It is written:

“And it happened, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heard about it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve”. (Genesis 35:22)

The early church fathers had fragmented manuscripts of something called The Testaments Of The Twelve Patriarchs. These were supposedly the last writings of the twelve sons of Jacob, the Patriarchs Of the twelve tribes. Fuller copies of these documents were found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls. Interestingly enough, the Testament Of Reuben tells us about this incident:

“For if I had not seen Bilhah bathing in a private place, I would not have committed this great sin. I could not stop seeing her nakedness in my mind. I couldn’t sleep. I just had to have her. So, when Jacob and Isaac went away, and we were at Gader, near Bethlehem Ephratha, Bilhah was drunk, and asleep naked in her tent. I went in to her tent and saw her lying naked, I committed the sin, then left her lying there asleep. An angel of God revealed my sin to my father, Jacob, and he came and mourned over me, and touched her no more…. Until my father’s death I was never bold enough to look him in the eye, or stand up to my brothers, because of my reproach. Even now my conscience bothers me because of my sin. My father forgave me; he prayed for my forgiveness and healing. From that point on, I was protected, and I never committed that sin again. Therefore, my children, observe all my commands, and you will not fall into sin. Fornication destroys the soul, separates you from God, and entices you into idolatry, because it deceives your mind and understanding and will lead you to Hell before your time. Belial has destroyed many through fornication; even noble elderly men have ruined their lives because of it. Joseph kept himself from every woman, and purged his thoughts from all fornication. He found favor before the Lord and men. For the Egyptian woman did many things unto him, and called for magicians, and offered him love potions, but he purposed in his soul not to allow the evil desire. Therefore, God kept him from death. If fornication does not overcome your mind, neither will Belial overcome you.” (Ken Johnson, Th.D., Ancient Testaments Of The Patriarchs: Autobiographies From The Dead Sea Scrolls, 651-662 (Kindle Edition))

Reuben pointed out that his situation involved both the temptation of the evil spirit, and his own personal responsibility in doing evil. As Arnold points out:

“According to the Testaments, every individual must personally struggle against evil spirits of deceit, who are ruled by the devil, or Behar. They exploit human drives and frailties to promote their evil ends. Sexual promiscuity, in particular, is pinpointed as one of the areas of sinful activity instigated by evil spirits. In the Testament of Reuben, sexual sin is called “the plague of Beliar” and is inspired by a “spirit of promiscuity (porneia) that resides in the nature and the senses” (Testament of Reuben 6:3; 3:3). The Testament does not give the devil and his powers full responsibility for human lapses into sexual trysts; the involvement of the human mind and senses is given an equal role. In reflecting on Reuben’s incestuous sin with his father’s mistress, Bilhah (cf. Gen 35:22), the Testament places more emphasis on Reuben’s own lust and mental titillation… Nevertheless, in continuing to reflect on what he had learned from the event, he points to the devil’s involvement: “For promiscuity has destroyed many. Whether a man is old, well born, rich, or poor, he brings on himself disgrace among mankind and provides Behar with an opportunity to cause him to stumble” (4:7).” (Clinton Arnold, Powers Of Darkness: Principalities & Powers In Paul’s Letters, 68-69 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVarsity Press)

The devil continues to work in the world today; but through Jesus we can have the victory.

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