Those Special Laws
Which Are Contained Under and Have Reference to the Eighth and Ninth, and Tenth Commandments.
I. I have in my previous treatises spoken of the laws relating to adultery and murder, and to all the subordinate offenses which come under those heads, with, as I persuade myself, all the accuracy which the case admits of, and now, proceeding in the regular order, I must consider what is the third commandment in the second table, but the eighth in all, if the two tables are taken together, namely, the commandment, "Thou shalt not steal." [Exodus 20:13.]
Whoever carries off or leads away the property of another when he has no right to do so, if he does it openly and by main force, shall be set down as a common enemy, and shall be prosecuted as having with lawless wickedness contrived a shameless act of audacity. But if he has done it secretly, endeavoring to escape notice like a thief, exhibiting some modesty, and making the darkness the veil of his iniquity, let him then be punished privately as only liable to condemnation in respect of the one individual whom he endeavored to injure; and let him restore double the value of the thing stolen, making amends by his own most righteous suffering for the unrighteous advantage he has endeavored to gain.
But if he is a poor man, and consequently unable to pay the penalty, let him be sold (for it is fitting that that man should be deprived of his freedom who for the sake of his most iniquitous gain has endured to become a slave to guilt), that he who has been ill-treated may not be allowed to depart without consolation, as if he appeared to have his claims disregarded by reason of the poverty of the man who has robbed him. And let no one accuse this ordinance of inhumanity; for the man who is sold is not left as a slave for ever and ever, but within the space of seven years he is released by a common proclamation as I have shown in my treatise on the number seven.
And let him be content to pay the double penalty, or even to be sold, since he has committed no slight offense; sinning in the first place in that, not being content with what he had, he has desired more, encouraging a feeling of covetousness, a treacherous and incurable wickedness. Secondly, because he has cast his eyes on the property of others and longed for it, and has laid plots to deprive his neighbor of his own, depriving the owner of what belongs to him. Thirdly, because through his desire to escape detection, he very often keeps to himself all the advantage that can be derived from the thing he appropriates, and diverts the accusation so as to cause it to fall upon the innocent, thus making the investigation of the truth blind. And such a man appears in some degree to be himself his own accuser, being convicted by his own conscience of the theft of those things which he has secretly stolen, being filled either with shame or fear, one of which feelings is a proof of his considering his action a disgraceful one, for it is only disgraceful actions which cause shame, and the other is a sign of his thinking it deserving of punishment, for punishment causes fear.
If any one being insanely carried away by a desire for the property of others attempts to steal it, and not being able easily to carry it off breaks into a house at night, using the darkness as a veil to conceal his wicked action, if he be caught in the fact before the sun has risen, he may be slain by the master of the house in the breaches, having accomplished the lesser object which he had proposed to himself, namely, theft, but having been hindered by some one from accomplishing the greater crime which might have followed it, namely, murder; since he was prepared with iron house-breaking tools which he bore, and other arms, to defend himself from any attack.
But if the sun has risen, then let him no longer be slain by the hand of the master of the house, but let him be led away and brought before the magistrates and judges, to suffer whatever punishment they condemn him to. For while men are remaining in their houses at night, and when they have betaken themselves to rest, whether they be rulers or private individuals, in either case there is no refuge or assistance for the offender; on which account the inmate of the house has the power of punishment in his own hands, being appointed magistrate and judge by the very time itself.
But in the day time the courts of justice and the council chambers are open, and the city is full of persons who will help to arrest the criminal; some of whom have been formally appointed guardians of the laws; and others, without any such appointment, by their natural disposition which hates iniquity, take up the cause of those who are injured; and before these men the thief must be brought; for thus the man who seeks revenge will escape the charge of arrogance or rashness, and appear to be acting in the spirit of the democracy.
But if, when the sun has risen and is shining upon the earth, any one slays a robber with his own hand before bringing him to trial, he shall be held guilty, as having been guided by passion rather than by reason, and as having made the laws second to his own impulses. I should say to such a man, "My, friend, do not, because you have been injured by night by a thief, on this account in the daylight yourself commit a worse theft, not indeed affecting money, but affecting the principles of justice, in accordance with which the constitution of the state is established."
ABOUT THE THEFT OF A SHEEP OR AN OX.
Now other thefts are to be atoned for by a payment of double the value of the thing stolen; but if any one steals an ox or a sheep, the law thinks such a man worthy of a greater punishment, giving a particular honor and precedence to those animals which are the most excellent among all tame flocks and herds, not only by reason of the beauty of their bodies, but also because of the service they are of to the life of man. And on this account the lawgiver has not affixed a fine of equal amount to the theft of each animal, but having calculated the use of both and the purposes for which both are available, he has appraised their value in this way.
For he commands that the thief shall restore four sheep and five oxen in the place of the one which he has stolen; since a sheep gives four kinds of tribute, milk, and cheese, and its fleece, and a lamb, every year: but an ox furnishes five; three of which are the same as those of the sheep -- the milk, the cheese, and the offspring; but two are peculiar to itself, the ploughing of the earth, and the threshing of the corn; the first of which actions is the first step towards the sowing of the crops, and the other is the end, being for the purification of the crop after it is gathered in, in order to the more easy use of it for food.
A kidnapper also is a thief; but he is, moreover, a thief who steals the very most excellent thing that exists upon the earth. Now, in the case of inanimate things, and of those animals which are of no very great use indeed in life, he has commanded twice the value of them to be paid to their owners by those who steal them, as has been said before. And again, in the case of those tame and very useful flocks and herds of sheep and oxen, he has ordered the payment to be fourfold or fivefold; but man, as it seems, has been assigned the most pre-eminent position among the animals, being, as it were, a near relation of God himself, and akin to him in respect of his participation in reason; which makes him immortal, although he is liable to death. On which account every one who feels any admiration of virtue is full of exceeding anger, and is utterly implacable against kidnappers, who for the sake of most iniquitous gain dare to inflict slavery on those who are free by birth, and who partake of the same nature as themselves.
For if masters perform a praiseworthy action when they emancipate servants born in their house or purchased with money, even though they have often not done them any great service, from the slavery in which they are held, because of their own humanity by which they are influenced, how heavy ought to be the accusation which is brought against those who deprive of that most excellent of all possessions, freedom, those who are at present in possession of it; when it is an object for which man, who has been well born and properly brought up, would think it glorious to die? And before now, some men, increasing their own innate wickedness, and directing the natural treachery of their characters to a violation of all rights, have studied to bring slavery not only upon strangers and foreigners, but even upon those of the same nation as themselves; and sometimes, even upon men of the same borough and of the same tribe, disregarding the community of laws and customs, in which they have been bred up with them from their earliest infancy, which nature stamps upon their souls as the firmest bond of good will in the case of all those who are not very intractable and greatly addicted to cruelty; who, for the sake of lawless gain sell slaves to slave-dealers, and enslave them to any chance persons, transporting them to a foreign land, so that they shall never any more salute their native land, not even in a dream, nor taste of any hope of happiness.
