The Third Book
of the Treatise on
The Allegories of the Sacred Laws,
After the Work of the Six Days of Creation.
I. "And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God in the midst of the trees of the Paradise." [Genesis 8:8.] A doctrine is introduced here which teaches us that the wicked man is inclined to run away. For the proper city of wise men is virtue, and he who is incapable of becoming a partaker in that is driven from his city; and no bad man is capable of becoming a partaker of it; therefore the bad man alone is driven away and becomes a banished man. But he who is banished from virtue is at once concealed from the face of God, for if the wise men are visible to God, inasmuch as they are dear to him, it follows plainly that the wicked are all concealed from him, and enveloped in darkness, as being enemies and adversaries to right reason. Now that the wicked man is destitute of a city and destitute of a home, Moses testifies in speaking of that hairy man who was also a man of varied wickedness, Esau, when he says, "But Esau was skillful in hunting, and a rude man." [Genesis 25:27.] For it is not natural for vice which is inclined to be subservient to the passions to inhabit the city of virtue, inasmuch as it is devoted to the pursuit of rudeness and ignorance, with great folly. But Jacob, who is full of wisdom, is both a citizen and one who dwells in a house, that is to say, in virtue. Accordingly Moses says of him, "But Jacob is a man without guile, dwelling in a house;" On which account also "the midwives, since they feared God made themselves houses." [Exodus 1:21.]
For they, being inclined to seek out the secret mysteries of God, one of which was that the male children should be preserved alive, build up the actions of virtue, in which they had previously determined to dwell. Accordingly, in this account it is shown how the wicked man is destitute of a city and destitute of a home: inasmuch as he is an exile from virtue, but that the virtuous man has a city and is allotted a home, namely wisdom.
II. And let us in the next place consider how any one is said to be concealed from God; but unless any one receives this as an allegorical saying it would be impossible to comprehend what is here stated. For God has completed everything and has penetrated every thing, and has left no one of all his works empty or deserted. What kind of place then can any one occupy in which God is not? And Moses testifies to this in other passages, when he says, "God is in the heaven above, and in the earth beneath; and there is nothing anywhere but he." [Deuteronomy 4:39.] And in another place he speaks in this manner, "I stood here before you did." [Exodus 17:6.] For God is of older date than any created being, and he will be everywhere, so that it cannot be possible for any one to be concealed from him: and what need we wonder at? For even if any thing were to happen to us we should not be able to escape the notice of, and to conceal ourselves from the most elementary of created things; for instance, let any one try to flee from the earth, or the water, or the air, or the heaven, or the entire universe, and he will fail; for it is impossible but what he must be contained in these things, for no one will be able to flee out of the world.
Again how could any man who is unable to conceal himself from the parts of the world, and from the whole world itself, be able to escape the notice of God? He never could do so. What then is the meaning of the expression, "they hid themselves?" The bad man thinks that God is in a certain place, not surrounding it, but being surrounded by it. On which account also he thinks that he can conceal himself from him, as if God were without any prevailing reason at a distance form that part of the world in which he has determined to lurk.
III. And we must understand this in the following manner. In the wicked man the true opinion concerning God is overshadowed and kept out of sight, for he is full of darkness, having no divine irradiation, by means of which he may be able to contemplate things as they are. And such a man is a fugitive from the divine company just as a leper is or a man with any other impure disease, the one bringing together into the same place God and Creation, two opposite natures of two different complexions, as the causes of things, when there is really but one cause, the great Creator; and the other, a man afflicted with a foul disease, believing that everything is created from the world, and again is dissolved into the world, but thinking that nothing has been created by God, being a follower of the doctrine of Heraclitus introduces covetousness and indigence, and one universe, and all kinds of things alternately. In reference to which the Holy Scripture says "Let them send forth from the holy soul every leper, and every one afflicted with foul disease, and every one who is impure in his soul, both male and female, and all mutilated persons, and all these who are emasculated, and all whoremongers," [Numbers 5:2] men who flee from the authority of one God, and who are expressly forbidden "to come into the assembly of God;" [Deuteronomy 23:2] but wise reasons are not only not concealed, but are even eager to manifest themselves. Do you not see that Abraham was still standing in the place of the Lord, and coming near to him said "do not then destroy the righteous with impious," [Genesis 18:23] him who is manifest to you and well known by you, with him who flees from you and seeks to escape your notice, for he indeed is impious, but the righteous man is one who stands before you and does not flee. For it is right indeed master that you alone should be honored, but it does not follow that as an impious man is discovered so also is a pious man; but it is sufficient if he is just. On which account he says "do not then destroy the righteous with the wicked." For not even one single man on earth honors God in a worthy manner, but only according to righteousness. For when it is not possible for a man to exhibit due gratitude even to his parents, for it is impossible for him to become their parents in his turn; how can it be anything but absolutely impossible adequately to requite God, or worthily to praise him who created the whole universe out of things that had no previous existence. "For God made all virtue."
IV. Be thou therefore O my soul in all your entirety always visible to God, for three separate times, that is to say for time divided according to a threefold division; not drawing after you the female passion arising from external sensation, but offering up to him manly thought, the encourager to and practicer of persevering courage. "For at three seasons of the year every male must appear before the Lord the God of Israel" [Deuteronomy 15:16] this is the injunction of the holy scriptures. On this account Moses when he appears to God in visible form, flees from the dispersing disposition, that is from Pharaoh, who boasts, saying, that he does not know the Lord, "for Moses," says he, "retreated from the presence of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian" [Exodus 2:15] that is to say, being interpreted, in the judgment of the nature of things; and sat down upon a well, waiting to see what good which might be drank in God would rain upon his thirsting and eager soul. Accordingly he retreats from the impious opinion which is the mistress of the passions, namely from Pharaoh; and he retreats into Midian, that is to say into judgment, considering anxiously whether he ought to live in tranquil inactivity or whether he ought again to contend with that wicked man to his own destruction. And he considers whether if he attacks him he shall be able to gain the victory, from which consideration he restrains himself waiting, as I have already said, to see if God will give to his deep and not frivolous consideration, a fountain sufficient to wash away the impetuosity of the king of Egypt, that is to say of his own passions. And he is thought worthy of grace, for having fought the good fight in behalf of virtue he never ceases from warring till he sees the pleasures overthrown and baulked of their object.
And with this view Moses does not flee from Pharaoh, for if he had done so he would have fled without returning; but withdraws for a time, that is to say he makes a truce from the war, after the fashion of a wrestler who seeks a respite and collects his breath again, until, having aroused the alliance of prudence and the other virtues he attacks his enemy once more, by divine reason, with the most vigorous power. But Jacob, for he is a supplanter, having acquired virtue by regular system and discipline, not without hard labor, for his name had not as yet been changed to Israel, "fled from the affairs of labor" [Genesis 31:20] that is to say from colors and figures, and in short from bodies the nature of which is to wound the soul through the objects of outward sense; for since, when he was present, he could not entirely and utterly subdue them, he fled, fearing to be subdued by them. And he is very worthy of praise for so doing; for "says Moses you will make the children of Israel cautious," [Leviticus 15:31] but not bold, or covetous of those things, which do not belong to them.
V. "And Jacob concealed himself from Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he was about to flee from him, and he fled from him, taking with him all that he had, and he crossed the river, and proceeded towards the Mount Gilead." It was most natural for him to conceal that he was about to flee, and not to inform Laban, who was a man depending wholly on thoughts such as arise from the outward senses, just as if you have seen some excellent beauty and are charmed with it, and are likely to be led into error in respect of it, you should privily flee from the imagination of it, and never tell it to your mind, that is to say, never think of it again nor give it any consideration, for continued recollections of anything are not without making some distinct impression, and injure the intellect and turn it out of the right way, even against its will. And the same reasoning applies to all temptations which arise in respect of any one of the external senses, for in all such cases secret flight is the preserver from danger. But to keep recalling the temptation to one's mind, and to talk of it and dwell upon it subdues and enslaves the reason by force. Do not these then ever, O my mind, report to yourself any object of outward sense that has been seen by you, if you are likely to be led away captive by it, and do not dwell on it, in order that you may not become miserable by being subdued by it, but rather, while you are still free, rise up and flee, preferring untamed liberty to slavery and subjection to a master.
VI. But why now, as if Jacob had been ignorant that Laban was a Syrian, does Moses say, "And Jacob concealed himself from Laban the Syrian." This expression, however, has a reason in it which is not superfluous; for the name Syria, being interpreted, means high. Jacob, therefore, being an experienced man, that is to say, being mind, when he sees passion low and powerless, abides it, thinking that he shall be able to subdue it by force: but when he beholds it high, and bearing its neck haughtily, and full of arrogance, then experienced mind flees first, and afterwards the other parts of his experience do also flee, namely reading, meditation, care, the recollection of what is honorable, temperance, the energy in pursuit of what is becoming; and so he crosses over the river of the objects affecting the outward senses, which wash over and threaten to submerge the soul by the impetuosity of the passions, and having crossed over he proceed towards the high and lofty reason of perfect virtue; for "he proceeded towards the Mount of Gilead;" and Gilead being interpreted means the migration of testimony, since God caused the soul to migrate from the passions which surrounded Laban, and bore witness to it, that it should migrate and receive another settlement, because it was profitable and expedient, and conducted it onwards from the evils calculated to render the soul base, and seeking the things that are on the earth, to the height and magnitude of virtue.
On this account Laban, the friend of the outward senses, and one who energized according to them and not according to his mind, is indignant, and pursues after him and says, "why did you flee from me secretly, and not remain for the enjoyment of your soul, and for the opinions which judge concerning the body and the external good things of the world? But in fleeing from this opinion you have despoiled me also of my prudence, Leah and Rachel; for they, when they remained in the soul created prudence in it, but now that they have departed they have left it ignorance and inexperience." On which account he adds, "You have stripped me," that is to say, you have robbed me of my prudence.
VII. And what that prudence was he will proceed to tell us, for he adds, "And you have led away my daughters as captives; and if you had told me, I would myself have sent you away." [Genesis 31:27.] You would not have sent away things which were at variance with one another, for if you had sent them away really, and had emancipated the soul, you would have removed from it all bodily sounds, and such as affect the outward senses; for in this way the intellect is emancipated from evils and passions. But now you say that you send it away free, but by your actions you confess that you would have retained it in a prison; for if you had sent it on its way with musical instruments, and drums and harps, and all the pleasures which affect the outward senses, you would not in reality have released it at all; for it is not you then only from whom we are fleeing, O Laban, thou companion of bodies and colors, but we are also escaping from everything that is thine, in which the voices of the outward senses sound in harmony with the energies of the passions. For we, if at least we are practicers of virtue, have meditated a very necessary meditation, which Jacob also meditated, namely, to overthrow and destroy those gods who are hostile to the soul, gods made by hands, gods whom Moses forbade the people to make; [Leviticus 19:4] and these gods are the destruction of virtue and of a good state of the passions, but the consolidation and confirmation of vice and the appetites; for that metal which is cast, after it has been fused, is soon consolidated again.
VIII. But Moses speaks thus, "And they gave to Jacob the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the turpentine tree which was in Shechem." [Genesis 35:4.] These are the gods of the wicked, but Jacob is not said to have taken them, but to have concealed and destroyed them, for every case being most accurately described, for the virtuous man will take nothing from wickedness for his own advantage, but will conceal all such things and destroy them secretly. Just as Abraham tells the king of Sodom, when he was proposing to give him things of irrational nature in exchange for rational animals, namely, horses in exchange for men, "that he would take nothing that belonged to him, but that he would stretch out "the action of his soul," which, speaking symbolically, he called "his hand," to the most high God; [Genesis 14:21] "for that he had not taken from a thread even to a shoe-latchet of all that was his (the king of Sodom's), in order that the king might never say that he had made the discerning man," namely Abraham, "rich," exchanging poverty for wealthy virtue.
The passions are always concealed and guarded in Shechem; and the name Shechem being interpreted means "the shoulder;" for he who labors concerning pleasures is inclined to preserve them. But the passions are concealed and destroyed by the wise man, and that too not for a brief space of time, but up to this present day, that is to say, for ever, for all time is measured by the present day, for the cycle of one day is the measure of all time. On which account Jacob gives Joseph Shechem, [Genesis 48:22] as an especial portion beyond the rest of his brethren, meaning thereby the bodily things which are the objects of the outward senses, since he had gone through labor in respect of them; but to Judah the confessor he gave not presents but praise, and hymns and divine songs, in which he should be celebrated by his brethren. And Jacob did not receive Shechem as a gift from God, but he took it with his sword and with his bow, that is to say, by words, which had the power of cutting and repelling; for the wise man subjects all secondary things to himself, and when he has so subjected them he does not retain them, but makes a present of them to him who is by nature adapted to them. Do you not see that also, when he appeared to take the gods, he did not take them but concealed them and put them out of the way, and destroyed them out of his sight for ever. Now to what soul could it have happened to conceal vice and to put it out of the way, except to that soul to which God was revealed, and which he considered worthy to receive the revelation of his unspeakable mysteries? For he says, "shall I hide from Abraham my son that thing which I am doing?" [Genesis 18:17.] Well done, O Savior, in that thou showest thy works to the soul which desires good things, and has concealed from it no one of thy works: and by reason of this conduct of thine he is able to avoid evil, and to conceal it and keep it out of sight, and to destroy for ever the passions which are injurious.
IX. We have shown, therefore, in what manner the wicked man is a fugitive, and how he conceals himself from God; but now let us consider where he conceals himself. "In the middle," says Moses, "of the trees of the garden;" [Genesis 3:8] that is to say, in the middle of the mind, which again is itself the center of the whole soul, as the trees are of the garden. For the man who escapes from God flees to himself, for, since there are two things, the mind of the universe, which is God, and also the separate mind of each individual, he who escapes from the mind which is in himself flees to the mind of the universe; and conversely, he who forsakes his own individual mind, confesses that all the things of the human mind are of no value, and attributes everything to God; again, he who seeks to escape from God asserts, by so doing, that God is not the cause of anything, but looks upon himself as the cause of everything that exists.
At all events it is affirmed by many people, that everything in the world is borne on spontaneously without any guide or governor, and that the human mind, by its own single power, has invented arts and pursuits, and laws and customs, and all the principles of political and individual, and common justice, with reference both to men and to irrational animals. But dost thou not see, O soul, the unreasonable character of these opinions? For one of them having the particular mind, which was created and which is mortal, does in reality ascribe it to the mind of the universe, which is uncreated and immortal: and the other again, repudiating God, most inconsistently drags forward, as an ally, that mind which is unable even to assist itself.
X. On this account also Moses says, that "If a thief be detected in the act of breaking into a house, and be smitten so that he die, that shall not be imputed as murder to him who has smitten him; but if the sun be risen upon him, then he is liable, and shall die in retaliation." [Exodus 22:1.] For if any one cuts down and destroys that reason which stands upright and is sound and correct, which testifies to God that he alone is able to do everything, and is found in the act of breaking in upon it, that is to say, standing over this reason thus wounded and destroyed, and who recognizes his own mind as energizing, and not God, is a thief, taking away what belongs to others, for all things belong to God; so he who attributes anything to himself is taking away what belongs to another, and receives a very severe blow and one difficult to heal, namely, arrogance, a thing nearly akin to imprudence and ignorance. But he says nothing as to the name of him who has smitten him, for the smiter is not a different person from him who is smitten.
