Sunday, December 25, 2011

Testaments of the Twelve Patriachs - Benjamin

Story Summary

In the Testament of Benjamin, who was the twelfth son of Jacob/Israel, Benjamin makes an example of Joseph's Christ-like behavior and reveals Christian prophesy.

At the age of one hundred and twenty-five, Benjamin gathered together his sons to impart his life lessons (1:1).

Benjamin's mother, Rachel, had fasted twelve days in order to conceive him.  However, Rachel died in childbirth, so Bilhah suckled Benjamin (1:2-6).

Joseph asked Benjamin what his brothers told his father upon selling him, and so Benjamin told him about his coat being dipped in blood (1:7-8).  Joseph then told Benjamin how an Ishmaelite had beaten Joseph, and that Ishmaelite was subsequently eaten by a lion (1:9-11).

Benjamin advises his progeny to love and obey God, and follow Joseph's example.  If they do right, fear God, and love their neighbors, then Beliar's (Belial's) spirits will not rule them and God will protect them from Beliar, men, and beasts (1:12-17).

Joseph prayed for forgiveness of the sins of his brothers, so Jacob/Israel told him that through him will be fulfilled the prophetic Lamb of God, sinless Savior of the Jews and Gentiles, who will destroy Beliar and his servants (1:18-22).

So Benjamin advises his progeny to be compassionate, have a good mind, show mercy to all, overcome evil with good, avoid envy, do not be jealous, give praise to the valiant and virtuous, help the poor, aid the weak, and praise God, because then God will give them crowns of glory and will protect them, and wicked people will repent based on their example, and evil spirits and beast will flee them (1:23-30).

Holy men and righteous men will be merciful and pray when they are wronged, afterward appearing more righteous (1:31-32).

A good man does not seek the power of Beliar, or desire what is corruptible, or gather riches for pleasure.  Instead a good man takes no delight in pleasure, does not trouble his neighbor, does not luxuriate, but only focuses on God.  A good man does not care about the opinions of men, has no guile, does not fight or revile, but instead has God dwelling in him and always rejoices (1:33-36).  A good mind has no hypocrisy, is pure in thought, and blameless before God and man, unlike Beliar (1:37-40).

Benjamin advises his progeny to flee Beliar, who gives the seven evils of bloodshed, ruin, tribulation, exile, dearth, panic, and destruction.  Because of this, God punished Cain with one plague every hundred years until he was nine hundred years old for killing Abel.  People like Cain who envy and hate their brothers will receive the same punishment (1:41-46).

Benjamin advises his progeny to avoid evil, hating their brothers, and looking lustfully at women, and instead recommends holding to the good and to love with a pure mind because then they will not be defiled (2:1-3).

Benjamin knows from the writings of Enoch that his progeny will stray from God and perish except for a remnant, and God will take away the Kingdom from them (2:4).  However, they will have a share in the last, glorious Temple when the Jews and Gentiles are gathered together there.  God will send forth His Salvation in the form of an only-begotten Prophet.  The Prophet God will enter the prior Temple, be treated with outrage, and get lifted up on a tree.  The veil of the Temple will be rent.  God's Spirit will pour onto the Gentiles like fire.  The Prophet will ascend from Hades, and go from Earth into Heaven.  He will be lowly on earth but glorious in Heaven (2:5-10).

When Joseph was in Egypt, Benjamin prayed to see Joseph, and was able to see his exact form in daylight (2:11).

As an inheritance, Benjamin instructs his progeny to deal truthfully with their neighbors and obey God's Law (2:12-14).  This was the same everlasting possession given by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; to obey God's Law until the Salvation of the Gentiles was revealed (2:15).

At the time of Salvation they will see Enoch, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and each of the twelve patriarchs will arise worshiping the King of Heaven, who had come to Earth in the form of a man.  Those who believed on Him will rejoice and rise to glory, while the rest of men will rise to shame.  God will judge those who didn't believe on Him, the Jews first and then the Gentiles.  God will convict the Jews through the chosen Gentiles, like He reproved Esau with the Midianites (2:16-23).

Benjamin advises that if his progeny obey God, then they too will be Saved, and their Tribe will be known as those who aid God's workers instead of being known as ravenous wolves (ref. Genesis 49:27) (2:24-25).

In the latter days, one loved and chosen by God forever will come from the Tribes of Levi and Judah.  He will speak God's good word and enlighten the Gentiles.  The Gentiles will praise Him in their synagogues, and His works and words will be written in holy books.  He will fill up what any Tribe lacks (2:26-29).

Then Benjamin died (2:30-33).

Christian Parallels

The Testament of Benjamin is largely Christian in content.  If its content did exist before Jesus, it is reasonable to suggest that elements of Jesus' life were enhanced, based on these prophesies, to become the legend of Jesus as the New Testament presents it.  However, it is much more likely that the bulk of Benjamin's words were derived from the New Testament to create a pious lie.

Benjamin 1:14, Benjamin 1:16-17, Benjamin 1:35, and Benjamin 2:13 all call for the fair treatment and love of your neighbor, a sentiment found in Jesus' words in Matthew 22:37-39, Mark 12:29-33, and Luke 10:27, and is found later in Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, and James 2:8.

Benjamin 1:14 and Benjamin 1:16 also express that Beliar will not rule or prevail over you if you fear God and love your neighbor, similar to what is proclaimed in Matthew 6:13, John 17:15, 2 Thessalonians 3:3, 1 John 2:13-14, and 1 John 5:18.

Benjamin 1:18 has Joseph forgiving his brothers in a way that mirrors Jesus forgiving those soldiers who nailed Him to the cross in Luke 23:34.

In the prophesy department, Benjamin 1:21 has the Lamb of God (John 1:29, John 1:36, 1 Peter 1:19, Revelation 7:10), without blame (sin) (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 1:19), will bring Salvation with a covenant of blood (Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25, Hebrews 13:20) for both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11), and He will destroy Beliar and his servants (the book of Revelation).

Benjamin 1:23 speaks of getting crowns of glory as a reward for obeying God, like we see in 1 Corinthians 9:25, Philippians 4:1, 2 Timothy 4:8, Hebrews 2:7, James 1:12, and 1 Peter 5:4.

Benjamin 1:24 commands showing of undeserved mercy for all men, like find in Matthew 5:7, Matthew 9:13, Matthew 12:7, Matthew 18:33, Matthew 23:23, Luke 10:37, and James 2:12-13.

In Benjamin 1:25 we find a command to overcome evil by doing good, just like we see in Romans 12:21.

Benjamin 1:29 claims if you are good evil spirits will flee from you, which is very similar to James 4:7.

Benjamin 1:34-35 recommends against lusting for earthly treasures, similar to Matthew 6:19-20, Matthew 19:21, Mark 1:21, Luke 12:23, and Luke 18:22.

In Benjamin 1:37 we find a call to keep purity in what you say, much like we see in Luke 6:28, Romans 12:14, 1 Corinthians 4:12, James 1:26, James 3:9-10, and 1 Peter 3:10.

Benjamin 2:2 commands avoiding looking at a woman lustfully, like we see in Matthew 5:27-28.

Back to prophesy, Benjamin 2:4-10 states that the Kingdom will be taken from Benjamin's disobedient progeny (Matthew 21:43, Matthew 22:8), but a remnant of them (Romans 11:7, Revelation 5:9, Revelation 7:4-9) will have a share in the final Temple, which will be a more glorious Temple (Revelation 21:22).  God will send His Salvation through His only-begotten Prophet (John 1:14, John 1:18, John 3:16-18, 1 John 4:9) who will be treated outrageously in the Temple (Matthew 21:15, Matthew 21:23, Mark 11:27-28, Luke 19:47, Luke 22:4) and will be hung on a tree (cross).  The Temple veil would be torn (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45).  The Holy Spirit would be poured on the Gentiles like fire (Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16, Acts 10:45).  The Prophet would die and ascend into Heaven (Acts 1:9-11), and He would be lowly on earth but glorious in Heaven (2 Peter 3:18).

