Posterity of Cain, the Man Wise in His own Conceit; and on the Way in Which Cain Became an Exile.
I. "And Cain went out from before the face of God, and dwelt in the land of Nod, opposite to Eden." [Genesis 4:16.] Now we may raise the question whether we are to take the expressions which occur in the books that have been handed down to us by Moses and to interpret them in a somewhat metaphorical sense, while the ideas which readily present themselves as derived from the names are very deficient in truth. For if the living God has a face, and if he who desires to leave it can with perfect ease rise up and depart to another place, why do we repudiate the impiety of the Epicureans, or the godlessness of the Egyptians, or the mythical suggestions of which life is full? For the face is a portion of an animal; but God is a whole, not a part: so that it becomes necessary to invent for him other parts also, a neck, and a chest, and hands, and moreover a belly, feet, and generative organs, and all the rest of the countless number of internal and external faculties. And the fact of God's having passions like unto those of man follows of necessity from the fact of his having a form like that of man: since all those limbs are not superfluous and mere exuberances, but have been made by nature as assistants of the weakness of those who possess them, and she has adapted them in a manner suitable to and consistent with their natural necessities and offices. But the living God has need of nothing; so that as he does not at all require the assistance to be derived from the parts of the body, he cannot possibly have such parts at all.
II. And from whence does Cain go forth? is it from the palace of the ruler of the world? But what house of God can exist perceptible by the outward senses except this world which it is impossible and impracticable to quit? For the great circle of the heaven binds round and contains within itself everything which has ever been created; and of those things which have already perished, the component parts are resolved into their original elements, and are again portioned off among those powers of the universe of which they consist, the loan which, as it were, was advanced to each, being restored back at unequal periods of time, in accordance with laws previously laid down, to the nature which originally made it, whenever that nature chooses to call in its debts.
Again, if any person goes out from any place, that which he leaves behind him is in a different place from that in which he now is, but if this be true it must follow that there are some portions of the universe deprived of the presence of God, who never leaves any place empty or destitute of himself, but who fills up all things for all time; and if God has not a face (inasmuch as he is not bound by what may seem appropriate for created things), and if he does not exist in parts inasmuch as he surrounds all things and is not surrounded by any, it is impossible for anything to remove and depart from this world as from a city, as there is no portion of it left without.
It now remains for us, considering that none of these things are spoken of in terms of strict propriety, to turn to the allegorical system, which is dear to men versed in natural philosophy, taking the first principles of our argument from this source.
If it is hard to depart from before the face and out of the sight of a mortal king, how can it be anything but extremely difficult to depart and quit the appearance of God, and to determine no longer to come into his sight. This indeed is to be left without any idea of him, and to be mutilated as to the eyes of the soul, and all those who of necessity have endured this fate, being weighed down by the might of irresistible and implacable power, are objects rather for pity than for hatred; but all those who voluntarily and of deliberated purposes have rejected the living God, exceeding even the bounds of wickedness itself, for what other evil of equal weight can possibly be found? Such men should suffer not the usual punishments of evil doers, but something new and extraordinary. And surely no one could invent a more novel or more terrible penalty than a departure and flight from the presence of the Ruler of the universe.
III. Accordingly God banished Adam; but Cain went forth from his presence of his own accord; Moses here showing to us the manner of each sort of absence from God, both the voluntary and the involuntary sort; but the involuntary sort as not existing in consequence of any intention on our part, will subsequently have such a remedy applied to it as the case admits of; for God will raise up another offspring in the place of Abel, whom Cain slew, a male offspring for the soul which has not turned by its own intention, by name Seth, which name being interpreted means irrigation; but the voluntary flight from God, as one that has taken place by deliberate purpose and intention, will await on irremediable punishment in all eternity, for as good deeds that are done in consequence of forethought and design, are better than unintentional ones, so also among offenses those that are undesigned are of less heinousness than those that are premeditated.
IV. Therefore punishment which is the chastiser of impious men, will await Cain who has now departed from before the face of God, but Moses will suggest to those who know God, a most excellent suggestion, to love God and to obey him, and cleave to him, for he tells men that this is the life which in truth is tranquil and lasting, [Deuteronomy 30:20] and he very emphatically invites us to the honor of the one being who is above all others to be beloved and honored, bidding us cleave to him, recommending to us a continual and constant and inseparable harmony and union of friendship with him. These suggestions and such as these are what he gives to the rest of the world, but he himself so insatiably desires to behold him, and to be beheld by him, that he supplicates him to display to his eye his nature of which it is impossible to form a conjecture, so that he may become acquainted with it, [Exodus 33:18] that thus he might receive a most well-grounded certainty of knowledge that could not be mistaken, in exchange for uncertain doubts; and he will never cease from urging his desire, but even, though he is aware that he desires a matter which is difficult of attainment, or rather which is wholly unattainable, he still strives on, in no way remitting his intense anxiety, but without admitting any excuse, or any hesitation, or vacillation; using all the means in his power to gain his object.
V. At all events, he will now penetrate into "the darkness where God was." [Exodus 20:13.] That is to say, into those unapproachable and invisible conceptions which are formed of the living God. For the great Cause of all things does not exist in time, nor at all in place, but he is superior to both time and place; for, having made all created things in subjection to himself, he is surrounded by nothing, but he is superior to everything. And being superior to, and being also external to the world that he has made, he nevertheless fills the whole world with himself; for, having by his own power extended it to its utmost limits, he has connected every portion with another portion according to the principles of harmony.
When, therefore, the soul that loves God seeks to know what the one living God is according to his essence, it is entertaining upon an obscure and dark subject of investigation, from which the greatest benefit that arises to it is to comprehend that God, as to his essence, is utterly incomprehensible to any being, and also to be aware that he is invisible. And it appears to me that the great hierophant had attained to the comprehension of the most important point in this investigation before he commenced it, when he entreated God to become the exhibitor and expounder of his own nature to him, [Exodus 33:12] for he says, "Show me thyself;" showing very plainly by this expression that no created being is competent by himself to learn the nature of God in his essence.
VI. On this account too, Abraham, when he had come unto the place which God had told him of, "On the third day, looking up, saw the place afar off." [Genesis 22:4.] What kind of place? Was it the place to which he came? And how was it still afar off, if he had already come to it? But perhaps the meaning which is intended under this expression may be something like this: -- The wise man, being always desirous to comprehend the nature of the Ruler of the universe, when he is proceeding along the road which leads by knowledge and wisdom, previously meets with words of God, among which he rests for a while; and though he had previously determined to proceed by some other road, he now stops and hesitates; for the eyes of his mind being opened, he sees more clearly that he had entered upon a chase after a thing which was difficult to overtake, which constantly retreated before him, and was always at a distance, and which outstripped its pursuers by placing an immeasurable distance between them. You think, therefore, rightly that all the speediest things which are under heaven would appear to be standing still if compared with the rapidity of the sun, and moon, and other stars. And yet the whole heaven was made by God; and the maker always goes before that which is made. So that, of necessity, not only the other things which exist among us, but also that which has the most rapid motion of all, namely, the mind, may fall short of a proper comprehension of the great cause of all things by an undescribable distance.
But the stars, as they are themselves in motion, pass by all things that move; but, though it seems incredible, God, while standing still, outstrips everything. And it is said that he, at the same moment, is close to us and at a great distance, touching us with his creative or his punishing powers, which are close to each individual, and yet at the same time driving away the creature to an excessive distance from his nature as existing according to its essence, so that it cannot touch him without even the unalloyed and incorporeal efforts of the intellect. Therefore we sympathize in joy with those who love God and seek to understand the nature of the living do, even if they fail to discover it; for the vague investigation of what is good is sufficient by itself to cheer the heart, even if it fail to attain the end that it desires. But we participate in indignation against that lover of himself, Cain; because he has left his soul without any conception whatever of the living God, having of deliberate purpose mutilated himself of that faculty by which alone he might have been able to see him.
VII. It is worth while also to consider the wickedness into which a man who flies from the face of God is driven, since it is called a tempest. The law-giver showing, by this expression, that he who gives way to inconsiderate impulses without any stability or firmness exposes himself to surf and violent tossing, like those of the sea, when it is agitated in the winter season by contrary winds, and has never even a single glimpse of calm or tranquillity. But as when a ship having been tossed in the sea is agitated, it is then no longer fit to take a voyage or to anchor in harbor, but being tossed about hither and thither it leans first to one side and then to the other, and struggles in vain against the waves; so the wicked man, yielding to a perverse and insane disposition, and being unable to regulate his voyage through life without disaster, is constantly tossed about in perpetual expectation of an overturning of his life.
But the connection of the consequence affects me in no moderate degree; for it happens that that which comes near to him who is standing still longs for tranquillity, as being something which resembles itself. Now that which stands still without any deviation is God, and that which is moved is the creature, so that he who comes near to God desires stability; but he who departs from him, as by so doing he is approaching a creature easily overturned, is borne towards that which resembles it.
VIII. On this account it is written in the curses contained in scripture, "Thou shalt never rest; nor shall there be any rest for the sole of thy foot." [Deuteronomy 28:65.] And, a little afterwards, we read that, "Thy life shall hang in doubt before them." [Deuteronomy 28:66.] For it is the nature of the foolish man, who is always being tossed about in a manner contrary to right reason, to be hostile to tranquillity and rest, and not to stand firmly or with a sure foundation on any doctrine whatever. Accordingly he is full of different opinions at different times, and sometimes, even in the same circumstances, without any new occurrence having arisen to affect them, he will be perfectly contrary to himself, -- now great, now little, now hostile, now friendly; and, in short, he will, so to say, be everything that is most inconsistent in a moment of time. And, as the law-giver says, "All his life shall hang in doubt before him;" having no firm footing, but being constantly tossed about by opposing circumstances, which drag it different ways. On which account Moses says, in another place, "Cursed of God is he that hangeth on a tree;" [Deuteronomy 21:23] because what he ought to hang upon is God.