For these kidnappers would be committing a lighter iniquity if they themselves retained the services of those whom they have enslaved, but as the case stands at present they commit a double wrong, in selling them again, and thus making them two masters instead of one, and raising up two slaveries as enemies to their condition. For they, being aware of the former prosperous condition of those whom they have carried off, might perhaps repent, feeling a tardy and late compassion for those who are thus fallen, having a proper awe of the uncertainty of fortune eluding all conjectures. But those who buy persons in this condition, out of ignorance of their families, will neglect them as if they were sprung from successive generations of slaves, having no inducement in their souls to display that gentleness and humanity towards them which it would be natural for them to preserve in the case of slaves who had become so after having been originally and naturally free-born.
And let whatever punishment the court of justice shall sentence them to be inflicted upon those who kidnap and enslave those of another nation; but upon those who kidnap those of their own country and of their own blood, and who sell them for slaves, shall be passed the unalterable sentence of death. For, in fact, one's own countrymen are not far from blood relations, and they must very nearly come under the same definition with them.
"In the field also," as some one of the old writers has said, "lawsuits arise;" since covetousness and a desire for the possessions of others does not exist only in the city, but is found also outside the walls, inasmuch as it has its abode not only in various places, but also in the minds of insatiable and contentious men. On which account those cities which enjoy the best codes of laws elect double superintendents, and rulers, and providers of a common regularity and safety; one class to manage within the walls, whom they call curators of the city; the others without the walls, to whom also they give an appropriate name, for they call them agrarian magistrates.
But what need could there be of agrarian magistrates if there were not some persons in the fields living only for the injury of their neighbors? If, therefore, any shepherd or goatherd, or oxherd, or in short any manager of any kind of cattle, drives his herds to feed and pasture upon another man's land, sparing neither crops nor trees, he shall pay a fine equal to the value of those crops and trees. And he may be very well content to escape with this punishment, having met with a very merciful and exceedingly indulgent law, which, though he has adopted the conduct of implacable foreign enemies, who are accustomed to lay waste the lands and to destroy the cultivated trees of the inhabitants, has, nevertheless, not chastised him as a common enemy, inflicting upon him death, or exile, or of, lastly, a confiscation of all his property; but has merely sentenced him to make good the damage done to the owner.
For as the lawgiver was always seeking pretexts by which to lighten whatever misfortunes have been suffered by reason of the excessive gentleness and humanity which he derived from nature and from habit, he found an excuse for the shepherd on the ground that the nature of cattle was inconsiderate and disobedient, and especially so when in pursuit of food.
Let the shepherd, then, be guilty, as having originally driven his herd into an unsuitable place, but still let him not bear the blame of every thing that has ensued from his doing so. For it is natural to suppose that, as soon as he perceived the mischief that had taken place he endeavored to drive them out again, but that his beasts resisted him, luxuriating in the green pasture, and the tender crops, and shoots which they were devouring.
CONCERNING NOT SETTING FIRE TO BRAMBLES INCONSIDERATELY.
And not only do those men do damage who devour the property of others with their flocks and herds, but so also do those who inconsiderately and carelessly kindle a fire; for if the power of fire catches hold of any appropriate fuel, it spreads in every direction, and extends and devours all around. And when it has once got ahead it defies all the means of extinguishing it which any one seeks to apply, taking the very things employed for that purpose as food for its increase, until having consumed every thing it is at last exhausted by itself. It is right, therefore, never to leave any fire either in a house or in any stables in the fields unguarded, since we well know that a single spark has often smoldered long, and at last has been fanned into a flame, and so has consumed great cities, especially when the flame has been borne onwards by a favorable wind.
Accordingly, in savage wars the first, the middle, and the last power which is excited is that of fire, to which the enemies trust more than they do to their squadrons of infantry, or cavalry, or to their fleets, or to their unlimited supplies of arms and naval stores. For if any one with good aim shoots a fiery arrow among a numerous squadron of ships he may burn it with all the crews, or he may thus destroy vast camps with all their baggage, and furniture, and equipments, on which the army rested its hopes of victory.
If, then, any one scatters fire among a heap of brambles or thorns, and the fire kindles and burns a threshing floor full of wheat, or barley, or vetches, or sheaves of corn which have been gathered together, or any fertile plain full of pasture, then the man who scattered the fire shall pay the amount of the damage done, in order that by his suffering he may learn to take good care and to guard against the beginnings of things, and may not awaken and stir up an invincible power which might otherwise have remained quiet.
A deposit is the most sacred of all those things which relate to the associations of men with regard to property, inasmuch as it depends upon the good faith alone of the man who has received it. For loans are proved by contracts and writings, and things which, independent of loans, are openly used, have all the persons who see them for witnesses. But this is not the case with deposits, but the owner by himself gives them privily to the man who receives them by himself, looking carefully round the place, and not even taking a slave with him for the purpose of carrying the thing to be deposited, even though he be ever so affectionate to his master; for each of the two parties appears to be anxious to avoid discovery; the one depositing the thing in order to receive it again, and the other being desirous not to be known to have received it.
But we ought by all means to look upon the invisible God as an unseen third party to every concealed action, whom it is natural to make as a witness for both parties; the receiver calling him to witness that he will restore the deposit when it is demanded back from him, and the other making him to see that he receives it back at the proper time.
Let, then, the man who commits this great wickedness and denies his deposit not be ignorant that he has deceived him who committed it to him of his hope, and that he is concealing a wicked disposition under specious language, and that he is hypocritically pretending a bastard sort of faith while in reality faithless, showing that all his pledges are worthless and all his oaths disregarded, so that he neglects all human and all divine obligations; and that he is denying two deposits at once; firstly, the deposit of him who entrusted his property to his care; and secondly, that of that most unerring and infallible witness who sees all the actions of all men, and hears all the words of all men, whether they are willing that he should do so or not.
But if the man who has received a deposit as a sacred thing thinks that he ought to keep it without fraud, duly honoring truth and good faith, but yet others who are always plotting against their neighbors' property, such as cutpurses or housebreakers, break in treacherously and steal the deposit so entrusted, then he shall pay as a penalty double the value of what has been stolen by the thieves. And if they are not taken, then the man who received the deposit shall go of his own accord before the divine tribunal, and stretching out his hands to heaven shall swear by his own life that he himself had no hand in the theft from any desire to appropriate what had been deposited with him, and that he did not voluntarily give it up to any one else; and that, moreover, he is not making a false statement of a robbery which has never taken place. [Exodus 22:7.]
For it would be absurd to punish a man who has done no wrong, or for a man who had taken refuge in the assistance of a friend when he was being injured by others, now to become the cause of injury to that friend.
