Friday, December 9, 2011

Testaments of the Twelve Patriachs - Judah

Story Summary

In the Testament of Judah, who was the fourth son of Jacob/Israel, Judah speaks largely of great feats of speed, courage, and conquest, only to be marred by drunken lust and the love of money in this, the second-longest of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.

On his deathbed, Judah gathered his sons together (1:1-2).  Judah explained how he was a good and obedient child (1:3-5).  Jacob/Israel blessed him that he should be a king, and God blessed his fields and his home (1:6-7).

Judah was a fast and strong man who would outrun or slay any wild animal (1:8-15).  He was also a fierce warrior, who could effectively take down larger, stronger men as well as be victorious even when outnumbered; striking fear into the hearts of enemies.  So Jacob/Israel never worried when Judah went to battle (1:16-24).  Jacob/Israel had had a vision of an angel guarding Judah wherever he went (1:25).

So Judah, together with his brothers, had many successful battles, captured many cities, and became wealthy.  Judah's successes struck fear into the Canaanites (1:26-52).  Parsaba, king of Adullam, made a feast for Judah and gave him his daughter Bathshua for a wife, who bore Er, Onan, and Shelah (1:53-54).

Jacob/Israel and his sons lived in peace with Esau for eighteen years, culminating in a battle where Esau was slain by Jacob/Israel, and Esau's progeny became tributaries to Jacob/Israel (2:1-9).

Er took Tamar for a wife, but he did not have sex with her, as per his mother's evil instructions.  An angel killed him three nights later.  Judah gave Tamar to Onan for a wife.  Onan did have sex with her for a year, and only had sex then because Judah had threatened him, but Onan ejaculated on the ground.  So Onan also died.  Judah had known better than to marry a Canaanite woman, because they are wicked, but he was drunk at the time.  Bathshua got Shelah a Canaanite wife while he was away, which made Judah angry enough to curse Bathshua, so she died (2:10-21).

Sometime afterward, Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and tricked Judah into impregnating her while he was drunk.  Judah was very ashamed of this (2:22-33).

Later, when Judah was forty-six he went to Egypt because of the famine (2:34-35).

Judah advises to obey God and avoid lust and pride (3:1-2).  Spirits of jealousy and fornication attacked Judah until he married Bathshua and had sex with Tamar (3:3).  Parsaba had tempted him with riches, and Bathshua had made him drunk with wine, persuading him to marry her without his father's approval.  So God punished him appropriately (3:4-9).

Judah further advises against drunkenness, because it makes a man irreverent and spurs on fornication (3:10-18).  Drunkenness caused Judah to risk his kingship, so he repented having sex with Tamar by no longer drinking wine or eating meat (3:19-21).  Women rule over men regardless of stature, taking whatever men have (3:22-23).  Wine contains four evil spirits, so be sure to drink only modestly, or, better yet, abstain from it to avoid sin.  Wine makes you reveal secrets and causes wars (3:24-29).

Judah also advises not to love money or beautiful women, both of which will be snares to the Jews (3:30-32).  Because of his obedience, Judah was blessed with kingship, but he knows that his progeny will commit evils in the last days (3:32-36).

Judah commands that his progeny avoid fornication and the love of money, because they lead to all sorts of other evils (3:37-42).  Judah's own love of money would have caused his downfall, if his repentance and humiliation, together with Jacob/Israel's prayers, had not persuaded God to grant him mercy (3:43-44).

Judah informs his sons that he was blinded by the "prince of deceit," causing him to sin, so they should be forewarned that both the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit both act on men.  There is no act that they can hide from God because the spirit of truth will testify the works written on their hearts (3:45-50).

Judah commands his progeny to yield to the Tribe of Levi, because while the Tribe of Judah will rule the earth, Levi handles heavenly affairs, and is therefore at a higher level of authority (4:1-5).  Judah's progeny will be like the sea, and its kings like sea monsters, controlling the fate of all races, and of the wicked and the righteous; creating much injustice (4:6-10).  God will make them fight against one another, and make them be captured by another race until He brings Salvation, peace to the Jews and Gentiles, and takes command of Judah's kingdom forever (4:11-14).