Benjamin 2:16-29 continues again with prophesy; mentioning the Salvation of the Gentiles, resurrection of the Patriarchs (Luke 20:37),  God appearing the form of a humble man (Jesus), those who believe in Him will arise to glory (John 3:15-16, John 3:36, John 5:24, John 6:40, John 6:47, John 11:25, John 20:31, Acts 13:48, 1 Timothy 1:16, 1 John 5:13) and those who don't believe will rise to condemnation (John 5:29),  the saved Gentiles will convict the Jews (Romans 11:13-14), His actions and words will be written in holy books (the New Testament), and He will come from the combined Levi and Judah lineage.  Consider that Matthew 1:1-17 has Jesus' lineage of Joseph traced through the tribe of Judah, and many Biblical scholars suggest that Luke 3:23-38 has Jesus' lineage traced through Mary, and hold that Mary had bloodline ties to Levi (although they are under some dispute where exactly the Levitical bloodline enters).

Finally, in Benjamin 1:14, Benjamin 1:16, Benjamin 1:21, Benjamin 1:33, Benjamin 1:40-42, Beliar is cast in a Satan-like role, distributing evil, a being from whom God will protect you if you are good, who will be destroyed by the Savior.

Memorable Quotes

"Fear ye the Lord, and love your neighbour; and even though the spirits of Beliar claim you to afflict you with every evil, yet shall they not have dominion over you, even as they had not over Joseph my brother." - Benjamin 1:14

"For he that feareth God and loveth his neighbour cannot be smitten by the spirit of Beliar, being shielded by the fear of God." - Benjamin 1:16

"For Joseph also besought our father that he would pray for his brethren, that the Lord would not impute to them as sin whatever evil they had done unto him." - Benjamin 1:18

"In [Joseph] shall be fulfilled the prophecy of heaven concerning the Lamb of God, and Saviour of the world, and that a blameless one shall be delivered up for lawless men, and a sinless one shall die for ungodly men in the blood of the covenant, for the salvation of the Gentiles and of Israel, and shall destroy Beliar and his servants." - Benjamin 1:21 (It's no coincidence that Jesus' earthly father was named Joseph.)

"Be followers of his compassion, therefore, with a good mind, that ye also may wear crowns of glory.  For the good man hath not a dark eye; for he showeth mercy to all men, even though they be sinners.  And though they devise with evil intent. concerning him, by doing good he overcometh evil, being shielded by God; and he loveth the righteous as his own soul." - Benjamin 1:23-25

"[A good man] delighteth not in pleasure, he grieveth not his neighbour, he sateth not himself with luxuries, he erreth not in the uplifting of the eyes, for the Lord is his portion." - Benjamin 1:35

"The good mind hath not two tongues, of blessing and of cursing, of contumely and of honour, of sorrow and of joy, of quietness and of confusion, of hypocrisy and of truth, of poverty and of wealth; but it hath one disposition, uncorrupt and pure, concerning all men." - Benjamin 1:37

"And [Beliar's] sword is the mother of seven evils. First the mind conceiveth through Beliar, and first there is bloodshed; secondly ruin; thirdly, tribulation; fourthly, exile; fifthly, dearth; sixthly, panic; seventhly, destruction."- Benjamin 1:42

"He that hath a pure mind in love, looketh not after a woman with a view to fornication; for he hath no defilement in his heart, because the Spirit of God resteth upon him." - Benjamin 2:2

"For as the sun is not defiled by shining on dung and mire, but rather drieth up both and driveth away the evil smell; so also the pure mind, though encompassed by the defilements of earth, rather cleanseth them and is not itself defiled." - Benjamin 2:3

"And I believe that there will be also evil-doings among you, from the words of Enoch the righteous: that ye shall commit fornication with the fornication of Sodom, and shall perish, all save a few, and shall renew wanton deeds with women; and the kingdom of the Lord shall not be among you, for straightway He shall take it away." - Benjamin 2:4 (Enoch's writings grab a final reference.)

"Nevertheless the temple of God shall be in your portion, and the last temple shall be more glorious than the first.  And the twelve tribes shall be gathered together there, and all the Gentiles, until the Most High shall send forth His salvation in the visitation of an only-begotten prophet.  And He shall enter into the first temple, and there shall the Lord be treated with outrage, and He shall be lifted up upon a tree.  And the veil of the temple shall be rent, and the Spirit of God shall pass on to the Gentiles as fire poured forth.  And He shall ascend from Hades and shall pass from earth into heaven.  And I know how lowly He shall be upon earth, and how glorious in heaven." - Benjamin 2:5-10

"Do ye, therefore, truth each one to his neighbour, and keep the law of the Lord and His commandments." - Benjamin 2:13 (reference to God's Law hundreds of years before it would be given Biblically through Moses)

"For all these things [Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel] gave us for an inheritance, saying: Keep the commandments of God, until the Lord shall reveal His salvation to all Gentiles." - Benjamin 2:16

"And then shall ye see Enoch, Noah, and Shem, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, rising on the right hand in gladness," - Benjamin 2:17 (the prominence of Shem is notably common in Apocrypha)

"Then shall we[, the twelve patriarchs,] also rise, each one over our tribe, worshipping the King of heaven, who appeared upon earth in the form of a man in humility.  And as many as believe on Him on the earth shall rejoice with Him.  Then also all men shall rise, some unto glory and some unto shame.  And the Lord shall judge Israel first, for their unrighteousness; for when He appeared as God in the flesh to deliver them they believed Him not.  And then shall He judge all the Gentiles, as many as believed Him not when He appeared upon earth.  And He shall convict Israel through the chosen ones of the Gentiles, even as He reproved Esau through the Midianites, who deceived their brethren, so that they fell into fornication, and idolatry; and they were alienated from God, becoming therefore children in the portion of them that fear the Lord.  If ye therefore, my children, walk in holiness according to the commandments of the Lord, ye shall again dwell securely with me, and all Israel shall be gathered unto the Lord.  And I shall no longer be called a ravening wolf on account of your ravages, but a worker of the Lord distributing food to them that work what is good.  And there shall arise in the latter days one beloved of the Lord, of the tribe of Judah and Levi, a doer of His good pleasure in his mouth, with new knowledge enlightening the Gentiles.  Until the consummation of the age shall he be in the synagogues of the Gentiles, and among their rulers, as a strain of music in the mouth of all.  And he shall be inscribed in the holy books, both his work and his word, and he shall be a chosen one of God for ever.  And through them he shall go to and fro as Jacob my father, saying: He shall fill up that which lacketh of thy tribe." - Benjamin 2:18-29

Friday, December 23, 2011

Testaments of the Twelve Patriachs - Joseph

Story Summary

In the Testament of Joseph, who was the eleventh son of Jacob/Israel, Joseph goes into excessive detail about his resistance to temptation from Potiphar's wife and the great lengths he went through to avoid bringing shame to his family when he was sold as a slave, in this, my least favorite of the Testaments.

On his deathbed, Joseph gathered together his sons to impart his life lessons (1:1-3).

Throughout his life, Joseph persevered in God's truth, and in return God protected, blessed, comforted, and exalted him.  God does not forsake those who fear Him (1:4-22).  God always protects, but may temporarily withdraw to try the soul.  Joseph had been tempted ten times, and thereby proved to be good (1:23-24).

