The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
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The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
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Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs

pseudepigraphal work (not in any biblical canon) purporting to present the last words of the 12 sons of Jacob—founders of the 12 tribes of Israel. The book is an imitation of the “blessing of Jacob” described in chapter 49 of Genesis, but, unlike its model, this work contains lengthy moral exhortations based on the supposed sin or virtue of each patriarch.

Each essay includes an autobiography of the patriarch, including many elements of folk history (Haggada); an admonitory passage warning against the specific vice of the patriarch; and a prophecy, sometimes with apocalyptic overtones, explaining the fate of the patriarch's sons in the Last Age. In general, the admonitions are based on a belief in resurrection and the Last Judgment, and the tone of the work is decidedly pietistic and ascetic.

In its extant form, the book is a Jewish work, probably of the late 2nd century AD, with Christian interpolations. It was written in Greek, and Semitic originals are known for only two of the testaments, those of Levi and Naphtali. The Testaments are connected historically and ideologically with the Essene sect at Qumran and their Dead Sea Scrolls, among which the fragments of the testaments of Levi (in Aramaic) and Naphtali (in Hebrew) were found. Further, many parallels exist between the Testaments and the Damascus Document (q.v.) produced by the Essenes, though there are also important differences.

The work is extant in several Greek manuscripts and in Armenian and Slavic translations.



The third pseudepigraphon that shows important affinities with the Dead Sea sect is the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the last speeches of the 12 sons of the Hebrew patriarch Jacob. In its extant form, containing Christian passages, the book was written in Greek. Fragments of two original Semitic sources of the book were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls: the Aramaic “Testament of Levi” (fragments of it were also discovered in Aramaic in the medieval Geniza, or synagogue storeroom, in Cairo) and a Hebrew fragment of the “Testaments of Naphtali.” A Hebrew “Testament of Judah,” which was used both by the Book of Jubilees and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs in their description of the wars of the sons of Jacob, also probably existed.

Whether Hebrew and Aramaic prototypes for all the 12 testaments of the patriarchs existed is difficult to ascertain. The present book was originally written in Greek. In it each of the sons of Jacob before his death gives moral advice to his descendants, based upon his own experience. All the testaments, with the exception of Gad, also contain apocalyptic predictions.

Between the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and the Dead Sea sect there is a historical and ideological connection. The sources of the book were found among the scrolls, the source of the “Testament of Levi” is quoted in a sectarian writing (the Damascus Document), a dualistic outlook is common to the book and the sect, and the devil is named Belial in both. There are, however, important differences: in regard to the nature of the dualism between good and evil, there is in the Testaments the concept of the good and bad inclination, known from rabbinical literature, which does not exist in the scrolls; though the sect believed in an afterlife of souls, the Testaments reflect the belief in the resurrection of the body; there are no traces of the doctrine of predestination in the testaments, a doctrine that is so important for the sect. Only the “Testament of Asher” preaches, as did the Dead Sea sect, hatred against sinners; the other testaments stress, as does rabbinic literature and especially Jesus, the precept of love for God and neighbour. Thus, it is probable that the testaments of the patriarchs were composed in circles in which doctrines of the Dead Sea sect were mitigated and combined with some rabbinic doctrines. A similar humanistic position, founded both on doctrines of the Dead Sea sect and of the Pharisees, is typical of Jesus' message, and there are important parallels between his message and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.


The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs

THE following twelve books are biographies written between 107 and 137 B.C. They are a forceful exposition, showing how a Pharisee with a rare gift of writing secured publicity by using the names of the greatest men of ancient times. "There were intellectual giants in those days" and the Twelve Patriarchs were the Intellectual Giants!

Each is here made to tell his life story. When he is on his deathbed he calls all his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren about him, and proceeds without reservation to lay bare his experiences for the moral guidance of his hearers. If he fell into sin he tells all about it and then counsels them not to err as he did. If he was virtuous, he shows what rewards were his.

When you look beyond the unvarnished--almost brutally frank--passages of the text, you will discern a remarkable attestation of the expectations of the Messiah which existed a hundred years before Christ.  {There is no such intention, for the priests were thinking of a quite different prophet than Jesus.  See Randel Helms account in Gospel Fictions--jk} And there is another element of rare value in this strange series. As Dr. R. H. Charles says in his scholarly work on the Pseudepigrapha: its ethical teaching "has achieved a real immortality by influencing the thought and diction of the writers of the New Testament, and even those of our Lord. This ethical teaching, which is very much higher and purer than that of the Old Testament, is yet its true spiritual child and helps to bridge the chasm that divides the ethics of the Old and New Testaments."