But as a man who rubs himself is likewise a person who is rubbed, and as he who stretches himself out is also the person who is stretched out, for he himself both exerts the power of the agent, and also fills the part of the patient. In like manner is he, who steals the things which belong to God, and attributes them to himself, subjected to the tortures of his own impiety and arrogance. Would that the man so stricken might die, that is to say might perish before he had succeeded in his objects, for then he will appear to be less sinful, for of vice one kind is discerned in habit, and another kind in motion; but the one which is discerned in motion has an inclination towards the perfecting of its operation, on which account it is more mischievous than the one which is discerned only in habit. If therefore the mind, which imagines itself and not God to be the cause of things, dies, that is to say, becomes inactive and contracts itself, then there is no cause of death in it; it has not absolutely destroyed the living opinion, which attributes all power, and all exertion of power to God, but if the Sun rises, that is to say the mind which appears brilliant in us, and if it appears to see through everything and to judge everything, and not to flee from itself, it then becomes liable to death, and shall die in retaliation for the living doctrine which it has destroyed; according to which God alone is the cause of everything, being found to be wholly unable to effect any good purpose, and to be truly dead in as much as it has shown itself the interpreter of a lifeless and dead and departed doctrine.
XI. And it is in reference to this that the Holy Scripture curses "any one who has placed in any secret place any carved thing, or any thing made of cast metal, the work of the hands of an artist." [Deuteronomy 27:15.] For why, O mind, do you store and treasure up within yourself depraved opinions, that God is a being of such and such qualities, (he who has no distinctive qualities) like a carved work; or that he who is imperishable is perishable like images that are cast in the foundry; and why do you not rather bring them forward openly that you may learn what is right from men who practice the truth? For you think that you are endowed with some great skill because you have devised absurd opinions imposing upon you by an appearance of probability, in opposition to the truth: but in reality you are proved to be destitute of skill, in as much as you are unwilling to be healed of that terrible disease of the soul, ignorance.
XII. But that the wicked man sinks into and is concealed within his own scattered mind, fleeing from the real mind or truth, is testified by Moses "who smote the Egyptian and buried him in the sand," [Exodus 2:12] the meaning of which is that he by his arguments convinced him who asserted that the good things of the body were the most excellent, and who thought that the good things of the soul were of no value, and who likewise esteemed the pleasures as the end of life. For when he had comprehended the labor of him who beholds God, which the king of Egypt had imposed on him, (and by the king of Egypt is meant vice, which is the guide of the passions) he sees an Egyptian man, that is to say human passions operating at a seasonable moment, beating and insulting the man who beholds God, and looking round upon the whole soul on this side and on that side, and seeing no one standing by except the true God, and everything else in a state of confusion and disorder, having stricken down and convicted the lover of pleasure, he hides him in the dispersed and agitated mind, which is deprived of all kindred with and comprehension of what is good.
This man then is hidden in himself, but the man who is opposite to him escapes from himself, and flees to the God of all existing things.
XIII. On which account Moses says moreover, "He led him forth out of doors and said to him, look up to heaven, and count the stars," [Genesis 15:5] which we should be glad indeed to see thoroughly and to comprehend; since we are insatiable in our love for notice, but nevertheless we are unable to measure the riches of God. Nevertheless thanks be to that magnificent and bounteous God because he says that he has implanted in the soul seeds as brilliant, as visible at a distance, and as eternally new as the stars in heaven. And it is not a superfluous addition when after having said "he led him forth," he subjoins "out of doors," for who is ever led forth in doors? But perhaps what he says here has some such meaning as this; he led him forth into the outermost place, not into some place or other out of doors, which might be surrounded by other places.
For as in dwelling houses the man's character is outside the woman's chamber, and the inner chamber is within, and the vestibule is outside of the hall but within the doorway, so also in the case of the soul that which is within one thing may be outside of some other thing. This then is the sense in which we must understand this passage; he led the mind forth into the outermost place, for what was the use of his leaving the body and fleeing to the outward senses; and what would have been the use of his discarding the outward senses, and subjecting that which exists to the voice? For it is fitting that the mind which is about to be led forth, and to be dismissed in freedom should be emancipated from all corporeal necessities, from all the organs of the outward senses, from all sophistical ratiocinations, and plausible persuasions, and last of all from itself.
XIV. On which account in another passage also he boasts, saying "the Lord the God of Heaven, and the God of earth who took me out of the house of my father." [Genesis 24:7.] For it is not possible for one who dwells in the body and belongs to the race of mortals to be united with God, but he alone can be so whom God delivers from that prison house of the body. On which account also, that joy of the soul, Isaac, when he is conversing and discoursing privately with God, comes forth forsaking himself and his own mind, for he says, "Come forth, O Isaac, to converse in the plain towards evening," [Genesis 24:62] and Moses, that word of prophecy, says, "When I go forth from the city," that is from my soul, (for the soul is the city of the living creature, in as much as it is the soul which gives it its laws and customs), "I will stretch forth my hands," [Exodus 9:29] and I will reveal and unfold all my actions to God, invoking him as a witness and inspector of every one of them, from whom it is impossible by its own nature that vice should be hidden, but to whom it must be unfolded and by whom it must be clearly discerned.
When therefore the soul is made manifest in all its sayings and doings, and is made a partaker of the divine nature, the voices of the external senses are reduced to silence, and so likewise are all troublesome and ill-omened sounds, for the objects of sight often speak loudly and invite the sense of sight to themselves; and so do voices invite the sense of hearing; scents invite the smell, and altogether each varied object of sense invites its appropriate sense. But all these things are put at rest when the mind going forth out of the city of the soul, attributes all its own actions and conceptions to God.
XV. "For the hands of Moses are heavy." [Exodus 17:12.] For since the actions of the wicked man are like the wind and light, those of the wise man on the other hand are heavy and immovable, and not easily shaken; in reference to which is hands are held up by Aaron, who is reason, or by Ur, who is light. Now of all existing things there is nothing clearer than the truth; therefore Moses intends here to signify by a symbolical form of expression, that the actions of the wise man are supported by the most necessary of all qualities, reason and truth. On this account also, when Aaron dies, that is to say, when the truth is completely asserted, he ascends up to Ur, [Numbers 20:25] that is to say, to Light; for the proper end of reason is truth, which is more visible than any light, and to it reason is always striving to come.
Do you not see that also when he received the tabernacle from God, and this tabernacle is wisdom, in which the wise man tabernacles and, dwells, he fixed it firmly and founded and built it up strongly, not in the body but out of it; for he likens this to an encampment, to a camp I say full of wars and of all the evils which war causes, and which has not portion with peace.
"And it was called the tabernacle of testimony;" [Exodus 33:7] that is to say wisdom was borne witness to by God. For every one who seeks the Lord went forth out of his house. And this is well said. For if you seek God, O my mind, go forth out of yourself, and so seek for him; but if you remain in the substance of the body, or in the vain opinions of the mind, you are then without any real wish to search into divine things, even if you do put on the appearance and pretense of seeking them. If when you search you will find God, is uncertain; for there have been many persons to whom he has not revealed himself, but they have expended a vain labor all their time. But the mere act of seeking for him is sufficient to entitle you to a participation in good things, for the desire for what is good, even if it fails in attaining the end which it seeks, does at all events always gladden the heart of those who cherish it.
Thus the wicked man who flees from virtue, and who seeks to conceal himself from God, flees to a powerless ally, that is his own mind, but the good man on the contrary seeking to escape from himself turns to the knowledge of the one God, and is victorious in the honorable race, and in that contest which is of all the most excellent.
XVI. "And the Lord God called Adam, and said unto him, where art thou?" [Genesis 3:9.] Why now is Adam, alone called, when his wife also was concealed together with him? In the first place we must say that the mind is summoned, and asked where it is. When it is converted, and reproved for its offense, not only is it summoned itself but all its faculties are also summoned, for without its faculties the mind by itself is found to be naked, and to be absolutely nothing, and one of its faculties is also the outward sense, that is to say the woman. The woman therefore, that is the outward sense is also summoned together with Adam, that is the mind, but separately God does not summon her. Why not? Because being destitute of reason she is incapable of being convicted by herself. For neither can sight, nor hearing, nor any one of the other external senses be taught, and moreover none of them are capable of receiving the comprehension of things; for the Creator has not made them capable of distinguishing anything but bodies only. But the mind is able to receive teaching: on account of which fact God calls that, but not the external senses.
XVII. And the expression "Where art thou?" admits of being interpreted in many ways. In the first place it may be taken not as an interrogation, but as an affirmation, equivalent to the words "You are somewhere," if you alter the accent on the particle pou "where." For, since you have thought that God was walking in the garden, and was surrounded by it, learn now that in this you were mistaken, and hear from God who knows all things that most true statement that God is not in any one place. For he is not surrounded by anything, but he does himself surround everything. For that which is created is in place; for it is inevitable that it must be surrounded, and not be the thing which surrounds.
In the second place, that which is said is equivalent to this, Where has thou been, O soul? What evils hast thou chosen instead of what good things? When God invited you to a participation in virtue, have you pursued vice? And when he offered to you for your enjoyment the tree of life, that is to say the tree of wisdom by which you might live, have you hastened into ignorance and to destruction, preferring misery, the death of the soul to the happiness of eternal life?
The third interpretation is the interrogative one; to which there may be two answers given. The one, if the answer be give to the inquirer, "Where art thou?" is, "Nowhere." For the soul of the wicked man has no place to which it can go, or in which it can be situated. In respect of which fact the wicked man is said to be destitute of place; but an evil destitute of place is one which is difficult to manage. And such is the man who is void of good qualities, being always agitated and in a state of confusion, and wavering about after the fashion of an unsteady breeze being altogether the companion of no single steady opinion.
The other answer may be of this kind; that which Adam himself uses. "Hear where I am," where those are who are unable to see God; where those are who do not listen to God; where those are who endeavor to conceal themselves from him who is the author of all things: where those are who flee from virtue, where those are who are destitute of wisdom, where those are who are alarmed and tremble because of the unmanliness and cowardice of their souls. For when Adam says, "I heard thy voice in the paradise and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself," he exhibits all the qualities enumerated above, as I have shown, more at length, in the former books of this treatise.
XVIII. And yet Adam is not now naked. It has been said a little before that "they made themselves girdles," but by this expression Moses intends to teach you that he is not meaning here to speak of the nakedness of the body, but of that in respect of which the mind is found to be wholly deficient in and destitute of virtue. "The woman," says Adam, "whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat." The expression here is very accurate, inasmuch as he does not say, "The woman whom you gave to me," but "The woman whom you gave to be with me." For you did not give me the outward senses as a possession, but you left them free and unimpeded, and in some sort not at all yielding to the injunctions of my intellect. If therefore the mind were to be inclined to command the sight not to see, it nevertheless would see any subject which came before it. And the hearing also will in every case apprehend any sound which falls upon it, even if the mind in its jealousy were to command it not to hear. And again the smell will smell every scent which reaches it, even if the mind were to forbid it to apprehend it.
On this account it is that God did not give the outward sense to the creature, but to be with the creature. And the meaning of this is, the inward sense in conjunction with our mind knows every thing, and does so too at the same moments with the mind. As for instance the sense of sight in conjunction and simultaneously with the mind strikes upon the subject of sight; for the eye sees the substance, and immediately the mind comprehends the thing seen, that is black or white, or pale, or red, or triangular, or quadrangular, or round, or that is of any other color or shape as the case may be. And so again the sense of hearing is affected by a sound, and with the sense of hearing the mind is also affected; and the proof of it is this; the mind immediately distinguishes the character of the voice, that it is thin, or that it has substance, or that it is melodious and tuneful; or, on the other hand, that it is out of tune and inharmonious. And the same is found to be the case in respect of the rest of the inward senses.
And very appropriately do we see that Adam adds this assertion, "She gave me of the tree;" but he gives an habitation made of wood and perceptible by the outward senses to the mind except that outward sense itself. For what gave to the mind to be able to distinguish body, or whiteness? Was it not the sight? And what enabled it to distinguish sounds? Was it not the hearing? What, again, endowed it with the faculty of judging of smells? Was it not the sense of smell? What enabled it to decide upon flavors? Was it not the taste? What invested it with the power of distinguishing between rough and smooth? Was it not the touch? Correctly, therefore, and with complete truth was it said by the mind, that it was the outward sense alone which gave me the power to comprehend the corporeal substance.
XIX. And God said to the woman, "What is this that thou hast done?" And she said, "The serpent beguiled me and I did eat." God asks one question of the outward sense, and she replies to a different one. For he is putting a question which has reference to the man; but she in her reply speaks not of the man but of herself, saying, "I ate," not I gave. May we then by the use of allegory solve the question which was here put, and show that the woman gave a felicitous and correct answer to the question? For it follows of necessity that when she had eaten, her husband did also eat, for when the outward sense striking upon its object is filled with its appearance, then immediately the mind joins it and takes its share of it, and is in a manner made perfect by the nourishment which it receives from it. This therefore is what she says, I unintentionally gave it to my husband, for while I was applying myself to what was presented to me, he, being very easily and quickly moved, impressed its appearance and image upon himself.
XX. But take notice that the man says that the woman gave it to him; but that the woman does not say that the serpent gave it to her, but that he beguiled her; for it is the especial property of the outward sense to give, but it is the attribute of pleasure which is of a diversified and serpent-like nature to deceive and to beguile. For instance, the outward sense presents to the mind the image of what is white by nature, or black, or hot, or cold, not deceiving it, but acting truly; for the subjects of the outward sense are of such a character, as also is the imagination which presents itself to man from them, in the case of the great majority of men who do not carry their knowledge of natural philosophy to any accurate extent. But pleasure does not present to the mind that the subject is such as it is in reality, but deceives it by its artifice, thrusting that, in which there is no advantage, into the class of things profitable.
For as we may at times see ill-looking courtesans dyeing and painting their faces in order to conceal the plainness of their countenances, so also may we see the intemperate man acting who is inclined to the pleasures of the belly. He looks upon great abundance of wine and a luxurious store of food as a good thing, though he is injured by them both in his body and in his soul. Again, we may often see lovers madly eager to be loved by the ugliest of women, because pleasure deceives them and all but affirms positively to them that beauty of form, and delicacy of complexion, and healthiness of flesh, and symmetry of limb, exists in those who have the exact contraries to all these qualifications. Accordingly, they overlook those who are truly possessed of perfectly irreproachable beauty, and waste away with love for such creatures as I have mentioned. Every kind of deceit therefore is closely connected with pleasure; and every kind of gift with the outward sense: for the one bewilders the mind with sophistry and misleads it, representing to it anything that comes before it, not in the character which really belongs to it, but in one that does not. But the outward sense presents bodies, plainly as they are according to their real nature, without any device or artifice.
