Ancient Testaments of the Patriarchs
by Ken Johnson
Autobiographies from the Dead Sea Scrolls
Gary Stearman recently called Ken Johnson’s book his greatest work ever. What else needs to be said? We’ve never seen Ken so excited about a book, or his favorite new field of research . . . the secrets found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
This book contains prophetic secrets that will amaze! This is like discovering a “Time Capsule” containing descriptions of the lives of the Patriarchs! Can these autobiographical records be trusted? When you read the words in the autobiography of Benjamin, I think you will understand what you are looking at. Some of these writings are nothing short of prophetic gems that confirm so many prophecies of the Bible!
The history of the Dead Sea Scrolls is very complex. We know that the Essenes kept an ancient library in Qumran. We also know that sometime before the Roman destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in AD 70, the Essenes sealed the scrolls of their library in jars for a future generation. Through the ages there were times when Bedouins sought to sell scrolls they found in caves near, or around, Jerusalem.
One such report was by the Syrian Patriarch in the eleventh century. He offered to buy any scrolls that were ancient copies of the books of the Bible. By the late 1700’s, many such rumors abounded. One set of scrolls came to light. They were called the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. These were supposedly the writings of the twelve sons of Jacob: Ruben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Joseph, and Benjamin. They were their last words to their children dealing mainly with morality; but also containing references to ancient prophecy.
Scholars had two major problems with these testaments. First, the prophecies were very focused on the Messiah and agreed wholeheartedly with Christian doctrine. Second, the story was that the original Hebrew version was in the hands of a private collector and only the retranslated Greek was available for scholars to study. With no original Hebrew scrolls and messianic prophecies being too Christian-like, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs were dubbed to be Christian fiction. They are still part of volume eight of the Ante-Nicene Fathers (ten volume set) that was produced in the late 1800’s. All that changed with the official discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Between AD 1948 to 2016, twelve caves were found in Qumran containing many ancient scrolls that are pre-Christian. A forty-volume set of the Dead Sea Scrolls was produced entitled Discoveries in the Judean Desert. This set contains every photo, description, and translation of these scrolls. Fragments of five of the twelve sons of Jacob were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Levi, Judah, Naphtali, Joseph, and Benjamin. In this book, the portions of the twelve that were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls are underlined, so that you can see how much remains from the original Hebrew.
The Other Testaments
The legend found in the Talmud of the orthodox Jews and in the Essene community is that all of the patriarchs from Adam to Aaron (thirty-seven or more) were prophets and all wrote testaments for their posterity. Aaron started a new temporary priesthood that would exist until the time of what Elijah called the Messianic Age. We call this the church age. What is truly amazing is that not only do the Dead Sea Scrolls tell us of this legend, and contain five of the twelve testaments of the sons of Jacob, but they actually contain fragments of eight of the other testaments as well.
We have fragments of the testaments of: Enos (Adam’s Grandson), Enoch, Lamech (Noah’s Father), Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Levi, Judah, Naphtali, Joseph, Benjamin, Kohath (son of Levi, and father of Amram), Amram (father of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam), and Aaron.
The information given in these Dead Sea Scroll fragments is identical to the information given in the full Latin versions of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs published in the late 1800’s.
We have a modern English version of the Ancient Book of Enoch translated from the Ethiopic version (full book) compared to the fragments of Enoch found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
When looking at a Dead Sea Scroll, it will have a title like 1Q21. The Testament of Levi is 1Q21. The “Q” in this designation means it was found in Qumran. The number “1” means it was found in cave one of the twelve caves. The “21” means it was the twenty-first scroll found in that cave.
The book of Jubilees mentions the herbal medicine books of Noah and Shem (10:13), the books of Noah’s fathers (12:27), the books of Enoch, Noah, and the forefathers (21:10), and the book of Amram (46:10). Jubilees 45:16 states that Jacob gave all of these books of the fathers to Levi. Jubilees 32:21-26 states that Jacob was buried with a copy of his testament. Maybe that and other testaments are buried with the patriarchs in the cave of Machpelah in Hebron.
Some of Ken’s research in this book is nothing short of SHOCKING! Even Gary was taken aback by what he found!