Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs

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Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs

Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, an early Jewish work, with some Christian interpolations, reckoned among the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. The work may have been written as early as 1st cent. B.C. It purports to be the final sayings (“Testaments”) of the 12 patriarchs, i.e., the 12 sons of Jacob, to their respective families. They each reflect on the meaning of life and the sins which they have committed. Many of the Testaments espouse apocalyptic theology, teaching an ethical dualism similar to the Dead Sea Scrolls.


See J. H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Vol. I, 1983).

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This gives the writer occasion to remark that "for by what things a man transgresses, by the same he is also punished." (This application is actually found in the 'testament of Gad 5:10.) It was the pleasure accompanying the sex act that lured youthful Reuben into succumbing to the most, emphatic of the "seven spirits of Behar" (sexual wrongdoing, insatiate desire, fighting, flattery and trickery, arrogance, lying in destruction and jealousy, and unrighteousness) that lure humans to moral tumbles (378) to the point of lapsing into idolatry.
In The Testament of Gad we find that son admitting to his offspring his particularly vehement hatred of Joseph.