Testament of Joseph
Testament of Joseph
Joseph is the eleventh son of Jacob and the first child of Rachel. He was the most beloved of Jacob’s sons, and hated by his envious brothers. Furious that Joseph revealed their evil deeds to their father,
Genesis 37:2 "and he brought their father a bad report about them."
irritated by Joseph’s dreams where he would see his brothers prostrate themselves before him, and jealous of the resplendent "coat of many colors" that Jacob offered to Joseph; his brothers seized him and sold him to a group of Ishmaelites, or Midianites, who transported him to Egypt. There Joseph eventually won the favor of Pharaoh of Egypt by his interpretation of a dream and obtained an elevated place in the kingdom of Pharaoh.
The copy of the Testament of Joseph. When he was about to die he called his sons and his brethren together, and said to them:--
My brethren and my children, Hearken to Joseph the beloved of Israel; Give ear, my sons, unto your father.
I have seen in my life envy and death, Yet I went not astray, but persevered in the truth of the Lord.
These my brethren hated me, but the Lord loved me. They wished to slay me, but the God of my fathers guarded me:
They let me down into a pit, and the Most High brought me up again. I was sold into slavery, and the Lord of all made me free. I was taken into captivity, and His strong hand succoured me. I was kept in hunger, and the Lord Himself nourished me.
I was alone, and God comforted me. I was sick, and the Lord visited me. I was in prison, and my God showed favour unto me;
In bonds, and He released me; Slandered, and He pleaded my cause. Bitterly spoken against by the Egyptians, and He delivered me. Envied by my fellow-slaves, and He exalted me.
And this chief captain of Pharaoh entrusted to me his house. And I struggled against a shameless woman, urging me to fornicate with her; but the God of Israel my father delivered me from the burning flame.
I was cast into prison, I was beaten, I was mocked; but the Lord granted me to find mercy in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
For the Lord does not forsake them that fear Him, neither in darkness, nor in bonds, nor in tribulations, nor in necessities.
For God is not put to shame as a man, Nor as the son of man is he afraid, nor as one that is earth-born is He weak, or can He be thrust aside.
But in all those things He does give protection, and in various ways He does comfort, (Though) for a little time He departs to try the inclination of the soul.
In ten temptations He showed me approved, and in all of them I endured;
For endurance is a mighty charm, and patience gives many good things.
How often did the Egyptian woman threaten me with death! How often did she give me over to punishment,
and then call me back and threaten me, and when I was unwilling to company with her, she said to me: you shall be lord of me, and all that is in my house, if you will give yourself unto me, and you shall be as our master.
But I remembered the words of my father, and going into my chamber, I wept and prayed unto the Lord.
And I fasted in those seven years, and I appeared to the Egyptians as one living delicately, for they that fast for God's sake receive beauty of face.
And if my lord were away from home, I drank no wine; nor for three days did I take my food, but I gave it to the poor and sick.
And I sought the Lord early, and I wept for the Egyptian woman of Memphis, for very unceasingly did she trouble me, for also at night she came to me under pretence of visiting me.
But because she had no male child she pretended to regard me as a son, and so I prayed to the Lord, and she bare a male child.
For a time she embraced me as a son, and I knew it not; but later, she sought to draw me into fornication.
And when I perceived it I sorrowed unto death; and when she had gone out, I came to myself, and lamented for her many days, because I recognized her guile and her deceit.
And I declared unto her the words of the Most High, if haply she would turn from her evil lust.
Often, therefore, did she flatter me with words as a holy man, and guilefully in her talk praise my chastity before her husband, while desiring to ensnare me when we were alone.
For she lauded me openly as chaste, and in secret she said unto me: Fear not my husband; for he is persuaded concerning your chastity, for even should one tell him concerning us, he would not believe.
Owing to all these things I lay upon the ground, and besought God that the Lord would deliver me from her deceit.
And when she had prevailed nothing thereby, she came again to me under the plea of instruction, that she might learn the word of God.
And she said unto me: If you will that I should leave my idols, sleep with me, and I will persuade my husband to depart from his idols, and we will walk in the law of your Lord.
And I said unto her: The Lord wills not that those who reverence Him should be in uncleanness, nor does He take pleasure in them that commit adultery, but in those that approach Him with a pure heart and undefiled lips. But she held her peace, longing to accomplish her evil desire.