But such a man has, of his own accord, bound himself to the body, which is a wooden burden upon us, exchanging hope for desire and a perfect hope for the greatest of evils; for hope, being the expectation of good things, causes the mind to depend upon the bounteous God; but appetite, creating only unreasonable desires, depends on the body, which nature has made to be a sort of receptacle and abode for the soul.
IX. Let these men, then, hang by their appetites as by a halter; but the wise Abraham, where he stands, comes near to God, who is also standing. For Moses says that "Abraham was standing near to God; and coming nigh unto him, he said," [Genesis 18:22, 23.]... For in good truth the unalterable soul is the only thing that has access to the unalterable God; and being of such a disposition, it does really stand very near to the Divine power. Therefore the oracle which was given to the all-wise Moses most manifestly shows the lasting good condition and stability of the virtuous man. Now, the oracle is as follows: "And do thou thyself stand with me." [Deuteronomy 5:31.] By which expression, two things are made clear. One, that it is the living God, who moves and turns about all other beings, being himself unchangeable and immoveable. The second is, that he makes the virtuous man a participator in his own tranquil nature. For, as I suppose, the crooked things are made straight by his straight rule; so, likewise, are the things that are in motion restrained and made stationary by the power of him who always stands still and firm.
In this passage, therefore, he commands another being to stand with him: but in another place he says, "I will go down with thee to Egypt, and I will conduct thee to the end." [Genesis 46:4.] He does not say, Thou shalt go down with me. Why not? Because calmness and stability are the especial attributes of God; but a liability to change one's place, and every kind of motion which has a tendency to change the place, is incident to a created being. When, therefore, he invites the man to his own peculiar good, he says, "Stand thou with me:" not "I will stand with thee." For "will stand," cannot be said of God, who always stands still.
But when he comes to that which is the peculiar attribute of the creature, he says, with the most perfect correctness, "I will go down with you;" for change of place is adapted to you: so that no one shall go down with me, for in me there is no changing; but whatever is consistent with me, that is to say, with rest, shall stand. And with those who go down in such a manner as to change their place (for change of place is akin to and closely connected with them), I will go down also, not indeed changing my situation as to its actual place, inasmuch as I fill every place with myself. And this, too, I do through the pity which exists in rational nature, in order that it may be raised from the hell of the passions to the heavenly region of virtue; I being the guide, who also have made the road which leads to heaven, so that it may be a plain road for suppliant souls, and have shown it to them all, in order that they may not foolishly wander out of the way.
X. Having, therefore, now pointed out each variety, the tranquillity of the good man, and the state of agitation in which the bad man lives, let us now consider what follows the statement which we have hitherto been examining. For Moses says that Nod, which name, being interpreted, means the tumult into which the soul has migrated, is opposite to Eden. Now Eden is a symbolical expression for correct and divine reason, on which account its interpretation is luxury; because divine reason is, above all other things, delighted with and exults among unmingled and pure, and also well filled up and complete pleasure, God, the giver of all good things, raising his virgin and undying graces upon it. But by its own intrinsic nature, the bad is always striving with the good, the unjust with the just, the wise with the foolish, and all the different species of virtue with all the different species of vice. Something like this is the meaning of the statement that Nod is opposite to Eden.
XI. After he had said this he proceeds to say, "And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bare Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son Enoch." [Genesis 4:17.] Is it not here reasonable to raise the question, why Cain knew his wife? for there had been no birth of any one other woman since that of Eve who was formed out of the side of the man, until the woman who is here mentioned; and if any one says that Cain took his sister to wife, putting the impiety of such a connection out of the question, he will speak falsely; for Moses represents the daughters of Adam as born late. What then are we to say? As I imagine, Moses here calls his wife opinion of impious reason which it forms about things, as crowds of those who have studied philosophy do: some of them introducing the same opinions into human life, and others introducing such as are wholly at variance with one another.
What then is the position of the impious man? Why, that the human mind is the measure of all things; which also they say that one of the ancient philosophers, Protagoras, used to employ, being a descendant of the folly of Cain. And from thence I conjecture that his wife, being known to him, brought forth Enoch; and the name Enoch being interpreted means, thy grace. For if man is the measure of all things, then, also, all things are a grace and a free gift of the mind; so that we refer to the eye the grace of sight, to the ears that of hearing, and to each of the other external senses their appropriate object, and also to the speech and utterance do we attribute the power of speaking.
And if we judge in this manner of these things, so also do we with respect to intelligence, in which ten thousand things are comprised, such as thoughts, perceptions, designs, meditations, conceptions, sciences, arts, dispositions, and a number of other faculties almost incalculable. What is it then that the gravest philosophers, who have talked in the most grandiloquent manner about divine law and the honor due to God, have determined both to say and to allow to be said, If ye have in ye a mind which is equal to God, which regulating by its own power all the good and bad things which exist among men, occasionally mingles both in certain persons, and sometimes distributes both good and bad to some in an unalloyed state; and if any one accuses you of impiety, make your defense with a good courage, saying that you have been brought up very admirably by your guide and teacher, Cain, who recommended you to honor the powers that are nearest in preference to that cause which was afar off, to whom you ought to attend for many other reasons, and most especially because he showed the power of his doctrine by very evident works, having conquered Abel the expounder of the opposite doctrine, and having removed and destroyed his doctrine as well as himself. But in my opinion and in that of my friends, death in the company of the pious would be preferable to life with the impious; for those who die in the company of the pious everlasting life will receive, but everlasting death will be the portion of those who live in the other way.
XII. But as after Cain had begotten Enoch, one of the posterity of Seth is also subsequently called Enoch, it may be well to consider, whether the two namesakes were men of different or of similar dispositions and characters. And at the same time that we examine this question let us also investigate the differences between other persons bearing the same name. For as Enoch was, so also Methusaleh and Lamech were both descendants of Cain, and they were no less the descendants of Seth also. We must therefore be aware that each of the aforesaid names, being interpreted, has a double signification; for Enoch, being interpreted, means, as I have already said, "thy grace," and Methusaleh means, the sending forth of death. Lamech, again means, humiliation. Now the expression, "Thy grace," is by some persons referred to the mind that is in us; and by more learned and sounder interpreters it is referred to the mind of other persons. They therefore who say that all thinking, and feeling, and speaking, are the free gifts of their own soul, utter an impious and ungodly opinion, and deserve to be classed among the race of Cain, who, though he was not able to master himself, yet dared to assert that he had absolute possession of all other things; but as for those persons who do not claim all the things in creation as their own, but who ascribe them to the divine grace, being men really noble and sprung out of those who were rich long ago, but of those who love virtue and piety, they may be classed under Seth as the author of their race. The race of these men is difficult to trace, since they show a life of plotting, and cunning, and wickedness, and dissoluteness, full of passion and wickednesses, as such a life must be. For all those whom God, since they pleased him well, has caused to quit their original abode, and has transformed from the race of perishable beings to that of immortals, are no longer found among the common multitude.
XIII. Having, therefore, thus distinguished the indications intended to be afforded by the name of Enoch, let us now proceed in regular order to the name of Methuselah; and this name is interpreted, a sending forth of death. Now there are two meanings contained in this word; one, that according to which death is sent to any one, and the other, that according to which it is sent away from any one. He, therefore, to whom it is sent, immediately dies, but he, from whom it is sent, lives and survives. Accordingly, he who receives death is akin to Cain, who is dying as to the life in accordance with virtue; but he from whom death is sent away and kept at a distance, is most nearly related to Seth, for the good man enjoys real life. And again, the name Lamech, which means humiliation, is a name of ambiguous meaning; for we are humiliated either when the vigor of our soul is relaxed, according to the diseases and infirmities which arise from the irrational passions, or in respect of our love for virtue, when we seek to restrain ourselves from swelling self-opinions.
Now the former kind of humiliation arises out of weakness, being a species of that multiform disease of many changes, leprosy. "For when his appearance seems more humble," [Leviticus 13:3] being broken as to its level and fresh face, than the lawgiver says that that humble disease leprosy exists. But the second kind of humiliation arises from the strength of perseverance, which is followed by propitiation, according to the perfect number of the decade; for the people are enjoined to humble their souls on the tenth day of the month, and this means to put away all high boasting, the putting away of which works the rejection of all offenses, both voluntary and involuntary. Accordingly, the Lamech who is humbled in this sense, is the descendant of Seth, and the father of the just Noah; but he who is humbled in the former manner is the descendant of Cain.
XIV. And it may become us next to consider on what account this same man is represented as founding and building a city, for it is only a multitude of men who have need of a city to dwell in; but the three who were the only human beings in existence at that time might have thought the foot of a mountain, or a small cave, a most sufficient abode. And I said, indeed, the three; but in all probability I might have spoken of him by himself; for the parents of Abel, who had been so treacherously slain, would never have endured to inhabit the same city with his murderer -- a man who had committed fratricide, which is a greater pollution than even homicide.
For it is plain that it is not only extraordinary, but utterly contrary to all reason, that one man should build a city. In what manner could he do it? He could not build even the most trifling portion of a house, unless he employed other men as his assistants. Would the same man be able at the same time to cut stones, to cut wood, to work in iron and in brass, and to throw the vast circumference of walls round the city? to build up propylaea, and inter-walls, and temples, and sacred precincts, and porticoes, and docks, and houses, and all the other public and private buildings which one is accustomed to find in a city? And moreover, besides all these things, would he be able to carry burdens, to move away masses of earth, to widen narrow passages, to make fountains and water-courses, and all the other things with which a city ought to be provided? Perhaps, therefore, since all these ideas are inconsistent with truth, it would be better to look upon the statement as an allegory, and to say that Cain determined to build up his own doctrine like a city.