Pentephris's (Potiphar's) wife often punished and threatened Joseph with death, and tempted him with money and power, trying to get him to have sex with her (ref. Genesis 39).  However, Joseph continued on righteously praying, fasting, abstaining from wine when Pentephris was away, and giving to the poor and sick.  Pentephris's wife would make excuses to see him, and embraced him like a son to lure him into having sex.  She would flatter him and praise his chastity in public, while trying to seduce him privately.  Joseph lamented and tried to get her to change her evil ways.  She said that she would learn the ways of righteousness if he had sex with her.  He said God would not be pleased by that, and he prayed and fasted more.  She threatened to kill her husband, but Joseph threatened to reveal her plot.  She tried to enchant Joseph's food, but a vision revealed the trick to Joseph so that he didn't eat any tainted food.  When she questioned him about why he didn't eat, he revealed that he knew that it was enchanted, and then prayed and ate some of that food to prove that such enchantments have no power over chaste, God-worshipers.  Then she faked being sick and threatened to kill herself, but he reminded her that her rival would then wipe out her family.  With her skewed perspective, she took this for a sign that he really loved her and would someday be hers (1:25-68).

After that, Joseph prayed all day and all night to be free from Pentephris's wife.  The next day she grabbed him by his clothing to drag him into having sex, so he fled away naked.  With his clothing, Pentephris's wife accused Joseph, and so he was thrown into prison.  He gave thanks to God for delivering him from her.  She sent him offers of release if he would have sex with her, but he never even thought about accepting them (1:69-75).

God loves a man who combines chastity with fasting.  If a chaste man desires glory, God will give it to him, like He did with Joseph (1:76-77).  God helped Joseph stand up to the temptations of Pentephris's beautiful wife (1:78-81).

Joseph advises his progeny that great things come from prayer, fasting, and chastity, and God especially loves chastity.  God will protect and exalt a man due to his chastity (2:1-4).

Joseph humbled himself because he feared God and knew that this world would pass away.  Joseph still respected his brothers despite being sold by them, and he kept his identity a secret from the Ishmaelite slave traders (the original ones who bought him) and from the Egyptian slave trader who temporarily held Joseph for the Ishmaelites until they go back.  The Egyptian slave trader placed Joseph in charge of his household.  While Joseph ran the household, the Egyptian slave trader became rich, which attracted the attention of Pentephris's wife.  She heard that Joseph had most likely been stolen out of Canaan, and pleaded with Pentephris to free Joseph in order to be blessed by God.  So Pentephris questioned the Egyptian slave trader, and beat him when he did not give good answers, but the trader didn't change his story.  So Pentephris questioned Joseph, and Joseph continued to hide his identity, calling himself a slave from Canaan.  So Pentephris beat Joseph for that unrealistic answer.  Pentephris's wife pleaded that Pentephris was unjust, and Joseph didn't change his story, so Pentephris had Joseph put in prison until the Ishmaelites came back.  When they did come back, they asked Joseph why he had lied to them about being a slave, because they had discovered that he was Jacob/Israel's son, but Joseph persisted in telling them that he was a slave and that he did not know Jacob/Israel.  So the Ishmaelites sought to sell him quickly to escape possible wrath from Jacob/Israel.  Hearing Joseph was for sale, Pentephris's wife sent a eunuch to buy Joseph.  The eunuch paid eighty pieces of gold, but told Pentephris's wife that the cost was one hundred pieces.  (Joseph kept quiet about this to avoid shaming the eunuch.)  Joseph had kept his own identity secret throughout all of this so that his family would not be shamed (2:5-58).

Joseph advises his progeny also to, with love and patience, hide each others faults, because God loves unity (2:59-60).

When Joseph's brothers came to Egypt, he did not rebuke them at all, but rather richly blessed them and shared all that he had with them and their progeny in loving servitude for them (2:61-66).

Joseph advises to obey God's Laws, and do well to and pray for those who do evil to you, because then God will save you from evil (2:67-68).

In humility and patience, Joseph took the daughter of a pagan priest as a wife, so God gave him gold, servants, enduring strength. and good looks (2:69-71).

Joseph saw a vision where twelve hart (male deer) were feeding, then nine of them were scattered, followed by the remaining three.  From Judah was born a virgin wearing linen, who then bore a spotless lamb.  All beasts rushed against the lamb, but the lamb destroyed them and trod on them.  Angels and men rejoiced.  This will happen in the last days (2:72-76).  Therefore, Joseph advises his progeny to obey God's Law, and honor Levi and Judah, because from them will come the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, and saves the Jews and Gentiles in His everlasting kingdom (2:77-78).

Joseph knows that the Egyptians will mistreat his progeny after he dies, but assures them that God will take vengeance on the Egyptians.  When they take his bones to be buried at Hebron, God will be their light, and Egypt and Belair (Belial) will be in darkness (2:79-81).

Then Joseph died (2:82-84).

Christian Parallels

There are definite themes and unmistakable prophesies of Christianity in Joseph.

In Joseph 1:23, we see that God will not forsake those who fear Him, as Hebrews 13:5 would suggest, and He will depart from you only as necessary to try your soul, possibly like we see when God forsakes Jesus on the cross in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34.

Joseph 1:29 is almost an anti-parallel, because Joseph claims that God will give you a beautiful face for fasting, while in Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus instructs to beautify yourself to hide the fact that you are fasting.

Joseph 1:68 speaks of becoming enslaved by wicked desires, similar to how John 8:34, Romans 6:6, Romans 6:16-22, Romans 7:14, and Romans 7:25 mention being a slave to sin.

Joseph 1:76-77 and Joseph 2:2-3 show how much God loves chastity, which is reflected in Jesus' words in Matthew 19:12, and in 1 Corinthians 7:1-9.

In Joseph 2:5, we see Joseph claim that this world would pass away, implicitly stating that Joseph stayed focused on the world of the afterlife, a sentiment common to Jesus' words in Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, and Luke 21:33, and in 1 Corinthians 7:29-35.

Joseph 2:6-60, highlighted explicitly in Joseph 2:10, Joseph 2:45, and Joseph 2:57-60, is a living example demonstrating the Christian principle of bearing patiently through the faults of other people and their consequences, so as to promote love and unity, and not shame people.  This message can be found in Romans 2:1-4, Galatians 5:22-26, Ephesians 4:1-6, and Colossians 3:12-14.

Joseph 2:61-67 is another living example demonstrating the Christian principle that if you humble yourself and serve others, you will be exalted by God, as we see in Matthew 20:28, Matthew 23:12, Mark 10:45, Luke 1:52, Luke 14:11, Luke 18:14, Luke 22:26-27, Galatians 5:13, Philippians 2:8, James 4:6-10, and 1 Peter 5:5-6.

Joseph 6:68 claims that we should do well to and pray for those who wrong us, much like Jesus' message in Matthew 5:38-48, and like what we see in Romans 12:21.

In the prophesy department, Joseph 2:74-78 is an encapsulation of the Christian story:  The Lamb of God (John 1:29, John 1:36, 1 Peter 1:19, Revelation 7:10), without spot (sin) (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 1:19), with an eternal kingdom (Luke 1:33, 2 Peter 1:11), will be born to a virgin (Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-35, Luke 2:1-6) and will take away the sins of the world (John 1:29, Romans 11:27, Hebrews 9:26-28, 1 John 3:5) for both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11), and though beasts attack Him He will overcome them (the book of Revelation).  Joseph 2:74 hints at and Joseph 2:77 speaks explicitly of the combined Levi and Judah lineage from where this Lamb of God will come.  Consider that Matthew 1:1-17 has Jesus' lineage of Joseph traced through the tribe of Judah, and many Biblical scholars suggest that Luke 3:23-38 has Jesus' lineage traced through Mary, and hold that Mary had bloodline ties to Levi (although they are under some dispute where exactly the Levitical bloodline enters).