And I gave myself yet more to fasting and prayer, that the Lord might deliver me from her.
And again, at another time she said unto me: If you will not commit adultery, I will kill my husband by poison; and take you to be my husband.
I therefore, when I heard this, rent my garments, and said unto her: Woman, reverence God, and do not this evil deed, lest you be destroyed; for know indeed that I will declare your ungodly thought unto all men.
She therefore, being afraid, besought that I would declare to no one her wickedness.
And she departed soothing me with gifts, and sending to me every delight of the sons of men.
And afterwards she sent me food mingled with enchantments.
And when the eunuch who brought it came, I looked up and beheld a terrible man giving me with the dish a sword, and I perceived that (her) scheme was to beguile me.
And when he had gone out I wept, nor did I taste that or any other of her food.
So then after one day she came to me and observed the food, and said unto me: Why is it that you have not eaten of the food?
And I said unto her: It is because you have filled it with deadly enchantments; and how did you say: I come not near to idols, but to the Lord alone.
Now therefore know that the God of my father has revealed unto me by His angel your wickedness, and and I have kept it to convict you, if haply you may see it and repent.
But that you may learn that the wickedness of the ungodly has no power over them that worship God with chastity, behold I will take of it and eat before you. And having so said, I prayed thus: The God of my fathers and the angel of Abraham, be with me; and ate.
And when she saw this she fell upon her face at my feet, weeping; and I raised her up and admonished her.
And she promised to do this iniquity no more.
But her heart was still set upon evil, and she looked around how to ensnare me,
And sighing deeply she became downcast, though she was not sick. And when her husband saw her, he said unto her: Why is your countenance fallen? And she said unto him: I have a pain at my heart, and the groanings of my spirit oppress me; and so he comforted her who was not sick.
Then, accordingly seizing an opportunity, she rushed unto me while her husband was yet without, and said unto me:
I will hang myself, or cast myself over a cliff, if you will not sleep with me.
And when I saw the spirit of Beliar was troubling her, I prayed unto the Lord, and said unto her:
Why, wretched woman, are you troubled and disturbed, blinded through, sins? Remember that if you kill yourself, Asteho, the concubine of your husband, your rival, will beat your children, and your will destroy your memorial from off the earth.
And she said unto me: Lo, then you love me! Let this suffice me, this alone is sufficient for me, that you care for my life and my children, and I have expectation that I shall enjoy my desire also.
But she knew not that because of my lord I spake thus, and not because of her.
For if a man has fallen before the passion of a wicked desire and become enslaved by it, even as she was, whatever good thing he may hear with regard to that passion, he receives it with a view to his wicked desire.
I declare, therefore, unto you, my children, that it was about the sixth hour when she departed from me; and I knelt before the Lord all day, and all the night; and about dawn I rose up, weeping the while and praying for a release from her.
At last, then, she laid hold of my garments, forcibly dragging me to have connexion with her.
When, therefore, I saw that in her madness she was holding fast to my garment, I left it behind, and fled away naked.
And holding fast to the garment she falsely accused me, and when her husband came he cast me into prison in his house; and on the morrow he scourged me and sent me into Pharaoh's prison.
And when I was in bonds, the Egyptian woman was oppressed with grief, and she came and heard how I gave thanks unto the Lord and sang praises in the abode of darkness, and with glad voice rejoiced, glorifying my God that I was delivered from the lustful desire of the Egyptian woman.
And often has she sent unto me saying: Consent to fulfill my desire, and I will release you from your bonds, and I will free you from the darkness.
And not even in thought did I incline unto her. For God loves him who in a den of wickedness combines fasting with chastity, rather than the man who in kings' chambers combines luxury with licence.
And if a man lives in chastity, and desires also glory, and the Most High knows that it is expedient for him, He bestows this also upon me.
How often, though she were sick, did she come down to me at unlooked for times, and listened to my voice as I prayed! And when I heard her groanings I held my peace.
For when I was in her house she was wont to bare her arms, and breasts, and legs, that I might sleep with her; for she was very beautiful, splendidly adorned in order to beguile me. And the Lord guarded me from her devices.
You see, therefore, my children, how great things patience works, and prayer with fasting.
