THE TESTAMENT OF MOSES
Date: 1st century A.D.
translation by W.F. Stinespring
1 (the first three lines of the text are missing)
2....which is twenty five hundred years after the creation of
3 the world, but according to an oriental chronology....after the departure from
4 Pheonicia. When, after the exodus, which had been led by Moses, the people
5 had gone up to Amman across the Jordan, this is the prophecy which was made by Moses in the book of Deuteronomy.
6 Moses called to himself Joshua, the son of Nun, a man approved by the Lord,
7 that Joshua might become the minister for the people in the tent of testimony
8 which contained all the holy objects, and that he might lead the people into
9 the land which had been promised to their fathers, (the land) which he, in the tent had declared by covenant and oath that he would give them through the leadership
10 of Joshua. Then Moses spoke to Joshua this word. “Go forward with all your strength, that you may do everything which has been commanded in such a way
11 as will cause you no blame in the sight of God. For this is what the Lord of the
12,13 world has decreed. He created the world on behalf of his people, but he did not make this purpose of creation openly known from the beginning of the world so that the nations might be found guilty, indeed that they might abjectly declare themselves guilty by their own (mistaken) discussions (of creation’s purpose.)
14 “But he did design and devise me, who (was) prepared form the beginning of
15 the world, to be the mediator of his covenant. Therefore, I shall speak plainly to you. The years of my life have come to an end and, in the presence of the entire
16 community, I am going to sleep with my fathers. But (you) take this writing so that later you will remember how to preserve the books which I shall entrust to
17 you. You shall arrange them, anoint them with cedar, and deposit them in earthenware jars in the place which (God) has chosen from the beginning of the
18 creation of the world, (a place) where his name may be called upon until the day of recompense when the Lord will surely have regard for his people.
1 “.....(The people), under your leadership, will enter into the land which
2 (God) firmly promised to give to their fathers. In that land, you will bless them and give to each of them their individual portions. Further, you shall firmly establish a kingdom for them and, with discernment and justice, you shall appoint local
3 magistrates in accordance with the will of the Lord. Then, (some) years after they shall have entered their land, they shall be ruled by leaders and princes for eighteen years. (But during a period) of nineteen years the ten tribes will separate themselves.
4 “(During the first-mentioned time) the twelve tribes will move the tent of testimony to the place where God of heaven will build a place for his sanctuary.
5 The two holy tribes will be settled there. But the ten tribes will establish for
6 themselves their own kingdom with itw own ordinances. (The two tribes will)
7 offer sacrifices in the chosen place for twenty years. Seven will strongly build the walls, and I will protect nine. (Four), however, will violate the covenant of
8 the Lord and defile the oath which the Lord made with them. They will offer their sons to foreign gods and they will set up idols in the Temple that they may
9 worship them. (Yes), even in the house of the Lord they will perpetrate idolatry and carve images of all sorts of animals
1 “...in those day a king aginst them from the east and (his) cavalry will
2 overrun their land. And with firs he will burn their city with the holy Temple
3 of the Lord and he will carry off all the holy vessels. And he will exile all the people and will lead them to his own land, yea the two tribes he will take with him..
4 “Then, considering themselves like a lioness in a dusty plain, hungry and
5 parched, the two tribes will call upon the ten tribes, and shall declare loudly, ‘Just and holy is the Lord. For just as you sinned, likewise we, with our little ones,
6 have now been led out with you. Then, hearing the reproachful words of the two
7 tribes, the ten tribes will lament and will say, ‘What shall we, with you, do
8 brothers? Has not this tribulation come upon the whole house of Israel?’ Then
9 all of the tribes will lament, crying out to heaven and saying, “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, remember your covenant which you made with them, and the oath which you swore to them by yourself, that their seed would never fail from the land which you have given them.’
10 “Then, in that day, they will remember me, saying from tribe to tribe, even
11 each man to his neighbor. ‘Is this not that which was made known to us in prophecies by Moses, who suffered many things in Egypt and at the red Sea and
12 in the wilderness for forty years (when) he solemnly called heaven and earth as witnesses against us that we should not transgress God’s commandments of which
13 he had become the mediator for us? These things which have come upon us since that time are according to his admonition declared to us at that time. And (those words) have been confirmed even to our being led as captives in the land of the
14 East. And they will be as slaves for about seventy-seven years.
1 “Then one who is over them will come upon the scene, and he will stretch
2 forth his hands, and bow his knees and pray for them, saying ‘Lord of all, king on the lofty throne, you who rules the world, who has willed that this people be for you a chosen people, yea, who has willed to be called their God according to
3 the covenant which you made with their fathers, yet they, with their wives and children, have gone as captives into a foreign land, surrounded by the gates of
4 strangers where there is great majesty. Have regard for them, and have compassion for them, O heavenly Lord.’
5 “Then God will remember them because of the covenant which he made with
6 their fathers and he will openly show his compassion. And in those times he will inspire a king to have pity on them and send them home to their own land.