XXI. "And the Lord God said to the serpent, Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed above all cattle and every beast of the field; upon thy breast and upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. And I will put enmity in the midst between thee and between the woman, and in the midst between thy seed and between her seed, He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." [Genesis 3:14.] What is the reason why he curses the serpent without allowing him to make any defense, when in another place he commands that "both the parties between whom there is any dispute shall be heard," [Deuteronomy 19:17] and that one shall not be believed till the other has been heard? And indeed in this case you see that he did not give a prejudged belief to Adam's statement against his wife; but he gave her also an opportunity of defending herself, when he asked her, "Why hast thou done this?" But she confessed that she had erred through the deceitfulness of serpent-like and diversified pleasure. Why, therefore, when the woman had said, "The serpent deceived me," [Genesis 3:13] did he forbid the putting of the question to the serpent whether it was he who had thus deceived her; and why did he thus appoint him to be condemned without trial and without defense?
We must say, therefore, that the external senses are not a peculiar property of either bad or good men, but that they are of an intermediate nature, and common to both the wise man and the fool, and when they are found in the fool, they are bad; but when they are found in the wise man, they are good. Very naturally therefore, since it has a nature which is not necessarily and intrinsically evil, but one which being capable of either character, inclines at different times and under different circumstances towards either extremity, it is not condemned till it has itself confessed that it followed the worse inclination. But the serpent, that is pleasure, is of itself evil. On this account it is absolutely not found at all in the virtuous man; but the wicked man alone enjoys it. Very properly therefore does God curse it before it has time to make any defense, inasmuch as it has no seed of virtue within it, but is at all times and in all places blameable and polluting.
XXII. On this account also, God "saw that Er was wicked," [Genesis 38:7] without any apparent cause for this judgment of his character, and he slew him. For God is not unaware that that leathern mass which covers us, namely, the body; for Er being interpreted means leather, is an evil thing, and one which plots against the soul, and which is at all times lifeless and dead. For what else does he compel any one of us to do but to carry about a dead body, our soul raising up the body which as far as its own nature goes is dead, and bearing it almost without difficulty? And just consider, if you will, the great energy of the soul, for the most vigorous athlete would not be able to carry about a statue of himself for even a short time; but the soul, without any exertion and without any fatigue, carries about the statue of a man occasionally even for as long a time as a hundred years; for even at the end of that period it does not kill it, but only gets rid of a body which was dead from the beginning. And it is evil by nature, as I have said before, and a thing which plots against the soul, but which is not visible to all men, but only to God, and to such men as are friends to God. "For the wicked Er," says Moses, "was an enemy of the Lord."
For when the mind busies itself with sublime contemplations, and becomes initiated into the mysteries of the Lord, it judges the body to be a wicked and hostile thing; but when it abandons its investigations of divine things, it then looks upon the body as something friendly, and belonging to and nearly akin to itself; and accordingly it flies to the things which are dear to it. On this account the soul of the athlete and the soul of the philosopher differ; for the athlete attributes all his importance to the good condition of his body, and would throw away his soul itself in the cause of his body, as being a man devoted to his body; but the philosopher, being a lover of what is virtuous, cares for that which is alive within him, namely his soul, and disregards his body which is dead, having no other object but to prevent the most excellent portion of him, namely his soul, from being injured by the evil and dead thing which is connected with it.
XXIII. You see that it is not the Lord who is here spoken of as slaying Er, but God. For he does not kill the body in respect of the absolute and irresponsible power which he possesses, and by which he rules and governs the universe, but in respect of that authority which he possesses in consequence of his goodness and excellence, for God is the name of goodness, the cause of all things; that you may understand that he also created all inanimate things, not by his authority, but by his goodness, by which also he created all living things; for it was requisite for the manifestation of the better things, that there should also be a subordinate creation of the inferior things, through the power of the same goodness which was the cause of all, which is God. When, then, O Soul! shall you most especially consider that you have gained a victory? Will it not be when you are made perfect, and when you have been thought worthy of decisions in your favor and of crowns? For then you will be a lover of God, not of the body, and you will receive prizes, inasmuch as your wife shall be Thamar the bride of Judah, and Thamar being interpreted means the palm-tree, the symbol of victory. And a proof of this is, that when Er married her, he was at once discovered to be a wicked man, and was slain; for Moses says, "And Judah took a wife for Er, his first-born son, whose name was Thamar;" and immediately afterwards he adds, "And Er was a wicked man before the Lord, and God slew him;" for when the mind has carried off the prize of virtue, it condemns the dead body to death.
You see that God also curses the serpent without allowing it to make any defense, for it is pleasure: and so also he slays Er without any visible cause being alleged, for Er is the body. And if you consider, O good friend, you will find that God has created in the soul some natural qualities which are in themselves faulty and blameless, and also in every soul some which are virtuous and praiseworthy, as is the case likewise with plants and animals. Do you not see that the Creator has made some plants capable of cultivation and useful and salutary, and others incapable of cultivation, wild, pernicious, the causes of diseases and destruction; and animals too of similar variety of character, as beyond all question is the serpent, of which we are now speaking; for he is a destructive and deadly animal by his intrinsic nature. And as the serpent affects man, so does pleasure too affect the soul; in reference to which fact the serpent has been compared to pleasure.
XXIV. As, therefore, God hates pleasure and the body without any especial cause, so also does he give pre-eminent honor to virtuous natures without any visible cause; not alleging any action of theirs before the praises of them which he utters. For if any one were to ask why Moses says that "Noah found grace before the Lord God," [Genesis 6:8] without having previously done any good thing, as far at least as we know, we shall be very properly answered, that he was proved to be a praiseworthy character and order of creation; for the name Noah, being interpreted, means rest, or just: and it follows of necessity that one who is resting from acts of injustice and from sins, and who, so resting, lives with virtue and justice, must find grace before God; and to find grace, is not only, as some call it, equivalent to the expression "pleasing God," but it has some such meaning as this.
The just man seeking to understand the nature of all existing things, makes this one most excellent discovery, that everything which exists, does so according to the grace of God, and that there is nothing ever given by, just as there is nothing possessed by, the things of creation. On which account also it is proper to acknowledge gratitude to the Creator alone. Accordingly, to those persons who seek to investigate what is the origin of creation, we may most correctly make answer, that it is the goodness and the grace of God, which he has bestowed on the human race; for all the things which are in the world, and the world itself, are the gift and benefaction and free grace of God.
XXV. Moreover, God made Melchisedek, the king of peace, that is of Salem, for that is the interpretation of this name, "his own high priest," [Genesis 14:18] without having previously mentioned any particular action of his, but merely because he had made him a king, and a lover of peace, and especially worthy of his priesthood. For he is called a just king, and a king is the opposite of a tyrant, because the one is the interpreter of law, and the other of lawlessness. Therefore the tyrannical mind imposes violent and mischievous commands on both soul and body, and such as have a tendency to cause violent suffering, being commands to act according to vice, and to indulge the passions with enjoyment. But the other, the kingly mind, in the first place, does not command, but rather persuades, since it gives recommendations of such a character, that if guided by them, life, like a vessel, will enjoy a fair voyage through life, being directed in its course by a good governor and pilot; and this good pilot is right reason. We may therefore call the tyrannical mind the ruler of war, and the kingly mind the guide to peace, that is Salem.
And this kingly mind shall bring forth food full of cheerfulness and joy; for "he brought forth bread and wine," which the Ammonites and Moabites were not willing to give to the beholder, that is Israel; by reason of such unwillingness they are shut out from the companionship and assembly of God. For the Ammonites being they who are sprung from the outward sense of the mother, and the Moabites, who originate in the mind of the father, are two different dispositions, which look upon the mind and the outward sense as the efficient causes of all existing things, but take no notice of God. Therefore "they shall not come," says Moses, "into the assembly of the Lord, because they did not come to meet you with bread and water when you came out of Egypt," [Deuteronomy 23:4] that is, out of the passions.
XXVI. But Melchisedek shall bring forward wine instead of water, and shall give your souls to drink, and shall cheer them with unmixed wine, in order that they may be wholly occupied with a divine intoxication, more sober than sobriety itself. For reason is a priest, having, as its inheritance the true God, and entertaining lofty and sublime and magnificent ideas about him, "for he is the priest of the most high God." [Genesis 14:18.] Not that there is any other God who is not the most high; for God being one, is in the heaven above, and in the earth beneath, and there is no other besides him." [Deuteronomy 4:39.] But he sets in motion the notion of the Most High, from his conceiving of God not in a low and grovelling spirit, but in one of exceeding greatness, and exceeding sublimity, apart from any conceptions of matter.
XXVII. And what good thing had Abraham done as yet when God called him and bade him become a stranger to his country and to this "generation," and to dwell in the land which the Lord should give him? [Genesis 12:1.] And that is a good and populous city, and one of great happiness. For the gifts of God are great and honorable. But he made this position of Abraham also to be typical, containing an emblem worthy of attentive consideration. For Abraham, being interpreted, means "Lofty Father;" a title of admiration in both its divisions. For when the mind does not, like a master, threaten the soul, but rather guides it, like a father, not indulging it in the pleasant things, but giving it what is expedient for it, even against its will, and also turning it away from all lowly things and such as lead it to mortal paths, it leads it to sublime contemplations and makes it dwell amid speculations on the world and its constituent parts. And, moreover, mounting up higher, it investigates the Deity itself, and his nature, through an unspeakable lore of knowledge, in consequence of which it cannot be content to abide in the original decrees, but, being improved itself, becomes also desirous of removing to a better habitation.
XXVIII. But there are some persons whom, even before their creation, God creates and disposes excellently; respecting whom he determines beforehand that they shall have a most excellent inheritance. Do you not see what he says about Isaac to Abraham, when he had no hope of any such thing, namely, that he should become the father of such an offspring, but did rather laugh at the promise, and asked, "Shall a son be born to me, who am a hundred years old; and shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bring forth a child?" [Genesis 17:17.] But God asserts it positively, and ratifies his promise saying, "Yea, behold Sarah, thy wife, shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name Isaac, and I will establish my covenant towards him for an everlasting covenant."
What then is the reason which caused this man, also, to be praised before his birth? There are some good things which are an advantage to a man both when they are past, and when they are present, such as good health, a sound condition of the outwards senses, riches, if he be endowed with them, a good reputation; for all these things may, by a slight perversion of words, be called good things. But some are so not merely when they have been given to us, but even when it is predicted that they shall be so given, as joy as a good affection of the soul; for this does not cheer a man only when it is present and energizes actively in him, but it delights him also by anticipations when it is hoped for--for it has this especial quality; all other good qualities have their own separate operation and effect, but joy is both a separate good and a common good, for it comes as a crowning one after all the rest--for we feel joy at good health, and we feel joy at liberty and at honor, and at all other such things, so that one may say with propriety that there is not one single good thing which has not the additional good of joy. But not only do we rejoice at other good things which are already previously past and also at those which are present, but we rejoice also at good things when about to happen to us and expected; as for instance, when we hope that we shall become rich, or that we shall obtain power, or that we shall receive praise, or that we shall find a means to get rid of an illness, or that we shall acquire vigor and strength, or that we shall become learned instead of ignorant, in all these cases we are rejoiced in no slight degree.
Since, then, joy diffuses itself over and cheers the soul, not only while it is present but also even when it is expected, it was very consistent and natural for God to think Isaac worthy of a good name and of a great gift before he was born, for the name of Isaac, being interpreted, means laughter of soul, and delight, and joy.
XXIX. Again, they say that Jacob and Esau, the former being the ruler, and governor, and master, and Esau being the subject and the slave, had their several estates appointed to them while they were still in the world. For God, the creator of all living things, is thoroughly acquainted with all his works, and before he has completely finished them he comprehends the faculties with which they will hereafter be endowed, and altogether he foreknows all their actions and passions. For when Rebecca, that is the patient soul, proceeds to ask an oracle from God, the answers are, "Two nations are in thy womb, and two people shall come forth from thy bowels, and one people shall be stronger than the other people, and the elder shall save the younger." [Genesis 25:23.] For that which is wicked and void of reason is, by its own nature, a slave in the eye of God; but that which is good and endowed with reason and better, is looked upon as powerful and free by him. And this is the case not only when each of these two different characters is perfect in the soul, but when there is a doubt on the subject; for, altogether, a slight breeze of virtue shows power and supremacy, and not freedom only, and on the other hand, the existence of even an ordinary degree of vice enslaves the reason, even though not by any means as yet come to maturity.
XXX. Again, why did the same Jacob when Joseph brought him his two sons, the elder being Manasses and the younger Ephraim, change his hands, and put his right hand upon the younger brother Ephraim, and his left hand upon the elder brother Manasses? And when Joseph thought this a grievous thing, and thought that his father had unintentionally made a mistake in the matter of the imposition of hands, Jacob said, "I did not make a mistake, but I knew, my son, I knew that this one should be a father of a nation, and should be exalted; but, nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he." [Genesis 48:1.] What, then, must we say but this? That two natures, both utterly necessary, were created in the soul by God, one memory and the other recollection, of which memory is the best and recollection the worst. For the one has its perceptions fresh and harmonious and clear, so that it never errs through ignorance. But forgetfulness does, in every case, precede recollection, which is but a mutilated and blind thing. And, although recollection is worse, it is nevertheless older than memory, which is better than it, and is also conjoined with and inseparable from it; for when we are first introduced to any art we are unable at once to make ourselves masters of all the speculations which bear upon it. Being, therefore, affected with forgetfulness at first, we subsequently recollect, until from a frequent recurrence of forgetfulness and a frequent recurrence of recollection, memory at last prevails in us in a lasting manner. On which account it is younger than recollection, for it is later in its existence.
And Ephraim is a symbolical name, being, to be interpreted, memory. For, being interpreted, it means the fertility of the soul of the man fond of learning, which brings forth its appropriate fruit when it has confirmed its speculations, and preserves them in its memory. But Manasses, being interpreted, means recollection, for he is spoken of as one who has been translated from forgetfulness, and he who escapes from forgetfulness does unquestionably recollect. Most correctly, therefore, does that supplanter of the passions and practicer of virtue, Jacob, give his right hand to that prolific memory, Ephraim, while he places Manasses, or recollection, in the second rank. And, Moses, also, of all those who sacrificed the passover, praised those who sacrificed first most, because they having crossed over from the passions, that is to say, from Egypt, remained by the passage, and did not hasten any more to the passions which they had quitted; and the others he also thinks worthy to be placed in the second rank, for, having turned back, they retraced their steps, and, as if they had forgotten what it became them to do, they again hastened to do the same things; but the former men continued in their course without turning back. Therefore, Manasses, who is born of forgetfulness, resembles those who were the second party to sacrifice the passover; but the fertile Ephraim is like those who had sacrificed previously.
XXXI. On which account God also calls Bezaleel by name, and says that "He will give him wisdom and knowledge, and that He will make him the builder and the architect of all the things which are in his tabernacle;" [Exodus 31:2] that is to say, of all the works of the soul, when he had up to this time done no work which any one could praise -- we must say, therefore, that God impressed this figure also on the soul, after the fashion of an approved coin. And we shall know what the impression is if we previously examine the interpretation of the name. Now, Bezaleel, being interpreted, means God in his shadow. But the shadow of God is his word, which he used like an instrument when he was making the world. And this shadow, and, as it were, model, is the archetype of other things. For, as God is himself the model of that image which he has now called a shadow, so also that image is the model of other things, as he showed when he commenced giving the law to the Israelites, and said, "And God made man according to the image of God." [Genesis 1:26] as the image was modelled according to God, and as man was modelled according to the image, which thus received the power and character of the model.