So you too, if you follow after chastity and purity with patience and prayer, with fasting in humility of heart, the Lord will dwell among you, because He loves chastity.
And wheresoever the Most High dwells, even though a man fall into envy, or slavery, or slander, the Lord who dwells in him, for the sake of his chastity not only delivers him from evil, but also exalts him even as me.
For in every way the man is lifted up, whether in deed, or in word, or in thought.
My brethren knew how my father loved me, and yet I did not exalt myself in my mind: although I was a child, I had the fear of God in my heart; for I knew that all things would pass away.
And I did not raise myself (against them) with evil intent, but I honoured my brethren; and out of respect for them, even when I was being sold, I refrained from telling the Ishmaelites that I was a son of Jacob, a great man and a mighty.
Do you also, my children, have the fear of God in all your works before your eyes, and honour your brethren. For every one who does the law of the Lord shall be loved by Him.
And when I came to the Indocolpitae with the Ishmaelites, they asked me, saying: Are you a slave? And I said that I was a home-born slave, that I might not put my brethren to shame.
And the eldest of them said unto me: You are not a slave, for even your appearance does make it manifest. But I said that I was their slave.
Now when we came into Egypt they strove concerning me, which of them should buy me and take me.
Therefore it seemed good to all that I should remain in Egypt with the merchant of their trade, until they should return bringing merchandise.
And the Lord gave me favour in the eyes of the merchant, and he entrusted unto me his house.
And God blessed him by my means, and increased him in gold and silver and in household servants.
And I was with him three months and five days.
And about that time the Memphian woman, the wife of Potiphar, came down in a chariot, with great pomp, because she had heard from her eunuchs concerning me.
And she told her husband that the merchant had become rich by means of a young Hebrew, and they say that he had assuredly been stolen out of the land of Canaan.
Now, therefore, render justice unto him, and take away the youth to your house; so shall the God of the Hebrews bless you, for grace from heaven is upon him.
And Potiphar was persuaded by her words, and commanded the merchant to be brought, and said unto him: What is this that I hear concerning you, that you steal people out of the land of Canaan, and sell them for slaves?
But the merchant fell at his feet, and besought him, saying: I beseech you, my lord, I know not what you say.
And Potiphar said unto him: Whence, then, is the Hebrew slave? And he said: The Ishmaelites entrusted him unto me until they should return.
But he believed him not, but commanded him to be stripped and beaten. And when he persisted in this statement, Potiphar said: Let the youth be brought.
And when I was brought in, I did obeisance to Potiphar (for he was third in rank of the officers of Pharaoh).
And he took me apart from him, and said unto me: Are you a slave or free? And I said: A slave.
And he said: Whose? And I said: The Ishmaelites.
And he said: How did you become their slave? And I said: They bought me out of the land of Canaan.
And he said unto me: Truly you lied; and straightway he commanded me to be stripped and beaten.
Now the Memphian woman was looking at me through a window while I was being beaten, for her house was near, and she sent unto him saying: Your judgement is unjust; for you do punish a free man who has been stolen, as though he was a transgressor.
And when I made no change in my statement, though I was beaten, he ordered me to be imprisoned, until, he said, the owners of the boy should come.
And the woman said unto her husband: Wherefore do you detain in captivity this noble child, who ought rather to be set at liberty, and wait upon you?
For she wished to see me in desire of sin, but I was ignorant concerning all these things.
And he said to her: It is not the custom of the Egyptians to take that which belongs to others before proof is given.
This, therefore, he said concerning the merchant; but as for the lad, he must be imprisoned.
Now after twenty four days the Ishmaelites came; for they had heard that Jacob my father was mourning much concerning me.
And they came and said unto me: How is it that you said that you are a slave? and lo, we have learned that you are the son of a mighty man in the land of Canaan, and your father still mourns for you in sackcloth and ashes.
When I heard this my bowels were dissolved and my heart melted, and I desired greatly to weep, but I restrained myself, that I should not put my brethren to shame. And I said unto them, I know not, I am a slave.
Then, therefore, they took counsel to sell me, that I should not be found in their hands.
For they feared my father, lest he [should come and] execute upon them a grievous vengeance. For they had heard that he was mighty with God and with men.
