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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Jannes and Jambres

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JANNES AND JAMBRES . In 2 Timothy 3:8 these names are given as those of Moses’ opponents; the Egyptian magicians of Exodus 7:11; Exodus 7:22 are doubtless referred to, though their names are not given in OT. They are traditional, and we find them in the Targumic literature (which, however, is late). Both there and in 2 Timothy 3:8 we find the various reading ‘Mambres’ (or ‘Mamre’). ‘Jannes’ is probably a corruption of ‘Johannes’ (John); ‘Jambres’ is almost certainly derived from a Semitic root meaning ‘to oppose’ (imperfect tense), the participle of which would give ‘Mambres.’ The names were even known to the beathen. Pliny the Elder (a.d. 23 79) mentions ‘Moses, Jamnes (or Jannes), and Jotapes (or Lotapes)’ as Jewish magicians ( Hist. Nat . xxx. 1 ff.); thus ‘Jannes,’ at least, must have been a traditional name before the Christian era. Apuleins ( c [Note: circa, about.] . a.d. 130) in his Apology speaks of Moses and Jannes as magicians; the Pythagorean Numenius (2nd cent. a.d.), according to Origen (c [Note: circa, about.] . Cels . iv. 51), related ‘the account respecting Moses and Jannes and Jambres,’ and Eusebius gives the words of Numenius ( PrÅ“p. Ev . ix. 8). In his Commentary on Matthew 27:8 (known only in a Latin translation), Origen says that St. Paul is quoting from a book called ‘Jannes and Mambres’ ( sic ). But Theodoret ( Com. in loc .) declares that he is merely using the unwritten teaching of the Jews. Jannes and Jambres are also referred to in the Apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus § 5 (4th or 5th cent. in its present form?), and in the Apostolic Constitutions , viii. 1 ( c [Note: circa, about.] . a.d. 375). Later Jewish fancy ran wild on these names; according to some they were Balaam’s sons; according to others they were drowned in the Red Sea; or they were put to death, either for inciting Aaron to make the Golden Calf or at a later stage of the history.

A. J. Maclean.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Jannes and Jambres'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdb/j/jannes-and-jambres.html. 1909.

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