Testament of Issachar
The Testament of Issachar
Issachar was the fifth son of Leah, and ninth son of Jacob. When Jacob blessed his sons, Issachar was described as a beast of burden who would submit to forced labor.
Genesis 49:14-15 "Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between the sheepfolds. He saw that his resting place was good and that his land was pleasant, so he bent his shoulder to the burden and submitted to labor as a servant."
The name Issachar had two meanings: “man of hire” and “there is a reward”. He urged on the importance of keeping the simplicity of the heart.
The copy of the words of Issachar. For he called his sons and said to them: Hearken, my children, to Issachar your father; Give ear to the words of him who is beloved of the Lord.
I was born the fifth son to Jacob, by way of hire for the mandrakes.
For Reuben my brother brought in mandrakes from the field, and Rachel met him and took them.
And Reuben wept, and at his voice Leah my mother came forth.
Now these (mandrakes) were sweet-smelling apples which were produced in the land of Haran below a ravine of water.
And Rachel said: I will not give them to you, but they shall be to me instead of children. For the Lord has despised me, and I have not borne children to Jacob.
Now there were two apples; and Leah said, Let it suffice you that you have taken the husband of my virginity: will you also take these?
And Rachel said to her: Behold, you shall have Jacob this night for the mandrakes of you son.
And Leah said to her: Jacob is mine, for I am the wife of his youth.
But Rachel said: Boast not, and vaunt not yourself; for he espoused me before you, and for my sake he served our father fourteen years.
And had not craft and subtlety increased on the earth and the wickedness of men prospered, you would not now see the face of Jacob.
For you are not his wife, but in craft were taken to him in my stead
And my father deceived me, and removed me on that night, and did not suffer Jacob to see me; for had I been there, this would not have happened to him.
Nevertheless, for the mandrakes I am hiring Jacob to you for one night.
And Jacob knew Leah, and she conceived and bare me, and on account of the hire I was called Issachar.
Then appeared to Jacob an angel of the Lord, saying: Two children shall Rachel bear, inasmuch as she has refused company with her husband, and has chosen continency.
And had not Leah my mother paid the two apples for the sake of his company, she would have borne eight sons; for this reason she bare six, and Rachel bare the two: for on account of the mandrakes the Lord visited her.
For He knew that for the sake of children she wished to company with Jacob, and not for lust of pleasure.
For on the morrow also she again gave up Jacob.
Because of the mandrakes; therefore, the Lord hearkened to Rachel.
For though she desired them, she eat them not, but offered them in the house of the Lord, presenting them to the priest of the Most High who was at that time.
When, therefore, I grew up, my children, I walked in uprightness of heart, and I became a husbandman for my father and my brethren, and I brought in fruits from the field according to their season.
And my father blessed me, for he saw that I walked in rectitude before him.
And I was not a busybody in my doings, nor envious and malicious against my neighbour.
I never slandered any one, nor did I censure the life of any man, walking as I did in simplicity of the eye.
Therefore when I was thirty years old I took to myself a wife, for my labour wore away my strength, and I never thought upon pleasure with women; but through my labour my sleep sufficed me.
For on whatever I laboured I offered first to the Lord, by the hands of the priests, of all my produce and all first-fruits; then to my father, and then took for myself.
And the Lord increased ten thousandfold His benefits in my hands; and also Jacob, my father, knew that God aided my simplicity.
For on all the poor and oppressed I bestowed the good things of the earth in the simplicity of my heart.
And now, hearken to me, my children, And walk in simplicity of your heart, For I have seen in it all that is well-pleasing to the Lord.
The single-(minded) man covets not gold, He defauds not his neighbour, He longs not after manifold dainties, He delights not in varied apparel.
He does not desire to live a long life, but only waits for the will of God.
And the spirits of deceit have no power against him, For he looks not on the beauty of women, Lest he should pollute his mind with corruption.
There is no envy in his thoughts, no jealousy melts away his soul, nor does he brood over gain with insatiate desire.
For he walks in simplicity of soul, and beholds all things in uprightness of heart, not admitting in his eyes malice from the error of the world, lest he should see the perversion of any of the commandments of the Lord.
Keep, therefore, my children, the law of God, and get simplicity. And walk in guilelessness, not prying over-curiously into the commands of God and the business of your neighbour.
But love the Lord and your neighbour, have compassion on the poor and weak.
Bow down your back unto husbandry, and toil in labours in all manner of husbandry, Offering gifts to the Lord with thanksgiving.
For with the first-fruits of the earth will the Lord bless you, even as He blessed all the saints from Abel even until now.
For no other portion is given to you than of the fatness of the earth, whose fruits are raised by toil.
For our father Jacob blessed me with blessings of the earth and of first-fruits.
And Levi and Judah were glorified by the Lord even among the sons of Jacob;
for the Lord gave them an inheritance, and to Levi He gave the priesthood, and to Judah the kingdom.
And do ye therefore obey them, and walk in the simplicity of your father; for unto Gad has it been given to destroy the temptations that are coming upon Israel.
Know you therefore, my children, that in the last days, your sons will forsake simplicity, and will cleave unto insatiable desire. And leaving guilelessness will draw near to malice; and forsaking the commandments of the Lord, they will cleave unto Beliar.
And leaving husbandry, they will follow after their own wicked devices, and they shall be dispersed among the Gentiles, and shall serve their enemies.
And do you therefore command these things to your children, that if they sin they may the more quickly return to the Lord.
For He is merciful, and will deliver them, even to bring them back into their land.
Behold, therefore, as you see, I am a hundred and twenty-six years old and am not conscious of committing any sin.
Except my wife I have not known any woman. I never committed fornication in the haughtiness of my eyes.
I drank not wine, to be led astray thereby; I coveted not any desirable thing that was my neighbour's.
Guile arose not in my heart; a lie passed not through my lips.
if any man grieved, I wept with him, and I shared my bread with the poor. I wrought godliness, all my days I kept truth I loved the Lord; I wrought godliness and truth.
I loved the Lord with all my strength; likewise also did I loved every man even as my own children. So do you also these things, my children,
And every spirit of Beliar shall flee from you, and no deed of wicked men shall rule over you; and every wild beast shall you subdue, Since you have with you the God of heaven and earth (And) walk with men in simplicity of heart.
And having said these things, he commanded his sons that they should carry him up to Hebron, and bury him there in the cave with his fathers.
And he stretched out his feet and died, at a good old age; with every limb sound, and with strength unabated, he slept the eternal sleep.
To God be the glory. Amen!