XV. Since, therefore, every city consists of houses and inhabitants, and laws, the houses, in Cain's case, are the reasons which he alleges to prove his point; by which, as from a wall, he fights against the persuasive attacks of his enemies; inventing fabulous devices against the truth. The inhabitants are the companions of impiety, ungodliness, self-love, haughtiness, falsehood, vain opinions; the men wise in their own conceit, the men who know not wisdom as relating to truth, the men who are full of ignorance, and stupidity, and folly; and all the other similar and kindred evils. The laws are, lawlessness, injustice, inequality, intemperance, boldness, folly, insolence, immoderate indulgence in pleasure, and innumerable appetites in despite of nature.
Now of such a city as this, every impious man is found to be a builder in his own miserable soul, until God deliberately causes complete and great confusion to their sophistical arts. [Genesis 11:4.] And this will be, when not only "they build a city and tower, the head of which will reach to heaven," that is to say, [...] the mind or the reason of each individual as conversant about making great works, which they represent as having for its head a conception peculiar to itself, which is called in symbolical language heaven. For it is plain that the head and object of every reasoning must be the aforesaid mind; for the sake of which, long digressions and sentences are in the habit of being used by men who write histories.
XVI. And to such a pitch of accursed impiety have they gone, that not only do they attempt to raise up such cities by themselves, but they even compel the virtue-loving multitude of Israel to join them, appointing superintendents and teachers of evil actions to govern them. For it is said that, when they were ill-treated by the superintendents, they built three cities for the prince of the country, Peithom, Rameses, [Exodus 1:11] and On, which is Heliopolis. And these cities, if taken symbolically, mean mind, the outward sense, and the faculty of speech, which are the three principal things in us; for Peithom means speech, because persuasion (to peithein) arises from speech; and the interpretation of Peithom is, a mouth-uttering, since the reasoning of the wicked man comes from without, and occupies itself with endeavoring to overturn all that is good: and Rameses is the inward sense; for the mind is eaten out and destroyed by each separate one of the outward senses as by a moth, being shaken to pieces and lacerated; for the imaginations which enter it, not according to pleasure, make life itself mutilated and laborious. But On is said to be a hill, and it means, symbolically, the mind; for all reasonings are stored up in the mind: and the lawgiver himself is a witness of this, calling On, Heliopolis, the city of the sun. For as the sun, when he rises, shows visibly the things which have been hidden by night, so also the mind, sending forth its own proper light, causes all bodies and all things to be seen visibly at a distance. On which account, a man would not be wrong who called our minds the sun of our composition; as the mind, if it does not rise and shed its own light in man, who may be looked upon as a small world, leaves a great darkness diffused over all existing things, and suffers nothing to be brought to light.
XVII. This hill Jacob, the wrestler with God, in his agreements with Laban, calls a witness, showing in a most express manner, and in the form of a precept, that the mind is a witness to each individual of the determinations which he comes to in secret; and conscience, which is the most incorruptible and truth-telling witness of all, was built before these cities; for Moses says that the spies came to Chebron, and these three are Acheman, and Jesein, and Thalamein, of the sons of Enoch: and this he adds, "and Chebron was built seven years before Janis, in Egypt," [Numbers 13:23] and these synonymous appellations are distinguished according to their species in a most natural manner.
Chebron, being interpreted, means compunction, and this is of two kinds; one with reference to the soul being joined to the body, the other with reference to its being adapted to virtue. Now the soul that subjects itself to bodily compunctions has the before-mentioned inhabitants. Acheman, being interpreted, means, my brother, and Jesein means "outside of me," and Thalmein means, some one in suspense; for it follows of necessity, that the body must be thought akin to the souls that love the body, and that external good things must be exceedingly admired by them, and all the souls which have this kind of disposition depend on dead things, and, like persons who are crucified, are attached to corruptible matter till the day of their death.
But the soul that is united to virtue has for its inhabitants those persons who are preeminent for virtue, persons whom the double cavern has received in pairs, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebeckah, Leah and Jacob, virtues and those who possess them; Chebron itself keeping the treasure-house of the memorials of knowledge and wisdom, which is more ancient than Janis and the whole land of Egypt, for nature has made the soul more ancient than the body, that is than Egypt, and virtue more ancient than vice, that is than Janis (and the name Janis, being interpreted, means the command of answer), estimating seniority rather by dignity than by length of time.
XVIII. On which principle also it is that he also calls Israel, who was the younger brother in point of time, "the first born son," [Exodus 4:22] judging of him by his merit, signifying thereby that, since to see God is the most clear proof of primogeniture, he is in consequence pardoned as the eldest offspring of the uncreate incomprehensible God, conceived by that virtue which is hated among men, and to whom the law enjoins that "the honors due to seniority shall be paid, as being the eldest." [Deuteronomy 21:17.]
On this account also the number seven is produced in its order, subsequently to the number six, but in power it is superior to every other number, and differs not from the unit, and Moses also shows us this in the conclusion of his account of the creation, where he says, "And God ceased on the seventh day from all the works that he had made; and God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it," because on it he ceased from all his works which God had begun to make, [Genesis 2:2] and after that he concludes his account in these words, "This is the book of the generation of heaven and of earth when they were made, on the day in which God made the heaven and the earth; and these things were done in the first day, so that the seventh day is referred to the unit which is the first day and the beginning of the whole.
I have dwelt at length on this topic, with the object of showing more plainly the opinion which Cain thought it right to build up like a city.
XIX. Now the son of Enoch is called Gaidad, [Genesis 4:18] which, being interpreted, means a flock of sheep, very consistently with what has gone before; for he who attributes everything to the mind, which is not able to comprehend even its own nature, so as to pronounce what kind of thing it is, would be very likely to beget a number of irrational powers collected into one flock; for such is not the opinion of men who are able to reason. But every flock which has not a shepherd to govern it does of necessity meet with great disasters, inasmuch as it is not able, of its own power, to repel what is injurious to it, and to choose what will be advantageous; in respect of which Moses says in his prayer, "Let the Lord, the God of spirits and of all flesh, look out a man who shall be over this assembly, who shall go out before their faces, and who shall come in, and who shall bring them out, and who shall bring them in, and so the synagogue of the Lord shall not be like unto sheep which have no shepherd." [Numbers 26:16.] For when the president, or superintendent, or father, or whatever we like to call him, of our composite body, right reason, is departed, having left the flock that is in us, it being neglected and suffered to go its own way, perishes and the loss to its master is great. But the irrational and wandering flock, being deprived of its shepherd, who ought to admonish and instruct it, strays away to a great distance from rational and immortal life.
XX. On which account the son of Gaided is called Mehel, the name which, being interpreted, means, "from the life of God." For since the flock is devoid of reason, and God is the fountain of reason, it follows of necessity, that a man who lives in an irrational manner is separated from the life of God; for to live according to God is defined by Moses to consist in loving him; for Moses says to the children of Israel, "Your life is to love the living God." [Deuteronomy 30:20.] And he gives as an example of the opposite lot the goat, on which the lot falls to be the scape-goat, for he says, "He shall place it living before the Lord, that he may offer prayers over it, and send it out into the wilderness," [Leviticus 16:10] giving these directions with great exactness. For as no one in his senses would greatly extol old men for abstaining from pleasure, because old age, which is a long and incurable disease, has relaxed and enfeebled the nerves of their appetites; but one would praise young men, because, while their appetites are influenced by the vigor of youth, nevertheless they, being well supplied with instruments to check them, namely, with reasons derived from good instruction, have allayed the great conflagration and boiling over of the passions: so, in the case of these men, whom no disease is accustomed to detach from any evil way of life, less praise is due to them, because they are fortunate without any express intention of their own, according to the good fortune of their nature: but those whom such a disease does rise up against and attack, receive greater praise; if they, making a fair stand, are willing and prove able to destroy it; for to be able, by a vigorous exertion, to destroy the baits of attractive pleasure, properly receives that praise which belongs to good actions, done with a deliberate purpose.
Since, therefore, [...] but diseases and infirmities which have been sent against us flourish; let us endeavor to overturn and destroy them. For to offer prayers over them has nearly such an effect as this: it is confessing that, though we have them in our soul living and flourishing, we nevertheless do not yield, but make a stand against them all, and resist them vigorously, until we have entirely sent away the scape-goat and made atonement.
XXI. What, then, follows a man who lives not in accordance with the will of God but the death of the soul? And this is named Methuselah, the interpretation of which name is, "the sending out of death," on which account he is the son of Mehel, who has quilted his own life, to which death is sent, that is to say the death of the soul, which is nothing else than a conversion of it by irrational passion. This passion, therefore, when it has conceived, brings forth incurable diseases and infirmities with great pains, by which it is thrown down and convulsed, and humbled and tortured. For each of the diseases oppresses it, bringing upon it an unspeakable burden, such that no one is able even to raise his head beneath it. And this is named Lamech; the interpretation of which name is, "humiliation;" so that Lamech is properly represented as the son of Methuselah, being the passion of the death of the soul, humble, yielding, an infirmity which is the offspring of irrational desire.