7 Then some parts of the tribes will arise and come to their appointed place, and
8 they will strongly build its walls. Now, the two tribes will remain steadfast in their former faith, sorrowful and sighing because they will not be able to offer
9 sacrifices to the Lord of their fathers. But the ten tribes will grow and spread out among the nations during the time of their captivity.
1 “And when the times of exposure come near and punishment arises through
2 kings who (though) sharing their crimes yet punish them, then they themselves
3 will be divided as to the truth. Consequently the word was fulfilled that they will avoid justice and approach iniquity; and they will pollute the house of their worship with the customs of the nations; and they will play the harlot after foreign gods.
4 For they will not follow the truth of God, but certain of them will pollute the high altar by ...... the offerings which they place before the Lord.
5 They are not (truly) priests (at all), but slaves, yea sons of slaves. For those who are the leaders, their teachers, in those times will become admirers of avaricious persons, accepting (polluted) offerings, and they will sell justice by accepting
6 bribes. Therefore, their city and the full extent of their dwelling places will be filled with crimes and iniquities. For they will have in their midst judges who will act with impiety toward the Lord and will judge just as they please.
1 “Then powerful kings will rise over them, and they will be called priests of the
2 Most High God. They will perform great impiety in the Holy of Holies. And a wanton king, who will not be of a priestly family, will follow them. He will be
3 a man rash and perverse, and he will judge them as they deserve. He will shatter their leaders with the sword, and he will (exterminate them) in secret places so
4 that no one will know where their bodies are. He will kill both old and young, showing mercy to none.
5,6 “Then fear of him will be heaped upon them in their land, and for thirty-four years he will impose judgments upon them as did the Egyptians, and he will punish
7 them. And he will beget heirs who will reign after him for shorter periods of
8 time. After his death there will come into their land a powerful king of the West
9 who will subdue them; and he will take away captives, and a part of their temple he will burn with fire. He will crucify some of them around their city.
1,2 “When this has taken place, the times will quickly come to an end.....
3 Then will rule destructive and godless men, who represent themselves as being
4 righteous, but who will (in Fact) arouse their inner wrath, for they will be deceitful men, pleasing only themselves, false in every way imaginable, (such as) loving feasts at any hour of the day-devouring, gluttonous.
5 “..................But really they consume the goods of the (poor), saying their acts
7 are according to justice, (while in fact they are simply) exterminators, deceitfully seeking to conceal themselves so that they will not be known as completely godless
8 because of their criminal deeds (committed ) all day long, saying, ‘We shall have feasts, even luxurious winnings and dinings. Indeed, we shall behave ourselves
9 as princes. They, with hand and mind, will touch impure things, yet their mouths
10 will speak enormous things, and they will even say. “Do not touch me, lest you pollute me in the position I occupy.....’
1 “And there will come upon them...punishment and wrath such as has never happened to them from the creation till that time when he stirs up against them a king of the kings of the earth who, having supreme authority, will crucify
2 those who confess their circumcision. Even those who deny it, he will torture
3 and hand them over to be led to prison in chains. And their wives will be given to the gods of the nations and their young sone will be cut by physicians to bring
4 forward their foreskins. Still others among them will be punished by torture, both by fire and sword, and they will be compelled to bear publicly (as burdens)
5 idols which are polluted just as those who revere them are polluted. Likewise, they will be compelled by their torturers to enter into their secret place, where they will be compelled to blaspheme outrageously the word, and finally (to blaspheme) both their laws and what they had placed upon their own alter.
1 “Then even as he was speaking, there will be a man from the tribe of Levi,
2 whose name is Taxo. He, having seven sons, will speak earnestly to them. ‘See (my) sons, behold a second punishment has befallen the people; cruel, impure,
3 going beyond all bounds of mercy- even exceeding the former one. For which nation or which province or which people, who have (all) done many crimes
4 against the Lord, have suffered such evils as have covered us? Now, therefore, sons heed me. If you investigate, you will surely know that never did (our) fathers
5 nor their ancestors tempt God by transgressing his commandments. Yea, you
6 will surely know that this is our strength. Here is what we shall do. We shall fast for a three-day period and on the fourth day we shall go into a cave, which is in the open country. There let us die rather than transgress the commandments
7 of the Lord of Lords, the God of our fathers. For if we do this, and do die, our blood will be avenged before the Lord
1 “The his kingdom will appear throughout his whole creation. Then the devil will have an end. Yea, sorrow will be led away with him.
2 Then will be filled the hands of the messenger, who is in the highest place appointed. Yea, he will at once avenge them of their enemies.
3 For the Heavenly One will arise from his kingly throne, Yea, he will go forth from his holy habitation with indignation and wrath on behalf of his sons.
4 And the earth will tremble, even to its ends shall it be shaken. And the high mountains will be made low. Yea, they will be shaken, as enclosed valleys will they fall.
