The Testament of Reuben

the firstborn son of Jacob and Leah

Chapter 1

1:1 “A copy of the testament of Reuben: the things which he commanded to his sons before he died in the one hundred twenty-fifth year of his life.”
1:2 “Two years after the death of Joseph, his brother Reuben became sick and there gathered to watch over him his sons and his son’s sons.”
1:3 “And he said to them, My children, behold I am dying, and I am going the way of my fathers.”
1:4 “When he saw Judah and Gad and Asher his brothers there he said to them, Raise me up so that I can tell my brothers and my children the things that I have hidden in my heart, for behold I am departing from you now.”
1:5 “And when he was raised up he kissed them and said to them, Listen, my brothers and my sons; give heed to the things which I, Reuben, your father, command you.”
1:6 “See here, I call the God of heaven to bear witness to you this day, so that you will not behave yourselves in the ignorant ways of youth and sexual promiscuity in which I indulged myself and defiled the marriage bed of my father, Jacob.”
1:7 “But I tell you he struck me with a severe wound in my loins for seven months, and if my father, Jacob, had not prayed to the Lord in my behalf, the Lord would have destroyed me.”
1:8 “For I was thirty years old when I committed this evil deed in the sight of the Lord, and for seven months I was an invalid on the brink of death.”
1:9 “And after this, with determination of soul, for seven years I repented before the Lord;”
1:10 “I did not drink wine or liquor; meat did not enter my mouth, and I did not eat any pleasurable food. Rather, I was mourning over my sin, since it was so great. Never had anything like it been done in Israel.”

Chapter 2

2:1 “And now give heed to me, my children, concerning the things which I saw during my time of penitence, concerning the seven spirits of deceit.”
2:2 “For seven spirits are established against mankind, and they are the sources of the deeds of youth.”
2:3 “And seven other spirits are given to man at creation so that by them every human deed is done.”
2:4 “First is the spirit of life, with which man is created as a composite being. The second is the spirit of seeing, with which comes desire.”
2:5 “The third is the spirit of hearing, with which comes instruction. The fourth is the spirit of smell, with which is given taste for the drawing air and breath.”
2:6 “The fifth is the spirit of speech, with which comes knowledge.”
2:7 “The sixth is the spirit of taste for consuming food and drink; by it comes strength, because in food is the substance of strength.”
2:8 “The seventh is the spirit of procreation and intercourse, with which come sins through fondness for pleasure.”
2:9 “For this reason, it was the last in the creation and the first in youth, because it is filled with ignorance; it leads the young like a blind man into a ditch and like an animal over a cliff.”

Chapter 3

3:1 “In addition to all is an eighth spirit: sleep, with which is created the ecstasy of nature and the image of death.”
3:2 “With these are commingled the spirits of error.”
3:3 “First, the spirit of promiscuity resides in the nature and the senses.”
3:4 “A second spirit of insatiability, in the stomach; a third spirit of strife, in the liver and the gall; a fourth spirit of flattery and trickery, in order that through excessive effort one might appear to be at the height of his powers;”
3:5 “A fifth spirit of arrogance, that one might be boastful and haughty; a sixth spirit of lying, which through destructiveness and rivalry, handles his affairs smoothly and secretively even with his relatives and his household.”
3:6 “A seventh spirit of injustice, with which are thefts and crooked dealings, in order that one might gain his heart’s desire. For injustice works together with the other spirits through acceptance of bribes.”
3:8 “And thus every young man is destroyed, darkening his mind from the truth, neither gaining understanding in the Law of God nor heeding the advice of his fathers – just this was my plight in my youth.”
3:9 “And now, my children, love truth and she will preserve you. Give heed to the words of Reuben, your father.”
3:10 “Do not devote your attention to a woman’s looks, nor live with a woman who is already married, nor become involved in affairs with women.”
3:11 “For if I had not seen Bilhah bathing in a sheltered place, I would not have fallen into this great lawless act.”
3:12 “For so absorbed were my senses by her naked femininity that I was not able to sleep until I had performed this revolting act.”
3:13 “While our father, Jacob, had gone off to visit his father, Isaac, and we were at Gader near Ephratha in Bethlehem, Bilhah became drunk and was sound asleep, naked in her bedchamber.”
3:14 “So when I came in and saw her nakedness, I performed the impious deed without her being aware of it. Leaving her sleeping soundly, I went out.”
3:15 “And immediately a messenger from God revealed it to my father. He came and made lamentation over me, and never again touched her.”

