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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VIII:
The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.: Testament XII

Early Church Fathers  Index     

XII.—The Testament of Benjamin Concerning a Pure Mind.

1.  The record of the words of Benjamin, which he set forth to his sons, after he had lived a hundred and twenty years.  And he kissed them, and said:  As Isaac was born to Abraham in his hundredth year, so also was I to Jacob.  Now since Rachel died in giving me birth, I had no milk; therefore I was suckled by Bilhah her handmaid.  For Rachel remained barren for twelve years after that she had borne Joseph:  and she prayed the Lord with fasting twelve days, and she conceived and bare me.  For our father loved Rachel dearly, and prayed that he p. 36 might see two sons born from her:  therefore was I called the son of days, which is Benjamin. 185

2.  When therefore I went into Egypt, and Joseph my brother recognised me, he said unto me, What did they tell my father in that they sold me?  And I said unto him, They dabbled thy coat with blood and sent it, and said, Look if this is the coat of thy son.  And he said to me, Even so, brother; for when the Ishmaelites took me, one of them stripped off my coat, and gave me a girdle, and scourged me, and bade me run.  And as he went away to hide my garment, a lion met him, and slew him; and so his fellows were afraid, and sold me to their companions.

3.  Do ye also therefore, my children, love the Lord God of heaven, and keep His commandments, and be followers of the good and holy man Joseph; and let your mind be unto good, even as ye know me.  He that hath his mind good seeth all things rightly.  Fear ye the Lord, and love your neighbour; and even though the spirits of Beliar allure you into all troublous wickedness, yet shall no troublous wickedness have dominion over you, even as it had not over Joseph my brother.  How many men wished to slay him, and God shielded him!  For he that feareth God and loveth his neighbour cannot be smitten by Beliar’s spirit of the air, being shielded by the fear of God; nor can he be ruled over by the device of men or of beasts, for he is aided by the love of the Lord which he hath towards his neighbour.  For he even besought our father Jacob that he would pray for our brethren, that the Lord would not impute to them the evil that they devised concerning Joseph.  And thus Jacob cried out, My child Joseph, thou hast prevailed over the bowels of thy father Jacob.  And he embraced him, and kissed him for two hours, saying, In thee shall be fulfilled the prophecy of heaven concerning the Lamb of God, even the Saviour of the world, that spotless shall He be delivered up for transgressors, and sinless 186 shall He be put to death for ungodly men in the blood of the covenant, for the salvation 187 of the Gentiles and of Israel, and shall destroy Beliar, and them that serve him.

4.  Know ye, my children, the end of the good man?  Be followers of his compassion in a good mind, that ye also may wear crowns of glory.  The good man hath not a dark eye; for he showeth mercy to all men, even though they be sinners, even though they devise evil concerning him.  So he that doeth good overcometh the evil, being shielded by Him that is good; and he loveth the righteous as his own soul.  If any one is glorified, he envieth him not; if any one is enriched, he is not jealous; if any one is valiant, he praiseth him; he trusteth and laudeth him that is sober-minded; he showeth mercy to the poor; he is kindly disposed toward the weak; he singeth the praises of God; as for him who hath the fear of God, he protecteth him as with a shield; him that loveth God he aideth; him that rejecteth the Most High he admonisheth and turneth back; and him that hath the grace of a good spirit, he loveth even as his own soul.

5.  If ye have a good mind, my children, then will both wicked men be at peace with you, and the profligate will reverence you and turn unto good; and the covetous shall not only cease from their inordinate desire, but shall even give the fruits of their covetousness to them that are afflicted.  If ye do well, even the unclean spirits shall flee from you; yea, the very beasts shall flee from you in dread.  For where the reverence for good works is present unto the mind, darkness fleeth away from him.  For if any one is injurious to a holy man, he repenteth; for the holy man showeth pity on his reviler, and holdeth his peace.  And if any one betray a righteous soul, and the righteous man, though praying, be humbled for a little while, yet not long after he appeareth far more glorious, even as was Joseph my brother.

