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do: but, ihe better to blind the eyes of men, Levi is inade to say, that this is contained in the book of
Indeed Mr. Whiston? says: “ Though it be usually taken • for granted, that the author of these Testaments wrote · after the known books of the Old and New Testament, • and so took these notions and language thence; yet, since all the real evidence is on the other side, that these Testaments are the eldest, it is most reasonable to
suppose that • the writers of the Old and New Testament did, vice versa, • allude to these Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.' How can any man say this, that all the real evidence is
on the other side ? Not to insist now on the New Testament, how can any man say this with regard to the Old ? Are there as many ancient testimonies to these Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, that they were written befcre the coining of Cbrist, as there are to the books of the Jewish canon There is no evidence of that early age, worth considering, beside the pretensions of the book itself; wbich are of little moinent, unless they were better supported by external evidence than they are.
Again, Mr. Whiston “ says: “Nor are the particulars thus • declared, especially those in the Testament of Levi, at all . unworthy either of Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob; nor indeed • at all inferior, in their importance, to any parallel parts of • the canonical scriptures of the Old Testament.' 'I perceive nothing of importance in this observation. All this is very likely, upon the common supposition of learned men, that this book was composed after the coming of Christ. A man acquainted with all the revelations of God in the Old Testament, may well write some things not unworthy of those three ancient patriarchs; and may rehearse, if he thinks fit, in a prophetical style, every thing contained in the canonical scriptures of the Old Testament, and put it in the mouth of whom he pleases. A man instructed in the gospel revelation may easily write in the like manner: and if he should take advantage from later events and discoveries, and should clothe all his knowledge of facts and principles in prophetical language, he may declare things which those holy men never knew; such things as many prophets and righteous men desired indeed to see, but did not see them; and to hear, but did not hear them.
But though here are many things not unworthy of those patriarchs, and a knowledge of future events vastly ? Authentic Records, P. i. p. 432.
Ibid. p. 412.
beyond what they really had, and several b fine passages which it would be a pleasure to me to transcribe, if I had room; yet here are also soine things unsuitable to the solemnity of a dying hour, and dying admonitions ; particularly, in the Testament of Joseph, whom we know to have been a wise and excellent man, there are some thing's not d altogether becoming the gravity of that patriarch. However, this is not mentioned as a matter of any great consequence: for I do not suppose that the virtue of any of those ancient Hebrews was complete according to the christian rule.
Upon the whole, I see nothing in this work but what might be written by a learned Jew of the second century, or later; though whether the author was a Jew, or a Gentile, I cannot say: I think he was a christian, and well versed in the Jewish learning. Nor do I pretend to determine the age of the anonymous author of the Twelve Testaments. I am of opinion, however, that he is placed early enough by Cave, in the first part of his Historia Literaria, at the
192. As I do not intend to take any further notice of this book in any other part of this work, if I can avoid it, I shall now transcribe, beside allusions to the books of the New Testament, several passages relating to some material facts of the gospel history; and likewise concerning our blessed Lord, the promised Messiah ; containing this author's character of his person, and description of his circumstances in this world. If any are pleased to consider them as real prophecies of the Messiah, delivered before his coming, they will be a confirmation of the christian religion, so far as our Lord answered those prophetical characters. Take them to be representations of things already done, composed afterwards in a prophetical style, and they show the belief and sentiments of christians, of some at least.
1. The Testament of Simeon, sect. 7. • Fore the Lord shall raise up out of Levi an high priest, and out of Judah a king, God and man. So he will save all the Gentiles, and the stock of Israel.'
By the high priest' may be intended John the baptist, who was of the tribe of Levi, and of the race of the Jewish priests. Luke i. The king out of Judah' is plainly our blessed Saviour. So this place is understood by Mr.
. See the Testament of Gad, sect. 4. Aser, sect. 2. < Reuben, sect. 3. Judah, sect. 12.
d Joseph. sect. 9. Αναγησει γαρ Κυριος εκ τ8 Λευϊ αρχιερεα, και εκ τε Ιεδα βασιλεα, Θεον και ανθρωπον.
