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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 Benjamin, about a Pure Mind

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Text Commentary

I.

1A copy of the words of Benjamin, which he left as a testament to his sons after he had lived a hundred and twenty-five years. 1 So II: b ‘a hundred and twenty years’.

2And after he had kissed them he said, As Isaac was born to Abraham in his hundreth year, so also was I to Jacob. 3And since Rachel died in giving me birth, I had no milk: so I was suckled by Bilhah, her slave-girl. 4For Rachel was barren for twelve years after she had borne Joseph; and she prayed to the Lord and fasted for twelve days, and afterwards she conceived and bore me. 5For our father loved Rachel very dearly and was longing to have two sons by her. 2 Lit. ‘to see two sons from her’. 6That was why I was called Son of days (that is Benjamin).

II.

1Now when I went into Egypt and my brother Joseph recognized me, he said to me, What did they tell my father when they sold me? 2And I said to him, They spattered your tunic with blood, and sent it and said, Do you recognize this as your son's tunic? 3 1 In ii. 3 – iii. 5 the Armenian has a very different text. There is no reason to suppose it original despite the somewhat inconsequential nature of the Greek as preserved. And he said to me, Yes, brother; for when the Ishmaelites took me, one of them stripped off my tunic, gave me a loincloth, and flogged me, and told me to run off. 4But when he went away to hide my coat, a lion met him and killed him. 5And so his companions were frightened and sold me to some others of them.

III.

1So you, my children, must love the Lord, the God of heaven, and keep his commandments, and follow the example of the good and holy man Joseph. 2And let your mind be set on what is good, just as you know mine is: 1 Lit. ‘be towards the good, as also you know me’. the man who has his mind so set 2 Lit. ‘he who has the mind good’. sees all things rightly. 3Fear the Lord, and love your neighbour; and even if the spirits of Beliar claim you, and afflict you with every kind of evil and hardship, 3 Lit. ‘evil of tribulation’. yet no evil or hardship 3 Lit. ‘evil of tribulation’. will gain the mastery over you, even as they did not over my brother Joseph. 4How many there were that wanted to kill him! But God protected him; for a man who fears God and loves his neighbour cannot be struck down by the spirit of the air (that is the spirit of Beliar), because he is protected by the fear of God. 5Nor can he be overcome by anything that men or animals contrive against him, for he is helped by the love of the Lord, which he has towards his neighbour. 6For Joseph begged our father 4 So II: b ‘for I begged our father Jacob’. to pray for his sons, 5 So II (ldm ‘for his sons’): b ‘for our brothers’. that the Lord would not hold them accountable for their wicked plots against him. 7And it was because of this that Jacob cried out, My child Joseph, you good child, 6 So probably the original text: b om. ‘you good child’; l eaf c om. ‘My child Joseph’. you have won your father Jacob's heart. 7 Lit. ‘You have conquered the bowels of your father Jacob’. And he embraced 8him and kissed him for two hours, and said, In you shall be fulfilled the prophecy of heaven about the Lamb of God and the Saviour of the world – that one without blemish shall be offered up on behalf of sinners, and one without sin shall die on behalf of the ungodly, in the blood of the covenant, for the salvation of the Gentiles and of Israel, and he shall destroy Beliar and those who serve him.

IV.

1You saw, children, how that good man was rewarded in the end. 1 Lit. ‘You saw, children, the end of the good man’. Imitate, therefore, 2 So II: b om. his compassion in sincerity, 3 Lit. ‘in good purpose’. so that you also may wear crowns of glory. 2The good man has not an eye that cannot see; 4 Lit. ‘has not a dark eye’. for he shows mercy to all men, sinners though they may be, and though they may plot his ruin. 3This man, by doing good, 5 So II (lit. ‘This man who does good’): b ‘Thus the man who does good’. overcomes evil, since he is protected by the good; and he loves the righteous as his own soul. 4If anyone is honoured, he does not envy him: if anyone is rich, he is not jealous: if anyone is brave, he applauds him: the man who is chaste he trusts and sings his praises: on the poor man he has mercy: on the sick compassion; and the praises of God are ever in his mouth. 5Whoever fears God he defends: whoever loves God he helps: 6 So b: II ‘he agrees with’ (lit. ‘runs together with’). if anyone repudiates the Most High, he admonishes him and reclaims him; and whoever has been blessed with a good spirit he loves as dearly as he loves himself.

