The Jewish apocrypha (Hebrew: הספרים החיצוניים, romanizedHaSefarim haChitzoniyim, lit.'the outer books') are religious texts written in large part by Jews, especially during the Second Temple period, not accepted as sacred manuscripts when the Hebrew Bible was canonized. Some of these books are considered sacred in certain Christian denominations and are included in their versions of the Old Testament. The Jewish apocrypha is distinctive from the New Testament apocrypha and Christian biblical apocrypha as it is the only one of these collections which works within a Jewish theological framework.[1]

Apocrypha in Judaism

Certain sects of Second Temple Judaism, such as the Essenes in Judaea and the Therapeutae in Alexandria, were said to have a "secret or hidden" literature.[citation needed] The Pharisees were familiar with these texts. The Apocalyptic literature is an example of this secret literature. Based on unfulfilled prophecies, these books were not considered scripture, but rather part of a literary form that flourished from 200 BCE to 100 CE. These works usually bore the names of ancient Hebrew worthies to establish their validity among the true writers' contemporaries.

2 Esdras reinforces this theory: when Ezra was inspired to dictate the sacred scriptures that were destroyed in the overthrow of Jerusalem,

So during the forty days ninety-four books were written. And when the forty days were ended, the Most High spoke to me, saying, "Make public the twenty-four books that you wrote first and let the worthy and the unworthy read them; but keep the seventy that were written last, in order to give them to the wise among your people. For in them is the spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom, and the river of knowledge."

Writings that were wholly apart from scriptural texts were designated as Hitsonim (literally: external) by the Sanhedrin[when?] and reading them was forbidden.[citation needed] In the following centuries, these apocrypha fell out of use in Judaism.[2][3][4]



  1. ^ "APOCRYPHA -". Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  2. ^ "Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 2020-06-13.
  3. ^ "The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha". Retrieved 2020-06-13.
  4. ^ "Apocrypha". Retrieved 2020-06-13.