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

The Testament of Simeon, about Envy

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Text Commentary

I.

1A copy of the words of Simeon, which he spoke to his sons before he died, in the hundred and twentieth year of his life – the year in which Joseph died. 2For they came to visit him when he was ill; and he made an effort and sat up and kissed them, and he said to them, 1 So b: II om. ‘to them’.

II.

1Listen, children, listen to Simeon your father, and I will tell you what is 1 Lit. ‘what I have’. in my heart. 2I was my father Jacob's second son; and Leah, my mother, called me Simeon because the Lord had heard her prayer. 3I became a hardened warrior: no venture deterred me; and I was afraid of nothing. 4For my heart was hard, my will 2 Lit. ‘liver’. 5inflexible, and my feelings 3 Lit. ‘bowels’. without compassion (for courage is a gift to men from the Most High and is manifest both in their souls and in their bodies).

6And at that time I was jealous of Joseph, because our father loved him. 7And I determined 4 Lit. ‘I set my liver against him’. to kill him, because the prince of error sent the spirit of jealousy and blinded my mind, so that I did not regard him as a brother, nor did I consider my father Jacob. 8But his God and his fathers' God sent his angel and rescued him from me. 9For when I had gone to Shechem to take ointment for the flocks, and Reuben had gone to Dothan (where our stocks were, and all our stores), our brother Judah sold him to the Ishmaelites. 10And when Reuben came, he was upset, for he had intended to take him back safely to his father. 11But I was angry with Judah because of this 5 So II: b chi om. ‘because of this’. (because he had let him go alive); and for five months I continued so. 12But God 6 So b: II ‘the Lord’. restrained me and withheld from me the use of my hands; for my right hand was half withered for seven days. 13And I realized, children, that it was because of Joseph that this had happened to me; and I repented and wept, and I prayed to the Lord that I might be restored 7 So gl eaf: b ‘that he might restore my hand’; dm chi ‘that my hand might be restored’. and keep myself from all pollution and envy and from all wrong-doing. 8 Lit. ‘folly’. 14For I realized that what, in envy, I had planned to do to my brother Joseph was wrong in the Lord's sight and my father Jacob's.

III.

1And now, my children, beware of the spirits of error and envy. 2For envy dominates a man's whole mind and lets him neither eat nor drink nor do anything that is good. 3It is continually suggesting to him that he should kill the man that is envied; yet 1 Lit. ‘and’. the man that is envied continues to flourish, while the man that envies wastes away. 4For two whole years 2 Lit. ‘For two years of days’. I humbled myself with fasting in the fear of the Lord; and I realized that deliverance from envy comes from the fear of God. 5If 3 So bk: II ‘for if’. a man flees to the Lord for shelter, the evil spirit runs away from him, and the load on his mind is lightened. 6And from then on he feels sympathy for the man that is envied and shows no prejudice against those who love him; and so he is envious no more.

IV.

1And my father asked about me, because he saw that I was sad; and I said, My heart is torn with anguish. 1 Lit. ‘I am distressed in my liver’. 2(For I mourned more than all my brothers, because it was I who was responsible for selling Joseph.) 3And when we went down into Egypt and he bound me as a spy, I knew that I was suffering justly and was not put out. 4But Joseph was a good man, and he had the spirit of God in him: he was compassionate and merciful; and he bore me no grudge, but loved me just as he did his other brothers. 5So beware, my children, of all jealousy and envy, and live in sincerity of soul and with a good heart, keeping in mind the example of your father's brother, so that God may give you also grace and glory and blessing on your heads, just as you saw in him. 6Never in all his days did he find fault with us for what we did, 2 Lit. ‘concerning this thing’. but he loved us as his own soul and honoured us more than his sons, 3 So II: b reads ‘…soul, and more than his sons, and he honoured us’. and he bestowed riches and cattle and fruits on all of us. 7So too each one of you, my beloved 4 So b: II om. children, must love his brother with a good heart, and you must rid yourselves of the spirit of envy. 8For this makes the soul savage and destroys the body: it causes anger and conflict in the mind, and acts as a spur to deeds of blood: it impairs a man's natural powers of thought and paralyses his intelligence: 5 Lit. ‘it leads the thinking process to ecstasy and does not allow intelligence to work in men’. moreover, it deprives him of sleep, causing confusion in his soul and trembling in his body. 9And even if he gets some sleep, 6 Lit. ‘And even in sleep’. some vicious passion deludes him and devours him, and with evil spirits disturbs his soul, stirs up his body, and ensures that he wakes up with his mind in turmoil; and he appears in consequence to other men as someone possessed of an evil and poisonous spirit.

V.

1The reason why Joseph was handsome and good-looking was that no wickedness had found a home with him; for the face is an index of the turmoil in the spirit. 1 Lit. ‘for out of the distress of the spirit the face makes clear’. 2And now, my children, set your hearts on what is pleasing to the Lord, and follow a straight path among men, and you will win favour with God and men. 3And beware of committing fornication, for fornication is the mother of all evils: it separates from God and drives those who indulge in it to Beliar. 4For I have seen it recorded in the writing of Enoch that your sons together with you 2 So b: II ‘your sons after you’. will be corrupted by fornication and turn your swords against Levi. 3 Lit. ‘do harm to Levi with the sword’. 5But they will not be able to get the better of Levi, for it is the Lord's war he will be fighting and he will gain the victory over all your company. 6And your sons 4 Lit. ‘And they’. will be few in number, scattered in Levi and Judah; 5 Cp. Gen. xlix. 7. and no one of you will ever be chosen as a leader, 6 Lit. ‘will be for leadership’. just as my father Jacob prophesied in his blessings.