XXXII. Let us now, then, examine what the character which is impressed upon man is. The ancient philosophers used to inquire how we obtained our conceptions of the Deity? Men who, those who seemed to philosophize in the most excellent manner, said that from the world and from its several parts, and from the powers which existed in those parts, we formed our notions of the Creator and cause of the world. For as, if a man were to see a house carefully built and well provided with outer courts and porticoes, and men's chambers and women's chambers, and all other necessary apartments, he would form a notion of the architect; for he would never suppose that the house had been completed without skill and without a builder; and, as he would argue in the same manner respecting any city, or any ship, or anything whatever that is made, whether it be great or small, so likewise any one entering this world, as an exceedingly large house or large city, and seeing the heaven revolving round it in a circle and comprehending everything within it, and all the planets and fixed stars moving onwards in the same manner and on the same principles, all in regular order and in due harmony and in such a manner as is most advantageous for the whole created universe, and the earth stationed in the central situation, and the effusions of air and water affixed on the boundaries, and, moreover, all the animals, both mortal and immortal, and the different kinds of plants and fruits, he will surely consider that undoubtedly all these things were not made without skill, but that God both was and is the creator of this whole universe. They, then, who draw their conclusions in this manner perceive God in his shadow, arriving at a due comprehension of the artist through his works.
XXXIII. There is also a more perfect and more highly purified kind which has been initiated into the great mysteries, and which does not distinguish the cause from the things created as it would distinguish an abiding body from a shadow; but which, having emerged from all created objects, receives a clear and manifest notion of the great uncreated, so that it comprehends him through himself, and comprehends his shadow, too, so as to understand what it is, and his reason, too, and this universal world. This kind is that Moses, who speaks thus, "Show thyself to me; let me see thee so as to know thee." [Exodus 33:13] For do not thou be manifested to me through the medium of the heaven, or of the earth, or of water, or of air, or, in short, of anything whatever of created things, and let me not see thy appearance in any other thing, as in a looking-glass, except in thee thyself, the true God. For the images which are presented to the sight in executed things are subject to dissolution; but those which are presented in the One uncreate may last for ever, being durable, eternal, and unchangeable.
On this account "God called Moses to him and conversed with him," [Exodus 35:30] and he also called Bezaleel to him, though not in the same way as he had called Moses, but he called the one so that he might receive an idea of the appearance of God from the Creator himself, but the other so that he might by calculation form an idea of the Creator as if from the shadow of the things created. On this account you will find the tabernacle and all its furniture to have been made in the first instance by Moses, and again subsequently by Bezaleel. For Moses fashioned the archetypal forms, and Bezaleel made the imitations of them. For Moses had God himself for an instructor, as he tells us, when he represents God as saying to him, "Thou shall make every thing according to the example which was shown thee in the mount" [Exodus 25:40.] And Bezaleel had Moses for his instructor; and this was very natural. For Aaron the word, and Miriam the outward sense, when they rose up against Moses were expressly told that "If there shall arise a prophet to the Lord, God shall be made known to him in a vision, and in a shadow, but not clearly. [Numbers 12:6.] But with Moses, who is faithful in all his house, God will speak mouth to mouth in his own form, and not by riddles."
XXXIV. Since therefore we find that there are two natures which have been created and fashioned and accurately and skillfully framed by God; the one being in its own intrinsic nature pernicious and open to reproach, and accursed, and the other beneficial and praiseworthy, the one too having a spurious stamp upon it, but the other having undergone a strict test; we will utter a beautiful and suitable prayer which Moses also addressed to God, praying that God may open his treasure-house, and may lay before us his sublime word pregnant with divine lights, which he calls the heaven, and may bind fast the storehouses of evil. For, just as there are storehouses of good things so are there also storehouses of evil things with God; as he says in his great song, "Behold are not these things collected with me, and sealed up in my treasure-houses, against the day of vengeance when their foot shall be tripped up?" [Deuteronomy 32:34.]
You see then that there are several storehouses of evil things, and only one of good things. For since God is One, so also is his storehouse of good things one likewise. But there are many storehouses of evil things because the wicked are infinite in number. And in this observe the goodness of the true God, He opens the treasure-house of his good things freely, but he binds fast that which contains the evil things. For it is an especial property of God to offer his good things freely and to be beforehand with men in bestowing gifts upon them, but to be slow in bringing evil on them, and Moses dwelling at length upon the munificent and gracious nature of God, says that not only have his storehouses of evil things been sealed up in all other times, but also when the soul is tripped up in the path of right reason, when it is especially fair that it should be considered worthy of punishment; for he says that, "In the day of vengeance the storehouses of evil things have been sealed up," the sacred word of scripture showing that God does not visit with his vengeance even those who sin against him, immediately, but that he gives them time for repentance, and to remedy and correct their evil conduct.
XXXV. And the Lord God said to the serpent, "Thou art cursed over every creature and over all the beasts of the field." As joy being a good state of the passions is worthy to be prayed for; so also pleasure is worthy to be cursed being a passion, which has altered the boundaries of the soul, and has rendered it a lover of the passions instead of a lover of virtue. And Moses says in his curses, that "He is cursed who removes his neighbor's land mark," [Deuteronomy 27:17] for God placed virtue, that is to say, the tree of life, to be a land mark, and a law unto the soul. But pleasure has removed this, placing in its stead the land mark of vice, the tree of death, "Cursed indeed is he who causeth the blind man to wander in the road." This also is done by that most impious thing pleasure, for the outward sense, inasmuch as it is destitute of reason, is a thing blinded by nature, since the eyes of its reason are put out. In reference to which we may say that it is by reason alone that we attain to a comprehension of things, and no longer by the outward sense; for they are bodies alone that we acquire a conception of by means of the outward senses.
Pleasure therefore has deceived the outward sense which is destitute of any proper comprehension of things, inasmuch as though it might have been turned to the mind, and have been guided by it, it has hindered it from being so, leading it to the external objects of outward sense, and making it desirous of every thing which can call it into operation, in order that the outward sense being defective may follow a blind guide, namely the object of the outward sense, and then the mind being guided by the two things, which are themselves both blind, may plunge headlong to destruction and become utterly unable to restrain itself. For if it were to follow its natural guide then it would be proper for defective things to follow reason which sees clearly, for in that way mischievous things would be less formidable in their attacks. But now, pleasure has put such great artifices in operation to injure the soul, that it has compelled it to use them as guides, cheating it, and persuading it to exchange virtue for evil habits, and to give good habits in exchange for vice.
XXXVI. But the holy scripture has prohibited such an exchange as this when it says, "Thou shalt not exchange good for evil" [Leviticus 27:33.] On this account therefore pleasure is accursed, and let us now see how well adapted to it are the curses which the scripture denounces against it, "Thou shalt be cursed" says God, "above all creatures." Therefore, the whole race of animals is irrational and under the guidance only of the external senses; but every one of the outward senses curses pleasure as a most inimical and hostile thing to it; for it is in reality hostile to the outward senses. And the proof of this is that, when we are sated with an immoderate indulgence in pleasure, we are not able either to see, or to hear, or to smell, or to taste, or to touch with any clearness of our faculties, but we make all our essays and approaches in an obscure and imbecile manner. And this happens to us when we are for a moment at a distance from its infection; but at the exact moment of the enjoyment of pleasure we are completely deprived of all such perception as can arise from the operation of the outward senses, so that we seem to be mutilated. How then can it be anything but natural for the outward sense to denounce curses upon pleasure which thus deprives it of its faculties?
XXXVII. "And he is accursed beyond all the beasts of the field." And I mean by this, beyond all the passions of the soul, for it is only there that the mind is wounded and destroyed. Why then does this one appear to be worse than all the other passions? Because it is almost at the bottom of them all, as a sort of base or foundation for them, for desire originates in the love of pleasure, and pain consists in the removal of pleasure; and fear again is caused by a desire to guard against its absence. So it is plain that all the passions are anchored on pleasure; and perhaps one might say that they would absolutely have had no existence at all if pleasure had not been previously laid down as a foundation to support them.
XXXVIII. "Upon thy breast and upon thy belly shalt thou go." [Genesis 3:14.] For passion works around these parts, the breast and the belly, like a serpent in his hole; when pleasure has its efficient causes and its subject-matter, then it is in operation around the belly and the parts adjacent to the belly; and when it has not these efficient causes and this subject-matter, then it is occupied about the breast which is the seat of anger, for lovers of pleasure when deprived of their pleasures become embittered by their anger. But let us see what is shown by this sentence with greater accuracy. It so happens that our soul is divisible into three parts, and that one of its parts is the seat of reason, the second, the seat of courage, the third, the seat of the appetites. Some therefore of the philosophers have separated these parts from one another only in respect of their operations, and some have distinguished them also by their places. And then they have assigned the parts about the head to the residing part, saying where the king is, there also are his guards, and the guards of the mind are the external senses, which are seated about the head, so that the king may very naturally have his abode there too, as if he had been assigned the highest part of the city to dwell in. The chest is assigned to the courageous part, and they say, it is on this account, that nature has fortified that part with a dense and strong defense of closely conjoined bones, as though she had been arming a valiant soldier with a breastplate and shield to defend himself against his enemies. To the appetitive part they have assigned a situation about the liver and the belly, for there it is that appetite dwells, being an irrational desire.
XXXIX. If therefore you shall ever inquire, O my mind, what situation has been assigned to pleasure, do not take into your consideration the parts about the head, where the reasoning faculties of man have their abode, for you will not find it there; since reason is at war with passion, and cannot possibly remain in the same place with it. For the moment that reason gets the upper hand pleasure is discarded; but as soon as ever pleasure prevails, reason is put to flight. But seek first rather in the breast and in the belly, where courage and anger, and appetite abide, all which are parts of the irrational faculties. For it is there that our judgment is discovered, and also our passions. Therefore, the mind is not hindered by any external force from abandoning the legitimate objects of its attention, which can only be perceived by the intellect, and surrendering itself to those which are worse; but still this never happens except when there is a war in the soul, for then indeed it follows of necessity that reason must fall under the power of the inferior part of man, inasmuch as it is not of a warlike character, but is fond of peace.
XL. At all events the holy scripture being well aware how great is the power of the impetuosity of each passion, anger and appetite, puts a bridle in the mouth of each, having appointed reason as their charioteer and pilot. And first of all it speaks thus of anger, in the hope of pacifying and curing it: "And you shall put manifestation and truth (the Urim and the Thummim), in the oracle of judgment, and it shall be on the breast of Aaron when he comes into the holy place before the Lord." [Exodus 28:30.] Now by the oracle is here meant the organs of speech which exist in us, which is in fact the power of language. Now language is either inconsiderate, and such as will not stand examination, or else it is judicious and well approved, and it brings us to form a notion of discreet speech. For Moses here speaks not of a random spurious oracle, but of the oracle of the judgment, which is equivalent to saying, a well-judged and carefully examined oracle; and of this well approved kind of language he says that there are two supreme virtues, namely, distinctness and truth, and he says well. For it is language which has in the first place enabled one man to make affairs plain and evident to his neighbor, when without it we should not be able to give any intimation of the impression produced on our soul by outward circumstances, nor to show of what kind they are.
XLI. On which account we have been compelled to have recourse to such signs as are given by the voices, that is nouns and verbs, which ought by all means to be universally known, in order that our neighbors might clearly and evidently comprehend our meaning; and, in the next place, to utter them at all times with truth. For of what advantage would it be to make our assertions clear and distinct, but nevertheless false? For it follows inevitably that if this were allowed the hearer would be deceived, and would reap the greatest possible injury with ignorance and delusion. For what would be the advantage of my speaking to a boy distinctly and clearly, and telling him, when I show him the letter A, that it is G, or that the letter E is O? Or what would be the good of a musician pointing out to a pupil who comes to him to learn the rudiments of his art that the harmonic scale was the chromatic; or the chromatic, the diatonic; or that the highest string was the middle one; or that conjoined sounds were separated; or that the highest tone in the tetrachord scale was a supernumerary note? No doubt, a man who said this might speak clearly and distinctly, but he would not be speaking truly, but by such assertions he would be implanting wickedness in language. But when he joins both distinctness and truth, then he makes his language profitable to him who is seeking information, employing both its virtues, which in fact are nearly the only ones of which language is capable.
XLII. Moses, therefore, says that discreet discourse, having its own peculiar virtues, is placed on the breast of Aaron, that is to say, of anger, in order that it may in the first instance be guided by reason, and may not be injured by its own deficiency in reason, and, in the second place, by distinctness, for there is no natural influence which makes anger a friend to distinctness. At all events, not only are the ideas of angry men, but all their expressions also, full of disorder and confusion, and therefore it is very natural for the want of clearness on the part of anger to be rectified by clearness, and, in addition, by truth; for, among other things, anger has also this particular property of being inclined to misrepresent the truth. At all events, of all those who give way to this disposition scarcely any one speaks the strict truth, as if it were his soul and not his body that is under the influence of its intoxication. These, then, are the chief remedies suitable for that part of the soul which is influenced by anger, namely, reason, disinterestedness of language, and truth of language, for the three things are in power only one, namely, reason, curing anger, which is a pernicious disease of the soul, by means of the virtues truth and perspicuity.
XLIII. To whom, or to what, then, does it belong to bear these things? Not to my mind, or to that of any chance person, but to the consecrated and purely sacrificial intellect, that, namely, of Aaron. And not even to this at all times, for it is frequently subject to change, but only when it is going on unchangeably, when it is entering into the holy place, when reason is entering in together with holy opinions, and is not abandoning them. But it often happens that the mind is at the same time entering into sacred and holy and purified opinions, but still such as are only human; such, for instance, as opinions on what is expedient; opinions on successful actions; opinions on what is in accordance with established law; opinions concerning virtue as it exists among men. Nor is the mind, when disposed in this way, competent to bear the oracle on its breast together with the virtues, but only that one which is going in before the Lord, that is to say, that one which doeth everything for the sake of God, and which estimates nothing as superior to the things of God; but attributes to them also their due rank, not indeed dwelling on them, but ascending upwards to the knowledge and understanding of an appreciation of the honor due to the one God. For, in a mind which is thus disposed, anger will be directed by purified reason, which takes away its irrational part, and remedies what there is confused and disorderly in it by the application of distinctness, and eradicates its falsehood by truth.
XLIV. Aaron, therefore, for he is a second Moses, restraining the breast, that is to say, the angry passions, does not allow them to be carried away by undistinguishing impulse, fearing lest, if they obtain complete liberty, they may become restive, like a horse, and so trample down the whole soul. But he attends to and cures it, and bridles it in the first instance by reason, that so, being under the guidance of the best of charioteers, it may not become exceedingly unmanageable, and in the second place, by the virtues of language, distinctness, and truth. For, if the angry passions were educated in such a way as to yield to reason and distinctness, and to cultivate the virtue of truthfulness, they would deliver themselves from great irritation and make the whole soul propitious.