Finally, regarding Beliar, in Joseph 1:63 Beliar is a spirit troubling Pentephris's wife and causing her to act sinfully, like we would expect from Satan.  In Joseph 2:80 we find Beliar being literally left in darkness with the Egyptians, which is unlike Satan.

Memorable Quotes

"For the Lord doth not forsake them that fear Him, neither in darkness, nor in bonds, nor in tribulations, nor in necessities." - Joseph 1:21

"But in all those things doth He give protection, and in divers ways doth He comfort, though for a little space He departeth to try the inclination of the soul." - Joseph 1:23

"And I fasted in those seven years, and I appeared to the Egyptians as one living delicately, for they that fast for God's sake receive beauty of face." - Joseph 1:29

"And if my lord were away from home, I drank no wine; nor for three days did I take my food, but I gave it to the poor and sick." - Joseph 1:30

"And she said unto me: If thou willest that I should leave my idols, lie with me, and I will persuade my husband to depart from his idols, and we will walk in the law by thy Lord." - Joseph 1:40 (reference to God's Law hundreds of years before it would be Biblically given, oh, and that's quite the proposition!)

"And when I saw the spirit of Beliar was troubling her, I prayed unto the Lord, and said unto her:" - Joseph 1:63 (the spirit of Beliar was causing her to act sinfully)

"For if a man hath fallen before the passion of a wicked desire and become enslaved by it, even as she, whatever good thing he may hear with regard to that passion, he receiveth it with a view to his wicked desire." - Joseph 1:68

"For God loveth him who in a den of wickedness combines fasting with chastity, rather than the man who in kings' chambers combines luxury with license." - Joseph 1:76

"And if a man liveth in chastity, and desireth also glory, and the Most High knoweth that it is expedient for him, He bestoweth [it;] this [He] also [bestowed] upon me." - Joseph 1:77 (be chaste, and God will glorify you!)

"So ye too, if ye follow after chastity and purity with patience and prayer, with fasting in humility of heart, the Lord will dwell among you because He loveth chastity." - Joseph 2:2

"And wheresoever the Most High dwelleth, even though envy, or slavery, or slander befalleth a man, the Lord who dwelleth in him, for the sake of his chastity not only delivereth him from evil, but also exalteth him even as me." - Joseph 2:3

"My brethren knew how my father loved me, and yet I did not exalt myself in my mind: although I was a child, I had the fear of God in my heart; for I knew that all things would pass away." - Joseph 2:5

"Do ye also, therefore, love one another, and with long-suffering hide ye one another's faults." - Joseph 2:59

"And their children were my children, and my children as their servants; and their life was my life, and all their suffering was my suffering, and all their sickness was my infirmity." - Joseph 2:64

"And I exalted not myself among them in arrogance because of my worldly glory, but I was among them as one of the least." - Joseph 2:66

"And I saw that from Judah was born a virgin wearing a linen garment, and from her, was born a lamb, without spot; and on his left hand there was as it were a lion; and all the beasts rushed against him, and the lamb overcame them, and destroyed them and trod them under foot." - Joseph 2:74 (the linen worn by the virgin likely is a metaphor to the Levitical priesthood)

"And because of Him the angels and men rejoiced, and all the land." - Joseph 2:75

"Do ye therefore, my children, observe the commandments of the Lord, and honour Levi and Judah; for from them shall arise unto you the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world, one who saveth all the Gentiles and Israel." - Joseph 2:77 (Consider that Matthew 1:1-17 has Jesus' lineage of Joseph traced through the tribe of Judah, and many Biblical scholars suggest that Luke 3:23-38 has Jesus' lineage traced through Mary, and hold that Mary had bloodline ties to Levi.)

"For His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, which shall not pass away; but my kingdom among you shall come to an end as a watcher's hammock, which after the summer disappeareth." - Joseph 2:78

"But ye shall carry up my bones with you; for when my bones are being taken up thither, the Lord shall be with you in light, and Beliar shall be in darkness with the Egyptians." - Joseph 2:80

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Testaments of the Twelve Patriachs - Asher

Story Summary

In the Testament of Asher, who was the tenth son of Jacob/Israel, Asher expounds upon dualism and the coming Salvation, in this, the shortest and my favorite of the twelve Testaments.

While still perfectly healthy at the age of one hundred and twenty-five, Asher gathered together his sons to impart his life lessons (1:1-2).

God  designed dualism, where man can be inclined towards either good or evil.  If a good man does evil, he repents right away.  If an evil man does good, it is ultimately to serve an evil purpose (1:3-8).

An evil man may speak kindly, love, conceal his evil, pity the poor, fast, etc., but his more-typical actions will reveal the truth of his evil inclinations.  Such men are like rabbits, who appear clean but are not (ref. Leviticus 11:6) (1:9-19).

Asher advises his progeny to be single-faced and pursue goodness, unlike two-faced, evil men (1:20-21).

Sometimes it can appear that a good man is sinful.  If a good man kills a wicked man, in that action is both good and evil, but overall it is good.  Likewise, several other actions may appear sinful, but God is only concerned with what is genuinely good or sinful.  Such men are like stags or hinds, which may appear unclean but are actually clean.  They are zealous for God (1:22-26).

There is a duality in all things, but one is superior to the other (1:27-29).  As Asher had walked with singleness in focus of obeying God, so too he recommends that path to his progeny, because double-faced, evil people sin twice over by both committing the sin and taking pleasure in those who sin (1:30-32).  They should seek what is really good and obey God's Law, because eternal life or eternal torment await them based on their inclinations (1:33-36).

Asher advises his progeny not to be like Sodom, even still he knows that they will sin, their holy places will be destroyed, and they will be exiled until God comes to earth eating, drinking, and speaking as a Man, "breaking the head of the dragon in the water," and bringing Salvation to the Jews and Gentiles (1:37-41).  They should obey this Man, but Asher knows that they will be disobedient, obeying commands of men instead of God's Law.  So they will be scattered, and would be completely wiped out if not for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel (1:42-45).

Then Asher died (1:46-48).

Christian Parallels

Asher's Testament contains the heart of Christian dualism and some rather blatant prophesies for Jesus.

The Asher 1:3-26 explanation of Christian dualism parallels Jesus' explanations, such as in Matthew 7:16-18, Matthew 12:22-28, Matthew 12:33-37, Mark 3:22-26, Luke 6:43-45, and Luke 11:14-20.  However, where Jesus simply presents it in true binary form, Asher delves into the realm of appearances, explaining how an evil person may seemingly do good and a good person appear to do evil, providing a more realistic perspective.

However, that was not Jesus' only position.  Like how Asher 1:24 and Asher 1:33 suggests that we should be concerned with what is actually good or evil as opposed to what only appears to be good or evil, Jesus' words in Matthew 12:9-14, Matthew 23:28, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 6:6-11, Luke 12:57, and John 7:24 echo that same sentiment.

Asher 1:28 suggests that eternal life awaits death.

Asher 1:34-36 presents an image whereby men will be tormented or receive eternal life according to their unrighteousness or righteousness, like what we see in John 5:28-29.

Asher 1:40-41 is pregnant with Christianity, stating God will come to earth as a Man, eating and drinking (Matthew 11:19, Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 7:34, and Luke 22:17-20), to break the head of the dragon in the water (Christianity uniquely ties the snake in the Garden of Eden to Satan - Genesis 3:15, Revelation 13:1).  Furthermore, this Man will bring Salvation to both the Jews and the Gentiles.

