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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 Dan, About Anger and Falsehood

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Text Commentary

I.

1A copy of the words of Dan, which he spoke to his sons in his last days, in the hundred and twenty-fifth year of his life.

2He called his family together and said, Listen to my words, you sons of Dan, and pay attention to what your father has to say. 1 Lit. ‘the words of your father's mouth’. 3I have found by experience all through my life that truth and just dealing are good and pleasing to God, and that falsehood and anger are evil, because 2 So b: II om. they teach man every kind of wickedness. 4I confess to you to-day, my children, that I was myself delighted when it was suggested that we should kill Joseph, 3 Lit. ‘that in my heart I was delighted about the death of Joseph’. although he was a true and good man. 5And I was overjoyed when Joseph 4 So b: II ‘he’. was sold, because his father loved him more than us. 6For the spirit of jealousy and self-esteem said to me, You are his son as well. 7And one of the spirits of Beliar egged me on, 5 Lit. ‘worked with me’. saying, Take this sword and kill Joseph with it, and your father will love you when he is dead. 8(This spirit that tried to persuade me to thirst for Joseph's blood, like a leopard for a kid's, is the spirit of anger.) 9But the God of our 6 So b: II ‘my’. father Jacob would not let him fall into my hands, and he prevented me from ever finding him alone to do that wicked deed and thus destroy two tribes in Israel.

II.

1And now, my children, I am dying, and I assure you that unless you keep yourselves from the spirit of falsehood and anger, and love truth and patience, you will perish. 2Anger blinds a man, my children, and the angry man can see no one as he truly is. 1 Lit. ‘There is blindness in anger, my children, and no (b adds ‘angry’) man sees a face in truth’. 3For though it is his own father or mother, he treats them as enemies: though it is his brother, he does not recognize him: though a prophet of the Lord, he disobeys him: though a righteous man, he takes no notice of him: though a friend, he does not acknowledge him. 4For the spirit of anger wraps the nets of error round him and blinds his natural eyes: through 2 So b: II ‘and through’. falsehood it darkens his mind and gives him its own distorted vision. 5And what does it blind 3 Lit. ‘wrap round’. his eyes with? With a bitter hatred; 4 Lit. ‘With hatred of heart’. and it makes him like itself, 5 Lit. ‘and it gives him its own heart’. so that he is envious of his brother.

III.

1Anger is evil, my children, for it becomes as it were a soul to the soul itself. 2And it makes the body of the angry man its own, and gains the mastery over his soul, and motivates the body to commit iniquity of every kind. 3And when it does it, the soul justifies what is done, 1 Or, possibly, ‘And when it (i.e. ‘the soul’) does it, it justifies what is done’. because it does not see. 4Consequently, the man that is angry, if he is a man of influence, has a threefold power in his anger: first, through the power and 2 So b: II om. ‘the power and’. the help of his servants; secondly, through his wealth, which enables him to exert pressure and win the verdict, although he is in the wrong; and thirdly, because he has the natural power of his own body and himself 3 Lit. ‘through himself’. does the evil. 5And even if the man that is angry is a weakling, he nevertheless has twice the power that was given him by nature; for anger always helps trangressors. 6This spirit, together with the spirit of falsehood stands 4 Lit. ‘goes’ or ‘lives its life’. ever at Satan's right hand, so that by cruelty and falsehood his ends may be achieved.

IV.