XXII. "And Lamech took to himself two wives; the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other was Zillah." [Genesis 4:19.] Everything which a wicked man taketh himself is altogether blameable, as being polluted by his impure mind; and so, on the contrary, all deliberate actions of virtuous men are praise-worthy; on which account now, Lamech, who is taking wives unto himself, is choosing the greatest possible evils. Again, when Abraham, Jacob, and Aaron take to themselves wives, they choose appropriate good things to dwell with. Now Moses speaks thus in the case of Abraham: "And Abraham and Nachor took unto themselves wives; the name of Abraham's wife was Sarai." [Genesis 11:29.] And in the case of Jacob he says, "Rise up and go into Mesopotamia, to the house of Bethuel, thy mother's father, and take unto thyself a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother." [Genesis 28:2.] In the case of Aaron he says, and Aaron took Elizabeth, the daughter of Aminadab, the sister of Naassom, unto him to be his wife." [Exodus 6:23.] Isaac too and Moses take unto themselves wives, but they do not take them of their own act entirely; but Isaac, "When he went into the house of his mother," [Genesis 24:67] is said to have taken a wife; and to Moses, "The man with whom he lodged gave his daughter Zipporah to be his wife." [Exodus 2:21.]
XXIII. Now it is not without a purpose that the differences between these persons are recorded by the lawgiver. For in the case of those who practice virtue and improve, and become better, their deliberate choice of the good bears testimony that their labor shall not be dismissed without its reward; but in the case of those who are endued with self-taught and naturally implanted wisdom, it follows that reason is betrothed to them not by their own act, but by God, and that they take unto themselves knowledge, the fitting companion through life of the wise. But he who is wholly devoted to the things of ordinary men, the lowly and grovelling-minded Lamech, first of all takes for his wife Adah, which name being interpreted, means "witness," having been his own manager of this marriage. For he thinks that Leah, which means the motion and passage out of the mind according to easy perceptions, without anything interfering to hinder its easy comprehension of all things, is the first good for man. "For what," says he, "could be better than that one's thoughts, one's contemplations, one's conjectures, one's suspicions, in a word, all one's ideas, should, as I may say, proceed on well-set feet, so as to arrive at their desired goal without stumbling, the mind being borne witness to in everything that is uttered." But I, if any man employs a felicitous and well directed mind to good objects only, account that man happy taking the law for my teacher in this view. For the law called Joseph "a prosperous man," [Genesis 39:3] not in all things, but "in those matters in which God gave him prosperity." And all the gifts of God are good. But if any one uses the acuteness and readiness of his nature, not solely for virtuous objects, but also for opposite purposes, being himself indifferent in a matter which is not indifferent, he should be accounted unhappy. At all events, it is said, in the manner of a curse, in the place where mention is made of the confusion of tongues, "And now nothing will be restrained from them of all the things which they have imagined to do." [Genesis 11:6.]
For in truth it is an irremediable calamity for the soul to be prosperous in whatever it undertakes, when its undertakings are disgraceful. But I should pray, if ever I had a design to commit injustice, that I might fail in my iniquity; and if I had a wish to live in a manner unbecoming a man, that I might fail in my intemperance; and if I wished to conduct myself with boldness and unscrupulous wickedness, that my failure in such boldness and unscrupulous wickedness might be complete: unless in the case of those who have determined to steal, or to commit adultery, or to murder, it is not an advantage to find their purposes in all these matters fail and become abortive.
XXIV. Do thou, therefore, O my mind, avoid Adah, who bears witness to evil things, and who is borne witness to on each of its attempts at such things. And if you think fit to take her as a partner, she will bring forth to you the greatest possible evil, namely, Jubal, [Genesis 4:20] the interpretation of which name is "changing;" for if you are delighted with any chance testimony, you will become desirous to upset and overturn every thing, changing the limits which have been affixed by nature to every thing. And Moses is very indignant with such people as these, and curses them, saying, "Cursed is he that removeth his neighbor's landmark." [Deuteronomy 27:17.] And what he means by one's neighbors, and that which is near to a man, is the good. "For it is not good," says he, "to depart to the heave, nor to go beyond the sea," [Deuteronomy 30:12] in the search after what is good; for that stand near to, and close by, each individual.
And he divides the good by a threefold division, speaking most strictly in accordance with natural philosophy. "For it is," says he, "in thy mouth, and in thy heart, and in they hands;" that is to say, in thy words, and in thy intentions, and in thy actions; for these are the component parts of the good, of which it is naturally compounded. So that the want of one portion does not only make the whole incomplete, but does entirely destroy it; for of what use is it to say what is excellent, but to think and to do what is most shameful? This is the way of the sophists. For those who make long speeches about prudence and perseverance, annoy the ears even of those who are very fond of hearing good conversation; and yet, in their designs and in the actions of their lives they are found to err. And what is the use of entertaining such sentiments as are proper, but acting and speaking most improperly, and injuring by your actions all who are exposed to the effect of them? Again, it is blameworthy even to do what is right, without any intention or reason; for what is done without these is a portion of involuntary conduct, and is on no account, and under no circumstances to be praised; but if it were to happen that, as in the case of a lyre, so all the sounds of the good could be adapted to any man, and that we could make the conversation agree with the intention, and the intention with the action; then such a man would be considered perfect and really well constituted. So that he who removes the landmarks of the good is justly accursed, and is justly spoken of as such.
XXV. But it is not our creation that has established these boundaries, but reasons, which are older than we, or than any thing upon the earth; and which, moreover, are divine. In accordance with which the law also has declared the same thing, charging every one of us not to adulterate the coinage of virtue, in these words, "Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor's landmark which thy fathers established." [Deuteronomy 19:14.] And in another passage he says, "Ask thy father, and he will tell thee; ask thy elders, and they will make it known to thee, how the Most High, when he divided the nations, dispersed the sons of Adam, and fixed the boundaries of the nations according to the number of the angels of God. And the portion of the Lord was his people Jacob, the limitation of the inheritance of Israel." [Deuteronomy 32:7.]
Shall I then inquire of the father who begat me and brought me up, or of those who are his contemporaries, but older than I am? or has God divided the nations, or sown them, or settled them in the land? and will they answer me accurately how this was done, as if they had been present at every division? Surely not. For they will say, We also in our youth were fond of inquiring of our parents and of those who were older than we, and learnt nothing certain; for they had nothing to tell us, and they again professed themselves pupils of those who knew, since they themselves were ignorant.
XXVI. Perhaps, therefore, it is the right reason of our souls that he calls their father, and its companions and friends that he calls elders. These are they who first established the boundaries of virtue, to whom it is worth while to become pupils for the sake of learning and instruction in necessary things. And what is necessary is as follows. When God was dividing and drawing a wall between the nations of the soul, separating those who spoke different languages; and when establishing the sons of the earth in their abodes, he dispersed them and removed to a distance from himself those whom he called the sons of Adam; then he fixed the boundaries of the offspring of virtue, making them equal in number to the angels; for as many angels of God as there are, so many nations and species of virtue are there.
What, then, are the portions of his angels, and what is that share which is the inheritance of the ruler and governor of all? The portion of those ministers are the specific virtues; but the portion of the ruler of all its his chosen people Israel. For he who sees God, being led on by his most surpassing beauty, has his inheritance and portion assigned to him in that which he sees. How, then, can we do any thing but blame Jubal, whose name being interpreted into the Greek language, means one who (metalloion e metapoion) changes or alters the natures of things? For those most divine beauties of prudence, and fortitude, and justice, and other virtues, he did change for the opposite impressions of folly, and intemperance, and injustice, and all wickedness, effacing all the impressions which had previously been stamped upon the natures of things.
XXVII. For it is always the case that if a second impression is stamped upon any thing, the mark of any previous one is effaced. But the impression which is thus made is so far from permitting evil things to be taken in exchange for what is good, that it does not allow even what is beautiful to be taken in exchange for what is laborious; but looking upon what is laborious (poneron) as evil, since it would be downright folly not to discard what is bad for the sake of the acquisition of what is better, but only taking (poneros) to be equivalent to epiponos or kamateros, in which sense, indeed, the Attic writers use the word when they mark the first syllable with an acute, thus, poneros.
Now the precept is of this kind, "Of every thing which passeth under the rod, the tenth is sacred to the Lord; thou shalt not exchange good for bad, and if thou dost exchange, both the thing itself and that for which it is exchanged shall be sacred," [Leviticus 27:32] and yet how can that which is evil possibly be sacred? The truth is that, as I said, he means here what is laborious, not what is bad; so that what is really intended is something of this kind: -- The honorable is a perfect good, but labor is an imperfect advantage. If therefore you acquire what is perfect, you need no longer seek what is deficient; but if with an excessive superfluity you choose still to continue laboring, then know that you will appear to be exchanging one thing for another, but in reality you will be acquiring both, for even if both are of equal value they nevertheless are not completely whole.
XXVIII. But a thing which is sacred is proved to be so by three witnesses, the middle number, education, and perfect number. On which account it is said, "Of everything which cometh in the number under the rod, the tenth is sacred," for that which is not accounted worthy of being comprehended under number is profane, not sacred; but that which is according to number is approved, as having been already tested. Accordingly the law says, that the corn which was collected in Egypt by Joseph could not be counted," [Genesis 41:49] and adds, "for it was without number," since the things which nourish the body and the Egyptian passions, are utterly unworthy to be included in any calculation.
But the rod is the symbol of education, for without being looked at sternly, and chastised for some causes, it is impossible for any one to be admonished and corrected to any good purpose; but the number ten is a confirmation of that perfection which takes place in accordance with improvement, with which he must begin who having brought forth an offspring educated it, and brought the wished-for fruit to maturity.
XXIX. Thus much it may be sufficient to say concerning him who changes and adulterates the ancient coinage, whom Moses also calls the father "of those that dwell in the tents of those who fed cattle." Now by cattle here he means the irrational and outward senses, and by those who feed cattle he means the worshippers of pleasure and indulgences of the passions, who supply these senses with their external objects by way of food, and are a long way removed from shepherds. For some, like rulers, chastise those of their flocks who are unruly; but others, like entertainers or masters of a feast, supply them with unlimited food, and give them fearlessness as to the consequences of their sins; for it follows of necessity that such men are at once victims of insatiable appetite, and of insolence, the daughter of satiety; accordingly, he who re-fashions and changes all honorable things in a seemly and natural manner, is the father of those who pursue every object of the outward sense, and all other inanimate objects; for if he had pursued the incorporeal natures which are accessible only to the intellect, he would have preserved those boundaries marked out by his elders, which they established as a defense to virtue, stamping each appearance of virtue with its own appropriate image. [Deuteronomy 27:2.]