And deposits consist not only of inanimate things but also of animals: the danger of which last is twofold; first, that while they share in common with inanimate things in being liable to be stolen, and also one which is distinct and peculiar to themselves, that they are liable to die. We have hitherto been speaking only of the first kind of deposit, but we must now also explain the law about the second.
If now any cattle which have been entrusted as a deposit die, then he who has received the deposit shall send for him who committed it to him, and show him the matter, protecting himself from any evil suspicion; but if the depositor be absent, then it is not proper to send for any one else, whose notice perhaps the depositor might have been desirous to escape; but when the depositor returns home, his friend shall swear to him that he has not been concealing any unjust appropriation of the animals by a false statement of their death. And if any one receives anything not as a deposit, but because he has borrowed it to use, whether it is a vessel or an animal; then if he be robbed of it, whichever it may be, or if the animal die, while the man who lent it is living with the borrower, the borrower shall not be liable, as the owner himself can be brought as a witness that there is no false pretense in the business; but if the lender be not with him at the time, he shall pay the value. Why so? because it is possible that the man who used the animal when the owner was not present may have either worn him out by continual labor so as to kill him, or may have worn out the vessel, from not taking any care of the property of another of which he ought to have been careful, and to have put it away, and not to have given thieves an easy opportunity of stealing it.
But as our lawgiver was acute beyond all other men at discerning the consequences of actions, he proceeds to enact a series of prohibitions, one after another, preserving a due connection between them, and taking care that his later commandments shall be consistent with his earlier ones. And with this harmonious connection of what was to be said by him, he tells us that he was divinely inspired by the person of God speaking to him in this manner:--
"Ye shall not steal.
"Ye shall not speak falsely, and bring false accusations against your neighbor.
"And ye shall not swear by my name to compass an unjust end, and ye shall not profane my name." [Leviticus 19:11.]
These injunctions are given with great beauty and very instructively; for the thief being convicted by his own conscience denies and speaks falsely, fearing the punishment which would ensue upon his confession. And he who denies an action seeks to attach the imputation to some one else, bringing a false accusation against him, and imagines devices to make his false accusation appear probable; and every false accuser is at once a perjured man, thinking but little of piety, since he has no just proofs; on which account he has recourse to what is called the inartificial mode of proof, that by oaths, thinking that by the invocation of God he shall produce belief among those who hear him.
But let such an one know that he is ungodly and impious, inasmuch as he is defiling that which by nature is undefiled, the good and holy name of God.
This is the ninth of the ten commandments, being the fourth in number of those in the second table; but one which is calculated to bestow ten thousand benefits on human life if it be kept, as, on the other hand, it may injure men in innumerable ways if it is neglected; for the false accuser is to be blamed, but he who bears witness to what is false is more guilty still; for the one acts only from a desire to protect himself, but the other is wicked from his wish to co-operate with another in iniquity. And in the comparison of wicked men he who does wrong for his own sake is less unrighteous than he who does so for another. And every judge looks with suspicion on an accuser, as likely to pay but little attention to truth for the sake of coming off in safety himself, on which account the accuser stands in need of a preface to beg the attention of the hearer while he is speaking; but if the judge has no prejudice against a witness on any personal grounds he receives his evidence with a willing mind and open ears, while he is covering over those most excellent things, truth and good faith, which specious language. And the false witnesses use seductive words as a sportsman uses bait for the purpose of attaining the objects which he desires and aims at.
For which reasons, in many parts of his enactment of the law, he commands that we should not approve of any wicked man or action. [Exodus 23:1.] For any approbation of what is not virtuous is likely to lead to giving false evidence; since every one to whom iniquity is a disagreeable and hateful thing is a friend of truth. Now there is no great wonder in a man's having connected himself with one wicked person, who has incited him to an action resembling his own character; but it is a sign of a noble soul, and of a disposition practiced in manly resolutions not to follow a multitude to do evil, like a man borne down over a precipice by the collective force of a torrent. For some people, among the multitude, think some things lawful and just, even though they be most flagitious, not judging correctly; for it is well to follow nature, but this impulse of the multitude is wholly at variance with the following of nature.
If, then, some persons, being assembled together in companies and numerous multitudes, attempt to make any innovations, one must not consent to them, since they are adulterating the ancient and approved coinage of the state; for one wise counsel is superior to many attempts, but ignorance, in conjunction with numbers, is a great evil; but some persons practice such an excess of wickedness that they not only accuse mortal men, but adhere and cling to their unrighteousness, so as even to raise their lies as high as heaven, and to bear their testimony against the blessed and happy nature of God.
And by these men I mean soothsayers, and diviners, and augurs, and all other persons who practice what they call divination studying, an art without any art, if one must tell the plain truth, a mere bare imitation of the real inspiration and prophetic gift; for a prophet does not utter anything whatever of his own, but is only an interpreter, another Being suggesting to him all that he utters, while he is speaking under inspiration, being in ignorance that his own reasoning powers are departed, and have quitted the citadel of his soul; while the divine spirit has entered in and taken up its abode there, and is operating upon all the organization of his voice, and making it sound to the distinct manifestation of all the prophecies which he is delivering.
But all those persons who pursue the spurious and pretended kind of prophecy are inverting the order of truth by conjectures and guesses, perverting sincerity, and easily influencing those who are of unstable dispositions, as a violent wind, when blowing in a contrary direction, tosses about and overturns vessels without ballast, preventing them from anchoring in the safe havens of truth. For such persons think proper to say whatever they conjecture, not as if they were things which they themselves had found out, but as if they were divine oracles revealed to themselves alone, for the more complete inducement of great and numerous crowds to believe a deceit.
Such persons our lawgiver very appropriately calls false prophets, who adulterate the true prophecy, and overshadow what is genuine by their spurious devices; but in a very short time all their maneuvers are detected, since nature does not choose to be always hidden, but, when a suitable opportunity offers, displays her own power with irresistible strength. For as in the case of eclipses of the sun the rays which have, for a brief moment, been obscured, a short time afterwards shine forth again, exhibiting an unclouded and far-seen brilliancy without anything whatever coming over the sun at all, but one unalloyed blaze beaming forth from him in a serene sky; so also, even though some persons may deliver predictions, practicing a lying art of prophecy, and disguising themselves under the specious name of prophetic inspiration, falsely taking the name of God in vain, they will be easily convicted. For, again, the truth will come forth and will beam forth, shedding around a most conspicuous light, so that the falsehood which has previously overshadowed it will disappear.
