Testament of Reuben
The Testament of Reuben
Ruben, the firstborn of Jacob and Leah. His father reproached him for "going up his couch" by sleeping with Bilhah, Jacob’s concubine, and cursed him with the words "paḥaz kamayim al totar", conventionally translated "unstable as water cannot be preeminent."
Genesis 49:4 "Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence,
because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it—he went up to my couch!"
By this curse, Reuben lost his first-born status, and the birthright of Reuben was given to Joseph. During the period of conquest and occupation, the tribe of Reuben lost hegemony to the tribe of Joseph.
1 Chronicles 5:1 "The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father's marriage bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel; so he could not be listed in the genealogical record in accordance with his birthright."
He is the experienced man who advised against fornication and indicated the means by which men are most likely to fall into error.
The copy of the Testament of Reuben, what things he charged his sons before he died in the hundred and twenty-fifth year of his life.
When he was sick two years after the death of Joseph, his sons and his sons' sons were gathered together to visit him.
And he said to them, My children, I am dying, and go the way of my fathers.
And when he saw there Judah and Gad and Asher, his brethren, he said to them, Raise me up, my brethren, that I may tell to my brethren and to my children what things I have hidden in my heart, for from henceforth my strength fails me.
And he arose and kissed them, and said, weeping: Hear, my brethren, give ear to Reuben your father, what things I command you.
And, behold, I call to witness against you this day the God of heaven, that you walk not in the ignorance of youth and fornication wherein I ran greedily, and I defiled the bed of Jacob my father.
For I tell you that He smote me with a sore plague in my loins for seven months; and had not Jacob our father prayed for me to the Lord, surely the Lord would have destroyed me.
For I was thirty years old when I did this evil in the sight of the Lord, and for seven months I was sick even unto death;
and I repented for seven years in the set purpose of my soul before the Lord. Wine and strong drink I drank not, and flesh entered not into my mouth, and I tasted not pleasant food, mourning over my sin, for it was great. And it shall not so be done in Israel.
And now hear me, my children, what things I saw in my repentance concerning the seven spirits of error.
Seven spirits are given against man from Beliar, and they are chief of the works of youth;
and seven spirits are given to him at his creation, that in them should be done every work of man.
The first spirit is of life, with which man's whole being is created. The second spirit is of sight, with which arises desire.
The third spirit is of hearing, with which comes teaching. The fourth spirit is of smelling, with which taste is given to draw air and breath.
The fifth spirit is of speech, with which comes knowledge.
The sixth spirit is of taste, with which comes the eating of meats and drinks; and by them strength is produced, for in food is the foundation of strength.
The seventh spirit is of begetting and sexual intercourse, with which through love of pleasure sin also enters in:
wherefore it is the last in order of creation, and the first of youth, because it is filled with ignorance, which leads the young as a blind man to a pit, and as cattle to a precipice.
Besides all these, there is an eighth (8) spirit of sleep, with which is created entrancement of man's nature, and the image of death.
With these spirits are mingled the spirits of error.
The first, the spirit of fornication, dwells in the nature and in the senses; the second spirit of insatiateness in the belly; the third spirit of fighting in the liver and the gall.
The fourth is the spirit of fawning and trickery, that through over-officiousness a man may be fair in seeming.
The fifth is the spirit of arrogance, that a man may be stirred up and become high-minded. The sixth (6) is the spirit of lying, in perdition and in jealousy to feign words, and to conceal words from kindred and friends.
The seventh is the spirit of injustice, with which are theft and pilferings, that a man may work the desire of his heart; for injustice works together with the other spirits by means of craft.
Besides all these, the spirit of sleep, the eighth spirit, is conjoined with error and fantasy.
And so perishes every young man, darkening his mind from the truth, and not understanding the law of God, nor obeying the admonitions of his fathers, as befell me also in my youth.
And now, children, love the truth, and it shall preserve you. I counsel you, hear Reuben your father.
Pay no heed to the sight of a woman, nor yet associate privately with a female under the authority of a husband, nor meddle with affairs of womankind.
For had I not seen Bilhah bathing in a covered place, I had not fallen into this great iniquity.