XXX. And Jacob's brother, he says, was Jubal, [Genesis 4:21] and the interpretation of this latter name is "inclining," being symbolically speech according to utterance; for this is naturally the brother of intellect; and it is with extraordinary propriety that he called the conversation of that intellect which changes affairs, "inclining," for it agrees after a fashion and harmonizes with both, as the equivalent weight does in a scale, or as a vessel which is tossed by the sea inclines first to one side and then to the other, from the violence of the waves; for the foolish man has not learnt how to say anything firm or stable.
But Moses does not think it right to incline either to the right or to the left, or in short to any part of the earthly Edom; but rather to proceed along the middle way, which he with great propriety calls the royal road, [Numbers 20:17] for since God is the first and only God of the universe, so also the road to him, as being the king's road, is very properly denominated royal; and this royal road you must consider to be philosophy, not that philosophy which the existing sophistical crowd of men pursues (for they, studying the art of words in opposition to truth, have called crafty wickedness, wisdom, assigning a divine name to wicked action), but that which the ancient company of those men who practiced virtue studied, rejecting the persuasive juggleries of pleasure, and adopting a virtuous and austere study of the honorable -- this royal road, which we have stated to be true and genuine philosophy, the law calls the word and reason of God; for it is written, "Thou shalt not turn aside from the word which I command thee this day, to the right hand nor to the left," So that it is shown most manifestly that the word of God is identical with the royal road, since Moses' words are not to depart either from the royal road, or from this word, as if the two were synonymous, but to proceed with an upright mind along the middle and level road, which leads one aright.
XXXI. "Now this Jubal," says Moses, "is the father who showed men the use of the psaltery and of the harp." [Genesis 4:21.] He in the strictest consistency with nature calls distinctly uttered language the father of music and of all the instruments used in music; for nature, having given the organ of voice to animals as the first and most perfect of organs, afterwards gave to this organ all the harmonies, and all the different kinds of melodies, in order that it might be a previously made model for those organs which are hereafter to be made by art. And as he made an ear spherical, fashioning lesser circles in their greater ones and framing it as in a lathe, with the object of preventing the sounds of the voice which come from without from being wasted and dissipated, so that the voice when collected together and closely packed within the circle might, by a sort of diffusion of the power of hearing, be poured over the different channels of the principal part. And this immediately served as a model for those theatres which are found in handsome cities; so that the shape of a theatre is skillfully dictated by the mechanism of the ear.
So also, nature, which formed animals, stretching the rough artery like a musical canon, and wearing beneath the harmonic and chromatic and diatonic kinds of sounds, according to the innumerable variations of combined and separated melodies, made a model in accordance with which every musical instrument might be made.
XXXII. Perhaps, at all events, flutes and lyres, and similar instruments which utter melodies, are as far inferior to the music of nightingales or swans as a thing made after a model, and an imitation must be from the archetypal model, or a perishable species from an imperishable genus; for it is not fitting to compare the music of man with that of any other animal, since it has an especial privilege with which it is honored, namely, articulate distinctness of speaking; for all other animals, having a broken utterance in their voice, by this and by an incessant change of tones alone give pleasure to our ears. But man, being furnished by nature with the means not only of speaking but also of singing articulately, charms both the sense of hearing and the mind, soothing the one with his song and influencing the other with ideas; for, as an instrument, if it be given into the hands of a man who has no skill as a musician, is inharmonious, but if given to a musician it becomes harmonious according to the skill that is in him. So in the same manner speech, when put in motion by a worthless mind, is inharmonious; but, when it is put in motion by a virtuous mind, it is found to be very melodious. A lyre, indeed, or any similar instrument, if it be not struck by some one, is silent; and speech, too, if it be not struck by the principal part, that is to say, the mind, is of necessity tranquil. And, again, as musical instruments are transposed and adapted to an infinite number of mixtures of airs, so also speech corresponds to them, becoming an interpreter of things; for who would converse in a similar manner with parents and children, being by nature the slave of the one, and by birth the master of the others? And who, again, would talk in the same manner to brothers or cousins; or, in short, to near and to distant relations? Who, again, could do so to friends and to strangers, to fellow citizens and to foreigners, though there may be no great difference in point of fortune, or nature, or age between them? For one must behave differently while associating with an old man and with a young one; and, again, with a man of high reputation and a humble man, with a servant and a master; and, again, with a woman and a man, and with an illiterate and a clever man. And why need one cite an incredible variety of persons to whom speech varies itself, so as at one time to assume one character and at another time another? For it would not interpret great things and small, numerous things and rare, private and public matters, sacred and profane affairs, or old and new events in the same manner; but would use, in each case, language appropriate to the number, or importance, or magnitude of the affairs under discussion; at one time elevating itself to a lofty style, and at another time, on the contrary, confining and humbling itself.
But as circumstances and persons give varieties to speech, so also do the causes of things and the manner in which they are done; and, moreover, those points especially with which everything is concerned, namely, time and place. Very beautifully, therefore, is he who inclines voices, namely Jubal, called "the father of the psaltery and of the harp," from a portion of the whole science of music, as has been shown already.
XXXIII. The descendants, therefore, of Adah, and what she herself is, have now been explained. Let us consider next the other wife of Lamech, Zillah, and what she brings forth. Zillah, then, being interpreted, means "shadow," a symbol of the equalities of the body and of the external good things, which, in their real essence, are in no way better than a shadow. Is not beauty a shadow, which, after it has flourished for a brief time, withers away? And are not strength and activity of body shadows, which any chance disease can destroy? And the organs of the external senses, and the accuracy of their use, which any sudden cold may obstruct, or old age, that inevitable and common disease of all men, may impair, are not they shadows? And, again, are not riches and glory, and authority and honors, and all the external circumstances which are accounted goods, are not they, I say, all shadows? But one ought to lead the mind, as if by the steps of a flight of stairs, up to the origin of everything.
Men in the rank of those who are considered illustrious have gone to Delphi, who have consecrated their happy lives to the service of that place, and like writings which have become effaced, not only in consequence of the lapse of ages but also by the vicissitudes which time brings bout, they have then expired [...] There are some again whom the impetuosity of an overflowing torrent, as it were, has suddenly extinguished and carried away. From all these shadows, then, and all these unsubstantial dreams a son is born, whom his parents called Tubal (this name being interpreted means "all"). For they with great wisdom laying it down (instead of those things which are accounted good things by the multitude) that competency combined with good health is happiness, consider that in that is united everything great or small, in short everything. But if there were any such thing as an absolutely independent authority added, then becoming full of arrogant domination, and elated with vanity and false opinions, forgetting themselves and the contemptible material of which they are composed, they look upon themselves as composed of a more valuable material than the composition of man admits of; and becoming swollen with pride, they think themselves worthy of even divine honors. At all events, before now some persons have ventured to say, that they "do not know the true God," [Exodus 5:2] forgetting their own human nature, by reason of the immoderate excess of corporeal and external things [...] and each imagining [...]
XXXIV. Then Moses says, "He was a hammer-beater and forger of brass and iron:" [Genesis 4:22, where he is called Tubalcain] for the soul of that man who is intent on corporeal pleasures or external things is beaten by a hammer, like apiece of iron on an anvil, being drawn out according to the long and thin-drawn extensions of the appetites. Accordingly, you may see men fond of their bodies at every time, and in every place laying lines and nets to catch those objects that they desire; and others, who are lovers of money or covetous of glory, letting loose their desire and eagerness for those things to the furthest boundaries of earth and sea, and dragging in from all quarters by their unlimited desires, as if by so many nets, whatever can gratify them, till the excessive tension, being broken by its great violence, drags back those who are dragging at it, and throws them down headlong. All these men are causes of war, on account of which they are said to be workers in brass and iron, by means of which metals wars are carried on. For if any one contemplates the history of the greatest public or private quarrels that have arisen among men and among cities, he will not be wrong if [...] he looks upon all of them, whether upon those which took place long ago, or upon those which are now raging, or on all that will ever arise hereafter, as being caused either by the beauty of a woman, or by a love of money, or, in short, by some desire for the excessive indulgence of the body, and for some superfluity of external things: but no foreign war and no civil war has ever existed for the sake of instruction or virtue, which are the good things of the mind, which is the best part of us; for these things are in their nature peaceful, and by them good laws and tranquil stability, and whatever else is most beautiful to the sharp-seeing eyes of the soul, not to the dim perceptions of the body, are seen to be established.
For the perceptive powers of the body look only upon the external surface, but the eye of the mind penetrates within, and going deep down surveys all the interior and hidden things which are removed out of the reach of bodily sight. And nearly all the troubles, and confusions, and enmities which arise among men, are about absolutely nothing, but about what is really a shadow: for Moses called Tubal the son of Zillah, that is to say of shadow, the maker of the warlike instruments of brass and iron, speaking philosophically, and being guided not by verbal technicalities, but by the exceeding propriety of the names; for he knew that every naval and every land expedition chooses to encounter the greatest dangers for the sake of bodily pleasures, or with a view to obtain a superfluity of external good things, of which nothing is firm or solid, as is testified by the history of time, which brings all things to proof: for they are like superficial sketches, being in themselves perishable and of no duration.