Whiston, Somef other learned men think, the high priest out of Levi,' and the king out of Judah,' to be one and the same person, Jesus the Messiah, in whom the priesthood and the kingdom were united : and that it was this author's opinion, that Jesus was of the tribe of Levi by Mary, and of the tribe of Judah by Joseph. I cannot determine what is the intention of this passage; though I rather incline to the sense last mentioned, so far as to think one person only is spoken of. And there are several other passages, that may induce us to suppose the author reckoned the Messiah to be of both these tribes. But yet I think it does not follow, that he believed Jesus to be the son of Joseph and Mary: for he might suppose him to be of the tribe of Levi by his mother Mary, and of the tribe of Judah by his legal and reputed father Joseph.
2. Gad, sect. 8. • But do you yourselves tell this to your sons, that they are to honour Judah and Levi: for out of them the Lord will arise to you a Saviour to Israel.' See, to the like purpose, Test, of Dan, sect. 5.
3. Joseph, sect. 19. · Do you therefore, my sons, keep the commandments of the Lord, and honour Judah and Levi: for out of them shall arise to you the Lamb of God, by grace saving all the Gentiles and Israel.
I shall put in the margins a passage, supposed to be Origen’s. The learned reader will be pleased to consider whether it serves to give light to these, or any other passages of our Testaments. 4. Levi, sect. 2. Levi says, he had been told by an
, angel: For thou shalt stand near to the Lord, and shalt be his minister, and thou shalt declare his mysteries to men, and shalt preach concerning the future redemption of Israel; [this may be John the Baptist;] and by thee and Judah the Lord shall be seen among men, saving by them (that is, by John the Baptist and Christ] all mankind.
If here is no reference to John the Baptist, but only to our Saviour, the author may be supposed to say, that God would save mankind by those two tribes, inasmuch as the Messiah would be of both of them, or some way in a more especial manner allied to them. However, it does by no means appear plain to me, that the writer believed jesus
Vid. Henric. Wharton, Auctar. Usserii. p. 322. Beausobre, Historie de Manichée, 1. ii. ch. 2. sect. 5.
& Πλην εκ τ8 δημο πατρος αντων εσονται γυναικες.] Προςαττει 8ν ο θεος, πλην της Ιεδα και της Λευϊ, μη εξειναι απο φυλης εις φυλην συναπτεσθαι, ίνα μη ξενον τα Σωτηρος δειχθη ανωθεν ερχομενον, το, βασιλευς και ιερευς κατα την ταξιν Μελχισεδέκ. Οrig. Select. in Num. xxxvi. 6. T. ii. p. 274. F. Ed. Bened.
Christ to be born of Joseph and Mary. The expressions are ambiguous, and capable of other senses, and therefore the meaning of them must be doubtful. Perhaps one reason of insisting so much on these two tribes was, because, at the time of the coming of the Messiah, the land of Judea was chiefly inhabited by them, together with the tribe of Benjamin. It is observable, that in the Old Testament the interests of the family of David, (out of which the Messiah was to arise,) and the tribe of Levi, are closely connected. Jer. xxxiii. 20—22. Nay, it may be questioned whether this author does not mean Mary by the h Virgin born of Judah,' in a place to be produced hereafter. In the mean time I put down in the margin some other passages which may be of use in this enquiry.