The instances of the influence of these writings on the New Testament are notable in the Sermon on the Mount which reflects the spirit and even uses phrases from these Testaments. St. Paul appears to have borrowed so freely that it seems as though he must have carried a copy of the Testaments with him on his travels.

Thus, the reader has before him in these pages what is at once striking for its blunt primitive style and valuable as some of the actual source books of the Bible. 

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs


Testament of Reuben

Chapter I
Chapter II

Testament of Simeon

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III

Testament of Levi

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V


{The paste of text ended with Levi, enough drivel--jk} 

The Testament of Judah

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV

The Testament of Issachar

Chapter I
Chapter II

The Testament of Zebulun

Chapter I
Chapter II

The Testament of Dan

Chapter I
Chapter II

The Testament of Naphtali

Chapter I
Chapter II

The Testament Of Gad

Chapter I
Chapter II

The Testament of Asher

Chapter I

The Testament of Joseph

Chapter I
Chapter II

The Testament of Benjamin

Chapter I
Chapter II


The First-Born Son of Jacob and Leah.


Reuben, the first-born son of Jacob and Leah. The man of experience counsels against fornication and points out the ways in. which men are most apt to fall into error.

THE Copy of the Testament of Reuben, even the commands which he gave his sons before he died in the hundred and twenty-fifth year of his life.

2 Two years after the death of Joseph his brother, when Reuben fell ill, his sons and his sons' sons were gathered together to visit him.

3 And he said to them: My children, behold I am dying, and go the way of my fathers.

4 And seeing there Judah, and Gad, and Asher, his brethren, he said to them: Raise me up that I may tell to my brethren and to my children what things I have hidden in my heart, for

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behold now at length I am passing away.

5 And he arose and kissed them, and said unto them: Hear, my brethren, and do ye my children, give ear to Reuben your father, in the commands which I give unto you.

6 And behold I call to witness against you this day the God of heaven, that ye walk not in the sins of youth and fornication, wherein I was poured out, and defiled the bed of my father Jacob.

7 And I tell you that he smote me with a sore plague in my loins for seven months; and had not my father Jamb prayed for me to the Lord, the Lord would have destroyed me.

8 For I was thirty years old when I wrought the evil thing before the Lord, and for seven months I was sick unto death.

9 And after this I repented with set purpose of my soul for seven years before the Lord.

10 And wine and strong drink I drank not, and flesh entered not into my mouth, and I ate no pleasant food; but I mourned over my sin, for it was great, such as had not been in Israel.

11 And now hear me, my children, what things I saw concerning the seven spirits of deceit, when I repented.

12 Seven spirits therefore are appointed against man, and they are the leaders in the works of youth.

13 And seven other spirits are given to him at his creation, that through them should be done every work of man.

14 The first is the spirit of life, with which the constitution of man is created.

15 The second is the sense of sight, with which ariseth desire.

16 The third is the sense of hearing, with which cometh teaching.

17 The fourth is the sense of smell, with which tastes are given to draw air and breath.

18 The fifth is the power of speech, with which cometh knowledge.

19 The sixth is the sense of taste, with which cometh the eating of meats and drinks; and by it strength is produced, for in food is the foundation. of strength.

20 The seventh is the power of procreation and sexual intercourse, with which through love of pleasure sins enter in.

21 Wherefore it is the last in order of creation, and the first in that of youth, because it is filled with ignorance, and leadeth the youth as a blind man to a pit, and as a beast to a precipice.

22 Besides all these there is an eighth spirit of sleep, with which is brought about the trance of nature and the of death.

23 With these spirits are mingled the spirits of error.

24 First, the spirit of fornication is seated in the nature and in the senses;

25 The second, the spirit of insatiableness in the belly;

26 The third, the spirit of fighting, in the liver and gall.

27 The fourth is the spirit of obsequiousness and chicanery, that through officious attention one may be fair in seeming.

28 The fifth is the spirit of pride, that one may be boastful and arrogant.

29 The sixth is the spirit of lying, in perdition and jealousy to practise deceits, and concealments from kindred and friends.

30 The seventh is the spirit of injustice, with which are thefts and acts of rapacity, that a man may fulfil the desire of his heart; for injustice worketh together with the other spirits by the taking of gifts.

31 And with all these the spirit of sleep is joined which is that of error and fantasy.

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32 And so perisheth every young man, darkening his mind from the truth, and not understanding the law of God, nor obeying the admonitions of his fathers, as befell me also in my youth.

33 And now, my children, love the truth, and it will preserve you: hear ye the words of Reuben your father.

34 Pay no heed to the face of a woman,

35 Nor associate with another man's wife,

36 Nor meddle with affairs of womankind.

37 For had I not seen Bilhah bathing in a covered place, I had not fallen into this great iniquity.

38 For my mind taking in the thought of the woman's nakedness, suffered me not to sleep until I had wrought the abominable thing.

