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With an instinct truer than the reasons alleged, Jerome 
has included in his catalogue of illustrious men and writers 
of the Christian Church Philo the Jew and Seneca the 
Stoic. The traditions on which he relies — that Philo met 
Peter at Eome on his second embassy to Claudius, and 
described Christian communities in a treatise " On the Life 
of Contemplation," and that Seneca corresponded with 
Paul — are probably the outcome of a natural tendency 
which seeks to bring into relation the famous figures of 
a past epoch. Their real justification and Jerome's lies 
rather in the indisputable fact of the real and important 
influence which these disciples of Plato and the Porch 
exercised upon the teaching of the successors of Paul and 
Peter. But in Judaism there was no dignity titular or real 
for Philo. As philosophy, Greek or Eoman, became gradually 
more and more thoroughly enlisted on the side of the 
followers of Jesus of Nazareth, it would seem that the cry 
went out, "To your tents, Israel." The attempt to 
justify the Monotheism of the Old Covenant to the great 
Greek world was gradually abandoned. The propaganda 
pursued by popular means like the Sibylline Oracles was 
dropped. The early Greek translation of the Bible was 
replaced by the versions of Aquila, Symmachus and 
Theodotion — Jews all, well aware at last of the dangers 
of loose renderings. Finally the canon of books to which 
appeal lay was definitely restricted and the authority 
of " Apocrypha " and " Pseudepigrapha " denied — all the 
more easily because it had never been formally recognized. 
Judaism would have none of an Hellenism identified 


■with Christianity. Greek language and Greek culture 
became as hateful as when they were forced upon the Jews 
of Palestine by the ruthless, fruitless efforts of Antiochus 

If this may be regarded as a fair outline of the tendencies 
of the first few centuries of the Christian era, it is obvious 
that Judaism had at that time no room for Philo — must 
indeed of necessity regard him as a deserter by anticipa- 
tion, a traitor to the Law, who had sold the keys of the 
stronghold of Monotheism. 

For in Philo, as in Seneca, philosophy triumphed over 
nationality and national religion, and Philo in his exposition 
of the Law on principles of Platonism and Stoicism — fit 
fellow thus for Seneca — had offered to the Gentiles the key 
of knowledge which was the peculiar possession of the 
Scribes. And so Philo stands alone, a pathetic figure in 
the history of thought, befriended and adopted only by 
the foes of that religion which he loved, which he sought 
to commend to the nations, whose sacred books he accepted 
with loyal obedience and expounded with tireless devotion. 
It was not until a much later period that Jews have in part 
reclaimed Philo as their own. 

Whatever the Hebrew Jews, in the first Christian cen- 
turies, might think of the wisdom of the Greeks, they 
could afford to ignore it. But it was far otherwise with 
the Jews of the Dispersion. They, the Hellenists, for 
their own sake no less than for the sake of possible 
converts, made terms with Hellenism. They had the 
truth in the written revelation of the Law, and if the 
claim of the Gentiles, that in their wisdom was the truth 
likewise, were to be upheld at all, then that wisdom could 
only be derived from the Law. If demonstration were 
needed to back assertion they had recourse to the current 
method of allegorical interpretation, by which alone — 
failing any theory of evolutionary development — a religion 
embodied in a written or traditional deposit could be 
reconciled with the advance of thought. 


The method has been employed by the Stoics in the 
interests of popular mythology, which became part of the 
religion of the Roman Empire. To some extent it was 
adopted by the Palestinian Rabbis, but with less depreciation 
of the historical truth of the narratives. Their fundamental 
principle was typology and their method finds Greek 
expression in the Pauline Epistles, and was adopted later 
by the Christian school of Antioch who rejected and resisted 
the extravagances of the Alexandrians. The Epistle to the 
Hebrews, on the other hand, and the Fourth Gospel show 
distinct traces of Alexandrian if not definitely Philonic 
influence. By this same method Aristobulus had proved 
that the Peripatetic philosophy depended upon the Law of 
Moses and the other books (Clem. Alex., Strom, v. 14. 97). 
Whether the extracts extant under his name (Eus., Prep. 
Ev. viii. 10, xiii. 12) are earlier or later than Philo, the 
method is the same as his and so is the general position. 
His work is described as "an interpretation of the holy 
laws " or " expositions of the writing (Scripture) of Moses " 
by Eusebius, though he does not, so far as one can 
judge from the fragments which remain, comment on the 
Pentateuch verse by verse, but rather gives a general 
paraphrase of its contents expounding it philosophically. 
But it is in the works of Philo that we find the chief 
monument of this reconciliation of the old and the new. 
He surpasses the philosophers who preceded him by his 
systematic industry and the superiority of the material 
on which he worked ; those who followed him, Christians 
or Platonists, are his disciples. 

