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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 Issachar, About Simplicity

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Text Commentary

I.

1A copy of the words of Issachar.

He called his sons and said to them, Listen, children, to your father, Issachar: listen carefully, you whom the Lord loves, to what 2I say, I was born to Jacob as his fifth son as a result of the hire for the mandrakes. 1 Lit. ‘in hire of the mandrakes’. 3For Reuben 2 So II: b ‘Jacob’. brought in mandrakes from the country, and Rachel met him outside and took them. 4And Reuben was in tears; and Leah, my mother, heard him crying and came out. 5(Now these mandrakes were sweet-smelling apples that the land of Aram used to produce on a piece of high ground underneath a water-spring.) 6And Rachel said, I will not give them to you: I will treasure them as if they were my children. 3 I will … children: lit. ‘for they will be to me instead of children’. 7Now there were two apples; 4 So b: II ‘two of these apples’. and Leah said, Surely it is enough for you to have taken away the husband I married as a girl: 5 Lit. ‘the husband of my virginity’. will you take these away too? 8And she said, Behold, Jacob shall be yours to-night in exchange for your son's mandrakes. 9And Leah said to her, Do not be so superior and flatter yourself, for Jacob is mine, and I am the wife of his youth. 10But Rachel said, How so? For he was pledged in marriage to me first, and it was for my sake he served our father fourteen years. 11What should I do to you? For men's deceit and cunning are always on the increase, and on earth deceit prospers. 12If it were not so, you would not be living with Jacob now. 6 Lit. ‘you would not be seeing the face of Jacob’. For you are not his wife, but you were deceitfully foisted on him instead of me. 13And my father deceived me and took me away that night, and would not let me see what was going on; for, if I had been there, this would not have happened. 14And Rachel said, Take one mandrake, and for the other 7 Lit. ‘the one’. I will hire him out to you for one night. 15And Jacob slept with Leah, and she conceived and bore me; and on account of the hire I was called Issachar.

II.

1Then an angel of the Lord appeared to Jacob, saying, Rachel shall bear two children, for she has declined intercourse with her husband and chosen continence. 2And had not Leah, my mother, given up 1 Lit. ‘paid’ (so b: II ‘sold’). the two apples in exchange for intercourse she would have borne eight sons: as it was, she bore only six, and Rachel bore the other two because the Lord looked favourably on her because of the mandrakes. 2 Lit. ‘looked upon her in the mandrakes’. 3For he saw that it was for children she wanted intercourse with Jacob and not for pleasure. 4For on the very next day she gave Jacob up again to get the other mandrake also. And so 3 So b: II om. ‘And so’. the Lord took notice of Rachel because of the mandrakes. 4 Lit. ‘listened to Rachel in the mandrakes’. 5For though she very much wanted to, she would not eat them, but dedicated them in the house of the Lord and presented them to the priest of the Most High who was there at that time.

III.

1So when I grew up, my children, I lived an upright life, and I became the family's farmer 1 Lit. ‘a farmer of my fathers and my brothers’. and brought in the fruits of the fields in their season. 2And my father blessed me, for he saw that I lived simply. 3And I was not a busybody in what I did, nor wicked 2 So b l: II-l ‘envious’. and a slanderer of my neighbour. 4I never spoke evil of anyone, nor did I censure any man's style of life, living simply myself. 3 Lit. ‘walking in simplicity of eyes’. 5And so I was thirty when I married; for my labours exhausted my strength, and the thought of pleasure with a woman hardly ever entered my mind, for I used to be so worn out that sleep would get the better of me almost at once. 6And my father always rejoiced in my simplicity; for whatever it was I was labouring at, all the choice fruits and all the firstfruits I would offer first through the priest to the Lord, then to my father, and then I would enjoy it 4 The addition ‘would enjoy it’ is in fact found in g: d (m) add ‘would partake of them’. myself. 7And the Lord doubled my possessions; 5 Lit. ‘the good things in my hands’. and Jacob also knew that God was assisting my simplicity. 8For I used to bestow the good things of the earth on everyone that was poor and everyone that was oppressed in simplicity of heart.

IV.

1And now, listen to me, my children, and live in simplicity of heart; 1 So b: II ‘in the simplicity of your hearts’. for I have observed that it finds favour with the Lord. 2 Lit. ‘for I have seen in it all the good pleasure of the Lord’. 2The simple-hearted man does not covet gold, is not jealous of his neighbour, is not concerned about variety in his food, is not always 3wanting different clothes, makes no plans 3 Translation uncertain. for a long life, but waits on the will of God alone. 4And the spirits of error have no power over him, for he averts his eyes from a woman's beauty, so as not to mislead or corrupt his mind. 5No envy will invade his thoughts: malice does not subvert his soul; nor is his mind obsessed by money-getting. 4 So b (lit. ‘nor does he think of money-getting with insatiable desire’). For ‘money-getting’ (ποϱισμον́) II reads ‘distraction’ (πεϱισπασμόν). 6For he lives an upright life, and looks at everything simply, and gives no countenance to the wickedness that results from the error of the world, 5 So b (lit. ‘not accepting wickedness with his eyes from the error of the world’): II ‘not accepting wicked eyes from the error of the world’. so as not to get a distorted view of any of 6 So b: II om. ‘any of’. the Lord's commands.