39 For while Jacob our father had gone to Isaac his father, when we were in Eder, near to Ephrath in Bethlehem, Bilhah became drunk and was asleep uncovered in her chamber.

40 Having therefore gone in and beheld her nakedness, I wrought the impiety without her perceiving it, and leaving her sleeping departed.

41 And forthwith an angel of God revealed to my father concerning my impiety, and he came and mourned over me, and touched her no more.


Reuben continues with his experiences and his good advice.

PAY no heed, therefore, my children, to the beauty of women, nor set your mind--on their affairs; but walk in singleness of heart in the fear of the Lord, and expend labour on good works, and on study and on your flocks, until the Lord give you a wife, whom He will, that ye suffer not as I did.

2 For until my father's death I had not boldness to look in his face, or to speak to any of my brethren, because of the reproach.

3 Even until now my conscience causeth me anguish on account of my impiety.

4 And yet my father comforted me much, and prayed for me unto the Lord, that the anger of the Lord might pass from me, even as the Lord showed.

5 And thenceforth until now I have been on my guard and sinned not.

6 Therefore, my children, I say unto you, observe all things whatsoever I command you, and ye shall not sin.

7 For a pit unto the soul is the sin of fornication, separating it from God, and bringing it near to idols, because it deceiveth the mind and understanding, and leadeth down young men into Hades before their time.

8 For many hath fornication destroyed; because, though a man be old or noble, or rich or poor, he bringeth reproach upon himself with the sons of men and derision with Beliar.

9 For ye heard regarding Joseph how he guarded himself from a woman, and purged his thoughts from all fornication, and found favour in the sight of God and men.

10 For the Egyptian woman did many things unto him, and summoned magicians, and offered him love potions, but the purpose of his soul admitted no evil desire.

11 Therefore the God of your fathers delivered him from every evil and hidden death.

12 For if fornication overcomes not your mind, neither can Beliar overcome you.

13 For evil are women, my children; and since they have

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no power or strength over man, they use wiles by outward attractions, that they may draw him to themselves.

14 And whom they cannot bewitch by outward attractions, him they overcome by craft.

15 For moreover, concerning them, the angel of the Lord told me, and taught me, that women are overcome by the spirit of fornication more than men, and in their heart they plot against men; and by means of their adornment they deceive first their minds, and by the glance of the eye instil the poison, and then through the accomplished act they take them captive.

16 For a woman cannot force a man openly, but by a harlot's bearing she beguiles him.

17 Flee, therefore, fornication, my children, and command your wives and your daughters, that they adorn not their heads and faces to deceive the mind: because every woman who useth these wiles bath been reserved for eternal punishment.

18 For thus they allured the Watchers 1 who were before the flood; for as these continually beheld them, they lusted after them, and they conceived the act in their mind; for they changed themselves into the shape of men, and appeared to them when they were with their husbands.

19 And the women lusting in their minds after their forms, gave birth to giants, for the Watchers appeared to them as reaching even unto heaven.

20 Beware, therefore, of fornication; and if you wish to be pure in mind, guard your senses from every woman.

21 And command the women likewise not to associate with men, that they also may be pure in mind.

22 For constant meetings, even though the ungodly deed be not wrought, are to them an irremediable disease, and to us a destruction of Beliar and an eternal reproach.

23 For in fornication there is neither understanding nor godliness, and all jealousy dwelleth in the lust thereof.

24 Therefore, then I say unto you, ye will be jealous against the sons of Levi, and will seek to be exalted over them; but ye shall not be able.

25 For God will avenge them, and ye shall die by an evil death. For to Levi God gave the sovereignty and to Judah with him and to me also, and to Dan and Joseph, that we should be for rulers.

26 Therefore I command you to hearken to Levi, because he shall know the law of the Lord, and shall give ordinances for judgement and shall sacrifice for all Israel until the consummation of the times, as the anointed High Priest, of whom the Lord spake.

27 I adjure you by the God of heaven to do truth each one unto his neighbour and to entertain love each one for his brother.

28 And draw ye near to Levi in humbleness, of heart, that ye may receive a blessing from his mouth.

29 For he shall bless Israel and Judah, because him hath the Lord chosen to be king over all the nation.

30 And bow down before his seed, for on our behalf it will die in wars visible and invisible, and will be among you an eternal king.

31 And Reuben died, having given these commands to his sons. And they placed him in a coffin until they carried him up from Egypt, and buried him in Hebron in the cave where his father was.