XLV. But he, as I have already said, having this passion, endeavors to cure it by the saving remedies already enumerated. But Moses thinks that it is necessary completely to extirpate and eradicate anger from the soul, being desirous to attain not to a state of moderation in the indulgence of the passions, but to a state in which they shall have absolutely no existence whatever, and the most Holy Scriptures bear witness to what I am here saying; for it says, "Moses having taken the breast took it that it might be an offering before the Lord, from the ram of consecration, and this was Moses's part." [Leviticus 8:29.] Speaking very accurately, for it was the conduct of one who was both a lover of virtue and a lover of God, after having contemplated the whole soul, to take hold of the breast, which is the seat of the angry passions, and to take it away and eradicate it, that so when the warlike part had been wholly removed, the remainder might enjoy peace. And he removes this part not from any chance animal, but from the ram of consecration, although, indeed, a young heifer had been sacrificed; but, passing by the heifer, he came to the ram, because that is by nature an animal inclined to pushing and full of anger and impetuosity, in reference to which fact the makers of military engines call many of their warlike machines rams. This ramlike and impetuous and undistinguishing character in us, therefore, is something fond of contention, and contention is the mother of anger. In reference to which fact, they who are somewhat quarrelsome are very easily made angry in investigations and other discussions.
Moses, therefore, does very properly endeavor to eradicate anger, that pernicious offspring of a contentious and quarrelsome soul, in order that the soul may become barren of such offspring and may cease from bringing forth mischievous things, and may become a portion consistent with the character of a lover of virtue, not being identical with either the breast or with anger, but with the absence of those qualities, for God has endowed the wise man with the best of all qualities, the power, namely, or eradicating his passions.
You see, then, how the perfect man is always endeavoring to attain to a complete emancipation from the power of the passions. But he who eradicates them being next to him, that is Aaron, labors to arrive at a state in which the passions have only a moderate power, as I have said before; for he is unable to eradicate the breast and the angry passions. But he bears the oracle, on which is distinctness and truth even beyond the guide himself, together with the appropriate and kindred virtues of language.
XLVI. And he will, moreover, make the difference more evident to us by the following expression: -- "For the wave-breast and the heaveshoulder have I taken of the children of Israel from off the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and have given them to Aaron the priest, and unto his sons, for ever." [Leviticus 7:34.] You see here that they are not able to take the breast alone, but they must take it with the shoulder; but Moses can take it without the shoulder. Why is this? Because he, being perfect, has no inadequate or lowly ideas, nor is he willing to remain in a state in which the passions have even a moderate influence; but he, by his exceeding power, does utterly extirpate the whole of the passions, root and branch. But the others, who go with faint endeavors and with but slight strength to war against the passions, are inclined to a reconciliation with them, and make terms with them, proposing terms of accommodation, thinking that thus, like a charioteer, they may be able to bridle their extravagant impetuosity.
And the shoulder is a symbol of labor and of the endurance of hardship; and such a person is he who has the charge of and the care of administering the holy things, being occupied with constant exercise and labor. But he has no labor to whom God has given his perfect good things in great abundance, and he who attains to virtue by labor will be found to be less vigorous and less perfect than Moses, who received it as a gift from God without any labor or difficulty. For the mere fact of laboring is of itself inferior to and worse than the condition of being exempt from labor, so, also, what is imperfect is inferior to that which is perfect, and that which learns anything to that which has knowledge spontaneously and naturally.
On this account it is that Aaron can only take the breast with the shoulder, but Moses can take it without the shoulder. And he calls it the heave-shoulder for this reason, because reason ought to be set over and to be predominant above the violence of anger, as a charioteer who is driving a hard-mouthed and restive horse. And then the shoulder is no longer called the heave-shoulder, but the shoulder of removal, on this account, because it is fitting that the soul should not attribute to itself labor in the cause of virtue, but should remove it from itself and attribute it to God, confessing that it is not its own strength or its own power which has thus acquired what is good, but He who gave it a love for goodness. And so neither the breast nor the shoulder is taken, except from the virtue which bringeth salvation, as is natural, for then the soul is sacred when the angry passions are under the guidance of reason, and when labor does not bring conceit to the laborer, but when he owns his inferiority to God, his benefactor.
XLVII. Now that pleasure dwells not only in the breast but also in the belly, we have already stated, showing that the belly is the most appropriate situation for pleasure; for we may almost call pleasure the vessel which contains all the pleasures; for when the belly is filled, then the desires for all other pleasures are intense and vigorous, but when it is empty, they they are tranquil and steady. On which account Moses says, in another place, "Every animal that goeth upon its belly, every animal which goeth on four legs at all times, and that has a multitude of feet, is unclean." [Leviticus 11:42.] And such a creature is the lover of pleasure, inasmuch as he is always going upon his belly and pursuing the pleasures which relate to it. And God unites the animal which goes on four legs with him that crawls upon his belly, naturally; for the passions of those who are absorbed in pleasure are four, as one most egregious account teaches. Therefore he who devotes himself as a slave to one of them, namely, to pleasure, is impure as much as he who lives in the indulgence of the whole four.
This much having been premised, behold again the difference between the perfect man and him who is still advancing towards perfection. As, therefore, the perfect man was, just now, found to be competent to eradicate the whole of the angry feelings from the contentious soul and to make it submissive and manageable, and peaceable and gentle to every one, both in word and deed; and as he who is still advancing towards perfection is not able wholly to eradicate passion, for he bears the breast about with him, though he does educate it by the aid of judicious language, which is invested with two virtues perspicuity and truth.
XLVIII. So, also, now he who is perfectly wise, that is, Moses, will be found to have utterly shaken off and discarded the pleasures. But he who is only advancing towards perfection will be found to have escaped not from every pleasure, but to cling still to such as are desirable and simple, and to deprecate those which are superfluous and extravagant as unnecessary additions, for, in the case of Moses, God speaks thus: "And he washed his belly and his feet, with the blood of the entire burnt offering." [Leviticus 9:14.] Speaking very truly, for the wise man consecrates his entire soul as what is worthy to be offered to God, because it is free from all reproach, whether willfully or unintentionally incorrect, and being thus disposed, he washes his whole belly and all the pleasures which it knows, and all which pursue it, and cleanses them and purifies them from all uncleanliness, not being content with any partial cleansing. But he is disposed to regard pleasures so contemptuously that he has no desire for even the necessary meat or drink, but nourishes himself wholly on the contemplation of divine things. On which account in another passage, he bears witness to himself, "For forty days he did not eat bread, and he did not drink water," [Exodus 34:28] because he was in the holy mouth listening to the oracular voice of God, who was giving him the law.
But not only does he repudiate the whole belly, but he also at the same time washes off all the dirt from his feet, that is to say, to the supports in which pleasure proceeds. And the supports of pleasure are the efficient causes of it. For he who is advancing onwards to perfection is said "to wash his bowels and his feet," [Leviticus 1:9] and not his whole belly. For he is not capable of rejecting the whole of pleasure, but he is content if he can purify his bowels, that is to say, his inmost parts from it, which the lovers of pleasure say are certain additions to preceding pleasures, and which originate in the superfluous ingenuity of cooks and makers of delicacies and laborious gourmands.
XLIX. And he also displays, in a further degree, the moderation of the passions of the man who is advancing towards perfection, by the fact that the perfect man discards all the pleasures of the belly without being prompted by any command to do so, but that he who is only advancing onwards towards perfection only does so in consequence of being commanded. For, in the case of the wise man, we find the following expression used: -- "He washes his belly and his feet with water," [Leviticus 9:14] without any command, in accordance with his own unbidden inclination. But, in the case of the priests, he spoke thus: "But their bowels and their feet," not they have washed, but "they do wash;" [Leviticus 1:13] speaking with very cautious exactness, for the perfect man must be moved in his own inclination towards the energies in accordance with virtue. But he who is only practicing virtue must be instigated by reason, which points out to him what he ought to do, and it is an honorable thing to obey the injunctions of reason.
But we ought not to be ignorant that Moses repudiates the whole of the belly, that is to say, the filling and indulging the belly, and almost renounces all the other passions likewise; the lawgiver giving a lively representation of the whole from one part, starting from a universal example, and discussing, potentially at least, the other points as to which he was silent.
L. The filling of the belly is a most enduring and universal thing; and, as it were, a kind of foundation of the other passions. At all events, there is not one of them which can find any existence if it is not supported by the belly, on which nature has made everything to depend. On this account, when the goods of the soul had previously been born of Leah, and had ended in Judah, [Genesis 29:35] that is to say, in confession, God being about to create also the improvements of the body, prepared Bilhah, the hand-maid of Rachel, to bear children on behalf of and before her mistress. And the name Bilhah, being interpreted, means deglutition. For he knew that not one of the corporeal faculties can exist without imbibing moisture and without the belly; but the belly is predominant over and the ruler of the whole body, and the preserver of this corporeal mass in a state of existence.
And observe the subtle way in which all this is expressed; for you will not find a single word used superfluously. Moses indeed "takes away the breast," but as for the belly he does not take that away, but he washes it. [Leviticus 8:29.] Why so? Because the perfectly wise man is able to repudiate and to eradicate all the angry passions, making them rise up and abandon anger; but he is unable to cut out and discard the belly, for nature is compelled to use the necessary meats and drinks, even if a man, being content with the scantiest possible supply of necessaries should despise it, and purpose to himself to abjure eating. Let him therefore wash and purify it from all superfluous and unclean preparations; for to be able to do even this is a very sufficient gift from God to the lover of virtue.
LI. On this account Moses says, with respect to the soul which is suspected of having committed adultery, [Numbers 5:27] that, if having abandoned right reason, which is man living according to the law, it shall be found to have gone over to passion, which pollutes the soul, "it shall become swollen in the belly," which means it shall have all the pleasures and appetites of the belly unsatisfied and insatiable, and it shall never cease to be greedy through ignorance, but pleasures in boundless number shall flow into it, and thus its passions shall be interminable. Now I know many people who have fallen into error in respect of the appetites of the belly, that while still devoting themselves to their gratifications, they have again rushed with eagerness to wine and other luxuries; for the appetites of the intemperate soul bear no analogy to the mass of the body. But some men, like vessels made to hold a certain measure, desire nothing extravagant, but discard everything that is superfluous; but appetite on the other hand is never satisfied, but remains always in want and thirsty. In reference to which the expression, that "the thigh shall fall away," is added in immediate connection with the denunciation that "her belly shall swell;" for then right reason, which has the seeds and originating principles of good, falls from the soul.
"If therefore," says Moses, "she has not been corrupted, then she shall be pure, and free from all infliction from generation to generation;" that is to say, if she has not been polluted by passion, but has kept herself pure in respect of her legitimate husband, sound reason, her proper guide, she shall have a productive and fertile soul, bearing the offspring of prudence and justice and all virtue.
LII. Is it then possible for us, who are bound up in our bodies, to avoid complying with the necessities of the body? And if it is possible, how is it possible? But consider, the priest recommends him who is led away by his bodily necessities to indulge in nothing beyond what is strictly necessary. In the first place, says he, "Let there be a place for thee outside of the camp;" [Deuteronomy 23:12] meaning by the camp virtue, in which the soul is encamped and fortified; for prudence and a free indulgence in the necessities of the body cannot abide in the same place. After that he says, "And you shall go out there." Why so? Because the soul, which is abiding in companionship with prudence and dwelling in the house of wisdom, cannot indulge in any of the delights of the body, for it is at that time nourished on a diviner food in the sciences, in consequence of which it neglects the flesh, for when it has gone forth beyond the sacred thresholds of virtue, then it turns to the material substances, which disarrange and oppress the soul. How then am I to deal with them? "It shall be a peg," says Moses, "upon thy girdle, and thou shalt dig with it;" [Deuteronomy 23:13] that is to say, reason shall be close to you in the case of the passion, which digs out and equips and clothes it properly; for he desires that we should be girded up in respect of the passions, and not to have them about us in a loose and dissolute state. On which account, at the time of the passage through them, which is called the passover, he enjoins us all "to have our loins girded," [Exodus 12:11] that is to say, to have our appetites under restraint. Let the peg, therefore, that is to say reason, follow the passion, preventing it from becoming dissolute; for in this way we shall be able to content ourselves with only so much as is necessary, and to abstain from what is superfluous.
LIII. And in this way when we are at entertainments, and when we are about to come to the enjoyment and use of luxuries that have been prepared for us, let us approach them taking reason with us as a defensive armor, and let us not fill ourselves with food beyond all moderation like cormorants, nor let us satiate ourselves with immoderate draughts of strong wine, and so give way to intoxication which compels men to act like fools. For reason will bridle and curb the violence and impetuosity of such a passion. I myself, at all events, know that it has done so with regard to many of the passions, for when I have gone to entertainments where no respect was paid to discipline, and to sumptuous banquets, whenever I went without taking Reason with me as a guide, I became a slave to the luxuries that lay before me, being under the guidance of masters who could not be tamed, with sights and sounds of temptation, and all other such things also as work pleasure in a man by the agency of his senses of smell and taste. But when I approach such scenes in the company of reason, I then become a master instead of a slave: and without being subdued myself win a glorious victory of self-denial and temperance; opposing and contending against all the appetites which subdue the intemperate. "Thou shalt be armed," Moses therefore says, "with a peg." [Deuteronomy 23:12.] That is to say, you, by the aid of reason, shall lay bare the nature which each of the separate passions has, eating, and drinking, and indulging in the pleasures of the belly, and you shall distinguish between them, that when you have so distinguished you may know the truth. For then you shall know that there is no good in any of these things, but only what is necessary and useful. "And bringing it over, you shall cover what is indecorous," [Deuteronomy 23:14] speaking very appropriately. For come to me, O my soul, bring reason to everything by which all unseemliness of flesh and of passion is concealed, and overshadowed and hidden. For all the things which are not in combination with reason are disgraceful, just as those which are done in union with reason are seemly. Therefore the man who is devoted to pleasure goes on his belly, but the perfect man washes his whole belly, and he who is only advancing towards perfection washes the things in his belly. But he who is now beginning to be instructed proceeds out of doors when he is intent upon curbing the passions of the belly by bringing reason to work upon the necessities of the belly, and reason is called symbolically a peg.
LIV. Moses therefore does well when he adds, "Thou shalt go upon thy breast and upon thy belly." [Genesis 3:14.] For pleasure is not one of the things which is tranquil and steady, but is rather a thing which is in constant motion and full of confusion, for as flame is excited by being moved, so passion when it is put in motion in the soul, being in some respects like a flame, does not suffer it to rest. On which account he does not agree with those who pronounce pleasure a stable feeling, for tranquillity is connected with stones and trees, and all kinds of inanimate things, but is quite inconsistent with pleasure; for it is fond of tickling and convulsive agitation, and with regard to some of its indulgences it has not need of tranquillity but of an intense and violent unseemliness of commotion.