Moreover there also was an excellent [Numbers 35:30] commandment that Moses gave when he ordained that the judge should "not receive the testimony of one witness." [Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15.] First of all, because it is possible that one person may without designing it have a false impression of a thing, or may be careless about it and therefore be deceived. For there are innumerable false opinions, which frequently arise from an innumerable variety of grounds; and secondly, because it is most unjust to trust to one witness against many persons, or indeed against only one individual; in the first place, because many are more entitled to belief than one, since the one is not superior in number to many, and equality of number is inconsistent with any preponderance; for why should the judge trust a single witness, bearing testimony against another, rather than the defendant pleading in his own behalf? But, as it should seem, it is best to suspend one's opinion, where there is no deficiency and no excess to guide the judgment.
ON THE OFFICE AND CHARACTER OF A JUDGE.
I. The law thinks that all those who adhere to the sacred constitution, established by Moses, ought to be free from all unreasonable passions, and from all wickedness; and most especially ought all men to be so, who are either appointed by lot or elected to judge between others; for it is an absurdity for these men to be themselves liable to the imputation of error, who undertake to dispense justice to others, whom it becomes to give a faithful copy of the works of nature, presenting an accurate representation of a model picture; for as the power of fire which disperses warmth to all other things which it reaches, was, long before doing so, warm as far as it was itself concerned, and as, on the contrary, the power of snow cools other things, by the fact of its being itself cooled previously, so also ought the judge to be full of pure unalloyed justice, if he is to irrigate all who come before him with justice, in order that from him, as from a sweet fountain, a wholesome spring may be afforded to all who thirst for a dispensation of good law.
And this will be the case if any one who undertakes the office of a judge looks upon it as if he were at the same time judging and being judged himself, and when he takes up the pebble with which he is to give his vote, were at the same time to take up wisdom so as not to be deceived, and justice so as to dispense to each party what they deserve, and courage so as never to yield to supplications or to feelings of compassion, so as to diminish the punishment due to convicted offenders; for the man who studies these virtues may reasonably be looked upon as a common benefactor, like a good pilot tranquillizing the storms of affairs in such a manner as to secure the preservation and safety of those who have committed their interests to him.
II. In the first place the law enjoins the judge not to listen to vain reports. [Exodus 23:1.] Why is this? The law says, "My good man, let thy ears be purified." And they will be purified if they are continually washed out with a stream of virtuous language, never admitting the long, and false, and vain, and hackneyed protestations, so deserving to be ridiculed, of fabulists or vain babblers, or hyperbolical exaggerations, who make a great deal of things of no importance; and this is what is meant by the injunction not to listen to vain reports, and also by another precept in some degree consistent with the former.
For, says the lawgiver, he who attends to those who give evidence on hearsay is attending to vanity and not to sound reason; because the eyes do indeed dwell with the very things which are done, taking hold of them as one may say, and comprehending and seizing upon them in all their parts, the light co-operating with them, by means of which all things are illuminated and clearly proved; but the ears, as one of the philosophers of old has very truly said, are less trustworthy than the eyes, inasmuch as they are not themselves present at the transactions, but are attracted by words as the interpreter of facts, which are not always disposed to tell the truth; for which reasons some of the lawgivers among the Greeks, having transcribed some of the laws from the two tables of Moses, appear to have established very wise regulations, forbidding any one to mention in his testimony anything that he has heard, on the ground that it is right to look upon what a man has seen as trustworthy, but on what he has heard as not in all respects certain.
III. The second commandment given to a judge is not to receive gifts [Exodus 23:8]; for gifts, says the law, blind the eyes that see, and pervert justice, and do not permit the mind to travel along the level road which leads to righteousness; and to receive bribes to aid in unjust actions is the action of very wicked men indeed; and even to do so for the purpose of furthering good objects is the conduct of persons who are half wicked; for there are some judges speciously disguised, half wicked, something between just and unjust, armed indeed in the cause of those who are injured, as their champions against those who injure them, but still not desirous to cause them to prevail, without deriving any advantage to themselves from their victory, though they ought to prevail; but making their decision corrupt and mercenary.
Then, when any one blames them, they affirm that they have not perverted justice; for that those have been defeated who ought to have been defeated, and that those have gained their cause who ought to have got the better; alleging a most unworthy and false defense; for a righteous judge ought to exhibit two things, a judgment in strict accordance with the law, and incorruptibility; but he who is a judge for bribes, even though he decides justly, does without perceiving it defile a thing which is beautiful by nature.
Moreover, he also offends in two other points; in the first place, because he is accustoming himself to be covetous of money; which is the beginning of the very greatest iniquities; and secondly, because he is injuring the man whom he ought to benefit; by making him pay a price for justice; on which account Moses has very instructively commanded, that the judge shall pursue what is righteous in a righteous manner [Deuteronomy 16:19]; intimating under this figurative expression, that it is possible to do so in an unrighteous manner, because of those men who sell just and legal decisions for money, not only in the courts of justice, but everywhere in every part of land and sea, and I had almost said in all the transactions of life.
For instance, it has happened before now, that a man who has received a deposit of small value, has given it back again when demanded, more by way of laying a snare for him who receives it back, than with any idea of serving him, in order that by showing good faith in things of small value as a bait he may cover over the look of his faithlessness in greater things, and such conduct is nothing else than pursuing justice in an unrighteous manner; for the restitution of what did not belong to him was just, but it was done in an unrighteous manner, inasmuch as it was only done as a bait to attract more.
And the cause of all such offenses is principally the inclination to and the familiar habit of falsehood, which, from their very birth and swaddling clothes, their nurses and mothers, and all the whole multitude in the house, whether free-born persons or slaves, habituate them to and familiarize them with both by words and actions, adapting it to and uniting it with their souls, as a necessary part of them by nature, though, if it had in truth been implanted in them by nature, it would have been necessary to eradicate it by instilling good habits into them instead.
And what in life is there equally beautiful with truth, which the all-wise legislator erected in the most sacred place, in that part of the dress of the chief priest, where the dominant part of the soul lies, wishing to adorn it with the most beautiful and glorious of all ornaments? And next to truth he has placed power as akin to it, which he has in this case called manifestation, being the two images of the two kinds of speech which exist in us, the secret speech and the lettered speech, for the lettered speech requires manifestation, by which the secret thoughts in all our hearts are made known to our neighbor, but the secret speech has need of truth for the perfection of life and actions, by means of which the road to happiness is found out.
IV. The third commandment given to a judge is to investigate the transactions themselves, in preference to showing any regard to the parties to the suit; and to attempt, in every imaginable manner, to separate himself from all respect of persons; constraining himself to an ignorance and forgetfulness of all those things of which he has any knowledge or recollection; such as relations, friends, countrymen or foreigners, enemies or hereditary connections, so that neither affection nor hatred may overshadow his knowledge of justice; for he must stumble like a blind man, who is advancing without a staff, and who has no one to guide him in whom he can rely firmly.
