1 And Jacob went and dwelt to the south of Magdaladra'ef. And he went to his father Isaac, he and Leah his wife, on the new moon of the tenth month. 2 And Reuben saw Bilhah, Rachel's maid, the concubine of his father, bathing in water in a secret place, and he loved her. 3 And he hid himself at night, and he entered the house of Bilhah [at night], and he found her sleeping alone on a bed in her house. 4 And he lay with her, and she awoke and saw, and behold Reuben was lying with her in the bed, and she uncovered the border of her covering and seized him, and cried out, and discovered that it was Reuben. 5 And she was ashamed because of him, and released her hand from him, and he fled. 6 And she lamented because of this thing exceedingly, and did not tell it to any one.
Testament of Reuben 3:12Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs
And now, my children, love the truth, and it will preserve you: hear ye the words of Reuben your father. Pay no heed to the face of a woman, Nor associate with another man's wife, Nor meddle with affairs of womankind. For had I not seen Bilhah bathing in a covered place, I had not fallen into this great iniquity. For my mind taking in the thought of the woman's nakedness, suffered me not to sleep until I had wrought the abominable thing. For while Jacob our father had gone to Isaac his father, when we were in Eder, near to Ephrath in Bethlehem, Bilhah became drunk and was asleep uncovered in her chamber. Having therefore gone in and beheld nakedness, I wrought the impiety without her perceiving it, and leaving her sleeping I departed. And forthwith an angel of God revealed to my father concerning my impiety, and he came and mourned over me, and touched her no more.
Notes and References
"... Reuben is most popularly known as the brother who sought to protect Joseph from being killed. However, the Testament dwells entirely on a brief episode recounted in Genesis 35:22 ... Here in his “testament,” Reuben returns to this episode as well. The story is significantly expanded. Reuben sees Bilhah bathing naked, which plants the idea of fornication with her into his mind. When his father, Jacob, is away visiting Isaac, Reuben enters Bilhah’s tent, finds her naked and uncovered (she had apparently been drinking), and has sex with her without awakening her. As soon as the act is done, an angel informs Jacob about what had happened. He mourns over Reuben and has no further relations with Bilhah. Reuben is afflicted with a disease in his genitalia for seven months and nearly dies, but Jacob prays on his behalf, and God spares him. Convicted of his guilt, Reuben does penance by abstaining from meat, alcohol, and pleasant foods for seven years, remaining conscience-stricken throughout his life. This retelling of the story closely resembles the version found in Jubilees 33:1–8. There, too, Reuben sees Bilhah bathing, enters her tent secretly, and lays with her while she sleeps. In Jubilees, however, Bilhah awakens during the act, cries out aloud, and tells Jacob upon his return about what transpired ..."
DeSilva, David A. The Jewish Teachers of Jesus, James, and Jude: What Earliest Christianity Learned from the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha (p. 177) Oxford University Press, 2012
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