Judah is grieved that his progeny will do many wicked things, which God will punish with famine, slaughter of children, rape of wives, burning of the Temple, enslavement and exile, until God will visit them and they will repent and obey Him, and He will free them from captivity (4:15-19).

After these things (possibly referring to the events before God visits them), a star will rise and a peaceful, meek, righteous, sinless Man will come from Judah's lineage.  God will give His grace to the Man, and the Man will pass along that grace.  Those who are in truth and obey every commandment of God will be His children.  The Man will rule, extend righteousness to the Gentiles, judge, and save everyone who calls on God.  All of the Patriarchs will be resurrected, and Jacob/Israel's sons will each be assigned a station to command.  Everyone will speak one language and will glorify God forever.  Those who were in grief, or poor, or died for God's sake will be made happy, rich, and rewarded with life.  The spirit of deceit will not be present, because Beliar (Belial) will be cast into eternal fire.  Therefore, Judah advises that everyone should obey God's Law and put their faith in Him (4:20-33).

Then Judah died (4:34-36).

Christian Parallels

The Testament of Judah only hints at Christian themes until the fourth chapter, where the parallels to Christianity become very obvious.

The general message against drunkenness is included in the New Testament, such as in Luke 21:34 and Romans 13:13.  Judah 3:12, which cites drunkenness as a cause of fornication, is echoed in Ephesians 5:18.

Judah 3:30, Judah 3:37, and Judah 3:41-42 speak against the love of money like we see in 1 Timothy 3:3, 1 Timothy 6:10, 2 Timothy 3:2, and Hebrews 13:5, with Judah 3:41 essentially saying that you can't love money and obey God in a manner reminiscent of Jesus' words in Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13.

Judah 3:46 states that men are acted on by the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit; spirits which we find listed in 1 John 4:6, although in a different manner.

Judah 4:17 predicts that the Temple will be burned, which could be referring to Jesus' prophesy in Matthew 24:1-2, Mark 13:1-2, and Luke 21:5-6, but may instead be referring to the destruction of the Temple during the first Jewish exile, which specifically mentions burning (ref. 2 Kings 25:9, 2 Chronicles 36:19).

Judah's prophesy regarding Jesus is slightly different than some of the other Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs in that it lacks an explicit combining of the lineages of Levi and Judah.  Judah does place the priesthood over kingship (Judah 4:1-5), but when it comes time to speak of the Savior who will eternally rule the kingdom, Judah only speaks of his own lineage (Judah 4:14).

In Judah 4:20 we see a star in the heavens will indicate the Man presenting Salvation, like the one the wise men followed in Matthew 2:1-9.  Also in Judah 4:20 is an allusion to world-wide peace, which is common to both Jewish and Christian eschatology.

This Man will come from Judah's lineage according to Judah 4:21, as we see in Jesus' lineage in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38.

Judah 4:22 claims the Man will be meek and righteous, as is often remarked about Jesus.

Judah 4:23 says that the Man will be without sin, like what 2 Corinthians 5:21 claims.

In Judah 4:24 we see where God will pour out His spirit on the Man with a blessing, similar to what we see in Jesus' baptism scenes in Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:10-11, and Luke 3:21-22.

Judah 4:25 says that the Man will consider those who obey God to be His children, like Jesus' words in Matthew 12:48-50, Mark 3:33-35, and Luke 8:21.

Judah 4:26 calls the Man a judge, like we find in John 5:22.  Also in Judah 4:26, Salvation is extended explicitly to the Gentiles, and all who call on this Man will be saved, like we find in Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 (which originated from Joel 2:32).

The prophesy of Judah 4:31 aligns perfectly with both Jesus' words in part of the Beatitudes about mourners being comforted and the poor being made rich in Matthew 5:3-4 and Luke 6:20-21, and Jesus' words regarding those who lose their lives for Jesus' sake will gain life in Matthew 10:39, Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, Luke 17:33, and John 12:25.

