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

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