223:1 See The Second Book of Adam and Eve, Chapter XX



The Second Son of Jacob and Leah.


Simeon, the second son of Jacob and Leah. The strong man. He becomes jealous of Joseph and is an instigator of the plot against Joseph.

THE copy of the words of Simeon, the things which he spake to his sons before he died, in the hundred and twentieth year of his life, at which time Joseph, his brother, died.

2 For when Simeon was sick, his sons came to visit him. and he strengthened himself and sat up and kissed them, and said:--

3 Hearken, my children, to Simeon your father and I will declare unto you what things I have in my heart.

4 I was born of Jacob as my father's second son; and my mother Leah called me Simeon, because the Lord had heard her prayer.

5 Moreover, I became strong exceedingly; I shrank from no achievement nor was I afraid of ought. For my heart was hard, and my liver was immovable, and my bowels without compassion.

6 Because valour also has been given from the Most High to men in soul and body.

7 For in the time of my youth I was jealous in many things of Joseph, because my father loved him beyond all.

8 And I set my mind against him to destroy him because the prince of deceit sent forth the spirit of jealousy and blinded my mind, so that I regarded him not as a brother, nor did I spare even Jacob my father.

9 But his God and the God of his fathers sent forth His angel, and delivered him out of my hands.

10 For when I went to Shechem to bring ointment for the flocks, and Reuben to Dothan, where were our necessaries and all our stores, Judah my brother sold him to the Ishmaelites.

11 And when Reuben heard these things he was grieved, for he wished to restore him to his father.

12 But on hearing this I was exceedingly wroth against Judah in that he let him go away alive, and for five months I continued wrathful against him.

13 But the Lord restrained me, and withheld from me the power of my hands; for my right hand was half withered for seven days.

14 And I knew, my children, that because of Joseph this had befallen me, and I repented and wept; and I besought the Lord God that my hand might be restored and that I might hold aloof from all pollution and envy and from all folly.

15 For I knew that I had devised an evil thing before the Lord and Jacob my father, on account of Joseph my brother, in that I envied him.

16 And now, my children, hearken unto me and beware of the spirit of deceit and envy.

17 For envy ruleth over the whole mind of a man, and suffereth him neither to eat nor to drink, nor to do any good thing. But it ever suggesteth to him to destroy him that he envieth; and so long as he that is envied flourisheth, he that envieth fadeth away.

18 Two years therefore I afflicted my soul with fasting in the fear of the Lord, and I learnt that deliverance from envy cometh by the fear of God.

19 For if a man flee to the

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Lord, the evil spirit runneth away from him and his mind is lightened.

20 And henceforward he sympathiseth with him whom he envied and forgiveth those who are hostile to him, and so ceaseth from his envy.


A prophecy of the coming of the Messiah.

BEHOLD I have told you all things, that I may be acquitted of your sin.

2 Now, if ye remove from you your envy and all stiff-neckedness, is a rose shall my bones flourish in Israel, and as a lily my flesh in Jacob, and my odour shall be as the odour of Libanus; and as cedars shall holy ones be multiplied from me

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for ever, and their branches shall stretch afar off.

3 Then shall perish the seed of Canaan, and a remnant shall not be unto Amalek, and all the Cappadocians shall perish, and all Hittites shall be utterly destroyed.

4 Then shall fail the land of Ham, and all the people shall perish.

5 Then shall all the earth rest from trouble, and all the world under heaven from war.

6 Then the Mighty One of Israel shall glorify Shem.

7 For the Lord God shall appear on earth, and Himself save men,

8 Then shall all the spirits of deceit be given to be trodden under foot, and men shall, rule over wicked spirits.

9 Then shall I arise in Joy and will bless the Most High because of his marvellous works, because God hath taken a body and eaten with men and saved men.

10 And now, my children,, and Judah, and obey Levi and Judah, and be not lifted up against these two tribes, for from them shall arise unto you the salvation of God.

11 For the Lord shall raise up from Levi as it were a High Priest, and from Judah as it were a King, God and man, He shall save all the Gentiles and the race of Israel.

12 Therefore I give you these commands that ye also may command your children, that they may observe them throughout their generations.

13 And when Simeon had made an end of commanding his sons, he slept with fathers, an hundred and twenty years old.

14 And they laid him in a wooden coffin, to take up his bones to Hebron. And they took them up secretly during a war of the Egyptians. For the bones of Joseph the Egyptians guarded in the tombs of the kings.

15 For the sorcerers told them, that on the departure of the bones of Joseph there should be throughout all the land darkness and gloom, and an exceeding great plague to the Egyptians, so that even with a lamp a man should not recognize his brother.