Judah 4:47-48 speaks of the resurrection of the Patriarchs, which is in line with Christianity and explicitly claimed in Luke 20:37.

Finally, in Judah 3:17, Judah 3:45, Judah 4:30 we see Beliar cast as the prince of deceit (like John 8:44 claims Satan is the father of lies) who acts by instigating men to sin similar to the way in which Christianity claims Satan does.  Judah 4:30 claims Beliar will be cast into everlasting fire, just like Satan in Revelation 20:10.

Memorable Quotes

"And I fought with this other for two hours; and I clave his shield in twain, and I chopped off his feet, and killed him."  - Judah 1:19 (Was this the inspiration for the black knight scene in Monty Python's Holy Grail?)

"For [Jacob/Israel] saw in a vision concerning me that an angel of might followed me everywhere, that I should not be overcome." - Judah 1:25 (a guardian angel)

"For it was a law of the Amorites, that she who was about to marry should sit in fornication seven days by the gate." - Judah 2:23 (That is one of the strangest laws ever!)

"For the spirit of fornication hath wine as a minister to give pleasure to the mind; for these two also take away the mind of man." - Judah 3:11

"Such is the inebriated man, my children; for he who is drunken reverenceth no man." - Judah 3:13

"But if he go beyond this limit the spirit of deceit attacketh his mind, and it maketh the drunkard to talk filthily, and to transgress and not to be ashamed, but even to glory in his shame, and to account himself honourable." - Judah 3:17 (Judah's theology appears to be that Beliar, the spirit of deceit, instigates all wickedness.)

"And the angel of God showed me that for ever do women bear rule over king and beggar alike.  And from the king they take away his glory, and from the valiant man his might, and from the beggar even that little which is the stay of his poverty." - Judah 3:22-23 (It seems that Judah agrees with Reuben that women are evil.)

"Moreover, wine revealeth the mysteries of God and men, even as I also revealed the commandments of God and the mysteries of Jacob my father to the Canaanitish woman Bathshua, which God bade me not to reveal." - Judah 3:28

"For [fornication and the love of money] withdraw [you] from the law of God, and blind the inclination of the soul, and teach arrogance, and suffer not a man to have compassion upon his neighbour." - Judah 3:38

"And the prince of deceit blinded me, and I sinned as a man and as flesh, being corrupted through sins; and I learnt my own weakness while thinking myself invincible." - Judah 3:45 (The prince of deceit, Beliar, again at the root of sin.)

"And the spirit of truth testifieth all things, and accuseth all; and the sinner is burnt up by his own heart, and cannot raise his face to the judge." - Judah 3:50

"As the heaven is higher than the earth, so is the priesthood of God higher than the earthly kingdom, unless it falls away through sin from the Lord and is dominated by the earthly kingdom." - Judah 4:4

"And there shall be continual wars in Israel; and among men of another race shall my kingdom be brought to an end, until the salvation of Israel shall come." - Judah 4:12

"And after these things shall a star arise to you from Jacob in peace, and a man shall arise from my seed, like the sun of righteousness, walking with the sons of men in meekness and righteousness; and no sin shall be found in him.  And the heavens shall be opened unto him, to pour out the spirit, even the blessing of the Holy Father; and He shall pour out the spirit of grace upon you;" - Judah 4:20-24 (Does that sound like anyone you know?)

"And the Lord blessed Levi, and the Angel of the Presence, me; the powers of glory, Simeon; the heaven, Reuben; the earth, Issachar; the sea, Zebulun; the mountains, Joseph; the tabernacle, Benjamin; the luminaries, Dan; Eden, Naphtali; the sun, Gad; the moon, Asher." - Judah 4:29

"And ye shall be the people of the Lord, and have one tongue; and there shall be there no spirit of deceit of Beliar, for he shall be cast into the fire for ever." - Judah 4:30 (The problem of evil will be solved by getting rid of Beliar.)

"And they who have died in grief shall arise in joy, and they who were poor for the Lord's sake shall be made rich, and they who are put to death for the Lord's sake shall awake to life." - Judah 4:31

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