The Eleventh Son of Jacob and Rachel.
Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob and Rachel, the beautiful and beloved. His struggle against the Egyptian temptress.
THE copy of the Testament of Joseph.
2 When he was about to die he called his sons and his brethren together, and said to them:--
3 My brethren and my children, hearken to Joseph the beloved of Israel; give ear, my sons, unto your father.
4 I have seen in my life envy and death, yet I went not astray, but persevered in the truth--of the Lord.
5 These my brethren hated me, but the Lord loved me:
6 They wished to slay me, but the God of my fathers guarded me:
7 They let me down into a pit, and the Most High brought me up again.
8 I was sold into slavery, and the Lord of all made me free:
9 I was taken into captivity, and His strong hand succoured me.
10 I was beset with hunger, and the Lord Himself nourished me.
11 I was alone, and God comforted me:
12 I was sick, and the Lord visited me.
13 I was in prison, and my God showed favour unto me;
14 In bonds, and He released me;
15 Slandered, and He pleaded my cause;
16 Bitterly spoken against by the Egyptians, and He delivered me;
17 Envied by my fellow-slaves, and He exalted me.
18 And this chief captain of Pharaoh entrusted to me his house.
19 And I struggled against a shameless woman, urging me to transgress with her; but the God of Israel my father delivered me from the burning flame.
20 I was cast into prison, I was beaten, I was mocked; but the Lord granted me to find mercy, in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
21 For the Lord doth not forsake them that fear Him, neither in darkness, nor in bonds, nor in tribulations, nor in necessities.
22 For God is not put to shame as a man, nor as the son of man is he afraid, nor as one that is earth-born is He weak or affrighted.
23 But in all those things doth He give protection, and in divers ways doth He comfort, though for a little space He departeth to try the inclination of the soul.
24 In ten temptations He showed me approved, and in all of them I endured; for endurance is a mighty charm, and patience giveth many good things.
25 How often did the Egyptian woman threaten me with death!
26 How often did she give me over to punishment, and then call me back and threaten me, and when I was unwilling to company with her, she said to me:
27 Thou shalt be lord of me, and all that is in my house, if thou wilt give thyself unto me, and thou shalt be as our master.
28 But I remembered the words of my father, and going into my chamber, I wept and prayed unto the Lord.
29 And I fasted in those seven years, and I appeared to the Egyptians as one living delicately, for they that fast for God's sake receive beauty of face.
30 And if my lord were away from home, I drank no wine; nor for three days did I take my food, but I gave it to the poor and sick.
31 And I sought the Lord early, and I wept for the Egyptian woman of Memphis, for very unceasingly did she trouble me, for also at night she came to me under pretence of visiting me.
32 And because she had no male child she pretended to regard me as a son.
33 And for a time she embraced me as a son, and I knew it not; but later, she sought to draw me into fornication.
34 And when I perceived it I sorrowed unto death; and when she had gone out, I came to myself, and lamented for her many days, because I recognized her guile and her deceit.
35 And I declared unto her the words of the Most High, if haply she would turn from her evil lust.
36 Often, therefore, did she flatter me with words as a holy man, and guilefully in her talk praise my chastity before her husband, while desiring to ensnare me when we were alone.
37 For she lauded me openly as chaste, and in secret she said unto me: Fear not my husband; for he is persuaded concerning thy chastity: for even should one tell him concerning us, he would not believe.
38 Owing to all these things I lay upon the ground, and besought God that the Lord would deliver me from her deceit.
39 And when she had prevailed
nothing thereby, she came again to me under the plea of instruction, that she might learn the word of God.
40 And she said unto me: If thou willest that I should leave my idols, lie with me, and I will persuade my husband to depart from his idols, and we will walk in the law by thy Lord.
41 And I said unto her: The Lord willeth not. that those who reverence Him should be in uncleanness, nor doth He take pleasure in them that commit adultery, but in those that approach Him with a pure heart and undefiled lips.
42 But she heed her peace, longing to accomplish her evil desire.
43 And I gave myself yet more to fasting and prayer, that the Lord might deliver me from her.
44 And again, at another time she said unto me: If thou wilt not commit adultery, I will kill my husband by poison; and take thee to be my husband.