V.

1So keep the law of God, my children, and try to live simply and in innocence; and do not be over-inquisitive about the Lord's commands, nor about the affairs of your neighbour. 2But love the Lord and your neighbour, and show compassion for the poor and the weak. 3Put your backs into your work as farmers: give yourselves up to your labours in the field of every kind; and offer gifts to the Lord with thanksgiving. 4For with the first-fruits of the earth has the Lord blessed 1 So b: II ‘will the Lord bless’. you, 2 So II: b om. just as he has blessed all the saints from Abel until now. 5For the share allotted you is no other than the richness of the earth, whose fruits are produced by toil. 6For 3 So b: II ‘For even’. our father Jacob blessed me with blessings of the earth and of first-fruits. 7And Levi and Judah were honoured by the Lord among Jacob's sons; for the Lord gave them each their share, 4 Lit. ‘cast lots among them’. and to the one he gave the priesthood and to the other the kingdom. 8So then, obey them, and live simply like your father (for to Gad, too, it has been granted to destroy the raiders that are coming on Israel).

VI.

1I know, my children, that in the last times your sons will turn their backs on simplicity and become obsessed by greed: 1 Lit. ‘and will cleave to insatiable desire’. they will abandon innocence and resort to cunning; and, forsaking the Lord's commands, they will attach themselves to Beliar. 2And they will give up farming and follow their own wicked inclinations; and they will be dispersed among the Gentiles and enslaved by their enemies. 3And tell your children this, so that, if they sin, they may 4the more quickly return to the Lord; for he is merciful and will deliver them and restore them to their land.

VII.

1I am a hundred and twenty two years old, and I am not aware that I have committed any deadly sin. 2I have not had intercourse with any other woman but my wife: I have not committed fornication through a lustful eye. 1 Lit. ‘by the uplifting of the eyes’. 3I have not drunk wine to be led astray by it: I have not coveted any desirable thing that was my neighbour's. 4My heart has harboured no deceit: no lie has ever passed my lips. 5If anyone were in distress, I joined my sighs with his; and with the poor have I shared my bread. I never ate alone. No boundary-stone have I moved. I have been reverent and truthful all my days. 6I have loved the Lord with all my strength; and in the same way I have loved all men as though they were 2 So b: II ‘more than’. my own children. 7Do these things too, my children, and every spirit of Beliar will turn and run, and nothing that wicked men can do will prevail against you; and you will gain the mastery over 3 Lit. ‘you will enslave’. every wild beast, since you have with you the God of heaven, sharing men's company, 4 Lit. ‘walking with men’. in simplicity of heart. 8And he commanded them to carry him up to Hebron and bury him there in the cave with his fathers. 9And he stretched out his feet and died (Jacob's fifth son), 5 So b: II om. in a good old age, in full possession of all his faculties; 6 Lit. ‘having every limb healthy’. and with his strength unimpaired he slept the eternal sleep.

Notes:

1 Lit. ‘in hire of the mandrakes’.

2 So II: b ‘Jacob’.

3 I will … children: lit. ‘for they will be to me instead of children’.

4 So b: II ‘two of these apples’.

5 Lit. ‘the husband of my virginity’.

6 Lit. ‘you would not be seeing the face of Jacob’.

7 Lit. ‘the one’.

1 Lit. ‘paid’ (so b: II ‘sold’).

2 Lit. ‘looked upon her in the mandrakes’.

3 So b: II om. ‘And so’.

4 Lit. ‘listened to Rachel in the mandrakes’.

1 Lit. ‘a farmer of my fathers and my brothers’.

2 So b l: II-l ‘envious’.

3 Lit. ‘walking in simplicity of eyes’.

4 The addition ‘would enjoy it’ is in fact found in g: d (m) add ‘would partake of them’.

5 Lit. ‘the good things in my hands’.

1 So b: II ‘in the simplicity of your hearts’.

2 Lit. ‘for I have seen in it all the good pleasure of the Lord’.

3 Translation uncertain.

4 So b (lit. ‘nor does he think of money-getting with insatiable desire’). For ‘money-getting’ (ποϱισμον́) II reads ‘distraction’ (πεϱισπασμόν).

5 So b (lit. ‘not accepting wickedness with his eyes from the error of the world’): II ‘not accepting wicked eyes from the error of the world’.

6 So b: II om. ‘any of’.

1 So b: II ‘will the Lord bless’.

2 So II: b om.

3 So b: II ‘For even’.

4 Lit. ‘cast lots among them’.

1 Lit. ‘and will cleave to insatiable desire’.

1 Lit. ‘by the uplifting of the eyes’.

2 So b: II ‘more than’.

3 Lit. ‘you will enslave’.

4 Lit. ‘walking with men’.

5 So b: II om.

6 Lit. ‘having every limb healthy’.

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