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The Apocryphal Old Testament Collection of the most important non-canonical Old Testament books designed for general use.

Chapter II

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Text Commentary

1Now it came to pass, when the time had come for the patriarch Isaac to go forth from the body, God sent to him the angel 1 Boh. ‘archangel Michael’. of his father Abraham at dawn on the twenty-second of Mesore. 2He said to him, Hail, son of promise! 3(Now it was the daily custom of the righteous old man Isaac to converse with the angels.) 4He lifted his face up to the face of the angel: he saw him assuming the likeness of his father Abraham; and he opened his mouth and raised his voice and cried out in great joy, I have seen your face like someone who has seen the face of God. 5The angel said to him, Listen, my beloved Isaac: I have been sent for you by God to take you to the heavens and set you beside your father Abraham, so that you can see all the saints; for your father is expecting you and is coming for you himself. 6Behold, a throne has been set up for you close to your father Abraham, and your lot and your beloved son Jacob's lot will surpass that of all others in the whole of God's creation: 2 Boh. adds the Trinitarian formula ‘in the glory of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit’. that is why you have been given for evermore the name of Patriarch and Father of the World. 7But the God-loving old man Isaac said to the angel, I am astonished by you, for you are my father. 8The angel answered, My beloved Isaac, I am the angel that ministers to your father Abraham. 9But rejoice now, for I am to take you out of sorrow into gladness, out of suffering to rest for ever. 10I am to transport you from prison to a place where you can range at will – to a place of joy and gladness: I am to take you to where there is light and merriment and rejoicing and abundance that never fails. 11So then, draw up your testament and a statement for your household, 3 Since the word rendered ‘testament’ here can also mean ‘will’, the whole sentence can quite properly be understood to mean ‘make your will and set your domestic affairs in order’; and this understanding of it is strengthened by the observation that passages in the Testament of Abraham, where Michael is bidden to instruct Abraham (and does instruct him) about what he is to do in preparation for his death, must refer to the disposition of his worldly goods (T. Abr. i.7, viii. 17, xv. 3, 10). On the other hand, T. Isaac x. 8, 15, 20 seem most naturally to refer to the written ‘Testament’ of Isaac (cp. also i. 1) rather than to Isaac's ‘will’, just as T. Jacob i. 2 seems to be an even clearer reference to the written ‘Testament’ of Jacob (in a context and in language very similar to the context and the language of our present passage). If, then, we are to believe, as many do, that T. Abr. served as a model for the authors of the later Testaments, we have to assume also a shift in understanding somewhere along the line: there can be little doubt about the meaning of T. Jacob i. 2; but the meaning of T. Isaac ii. 11 is nothing like so certain. for I am to translate you to rest for all eternity. 12Blessed is your father who begot you: blessed are you also: blessed is your son Jacob; and blessed are your descendants that will come after you.

Notes:

1 Boh. ‘archangel Michael’.

2 Boh. adds the Trinitarian formula ‘in the glory of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit’.

3 Since the word rendered ‘testament’ here can also mean ‘will’, the whole sentence can quite properly be understood to mean ‘make your will and set your domestic affairs in order’; and this understanding of it is strengthened by the observation that passages in the Testament of Abraham, where Michael is bidden to instruct Abraham (and does instruct him) about what he is to do in preparation for his death, must refer to the disposition of his worldly goods (T. Abr. i.7, viii. 17, xv. 3, 10). On the other hand, T. Isaac x. 8, 15, 20 seem most naturally to refer to the written ‘Testament’ of Isaac (cp. also i. 1) rather than to Isaac's ‘will’, just as T. Jacob i. 2 seems to be an even clearer reference to the written ‘Testament’ of Jacob (in a context and in language very similar to the context and the language of our present passage). If, then, we are to believe, as many do, that T. Abr. served as a model for the authors of the later Testaments, we have to assume also a shift in understanding somewhere along the line: there can be little doubt about the meaning of T. Jacob i. 2; but the meaning of T. Isaac ii. 11 is nothing like so certain.

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