16 And the sons of Simeon bewailed their father.

17 And they were in Egypt until the day of their departure by the hand of Moses.



The Third Son of Jacob and Leah.


Levi, the third son of Jacob and Leah. A mystic and dreamer of dreams, a prophet.

THE copy of the words of Levi, the things which he ordained unto his sons, according to all that they should do, and what things should befall them until the day of judgement.

2 He was sound in health when he called them to him; for it had been revealed to him that he should die.

3 And when they were gathered together he said to them:

4 I, Levi, was born in Haran, and I came with my father to Shechem.

5 And I was young, about twenty years of age, when, with Simeon, I wrought vengeance on Hamor for our sister Dinah.

6 And when I was feeding the flocks in Abel-Maul, the spirit of understand of the Lord came upon me, and I saw all men corrupting their way, and that unrighteousness

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had built for itself walls, and lawlessness sat upon towers.

7 And I was grieving for the race of the sons of men, and I prayed to the Lord that I might be saved.

8 Then there fell upon me a sleep, and I beheld a high mountain, and I was upon it.

9 And behold the heavens were opened, and an angel of God said to me, Levi, enter.

10 And I entered from the first heaven, and I saw there a great sea hanging.

11 And further I saw a second heaven far brighter and more brilliant, for there was a boundless light also therein,

12 And I said to the angel, Why is this so? And the angel said to me, Marvel not at this, for thou shalt see another heaven more brilliant and incomparable.

13 And when thou hast ascended thither, Thou shalt stand near the Lord, and shalt be His minister, and shalt, declare His mysteries to men, and shalt proclaim concerning Him that shall redeem Israel.

14 And by thee and Judah shall the Lord appear among men, saving every race of men.

15 And from the Lord's portion shall be thy life, and He shall be thy field and vineyard, and fruits, gold, and silver.

16 Hear, therefore, regarding the heavens which have been shown to thee.

17 The lowest is for this cause gloomy unto thee, in that it beholds all the unrighteous deeds of men.

18 And it has fire, snow, and ice made ready for the day of judgement, in the righteous judgement of God; for in it are all the spirits of the retributions for vengeance on men.

19 And in the second are the hosts Of the armies which are ordained for the day of judgement, to work vengeance on the spirits of deceit and of Beliar.

20 And above them are the holy ones.

21 And in the highest of all dwelleth the Great Glory, far above all holiness.

22 In the heaven next to it are the archangels, who minister and make propitiation to the Lord for all the sins of ignorance of the righteous;

23 Offering to the Lord a sweet smelling savour, a reasonable and a bloodless offering.

24 And in the heaven below this are the angels who bear answers to the angels of the presence of the Lord.

25 And in the heaven next to this are thrones and dominions, in which always they offer praise to God.

26 When, therefore, the Lord looketh upon us, all of us are shaken; yea, the heavens, and the earth, and the abysses are shaken at the presence of His majesty.

27 But the sons of men, having no perception of these things, sin and provoke the Most High.


Levi urges piety and education.

NOW, therefore, know that the Lord shall execute judgement upon the sons of men.

2 Because when the rocks are being rent, and the sun quenched, and the waters dried up, and the fire cowering, and all creation troubled, and the invisible spirits melting away, and Hades taketh spoils through the visitations of the Most High, men will be unbelieving and persist in their iniquity.

3 On this account with punishment shall they be judged.

4 Therefore the Most High hath heard thy prayer, to separate

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thee from iniquity, and that thou shouldst become to Him a son, and a servant, and a minister of His presence.

5 The light of knowledge shalt thou light up in Jacob, and as the sun shalt thou be to all the seed of Israel.

6 And there shall be given to thee a blessing, and to all thy seed until the Lord shall visit all the Gentiles in His tender mercies for ever.

7 And therefore there have been given to thee counsel and understanding, that thou mightest instruct thy sons concerning this;

8 Because they that bless Him shall be blessed, and they that curse Him shall perish.

9 And thereupon the angel opened to me the gates of heaven, and I saw the holy temple, and upon a throne of glory the Most High.

10 And He said to me: Levi, I have given thee the blessing of the priesthood until I come and sojourn in the midst of Israel.

11 Then the angel brought me down to the earth, and gave me a shield and a sword, and said to me: Execute vengeance on Shechem because of Dinah, thy sister, and I will be with thee because the Lord hath sent me.

12 And I destroyed at that time the sons of Hamor, as it is written in the heavenly tables.

13 And I said to him: I pray thee, O Lord, tell me Thy name, that I may call upon Thee in a day of tribulation.

14 And he said: I am the angel who intercedeth for the nation of Israel that they may not be smitten utterly, for every evil spirit attacketh it.