For which reason it is fitting that a righteous judge should have it even concealed from him who the parties to the suit are, and that he should look at the undisguised, simple nature of the transactions themselves; so as not to be liable to judge in accordance with random opinion, but according to real truth, and to be guided by such an opinion as this, that judgment is of God [Deuteronomy 1:17]; and that the judge is the minister and steward of his judgment; and a steward is not allowed to give away the things of his master, as he has received as a pledge the most excellent of all the things which exist in human life, from the most excellent of all beings.
V. And in addition to what has already been said, there is another most admirable precept given which enjoins the judge "not to show pity upon the poor man in his judgment." [Exodus 23:3.]
While in other precepts the lawgiver has filled nearly the whole of the law with precepts of mercy and humanity, and has uttered great threats against arrogant and insolent men, and has proposed great rewards for those who endeavor to make amends for the misfortunes of their neighbors, and who look upon their superfluities not as their own exclusive possessions, but as the common property of every one in want; for it was a felicitous and true saying of one of the wise men of old, that men never act in a manner more resembling the gods than when they are bestowing benefits; and what can be a greater good than for mortal men to imitate the everlasting God?
Let not then the rich man collect in his house vast quantities of silver and gold, and store them up, but let him bring them forward freely in order by his cheerful bounty to soften the hard condition of the poor; nor let any man be puffed up with vain glory, and raise himself and boast himself in pride and arrogance, but let a man rather honor equality, and allow freedom of speech to those of low estate. And let the man who enjoys vigor of body be the prop of those who are weaker, and let him not like the men at the gymnastic contests strive by every means to overthrow those who are inferior in strength, but let him be willing and eager to assist with his own power those who, as far as they themselves are concerned, are ready to faint. For all those who have drunk deep of the fountains of wisdom, having banished envy entirely out of their minds, are of their own accord, and without any prompting, ready to undertake the assistance of their neighbors, pouring the streams of their words into their souls through their ears, so as to impart to them a participation in similar knowledge with themselves. And when they see young men of good dispositions springing up like flourishing and vigorous shoots of a vine, they rejoice, thinking that they have found proper inheritors for this wealth of their souls, which is the only real riches, and having taken them they cultivate their souls with doctrines and good meditations, until they arrive at full strength and maturity, so as to bring forth the fruit of excellence.
Many such ornaments as these are woven into and inserted among the laws, in order to enrich the poor on whom it is always proper to have compassion except at the time of giving judgment, for compassion is due to misfortunes; but he who behaves wickedly with deliberate purpose is not unfortunate but unrighteous, and punishment is due to the unrighteous just as honors should be confirmed to the just, so that no wicked man who is in difficulties, and who conceals the truth, ought to escape punishment through the pity excited by his poverty, since he has done what deserves not pity (how should it?) but great anger.
And let the man who undertakes the duty of a judge, like a skillful money-changer, divide and distinguish between the natures of things, in order that confusion may not be caused by the mixing together of what is good with what is spurious. And there are many other things which may be said with respect to false witnesses and judges; but for the sake of avoiding prolixity we must proceed now to the last of the ten commandments, which is delivered also in a concise and summary form as each of the others is: and this commandment is, "Thou shalt not covet."
I. Every passion is open to and deserving of blame, inasmuch as every immoderate and violent impulse, and every irrational and unnatural emotion of the soul is also faulty and blameable, for what is either of these things but an ancient passion spread over a wider extent? If any one, therefore, does not set limits to these feelings, nor put a bridle on them as on restive horses, he will be afflicted by an evil difficult to remedy, and then, without being aware of it, he will, because of their unrestrainable character, be carried away by them, as a charioteer sometimes is by a chariot, and hurried into ravines and pits from which it is difficult to rise up, and very hard to escape with safety.
But of all the passions there is not one so grievous as a covetous desire of what one has not got, of things which are in appearance good, but not in reality; a desire which produces grievous anxieties which are hard to satisfy; for such a passion puts the reason to flight, and banishes it to a great distance, involving the soul in great difficulties, while the object which is desired flies away contemptuously, retreating not with its back but with its face to one; for when a person perceives this passion of covetousness after having started up rapidly, then resting for a short time, either with a view to spread out its alluring toils, or because it has learnt to entertain a hope of succeeding in its object, he then retires to a longer distance uttering reproaches against it; but the passion itself, being left behind and coming too late to succeed, struggles, bearing a Tantalus-like punishment in its miserable future; for it is said that Tantalus, when he desired to obtain any liquor to drink, was not able to do so, as the water retreated from his lips [Homer, Od. xi. 581], and if he wished to gather any fruit, it all disappeared, the productiveness of the trees becoming suddenly barren; for as those implacable and inexorable mistresses of the body, thirst and hunger, do very often strain it more, or at all events not less, than those unhappy persons are strained who are racked by the torture even to death, unless when they have become violent some one appeases them with meat and drink; in like manner, covetous desire, having first rendered the soul empty through its forgetfulness of what is present and its recollection of what is removed to a great distance, fills it with impetuosity and madness, and introduces into it masters worse than even its former tyrants, but having the same names with them, namely, hunger and thirst, not, however, now of those things which conduce to the enjoyment of the belly, but of money, and glory, and authority, and beauty, and of innumerable other things which appear to be objects of desire and contention in human life.
And as the disease which the physicians call the herpes [so called from herpo, "to creep"], does not stop in one part of the body, but moves about and overruns the skin, and, as its name shows, creeps about ('dierpei'), and becomes diffused in every direction, and spreading widely seizes hold of and infects with its contact the whole combination of the different parts of the body from the head to the feet, so in the same manner does covetous desire spread over the whole soul, and leave not even the smallest portion of it free from its inroads, imitating the power of fire when supplied with abundant fuel, for that spreads and burns away till it has devoured and destroyed everything with which it meets.
II. So great and so excessive an evil is covetous desire; or rather, if I am to speak the plain truth concerning it, it is the source of all evils. For from what other source do all the thefts, and acts of rapine, and repudiation of debt, and all false accusations, and acts of insolence, and, moreover, all ravishments, and adulteries, and murders, and, in short, all mischiefs, whether private or public, or sacred or profane, take their rise? For most truly may covetous desire be said to be the original passion which is at the bottom of all these mischiefs, of which love is one and the most significant offspring, which has not once but many times filled the whole world with indescribable evils; which even the whole circumference of the world has not been large enough to contain, but out of their vast number they, as if carried on by the impetuosity of a torrent, have fallen into the sea, and all seas in every region have been filled with hostile fleets. It is owing to this passion that all the terrible evils which are caused by naval wars have happened; and, coming upon all continents and all islands together, have thrown them into confusion, spreading everywhere and returning in their own steps like the warriors in the diaulos [the diaulos was the race in which the runners ran to the goal and back to the starting post], or like the ebb and flow of the tides of the sea, returning to the point from which they originally set out.
And by looking at it in this manner we shall more clearly perceive the power of this passion. Everything which covetous desire lays hold of is by it changed for the worse, like poisonous serpents or deadly poisons. Now what is it that I mean when I say this?
