Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Testaments of the Twelve Patriachs - Zebulun

Story Summary

In the Testament of Zebulun, who was the sixth son of Jacob/Israel, Zebulun recounts the selling of Joseph and stresses the importance of compassion.

On his deathbed, Zebulun gathered his children. He told them that he was born in his father's prosperity (1:1-4)

Zebulun said that he had never sinned except for in thought, and that was regarding the selling of Joseph as a slave.  For his own safety from his other brothers, Zebulun kept the secret of Joseph being sold from Jacob/Israel.  Yet while Joseph was being threatened, Zebulun sympathized with him.  Zebulun didn't take a share of the money from Joseph's sale, but his other brothers bought sandals with the money to symbolically tread on Joseph.  However, God humbled them by making them come barefoot in front of Joseph, and get spit upon when they came to Egypt, which is why there is that law about the sandal loosening and spitting in the Law of Moses (ref. Deuteronomy 25:9).  Reuben tried to buy back Joseph, but could not catch up with the merchants.  Gad came up with the plan to rip Joseph's coat (which they had taken from him), dip it in goat blood, and send it back to Jacob/Israel so that he would think that a wild animal had killed Joseph.  Instead, Simeon wanted to chop the coat up with his sword out of anger, but he relented to Gad's plan when threatened by his brothers(1:5-37).

Zebulun advises to have compassion to men and beasts, because God will treat you according to how you treat others (2:1-3).

Because of the compassion Zebulun had shown, God kept his sons healthy, protected him as he fished, and gave him wisdom to invent the first sailboat (2:4-7).  For five years, Zebulun fished with that sailboat in the summertime, and shared his God-provided-abundant catch with all strangers, even cooking the fish for disabled people.  He tended sheep with his brothers in the winter.  One winter he stole a coat from his father and gave it to a naked man in distress (2:8-15).

Zebulun advises to give to the needy without hesitation, and if you don't have enough to give, then have compassion, as he had done for a poor man by walking with him and weeping for him.  If you have compassion for everyone, God will have compassion for you (2:16-19).

In the "last days," God will send His compassion to earth, and He will have compassion to people to the same extent that they have compassion on their neighbors (2:20-21).

In the same way that Joseph held no grudge against his brothers, so too should Zebulun's prodigy not keep records of wrongs done to them so that they can act in powerful unity instead of dividing against one another (2:22-27).

Zebulun has seen it written how the Jews will split into two kingdoms, work wickedness, and become exiled, but when they repent God will have compassion on them because He keeps no record of their self-deceptive sins (2:28-31).  Then God Himself will come to Jerusalem, and they will return to their land.  However, they will be wicked again, and will be exiled until the "time of consummation" (2:32-35).

Zebulun tells his children that they should not be sad that he is dying, because he will rise again, together with everyone who obeys God's Law.  However, God will bring eternal fire to ungodly people (2:36-28).

Then Zebulun died (2:39-42).

Christian Parallels

The Testament of Zebulun has a blend of Christian themes centered on compassion in the second chapter.

The general message about compassion is included in the New Testament, such as in Ephesians 4:32, Philippians 2:1-2, Colossians 3:12, and 1 Peter 3:8.

Zebulun 2:3, Zebulun 2:19, and Zebulun 2:21 suggest reciprocity in the compassion you show for others being then granted to you by God, which is similar to the forgive-in-order-to-be-forgiven concept we find in Matthew 6:14-15.
In Zebulun 2:15, he steals his father's cloak and gives it to a naked man in winter.  This parallels John the Baptist's words about sharing tunics in Luke 3:11.

Zebulun 2:17 states that whatever God has given you, you should freely and compassionately give to any man, a sentiment shown in Matthew 10:8 and Act 4:32-34.

Zebulun 2:20 states that God will send His compassion to earth, like we find Jesus acting out of sympathetic compassion in Matthew 9:36, Matthew 14:14, Matthew 15:32, Matthew 20:34, Mark 6:34, Mark 8:2, and Luke 15:20.

Zebulun 2:23-27 is a call to love one another and not keep records of the wrongs done to you by your fellow man in order to keep peace and unity, which is likewise found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, Ephesians 4:2-3, Ephesians 4:32, Philippians 2:1-2, 1 Peter 3:8.  In similar tone, Zebulun 2:31 says that God keeps no record of the wrongs wrought by men because they are self-deceived.

Some prophesies regarding Jesus in general are covered in Zebulun 2:32-35, including God Himself "arising" to them and coming to Jerusalem, but Zebulun's prodigy will work wickedness against Him, causing their exile until the end times.

Zebulun 2:37 speaks his own resurrection, which is in line with Christianity and Patriarch resurrection claimed in Luke 20:37.  This resurrection extends to those who obey God's Law, which is consistent with Jesus' words in Matthew 5:19.

On the flip side, Zebulun 2:38 claims that eternal fire awaits those who act ungodly, which is also consistent with the words of Jesus as they are found in Matthew 18:8.  Yet if God is not keeping records, how, then, would He know who to punish?

Curiously, Zebulun makes no mention of Beliar or Satan.

Memorable Quotes

"I am not conscious that I have sinned all my days, save in thought." - Zebulun 1:5

"And now children, I you (sic) to keep the commands of the Lord, and to show mercy to your neighbours, and to have compassion towards all, not towards men only, but also towards beasts." - Zebulun 2:1 (a reference to God's Law centuries before it was Biblically given, also, PETA would approve of Zebulun)

"Have, therefore, compassion in your hearts, my children, because even as a man doeth to his neighbour, even so also will the Lord do to him."- Zebulun 2:3

"I was the first to make a boat to sail upon the sea, for the Lord gave me understanding and wisdom therein." - Zebulun 2:6 (Zebulun made the very first sailboat ever!)

"And if a man were a stranger, or sick, or aged, I boiled the fish, and dressed them well, and offered them to all men, as every man had need, grieving with and having compassion upon them." - Zebulun 2:10

"Wherefore also the Lord satisfied me with abundance of fish when catching fish; for he that shareth with his neighbour receiveth manifold more from the Lord." - Zebulun 2:11

"I saw a man in distress through nakedness in wintertime, and had compassion upon him, and stole away a garment secretly from my father's house, and gave it to him who was in distress." - Zebulun 2:15

"Do you, therefore, my children, from that which God bestoweth upon you, show compassion and mercy without hesitation to all men, and give to every man with a good heart." - Zebulun 2:16

"And if ye have not the wherewithal to give to him that needeth, have compassion for him in bowels of mercy" - Zebulun 2:17

"Because also in, the last days God will send His compassion on the earth, and wheresoever He findeth bowels of mercy He dwelleth in him." - Zebulun 2:20

"For in the degree in which a man hath compassion upon his neighbours, in the same degree hath the Lord also upon him." - Zebulun 2:21

"To whom taking heed, do ye also, my children, approve yourselves without malice, and love one another; and do not set down in account, each one of you, evil against his brother." - Zebulun 2:23

"And [God] setteth not down in account evil against the sons of men, because they are flesh, and are deceived through their own wicked deeds." - Zebulun 2:31

"And after these things shall there arise unto you the Lord Himself, the light of righteousness, and ye shall return unto your land." - Zebulun 2:32

"And ye shall see Him in Jerusalem, for His name's sake." - Zebulun 2:33

"But upon the ungodly shall the Lord bring eternal fire, and destroy them throughout all generations." - Zebulun 2:38

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