5 The sun will not give light. And in darkness the horns of the moon will flee. Yea, they will be broken in pieces.
It will be turned wholly into blood. Yea, even the circle of the stars will be thrown into disarray.
6 And the sea all the way to the abyss will retire, to the sources of waters which fail. Yea, the rivers will vanish away.
7 For God Most High will surge forth, the Eternal One alone. In full view will he come to work vengeance on the nations. Yea, all their idols will he destroy.
8 Then will you be happy, O Israel! And you will mount up above the necks and the wings of an eagle. Yea, all things will be fulfilled.
9 And God will raise you to the heights. Yea, he will fix you firmly in the heaven of the stars, in the place of their habitations.
10 And you will behold from on high. Yea, you will see your enemies on the earth. And recognizing them, you will rejoice, And you will give thanks. Yea, you will confess your creator.
11,12 “But you, Joshua son of Nun, keep these words and this book, for from my
13 death and burial until his coming there will pass 250 times. And this is the course
14 .........times which come until they be completed. However,
15 I shall be asleep with my fathers. Therefore, you, Joshua son of Nun, be strong; for God has chosen you to be my successor in the same covenant.”
1 And when Joshua heard the words of Moses, so written in his testament, all
2 the things which he had said, he tore his garments and fell at Moses’ feet. And
3 Moses, though he wept with him, encouraged him, and Joshua replied to him,
4 saying, “Why do you console me, master Moses, and in what way may I be consoled concerning that bitter message spoken, which has gone forth from your mouth, a message full of tears and sobbings? Because you are departing from this
5,6 people.......What place will receive you or where
7 will be the marker of you sepulcher? Or who as a man will dare to move your
8 body from place to place? For all who die, there are appropriately their sepulchers in the earth, but your sepulcher if from the rising to the setting of the sun, and from the South to the limits of the North, the whole world is your sepulcher.
9,10 “Now, master, you are going away, and who will sustain this people? Or who will have compassion on them, and will be for them a leader on(their) way?
11 Or who will pray for them, not omitting a single day, so that I may lead them
12 into the land of their forefathers? How, therefore, can I be (guardian) of this people, as a father is to his only son, or as a mother is to her virgin daughter (who) is being prepared to be given to a husband; a mother who is disquieted, guarding (the daughter’s) body from the sun and (seeing to it) that (the daughter’s)
13 feet are not without shoes when she runs upon the ground?...........can I be responsible for food for them as they desire and drink according
14 to their will?...............for there were 100,000 of them, but
15 they have, by your prayers, increased so much, master Moses. And what wisdom and intelligence do I have, either to judge or give an opinion in the house.....
16 ........Moreover, when the kings of the Amorites hear (of your death), believing that there is no longer with us that sacred spirit, worthy of the Lord, manifold and incomprehensible, master of leaders, faithful in all things, the divine prophet for the whole earth , the perfect teacher in the world, now
17 believing that they wan storm us, they will say, ‘Let us go up against them, If the enemies have, up till now, but a single time, acted impiously against their lord, there is (now) no advocate for them who will bear messages to the Lord on their behalf in the way that Moses was the great messenger. He, in every hour both day and night, had his knees fixed to the earth, praying and looking steadfastly toward him who governs the whole earth with mercy and justice, reminding the
18 Lord of the ancestral covenant, and the resolute oath. Thus they will say, ‘He is no longer with them. Therefore, let us go up and crush them from the face of
19 the earth. What, then, will happen to these people, master Moses?”
1 And when he had finished (speaking these) words, Joshua again fell at the feet
2 of Moses. And Moses grasped his hand and raised him into the seat before him,
3 and responding to him, he said, “Joshua, do not demean (yourself), but free
4 yourself from care and pay attention to my words. God has created all the nations which are in the world (just as he created) us. And he has foreseen both them and us from the beginning of the creation of the world even to the end of the age. Indeed, nothing, to the least thing, has been overlooked by him. But (rather), he
5 has seen all things and he is the cause of all........has seen beforehand all things which may come to be in the world, and, behold, they have come to pass
6 ......................established me for them, and for their sins..............and...........on their
7 behalf. Yet (this is) not on account of either my strength of weakness, (it is)
8 simply that his mercies and long-suffering have lighted on me. Likewise, I say to you, Joshua, that it is not on account of the piety of this people that you will
9 drive out the nations. All of the supports of the canopy of heaven, created and
10 declared good by Go, are indeed under the ring of his right hand. Therefore, those who truly fulfill the commandments of God will flourish and will finish
11 the good way, but those who sin by disregarding the commandments will deprive themselves of the good things which were declared before. They, indeed, will be
12 punished by the nations with many tortures. But it is not possible for the nations
13 to drive them out or extinguish them completely. For God, who has foreseen all things in the world, will go forth and his covenant which was established, and by the oath which........