Asher 1:42-44 states that Asher's progeny will disobey the Savior, following the commands of men instead of God's Law (Matthew 15:1-6, Mark 7:1-13), and so be scattered (as what happened in 70 AD). 

Finally, Beliar (Belial) is mentioned in Asher 1:8 and Asher 1:21, cast as opposite to God similar to the way in which Christianity claims Satan is opposite to God.  Asher 1:34 uses the name Satan in that same manner, but that verse refers more directly to what awaits people in the afterlife.

Memorable Quotes

"Two ways hath God given to the sons of men, and two inclinations, and two kinds of action, and two modes of action, and two issues." - Asher 1:3

"Therefore if the soul take pleasure in the good inclination, all its actions are in righteousness; and if it sin it straightway repenteth." - Asher 1:6

"But if it incline to the evil inclination, all its actions are in wickedness, and it driveth away the good, and cleaveth to the evil, and is ruled by Beliar (Belial); even though it work what is good, he perverteth it to evil." - Asher 1:8

"A person then may with words help the good for the sake of the evil, yet the issue of the action leadeth to mischief." - Asher 1:10 (Shakespeare's Iago is a good example.)

"Though indeed he have love, yet is he wicked who concealeth what is evil for the sake of the good name, but the end of the action tendeth unto evil." - Asher 1:13

"He defileth the soul, and maketh gay the body; he killeth many, and pitieth a few: this, too, bath a twofold aspect, but the whole is evil." - Asher 1:16 (Couldn't this same thing be said about God here...)

"Such men are hares; clean,--like those that divide the hoof, but in very deed are unclean." - Asher 1:18 (interesting reference to unclean animals, considering that the New Testament would make all animals clean, ref. Acts 10:9-16)

"For many in killing the wicked do two works, of good and evil; but the whole is good, because he hath uprooted and destroyed that which is evil." - Asher 1:23 (a seed of "righteous" violence)

"One man hateth the merciful and unjust man, and the man who committeth adultery and fasteth: this, too, hath a twofold aspect, but the whole work is good, because he followeth the Lord's example, in that he accepteth not the seeming good as the genuine good." - Asher 1:24

"Ye see, my children, how that there are two in all things, one against the other, and the one is hidden by the other: in wealth is hidden covetousness, in conviviality drunkenness, in laughter grief, in wedlock profligacy." - Asher 1:27

"Death succeedeth to life, dishonour to glory, night to day, and darkness to light; and all things are under the day, just things under life, unjust things under death; wherefore also eternal life awaiteth death." - Asher 1:28

"For they that are double-faced are guilty of a twofold sin; for they both do the evil thing and they have pleasure in them that do it, following the example of the spirits of deceit, and striving against mankind." - Asher 1:32

"Do ye, therefore, my children, keep the law of the Lord, and give not heed unto evil as unto good; but look unto the thing that is really good, and keep it in all commandments of the Lord, having your conversation therein, and resting therein." - Asher 1:33 (reference to God's Law hundreds of years before it would be Biblically given)

"For the latter ends of men do show their righteousness or unrighteousness, when they meet the angels of the Lord and of Satan.  For when the soul departs troubled, it is tormented by the evil spirit which also it served in lusts and evil works.  But if he is peaceful with joy he meeteth the angel of peace, and he leadeth him into eternal life." - Asher 1:34-36

"Until the Most High shall visit the earth, coming Himself as man, with men eating and drinking, and breaking the head of the dragon in the water." - Asher 1:40

"He shall save Israel and all the Gentiles, God speaking in the person of man." - Asher 1:41

Monday, December 19, 2011

Testaments of the Twelve Patriachs - Gad

Story Summary

In the Testament of Gad, who was the ninth son of Jacob/Israel, Gad expounds upon the evils of hatred, and commands his progeny to love one another.

At the age of one hundred and twenty five, Gad gathered together his sons to impart his life lessons (1:1).

Gad was a valiant and skilled shepherd, capable of killing any beast threatening the flocks (1:2-3).

Joseph had a misunderstanding and told Jacob/Israel that Gad and his other brothers had slayed the best of the flock for themselves.  This incident, Jacob's/Israel's favoritism for Joseph, and Joseph's prophetic dreams drove Gad hate Joseph, even to the point of wanting to kill him, but God saved Joseph by having Judah sell him (1:4-14).

Gad advises his progeny to work righteousness and obey God's Law, and to avoid hatred.  Hatred skews your perspective, blinds you to the truth, provokes envy, promotes evil-speaking, causes arrogance, leads you astray from God's Law, and makes you revel in the punishment and death of others (as opposed to love, which would be merciful) (1:15-23).  Satan works with the spirit of hatred to cause death, but love works with God's Law for the Salvation of men.  Hatred causes many kinds of evil (1:24-25).

Gad implores his progeny to learn from his experience, and to drive out hatred and instead seek righteousness.  A righteous man will not wrong anyone else, even in his thoughts, for fear of God (1:26-30).

Gad learned these things when he repented regarding Joseph, because that repentance brought him knowledge and Salvation.  God had punished Gad with a disease of the liver (the organ which drives wrath, ref. Naphtali 1:20) for eleven months because of his anger for Joseph (1:31-36).

Gad advises his progeny to love one another, put aside hatred, speak peaceably and do not rebuke those who sin against you, keep secrets which may provoke others to anger, let God take care of vengeance, do not envy or be jealous but rather pray for the prosperity of others, remember that all flesh will die, praise God, seek God's judgement, let God handle those who become rich through evil means, and remember that God loves a poor man who is without envy (2:1-16).

Gad reminds his progeny to honor Levi and Judah, because God's Salvation will come from them.  However, Gad knows that his progeny will depart from God in the last days (2:17-18).

Then Gad died (2:19-21).

Christian Parallels

Gad has little in terms of Christian prophesy, but a great deal in terms of Christ-like living.

Gad's general message against hatred is found in the New Testament in Galatians 5:20, Titus 3:3, 1 John 2:9-11, 1 John 3:15, and 1 John 4:20.

In Gad 1:11, Gad 1:23, Gad 2:2 equate hate with a desire to murder, similar to Jesus' message in Matthew 5:21-22.

Gad 1:19, Gad 2:1, Gad 2:3, Gad 2:16 all harp on loving your neighbor, which is common to Matthew 22:37-39, Mark 12:29-31, Mark 12:33, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 5:14, and James 2:8.

Gad 1:24 speaks of how love works with God's Law to bring Salvation, which is almost like Romans 13:8-10.

Gad 1:28 explains how people are reproved by their own hearts, just like in Romans 2:15.

Gad 1:30 states that a righteous man will avoid sinning even in thought, promoting the idea that thoughts can be sinful and evil, like we find in Matthew 9:4, Matthew 15:19, Mark 7:21, Acts 8:22, Ephesians 2:3, and James 2:4.

Gad 1:32 speaks of how repentance brings Salvation, similar to 2 Corinthians 7:10.

Gad 2:3 is close to an enactment of Luke 17:3-4 as far as the treatment of someone who sins against you.

In Gad 2:8 we find that if someone persists in wronging you, you are to just (implicitly) let him (like Matthew 5:38-41), forgive him (like Matthew 6:14-15), and let God handle the vengeance (like Romans 12:19).

In Gad 2:14 unrepentant people are destined for eternal punishment.

Gad 2:15 claims that poor men are loved and blessed by God, as we could gather from Matthew 5:3 and Luke 6:20.