V.

1If, then, your minds are predisposed to what is good, children, 1 So b l: II-l om. wicked men will live at peace with you, the profligate will reverence you and turn towards the good, and the money-grubbers will not only turn their backs on the things they have been striving for, but even give what they have got by their money-grubbing to those who are in distress. 2If you do good, the unclean spirits will keep away from you, and even the wild animals will be afraid of you. 2 So II: b ‘will run away from you in fear’. 3For where there is the light of good works 3 So II: b ‘reverence for good works’. in a man's mind, darkness flees from him. 4For if anyone insults a holy man, he repents; for the holy man shows mercy on the man that has reviled him and says nothing in reply. 5And if anyone betrays a righteous man, 4 Lit. ‘soul’. and the righteous man prays about it, though he may be humiliated for a little while, not long afterwards he appears in far greater splendour, as my brother Joseph did.

VI.

1The good man's impulse is not in the power of the error of the spirit of Beliar, for the angel of peace acts as a guide to his soul. 2And he does not look with greedy eyes on the things that perish, nor does he pile up riches and delight in them. 3He takes no delight in pleasure: he causes his neighbour no pain: he does not overload himself with luxuries: 1 So II: b ‘food’ (with one letter different in the Gk.). nor is he led astray by a lustful eye; 2 Lit. ‘he does not go astray by uplifting of eyes’. for the Lord is all in all to him. 4His 3 Lit. ‘The’. good impulse acknowledges neither honour nor dishonour from men, neither does it countenance any deceit, or lie, or strife, or reviling; for the Lord dwells in him and lights up his soul and gives him joy in the face of all men always. 5His good mind will not let him speak with two tongues, 4 Lit. ‘The good mind has not two tongues’. one of blessing and one of cursing, one of insult and one of compliment, one of sorrow and one of joy, one of quietness and one of tumult, one of hypocrisy and one of truth, one of poverty and one of wealth; but it has a single disposition only, simple and pure, that says the same thing to everyone. 5 Lit. ‘… pure, concerned with all men’. 6It has no double sight or hearing; for whenever such a man does, or says, or sees anything, 6 Lit. ‘for everything he does or says or sees’. he knows that the Lord is looking into his soul in judgement. 7And he purifies his mind so that he is not condemned by God and men. But everything that Beliar does is double and has nothing single about it at all.

VII.

1Be wary, therefore, my children, of Beliar's malice; for to those who trust it he gives a sword. 2But the sword is the mother of seven evils. To start with, the mind conceives through Beliar, and the first child is envy, secondly comes destruction, third oppression, fourth exile, fifth famine, sixth tumult, seventh desolation. 1 Or ‘destruction’ (cp. verse 4). 3And this is why Cain was given over to seven vengeances by God; for the Lord brought one plague on him every hundred years. 4After two hundred years 2 Or ‘when he was two hundred years old … in his’. he began to suffer, and in the 2 Or ‘when he was two hundred years old … in his’. nine hundredth year he was destroyed 3 Lit. ‘desolated’ (cp. verse 2). at the flood, because of the righteous Abel, his brother. By the seven evils 4 So gldm Arm.: b f ‘in the seven hundred years’; e ‘in (by) the seven hundred’; a ‘by (in) the seven’; c ‘by (in) all the evils’. was Cain judged, but Lamech by seventy times seven. 5For those who like Cain are inspired by envy to hate their brothers will always be judged with the same punishment.

VIII.

1And so you, my children, must turn your backs on malice, envy, and hatred of your brothers, and take your stand with goodness and love. 2A man with a pure mind, who is well-grounded in love, never looks at a woman with a view to fornication; for there is no defilement in his heart, because God's spirit rests upon him. 3For as the sun is not defiled when it shines on 1 Lit. ‘when it turns towards’. manure and mud, but rather dries both up and drives away the unpleasant smell, so also the pure mind, though surrounded by the defilements of the earth, rather becomes a source of strength, 2 Lit. ‘rather builds up’. but itself is not defiled.

IX.