LV. But the expression, "And dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life," is also used with great propriety. For the pleasures which are derived from the food of the body are all earthly. And may we not reasonably speak thus? There are two several parts of which we consist, the soul and the body; now the body is made of earth, but the soul consists of air, being a fragment of the Divinity, for "God breathed into man's face the breath of life, and man became a living soul." [Genesis 2:7.] It is therefore quite consistent with reason to say that the body which was fashioned out of the earth has nourishment which the earth gives forth akin to the matter of which it is composed; but the soul, inasmuch as it is a portion of the ethereal nature, is supported by nourishment which is ethereal and divine, for it is nourished on knowledge, and not on meat or drink, which the body requires.
LVI. But that the food of the soul is not earthly but heavenly the Holy Scriptures will testify in many passages, "Behold I will rain upon you bread from heaven, and the people shall come forth, and shall collect from day to day, when I will try them, whether they will walk according to my law or not." [Exodus 16:4.] You see that the soul is nourished not on earthly and corruptible food, but on the reasons which God rains down out of his sublime and pure nature, which he calls heaven. "Let the people indeed go forth and the whole system of the soul likewise, and let it collect science and begin knowledge, not in large quantities but from day to day." For, in the first place, in that way it will not exhaust all at once the abundant riches of the grace of God: but it will overflow like a torrent with their superfluity. Secondly, it will happen that when they have taken such good things as are sufficient for them and duly measured, they will think God the dispenser of the rest. But he who endeavors to collect everything at once is only acquiring for himself despair with great sorrow, for he becomes full of despair if he expects that God will only rain good things upon him at the present moment, and that he will not do so hereafter. And he becomes inclined to infidelity if he does not believe that the graces of God will be both at present and in all time abundantly poured upon those who are worthy of them. And he is foolish, moreover, if he thinks that he shall be a competent guardian of what he has collected contrary to God's will. For a very slight inclination is sufficient to make the mind, which in its boastfulness attributes safety and stability to itself, an impotent and unsure keeper of those things of which it fancied itself a safe guardian.
LVII. Collect therefore, O my soul, what is sufficient and proper, and in such a quantity as shall neither exceed by being more than is sufficient, nor fall short by being less than what is requisite: that so, using just measures you may not be led into the commission of injustice.
For while meditating on the migration from the passions and sacrificing the passover you ought to take the advance towards perfection, that is to say the sheep, in a moderate spirit. "For each person of you," says Moses, "shall take a sheep, such as shall be sufficient for him according to the number of his house." [Exodus 12:4.]
And in the case of the manna therefore, and of every gift which God gives to the race of mankind, the principle being guided by numbering and by measure, and of not taking what is more than is necessary for us, is good; for the opposite conduct is covetousness. Let therefore one soul collect what is sufficient for it from day to day, [Exodus 12:4] that is may show that it is not itself which is the guardian of good things, but the bounteous giver, God.
LVIII. And this appears to me to be the reason why the sentence which I have cited above was uttered. Day is an emblem of light, and the light of the soul is instruction. Many persons therefore have provided for themselves the lights that can exist in the soul against night and darkness, but not against day-time and light; such lights for instance, as are derived from rudimental instruction, and those branches of education which are called encyclical, and philosophy itself, which is sought after for the sake both of the pleasure which is derived from it, and also of the influence which it gives among rulers. But the good man seeks the day for the sake of the day, and the light for the light's sake; and he labors to acquire what is good for the sake of the good itself, and not of anything else, on which account Moses adds, "In order that I may tempt them and see whether they will walk according to my law or not," [Exodus 16:4] for the divine law enjoins us to honor virtue for its own sake. Accordingly, right reason tests those who practice virtue as one might test a coin, to see whether they have contracted any stain, referring the good things of the soul to any of the external things; or whether they decide upon it as good money, preserving it in the intellect alone. These men are nourished not on earthly things, but on heavenly knowledge.
LIX. And Moses shows this in other passages also, when he says, "And in the morning the dew lay round about the hosts; and when the dew that lay in the morning was gone up, behold! upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, small as coriander seed, [Numbers 11:7] and white like the hoar-frost upon the earth. And when they saw it, they said one to another, what is this? for they knew not what it was, and Moses said to them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat, this is the thing which the Lord hath commanded you." [Exodus 16:13.]
You see now what kind of thing the food of the Lord is, it is the continued word of the Lord, like dew, surrounding the whole soul in a circle, and allowing no portion of it to be without its share of itself. And this word is not apparent in every place, but wherever there is a vacant space, void of passions and vice; and it is subtle both to understand and to be understood, and it is exceedingly transparent and clear to be distinguished, and it is like coriander seed. And agriculturists say that the seed of the coriander is capable of being cut up and divided into innumerable pieces, and if sown in each separate piece and fragment, it shoots up just as much as the whole seed could do. Such also is the word of God, being profitable both in its entirety and also in every part, even if it be ever so small.
May it not be also likened to the pupil of the eye? For as that, being the smallest portion of the eye, does nevertheless behold the entire orbs of existing things and the boundless sea, and the vastness of the air, and the whole immeasurable space of heaven, which the sun, whether rising in the east or setting in the west, can bound; so also is the word of God, very sharp-sighted, so as to be capable of beholding every thing, and by which all things that are worth seeing can be beheld, in reference to which fact it is white. For what can be more brilliant or visible at a greater distance than the divine word, by participation in which all other things can repel mists and darkness, being eager to share in the light of the soul?
LX. There is a certain peculiarity which is attached to this word. For when it calls the soul to itself, it excites a congealing power in everything which is earthly, or corporeal, or under the influence of the external senses. On which account it is said to be "like the hoar-frost on the earth." [Exodus 6:16.] For when the man who beholds God, meditates a flight from the passions, "the waves are frozen," that is to say, the impetuous rush, and the increase, and the haughty pride of the waves are arrested, in order that he who might behold the living God might then pass over the passion. [Exodus 16:15.] Therefore the souls inquire of one another, those, that is, that have clearly felt the influence of the word, but which are not able to say what it is. For very often, when sensible of a sweet taste, we are nevertheless ignorant of the flavor which has caused it, and when we smell sweet scents, we still do not know what they are. And in the same manner also the soul very often, when it is delighted, is yet unable to explain what it is that has delighted it; but it is taught by the hierophant and prophet Moses, who tells it, "This is the bread, the food which God has given for the soul," [Exodus 16:15] explaining that God has brought it, his own word and his own reason; for this bread which he has given us to eat is this word of his.
LXI. He says also in Deuteronomy, "And he has humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knowest not, neither did thy fathers know, that he might make thee know that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man life." [Deuteronomy 8:3.] Now this ill-treating and humbling of them is a sign of his being propitiated by them, for he is propitiated as to the souls of us who are wicked on the tenth day. For when he strips us of all our pleasant things, we appear to ourselves to be ill-treated, that is in truth to have God propitious to us.
And God also causes us hunger, not that which proceeds from virtue, but that which is engendered by passion and vice. And the proof of this is, that he nourishes us with his own word, which is the most universal of all things, for manna being interpreted, means "what?" and "what" is the most universal of all things; for the word of God is over all the world, and is the most ancient, and the most universal of all the things that are created. This word our fathers knew not; I speak not of those who are so in truth, but of those who are grey with age, who say, "Let us give them a guide, and let us turn back" [Numbers 14:1] unto passion, that is to say, to Egypt. Therefore, let God enjoin the soul, saying to it that, "Man shall not live by bread alone," speaking in a figure, "but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God," that is to say, he shall be nourished by the whole word of God, and by every portion of it. For the mouth is the symbol of the language, and a word is a portion of it. Accordingly the soul of the more perfect man is nourished by the whole word; but we must be contented if we are nourished by a portion of it.
LXII. But these men pray to be nourished by the word of God: but Jacob, raising his head above the word, says that he is nourished by God himself, and his words are as follows; "The God in whom my father Abraham and Isaac were well-pleased; the God who has nourished me from my youth upwards to this day; the angel who has delivered me from all my evils, bless these children." [Genesis 48:15.] This now being a symbol of a perfect disposition, thinks God himself his nourisher, and not the word: and he speaks of the angel, which is the word, as the physician of his evils, in this speaking most naturally. For the good things which he has previously mentioned are pleasing to him, inasmuch as the living and true God has given them to him face to face, but the secondary good things have been given to him by the angels and by the word of God. On this account I think it is that God gives men pure good health, which is not preceded by any disease in the body, by himself alone, but that health which is an escape from disease he gives through the medium of skill and medical science, attributing it to science, and to him who can apply it skillfully, though in truth, it is God himself who heals both by these means, and without these means. And the same is the case with regard to the soul, the good things, namely food, he gives to men by his power alone; but those which contain in them a deliverance from evil, he gives by means of his angels and his word.
LXIII. And he uttered this prayer, blaming Joseph the statesman and governor, because he had ventured to say, "I will feed them in that land," [Genesis 45:11] for, "hasten ye," said Joseph, "and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus says Joseph," and so on, and presently he adds, "Come down unto me, and do not tarry, come with all thou hast, and I will feed thee in that land; for still the famine lasts for five years." Jacob, therefore, speaks as he does reproving and at the same time instructing this imaginary wise man, and he says to him, "O my friend, know thou that the food of the soul is knowledge, which it is not the word which is intelligible by the external senses that can bestow, but God only who has nourished me from youth, and from my earliest age till the time of perfect manhood, he shall fill me with it. Joseph therefore was treated in the same way with his mother Rachel, for she also thought that the creature had some power; on which account she used the expression, "Give me children," but the supplanter, adhering to his proper character, says to her, "You have used a great error; for I am not in the place of God, who alone is able to open the womb of the soul, [Genesis 30:1] and to implant virtues in it, and to cause it to be pregnant, and to bring forth what is good. Consider also the history of thy sister Leah, and you will find that she did not receive seed or fertility from any creature -- but from God himself."
"For the Lord, seeing that Leah was hated, opened her womb, but Rachel was barren." [Genesis 29:31.] And consider, now, in this sentence, again, the subtlety of the writer spoken of. God opens the wombs, implanting good actions in them, and the womb, when it has received virtue from God, does not bring forth to God, for the living and true God is not in need of any thing, but she brings forth sons to me, Jacob, for it was for my sake, probably, that God sowed seed in virtue, and not for his own. Therefore, another husband of Leah is found to be passed over in silence, and another father of Leah's children, for he is the husband who openeth the womb, and he is the father of the children to whom the mother is said to bear them.
LXIV. "And I will place enmity between thee and between the woman." [Genesis 3:15.] In reality, pleasure is hostile to the external sense, although, to some persons, it appears to be especially friendly to it. But as one would not call a flatterer a companion (for flattery is a disease of friendship), nor would one call a courtesan friendly to her lover, for she adheres only to those who give her presents, and not to those who love her; so, also, if you investigate the nature of pleasure, you will find that she has but a spurious connection with the external senses. When we are sated with pleasure, then we find that the organs of the external senses in us lose their tone. Or do not you perceive the state of those men who from love of wine get drunk?--that seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear; and, in the same way, they are deprived of the accurate energies of the other external senses? And, at times, through immoderate indulgence in food, all the vigor of the external senses is relaxed when sleep overtakes them, which has derived its name from the relaxation of them. For, at that time, the organs of the external senses are relaxed, just as they are on the stretch in our waking hours, when they no longer receive unintelligible blows from external things, but such as speak loudly and are evident, and which transmit their impressions to the mind. For the mind, when stricken, must recognize the external thing, and receive a visible impression from it.
LXV. And take notice here, that Moses does not say, "I will cause enmity to thee and the woman," but, "I will place enmity between thee and between the woman:"--why so? because the war between these two is concerning what is in the middle, and what lies, as it were, on the borders of pleasure and of the outward sense. And that which lies between them is what is drinkable, and what is eatable, and what is inclined to all such things, every one of which is an object to be appreciated by the outward sense, and an efficient cause of pleasure. When, therefore, pleasure wallows immoderately in these things, it at once by so doing inflicts injury on the outward sense. And again, the expression, "between thy seed and between her seed," is uttered with strict natural propriety, for all seed is the beginning of generation. But the beginning of pleasure is not passion, but an emotional impulse of the outward sense, set in motion by the mind. For from this, as from a fountain, the faculties of the outward senses are derived, especially, according to the most sacred Moses, who says that the woman was formed out of Adam, that is to say, the outward sense was formed out of the mind. The part, therefore, that pleasure acts towards the outward sense, passion also acts towards the mind. So that, since the two former are at enmity with one another, the two latter must likewise be in a state of hostility.
LXVI. And the war between these things in manifest. At all events, according to the superiority of the mind when it applies itself to incorporeal objects, which are perceptible only to the intellect, passion is put to flight. And, on the other hand, when this latter gains a shameful victory, the mind yields, being hindered from giving its attention to itself and to all its actions. At all events, he says in another place, "When Moses lifted up his hands Israel prevailed, and when he let them down Amalek prevailed." [Exodus 17:11.] And this statement implies, that when the mind raises itself up from mortal affairs and is elevated on high, it is very vigorous because it beholds God; and the mind here means Israel. But when it relaxes its vigor and becomes powerless, then immediately the passions will prevail, that is to say, Amalek; which name, being interpreted, means, the people licking. For he does, of a verity, devour the whole soul, and licks it up, leaving no seed behind, nor anything which can excite virtue; in reference to which it is said, "Amalek is the beginning of nations;" [Numbers 24:20] because passion governs, and is the absolute lord of nations, all mingled and confused and jumbled in disorder, without any settled plan; and, through passion, all the war of the soul is fanned and kept alive. For God makes a promise to the same minds to which he grants peace, that he will efface the memorial of Amalek from all the lands beneath the heaven.
LXVII. And the expression, "He shall watch thy head, and thou shalt watch his heel," [Genesis 3:15] is, as to its language, a barbarism, but, as to the meaning which is conveyed by it, a correct expression. Why so? It ought to be expressed with respect to the woman: but the woman is not he, but she. What, then, are we to say? From his discourse about the woman he has digressed to her seed and her beginning. Now the beginning of the outward sense is the mind. But the mind is masculine, in respect of which one may say, he, his, and so on. Very correctly, therefore, does God here say to pleasure, that the mind shall watch your principal and predominant doctrine, and you shall watch the traces of the mind itself, and the foundations of the things which are pleasing to it, to which the heel has very naturally been likened.
LXVIII. But the words, "shall watch," intimate two things: in the first place it means as it were "shall keep," and "shall preserve." And, in the second place, it is equivalent to "shall watch for the purpose of destroying." Now it is inevitable that the mind must be either bad or good. Now, if it be bad, it would be but a foolish guardian and dispenser of pleasure, for it rejoices in it. But the good man is an enemy to it, expecting that, when he once attacks it, he will be able utterly to destroy it. And, indeed, on the other hand, pleasure watches the footsteps of the foolish man, but endeavors to trip up and undermine the standing ground of the wise man, thinking that he is always meditating its destruction; but that the fool is always considering the means by which its safety may be best secured. But, nevertheless, though pleasure appears to trip up and to deceive the good man, it will in reality be tripped up itself by that experienced wrestler, Jacob; and that, too, not in the wrestling of the body, but in that struggle which the soul carries on against the dispositions which are antagonistic to it, and which attack it through the agency of the passions and vices; and it will not let go the heel of its antagonist, passion, before it surrenders, and confesses that it has been twice tripped up and defeated, both in the matter of the birthright, and also in that of the blessing. For "rightly," says Esau, "is his name called Jacob, for now has he supplanted me for the second time; the first time he took away my birthright, and now he has taken away my blessing." [Genesis 27:36.]
