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

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