1But I gather from the words of the righteous Enoch that you will give yourselves up to evil practices. 1 Lit. ‘that there will be also doings among you that are not good’. For as the men of Sodom committed fornication, so also will you, and all but a few of you will perish. And you will renew your wanton relations with women; and the Lord's kingdom will not remain 2 Lit. ‘will not be’. among you, for he himself will take it away from you immediately. 2But God's temple will be in your portion, and the last will be more glorious than the first; 3 So gld: bk are corrupt and eaf incomplete. and the twelve tribes will be gathered together there, and all the Gentiles, until the Most High sends forth his salvation by the visitation of an only-begotten prophet. 4 So II: bk om. ‘prophet’. 3And he will enter into the first temple, and there the Lord will be insulted and treated with contempt 5 So bk: II om. ‘and treated with contempt’. and lifted up on a tree. 4And the curtain of the temple will be torn apart; and God's spirit will pass to 6 So II-d: bkd ‘will descend on’. the Gentiles, like a fire poured out. 5And he will come up from Hades and ascend 7 So bk: II ‘pass’. from earth to heaven. (And I know how humble he will be on earth, and how glorious in heaven.)

X.

1And when Joseph was in Egypt, I longed to see what he was like, and what his face looked like; and through the prayers of my father Jacob I did see him, while I was awake in the daytime, exactly as he was. 2You must realize, my children, that I am dying. 3Deal honestly, therefore, each one of you with his neighbour, and do what is right and just to encourage mutual trust, 8 Lit. ‘Do, therefore, truth and righteousness, each one with his neighbour, and judgement to assurance’. and keep the law of the Lord and his commands. 4For these things, I tell you, are of greater value than anything else I can bequeath to you: 9 Lit. ‘For these things I teach you instead of all inheritance’. you too, then, must give them to your children as an eternal possession; for so did Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. 5They left all these things to us as a heritage, saying, Keep God's commands until the Lord reveals his salvation to all the Gentiles. 6Then will you see Enoch, Noah, and Shem, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, rising on the right hand in gladness. 7Then shall we also rise, each one over our tribe, and worship the king of heaven, who appeared on earth in the guise of a humble man; and all those who believed him on earth will rejoice with him. 8Then, too, all men will rise, some to glory and some to disgrace. And the Lord will judge Israel first for the wickedness done to him; for when he appeared as God in the flesh, as a deliverer, they did not believe him. 9And then he will judge all the Gentiles, everyone of them who did not believe him when he appeared on earth. 10And he will convict Israel through the chosen ones of the Gentiles, just as he convicted Esau through the Midianites, who refused to become their brothers because of their fornication and idolatry, 10 None of the extant readings in this clause is intelligible. and they were estranged from God and had no place among those who fear the Lord. 11 Lit. ‘…from God, becoming not children in the portion of those who fear the Lord’. 11But if you live in holiness in the Lord's presence, you will again dwell in security with 12 Lit. ‘in’. me, and all Israel will be gathered to the Lord.

XI.

1And I shall be called a ravening wolf no longer because of your ravages, but a worker of the Lord, who provides food for those who do what is good. 2And in the last times there will appear from among my descendants a man beloved by the Lord, who will hear his voice on earth, and do his will and pleasure, 1 Lit. ‘…Lord, hearing on earth his voice, and doing the good pleasure of his will’: so d eaf; c ‘…Lord, hearing…and doing…of his mouth’; b g l om. ‘and doing…of his will’. and enlighten all the Gentiles with new knowledge: he will be a light of knowledge bursting in on Israel with 2 Lit. ‘in’. salvation, ravaging them 3 b ‘him’. like a wolf, and giving what he has snatched from them to the synagogue of the Gentiles. 3And until the end of time his fame will endure 4 Lit. ‘…time, he shall be’. in the synagogues of the Gentiles, and among their rulers, like a musical tune that is in everyone's mouth. 4And both his deeds and his words will find a place in the sacred books, 5 Lit. ‘And in the sacred books he will be written up, both his work and his word’. and he will be one of God's chosen ones for ever. 5And it was to him that my father Jacob was referring when he said to me, He will compensate for the deficiencies of your tribe.

XII.

