often mentioned in early Christian literature. Early Christian writers such as Origen and Schurer mention them and apocryphal works are written about them. There is also evidence that Jannes and Jambres were part of Jewish oral traditions.
Characters based on Jannes and Jambres
The Biblical characters Jannes and Jambres were two magicians who opposed Moses. They are mentioned in the Book of Exodus, where Moses defeated them. You can learn more about these characters on Churchgist, which includes information on Jannes and Jambres and other Bible characters.
Jannes and Jambres are also mentioned in the Talmud and Targum Jonathan, where they are called sons of Balaam, an unwitting prophet from Pethor. They are said to have converted to Judaism before the Exodus, but they perished at the Red Sea. Their names are also mentioned in the Chester Beatty Papyri No. XVI, which has been edited by Albert Pietersma.
Paul compares Jannes and Jambres to deceivers of the last days. They attempted to use sorcery to resist Moses, imitating many of his miracles, such as turning his staff into a snake. The Bible warns us against false godliness without godly reality.
Jewish traditions about Jannes and Jambres
There are several Jewish traditions about Jannes and Jambres and their role in the Bible. These two Egyptian sorcerers are mentioned in different biblical sources as enemies of *Moses. Jewish tradition identifies them with the sorcerers mentioned in Exodus 7:11ff. They are also mentioned in the Targum of Jon, an Aramaic paraphrase.
There is also a Jewish tradition that the two men, Jannes and Jambres, are not mentioned in the Bible. Early Christian writings make mention of them, and they are also referred to in pagan and Jewish liturgical literature. Early Christian sources such as Origen mention them and Schurer suggests that these names are based on a Jewish apocryphal work.
Another tradition about Jannes and Jambres in the Scripture is that these two magicians had a magical staff that could change into a snake. Both were employed by the Pharaoh. Moses was sent to them to demand freedom for the Hebrews from Egyptian servitude, and they used this magic to show their worth. However, two magicians countered with a trick equal to Moses’s.