If this passion is directed towards money, it makes thieves, and cut-purses, and clothes-stealers, and house-breakers, and taints men with the guilt of the repudiation of debts, of the denial of deposits, of bribery and sacrilege, and all such iniquities as those. If it is directed towards glory, it makes men insolent, overbearing, fickle, and unstable in their dispositions, depending wholly on what is said to them and on what they hear, at the same time humbled and elated by reason of the variety and inconstancy of the multitudes who praise and blame them with inconsiderate impetuosity, inconsiderate in their enmity and in their friendship, so as easily to change from one to the other, and fills them with all sorts of humors akin to and resembling these.
Again, if the desire takes the direction of wishing for authority and power, it renders men's natures seditious, unequal, and tyrannical, it makes them cruel and inhuman enemies of their native countries, implacable masters unable to restrain themselves, irreconcilable foes to all who are equal to themselves in might, flatterers of those who are more powerful than themselves, in order to be able to attack them treacherously.
If what is desired is beauty of person, it makes men seducers, ravishers, adulterers, paederasts, practicers of licentiousness and incontinence, it teaches them to regard the greatest evils as the most fortunate of blessings. This passion, also, when it extends to the tongue, often caused innumerable evils; for some persons desire either to be silent about what ought to be mentioned, or to mention what ought to be buried in silence, and avenging justice pursues them if they reveal things improperly, or, on the contrary, if they are unseasonably silent.
When it affects the parts about the belly it makes men gluttonous, insatiable, intemperate, debauched, admirers of a profligate life, delighting in drunkenness and epicurism, slaves to strong wine, and fish, and meat, pursuers of feasts and tables, wallowing like greedy dogs; owing to all which things their lives are rendered miserable and accursed, and they are reduced to an existence more grievous than any death. For this reason those who have tasted deeply of philosophy, not merely with their lips, but feasting thoroughly on its profound doctrines, investigating the nature of the soul, and comprehending its threefold character, and how it is divided into reason, and anger, and appetite, have attributed the chief post to reason as the principal authority, assigning to it the head as its most appropriate abode, where also the company of the outward senses, who are always present as the body-guards of the mind as their king, are stationed; and assigning the breast as the abode of anger, partly in order that the man, being, like a soldier, armed with this as with a breastplate, so that, even if it be not utterly free from all injury, it may, at least, be difficult to subdue, and partly in order that, dwelling near the mind, it may be benefited by its neighbor, who charms it by its wisdom, and who renders the passions gentle and manageable; and to appetite they assign the place around the navel, and to that part which is called the diaphragm. For it was proper that that, as having the smallest participation in reason, should be removed as far as possible from the palace of the mind and located almost at the very extremities; and that which is the most insatiable and the most intemperate of all, the passions, should be confined to the pastures of cattle, where they can find food and opportunities for the propagation of their species.
III. And the most holy Moses appears to me to have had a regard to all these circumstances, and on that account to have commanded that men should discard this passion, detesting it as the most disgraceful thing and the cause of most disgraceful actions; and, therefore, to have prohibited it above all other feelings as an engine for the destruction of the soul; but if that engine is destroyed and the soul brought back to its obedience, to the guidance of reason, the man will become entirely filled with peace and obedience to law and all sorts of perfect good things, so as to produce complete happiness.
But as he was fond of brevity and accustomed to cut short things which were inclined to be countless in point of number, by a mode of teaching which was confined to general instances, he begins to admonish and to correct one appetite, that which is concerned about the belly; conceiving that the other appetites will not be equally restive, but will be brought to order by learning that the most important and authoritative of the whole has become obedient to the laws of moderation.
What, then, is the lesson which he gives us about this origin of all vices? There are two things of a most comprehensive nature, meat and drink. He, then, has not left either of them unrestrained, but has bridled them with especial commands most calculated to lead them to temperance and to humanity, and to the greatest of all virtues, piety; for he commanded men to offer first fruits of corn, and wine, and oil, and cattle, and other things [Numbers 18:12]; and to distribute the first fruits among the sacrificers and the priests; among the sacrificers because of the gratitude due to God for the abundance and fertility of all things, and to the priests because of their sacred ministrations about the temple, and therefore they were worthy to receive wages for their services in respect of the sacred ceremonies. [Numbers 18:31.] And he utterly forbids any one to taste of anything, or to take any portion of anything, before separating off the first fruits, wishing also by this injunction to inculcate the practice of most useful temperance; for he who has learnt not to throw himself greedily on all the abundance which the seasons of the year have brought, but to wait till the first fruits are consecrated, is likely to be able to restrain the restive obstinacy of the passions, making them gentle and manageable.
Moreover, Moses has not granted an unlimited possession and use of all other animals to those who partake in his sacred constitution, but he has forbidden with all his might all animals, whether of the land, or of the water, or that fly through the air, which are most fleshy and fat, and calculated to excite treacherous pleasure, well knowing that such, attracting as with a bait that most slavish of all the outward senses, namely, taste, produce insatiability, an incurable evil to both souls and bodies, for insatiability produces indigestion, which is the origin and source of all diseases and weaknesses.
Now of land animals, the swine is confessed to be the nicest of all meats by those who eat it, and of all aquatic animals the most delicate are the fish which have no scales; and Moses is above all other men skillful in training and inuring persons of a good natural disposition to the practice of virtue by frugality and abstinence, endeavoring to remove costly luxury from their characters, at the same time not approving of unnecessary rigor, like the lawgiver of Lacedaemon, nor undue effeminacy, like the man who taught the Ionians and the Sybarites lessons of luxury and license, but keeping a middle path between the two courses, so that he has relaxed what was over strict, and tightened what was too loose, mingling the excesses which are found at each extremity with moderation, which lies between the two, so as to produce an irreproachable harmony and consistency of life, on which account he has laid down not carelessly, but with minute particularity, what we are to use and what to avoid.
One might very likely suppose it to be just that those beasts which feed upon human flesh should receive at the hands of men similar treatment to that which they inflict on men, but Moses has ordained that we should abstain from the enjoyment of all such things, and with a due consideration of what is becoming to the gentle soul, he proposes a most gentle and most pleasant banquet; for though it is proper that those who inflict evils should suffer similar calamities themselves, yet it may not be becoming to those whom they ill treated to retaliate, lest without being aware of it they become brutalized by anger, which is a savage passion; and he takes such care to guard against this, that being desirous to banish as far as possible all desire for those animals abovementioned, he forbids with all his energy the eating of any carnivorous animal at all, selecting the herbivorous animals out of those kinds which are domesticated, since they are tame by nature, feeding on that gentle food which is supplied by the earth, and having no disposition to plot evil against anything.
WHAT QUADRUPEDS ARE CLEAN.