But the bad man thinks the things of the body the more important, while the good man assigns the preference to the things of the soul, which are in truth and reality the more important and the first, not, indeed, in point of time, but in power and dignity, as is a ruler in a city. But the mistress of the concrete being is the soul.
LXIX. Therefore the one who as superior in virtue received the first place, which, indeed, fell to him as his due. For he also obtained the blessing in connection with the perfection of prayer. But he is a vain and conceited pretender to wisdom who said, "He took away my blessing and also my birthright." For what he took, O foolish man, was not yours, but was rather the opposite to what was yours. For your deeds are thought worthy of slavery, but his are thought worthy of supremacy. And if you are content to become the slave of the wise man, you shall receive your share of reproof and of correction, and so you shall discard ignorance and folly which are the destruction of the soul. For thy father, when praying, says to you, "You shall serve your brother," [Genesis 27:40] but not now; for he will not be able to endure your endeavoring to throw off the yoke. But when you have loosed his yoke from off your neck, that is to say, when you have cast off the boastfulness and arrogance which you had, after you had yoked yourself to the chariot of the passions, under the guidance of the charioteer, Folly. Now, indeed, you are the slave of cruel and intolerable masters, who are within yourself, and who look upon it as a law never to set any one free; but if you run away and escape from them, then the master who loves slaves will receive you in a good hope of freedom, and will not surrender you any more to your former companions, having learnt from Moses that necessary doctrine and lesson, "Not to give up a servant to his master who has escaped from his master unto him; for he shall dwell with him in any place which shall please him." [Deuteronomy 23:16.]
LXX. But as long as you did not escape, and while you were still bridled with the bridle of those masters, you were unworthy to be the servant of a worse master. Giving thus the greatest proof of a mean, and lowly, and servile disposition, when you said, "My birthright and my blessing." [Genesis 27:36.] For these are the words of men who have fallen into immoderate ignorance, since it belongs to God alone to say, "Mine;" for to him alone do all things properly belong. And to this he will himself bear witness when he says, "My gifts, my offerings, my first fruits." [Numbers 28:2.]
You must take notice here that gifts are spoken of in contradistinction to offerings. For the former display the manifestation of the vastness of the perfect good things which God gives to those men who are perfect, but the latter are only prepared to last a very short time, and are partaken of by well-disposed practicers of virtue who are making progress towards perfection. On which account Abraham also, when following the will of God, retained those things which had been given to him by God: "but sends back the horses of the king of Sodom" [Genesis 14:21] as the wages of harlots. And Moses also condescends to administer justice in most important points, and with reference to things of the greatest value. But the more unimportant causes and trials he commits to judges of inferior rank to investigate. And whoever ventures to assert that any thing is his own shall be set down as a slave for ever and ever; as he who says, "I have loved my master, and my wife, and my children; I will not depart and be free." [Genesis 21:5.] He does well on confessing that slavery is proper for him; for can he be any thing but a slave who says, "Mine is mind, which is the master, being its own master, and possessed of absolute power; mine, also are the outward senses, the sufficient judges of corporeal substances; mine, also are the offspring of these objects of intellect which are the offspring of the mind, and the objects of the outward senses, which are the offspring of those same outward senses; for it is in my power to exert both the mind and the outward senses?" But it is not sufficient for such a man only to bear witness against himself, but, being also condemned by God, who sentences him to most durable and everlasting slavery, he shall undergo his sentence: and be bored in the ear, that he may not receive the language of virtue, but that he may be a slave for ever, both in his mind and in his outward senses, which are bad and pitiless masters.
LXXI. "And to the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy groaning." [Genesis 3:16.] The affection which is called pain is a suffering peculiar to woman, who is a symbol of the outward sense. For to suffer pain belongs to the same subject to which to experience pleasure does also belong. But we experience pleasure through the medium of our outward senses, as of necessity we also suffer pain through the same medium. But the virtuous and purified mind suffers pain in the least degree; for the outward senses have the least degree of power over him. But passion is exceedingly powerful in the case of the foolish man, inasmuch as he has no antidote in his soul by which he can ward off the evils which proceed from the outward senses and from those objects which can only be perceived by them. For as an athlete and a slave are beaten in two different manners, the one in an abject manner, giving himself up to the ill-treatment, and yielding to it submissively; but the athlete opposing, and resisting, and parrying the blows which are aimed at him. And as you shave a man in one way, and a pillow in another; for the one is seen only in its suffering the shaving, but the man does himself do something likewise, and as one may say, aids the infliction, placing himself in a posture to be shaved; so the irrational man, like a slave, submits himself to another, and surrenders himself to the endurance of pains as to intolerable mistresses, being unable to look them in the face, and wholly incapable of conceiving any masculine or free thoughts. On which account a countless number of painful things are endured by him through the medium of the outward senses. But the man of experience, valiantly resisting like a brave athlete with strength and vigor, opposes himself resolutely to all painful things, so as not to be wounded by them; but so as to keep all their blows at a distance. And it seems to me that he might with great spirit utter the verses of the tragedian against pain in this manner:--
"Now scorch and burn my flesh, and fill yourself
With ample draughts of my life's purpled blood;
For sooner shall the stars' bright orbs descend
Beneath the darkened earth, the earth uprise
Above the sky, and all things be confounded,
Than you shall wrench one flattering word from me." [this is a fragment of the Syleus of Euripides. The lines are put in the mouth of Hercules.]
LXXII. But as God has allotted all painful things to the outward sense in great abundance and intensity, so also has he bestowed on the virtuous soul a boundless store of good things. Accordingly he speaks with reference to the perfect man Abraham in the following manner: "By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, that because thou hast done this thing and hast not withheld thy son, thy beloved son from me, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is on the shore of the sea." [Genesis 22:16.] He says this, and having confirmed his promise solemnly and by an oath, and by an oath, too, such as could alone become God. For you see that God does not swear by any other being than himself, for there is nothing more powerful than he is; but he swears by himself, because he is the greatest of all things.
But some men have said that it is inconsistent with the character of God to swear at all; for that an oath is received for the sake of the confirmation which it supplies; but God is the only faithful being, and if any one else who is dear to God; as Moses is said to have been faithful in all his house. [Numbers 12:7.] And besides, the mere words of God are the most sacred and holy of oaths, and laws, and institutions. And it is a proof of his exceeding power, that whatever he says is sure to take place; and this is the most especial characteristic of an oath. So that it would be quite natural to say that all the words of God are oaths confirmed by the accomplishment of the acts to which they relate.
LXXIII. They say, indeed, that an oath is a testimony borne by God concerning a matter which is the subject of doubt. But if God swears he is bearing testimony to himself, which is an absurdity. For the person who bears the testimony, and he on whose behalf it is borne, ought to be two different persons. What, then, are we to say? In the first place, that it is not a matter of blame for God to bear testimony to himself. For what other being could be competent to bear testimony to him? In the second place, He himself is to himself every thing that is most honorable -- relative, kinsman, friend, virtue, prosperity, happiness, knowledge, understanding, beginning, end, entirety, universality, judge, opinion, intention, law, action, supremacy.
Besides, if we only receive the expression, "By myself have I sworn," in the manner in which we ought, we shall be in no danger from sophistry. May we not, then, say, that the truth is something of this sort? None of those beings which are capable of entertaining belief, can entertain a firm belief respecting God. For he has not displayed his nature to any one; but keeps it invisible to every kind of creature. Who can venture to affirm of him who is the cause of all things either that he is a body, or that he is incorporeal, or that he has such and such distinctive qualities, or that he has no such qualities? or who, in short, can venture to affirm any thing positively about his essence, or his character, or his constitution, or his movements? But He alone can utter a positive assertion respecting himself, since he alone has an accurate knowledge of his own nature, without the possibility of mistake. His positive assertion, therefore, is one which may be thoroughly trusted in the first place, since he alone has any knowledge respecting his actions; so that he very appropriately swore by himself, adding himself confirmation to his assertion, which it was not possible for any one else to do. On which account men who say that they swear by God may well be considered impious. For no man can rightly swear by himself, because he is not able to have any certain knowledge respecting his own nature, but we must be content if we are able to understand even his name, that is to say, his word, which is the interpreter of his will. For that must be God to us imperfect beings, but the first mentioned, or true God, is so only to wise and perfect men.
And Moses, too, admiring the exceeding excellency of the great uncreated God, says, "And thou shalt swear by his name," [Deuteronomy 6:13] not by himself. For it is sufficient for the creature to receive confirmation and testimony from the word of God. But God is his own confirmation and most unerring testimony.
LXXIV. But the expression, "Because thou hast done this thing," [Genesis 22:16] is a symbol of piety. For to do everything for the sake of God alone is pious. In consequence of which we do not spare even that beloved child of virtue, prosperity, surrendering it to the Creator, and thinking it right that our offspring should become the possession of God, but not of any created being. And that expression, also, is a good one, "In blessing I will bless thee." For some persons do many acts worthy of a blessing, but yet not in such a way as to obtain a blessing. Since even a wicked man does some actions that are proper, but he does not do them from being of a proper disposition. And sometimes a drunken man or a mad man speaks and acts in a sober manner, but still he is not speaking or acting from a sober mind. And children, who are actually infants, both do and say many things which reasonable men do also do and say; but they, of course, do it not in consequence of any rational disposition, for nature has not yet endowed them with a capacity of reasoning. But the law giver wishes the wise man to appear deserving of blessing not occasionally, accidentally, and, as it were, by chance, but in consequence of habits and a disposition deserving of blessing.
LXXV. Therefore it is not sufficient for the unfortunate external sense to be abundantly occupied with pains, but it must also be full of groaning. Now groaning is a violent and intense pain. For we are very often in pain without groaning. But, when we groan, we are under the influence of most grievous and thickly pressing pain. Now, groaning is of a twofold nature. One kind is that which arises in those who desire and are very eager for august objects and who do not succeed in them, which is wicked; the other kind is that which proceeds from persons who repent and are distressed for previous sins, and who say, "Miserable are we, how long a time have we passed infected with the disease of foolishness, and in the practice of all kinds of folly and iniquity." But this kind of groaning does not exist unless the king of Egypt, that is to say, the impious disposition wholly devoted to pleasure, has perished and departed from our soul, "For, after many days, the king of Egypt died." [Exodus 2:23.]
Then immediately, as soon as vice is dead, the man who has become alive to the perception of God and of his own sin, groans, "For the children of Israel groaned at the corporeal and Egyptian works;" since the reigning disposition devoted to pleasure, while it is alive within us, persuades the soul to rejoice at the sins which it commits; but, when that disposition is dead, it groans over them; on which account it cries out to its master, beseeching him that it may not again be perverted, and that it may not arrive at only an imperfect sort of perfection. For many souls who have wished to turn to repentance have not been allowed to do so by God, but, been dragged back, as it were by the ebbing tide, having returned to their original courses; in the manner in which Lot's wife did, who was turned into stone because she loved Sodom, and who reverted to the disposition and habits which had been condemned by God.
LXXVI. But now Moses says that "Their cry has gone up to God, bearing witness to the grace of the living God." For if he had not powerfully summoned up to himself the supplicatory language of that people it would not have gone up; that is to say, it would never have gained power and increase, would never have begun to soar so high, flying from the lowness of earthly things. On which account, in the next passage, God is represented as saying, "Behold the cry of the children of Israel has come up to me." [Exodus 3:9.] Very beautifully here does Moses represent that their supplications have reached God, but they would not have reached him if he who was working him had not been a good man.
But there are some souls which God even goes forward to meet: "I will come to you and bless you." You see here how great is the kindness of the Creator of all things, when he even anticipates our delay and our intentions, and comes forward to meet us to the perfect benefiting of our souls. And the expression used here is an oracle full of instruction. For, if a thought of God enters the mind, it immediately blesses it and heals all its diseases. But the outward sense is always grieved and groans, and brings forth the perception of its objects with pain and intolerable anguish. As also God himself says, "In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children."
Now, the sense of sight brings forth the operation of seeing, the sense of hearing is the parent of the operation of hearing, so is the sense of taste of tasting; and, in short, each outward sense is respectively the parent of its corresponding operation; but still it does not produce all these effects in the foolish man without severe pain. For such a man is affected by pain when he sees, and when he hears, and when he tastes, and when he smells, and, in fact, when he exerts any one of these outward senses.
LXXVII. On the other hand, you will find virtue not only conceiving with extraordinary joy, but also bringing forth her good offspring with laughter and cheerfulness; and you will also find the offspring of the two parents to be actually cheerfulness itself. Now that the wise man becomes a parent with joy, and not with sorrow, the word of God itself will testify to us when it speaks thus: "And God said unto Abraham, Sarai, thy wife, shall no longer be called Sarai, but her name shall be Sarah; I will bless her, and give thee a son from her." [Genesis 17:15.] And, afterwards, Moses proceeds to say, "And Abraham fell upon his face and laughed, and said, 'Shall a son be born to him who is a hundred years old; and shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, have a son?'" Abraham, therefore, appears here to be in a state of joy, and to be laughing because he is about to become the father of happiness, that is to say, of Isaac; and virtue, that is to say, Sarah, laughs also. And the same prophet will further bear witness, speaking thus, "And it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women, and she laughed in her mind and said, such happiness has never yet happened to me to this time, and my lord," that is to say, the divine Lord, "is older than I;" in whose power, however, this thing must inevitably be, and in whose power it is becoming to place confidence. For the offspring is laughter and joy. For this is the meaning and interpretation of the name of Isaac. Therefore, let the outward sense be grieved, but let virtue be always rejoicing.
For, also, when happiness, that is Isaac, was born, she says, in the pious exaltation, "The Lord has caused me laughter, and whoever shall hear of it shall rejoice with me." [Genesis 21:7.] Open your ears, therefore, O ye initiated, and receive the most sacred mysteries. Laughter is joy; and the expression, "has caused," is equivalent to "has begotten." So that what is here said has some such meaning as this, "The Lord has begotten Isaac." For he is the father of perfect nature, sowing and begetting happiness in the soul.
LXXVIII. "And thy desire," says God, "shall be to thy husband." [Genesis 3:16.] There are two husbands of the outward senses. The one a legal one, the other a destroyer. For the object of sight, acting upon it like a husband, puts the sense of sight in motion; and so does sound affect the sense of hearing, flavor the sense of taste, and so on with each of the outward senses respectively. And these things attract the attention of and call the irrational outward sense to itself, and become the master of it and govern it. For beauty enslaves the sight, and sweet flowers enslave the sense of taste, and each of the other objects of outward sense enslaves that sense which corresponds to them. See the glutton, what a slave he is to all the preparations which cooks and confectioners devise. Behold the man who is devoted to the study of music, how he is governed by the harp, or the flute, or by any one who is able to sing. But the sense which turns itself to its legitimate husband, that is to say, to the mind, derives the greatest possible advantage from that object.
