Testament of Jacob

This testament is a Christian work with a Trinitarian introduction (the exact same words as the Testament of Isaac). The writer refers the reader to the Old Testament to learn the rest of the history (7.2). The work is known primarily from an Arabic text, but is preserved in Coptic and Ethiopic as well (OTP 1:913). In 7.12, the writer comments that the patriarchs are “the ones whom the Arabs have designated as the holy fathers.” The ethical section seems to allude to Jesus’s teaching when the writer encourages the reader to “Clothe the poor person who is naked on the earth, so that God may clothe you with the apparel of glory in the kingdom of heaven, and you will be the sons of our holy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in heaven forever.” Finally, the book ends with a reference to the Virgin Mary as the “mistress of intercessions, the source of purity, generosity, and blessings, the mother of salvation.”

As with the other two patriarchal testaments, the Lord sends Michael to bring the soul of Jacob to heaven. He is told to order this household, and he says “let the will of the Lord be done.” He goes to his son Joseph and blesses him. Jacob is visited by an angel, but he thinks it is his son Jacob (also similar to the Testament of Isaac. The angel blesses Jacob and reviews his history – this angel has protected Jacob all throughout his life. After the angel ascends back into heaven Jacob is surrounded by his family and they weep over him. He prophesies that the Lord will make the people great in the land of Egypt.

Chapter 4 recounts Genesis 48, Jacob’s blessing on the two sons of Joseph. This is remarkably accurate with very little expansion on the canonical story. Chapter 5 is similar to Genesis 49, the biblical “testament” of Jacob. After a short moral exhortation, Jacob is taken into heaven. The Arabic text is missing this ascension, the Boharic describes the Lord himself coming with Michael and Gabriel to take Jacob’s soul to heaven.

Chapter 6 expands the canonical story to explain how Joseph kept his promise to return Jacob to Egypt. After Joseph completes his mourning for his father he worships God before the Pharaoh. In fact, all the elders of Egypt mourned Jacob attended the body when it was delivered to the tomb in Canaan.

The author of the book steps forward and recommends the reader consult what Moses wrote in the Old Testament for further information about Jacob. The author gives a moral exhortation to be diligent in prayer and fasting in order to drive away demons, to avoid sin (a sin list is given). In 7.21 we are encouraged to honor the saints because they intercede for us. As with the Testament of Isaac, the twenty-eighth day of Misri is to be honored.