45 I therefore, when I heard this, rent my garments, and said unto her:
46 Woman, reverence God, and do not this evil deed, lest thou be destroyed; for know indeed that I will declare this thy device unto all men.
47 She therefore, being afraid, besought that I would not declare this device.
48 And she departed soothing me with gifts, and sending to me every delight of the sons of men.
49 And afterwards she sent me food mingled with enchantments.
50 And when the eunuch who brought it came, I looked up and beheld a terrible man giving me with the dish a sword, and I perceived that her scheme was to beguile me.
51 And when he had gone out I wept, nor did I taste that or any other of her food.
52 So then after one day she came to me and observed the food, and said unto me: Why is it that thou hast not eaten of the food?
53 And I said unto her: It is because thou hast filled it with deadly enchantments; and how saidst thou: I come not near to idols but to the Lord alone.
54 Now therefore know that the God of my father hath revealed unto me by His angel thy wickedness, and I have kept it to convict thee, if haply thou mayst see and repent.
55 But that thou mayst learn that the wickedness of the ungodly hath no power over them that worship God with chastity behold I will take of it and eat before thee.
56 And having so said, I prayed thus: The God of my fathers and the angel of Abraham, be with me; and ate.
57, And when she saw this she fell upon her face at my feet, weeping; and I raised her up and admonished her.
58 And she promised to do this iniquity no more.
59 But her heart was still set upon evil, and she looked around how to ensnare me, and sighing deeply she became downcast, though she was not sick.
60 And when her husband saw her, he said unto her: Why is thy countenance fallen?
61 And she said unto him: I have a pain at my heart, and the groanings of my spirit oppress me; and so he comforted her who was not sick.
62 Then, accordingly seizing an opportunity, she rushed unto me while her husband was yet without, and said unto me: I will hang myself, or cast myself over a cliff, if thou wilt not lie with me.
63 And when I saw the spirit of Beliar was troubling her, I prayed unto the Lord, and said unto her:
64 Why, wretched woman, art
thou troubled and disturbed, blinded through sins?
65 Remember that if thou kill thyself, Asteho, the concubine of thy husband, thy rival, will beat thy children, and thou wilt destroy thy memorial from off the earth.
66 And she said unto me: Lo, then thou lovest me; let this suffice me: only strive for my life and my children, and I expect that I shall enjoy my desire also.
67 But she knew not that because of my lord I spake thus, and not because of her.
68 For if a man hath fallen before the passion of a wicked desire and become enslaved by it, even as she, whatever good thing he may hear with regard to that passion, he receiveth it with a view to his wicked desire.
69 I declare, therefore, unto you, my children, that it was about the sixth hour when she departed from me; and I knelt before the Lord all day, and all the night; and about dawn I rose up, weeping the while and praying for a release from her.
70 At last, then, she laid hold of my garments, forcibly dragging me to have connexion with her.
71 When, therefore, I saw that in her madness she was holding fast to my garment, I left it behind, and fled away naked.
72 And holding fast to the garment she falsely accused me, and when her husband came he cast me into prison in his house; and on the morrow he scourged me and sent me into Pharaoh's prison.
73 And when I was in bonds, the Egyptian woman was oppressed with grief, and she came and heard how I gave thanks unto the Lord and sang praises in the abode of darkness, and with glad voice rejoiced, glorifying my God that I was delivered from the lustful desire of the Egyptian woman.
74 And often hath she sent unto me saying: Consent to fulfil my desire, and I will release thee from thy bonds, and I will free thee from the darkness.
75 And not even in thought did I incline unto her.
76 For God loveth him who in a den of wickedness combines fasting with chastity, rather than the man who in kings' chambers combines luxury with license.
77 And if a man liveth in chastity, and desireth also glory, and the Most High knoweth that it is expedient for him, He bestoweth this also upon me.
78 How often, though she were sick, did she come down to me at unlooked for times, and listened to my voice as I prayed!
79 And when I heard her groanings I held my peace.
80 For when I was in her house she was wont to bare her arms, and breasts, and legs, that I might lie with her; for she was very beautiful, splendidly adorned in order to beguile me.
81 And the Lord guarded me from her devices.