LXXIX. Let us now see what account Moses gives of the mind itself, when it is set in motion in a way contrary to right reason. And God said unto Adam, "Because thou hast listened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee not to eat, because thou hast eaten of it, cursed is the earth in thy actions." [Genesis 3:17.] It is a most mischievous thing, therefore, for the mind to be swayed by the outward senses, but not for the outward senses to be guided by the mind. For it is at all times proper that that which is better should rule, and that that which is worse should be ruled. And the mind is better than the outward senses. As, therefore, when the charioteer has his horses under command and guides the animals with the rein, the chariot is guided wherever he pleases; but if they become restive, and get the better of the charioteer, he is often dragged out of his road, and sometimes it even happens that the beasts themselves are borne by the impetuosity of their course into a pit, and everything is carried away in a ruinous manner. And, as a ship holds on her right course when the pilot has the helm in his hand and steers her, and she is obedient to her rudder, but the vessel is upset when some contrary wind descends upon the waves and the whole sea is occupied by billows; so when the mind, which is the charioteer or pilot of the soul, retains the mastery over the entire animal, as a ruler does over a city, the life of the man proceeds rightly. But when the outward sense, which is devoid of reason, obtains the supremacy, then a terrible confusion overtakes the man, as might happen if a household of slaves were to conspire and to set upon their master. For then, if one must tell the truth, the mind is set fire to and burnt, the outward senses handling the flame and placing the objects of their operation beneath, as fuel.
LXXX. And Moses, indeed, speaks of and describes such a conflagration of the mind as this which arises in consequence of the operation of the outward senses, when he says, "And the women still burnt additional fires in Moab." [Numbers 21:27.] For this expression being interpreted means, from the father, because the mind is our father. "For then," says Moses, "the expounders of riddles will say, Come to Heshbon, that the city of Sihon may be built and furnished. Because fire has gone forth out of Heshbon, and a flame out of the city of Sihon, and has devoured as far as Moab, and has consumed the high places of Arnon. Woe unto thee, Moab, Chemosh is destroyed: their sons who had sought to escape have been given up, and their daughters have become captive to Sihon, king of the Amorites. And the seed of them shall perish, from Heshbon even to Dibon. Moreover, the women still burnt additional fire in Moab." Heshbon being interpreted means reasonings; and these must here mean enigmas, full of indistinctness. Behold the reasoning of the physician:--"I will purge the sick man, I will nourish him, I will heal him with medicines and with diet, I will extirpate his diseased parts, I will cauterize him." But very often nature has healed the man without these remedies; and very often too has suffered him to die though they were applied: so that the reasonings of the physician have been utterly found out to be dreams, full of all indistinctness and of riddles.
Again, the husbandman says, I will scatter seed, I will plant; the plants shall grow, they shall bear fruit, which shall not only be useful for necessary enjoyment, but which shall also be abundant for superfluity; and then, on a sudden, fire, or a storm, or continued rains, have destroyed everything. But at times man has brought his labors to their due accomplishment, and yet he who formed all these plans has derived no advantage from their being accomplished, but has died before they were accomplished, and has in vain promised himself the enjoyment of the fruits of his labors.
LXXXI. It is best, therefore, to trust in God, and not in uncertain reasonings, or unsure conjectures. "Abraham trusted in the Lord, and it was counted to him for righteousness." [Genesis 15:6.] And Moses governed the people, being testified to that he was faithful with his whole house. But if we distrust our own reason, we shall prepare and build ourselves a city of the mind which will destroy the truth. For Sihon, being interpreted means destroying. In reference to which he who had dreamed, waking up, found that all the motions and all the advances of the foolish man are merely dreams that have no portion of truth in them, for the very mind is found to be a dream; and the only true doctrine is to believe in God, and to trust to vain reasonings is a mere delusion. But irrational impulse goes forth and proceeds to each extremity, while both the reasonings and the mind corrupt the truth. On which account, Moses says that "fire went out of Heshbon, and flame out of the city of Sihon." So absurd is it to trust either to plausible reasonings, or to the mind which corrupts the truth.
LXXXII. "And it devours even as far as Moab;" that is to say, as far as the mind. For what other creature, except the miserable mind, can a false opinion deceive? It devours and consumes, and, in truth, it swallows up the pillars in it; that is to say, all the particular notions which are engraved and impressed upon it, as upon a pillar. But the pillars are Arnon, which, being interpreted, means the light of Arnon, since every one of these facts is made clear by reasoning. Accordingly, Moses begins presently to lament over the self-satisfied and arrogant mind in this manner: "Woe unto thee, O city of Moab!" For, if you give attention to the riddles which arise out of the perception of what is probable, you have destroyed the truth by so doing.
"The people of Chemosh," that is to say, thy people and thy power, have been found to be mutilated and blinded. For Chemosh, being interpreted, means feeling with the hand. And this action is the especial characteristic of one who does not see. Now, their sons are particular reasonings—exiles; and their opinions are in the place of daughters, being captives to the king of the Amorites, that is to say, of those who converse with the sophist. For the name Amorites, being interpreted, means talkers, being a symbol of the people who talk much; and their guide and leader is the sophist, and he who is skillful in reasoning and clever in investigating arts; a man by whom all those are deceived who once overpass the boundary of truth.
LXXXIII. Sihon, then, who destroys the sound rule of truth, and his seed also, shall both perish; and so shall Heshbon, namely, the sophistical riddles, as far as Debon; which, being interpreted, means adjudication. And very consistently with nature shall this be. For what is probable and plausible has not a positive knowledge respecting truth, but only a trial and controversy and a litigious contest and strife, and all such things as these. But it was not sufficient for the mind to have its own peculiar evils, which were perceptible only to the intellect; but still the women burnt additional fire, that is to say, the outward senses excited a great conflagration to have an effect upon it.
See, now, what the meaning is of what is here said. We who very often by night desist from energizing according to any one of the outward senses, receive absurd impressions respecting many different things, since our souls exist in a state of perpetual motion and are capable of an infinite variety of changes. There were, therefore, things quite sufficient for its destruction which it brought forth out of itself. But now, as it is, the multitude of the outward senses has brought against it a most incalculable multitude of evils, partly from objects of sight and partly from sounds; and besides that, from flavors and from such essences as affect the sense of smell. And one may almost say that the flavor which arises from them has a more pernicious influence on the disposition of the soul than that which is engendered in the soul itself, without any co-operation or agency of the organs of sense.
LXXXIV. One of these women is Pentepho, the wife of Pharaoh's chief cook. [Genesis 39:1.] We must now consider how a man who was a eunuch can be represented as having a wife. For there will here be something which will seem to offer a reasonable ground for perplexity to those who do not take the expressions of the law in an allegorical sense. For the mind is really a eunuch, and really the chief of cooks, using not merely such pleasures as are simple, but those also which are superfluous, and is therefore called a eunuch and barren of all wisdom, being the eunuch and slave of no other master than of that squanderer of all good things, Pharaoh. On another principle, therefore, it might appear a most desirable thing to be a eunuch, if our soul, by that means escaping vice, might be able also to avoid all knowledge of passion. On which account Joseph, that is to say, the disposition of continence, says to Pleasure, who accosts him with, "Lie with me, and being a man behave as a man, and enjoy the pleasant things which life can afford." He, I say, refuses her, saying, "I shall be sinning against God, who loves virtue, if I become a votary of pleasure; for this is a wicked action."
LXXXV. And, at first, he only skirmishes, but presently he fights and resists valiantly, when the soul enters into her own dwelling, and, having recourse to her own strength and energy, renounces the temptations of the body, and performs her own appropriate actions as those which are the proper occupation of the soul; not appearing in the house of Joseph, nor of Pentepho, but in the house. Nor does Moses add a word to describe whose house he means, in order to give you opportunity to interpret allegorically, in an inquisitive spirit, the meaning of the expression, "to do his business." The house, therefore, is the soul, to which he runs, leaving all external affairs, in order that what is spoken of may there be done.
But may we not say that the conduct of the temperate man is what it is, and is directed by the will of God? For there was not present any inconsistent idea of all those which are accustomed to find their place within the soul. Moreover, pleasure never ceases from struggling against the yoke, but, seizing hold of his clothes, she cries, "Lie with me." Now, clothes are, as it were, the covering of the body, just as life is protected by meat and drink. And she says here, "Why do you renounce pleasure, without which you cannot live? Behold, I take hold of the things which cause it; and I say that you could not possibly exist unless you also made use of some of the things which cause it."
What, then, says the temperate man? "Shall I," says he, "become a slave to passion, on account of the material which causes passion? Nay, I will depart out of reach of the passion." For, leaving his garment in her hand, he fled, and escaped out of doors.
LXXXVI. And who, some one perhaps may say, ever escapes in-doors? Do not many do so? Or have not some people, avoiding the guilt of sacrilege, committed robberies in private houses, or though not beating their own fathers, have not they insulted the fathers of others? Now these men do escape from one class of offenses, but they run into others. But a man who is perfectly temperate, ought to avoid every description of offense, whether greater or less, and never to be detected in any sin whatever. But Joseph, for he is a young man, and because as such he was unable to struggle with the Egyptian body and to subdue pleasure, runs away. But Phineas the priest, who was zealous with a great zeal for God's service, did not provide for his own safety by flight; but having taken to himself a yoke horse, that is to say, zeal combined with reason, would never desist till he had wounded the Midianitish woman (that is to say the nature which was concealed in the divine company), through her belly, [Numbers 25:7] in order that no plant or seed of wickedness might ever be able to shoot out from it.
LXXXVII. On which account after folly has been utterly eradicated, the soul receives a twofold prize, and a double inheritance, peace and holiness, two kindred and sister-like virtues. We must therefore refuse to listen to such a woman, that is to say to a wicked temptation of the outward senses, since "God gave a good reward to the midwives," [Exodus 1:20] because they disregarded the commands of the wasteful Pharaoh, "saving the male children of the soul alive," which he wished to destroy, being a lover of the female offspring alone, and rejecting all knowledge of the Cause of all things, and saying, "I know him not." [Exodus 3:17.] But we must give our belief to another woman, such as it was ordained that Sarah should be, Sarah being in a figure the governing virtue; and the wise Abraham was guided by her, when she recommended him such actions as were good. [Genesis 21:12.] For before this time, when he was not yet perfect, but even before his name was changed, he gave his attention to subjects of lofty philosophical speculation; and she, knowing that he could not produce anything out of perfect virtue, counselled him to raise children out of her handmaid, that is to say out of encyclical instruction, out of Agar, [Genesis 16:2] which name being interpreted means a dwelling near; for he who meditates dwelling in perfect virtue, before his name is enrolled among the citizens of that state, dwells among the encyclical studies, in order that through their instrumentality he may make his approaches at liberty towards perfect virtue.
After that, when he saw that he was now become perfect, and was now able to become a father, although he himself was full of gratitude towards those studies, by means of which he had been recommended to virtue, and thought it hard to renounce them; he was well inclined to be appeased by an oracle from God which laid this command on him. "In everything which Sarah says, do thou obey her voice." [Genesis 21:11.] Let that be a law to every one of us to do whatever seems good to virtue; for if we are willing to submit to everything which virtue recommends we shall be happy.
LXXXVIII. And the expression, "And thou eatest of the tree of which alone I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat," [Genesis 3:17] is equivalent to saying, You made a covenant with wickedness, which you ought to have repelled with all your strength. On this account, "Cursed art thou;" not, cursed is the earth for thy works. What, now, is the reason of this? That serpent, pleasure, which is an irrational elevation of the soul, this is intrinsically accursed in its own nature; and being such, attaches itself only to the wicked man, and to no good man. But Adam is the intermediate sort of mind which at one time if investigated is found to be good, and at another time bad; for inasmuch as it is mind, it is not by nature either good or bad, but from contact with virtue or with vice, it frequently changes for the better or for the worse; therefore it very naturally is not accursed of its own nature, as neither being itself wickedness nor acting according to wickedness, but the earth is accursed in its works: for the actions which proceed from the entire soul, which he calls the earth, are open to blame and devoid of innocence, inasmuch as he does everything in accordance with vice. In reference to which fact God adds, that "In sorrow thou shalt eat of it." Which is equivalent to saying, you shall enjoy your soul in sorrow; for the wicked man does enjoy his own soul with great pain the whole of his life, having no legitimate cause for joy; for such cause is only produced by justice and prudence, and by the virtues which are enthroned as companions with them.
LXXXIX. "Thorns, therefore, and thistles shall it bring forth to you." But what is it which is produced and which shoots up in the soul of the foolish man except the passions which goad and sting and wound it? Which Moses here, speaking symbolically, calls thorns, and which irrational appetite rushes upon at first like fire, and so hastens to meet, and afterwards uniting itself to them, it consumes and destroys all its own nature and actions. For Moses speaks thus: -- "But if fire when it has gone forth finds thorns, and shall also burn a threshing-floor, or a crop of wheat, or a field of corn, then he who kindled the fire shall pay the damage." [Exodus 22:6.] You see therefore when it has gone forth, that is to say, irrational impetuosity, it does not only burn the thorns, but finds them: for being inclined to seek out the passions, it attains to what it has been desiring to find; but when it has found it, it consumes these three things, --perfect virtue, improvement, and goodness of disposition. Moses therefore here compares virtue to a threshing-floor; for as the crops when collected are brought to the threshing-floor, so also are the good things which exist in the soul of the wise man brought to virtue; and improvement he likens to the crop of wheat, inasmuch as both the one and the other are imperfect, aiming at the end; and goodness of disposition he compares to a field of corn, because it is well adapted to receive the seeds of virtue; and each of the passions he calls thistles (tribolia), because they are divisible into three parts: the passion itself, the efficient cause, and the effect which arises from the combined operation of the two. As for instance pleasure, what is pleasant, and the being pleased; appetite, the object of appetite, and the indulgence of appetite; pain, what is painful, and the suffering pain; fear, what is fearful, and the being in a state of fear.
XC. "And thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat thy bread." He here speaks of the herb of the field and of bread, as if they were synonymous, or identical with one another. The herb of the field is the food of the irrational animal; but the irrational animal is a worthless creature, which has been deprived of right reason. The outward senses are also irrational, though they are part of the soul. But the mind, which is eager for the attainment of those things which are the objects of the outward sense by means of the irrational outward senses, does not attain its desires without labor and sweat; for the life of the foolish man is very full of distress and very burdensome, since he is always aiming at and greedily coveting the things which give pleasure, and all such things as wickedness is wont to do.
And how long shall this last? "Until," says God, "you return to the dust form which you were taken." For is he not now ranked among the things of the earth, and among things which have no consistency, ever since he deserted the wisdom which is from heaven? We must consider therefore to what point he is coming back; but may we not consider whether what he says has not some such meaning as this, that the foolish mind is at all times averted from right reason, and that it has been originally taken not from any sublime nature, but from some more earthly material, and whether it is stationary, or whether it is in motion, it is always the same, and desirous of the same objects. On which account, God adds that, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." And this is equivalent to what has been said before.
Moreover this sentence also signifies, the beginning and the end are one and the same thing. For there hadst thou beginning in the perishable bodies of the earth; and again, thou shalt end in them, during the interval of your life, between its beginning and its end, passing along a road which is not plain and easy, but rough, full of briars and thorns, the nature of which is to tear and wound thee.