VI.

1Behold, I have told you everything beforehand, so that I may not be answerable for the sin of your souls. 2If, then, you can rid yourselves of envy and all stubbornness,

As a rose shall my bones flourish in Israel, And as a lily my flesh in Jacob, And my fragrance shall be as the fragrance of Lebanon. And as cedars shall my faithful sons 1 Lit. ‘holy men from me’. be multiplied for ever, And their branches shall stretch afar off.

3

Then shall perish the offspring of Canaan, And no remnant shall be left to Amelek, And all the Cappadocians shall perish, And all the Hittites shall be destroyed. 4 Then shall fail the land of Ham, And all the people perish. Then shall the whole earth rest from trouble, And all that is under heaven from war.

5

Then shall Shem be glorified, For the Lord, the great God of Israel, shall appear on earth as man And shall save Adam through him. 2 Lit. ‘… Israel, appearing on earth as man and saving Adam in him’. There is uncertainty about the details of the text at this point, but all authorities are in agreement about God's appearance on earth. 6 Then shall all the spirits of error be trodden under foot, And men shall rule over the wicked spirits. 7 Then shall I arise in joy; And I will bless the Most High because of his marvellous works, 3 Lit. ‘in his marvellous works’. Because God took a body, and ate with men, and saved men.

VII.

1And now, my children, submit to Levi, and through Judah 1 Lit. ‘in Judah’. you will gain your freedom; and do not set yourselves up against these two tribes, because it is from them that God's salvation will come 2 Lit. ‘spring up, sprout’. to you. 2For the Lord will raise up from Levi as it were a high priest, and from Judah as it were a king, God and man: he 3 So II (i.e. the king — reading οὑ̃τος σώσει): b ‘so he’ (i.e. the Lord — reading οὓτως σώσει). will save all the Gentiles and the race of Israel. 3That is why I am giving you all these commands, so that you also may command your children to observe them generation after generation.

VIII.

1And Simeon finished his commands to his sons; and he slept with his fathers, being an hundred and twenty years old. 2And they put him in a coffin made of wood that would not rot, to take his bones up to Hebron; and they carried them up secretly during 1 Lit. ‘in’. a war of the Egyptians. 3For Joseph's bones were kept by the Egyptians with the royal treasures. 2 Lit. ‘in the treasure-houses of the kings (b l palaces)’. 4For the magicians told them that if Joseph's bones were taken away, 3 Lit. ‘that at the exodus of Joseph's bones’. there would be darkness and gloom throughout all the land of Egypt 4 So II: b om. ‘the land of’. — a very great plague for the Egyptians, so that they would not be able to recognize one another even with the aid of a lamp.

IX.

1And Simeon's sons wept for their father in accordance with the law of mourning. 2And they were in Egypt until the day they left Egypt under Moses. 1 Lit. ‘until the day of their exodus from Egypt by the hand of Moses’.

Notes:

1 So b: II om. ‘to them’.

1 Lit. ‘what I have’.

2 Lit. ‘liver’.

3 Lit. ‘bowels’.

4 Lit. ‘I set my liver against him’.

5 So II: b chi om. ‘because of this’.

6 So b: II ‘the Lord’.

7 So gl eaf: b ‘that he might restore my hand’; dm chi ‘that my hand might be restored’.

8 Lit. ‘folly’.

1 Lit. ‘and’.

2 Lit. ‘For two years of days’.

3 So bk: II ‘for if’.

1 Lit. ‘I am distressed in my liver’.

2 Lit. ‘concerning this thing’.

3 So II: b reads ‘…soul, and more than his sons, and he honoured us’.

4 So b: II om.

5 Lit. ‘it leads the thinking process to ecstasy and does not allow intelligence to work in men’.

6 Lit. ‘And even in sleep’.

1 Lit. ‘for out of the distress of the spirit the face makes clear’.

2 So b: II ‘your sons after you’.

3 Lit. ‘do harm to Levi with the sword’.

4 Lit. ‘And they’.

5 Cp. Gen. xlix. 7.

6 Lit. ‘will be for leadership’.

1 Lit. ‘holy men from me’.

2 Lit. ‘… Israel, appearing on earth as man and saving Adam in him’. There is uncertainty about the details of the text at this point, but all authorities are in agreement about God's appearance on earth.

3 Lit. ‘in his marvellous works’.

1 Lit. ‘in Judah’.

2 Lit. ‘spring up, sprout’.

3 So II (i.e. the king — reading οὑ̃τος σώσει): b ‘so he’ (i.e. the Lord — reading οὓτως σώσει).

1 Lit. ‘in’.

2 Lit. ‘in the treasure-houses of the kings (b l palaces)’.

3 Lit. ‘that at the exodus of Joseph's bones’.

4 So II: b om. ‘the land of’.

1 Lit. ‘until the day of their exodus from Egypt by the hand of Moses’.

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