15 And after these things I awaked, and blessed the Most High, and the angel who intercedeth for the nation of Israel and for all the righteous.


Levi has visions and shows what rewards are in store for the righteous.

AND when I was going to my father, I found a brazen shield; wherefore also the name of the mountain is Aspis, which is near Gebal, to the south of Abila.

2 And I kept these words in my heart. And after this I counselled my father, and Reuben my brother, to bid the sons of Hamor not to be circumcised; for I was zealous because of the abomination which they had wrought on my sister.

3 And I slew Shechem first, and Simeon slew Hamor. And after this my brothers came and smote that city with the edge of the sword.

4 And my father heard these things and was wroth, and he was grieved in that they had received the circumcision, and after that had been put to death, and in his blessings he looked amiss upon us.

5 For we sinned because we had done this thing against his will, and he was sick on that day.

6 But I saw that the sentence of God was for evil upon Shechem; for they sought to do to Sarah and Rebecca as they had done to Dinah our sister, but the Lord prevented them.

7 And they persecuted Abraham our father when he was a stranger, and they vexed his flocks when they were big with young; and Eblaen, who was born in his house, they most shamefully handled.

8 And thus they did to all strangers, taking away their wives by force, and they banished them.

9 But the wrath of the Lord came upon them to the uttermost.

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10 And I said to my father Jacob: By thee will the Lord despoil the Canaanites, and will give their land to thee and to thy seed after thee.

11 For from this day forward shall Shechem be called a city of imbeciles; for as a man mocketh a fool, so did we mock them.

12 Because also they had wrought folly in Israel by defiling my sister. And we departed and came to Bethel.

13 And there again I saw a vision as the former, after we had spent there seventy days.

14 And I saw seven men in white raiment saying unto me: Arise, put on the robe of the priesthood, and the crown of righteousness, and the breastplate of understanding, and the garment of truth, and the late of faith, and the turban of the head, and the ephod of prophecy.

15 And they severally carried these things and put them on me, and said unto me: From henceforth become a priest of the Lord, thou and thy seed for ever.

16 And the first anointed me with holy oil, and gave to me the staff of judgement.

17 The second washed me with pure. water, and fed me with bread and wine even the most holy things, and clad me with a holy and glorious robe.

18 The third clothed me with a linen vestment like an ephod.

19 The fourth put round me a girdle like unto purple.

20 The fifth gave me a branch of rich olive.

21 The sixth placed a crown on my head.

22 The seventh placed on my head a diadem of priesthood, and filled my hands with incense, that I might serve as priest to the Lord God.

23 And they said to me: Levi, thy seed shall be divided into three offices, for a sign of the glory of the Lord who is to come.

24 And the first portion shall be great; yea, greater than it shall none be.

25 The second shall be in the priesthood.

26 And the third shall be called by a new name, because a king shall arise in Judah, and shall establish a new priesthood, after the fashion of the Gentiles.

27 And His presence is beloved, as a prophet of the Most High, of the seed of Abraham our father.

28 Therefore, every desirable thing in Israel shall be for thee and for thy seed, and ye shall eat everything fair to look upon, and the table of the Lord shall thy seed apportion.

29 And some of them shall be high priests, and judges, and scribes; for by their mouth shall the holy place be guarded.

30 And when I awoke, I understood that this dream was like the first dream. And I hid this also in my heart, and told it not to any man upon the earth.

31 And after two days I and Judah went up with our father Jacob to Isaac our father's father.

32 And my father's father blessed me according to all the words of the visions which I had seen. And he would not come with us to Bethel.

33 And when we came to Bethel, my father saw a vision concerning me, that I should be their priest unto God.

34 And he rose up early in the morning, and paid tithes of all to the Lord through me. And so we came to Hebron to dwell there.

35 And Isaac called me continually to put me in remembrance of the law of the Lord, even as the angel of the Lord showed unto me.

36 And he taught me the law of the priesthood of sacrifices,

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whole burnt-offerings, first-fruits, freewill-offerings, peace-offerings.

37 And each day he was instructing me, and was busied on my behalf before the Lord, and said to me: Beware of the spirit of fornication; for this shall continue and shall by thy seed pollute the holy place.

38 Take, therefore, to thyself a wife without blemish or pollution, while yet thou are young, and not of the race of strange nations.

39 And before entering into the holy place, bathe; and when thou offerest the sacrifice, wash; and again, when thou finishest the sacrifice, wash.

40 Of twelve trees having leaves offer to the Lord, as Abraham taught me also.

41 And of every clean beast and bird offer a sacrifice to the Lord.

42 And of all thy first-fruits and of wine offer the first, as a sacrifice to the Lord God; and every sacrifice thou shalt salt with salt.