XXXV. Moses proceeds to say, that Tubal's sister was Noeman, the interpretation of which name is "fatness." For it follows that those who pursue a luxurious condition of the body, and the other objects which I have mentioned, do get fat when they obtain any of the things that they desire: but such fatness as this I lay down as not strength but weakness; for it teaches a man to depart from the honor due to God, which is the first and most excellent power of the soul: and the law is a witness to this which in the great hymn speaks thus -- "He was fat, he was rich, he was exceeding broad, and he forsook God who had made him, and he forgot God his Savior." [Deuteronomy 32:15.] For in truth those men whose lives have been exceedingly fortunate and are so at the time, do not remember the eternal God, but they think time their god; on which account Moses bears witness, exhorting us to war against the contrary opinions, for he says, "The time has departed from them, and the Lord is among us." [Numbers 14:9.]
So that those men by whom the life of the soul is honored, have divine reason dwelling among them, and walking with them; but those who pursue a life of pleasure have only a brief and fictitious want of opportunities: these men, therefore, having swollen extravagantly, and become enormously distended by their profuse fatness and luxury, have burst asunder. But the others, being made fat by that wisdom which nourishes the souls that love virtue, have a firm and unshaken power, a specimen of which is the fat which is sacrificed as a whole burnt-offering from every victim: for Moses says, "All the fat shall belong to the Lord by the everlasting law;" [Leviticus 3:16] so that the fat of the mind is offered up to God and is appropriated to him, owing to which it is made immortal; but the fat which clings to the body and belongs to external things is referred to time, which is contrary to God, through which it very rapidly wastes away.
XXXVI. Therefore, concerning the wives of Lamech and his children, I think that enough has been said. Let us now consider what we may look upon as the resurrection of Abel, who was treacherously slain.
Moses tells us, "And Adam knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and brought forth a son, and he called his name Seth; for, said he, "God has raised me up another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew." [Genesis 4:25.] The interpretation of the name Seth, is "irrigation." As, therefore, the seeds and plants which are put into the ground grow and blossom through being irrigated, and are thus made fertile for the production of fruits, but if they are deprived of moisture they wither away, so likewise the soul, as it appears when it is watered with the wholesome stream of wisdom, shoots forth, and brings fruit to perfection. Now, irrigation may be looked upon in a two-fold light: with regard to that which irrigates, and with regard to that which is irrigated. And might one not say that each of the outward senses is irrigated by the mind as by a fountain, which widens and extends all their faculties, as if they were so many channels for water? No one, therefore, in his senses would say, that the eyes see, but that the mind sees by means of the eyes; or that the ears hear, but that the mind hears by the instrumentality of the ears; or that the nostrils smell, but that the predominant part of man smells through the medium of the nostrils.
XXXVII. On which account it is said in Genesis, "And a fountain went up from the earth, and watered all the face of the earth." [Genesis 2:6.] For since nature has allotted the most excellent portion of the whole body, namely the face, to the outward senses, therefore the fountain which goes up from the superior part, being diffused over various parts, and sending up its streams like so many watercourses as high as the face, by their means conducts the faculties to each of the organs of the outwards senses. In this way in truth, it is that the word of God irrigates the virtues; for that is the beginning and the fountain of all good actions. And the lawgiver shows this, when he says, "And a river went out of Eden to water the Paradise; and from thence it is divided into four heads." [Genesis 2:10.]
For there are four generic virtues: prudence, courage, temperance, and justice. And of these, every single one is a princess and a ruler; and he who has acquired them is, from the moment of the acquisition, a ruler and a king, even if he has no abundance of any kind of treasure; for the meaning of the expression, "it is divided into four heads," is [...] nor distance; but virtue exhibits the pre-eminence and the power. And these spring from the word of God as from one root, which he compares to a river, on account of the unceasing and everlasting flow of salutary words and doctrines, by which it increases and nourishes the souls that love God.
XXXVIII. And of what kind they are, he proceeds to show in a few words, deriving his explanation from the natural things of art; for he introduces Agar as filling a leathern bag with water, and giving her child drink. [Genesis 21:19.] Now Agar is the handmaid of Sarah, the new dispensation of perfect virtue; and she is correctly represented so. Since, therefore, having come to the depth of knowledge, which Moses here calls a well, she draws up (filling the soul as if it were a vessel) the doctrines and speculations which she is in pursuit of, wishing to feed her child on the things on which she herself is fed. And Moses, by her child, means, a soul which has lately learnt to desire instruction, and which has, in a manner, just been born to learn. In reference to which, the boy, when he has grown up to man's estate, becomes a sophist, whom Moses calls an archer; [Genesis 21:20] for whatever argument he applies his mind to, at that, as at a target, he shoots all his reasons, as an archer shoots his arrows.
XXXIX. But Rebekkah is found to give her pupil drink no longer by improvement, but by perfection. How so the law will tell us: "For the damsel," says Moses, "was very beautiful to the sight, and was a maiden; no man had known her. And when he had gone down to the fountain, she filled her pitcher, and came up again; and the servant ran forward to meet her, and said, Give me now to drink a little water from thy pitcher. And she said, Drink, my lord. And she made haste, and took down the pitcher on her arm, and gave to him to drink until he ceased drinking, And said, and I will also give to thy camels to drink, until they have all drunk; and she made haste, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and running to the well, she drew water for the camels." [Genesis 24:16.]
Here who can help wondering at the minute accuracy of the lawgiver as to every particular? He calls Rebekkah a maiden, and a very beautiful maiden, because the nature of virtue is unmixed and free from guile, and unpolluted, and the only thing in all creation which is both beautiful and good; from which arose the Stoic doctrine, that the only thing that was beautiful was the good.
XL. Now of the four virtues, some are always virgins, and some from having been women become changed into virgins, as Sarah did; "For it had ceased to be with her after the manner of women," [Genesis 18:11] when she began to conceive her happy offspring Isaac. But that which is always a virgin, is that of which Moses says, "And no man whatever knows her." For in truth, it is not permitted to any mortal to pollute incorruptible nature, nor even clearly to comprehend what it is. If indeed he were able by any means to become acquainted with it, he would not cease to hate and regret it; on which account Moses, in strict accordance with the principles of natural philosophy, represents Leah as hated. [Genesis 29:31.] For those whom the charms of pleasures, which are with Rachel, that is to say, with the outward sense, cannot be endured by Leah, who is situated out of the reach of the passions; on which account they repudiate and detest her. But as far as she herself is concerned, her alienation from the creature produces her a close connection with God, from whom she receives the seeds of wisdom, and conceives, and travails, and brings forth virtuous ideas, worthy of the father who begot them. If therefore, you, O my soul, imitating Leah, reject mortal things, you will of necessity turn to the incorruptible God, who will shed over you all the fountains of his good.
XLI. "But Rebekkah," says Moses, "went down to the fountain to fill her pitcher, and came up again." For from what source is it natural for the mind that thirsts after wisdom to be filled, except from the wisdom of God, that fountain which never fails, and to which the soul that descends comes up again like a virtuous disciple? For those who descend out of a vain pride, the reason of virtue receives, and taking them up by means of fame raises them to a height. On which account it is that Moses seems to me to use the expression, "Go, descend, and come up," [Exodus 32:7] as if every one who measures his own loveliness comes forth more gloriously in the eyes of the judges of truth. And he speaks of these matters with great caution. For Agar bears a leathern bag to the well, but Rebekkah carries a pitcher. For the one who devotes himself to instruction and to the energetical branches of learning has need of some incorporeal things as it were of the outward senses, of vessels, and eyes, and ears, for a proper contemplation of the objects of her speculation. For from seeing many things and hearing many things, there is derived, in the case of those who are fond of learning the advantage which proceeds from knowledge. But the one who is filled with unalloyed wisdom has need only of a leathern habitation, which is no better than none at all. For the soul which loves unsubstantial things has learnt to put off the whole leathern bag of reasons, that is to say the body, and brings only a pitcher which is the symbol of a vessel, which contains the principal portion in great size and abundance, like water; as to which, those who are clever in such matters may make it a subject of philosophical speculation, whether it is a membrane or a heart. Therefore, the man who is fond of learning, seeing men imbibing the sciences like water, from wisdom that divine fountain, runs up, and meeting them becomes a suppliant to them to know how he may allay his thirst for learning. And the soul which has received the best possible education, namely, the lesson not to envy, and to be liberal, immediately proffers to him the stream of wisdom, and invites him to drink abundantly, adding also this that she calls him who is only a servant her lord. This is the meaning of that most dogmatic assertion, that the wise man alone is free, and a king, even if he have ten thousand masters over his body.
XLII. Most correctly, therefore, after the servant has said, "Give me a little water to drink," does she make answer, not in the manner corresponding to his request: "I will give you to drink," but "Drink." For the one expression would have been suited to one who was displaying the riches of God, which are poured forth for all who are worthy of them and who are able to think of them; but the other expression is appropriate to one who professes that she will teach. But nothing which is connected with mere professions is akin to virtue. But he describes in a most skillful manner the language used by her who teaches and benefits her pupils. For "she made haste," he says, "and took down the pitcher on her arm." Her alacrity to serve the man was displayed by her making haste, and such alacrity is seated in the mind, beyond which envy is cast away. But by the expression, "taking down the pitcher on her arm," we see intimated the prompt and eager attention of the teacher to the pupil; for those teachers are foolish who attempt to regulate their explanations not by a reference to the capacity of their pupils, but to their own superior ability, not being aware that there is a vast difference between making a display and giving a lesson.
For he who is making a display, relying on the good fortune of his present way of proceeding, brings into sight, without any trouble, the works at which he has for a long while been laboring at home, like the works of painters or sculptors, seeking for praise from the multitude. But he who is endeavoring to teach others, like a good physician, has a regard not to the greatness of his own skill, but to the capacity of his patient who is to be healed; not thinking how much he can do by his art, for it is unspeakable how much this may be; but what the patient requires, aiming at moderation, and bringing forward what may improve him.