1Understand, then, how powerful anger is, and how deceptive it is. 1 Lit. ‘that it is in vain’ (the Gk. word μάταιος, usually rendered ‘vain’ or ‘empty’, is in several passages in the Gk. Old Testament used to render the Heb. kazabh, ‘lie, falsehood’ – e.g. Amos ii. 4; Ezek. xiii. 6 ). 2For first of all it provokes by word: then it strengthens the man provoked by deeds, and creates disorder and makes havoc in his mind; 2 Lit. ‘and disturbs his mind with bitter damages’. and thus it goads his soul to fury. 3So when anyone criticizes you, you must not 3 b om. be moved to anger; and if anyone praises you as good men, you must not be too elated – do not all of a sudden either go into ecstacies or take offence. 4For first it delights the ear, and so it alerts the mind to consider what has been said in provocation, and then, in a fit of rage, the man thinks his anger justified. 5If any loss or deprivation befalls you, 4 So b: II ‘If you fall into any loss or deprivation’. my children, do not lose your heads, for this very spirit makes a man desire what he has been deprived of so that he becomes angry through longing for it. 6If you suffer a loss voluntarily, 5 So bl: II-l add ‘or involuntarily’. do not grieve about it, for grief leads on to anger 6 Lit. ‘for from grief it causes to arise anger’. with falsehood. 7Anger with falsehood is a double evil, and each assists the other to stir up the mind; and when the soul is stirred up continually the Lord departs from it and Beliar has dominion over it.

V.

1So keep, my children, the Lord's commands and observe his law; and turn from anger and hate falsehood, that the Lord may dwell in you and Beliar may flee from you. 2Speak the truth to each other, and you will be preserved from the ill-effects of pleasure 1 Lit. ‘you will not fall into pleasure’ (so b: II ‘wrath’). and from troubles; and 2 Lit. ‘but’. you will be at peace, since you will have with you the God of peace, and contention will have no hold over you. 3Love the Lord throughout 3 Or ‘with all’ (lit. ‘in all’). your life, and one another with a true heart. 4For I know that in the last days you will turn away from the Lord, and you will despise Levi and set yourselves up against Judah, but you will be powerless against them; for an angel of the Lord will guide them both, because by them will Israel stand. 5And when you turn from the Lord, you will give yourselves up to every kind of evil, doing all the abominable things the Gentiles do and wantonly pursuing the women of the lawless, while the spirits of error work in you every kind of wickedness. 6For I have read in the book of the righteous Enoch that your prince is Satan, and that all the spirits of fornication and arrogance will turn their attention to Levi 4 Or ‘will obey Levi’ (lit. ‘listen to Levi’). and constantly dog the footsteps of Levi's sons in order to make them sin against the Lord.7

And my sons will associate themselves with Levi, And join with them in all their sins; And Judah's sons will be covetous, And plunder other men's goods like lions. 8 Because of this you will be carried captive with them, And there will you suffer all the plagues of Egypt, And all the evils of the Gentiles, 9 Yet, 5 Lit. ‘And so’. when you return to the Lord, You will find mercy, And he will bring you to his sanctuary, Proclaiming to you 6 So bk: II ‘And he will give you’. peace. 10 And there will arise to you from the tribe of Judah and from Levi the Lord's salvation, And he will make war against Beliar, And avenge our fathers in a mighty victory. 7 Lit. ‘And he shall give a vengeance of victory to our fathers (b ‘boundaries’)’. 11 And he will set free the prisoners of Beliar 8 Lit. ‘And the captivity shall he take from Beliar’. (The souls, that is, of the saints); And he will turn the hearts of the disobedient back to the Lord again; And he will give to them that call on him eternal peace. 12 And the saints will rest in Eden, And in the new Jerusalem will the righteous rejoice, And it will be to the glory of God for ever. 13 And no longer will Jerusalem lie in ruins, Nor Israel endure captivity; For the Lord will be in the midst of it, Living together with men, And the Holy One of Israel will reign 9 Lit. ‘… Israel reigning’. over them In humility and poverty. And he who has faith in him will reign in truth in the heavens.

VI.

