Testament of Benjamin

The historical expansion section of Benjamin concerns an apocryphal story about Joseph in his trip down to Egypt (chapters 1-2). Joseph is a model of a pious man who loved the Lord his God, feared him and loved his neighbor (chapter 3). There is a Christian interpolation at 3:8 which connects Joseph to the Lamb of God who comes to take way the sins of the world (cf. T.Jos 19:8).

Image result for Benjamin Joseph bibleThe ethical section of this testament describe the “goal of a good man” (chapters 4-6). A good man is to be an imitator of good (4:1). Imitation is a common component of ethical training in the Hellenistic world and is found frequent in Paul’s letters (1 Thess 1:6, 2:14; Col 4:16; 1 Cor 11:1; Eph 5:1; Phil 3:17, 4:9).

Another similarity to the Pauline ethic is Benjamin’s advice to the good man to “set his mind on what is good” (5:1, cf. Phil 4:9; Col 3:1-4; 2 Cor 4:18). Chapters 7-8 develop the familiar theme of fleeing evil, Beliar, etc. (7:1, 8:1, “run from corruption, cling to what is good”). This especially includes sexual sin, the writer cites 1 Enoch and the Sodomites as examples. Beliar offers his children seven “swords” of moral sins. The result of these sins is direct punishment by God. Benjamin uses the example of Cain, who was “handed over by God for seven punishments, for in every hundredth year the Lord brought upon him one plague” (7:3).

Chapters 9-11 are a mini-apocalypse, although it is the most muted of all the Testaments. The future temple will exceed the glory of the first and the twelve tribes will be gathered together. At that time, “Most High shall send forth his salvation through the ministration of the unique prophet” (9:2, cf., Deut 18:15). Chapter 9 also includes one of the most obvious Christian interpolations in the Testaments of the Twelve.

T.Benjamin 9:3 He shall enter the first temple, and there the Lord will be abused and will be raised up on wood. And the temple curtain shall be torn, and the spirit of God will move on to all the nations as a fire is poured out. And he shall ascend from Hades and shall pass on from earth to heaven. I understand how humble he will be on the earth, and how splendid in heaven.”

In chapter 10 Benjamin is given a vision of Joseph after praying earnestly to see him. In chapter 11 there is a reference to resurrection, since if one keeps the commandments of God they will see Enoch, Seth, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob “being raised at the right hand of joy” (10:5-6). All will be raised and changed, and all will be destined for either glory or dishonor (10:7). This is remarkably similar to Paul in 1 Cor. 15:51 in another clear resurrection context. A “beloved of the Lord” will raise up from Judah and Levi who will do God’s will and enlighten the nations (11:2).