XLIII. On which account Moses says in another passage, "Thou shalt lend a loan to him who asks you for one, as much as he requires, having regard to what he requires." [Deuteronomy 15:8.] By the second phrase showing that it is not everything which is to be given, but only such things as are suitable to the requirements of those who are asking for them. For to give an anchor, or an oar, or a rudder to a husbandman, or ploughs or a spade to a captain of a ship, or a lyre to a physician, or instruments suited to manual labor to a musician, would be ridiculous, unless indeed one ought to offer a thirsty man costly viands, or a hungry man unmixed wine in abundance, so as to show at once one's own riches and one's want of humanity, by turning the souls of one's companions into ridicule.
The quantity to be given in an act of beneficence is defined according to due proportion, which is a most useful thing. For, says Moses, do not give all that right reason is able to give, but as much as he who is asking the loan is worthy to receive. Do you not see that even God does not utter his oracles, having a regard to their being in proportion to the magnitude of his own oracular power, but always having respect to the capacity of those who are to be benefited by them? Since who could receive the whole power of the words of God, which are too mighty for any one to listen to? On which account those persons appear to speak with great truth, who say to Moses, "Do thou speak to us, and let not God speak to us, lest we die." [Exodus 20:19.] For they know that they have not in themselves any organ which can be worthy of God who is giving laws to his church; nor, indeed, could even the whole world, both land and sea, contain his riches if he were inclined to display them, unless we think that the descent of the rains and of the other things that happen in the world are appointed to take place according to the pre-arranged periods of the seasons, and not all at once, because of the scarcity and rarity of the things themselves, and not from any regard to the advantage of those who are benefited by them; who would be injured rather than be benefited by a continual enjoyment of such gifts.
On this account it is, that God always judiciously limits and brings out with wise moderation his first benefits, stopping them before those who partake of them become wanton through satiety; and then he bestows others in their stead; and again a third class of advantages instead of the second set, and so on, continually substituting new blessings for those of older date, at one time giving such as are different from those which went before, and at another time such as are almost identical with them; for the creature is never wholly destitute of the blessings bestowed by God, since if he were he would be utterly destroyed; but he is unable to endure an unlimited and measureless abundance of them. On which account, as he is desirous that we should derive advantage from the benefits which he bestows upon us, he weighs out what he gives so as to proportion it to the strength of those who receive it.
XLIV. Rebekkah, therefore, must be praised, who, in obedience to the injunctions of her father, having taken down the vessel of wisdom on her arm from a higher place, proffered her pitcher to the disciple; by the pitcher being understood that teaching which he is competent to receive. And beyond all other things, I especially admire her exceeding liberality; for though she had only been asked for a small draught, she gave a large one, until she had filled the whole soul of the learner with wholesome speculations. For Moses says, "She gave him to drink till he ceased from drinking," a most marvellous example to teach us humanity. For if any one should not happen to be in want of many things, but should come forward, and out of shame ask only for a very little, let us not give him only what he mentions, but also those things of which he makes no mention, but of which he is nevertheless in reality in need. But it is not sufficient for the complete enjoyment of his teacher's lessons, that the disciple should merely comprehend what the master has taught him, unless he has also got memory. On which account, making a display of her bounteous disposition, when he has satisfied himself with the water, she offers to give his camels water also, which we have already said are here put symbolically for memory. For the animal while eating its food ruminates, and when, having stooped down it has received a heavy burden, with exceedingly great vigor of muscle it rises up lightly; and in the same manner also, the soul of the man who is devoted to learning, when the burden of its speculations is placed upon it, becomes more lowly, and when it has risen up it rejoices; and from that mastication, and as it were the softening, of the first food that is placed down before it, arises its memory of those speculations.
But she, beholding the nature of the servant to be well calculated for the reception of virtue, emptied her whole pitcher into the cistern, that is to say, she emptied the whole knowledge of the teacher into the soul of the learner. For the sophists, from a desire of gain and also from envy, repressing the natural characters of their pupils, keep silence about many things which ought to be mentioned, laying up for themselves a source of gain for future times. But virtue is an ungrudging and most liberal feeling, so that it does not hesitate to assist another with hand and foot, as the proverb goes, and with all its power. Therefore, pouring all that she knew into the mind of the pupil as into a cistern, she went again to the well to draw water, that is to say, she went to the ever-flowing wisdom of God, that what had been already imparted might be firmly fixed in by memory, and that he might also be irrigated with the knowledge of other and newer things. For the wealth of the wisdom of God is illimitable, and as a tree which is continually putting forth new shoots after the old ones, so that it never ceases growing young again, and being in the flower of its strength. So that they are marvellously simple people who have ever had an idea of coming to the end of any branch of knowledge whatever. For that which has seemed to be near and within reach is nevertheless a long way distant from the end; since no created being is perfect in any department of learning, but falls as far short of it as a thoroughly infant child just beginning to learn does, in comparison of a man who both by age and skill is qualified to be a master.
XLV. And we must inquire the cause why the handmaid gave the servant drink from the fountain, but gave the camels water from the well. May it not perhaps be that the stream here signifies the sacred scripture itself, which irrigates the sciences, and that the well is rather akin to memory? For the depths which he has already mentioned, he produces by means of memory as it were out of a well; and such persons as these one ought to admit because of the goodness of their natural disposition. But there are some men among those who practice virtue to whom the all-beneficent God has shown the way that leads to virtue, such that at first it is accounted rough, and steep, and difficult, but subsequently level and easy, having changed the bitterness of the wayfarer's labor to sweetness. And how he has wrought this change we will now tell. When he led us forth out of Egypt, that is to say, out of the passions which excite the body, we, travelling in the desert, that is to say, in the path of pleasure, encamped in the place called Marah, a place which had no drinkable water, but where all the water was bitter. [Exodus 15:23.] For still the pleasures which are brought into action by means of the eyes, and ears, and belly, and the parts adjacent to the belly, were tempting to us, and charmed us exceedingly, sounding close to us. When, therefore, we desired to be entirely separated from them, they dragged us back, exerting themselves in opposition to us, and entwining themselves round us, and soothing us with all kinds of juggling tricks and assiduous blandishments; so that we, yielding to their unremitting caresses, became alienated from and disinclined to labor, as something very bitter and intolerable, and designed to run back again to Egypt, that is to say, to the condition of an intemperate and lascivious life, if the Savior had not speedily taken pity on us, and thrown a sweetening branch like a medicine upon our soul, causing it to love labor instead of hating it. For he knew, inasmuch as he was our Creator, that we could not possibly survive any existing thing unless there were in us an intense love of doing so. Therefore, men never succeed in attaining any object that they desire if they pursue it without any connection with or consideration of fitness. But when friendship is added, and also a familiarity with the loved object, their endeavors then succeed rightly.
XLVI. This is the food of a soul which is inclined to the practice of virtue, to consider labor a very sweet thing instead of a bitter one, which, however, it is not allowed to all persons to participate in; but to those only by whom the golden calf, the animal made by the Egyptians, the body, is sprinkled over with water after having been burnt with fire, and broken to pieces. For it is said in the sacred scriptures, that "Moses having taken the calf burnt it with fire, and broke it up into small pieces, and threw the pieces into the water and caused the children of Israel to drink thereof." [Exodus 32:20.] For the love of virtue being inflamed and excited by the brilliant appearance of virtue, burns to ashes the pleasures of the body, and then cuts them to pieces and pounds them to nothing, using the divine word which can at all times divide everything. And in this manner he teaches us that among the bodily advantages are health, and beauty, and the accuracy of the outward senses, and the perfection of bodily vigor with strength and mighty energy; but still that all these things are common to accursed and wicked persons, while if they were really good no wicked person would be allowed to partake of them. But these men, even if they are utterly wicked, still, inasmuch as they are men, and so far partake of the same human nature as virtuous men, do also partake of these advantages of the body.
And, in fact, at present those wild beasts which are the most untameable, enjoy these good things, if indeed they are in reality good things, in a greater degree than rational beings; for what wrestler could be compared in might with the strength of a bull or of an elephant? And what runner could put himself on a level with the speed of a hound or of a hare? And the most sharp-sighted of men is absolutely blind if his sight is compared with that of antelopes of eagles. Again, in hearing and in smell, often other animals are very far beyond man; as, for instance, the ass, which appears to be the stupidest of all animals, would show that our sense of hearing is very obtuse if he were brought into comparison with us. The dog, too, would make the nostrils in man appear a perfectly useless part from the exceeding superiority of the quickness of his own sense of smell; for, in him, that sense is pushed to such a degree that it almost equals the rapidity of the eye-sight.
XLVII. And why need I dwell on the subject more, going through each of the senses and animals separately? For this point has been long agreed upon among all the most eminent historians and philosophers, who have all said that nature is the mother of the irrational animals, and the stepmother of men, perceiving the bodily weakness of men, and the surpassing strength of brute animals in everything. With great propriety, therefore, the artist pounded the calf to pieces; that is to say, dividing it into parts, he showed that all the things which the body has in abundance are very far removed from real good, and are in no respect different from those things which are scattered on the water. On which account the scripture tells us that the calf, after having been pounded to pieces, was scattered on the water, to signify that no genuine plant of good can ever flourish in corruptible matter; for as a seed, when thrown into the stream of a river or into the sea, cannot display its proper powers; for it is impossible, unless it has once taken hold with its roots, as with anchors, of some firm portion of earth, that any branch should be firmly fixed or should shoot up, I do not say to any height, but even as a creeper along the ground, or that it should ever bring forth fruit at the periodical seasons of the year, for any great and violent rush of water coming on washes away all the germinating vigor of the seed. In the same manner all the superfluities contained in the vessel of the soul which are ever spoken of or celebrated are destroyed before they can have any existence, the corporeal substance continually flowing off from them. For how can there be such things as disease and old age and all kinds of corruptions, if there were not a continual drawing off of words, which are theoretical streams; the hierophant, therefore, thinks it right to irrigate our minds with these words, for the sake of burning up the pleasures, of pounding to pieces and reducing to a thin and impalpable dust, and utterly destroying the system of the corporeal goods; and of making us recollect that the true good has never at any time germinated or blossomed from any one of them, just as nothing flourishes from seeds which are sown in water.