6.  The mind of the good man is not in the power of the deceit of the spirit of Beliar, for the angel of peace guideth his soul.  He gazeth not passionately on corruptible things, nor gathereth together riches unto desire of pleasure; he delighteth not in pleasure, he hurteth not his neighbour, he pampereth not himself with food, he erreth not in the pride of his eyes, for the Lord is his portion.  The good mind admitteth not the glory and dishonour of men, neither knoweth it any guile or lie, fighting or reviling; for the Lord dwelleth in him and lighteth up his soul, and he rejoiceth towards all men at every time.  The good mind hath not two tongues, of blessing and of cursing, of insult and of honour, of sorrow and of joy, of quietness and of trouble, of hypocrisy and of truth, of poverty and of wealth; but it hath one disposition, pure and uncorrupt, concerning all men.  It hath no double sight, 188 nor double hearing; for in everything which he doeth, or speaketh, or seeth, he knoweth that the Lord watcheth his soul, and he cleanseth his mind that he be not condemned by God and men.  But of Beliar every work is twofold, and hath no singleness.

p. 37 7.  Flee ye therefore, my children, the evil-doing of Beliar; for it giveth a sword to them that obeyeth, and the sword is the mother of seven evils.  First the mind conceiveth through Beliar, and first there is envy; secondly, desperation; thirdly, tribulation; fourthly, captivity; fifthly, neediness; sixthly, trouble; seventhly, desolation.  Therefore also Cain is delivered over to seven vengeances by God, for in every hundred years the Lord brought one plague upon him.  Two hundred years he suffered, and in the nine hundredth year he was brought to desolation at the flood, for Abel his righteous brother’s sake.  In seven 189 hundred years was Cain judged, and Lamech in seventy times seven; because for ever those who are likened unto Cain in envy unto hatred of brethren shall be judged with the same punishment.

8.  Do ye also therefore, my children, flee ill-doing, envy, and hatred of brethren, and cleave to goodness and love.  He that hath a pure mind in love, looketh not after a woman unto fornication; for he hath no defilement in his heart, because the Spirit of God resteth in him.  For as the sun is not defiled by shining over dung and mire, but rather drieth up both and driveth away the ill smell:  so also the pure mind, constrained among the defilements of the earth, rather edifieth, and itself suffereth no defilement.

9.  Now I suppose, from the words of the righteous Enoch, that there will be also evil-doings among you:  for ye will commit fornication with the fornication of Sodom, and shall perish all save a few, and will multiply inordinate lusts with women; and the kingdom of the Lord shall not be among you, for forthwith He will take it away.  Nevertheless the temple of God shall be built in your portion, and shall be glorious among you.  For He shall take it, and the twelve tribes shall be gathered together there, and all the Gentiles, until the Most High shall send forth His salvation in the visitation of His only-begotten one.  And He shall enter into the front 190 of the temple, and there shall the Lord be treated with outrage, and He shall be lifted up upon a tree.  And the veil of the temple shall be rent, and the Spirit of God shall descend upon the Gentiles as fire poured forth.  And He shall arise from the grave, and shall ascend from earth into heaven:  and I know how lowly He shall be upon the earth, and how glorious in the heaven.