Gad 2:17 places Israel's Salvation coming from the Tribes of Levi and Judah.  Consider that Matthew 1:1-17 has Jesus' lineage of Joseph traced through the tribe of Judah, and many Biblical scholars suggest that Luke 3:23-38 has Jesus' lineage traced through Mary, and hold that Mary had bloodline ties to Levi (although they are under some dispute where exactly the Levitical bloodline enters).

Finally, regarding Beliar (Belial), he gets no mention in this Testament; a status which Gad holds in common only with Zebulun.  However, Gad 1:24 states that Satan uses hatred and Gad 1:26 claims that hatred is of the devil, which are sentiments quite at home with Christianity doctrine.

Memorable Quotes

"Accordingly I guarded at night the flock; and whenever the lion came, or the wolf, or any wild beast against the fold, I pursued it, and overtaking it I seized its foot with my hand and hurled it about a stone's throw, and so killed it." - Gad 1:3

"And the spirit of hatred was in me, and I wished not either to hear of Joseph with the ears, or see him with the eyes, because he rebuked us to our faces saying that we were eating of the flock without Judah." - Gad 1:9

"And now, my children, hearken to the words of truth to work righteousness, and all the law of the Most High, and go not astray through the spirit of hatred, for it is evil in all the doings of men." - Gad 1:15 (reference to God's Law hundreds of years before it would be Biblically given)

"For [hatred] will not hear the words of His commandments concerning the loving of one's--neighbour, and it sinneth against God." - Gad 1:19

"For the spirit of hatred worketh together with Satan, through hastiness of spirits, in all things to men's death; but the spirit of love worketh together with the law of God in long-suffering unto the salvation of men." - Gad 1:24 (yet God's Law commands for a lot of death)

"Hatred, therefore, is evil, for it constantly mateth with lying, speaking against the truth; and it maketh small things to be great, and causeth the light to be darkness, and calleth the sweet bitter, and teacheth slander, and kindleth wrath, and stirreth up war, and violence and all covetousness; it filleth the heart with evils and devilish poison." - Gad 1:25

"For he that is just and humble is ashamed to do what is unjust, being reproved not of another, but of his own heart, because the Lord looketh on his inclination." - Gad 1:28

"For fearing lest he should offend the Lord, he will not do wrong to any man, even in thought." - Gad 1:30

"For true repentance after a godly sort destroyeth ignorance, and driveth away the darkness, and enlighteneth the eyes, and giveth knowledge to the soul, and leadeth the mind to salvation." - Gad 1:32

"For God brought upon me a disease of the liver; and had not the prayers of Jacob my father succoured me, it had hardly failed but my spirit had departed.  For by what things a man transgresseth by the same also is he punished.  Since, therefore, my liver was set mercilessly against Joseph, in my liver too I suffered mercilessly, and was judged for eleven months, for so long a time as I had been angry against Joseph." - Gad 1:34-36 (Gad's liver caused his wrath, so God afflicted it!)

"And now, my children, I exhort you, love ye each one his brother, and put away hatred from your hearts, love one another in deed, and in word, and in the inclination of the soul." - Gad 2:1

"Love ye one another from the heart; and if a man sin against thee, speak peaceably to him, and in thy soul hold not guile; and if he repent and confess, forgive him." - Gad 2:3

"And if he be further exalted, be not envious of him, remembering that all flesh shall die; and offer praise to God, who giveth things good and profitable to all men." - Gad 2:11 ("Remember that all flesh shall die" is an odd phrase which would seem to be a reminder that this life is short, but the next would be eternal.)

"For if he taketh away from a man wealth gotten by evil means He forgiveth him if he repent, but the unrepentant is reserved for eternal punishment." - Gad 2:14 (eternal punishment...)

"For the poor man, if free from envy he pleaseth the Lord in all things, is blessed beyond all men, because he hath not the travail of vain men." - Gad 2:15 (blessed are the poor...)

"Do ye also therefore tell these things to your children, that they honour Judah and Levi, for from them shall the Lord raise up salvation to Israel."- Gad 2:17 (Consider that Matthew 1:1-17 has Jesus' lineage of Joseph traced through the tribe of Judah, and many Biblical scholars suggest that Luke 3:23-38 has Jesus' lineage traced through Mary, and hold that Mary had bloodline ties to Levi.)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Testaments of the Twelve Patriachs - Naphtali

Story Summary

In the Testament of Naphtali, who was the eighth son of Jacob/Israel, Naphtali relates prophesies of things to come to the nation of Israel, and the coming Salvation.

Despite being perfectly healthy, Naphtali was on his deathbed, and so he gathered together his sons to impart his life lessons (1:1-5).

Naphtali was born to Rachel's servant Bilhah.  Rachel loved him and prayed for a similar son to be born from her.  Her prayer was answered with Joseph (1:6-8).  Bilhah and Leah's servant Zilpah were actually sisters from Abraham's lineage (1:9-12).  Naphtali was a fast runner, so he served as Jacob/Israel's messenger (1:13).

Like a potter wields the clay, God makes every body perfectly fitted to its spirit.  Because man is made in God's image, God knows exactly how good or evil a man will be.  God makes everyone unique, appointing each individual aspect of each person (1:14-20).

Accordingly, Naphtali advises that you seek to fulfill God's planned design and live according to His Law, unlike the idolatrous Gentiles, or the people of Sodom, or the Watchers (fallen angels, ref. Genesis 6:1-4) who caused God to flood the earth (1:21-27).

Naphtali has read in the writings of Enoch that his progeny will stray from God in the fashion of the Gentiles and Sodom, so God will afflict them until there is just a remnant left and exile them from their land.  When they return to God, He will bring them back to their land (1:28-30).

Then, they will again go astray and be scattered until a Man embodying God's compassion will come who will work mercy and righteousness (1:31-32).

When Naphtali was forty years old, he saw a vision:  Jacob/Israel told is sons to try to capture the sun and the moon.  Levi caught the sun, while Judah grabbed the moon.  A young man gave Levi twelve palm branches, and Judah had twelve rays under his feet.  A two-horned, winged bull tried unsuccessfully to seize the young man, but Joseph did seize the young man and ascended to "on high" where it was revealed that the Assyrians, Medes, Persians, Chaldeans, and Syrians would capture the twelve tribes of Israel (2:1-8).

Seven days later Naphtali had another vision:  Jacob/Israel was standing by the sea of Jamnia (this may be a reference to the town of Yavne, also known as Jamnia, in which case this would be the Mediterranean Sea).  There, Jacob/Israel and his sons boarded the Ship of Jacob.  A bad storm came which destroyed the boat and scattered Jacob/Israel and his sons, while Joseph fled in a small boat.  Levi prayed to God, and then the storm stopped and the ship miraculously reassembled and reached the shore in peace (2:9-18).

Naphtali told Jacob/Israel about these two visions, and Jacob/Israel told him that these prophesies would happen to Israel in their appropriate seasons (2:19).  Jacob/Israel wept for the loss of Joseph.  That caused Naphtali to weep too, because he wanted to tell his father that Joseph had been sold, but was afraid of the wrath of his brethren (2:20-22).

Naphtali commands his progeny to cling to the Tribes of Levi and Judah, because through their Tribes God would dwell on earth, bringing Salvation to the Jews and the righteous of the Gentiles.  If his progeny work goodness, then they will glorify God among the Gentiles, will be loved by God, angels, and men, and will repel the devil and wild beasts.  However, if they do evil, then God will be dishonored among the Gentiles, the devil and wild beast shall master them, and God will hate them (2:23-28).

Naphtali advises that God's Law should be obeyed with prudence and in proper order, just like there is a time for a man to embrace is wife and a time to pray.  Then they will avoid sin and be loved by God (2:29-33).

Then Naphtali died (2:34-36).

