Narrator: And in the Hebrew Bible descriptions of the prophet Jeremiah in Jerusalem are eerily similar to both of these accounts [Japanese and Indian] of time travel.
Erich von Daniken: Even in the Bible the prophet Jeremiah was sitting together with a few of his friends, and there was a young boy. His name was Abimelech. And Jeremiah said to Abimelech, ‘Go out of Jerusalem. There is a hill, and collect some figs for us. The boy went out and collected the fresh figs. All of sudden Abimelech hears some noise and wind in the airs [sic] and he became unconscious—he had a blackout. After a time, he wakes up again, and he saw it was nearly the evening. So, he runs back to the society, and the city was full of strange soldiers. And he said, ‘What’s going on here? What happened to Jeremiah and all the others?’ And an old man said, ‘That was 62 years ago.’ It’s a time travel story written in the Bible.
First, this story is not found in the Bible, Hebrew or otherwise. The story is contained in 4 Baruch, also known as Paraleipomena Jeremiou (Things Left out of the Book of Jeremiah), a pseudoepigraphal work—meaning it was not written by the person named as the author. It was written probably in the second century CE, and the story contained in it is not found in other pseudoepigraphal texts of Baruch (such as 2 Baruch, on which it is dependent), indicating this story was created at a very late date. Let me stress: this book is not part of the Bible. The story is meant as a fantasy, allowing the author to fill in the back story of what transpired during the period in which Abimelech is gone, and it continues on to describe how the figs were brought to Babylon and used to end the Babylonian captivity. The entirety of the text is designed to console the Romanized Jews about the loss of the Temple and to prophesy its swift reconstruction following Hadrian’s expulsion of the Jews in 132.
Note: Today von Daniken claims that source is the Bible, but in 1977 he claimed the source was “The Remains of the Words of Baruch, or as it is also called the Addendum to the Prophet Jeremiah,” which he called “ancient Jewish scriptures.” This appears to be a variant translation for an alternate title of 4 Baruch, The Rest of the Words of Baruch, the title used by J. Rendell Harris in editing the text in 1889 but not otherwise common. Von Daniken’s description would be accurate if the text were (a) Jewish (it’s a Jewish-Christian hybrid), (b) scripture (it’s not canon), or (c) ancient (it’s nowhere near as old as, say, Genesis).
The story is also told in a different but related apocryphal text, the Coptic Jeremiah Apocryphon (possibly third or fourth century CE), in which Abimelech sleeps for 70 years beneath a mountain (!) and picks both grapes and figs. This, therefore, was not von Daniken’s source as these details do not appear in his description.
Second, there is no wind or noise. Abimelech states clearly that he fell asleep in hot weather and then woke up. The text states clearly that he was “preserved” by the spell of an angel, just like King Arthur, Odin, and Cronus in a widespread European myth of the sleeping king. (There were other sleeping hero myths in the Near East as well.) Perhaps significantly, Abimelech’s name means (in one translation) “my father is king” and was the title of Philistine princes.
Third, there were no soldiers; and fourth, it was not 62 years but 66.
Here is the relevant text, condensed a bit because it is very long. The whole thing, including both the longer and shorter versions of the text, can be found here.
5.1 But Abimelech took the figs in the burning heat; and coming upon a tree, he sat under its shade to rest a bit.
5.2 And leaning his head on the basket of figs, he fell asleep and slept for 66 years; and he was not awakened from his slumber.
5.3 And afterward, when he awoke from his sleep, he said: I slept sweetly for a little while, but my head is heavy because I did not get enough sleep.
5.7 So he got up and took the basket of figs and placed it on his shoulders, and he entered into Jerusalem and did not recognize it—neither his own house, nor the place—nor did he find his own family or any of his acquaintances.
5.15 And as he sat, he saw an old man coming from the field; and Abimelech said to him: I say to you, old man, what city is this?
5.16 And he said to him: It is Jerusalem.
5.17 And Abimelech said to him: Where is Jeremiah the priest, and Baruch the secretary, and all the people of this city, for I could not find them?
5.18 And the old man said to him: Are you not from this city, seeing that you remember Jeremiah today, because you are asking about him after such a long time?
5.19 For Jeremiah is in Babylon with the people; for they were taken captive by king Nebuchadnezzar, and Jeremiah is with them to preach the good news to them and to teach them the word.
5.29 For behold it is 66 years today since the people were taken captive into Babylon.
(trans. Robert Kraft and Ann Elizabeth Purintun)
So, unless we are prepared to believe in magic eagles and death-defying figs (a spaceship delivering alien technology, I suppose), I don’t see any reason to reinterpret Abimelech’s sleep as Einsteinian time dilation. If we do that, then why not Sleeping Beauty or Snow White? Snow White was even in a glass coffin, which is clearly a cryogenic chamber. Did the medieval European peasantry have cryogenic chambers? Folklore says YES!
So why do ancient astronaut theorists ignore fairy tales but embrace pseudo-historical fables?
And, more importantly, why does it take this much research to explain just one 30-second lie on Ancient Aliens?