Sunday, December 16, 2012

Recycling Testaments

To the flu, add food poisoning.  It's been a lovely winter so far, but I'm starting to be able to put words together coherently again.  Well, as coherent as I get anyway.  ;-)

So I thought I'd take the time to recycle a series of posts I spent some effort on last Christmas:  The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.  Follow that link for full intro details, but basically the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs are a series of Apocryphal writings which were likely created a century or two before Jesus, and likely "touched up" by some anonymous Christian(s) a century or two after Jesus.

They are interesting on many levels; blending of Jewish and Christian eschatology, encapsulation of the beliefs of at least some early Christians, and a clear demonstration of the lack of scruples some pious people had in creating works of fiction which were meant to be taken as truth to support their beliefs.  At least that is how it appears today.  It is also possible that these documents were known to be the equivalent of "fan fiction" in those days.

Anyway, check them out if you have a geeky interest in that sort of thing.  If you are pressed for time, I recommend checking out Asher, because I like its dualistic philosophical content.  :-)  And maybe check out Levi after that, because of its visions of Heaven.  Zebulun is also a favorite, because he was the inventor of the sail boat!

Below is a little bit about each patriarch, and three of my favorite quotes from each Testament.  Clicking the name will take you to the post where I summarized the Testament, discussed Christian parallels, and collected more of my favorite quotes.

Reuben - the woman hater, and rapist of his father's concubine
"And I tell you that [God] smote me with a sore plague in my loins for seven months; and had not my father Jamb prayed for me to the Lord, the Lord would have destroyed me." - Reuben 1:7

"For evil are women, my children; and since they have no power or strength over man, they use wiles by outward attractions, that they may draw him to themselves." - Reuben 2:13

"For moreover, concerning them, the angel of the Lord told me, and taught me, that women are overcome by the spirit of fornication more than men, and in their heart they plot against men; and by means of their adornment they deceive first their minds, and by the glance of the eye instil the poison, and then through the accomplished act they take them captive." - Reuben 2:15

Simeon - envy, spawned by the "prince of deceit," drove him to plot the death of Joseph
"And I set my mind against [Joseph] to destroy him because the prince of deceit sent forth the spirit of jealousy and blinded my mind, so that I regarded him not as a brother, nor did I spare even Jacob my father." - Simeon 1:8

"And henceforward he sympathiseth with him whom he envied and forgiveth those who are hostile to him, and so ceaseth from his envy." - Simeon 1:20

"And my father asked concerning me, because he saw that I was sad; and I said unto him, I am pained in my liver." - Simeon 2:1 (showing belief of organ-related emotions)

Levi - the Priest, full of visions of Heaven and Judgement Day
"In the heaven next to it are the archangels, who minister and make propitiation to the Lord for all the sins of ignorance of the righteous;" - Levi 1:22 (interesting that sin offerings are made in parallel in Heaven)

"Work righteousness, therefore, my children, upon the earth, that ye may have it as a treasure in heaven." - Levi 4:5

"And He shall open the gates of paradise, and shall remove the threatening sword against Adam, and He shall give to the saints to eat from the tree of life, and the spirit of holiness shall be on them." - Levi 5:26 (ref. Genesis 3:22-24 where God puts up a flaming sword to keep man away from the Tree of Life.)

Judah - a mighty man brought down by drunkenness, lust, and greed
"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!)

"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.)

Issachar - a pious man who avoided temptation and put God and others first, the ideal Christian before Chrsitianity
"Therefore, when I was thirty-five years old, I took to myself a wife, for my labour wore away my strength, and I never thought upon pleasure with women; but owing to my toil, sleep overcame me." - Issachar 1:28 (I'm guessing that he had a very mechanical marriage)

"[A single-minded man] doth not desire to live a long life, but only waiteth for the will of God." - Issachar 1:34

"And the spirits of deceit have no power against him, for he looketh not on the beauty of women, lest he should pollute his mind with corruption." - Issachar1:35 (the beauty of women corrupts the mind)

Zebulun - a compassionate inventor
"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)

"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

Dan - learned that anger and lying, the fruits of Beliar's spirit, cause much evil
"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)

"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)

Naphtali - a pious prophet, wise in outdated science
"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 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)

Gad - a strong man, once full of hate, now prophessor of love
"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

"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

Asher - a philosopher of dualism, and, while I don't agree with much of what is written, this is my favorite Testament because it is the deepest in thought.
"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

"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)

"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

Joseph - the chaste and pious brother who was sold into slavery, yet saved many people from famine because of it
"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

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

Benjamin - a blatant reciter of Christian tenets
"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

"[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


  1. My first thought when I read this post: He had the flu. What's he doing eating food!? :-)

  2. Ha! It has been a looooong process getting my stomach back up to normal. :-)

  3. Hope you feel better. I haven't been active much lately due to flu either. I think I'll pass off my recycling of posts as an "End of the Year, Best of 2012" Series. :-)

  4. Thanks Grundy. Yes, I am feeling better, and on a little bit of a vacation now.

    I look forward to seeing your "best of" list!