Christian Parallels

The Testament of Naphtali has distinct sections of ill-context-fitting Christian theology, making it appear as though an original source was modified, which isn't surprising given that an extant and apparently different Hebrew version was found with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In Naphtali 1:14-18 is an interesting section which figuratively speaks of God as a potter, designing everyone with specific bodies and spirits for their purpose, including whether or not they will choose good or evil.  This bears a striking resemblance to the idea imparted by Paul in Romans 9:6-21.  In Romans 9:21, Paul even raises the question of "[d]oes not the potter have the right" to make people however He wants, where that potter is God.

Naphtali 1:22 states that you can't do works of light while in the darkness, which is also suggested by Ephesians 5:8 and 1 John 2:9.

At the end of the first chapter, Naphtali 1:31-32 makes a reference which appears to refer to the exile after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, and that they would be scattered until God's compassion comes in the form of "a man working righteousness and working mercy" (an oblique reference to Jesus' second coming).

The vision in Naphtali 2:9-18 of the boat which was destroyed by a storm, but made whole by God, is different, yet has some similarities to Jesus calming the storm in Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, and Luke 8:22-25.

Naphtali 2:24-25 states that God's salvation will arise from the Tribes of Levi and Judah.  Consider that Matthew 1:1-17 has Jesus' lineage of Joseph traced through the tribe of Judah, and many Biblical scholars suggest that Luke 3:23-38 has Jesus' lineage traced through Mary, and hold that Mary had bloodline ties to Levi (although they are under some dispute where exactly the Levitical bloodline enters).  Naphtali 2:25 speaks of God "dwelling among men on earth" in order to save the Jews and righteous Gentiles.

Naphtali 2:26-28 stands out for its use of "the devil" as opposed to Beliar or Satan; the first time "the devil" shows up in the Testaments.  These verses claim, among other things, that if Naphtali's progeny obey God, the devil will flee from them, which is very similar to James 4:7, but if they do not obey God, then God's name will be dishonored among the Gentiles, as we see referenced in Romans 2:24.

Then, oddly, Naphtali 2:29-33 is a call to understand the order prudence of God's Law.

Finally, in Naphtali 1:18 is the only direct reference to Beliar, being cast as opposite to God similar to the way in which Christianity claims Satan is opposite to God.

Memorable Quotes

"And as the potter knoweth the use of each vessel, what it is meet for, so also doth the Lord know the body, how far it will persist in goodness, and when it beginneth in evil." - Naphtali 1:16 (I was born designed this way...)

"For there is no inclination or thought which the Lord knoweth not, for He created every man after His own image." - Naphtali 1: 17 (God knows our evil thoughts, because He has them too.)

"For as a man's strength, so also in his work; as his eye, so also in his sleep; as his soul, so also in his word either in the law of the Lord or in the law of Beliar." - Naphtali 1:18 (God makes people for good or for evil, and note the reference to God's Law centuries before it would have been Biblically given.)

"For God made all things good in their order, the five senses in the head, and He joined on the neck to the head, adding to it the hair also for comeliness and glory, then the heart for understanding, the belly for excrement, and the stomach for grinding, the windpipe for taking in the breath, the liver for wrath, the gall for bitterness, the spleen for laughter, the reins for prudence, the muscles of the loins for power, the lungs for drawing in, the loins for strength, and so forth." - Naphtali 1:20 (written in a time when organs were thought to control emotions)

"Sun and moon and stars, change not their order; so do ye also change not the law of God in the disorderliness of your doings." - Naphtali 1:24 (...even though God would change things through Jesus...)

"The Gentiles went astray, and forsook the Lord, and charged their order, and obeyed stocks and stones, spirits of deceit." - Naphtali 1:25

"In like manner the Watchers also changed the order of their nature, whom the Lord cursed at the flood, on whose account He made the earth without inhabitants and fruitless." - Naphtali 1:27 (Watchers were fallen angels who slept with women, creating giants; ref. Genesis 6:1-4)

"These things I say unto you, my children, for I have read in the writing of Enoch that ye yourselves also shall depart from the Lord, walking according to all the lawlessness of the Gentiles, and ye shall do according to all the wickedness of Sodom." - Naphtali 1:28 (Enoch gets a source reference.)

"And the Lord shall scatter them upon the face of all the earth, until the compassion of the Lord shall come, a man working righteousness and working mercy unto all them that are afar off, and to them that are near." - Naphtali 1:31

"And we all of us ran together, and Levi laid hold of the sun, and Judah outstripped the others and seized the moon, and they were both of them lifted up with them." - Naphtali 2:3

"For through [the tribes of Levi and Judah] shall God appear dwelling among men on earth, to save the race of Israel, and to gather together the righteous from amongst the Gentiles." - Naphtali 2:25 (Consider that Matthew 1:1-17 has Jesus' lineage of Joseph traced through the tribe of Judah, and many Biblical scholars suggest that Luke 3:23-38 has Jesus' lineage traced through Mary, and hold that Mary had bloodline ties to Levi.)

"If ye work that which is good, my children, both men and angels shall bless you; and God shall be glorified among the Gentiles through you, and the devil shall flee from you, and the wild beasts shall fear you, and the Lord shall love you, and the angels shall cleave to you." - Naphtali 2:26

"For there is a season for a man to embrace his wife, and a season to abstain therefrom for his prayer." - Naphtali 2:30

"Be ye therefore wise in God, my children, and prudent, understanding the order of His commandments, and the laws of every word, that the Lord may love you," - Naphtali 2:33

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Testaments of the Twelve Patriachs - Dan

Story Summary

In the Testament of Dan, who was the seventh son of Jacob/Israel, Dan focuses on the avoidance of anger and lying, and the saving of the Jews.

On his deathbed, Dan gathered together his sons to impart his life lessons (1:1-2).  Truth and justice is good, while lying and anger are evil (1:3).

Beliar's (Belial's) spirits of jealousy and of anger had convinced Dan to try to kill Joseph, because Joseph was Jacob/Israel's favorite son.  God prevented Joseph from being killed.  Even so, Dan still rejoiced when Joseph had been sold (1:4-9).

Dan advises his progeny to avoid the spirits of lying and anger or else they will perish (1:10).  Anger makes you blind to truth, disrespectful, disobedient, envious, and self-justified in wickedness (1:11-19).  Lying, Satan's right hand, always accompanies anger, for you lie to yourself when feel you are transgressed, giving you false justification to be angry, which then spurs you into being wrathful and troubles your soul.  This causes God to depart from you and Beliar to rule you (1:20-27).

Dan advises his progeny to obey God's Law, to avoid wrath, hate, and lying, and to love God and each other, because then they will have peace (2:1-3).

Dan knows that "in the last days" his progeny will promote wickedness in the Tribes of Levi and Judah because, according to Enoch, they will leave God and make Satan their prince.  They will be exiled and punished with the same plagues which Egypt had experienced.  Then, when they return to God, He will grant them mercy and peace (2:4-9).

Then God's Salvation will arise from the Tribes of Levi and Judah, who will wage war on Beliar, eternally punish their enemies, "turn disobedient hearts unto the Lord," give eternal peace to those who call on Him, let saints rest in Eden and the New Jerusalem, and co-reign in peace with those who believe on Him (2:10-14).

Dan advises that they should beware of Satan and his spirits, who eagerly attack those who call on God.  Satan's time will end when Israel repents, so cling to the mediator between God and man, and then God will strengthen Israel and transform it into a nation which does His will, making His name among the Jews and Gentiles (2:15-20).

So Dan's progeny should keep from evil wrath and lying, and instead love truth and long-suffering, because then the Savior of the Gentiles, who is true and meek, and teaches God's Law by His actions, will also save the Jews forever (2:21-23).