1And when he had got to the end of what he had to say, he said, I charge you, my children, carry my bones up out of Egypt, and bury me in Hebron, near my fathers. 2And Benjamin was a hundred and twenty-five years old when he died, having achieved a ripe old age; 1 Lit. ‘…died, in a good old age’. and they put him in a coffin. 3And in the ninty-first year after the entry 2 All MSS read ‘exodus…from’, which must be wrong in the light of verse 4: Jub. xlv. 1 and xlvi. 9, when taken together, support the emendation that this happened ninety-one years after the entry. of the sons of Israel into 2 All MSS read ‘exodus…from’, which must be wrong in the light of verse 4: Jub. xlv. 1 and xlvi. 9, when taken together, support the emendation that this happened ninety-one years after the entry. Egypt their children 3 Lit. ‘they and their brothers’. took the bones of their fathers up secretly, during the war with Canaan, 4 So II (lit. ‘in the war of Canaan’): b ‘in a place called Canaan’. and buried them in Hebron, at their fathers' feet. 4And they returned from the land of Canaan and lived in Egypt until the day of their departure from the land of Egypt.

Notes:

1 So II: b ‘a hundred and twenty years’.

2 Lit. ‘to see two sons from her’.

1 In ii. 3 – iii. 5 the Armenian has a very different text. There is no reason to suppose it original despite the somewhat inconsequential nature of the Greek as preserved.

1 Lit. ‘be towards the good, as also you know me’.

2 Lit. ‘he who has the mind good’.

3 Lit. ‘evil of tribulation’.

4 So II: b ‘for I begged our father Jacob’.

5 So II (ldm ‘for his sons’): b ‘for our brothers’.

6 So probably the original text: b om. ‘you good child’; l eaf c om. ‘My child Joseph’.

7 Lit. ‘You have conquered the bowels of your father Jacob’.

1 Lit. ‘You saw, children, the end of the good man’.

2 So II: b om.

3 Lit. ‘in good purpose’.

4 Lit. ‘has not a dark eye’.

5 So II (lit. ‘This man who does good’): b ‘Thus the man who does good’.

6 So b: II ‘he agrees with’ (lit. ‘runs together with’).

1 So b l: II-l om.

2 So II: b ‘will run away from you in fear’.

3 So II: b ‘reverence for good works’.

4 Lit. ‘soul’.

1 So II: b ‘food’ (with one letter different in the Gk.).

2 Lit. ‘he does not go astray by uplifting of eyes’.

3 Lit. ‘The’.

4 Lit. ‘The good mind has not two tongues’.

5 Lit. ‘… pure, concerned with all men’.

6 Lit. ‘for everything he does or says or sees’.

1 Or ‘destruction’ (cp. verse 4).

2 Or ‘when he was two hundred years old … in his’.

3 Lit. ‘desolated’ (cp. verse 2).

4 So gldm Arm.: b f ‘in the seven hundred years’; e ‘in (by) the seven hundred’; a ‘by (in) the seven’; c ‘by (in) all the evils’.

1 Lit. ‘when it turns towards’.

2 Lit. ‘rather builds up’.

1 Lit. ‘that there will be also doings among you that are not good’.

2 Lit. ‘will not be’.

3 So gld: bk are corrupt and eaf incomplete.

4 So II: bk om. ‘prophet’.

5 So bk: II om. ‘and treated with contempt’.

6 So II-d: bkd ‘will descend on’.

7 So bk: II ‘pass’.

8 Lit. ‘Do, therefore, truth and righteousness, each one with his neighbour, and judgement to assurance’.

9 Lit. ‘For these things I teach you instead of all inheritance’.

10 None of the extant readings in this clause is intelligible.

11 Lit. ‘…from God, becoming not children in the portion of those who fear the Lord’.

12 Lit. ‘in’.

1 Lit. ‘…Lord, hearing on earth his voice, and doing the good pleasure of his will’: so d eaf; c ‘…Lord, hearing…and doing…of his mouth’; b g l om. ‘and doing…of his will’.

2 Lit. ‘in’.

3 b ‘him’.

4 Lit. ‘…time, he shall be’.

5 Lit. ‘And in the sacred books he will be written up, both his work and his word’.

1 Lit. ‘…died, in a good old age’.

2 All MSS read ‘exodus…from’, which must be wrong in the light of verse 4: Jub. xlv. 1 and xlvi. 9, when taken together, support the emendation that this happened ninety-one years after the entry.

3 Lit. ‘they and their brothers’.

4 So II (lit. ‘in the war of Canaan’): b ‘in a place called Canaan’.

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