1And now fear the Lord, my children, and beware of Satan and his spirits. 2Draw near to God and to the angel that intercedes for you, for he is a mediator between God and men for the peace of Israel; and he will 1 So b: II ‘… God and men; and for the peace of Israel he will…’. stand up against the kingdom of the enemy. 3This is why the enemy is at such pains to overthrow all those that invoke the Lord. 4For he knows that on the day that Israel puts its faith in God 2 Lit. ‘Israel believes’. the enemy's kingdom will be brought to an end. 5The angel of peace himself will strengthen Israel and preserve it from the worst of evils. 6But in the time of Israel's lawlessness the Lord will leave them and go to the Gentiles that do his will, for none of the angels will be equal to him. 3 So II: b ‘… leave them and go after him that does his will, for to none of the angels will he be as to him’. 7And his name shall be in every place of Israel and among the Gentiles, his name of Saviour. 8Keep yourselves, therefore, my children, from every wicked deed, and turn your backs on anger and all falsehood, and love truth and patience. 9And what you have heard from your father pass on to your own children, so that the Saviour 4 So II-l: bkl ‘Father’. of the Gentiles may accept you; for he is true and patient, meek and lowly, and teaches the law of God by what he does. 10Turn, then, from unrighteousness of every kind and hold fast to the righteousness of the law of the Lord; and your race will be kept safe for ever. 5 So II: b omits this last clause. 11And bury me near my fathers.

VII.

1And after saying this, he kissed them and slept the eternal sleep. 2And his sons buried him; and afterwards they carried up his bones and laid them alongside those of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. 3Nevertheless, just as 1 So b: II om. ‘just as’. Dan had prophesied to them (that they would forget the law of their God and be alienated from their own land and from the race of Israel and their family and kinsmen 2 So II: b om. ‘and kinsmen (lit. ‘seed’)’. ), so it came to pass. 3 So b (d): II (–d) om. the final clause.

Notes:

1 Lit. ‘the words of your father's mouth’.

2 So b: II om.

3 Lit. ‘that in my heart I was delighted about the death of Joseph’.

4 So b: II ‘he’.

5 Lit. ‘worked with me’.

6 So b: II ‘my’.

1 Lit. ‘There is blindness in anger, my children, and no (b adds ‘angry’) man sees a face in truth’.

2 So b: II ‘and through’.

3 Lit. ‘wrap round’.

4 Lit. ‘With hatred of heart’.

5 Lit. ‘and it gives him its own heart’.

1 Or, possibly, ‘And when it (i.e. ‘the soul’) does it, it justifies what is done’.

2 So b: II om. ‘the power and’.

3 Lit. ‘through himself’.

4 Lit. ‘goes’ or ‘lives its life’.

1 Lit. ‘that it is in vain’ (the Gk. word μάταιος, usually rendered ‘vain’ or ‘empty’, is in several passages in the Gk. Old Testament used to render the Heb. kazabh, ‘lie, falsehood’ – e.g. Amos ii. 4; Ezek. xiii. 6 ).

2 Lit. ‘and disturbs his mind with bitter damages’.

3 b om.

4 So b: II ‘If you fall into any loss or deprivation’.

5 So bl: II-l add ‘or involuntarily’.

6 Lit. ‘for from grief it causes to arise anger’.

1 Lit. ‘you will not fall into pleasure’ (so b: II ‘wrath’).

2 Lit. ‘but’.

3 Or ‘with all’ (lit. ‘in all’).

4 Or ‘will obey Levi’ (lit. ‘listen to Levi’).

5 Lit. ‘And so’.

6 So bk: II ‘And he will give you’.

7 Lit. ‘And he shall give a vengeance of victory to our fathers (b ‘boundaries’)’.

8 Lit. ‘And the captivity shall he take from Beliar’.

9 Lit. ‘… Israel reigning’.

1 So b: II ‘… God and men; and for the peace of Israel he will…’.

2 Lit. ‘Israel believes’.

3 So II: b ‘… leave them and go after him that does his will, for to none of the angels will he be as to him’.

4 So II-l: bkl ‘Father’.

5 So II: b omits this last clause.

1 So b: II om. ‘just as’.

2 So II: b om. ‘and kinsmen (lit. ‘seed’)’.

3 So b (d): II (–d) om. the final clause.

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