The animals which are clean and lawful to be used as food are ten in number; the heifer, the lamb, the goat, the stag, the antelope, the buffalo, the roebuck, the pygarg, the wild-ox, and the chamois [Deuteronomy 14:4], for he always adheres to that arithmetical subtilty which, as he originally devised it with the minutest accuracy possible, he extends to all existing things, so that he establishes no ordinances, whether important or unimportant, without taking and as it were adapting this number to it as closely connected with the regulations which he is ordaining.
Now of all the numbers beginning from the unit, the most perfect is the number ten, and as Moses says, it is the most sacred of all and a holy number, and by it he now limits the races of animals that are clean, wishing to assign the use of them to all those who partake of the constitution which he is establishing. And he gives two tests and criteria of the ten animals thus enumerated [Leviticus 11:3] by two signs, first, that they must part the hoof, secondly, that they must chew the cud; for those which do neither, or only one of these things, are unclean.
And these signs are both of them symbols of instruction and of the most scientific learning, by which the better is separated from the worse, so that all confusion between them is prevented; for as the animal which chews the cud, while it is masticating its food draws it down its throat, and then by slow degrees kneads and softens it, and then after this process again sends it down into the belly, in the same manner the man who is being instructed, having received the doctrines and speculations of wisdom in at his ears from his instructor, derives a considerable amount of learning from him, but still is not able to hold it firmly and to embrace it all at once, until he has resolved over in his mind everything which he has heard by the continued exercise of his memory (and this exercise of memory is the cement which connects ideas), and then he impresses the image of it all firmly on his soul. But as it seems the firm conception of such ideas is of no advantage to him unless he is able to discriminate between and to distinguish which of contrary things it is right to choose and which to avoid, of which the parting of the hoof is the symbol; since the course of life is twofold, the one road leading to wickedness and the other to virtue, and since we ought to renounce the one and never to forsake the other.
WHAT BEASTS ARE NOT CLEAN.
For this reason all animals with solid hoofs, and all with many toes are spoken of by implication as unclean; the one because, being so, they imply that the nature of good and evil is one and the same; which is just as if one were to say that the nature of a concave and a convex surface, or of a road up hill and down hill, was the same. And the other, because it shows that there are many roads, though, indeed, they have no right to be called roads at all, which lead the life of man to deceit; for it is not easy among a variety of paths to choose that which is the most desirable and the most excellent.
WHAT AQUATIC ANIMALS ARE CLEAN.
Having laid down these definitions with respect to land animals, he proceeds to describe what aquatic creatures are clean and lawful to be used for food; distinguishing them also by two characteristics as having fins or scales. [Leviticus 11:9.] For those which have neither one nor the other, and those which have only one of the two, he rejects and prohibits. [Deuteronomy 14:10.] And he must state the cause, which is not destitute of sense and propriety; for all those creatures which are destitute of both, or even of one of the two, are sucked down by the current, not being able to resist the force of the stream; but those which have both these characteristics can stem the water, and oppose it in front, and strive against it as against an adversary, and struggle with invincible good will and courage, so that if they are pushed they push in their turn; and if they are pursued they turn upon their foe and pursue it in their turn, making themselves broad roads in a pathless district, so as to have an easy passage to and fro.
Now both these things are symbols; the former of a soul devoted to pleasure, and the latter of one which loves perseverance and temperance. For the road which leads to pleasure is a down-hill one and very easy, being rather an absorbing gulf than a path. But the path which leads to temperance is up hill and laborious, but above all other roads advantageous. And the one leads men downwards, and prevents those who travel by it from retracing their steps until they have arrived at the very lowest bottom, but the other leads to heaven; making those who do not weary before they reach it immortal, if they are only able to endure its rugged and difficult ascent.
ABOUT REPTILES. [Leviticus 11:20.]
And adhering to the same general idea the lawgiver asserts that those reptiles which have no feet, and which crawl onwards, dragging themselves along the ground on their bellies, or those which have four legs, or many feet, are all unclean as far as regards their being eaten.
And here, again, when he mentions reptiles he intimates under a figurative form of expression those who are devoted to their bellies, gorging themselves like cormorants, and who are continually offering up tribute to their miserable belly, tribute, that is, of strong wine, and confections, and fish, and, in short, all the superfluous delicacies which the skill and labor of bakers and confectioners are able to devise, inventing all sorts of rare viands, to stimulate and set on fire the insatiable and unappeasable appetites of man.
And when he speaks of animals with four legs and many feet, he intends to designate the miserable slaves not of one single passion, appetite, but of all the passions; the genera of which are four in number; but in their subordinate species they are innumerable. Therefore, the despotism of one is very grievous, but that of many is most terrible, and as it seems intolerable.
Again, in the case of those reptiles who have legs above their feet, so that they are able to take leaps from the ground, those Moses speaks of as clean; as, for instance, the different kinds of locusts, and that animal called the serpent-fighter, here again intimating by figurative expressions the manners and habits of the rational soul. For the weight of the body being naturally heavy, drags down with it those who are but of small wisdom, strangling it and pressing it down by the weight of the flesh.
But blessed are they to whose lot it has fallen, inasmuch as they have been well and solidly instructed in the rules of sound education, to resist successfully the power of mere strength, so as to be able, by reason of what they have learnt, to spring up from the earth and all low things, to the air and the periodical revolutions of the heaven, the very sight of which is to be admired and earnestly striven for by those who come to it of their own accord with no indolence or indifference.
CONCERNING FLYING CREATURES. [Leviticus 11:10.]
Having, therefore, in his ordinances already gone through all the different kinds of land animals and of those who live in the water, and having distinguished them in his code of laws as accurately as it was possible, Moses begins to investigate the remaining class of animals in the air; the innumerable kinds of flying creatures, rejecting all those which prey upon one another or upon man, all carnivorous birds, in short, all animals which are venomous, and all which have any power of plotting against others. But doves, and pigeons, and turtle-doves, and all the flocks of cranes, and geese, and birds of that kind, he numbers in the class of domestic, and tame, and eatable creatures, allowing every one who chooses to partake of them with impunity.
Thus, in each of the parts of the universe, earth, water, and air, he refuses some kinds of each description of animal, whether terrestrial, or aquatic, or aerial, to our use; and thus, taking as it were fuel from the fire, he causes the extinction of appetite.
CONCERNING CARCASSES AND BODIES WHICH HAVE BEEN TORN BY WILD BEASTS.
Moreover, Moses commands [Leviticus 5:2] that no man shall take of any dead carcass, or of any body which has been torn by wild beasts; partly because it is not fitting that man should share a feast with untameable beasts, so as to become almost a fellow reveller in their carnivorous festivals; and partly because perhaps it is injurious and likely to cause disease if the juice of the dead body becomes mingled with the blood, and perhaps, also, because it is proper to preserve that which has been pre-occupied and seized beforehand by death untouched, having a respect to the necessities of nature by which it has been seized.
