The Testament of Asher

the tenth son of Jacob and Zilpah

Chapter 1

1:1 “A copy of the testament of Asher, the things he spoke to his sons in the one hundred twenty-fifth year of his life.”
1:2 “While he was still healthy he said to them, Listen, children of Asher, to your father, and I will show you everything that is right in the sight of God.”
1:3 “God has granted two ways to the sons of men, two mind-sets, two lines of action, two models, and two goals.”
1:4 “Accordingly, everything is in pairs, the one over against the other.”
1:5 “The two ways are good and evil; concerning them are two dispositions within our breasts that choose between them.”
1:6 “If the soul wants to follow the good way, all of its deeds are done in righteousness and every sin is immediately repented.”
1:7 “Contemplating just deeds and rejecting wickedness, the soul overcomes evil and uproots sin.”
1:8 “But if the mind is disposed toward evil, all of its deeds are wicked; driving out the good, it accepts the evil and is overmastered by Beliar/Satan, who,”
1:9 “Even when good is undertaken, presses the struggle so as to make the aim of his action into evil, since the devil’s storehouse is filled with the vermin of the evil spirit.”

Chapter 2

2:1 “The soul, they say, may in words express good for the sake of evil, but the outcome of the action leads to evil.”
2:2 “There is a man who has no mercy on the one who serves him in performing an evil deed; there are two aspects of this, but the whole is wicked.”
2:3 “And there is a man who loves the one who does the evil, as he is himself involved in evil, so that he would choose to die in evil for the evildoer’s sake. There are also two aspects of this, but the whole situation is evil.”
2:4 “Although indeed love is there, yet in wickedness is evil concealed; in name it is as though it were good, but the outcome of the act is to bring evil.”
2:5 “Someone steals, deals unjustly, robs, cheats, but yet has pity on the poor. This also has two aspects, but is evil as a whole.”
2:6 “He who cheats his neighbor provokes God’s wrath; he who serves falsely before the Most High, and yet has mercy on the poor, disregards the Lord who uttered the Law’s commands; he provokes him, and yet he alleviates the plight of the poor day laborer.”
2:7 “He defiles the soul and takes pride in his own body; he kills many, yet has pity on a few. This also has two aspects, but is evil as a whole.”
2:8 “Someone else commits adultery and is sexually promiscuous, yet is abstemious/moderate in his eating. While fasting, he is committing evil deeds. Through the power of his wealth he ravages many, and yet in spite of his excessive evil, he performs the commandments.”
2:9 “This also has two aspects, but is evil as a whole. Such persons are hares, because although they are halfway clean, in truth they are unclean,”
2:10 “For this is what God has said on the tables of the commandments.”

Chapter 3

3:1 “But you, my children, do not be two-faced like them, one good and the other evil; rather, cling only to goodness, because in it the Lord God is at rest, and men aspire to it.”
3:2 “Flee from the evil tendency, destroying the devil by your good works. For those who are two-faced are not of God, but they are enslaved to their evil spirits, so that they might be pleasing to Beliar/Satan and to persons like themselves.”

Chapter 4

4:1 “For persons who are good, who are single-minded – even though they are considered by the two-faced to be sinners – are righteous before God.”
4:2 “For many who destroy the wicked perform two works – good and evil – but it is good as a whole, because evil is uprooted and destroyed.”
4:3 “One person hates the man who, though merciful, is also unjust, or who is an adulterer, even though he fasts, and thus is two-faced. But his work is good as a whole, because he imitates the Lord, not accepting the seeming good as though it were the truly good.”
4:4 “Another person does not want to see any pleasant days among the convivial, lest they disgrace the body and pollute the soul. This also has two aspects, but is good on the whole.”
4:5 “For such persons are like gazelles and stags: In appearance they seem wild and unclean, but as a whole they are clean. They live by zeal for the Lord, abstaining from what God hates and has forbidden through his commandments, staving off evil by the good.”

Chapter 5

5:1 “Children, you see how in everything there are two factors, one against the other, one concealed by the other: In possessions is greed, in merriment is drunkenness, in laughter is lamentation, in marriage is dissoluteness.”
5:2 “Death is successor to life, dishonor to glory, night to day, darkness to light, but all these things lead ultimately to day: righteous actions to life, unjust actions to death, since eternal life wards off death.”
5:3 “One cannot say truth is a lie, nor a righteous act is unjust, because all truth is subject ultimately to the light, just as all things are subject ultimately to God.”
5:4 “I have demonstrated all these things in my life, and have not strayed from the Lord’s truth. I have searched out the commandments of the Most High and lived them according to all my strength.”

Chapter 6

6:1 “You also, my children, give attention to the Lord’s command, pursuing the truth with singleness of mind.”
6:2 “The two-faced are doubly punished because they both practice evil and approve of others who practice it; they imitate the spirits of error and join in the struggle against mankind.”
6:3 “You therefore, my children, keep the Law of the Lord; do not pay attention to evil as to good, but have regard for what is really good and keep it thoroughly in all the Lord’s commandments, taking it as your way of life and finding rest in it.”
6:4 “For the ultimate end of human beings displays their righteousness, since they are made known to the angels of the Lord and of Beliar/Satan.”
6:5 “For when the evil soul departs, it is harassed by the evil spirit which it served through its desires and evil works. But if anyone is peaceful with joy he comes to know the angel of peace and enters eternal life.”

Chapter 7

7:1 “Do not become like Sodom, which did not recognize the Lord’s angels and perished forever.”
7:2 “For I know that you will sin and be delivered into the hands of your enemies; your land shall be made desolate and your sanctuary wholly polluted.”
7:3 “You will be scattered to the four corners of the earth; in the dispersion you shall be regarded as worthless, like useless water, until such time as the Most High visits the earth. [He shall come as a man eating and drinking with human beings,] crushing the dragon’s head in the water. He will save Israel and all the nations, [God speaking like a man.]”
7:4 “Tell these things, my children, to your children, so that they will not disobey him.”
7:5 “For I know that you will be thoroughly disobedient, that you will be thoroughly irreligious, heeding not God’s Law but human commandments, being corrupted by evil.”
7:6 “For this reason, you will be scattered like Dan and Gad, my brothers, you shall not know your own lands, tribe, or language.”
7:7 “But he will gather you in faith/truth through his compassion and on account of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Chapter 8

8:1 “After he had said these things he gave instructions, saying, Bury me in Hebron. And he died, having fallen into a beautiful sleep.”
8:2 “And his sons did as he commanded them: They took him up to Hebron and buried him with his fathers.”

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