10.  Now when Joseph was in Egypt, I longed to see his visage and the form of his countenance; and through the prayers of Jacob my father I saw him, while awake in the daytime, in his full and perfect shape.  Know ye therefore, my children, that I am dying.  Work therefore truth and righteousness each one with his neighbour, and judgment unto faithful doing, and keep the law of the Lord and His commandments; for these things do I teach you instead of all inheritance.  Do ye also therefore give them to your children for an everlasting possession; for so did both Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob.  All these things they gave us for an inheritance, saying, Keep the commandments of God until the Lord shall reveal His salvation to all nations.  Then shall ye see Enoch, Noah, and Shem, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, arising on the right hand in gladness.  Then shall we also arise, each one over our tribe, worshipping the King of heaven, who appeared upon the earth in the form of a man of humility.  And as many as believed on Him on the earth shall rejoice with Him; 191 and then shall all men arise, some unto glory and some unto shame.  And the Lord shall judge Israel first, even for the wrong they did unto Him; for when He appeared as a deliverer, God in the flesh, they believed Him not.  And then shall He judge all the Gentiles, as many as believed Him not when He appeared upon earth.  And He shall reprove Israel among the chosen ones of the Gentiles, even as He reproved Esau among the Midianites, who deceived their brethren, so that they fell into fornication and idolatry; and they were alienated from God, and became as they that were no children in the portion of them that fear the Lord.  But if ye walk in holiness in the presence of the Lord, ye shall dwell in hope again in me, and all Israel shall be gathered unto the Lord.

11.  And I shall no longer be called a ravening wolf 192 on account of your ravages, but a worker of the Lord, distributing food to them that work what is good.  And one 193 shall rise up from my seed in the latter times, beloved of the Lord, hearing upon the earth His voice, enlightening with new knowledge all the Gentiles, bursting in upon Israel for salvation with the light of knowledge, and tearing it away from it like a wolf, and giving it to the synagogue of the Gentiles.  And until the consummation of the ages shall he be in the synagogues of the Gentiles, and among their rulers, as a strain of music in the mouth of all; 194 and he shall be inscribed in the holy books, both his work and his word, and he shall be a chosen one of God for ever; and because of him my father Jacob instructed me, saying, He shall fill up that which lacketh of thy tribe.

p. 38 12.  And when he finished his words, he said:  I charge you, my children, carry up my bones out of Egypt, and bury me at Hebron, near my fathers.  So Benjamin died a hundred and twenty-five years old, in a good old age, and they placed him in a coffin.  And in the ninety-first year of the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt, they and their brethren brought up the bones of their fathers secretly in a place which is called Canaan; and they buried them in Hebron, by the feet of their fathers.  And they returned from the land of Canaan, and dwelt in Egypt until the day of their departing from the land of Egypt.




The ordinary theory as to the meaning of Benjamin is comparatively late, and seems doubtful.  The Targum Jerushalmi (on Gen. xxxv. 18), and the Breshith Rabba, § 82, make Benjamin and Benoni synonymous.  Cf. Josephus, Antiq., i. 21. 3; Cyril, Glaph. in Gen., lib. iv.  With the view mentioned in the text, cf. Arethas on Rev. vii. 8 (Cramer’s Catena, viii. 289).


This would seem to be the earliest instance of the application of the word ἀναμάρτητος to our Lord.


[How could any Christian more fully testify to the Nicene Faith?  So the Gloria in Excelsis.]


[Matt. 6:22, Luke 11:34.]


For ἑπτακοσίοις ἔτεσιν the Ox. ms. reads simply ἑπτά.


This would seem to be the meaning of πρῶτος ναός.


[Rev. 20:5, 6.  See p. 25, note 4, supra.]


Gen. xlix. 27.  This passage, referring to St. Paul (who was of the tribe of Benjamin, Rom. 11:1, Phil. 3:5), is quoted by Tertullian, Adversus Marcionem, v. 1.  [See vol. iii. p. 430, this series.]


Compare Scorpiace, cap. 13 [with reference to Gen. 25:34, Gen. 27:25, vol. iii. p. 646, this series.  Lardner adds Origen, Hom. in Ezech., iv. tom. iii. p. 731; Theodoret, in Gen. Quæst., cx. tom. i. p. 77; and Augustine, Serm., 279 (and passim), tom. v. ed. Benedict.].


[“Mel in ore, melos in aure, melodia in corde.”—St. Bernard.]

Next: Note by the American Editor.

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