Now many of the lawgivers both among the Greeks and barbarians, praise those who are skillful in hunting, and who seldom fail in their pursuit or miss their aim, and who pride themselves on their successful hunts, especially when they divide the limbs of the animals which they have caught with the huntsmen and the hounds, as being not only brave hunters but men of very sociable dispositions. But any one who was a sound interpreter of the sacred constitution and code of laws would very naturally blame them, since the lawgiver of that code has expressly forbidden any enjoyment of carcasses or of bodies torn by beasts for the reasons before mentioned.
But if any one of those persons who devote themselves wholly to meditations on and to the practice of virtue were suddenly to become fond of gymnastic exercises and of hunting, looking upon hunting as a sort of prelude to and representation of the wars and dangers that have to be encountered against the enemy, then, whenever such a man is successful in his sport, he ought to give the beasts which he has slain to his dogs as a feast for them, and as a reward or wages for their successful boldness and their irreproachable alliance. But he ought not himself to touch them, inasmuch as he has been previously taught in the case of irrational animals, what sentiments he ought to entertain, respecting his enemies.
For he ought to carry on war against them, not for the sake of unrighteous gain like those who make a dishonest traffic of all their actions, but either in revenge for some calamities which he has previously suffered at their hands, or with a view toward some which he expects to suffer.
But some men, with open mouths, carry even the excessive luxury and boundless intemperance of Sardanapalus to such an indefinite and unlimited extent, being wholly absorbed in the invention of senseless pleasures, that they prepare sacrifices which ought never be offered, strangling their victims, and stifling the essence of life [Leviticus 17:11], which they ought to let depart free and unrestrained, burying the blood, as it were, in the body. For it ought to have been sufficient for them to enjoy the flesh by itself, without touching any of those parts which have a connection with the soul or life.
On which account Moses, in another passage, establishes a law concerning blood, that one may not eat the blood nor the fat. [Leviticus 3:17.] The blood, for the reason which I have already mentioned, that it is the essence of the life; not of the mental and rational life, but of that which exists in accordance with the outward senses, to which it is owing that both we and irrational animals also have a common existence.
CONCERNING THE SOUL OR LIFE OF MAN
I. For the essence of the soul of man is the breath of God, especially if we follow the account of Moses, who, in his history of the creation of the world, says that God breathed into the first man, the founder of our race, the breath of life; breathing it into the principal part of his body, namely the face, where the outward senses are established, the body-guards of the mind, as if it were the great king. And that which was thus breathed into his face was manifestly the breath of the air, or whatever else there may be which is even more excellent than the breath of the air, as being a ray emitted from the blessed and thrice-happy nature of God.
But Moses commanded men to abstain from eating fat, because it is gross.
And again, he gave us this injunction, in order to inculcate temperance and a zeal for an austere life: for some things we easily abandon, and without any hesitation; though we do not willingly encounter any anxieties or labors for the sake of the acquisition of virtue. For which reason these two parts are to be taken out of every victim and burnt with fire, as a kind of first fruits, namely, the fat and the blood; the one being poured upon the altar as a libation; and the other as a fuel to the flame, being applied instead of oil, by reason of its fatness, to the consecrated and holy flame.
The lawgiver blames some persons of his time as gluttons, and as believing that the mere indulgence of luxury is the happiest of all possible conditions, not being content to live in this manner only in cities in which there were abundant supplies and stores of all kinds of necessary things, but carrying their effeminacy even into pathless and untrodden deserts, and choosing in them also to have markets for fish and meat, and all things which can contribute to an easy life: then, when a scarcity arose, they assembled together and raised an outcry, and looked miserable, and with shameless audacity impeached their ruler, and did not desist from creating disturbances till they obtained what they desired; and they obtained it to their destruction, for two reasons: first of all, that it might be shown that all things are possible to God, who can find a way in the most difficult and apparently hopeless circumstances; and secondly, that punishment might fall on those who were intemperate in their gluttonous appetites, and obstinate resisters of holiness.
For a vast cloud being raised [Exodus 16:13] out of the sea showered down quails about the time of sunrise, and the camp and all the district around it for a day's journey for a well-girt active man was overshadowed all about with the birds. [Numbers 11:31.] And the height of the flight of the birds was distant from the ground a height of about two cubits, in order that they might be easily caught. It would have been natural therefore for them, being amazed at the marvellous nature of the prodigy which they beheld, to be satisfied with the sight, and being filled with piety to nourish their souls on that, and to abstain from eating flesh; but these men, on the contrary, stirred up their desires even more than before, and pursued these birds as the greatest good imaginable, and catching hold of them with both their hands filled their bosoms; then, having stored them up in their tents, they sallied forth to catch others, for immoderate covetousness has no limit. And when they had collected every description of food they devoured it insatiably, being about, vain-minded generation that they were, to perish by their own fullness; and indeed at no distant time they did perish by the purging of their bile [Numbers 11:20], so that the place itself derived its name from the calamity which fell upon them, for it was called the graves of their lust [Numbers 11:34], than which there is not in the soul, as the scripture teaches us, any greater evil.
For which reason Moses says with great beauty in his recommendations, "Let not every man do that which seemeth good to his own eyes [Deuteronomy 11:8]," which is equivalent to saying, let not any one gratify his own desire, but let each person seek to please God, and the world, and nature, and wise men, repudiating self-love, if he would become a good and virtuous man.
II. This may be sufficient to say, being in fact all that I am able to advance, about the laws which bear on appetite and desire by way of filling up the whole body of the ten commandments, and of the subordinate injunctions contained in them; for if we are to look upon the brief heads which were oracularly delivered by the voice of God, as the generic laws, and all the particular ordinances which Moses subsequently interpreted and added as the special laws; then there is need of great care and skill in order to preserve the arrangement unconfused in order to an accurate comprehension of it, and I therefore have taken great care, and have assigned and apportioned to each of these generic laws of the whole code all that properly belonged to it.
But enough of this. We must however not remain ignorant that as separately there are some particular injunctions related to each one of the ten generic commandments, which have nothing in common with any one of the others; so also there are some things to be observed which are common to the whole, being adapted not to one or two, as people say, but to the whole ten commandments.
And I mean by this those virtues which are of common utility, for each one of these ten laws separately, and all of them together, train men and encourage them to prudence, and justice, and piety, towards God and all the rest of the company of virtues, connecting sound words with good intentions, and virtuous actions with wise language, that so the organ of the soul may be wholly and entirely held together in a good and harmonious manner so as to produce a well-regulated and faultless innocence and consistency of life.
We have spoken before of that queen of all the virtues, piety and holiness, and also of prudence and moderation; we must now proceed to speak of justice which is conversant about subjects which are akin and nearly related to them.