Then Dan died (2:24-27).

Christian Parallels

The second chapter of Dan is a tangle of Jewish and Christian eschatology, but the first chapter is not without its own nod to Christian doctrine.

Dan's general sentiment against lying (Ephesians 4:25-27, Colossians 3:9-10, Revelation 14:5, Revelation 21:8) and anger (Ephesians 4:25-27, Colossians 3:8, James 1:19-20) is reflected in the New Testament.  Ephesians 4:25-27 even goes so far as to mention lying and anger in one breath, going on to state that anger gives the devil a foothold, but falls short of tying lying and anger together as closely as Dan does.

Of course, it would be remiss not to mention that Dan's description of anger is that it is directed at people and motivates them to work wickedness, which bears a strong resemblance to hatred, which Jesus spoke about as a sin in Matthew 5:21-22.

Dan 1:6-8 states that the spirits of Beliar were literally speaking to him, influencing him to try to kill Joseph.  This theology is echoed in Jesus' temptation by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13), and implied in verses such as when Ananias lied about how much money he had received (Acts 5:3) and in Satan's deceptions in John 8:44, 1 Corinthians 7:5, 2 Corinthians 2:11, 2 Corinthians 11:14, and Revelation 12:9, as well as the deception from evil spirits in general in 1 John 4:1.

In Dan 1:20 we see that Satan's "right hand" is lying, much like what we see in John 8:44, where Satan is the father of lies.

Dan 2:1 says that if you obey God, Beliar will flee from you, which is very similar to James 4:7.

Dan 2:3 says to love God and one another, like Jesus' words saying to love God and your neighbor in Matthew 22:37-39, Mark 12:29-31, Mark 12:33, and Luke 10:27, and is found later in Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, and James 2:8.

Dan 2:4 states that his progeny will provoke Levi to anger and Judah to fight "in the last days."  While this could be referring obliquely to Jesus in the theme of His combined Levi/Judah lineage, Dan 2:5-9 continues on in a reference which appears to be the first Jewish exile.

From there, Dan 2:10 begins straightforward prophesies regarding Jesus, saying that God's salvation will arise from the Tribes of Levi and Judah.  Consider that Matthew 1:1-17 has Jesus' lineage of Joseph traced through the tribe of Judah, and many Biblical scholars suggest that Luke 3:23-38 has Jesus' lineage traced through Mary, and hold that Mary had bloodline ties to Levi (although they are under some dispute where exactly the Levitical bloodline enters).  Dan 2:10 also mentions that this Salvation will make war against Beliar, like the war alluded to in Ephesians 6:12.

Dan 2:11 then veers slightly back into Jewish eschatology without fully leaving the Christian version,  referring to how God will take vengeance on the enemies of the Jews (Ezekiel 28:24-26, Zechariah 12:1-9, Micah 5:5-15) and change hearts disobedient to God back to obedience (Ezekiel 36:16-38, Ezekiel 37:15-28).  Dan 2:19 repeats this notion of transformation of the disobedient Jews.  Dan 2:11 also states that all who call on God will be saved, like we find in Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 (which originated from Joel 2:32).

Dan 2:12 speaks of the saints resting in literal Eden.  Dan 2:12 also mentions a New Jerusalem, like Revelation 3:12 and Revelation 21:2.

Dan 2:13 explains how God will dwell in Jerusalem and it will have peace.  Dan 2:13 also mentions how those who "believe on Him" will reign with Him, just like we find in 2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 5:9-10, and Revelation 20:4-6.

In Dan 2:15, he instructs his progeny to come to the one who will be the mediator between God and man, which is uniquely integral to Christian theology.  Jesus plays the role of mediator according to Romans 8:34, 1 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 7:25, Hebrews 8:6, Hebrews 9:15, and Hebrews 12:24.

We see in Dan 2:9, Dan 2:11, and Dan 2:15 a prophesy for peace on earth, which is common to both Jewish and Christian eschatology.

Dan 2:17 comes back to Jewish eschatology, stating that Beliar's/Satan's kingdom will come to an end at the time when the Jews repent.

In Dan 2:20, God's name will be among the Gentiles, as we see happening from Acts 15:14.

Dan 2:22 states that the Savior of the Gentiles may bring Salvation to the Jews if they obey God.  Dan 2:22 goes on to describe this Savior as "true and long-suffering, meek and lowly," and someone who teaches the Law of God by His actions, echoing of Jesus.

Finally, in Dan we find Beliar and Satan being used interchangeably, both seen fighting against men in the same ways which Christianity claims Satan is fighting against them.

Memorable Quotes

"I have proved in my heart, and in my whole life, that truth with just dealing is good and well pleasing to God, and that lying and anger are evil, because they teach man all wickedness." - Dan 1:3

"And one of the spirits of Beliar stirred me up, saying: Take this sword, and with it slay Joseph: so shall thy father love thee when he is dead." - Dan 1:7 (Beliar plants the seeds of sin)

"For the spirit of anger encompasseth him with the net of deceit, and blindeth his eyes, and through lying darkeneth his mind, and giveth him its own peculiar vision." - Dan 1:13

"This spirit goeth always with lying at the right hand of Satan, that with cruelty and lying his works may be wrought." - Dan 1:20 (the first of the Testaments to mention Satan)

"If ye fall into any loss or ruin, my children, be not afflicted; for this very spirit maketh a man desire that which is perishable, in order that he may be enraged through the affliction." - Dan 1:25 (you might hear similar words from a Buddhist)

"Observe, therefore, my children, the commandments of the Lord, and keep His law; depart from wrath, and hate lying, that the Lord may dwell among you, and Beliar may flee from you." - Dan 2:1 (a reference to God's Law, which would not be Biblically given for several centuries)

"Love the Lord through all your life, and one another with a true heart." - Dan 2:3

"And whensoever ye depart from the Lord, ye shall walk in all evil and work the abominations of the Gentiles, going a-whoring after women of the lawless ones, while with all wickedness the spirits of wickedness work in you." - Dan 2:5

"For I have read in the book of Enoch, the righteous, that your prince is Satan, and that all the spirits of wickedness and pride will conspire to attend constantly on the sons of Levi, to cause them to sin before the Lord." - Dan 2:6 (the book of Enoch gets a reference, and when did Gad's progeny cause the Levites to sin?)

"And there shall arise unto you from the tribe of Judah and of Levi the salvation of the Lord; and he shall make war against Beliar." - Dan 2:10 (Consider that Matthew 1:1-17 has Jesus' lineage of Joseph traced through the tribe of Judah, and many Biblical scholars suggest that Luke 3:23-38 has Jesus' lineage traced through Mary, and hold that Mary had bloodline ties to Levi.)

"And the saints shall rest in Eden, and in the New Jerusalem shall the righteous rejoice, and it shall be unto the glory of God for ever." - Dan 2:12 (going back to Eden?)

"And no longer shall Jerusalem endure desolation, nor Israel be led captive; for the Lord shall be in the midst of it [living amongst men], and the Holy One of Israel shall reign over it in humility and in poverty; and he who believeth on Him shall reign amongst men in truth." - Dan 2:13

"Draw near unto God and unto the angel that intercedeth for you, for he is a mediator between God and man, and for the peace of Israel he shall stand up against the kingdom of the enemy." - Dan 2:15

"And it shall be in the time of the lawlessness of Israel, that the Lord will not depart from them, but will transform them into a nation that doeth His will, for none of the angels will be equal unto him." - Dan 2:19

"And the things which ye have heard from your father, do ye also impart to your children that the Saviour of the Gentiles may receive you; for he is true and long-suffering, meek and lowly, and teacheth by his works the law of God." - Dan 2:22