43 Now, therefore, observe whatsoever I command you, children; for whatsoever things I have heard from my fathers I have declared unto you.

44 And behold I am clear from your ungodliness and transgression, which ye shall commit in the end of the ages against the Saviour of the world, Christ, acting godlessly, deceiving Israel, and stirring up against it great evils from the Lord.

45 And ye shall deal lawlessly together with Israel, so He shall not bear with Jerusalem because of your wickedness; but the veil of the temple shall be rent, so as not to cover your shame.

46 And ye shall be scattered as captives among the Gentiles, and shall be for a reproach and for a curse there.

47 For the house which the Lord shall choose shall be called Jerusalem, as is contained in the book of Enoch the righteous.

48 Therefore when I took a wife I was twenty-eight years old, and her name was Melcha.

49 And she conceived and bare a son, and I called his name Gersam, for we were sojourners in our land.

50 And I saw concerning him, that he would not be in the first rank.

51 And Kohath was born in the thirty-fifth year of my life, towards sunrise.

52 And I saw in a vision that he was standing on high in the midst of all the congregation.

53 Therefore I called his name Kohath which is, beginning of majesty and instruction.

54 And she bare me a third son, in the fortieth year of my life; and since his mother bare him with difficulty, I called him Merari, that is, 'my bitterness,' because he also was like to die.

55 And Jochebed was born. in Egypt, in my sixty-fourth year, for I was renowned then in the midst of my brethren.

56 And Gersam took a wife, and she bare to him Lomni and Semei. And the sons of Kohath, Ambram, Issachar, Hebron, and Ozeel. And the sons of Merari, Mooli, and Mouses.

57 And in the ninety-fourth year Ambram took Jochebed my daughter to him to wife, for they were born in one day, he and my daughter.

58 Eight years old was I when I went into the land of Canaan, and eighteen years when I slew Shechem, and at nineteen years I became priest, and at twenty-eight years I took a wife, and at forty-eight I went into Egypt.

59 And behold, my children, ye are a third generation. In my hundred and eighteenth year Joseph died.


Levi shows how wisdom survives destruction. He has no use for scornful people.

AND now, my children, I command you: Fear the Lord your God with your whole heart, and walk in simplicity according to all His law.

2 And do ye also teach your children letters, that they may have understanding all their life, reading unceasingly the law of God.

3 For every one that knoweth the law of the Lord shall be honoured, and shall not be a stranger whithersoever he goeth.

4 Yea, many friends shall he gain more than his parents, and many men shall desire to serve him, and to hear the law from his mouth.

5 Work righteousness, therefore, my children, upon the earth, that ye may have it as a treasure in heaven.

6 And sow good things in your souls, that ye may find them in your life.

7 But if ye sow evil things, ye shall reap every trouble and affliction.

8 Get wisdom in the fear of God with diligence; for though there be a leading into captivity, and cities and lands be destroyed, and gold and silver and every possession perish, the wisdom of the wise nought can take away, save the blindness of ungodliness, and the callousness that comes of sin.

9 For if one keep oneself from these evil things, then even among his enemies shall wisdom be a glory to him, and in a strange country a fatherland, and in the midst of foes shall prove a friend.

10 Whosoever teaches noble things and does them, shall be enthroned with kings, as was also Joseph my brother.

11 Therefore, my children, I have learnt that at the end of the ages ye will transgress against the Lord, stretching out hands to wickedness against Him; and to all the Gentiles shall ye become a scorn.

12 For our father Israel is pure from the transgressions of the chief priests [who shall lay their hands upon the Saviour of the world].

13 For as the heaven is purer in the Lord's sight than the earth, so also be ye, the lights of Israel, purer than all the Gentiles.

14 But if ye be darkened through transgressions, what, therefore, will all the Gentiles do living in blindness?

15 Yea, ye shall bring a curse upon our race, because the light of the law which was given for to lighten every man this ye desire to destroy by teaching commandments contrary to the ordinances of God.

16 The offerings of the Lord ye shall rob, and from His portion shall ye steal choice portions, eating them contemptuously with harlots.

17 And out of covetousness ye shall teach the commandments of the Lord, wedded women shall ye pollute, and the virgins of Jerusalem shall ye defile; and with harlots and adulteresses shall ye be joined, and the daughters of the Gentiles shall ye take to wife, purifying them with an unlawful purification; and your union shall be like unto Sodom and Gomorrah,

18 And ye shall be puffed up because of your priesthood, lifting yourselves up against men, and not only so, but also against the commands of God.

19 For ye shall contemn the holy things with jests and laughter.

20 Therefore the temple, which the Lord shall choose, shall be laid waste through your

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uncleanness, and ye shall be captives throughout all nations.