For my mind, dwelling on the woman's nakedness, suffered me not to sleep until I had done the abominable deed.
For while Jacob our father was absent with Isaac his father, when we were in Gader, near to Ephratha in Bethlehem, Bilhah was drunk, and lay asleep uncovered in her chamber;
and when I went in and beheld her nakedness, I wrought that impiety, and leaving her sleeping I departed.
And immediately an angel of God revealed to my father Jacob concerning my impiety, and he came and mourned over me, and touched her no more.
Pay no heed, therefore, to the beauty of women, and muse not upon their doings; but walk in singleness of heart in the fear of the Lord, and be labouring in works, and roaming in study and among your flocks, until the Lord give to you a wife whom He will, that you suffer not as I did.
Until my father's death I had not boldness to look steadfastly into the face of Jacob, or to speak to any of my brethren, because of my reproach;
and even until now my conscience afflicts me by reason of my sin.
And my father comforted me; for he prayed for me unto the Lord, that the anger of the Lord might pass away from me, even as the Lord showed me. From henceforth, then, I was protected, and I sinned not.
Therefore, my children, observe all things whatsoever I command you, and you shall not sin.
For fornication is the destruction of the soul, separating it from God, and bringing it near to idols, because it deceives the mind and understanding, and brings down young men into hell before their time.
For many has fornication destroyed; because, though a man be old or noble, it makes him a reproach and a laughing-stock with Beliar and the sons of men.
For in that Joseph kept himself from every woman, and purged his thoughts from all fornication, he found favour before the Lord and men.
For the Egyptian woman did many things unto him, and called for magicians, and offered him love potions, and the purpose of his soul admitted no evil desire.
Therefore the God of my fathers delivered him from every visible and hidden death. For if fornication overcome not the mind, neither shall Beliar overcome you
Hurtful are women, my children; because, since they have no power or strength over the man, they act subtly through outward guise how they may draw him to themselves;
and whom they cannot overcome by strength, him they overcome by craft.
For moreover the angel of God told me concerning them, and taught me that women are overcome by the spirit of fornication more than men, and they devise in their heart against men; and by means of their adornment they deceive first their minds, and instil the poison by the glance of their eye, and then they take them captive by their doings.
For a woman cannot force a man openly, but by a harlot's bearing she beguiles him
Therefore flee fornication, my children, and command your wives and your daughters that they adorn not their heads and their faces; because every woman who acts deceitfully in these things has been reserved to everlasting punishment.
For thus they allured the Watchers before the flood; and as these continually beheld them, they fell into desire each of the other, and they conceived the act in their mind, and changed themselves into the shape of men, and appeared to them in their congress with their husbands;
and the women, having in their minds desire toward their apparitions, gave birth to giants, for the Watchers appeared to them as reaching even unto heaven.
Beware, therefore, of fornication; and if you wish to be pure in your mind, guard your senses against every woman.
And command them likewise not to company with men, that they also be pure in their mind.
For constant meetings, even though the ungodly deed be not wrought, are to them an irremediable disease, and to us an everlasting reproach of Beliar;
for fornication has neither understanding nor godliness in itself, and all jealousy dwells in the desire thereof.
Therefore you will be jealous against the sons of Levi, and will seek to be exalted over them; but you shall not be able,
for God will work their avenging, and you shall die by an evil death.
For to Levi the Lord gave the sovereignty, and to Judah, and to me also with them, and to Dan and Joseph, that we should be for rulers.
Therefore I command you to hearken to Levi, because he shall know the law of the Lord, and shall give ordinances for judgment and sacrifice for all Israel until the completion of the times of Christ, the High Priest whom the Lord has declared.
I adjure you by the God of heaven to work truth each one with his neighbour;
and draw near to Levi in humbleness of heart, that you may receive a blessing from his mouth.
For he shall bless Israel; and specially Judah, because him has the Lord chosen to rule over all the peoples.
And worship we his Seed, because He shall die for us in wars visible and invisible, and shall be among you an everlasting king.
And Reuben died after that he had given command to his sons.
And they placed him in a coffin until they bore him up from Egypt, and buried him in Hebron in the double cave where his fathers were.
To God be the glory. Amen!