Chapter 4

4:1 “Do not devote your attention to the beauty of women, my children, nor occupy your minds with their activities. But live in integrity of heart in the fear/reverence of the Lord, and weary yourself in good deeds, in learning, and in tending your flocks, until the Lord gives you the mate whom he wills, so that you do not suffer, as I did.”
4:2 “For until my father’s death I never had the courage to look him in the face or speak to any of my brothers because of my disgraceful act.”
4:3 “Even until now my conscience harasses me because of my impious act.”
4:4 “And yet my father consoled me greatly and prayed to the Lord in my behalf so that the Lord’s anger would pass me by – which is just how the Lord treated me. From that time until now I have kept a careful watch and have not sinned.”
4:5 “So then, my children, observe all the things that I command you, and do not sin,”
4:6 “For the sin of promiscuity is the pitfall of life, separating man from God and leading on toward idolatry, because it is the deceiver of the mind and the perceptions, and leads youths down to hell before their time.”
4:7 “For promiscuity has destroyed many. Whether a man is old, well born, rich, or poor, he brings on himself disgrace among mankind and provides Beliar/Satan with an opportunity to cause him to stumble.”
4:8 “You heard how Joseph protected himself from a woman and purified his mind from all promiscuity;”
4:9 “He found favor before God and men. For the Egyptian woman did many things to him, summoned magicians, and brought potions for him, but his soul’s deliberation rejected evil desire.”
4:10 “For this reason the God of our fathers rescued him from every visible or hidden death.”
4:11 “For if promiscuity does not triumph over your reason, then neither can Beliar/Satan conquer you.”

Chapter 5

5:1 “For women are evil, my children, and by reason of their lacking authority or power over man, they scheme treacherously how they might entice him to themselves by means of their looks.”
5:2 “And whomever they cannot enchant by their appearance they conquer by a stratagem.”
5:3 “Indeed, the angel of the Lord told me and instructed me that women are more easily overcome by the spirit of promiscuity than are men. They contrive in their hearts against men, then by decking themselves out they lead men’s minds astray, by a look they implant their poison, and finally in the act itself they take them captive.”
5:4 “For a woman is not able to coerce a man overtly, but by a harlot’s manner she accomplishes her villainy.”
5:5 “Accordingly, my children, flee from sexual promiscuity, and order your wives and your daughters not to adorn their heads and their appearances so as to deceive men’s sound minds. For every woman who schemes in these ways is destined for eternal punishment.”
5:6 “For it was thus that they charmed the Watchers, who were before the Flood. As they continued looking at the women, they were filled with desire for them and perpetrated the act in their minds. Then they were transformed into human males, and while the women were cohabiting with their husbands they appeared to them. Since the women’s minds were filled with lust for these apparitions, they gave birth to giants. For the Watchers were disclosed to them as being as high as the heavens.”

Chapter 6

6:1 “So guard yourself against sexual promiscuity, and if you want to remain pure in your mind, protect your senses from women.”
6:2 “And tell them not to consort with men, so that they too might be pure in their minds.”
6:3 “For even recurrent chance meetings – although the impious act itself is not committed – are for these women an incurable disease, but for us they are the plague of Beliar/Satan and an eternal disgrace.”
6:4 “Because in sexual promiscuity there is a place for neither understanding nor piety, and every passion dwells in its desire.”
6:5 “For this reason, I say to you, you will vie with the sons of Levi and will seek to be exalted above them, but you will not be able.”
6:6 “For God will perform vengeance in their behalf, and you will die an evil death,”
6:7 “Since God gave Levi the authority, and to Judah with him, [as well as to me and to Dan and to Joseph] to be rulers.”
6:8 “It is for this reason that I command you to give heed to Levi, because he will know the law of God and will give instructions concerning justice and concerning sacrifice for Israel until the consummation of times; he is the anointed priest of whom the Lord spoke.”
6:9 “I call to witness the God of heaven that you do the truth, each to his neighbor, and that you show love, each to his brother.”
6:10 “Draw near to Levi in humility of your hearts in order that you may receive blessing from his mouth.”
6:11 “For he will bless Israel and Judah, since it is through him that the Lord has chosen to reign in the presence of all the people.”
6:12 “Prostrate yourselves before his posterity, because (his offspring) will die in your behalf in wars visible and invisible. And he shall be among you an eternal king.”

Chapter 7

7:1 “And Reuben died, having spoken these commandments to his sons.”
7:2 “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.”

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