21 And ye shall be an abomination unto them, and ye shall receive reproach and everlasting shame from the righteous judgement of God.

22 And all who hate you shall rejoice at your destruction.

23 And if you were not to receive mercy through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our fathers, not one of our seed should be left upon the earth.

24 And now I have learnt that for seventy weeks ye shall go astray, and profane the priesthood, and pollute the sacrifices.

25 And ye shall make void the law, and set at nought the words of the prophets by evil perverseness.

26 And ye shall persecute righteous men, and hate the godly; the words of the faithful shall ye abhor.

27 And a man who reneweth the law in the power of the Most High, ye shall call a deceiver; and at last ye shall rush upon him to slay him, not knowing his dignity, taking innocent blood through wickedness upon your heads.

28 And your holy places shall be laid waste even to the ground because of him.

29 And ye shall have no place that is clean; but ye shall be among the Gentiles a curse and a dispersion until He shall again visit you, and in pity shall receive you through faith and water.


He prophesies the coming of the Messiah. This was written 100 years before Christ.

AND whereas ye have heard concerning the seventy weeks, hear also concerning the priesthood. For in each jubilee there shall be a priesthood.

2 And in the first jubilee, the first who is anointed to the priesthood shall be great, and shall speak to God as to a father.

3 And his priesthood shall be perfect with the Lord, and in the day of his gladness shall he arise for the salvation of the world.

4 In the second jubilee, he that is anointed shall be conceived in the sorrow of beloved ones; and his priesthood shall be honoured and shall be glorified by all.

5 And the third priest shall he taken hold of by sorrow.

6 And the fourth shall be in pain, because unrighteousness shall gather itself against him exceedingly, and all Israel shall hate each one his neighbour.

7 The fifth shall be taken hold of by darkness. Likewise also the sixth and the seventh.

8 And in the seventh shall, be such pollution as I cannot express before men, for they shall know it who do these things.

9 Therefore shall they be taken captive and become a prey, and their land and their substance shall be destroyed.

10 And in the fifth week they shall return to their desolate country, and shall renew the house of the Lord.

11 And in the seventh week shall become priests, who are idolaters, adulterers, lovers of money, proud, lawless, lascivious, abusers of children and beasts.

12 And after their punishment shall have come from the Lord, the priesthood shall fail.

13 Then shall the Lord raise up a new priest.

14 And to him all the words of the Lord shall be revealed; and he shall execute a righteous judgement upon the earth for a multitude of days.

15 And his star shall arise in heaven as of a king.

16 Lighting up the light of knowledge as the sun the day, and he shall be magnified in the world.

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17 He shall shine forth as the sun on the earth, and shall remove all darkness from under heaven, and there shall be peace in all the earth.

18 The heavens shall exult in his days, and the earth shall be glad, and the clouds shall rejoice;

19 And the knowledge of the Lord shall be poured forth upon the earth, as the water of the seas;

20 And the angels of the glory of the presence of the Lord shall be glad in him.

21 The heavens shall be opened, and from the temple of glory shall come upon him sanctification, with the Father's voice as from Abraham to Isaac.

22 And the glory of the Most High shall be uttered over him, and the spirit of understanding and sanctification shall rest upon him in the water.

23 For he shall give the majesty of the Lord to His sons in truth for evermore;

24 And there shall none succeed him for all generations for ever.

25 And in his priesthood the Gentiles shall be multiplied in knowledge upon the earth, and enlightened through the grace of the Lord. In his priesthood shall sin come to an end, and the lawless shall cease to do evil.

26 And he shall open the gates of paradise, and shall remove the threatening sword against Adam, and he shall give to the saints to eat from the tree of life, and the spirit of holiness shall be on them.

27 And Beliar shall be bound by him, and he shall give power to His children to tread upon the evil spirits.

28 And the Lord shall rejoice in His children, and be well pleased in His beloved ones for ever.

29 Then shall Abraham and Isaac and Jacob exult, and I will be glad, and all the saints shall clothe themselves with joy.

30 And now, my children, ye have heard all; choose, therefore, for yourselves either the light or the darkness, either the law of the Lord or the works of Beliar.

31 And his sons answered him., saying, Before the Lord we will walk according to His law.

32 And their father said unto them, The Lord is witness, and His angels are witnesses, and ye are witnesses, and I am witness, concerning the word of your mouth.

33 And his sons said unto him: We are witnesses.

34 And thus Levi ceased commanding his sons; and he stretched out his feet on the bed, and was gathered to his fathers, after he had lived a hundred and thirty-seven years.

35 And they laid him in a coffin, and afterwards they buried him in Hebron, with I Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.