5. Levi, sect. 4. the angel proceeds in his discoveries to Levi: Know ye, therefore, that the Lord will execute judgment upon the sons of men, when the rocks shall be rent, and the sun be extinguished, and the waters be dried up, and the fire shall make a trembling, and the invisible spirits shall melt away, and Hades k be despoiled at the passion of the Most High; and men shall still be unbelieving, and continuing in their unrighteousness. For this reason shall they be adjudged to punishment.”
h See numb. 38.
i Testament of Reuben, sect. 6. For the Lord has given the principality to Levi and to Judah.' Levi is preferred to Judah, Test. Issachar, sect. 5. Dan, sect. 5. And in Judah, sect. 21, are these words : “And now, my sons, love Levi
for the Lord has given the kingdom to me, and to him the priesthood, and has subjected the kingdom to the priesthood. To me he has given the things on the earth, to him the things in heaven. As heaven is superior to the earth, so is the priesthood of God superior to the earthly kingdom (or kingdom upon earth). In Judah, sect. 25, Levi is preferred to Judah. Once more, Naphtali, sect. 5. • For in the fortieth year of
my life I saw in a dream, in the Mountain of Olives, on the east of Jerusalem, [by the way, this is not likely to have been spoken by Naphtali,] that the sun and the moon stood still. And behold, Isaac my father's father said to us, Run, every one of you, and catch them according to your abilities, and the sun and the moon shall be to him that catcheth them. And we all ran together; and Levi caught the sun, and Judah made haste and caught the moon. And Levi appeared as the sun, -Judah was splendid as the moon.' If this preference be given by the writer to the tribe of Levi above that of Judah, upon account of Christ's birth of Mary, whom he supposed to be of the tribe of Levi, to which tribe therefore heavenly things appertained ; it is an argument that he did not suppose Joseph, who was certainly of the tribe of Judah, to be the real father of Christ : for, if so, Judah would have been at least equal to Levi. I would just observe, that whatever is the design of this preference of Levi, the author supposes the eternal kingdom to belong to Judah. Testament of Judah, sect. 22, and in Levi, sect. 8, it is said : * A king shall be raised out of Judah, and shall ordain a new priesthood.'
Και του αδε σκυλευομενα επι τω παθει το Υψισε. VOL. II.
Surely here is a reference to Matt. xxvii. 51–53, and to the following conduct of the unbelieving Jews, as described in the New Testament. The author mentions some things not particularly related in the gospels, the drying up of waters,' and trembling of the fire but such things miay be well supposed concomitants of an earthquake, and an extinction, or extraordinary eclipse, of the sun.
6. Levi, sect. 4. The angel presently adds: “Thou shalt be a luminary to illuminate the posterity of Jacob,—until the Lord visit all the Gentiles in the bowels of his Son for
However, thy sons' will lay hands upon him to crucify him.'
This is not a real prophecy, that the Jewish priests would be the chief instruments of the crucifixion of the Messiab, before the manifestation of God's gracious purposes to the Gentile world ; but it is a just and true representation of
! matters of fact.
7. Levi, sect. 10. Beside other things relating to the gospel dispensation, Levi says to his sons: “I am innocent of all your impiety and transgression, which you will be guilty of in the consummation of the ages, in dealing impiously with the Saviour of the world.- And you will transgress together with Israel, insomuch that Jerusalem will not be able to support itself before the face of your wickedness. Nay, the veil of the temple will be rent, and will not cover your shame. And you shall be scattered among the Gentiles, and you shall be for a reproach, and a curse, and a conculcation.'
This is no real prophecy, at least not delivered before the building of Jerusalem, as is pretended, but probably written after the destruction of it by Titus. Nor is the composer of this book, whenever he lived, a judaizer.
8. Levi, sect. 14. Still Levi says: “And now, my sons, I know, from the scripture of Enoch, that in the end you will act impiously, laying hands upon the Lord in all wickedness. And your brethren will be ashamed of you, and you will be a derision to all the Gentiles. father Israel m is pure from the impiety of the high priests, who will lay their hands upon the Saviour of the world.' At sect. 15, he declares, For these causes that very temple which the Lord shall choose shall become desolate.
9. I shall take one passage more, representing strongly the state of the Jews and the Gentiles under the Messiah.
1 Πλην οι υιοι σε επιβαλουσι χειρας επ' αυτον του αποσκολοπισαι αυτον.
Καθαρος εσιν απο της ασεβειας των αρχιερεων, οίτινες επιβαλεσι τας χειρας αυτων επι τον Σωτηρα το κοσμο.