XLVIII. But bulls, and rams, and goats, which Egypt holds in honor, and all other images of corruptible matter which, in report alone, are accounted God's, have no real existence, but are all fictitious and false; for those who look upon life as only a tragedy full of acts of arrogance and stories of love, impressing false ideas on the tender minds of young men, and using the ears as their ministers, into which they pour fabulous trifles, waste away and corrupt their minds, compelling them to look upon persons who were never even men in their minds, but always effeminate creatures as God's; for the calf was not made of every description of female ornament, but only of the earrings of the women. The lawgiver showing us by this that nothing wrought with hands is a visible and true God, but only so by report, and as far as he is thought so, and that, too, the report of a woman and not of a man; for it is the conduct of a soul utterly enervated and rendered completely effeminate to receive such nonsense.
But he who is truly God is perceived, and felt, and recognized, not only by means of one's ears, but also by the eyes of our mind, through his mighty works which are done in the world, and through the rapidity of his operations; on which account in the great song it is said (the speaker assuming the character of God), "Behold! behold! it is I!" [Deuteronomy 32:39] as if that real existing God could be more easily conceived by the mind than proved by verbal demonstration; but it is not correct to say that the living God is visible, that is rather an abuse of language, arising from referring God himself to his separate acts of power; for even in the passage cited above, he does not say, "Behold me," for it is wholly impossible that God according to his essence should be perceived or beheld by any creature, but he says, "Behold! it is I," that is to say, behold my existence; for it is sufficient for the reasoning powers of man to advance so far as to learn that there is and actually exists the great cause of all things, and to attempt to proceed further, so as to pursue investigations into the essence or distinctive qualities of God, is an absolute piece of folly; for God did not grant this even to the all-wise Moses; not though he addressed innumerable requests to him, all having this object; but an oracle was delivered to him, telling him, "Thou shalt see my back parts, but my face thou shalt not see;" [Exodus 33:23] and the meaning of this is, that all the things which are behind God are within the comprehension of a virtuous man, but he himself alone is incomprehensible; and he is incomprehensible by any direct and immediate access (for by such means it is only explained what kind of being he is), but he may be understood in his subsequent and consistent faculties; for they, by means of the works accomplished by them, declare not his essence, but his existence.
XLIX. Therefore the mind having generated the foundation of good [...] and the primary principle of virtue, namely Seth, or irrigation, boasts with an honorable and holy boast; for she says, "God has raised up to me another seed, instead of Abel whom Cain slew," [Genesis 4:25] for it has been said with great exactness and neatness, that no single divine seed ever falls to the ground, but that they all rise up from the things of earth, and leave them, and are borne upwards to heaven; but the seeds which are sown by mortals, whether for the generation of animals or of plants, do not all come to perfection; but we must be content if more are not wasted than those which remain above; and God sows nothing in our souls which is incomplete; but his seed is all so seasonable and so perfect that every one of them is at once borne forward to produce abundance of its appropriate fruit.
L. But when Moses says here that Seth sprung up as another or different seed, he does not say from which it was different; was it different from Abel who was treacherously slain, or from Cain who slew him? But may we not say perhaps that the original seed from which each of these sprung was different? That from which Cain sprung, inasmuch as it was hostile; for a thirst for virtue is the most hostile thing possible to that deserter, wickedness; that from which Abel sprung, as friendly and kindred; for that which is beginning to exist is a different thing from, but not a contrary thing to, that which is perfected; and so that which pertains to creation is different from that which pertains to the uncreate.
On this account Abel, after having quitted the mortal body, departed to the better nature, and took up his abode with that. But Seth, as being the seed of human virtue, will never quit the race of mankind. But first of all he will receive his growth up to the number ten, that perfect number, according to which the just Noah exists; and then he will receive a second and a better growth from his son Shem, ending in a second ten, from which the faithful Abraham is named. And he will also have a third growth, and one more perfect than the number ten, extending from him to Moses, that man who is wise in all things, for he is the seventh from Abraham, not revolving, like an initiated worshipper, in the circle which is exterior to holy things, but like a hierophant, making his abode in the inmost shrines.
LI. And consider the advances towards improvement made by the soul of the man who is eager for, and insatiable in, his craving after good things; and the illimitable riches of God, who gives the end of some things to be the beginnings of others; for the end of the knowledge which is according to Seth is the beginning of the just Noah; and his perfection again is the beginning of the education of Abraham; and the most perfect wisdom of Abraham is the first instruction of Moses; and the two daughters of Lot, the man who was subdued and overthrown by the weakness of the soul, namely, intention and agreement, desire to become pregnant by the mind, that is to say, by their father, acting in opposition to him who said, "God has raised up for me ..." [Genesis 19:32.] For that which the living God did for him, this they affirm that the mind is able to do for them, introducing the doctrine of an intoxicated and frenzied soul.
It is indeed the act of sober reason, both to confess that God is the Creator and the Father of the universe; and the conduct of one utterly fallen in intoxication and drunkenness, to fancy that he himself is the bringer about of each of human affairs. Evil opinions therefore will not come into association with their father, before a great quantity of the unmixed wine of folly has been found upon him, and destroyed any sense that may have previously been in him; for it is written, "They made their father drink wine." So that if they do not give him drink, they will never receive legitimate seed from him while he is sober; but when he has been soaked in wine, and has become utterly intoxicated and senseless, then they will become pregnant, and have a culpable labor and offspring, which will be truly accursed.
LII. On which account Moses has separated his impious and obscure progeny from the whole of the divine company; for he says, "The Ammonites and the Moabites shall not come into the assembly of the Lord:" [Deuteronomy 23:3] and these are the descendants of the daughters of Lot, supposing that everything is generated of the outward sense and of mind, being male and female like a father and mother, and looking upon this as in real truth the cause of all generation: but as, even if we were to commit such an error as this, still emerging as it were out of that troubled sea, we may lay hold on repentance, which is a firm and saving thing, and must never let it go till we have completely escaped from the billowy sea, the headlong violence of sin: as Rachel, when formerly praying for mind, as if that were able to raise up children, and when she received the answer, "Am I equal to God?" [Genesis 30:2.] attended to what was said to her, and when she understood it, made a most pious recantation; for the recantation of Rachel is recorded in scripture, a most God-loving prayer, "May God grant to me another son," [Genesis 30:24] such a prayer as no foolish person is permitted to make, who pursues no object but his own pleasure, and who thinks everything else mere folly and ridiculousness.
LIII. And the leader of this opinion is Onan the brother of the skin-wearing Er. "For he," says the scripture, "knowing that the seed would not be his, when he went in unto his brother's wife, spilled his seed upon the ground:" [Genesis 38:9] he transgressed all the boundaries of self-love and of fondness for pleasure. Should I not say to this man, If you have a regard to your own advantage you will destroy everything that is excellent, and that too without deriving any advantage therefrom? You will put an end to the honor due to parents, the attention of a wife, the education of children, the blameless services of servants, the management of a house, the government of a city, the firm establishment of laws, the guardianship of morals, reverence to one's elders, the habit of speaking well of the dead, good fellowship with the living, piety towards God as shown both in words and in deeds: for you are overturning and throwing into confusion all these things, sowing seed for yourself alone, and nursing up pleasure, that gluttonous intemperate origin of all evil.
LIV. From which that priest and servant of the only good God, Phineas, rising up -- that wise regulator of all the corporeal words and expressions, so as never to behave erroneously or insolently through the medium of them; for the interpretation of the name Phineas is "the bridle of the mouth" -- having taken a coadjutor, that is to say, having inquired into and examined the nature of things, and having found that nothing is more honorable than virtue, stabbed and slew with a sword the creature devoted to pleasure, and hostile to virtue, and all the places from which all false and illegitimate delights and enjoyments spring: for the law says that, "He thrust the woman through her belly."
Thus, therefore, having caused the difference that existed in him to cease, and having discarded his own pleasure, and burning with zeal for God, the First Cause and holy God, he was honored and crowned with the two most valuable of all prizes, peace and the priesthood; with the one because both his name and his conduct are akin to peace: for it follows of necessity that a consecrated mind, being its minister and servant, must do everything in which its master delights; and he delights in the firm establishment of good law, and tranquillity, and stability, and in the discarding of wars and [...] meaning not only such as cities make upon one another, but also those which take place in the soul; and these are more important and more injurious, inasmuch as they injure the more divine portion of us, namely, our reason, while arms and weapons can only reach to the injury of our bodies or possessions, but have never any power to injure a healthy soul.
Rightly therefore have cities established a custom, that before they turn arms and engines of destruction against one another to lead to slavery and utter destruction, they should seek to persuade all the citizens to put an end to the great and formidable and unceasing factions which exist in themselves, for faction and sedition, if we must speak the truth, is the archetypal model of wars, and if that be destroyed, there will no longer be any wars which are made in imitation of it; but the race of mankind will attain to the blessing and enjoyment of profound peace, being taught by the law of nature, that is, by virtue, to honor God, and to cleave to the employment of serving him, for this is the source of happiness and length of life.