Then said the merchant unto them: Release me from the judgement of Potiphar.
And they came and requested me, saying: Say that you were bought by us with money, and he will set us free.
Now the Memphian woman said to her husband: Buy the youth; for I hear, said she, that they are selling him.
And straightway she sent a eunuch to the Ishmaelites, and asked them to sell me.
But since the eunuch would not agree to buy me (at their price) he returned, having made trial of them, and he made known to his mistress that they asked a large price for their slave.
And she sent another eunuch, saying: Even though they demand two minas, give them, do not spare the gold; only buy the boy, and bring him to me.
The eunuch therefore went and gave them eighty pieces of gold, and he received me; but to the Egyptian woman he said: I have given a hundred.
And though I knew (this) I held my peace, lest the eunuch should be put to shame.
You see, therefore, my children, what great things I endured that I should not put my brethren to shame.
Do you also, therefore love one another, and with long-suffering hide one another's faults.
For God delighs in the unity of brethren, and in the purpose of a heart that takes pleasure in love.
And when my brethren came into Egypt they learned that I had returned their money unto them, and upbraided them not, and comforted them.
And after the death of Jacob my father I loved them more abundantly, and all things whatsoever he commanded I did very abundantly for them,
For I allowed them not to be afflicted even unto the smallest matter.
And all that was in my hand I gave unto them. And their children were my children, and my children as their servants; and their life was my life, and all their suffering was my suffering, and all their sickness was my infirmity. My land was their land, and their counsel my counsel.
And I exalted not myself among them in arrogance because of my worldly glory, but I was among them as one of the least.
If you also, therefore, walk in the commandments of the Lord, my children, He will exalt you there, and will bless you with good things for ever and ever.
And if any one seeks to do evil unto you, do well unto him, and pray for him, and you shall be redeemed of the Lord from all evil.
[For], behold, you see that out of my humility and long -suffering I took unto wife the daughter of the priest of Heliopolis. And a hundred talents of gold were given me with her, and the Lord made them to serve me.
And He gave me also beauty as a flower beyond the beautiful ones of Israel; and He preserved me unto old age in strength and in beauty, because I was like in all things to Jacob.
Hear also, my children, the visions which I saw.
I saw twelve harts feeding. And nine of them were dispersed.
Now the other three were preserved, but on the following day they also were dispersed. And I saw that the three harts became three lambs, and they cried to the Lord, and He brought them forth into a flourishing and well watered place, yea He brought them out of darkness into light.
And there they cried unto the Lord until there gathered together unto them the nine harts, and they became as twelve sheep, and after a little time they increased and became many flocks.
And after these things I saw and behold, twelve bulls were sucking one cow, which produced a sea of milk, and there drank thereof the twelve flocks and innumerable herds.
And the horns of the fourth bull went up unto heaven and became as a wall for the flocks, and in the midst of the two horns there grew another horn.
And I saw a bull calf which surrounded them twelve times, and it became a help to the bulls wholly.
And I saw in the midst of the horns a virgin [wearing a many-coloured garment, and from her] went forth a lamb; and on his right (was as it were a lion; and) all the beasts and all the reptiles rushed (against him), and the lamb over came them and destroyed them. And the bulls rejoiced because of him, and the cow [and the harts] exulted together with them. And these things must come to pass in their season.
Do you therefore, my children, observe the commandments of the Lord, and honour Levi and Judah; for from them shall arise unto you [the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world] one who saveth [all the Gentiles and] Israel.
For His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, which shall not pass away;
but my kingdom among you shall come to an end as a watcher's hammock, which after the summer disappeareth.
Or I know that after my death the Egyptians will afflict you, but God will avenge you, and will bring you into that which He promised to your fathers.
But you shall carry up my bones with you; for when my bones are being taken up thither, the Lord shall be with you in light, and Beliar shall be in darkness with the Egyptians.
And carry up Asenath your mother to the Hippodrome, and near Rachel your mother bury her.
And when he had said these things he stretched out his feet, and died at a good old age.
And all Israel mourned for him, and all Egypt, with a great mourning.
And when the children of Israel went out of Egypt, they took with them the bones of Joseph, and they buried him in Hebron with his fathers, and the years of his life were one hundred and ten years.
To God be the glory. Amen!