A systematic digest of the teaching of Philo, taken by 
itself, gives no satisfactory idea of the man or his writings. 
It is possible to separate the various elements of his eclectic 
philosophy — Platonist, Stoic, Pythagorean, and Oriental — 
and so to assign him his place in the history of Greek 
thought. But his main object is to expound the Law of 
Moses : the truth revealed therein is his criterion. Accord- 
ingly it seems best to begin by taking some of his tracts 


and presenting them in a summary form, so that our readers 
may be able to taste his quality if not his quantity. 

Setting aside, then, his historical works we distinguish 
on internal evidence two series of expositions of the Law — 
(i) theDe Opificio Mwndi followed by Lives of the patriarchs, 
and (2) the more formal commentary which takes the 
Scripture verse by verse, beginning with Genesis ii, in the 
book of The Allegories of the Laws. The first group deals 
with general subjects and is probably intended for an 
audience less versed in philosophy and philosophical 
methods: speaking generally, more stress is laid here on 
the literal truth of the Scripture narratives than in the 
second group. So we come to Philo himself, premising 
only that the Bible he uses is the Septuagint and that he 
warns his readers to come with purified minds, freeing 
themselves from the allurements of this fleeting world and 
the outward shows of things, which hide the naked truth. 

The tract On the Creation of the World according to 
Moses deals with the account of Creation given in Genesis 
i and ii and also the description of man's primitive 
innocence and fall as described in Genesis iii. Without 
any preface explaining the scope or motives of his work 
Philo begins what may well be the first of a series of 
homilies on the Law given by and through Moses to The 
Nation ; for he regards the account of Creation as just the 
preface of the Law. Other lawgivers have been content to 
present their commands and prohibitions without any 
introduction in the form of a bare code. Others again 
have prefixed legendary inventions new or old, hiding over 
the truth thereby. But Moses, the true philosopher, anxious 
to prepare and mould the minds of those who should use 
the laws, begins with the Creation, to show that the universe 
and the Law are in perfect harmony and that the law- 
abiding man is ipso facto a citizen of the universe, 
adjusting his actions to the will of Nature according to 
which the whole universe also is ordered. 

vol. xvii. a 


This idea that the Law of Moses is identical with the 
Law of Nature occurs again and again in Philo's extant 
works. He does not attempt to prove the truth of the 
identification, but assumes it as a self-evident proposition. 
The Law was the supreme example of the direct revelation 
of God to men, and if there was any validity in the thought 
of the best philosophy of his time, then it must have been 
derived somehow from the writings of Moses. Accordingly 
he is at pains to show that the great Greek thinkers of the 
past who had, each in his turn, contributed something to 
its gradual development drew their inspiration from the 
Hebrew Scriptures; and what he, the eclectic follower of 
Plato, Zeno, and Pythagoras, holds true in the teaching 
of his masters in philosophy he finds latent but never- 
theless unmistakably expressed by the greatest philosopher 
of them all, one of his own race, who was king and prophet 

So, then, the life according to Nature which the Stoic 
philosopher x preached was after all no more than the life of 
the law-abiding Jew. And, if we must needs regard Philo's 
axiom as a doubtful proposition, the proof lies plain for us 
as for him in the spirit which underlies the letter of 
Scripture. The beauty of these thoughts (t&v vornjLdrwv) no 
one, poet or orator, could worthily set forth. Yet our 
author cannot keep silence, but " for the sake of his love 
toward God, will venture to speak even above his power, 
nothing indeed of his own, but few for many thoughts such 
as a mortal mind possessed with yearning love of wisdom 
may reach." 

1 According to Stobaeus; Eel ii. 132, Zeno, the founder of the school of 
Stoics, taught that the " end " or goal was " to live conformably " (t^ Si 
ri\os o iilv 7Apr<av ovrtas a-niSaiut to iiioKoyov/Aevois £r,v), that is, according to 
one harmonious scheme (tovto Si iarl uaff 'iva KSyov Kal aificpaivov 0jv) ; 
and Cleanthes, his first successor, added the words " to nature." Diogenes 
Laertius (vii. 87) makes Zeno the author of the complete phrase, and in 
his next chapter ascribes to Chrysippus expressions very near those 
employed by Philo here, " Man's end is then, to live in accordance with 
nature — that is according to his own and that of the universe." 


Here, again, he is resting upon one of his axioms — the 
legitimacy and sufficiency of the allegorical method of 
interpretation, whereat, as at the touch of Moses' rod, a living 
spring of water is to well forth from the rock of Moses' 
Law. But before he can expound in miniature such of 
the grand revelations as he can attain, he must denounce 
the atheism or polytheism of other (the Greek) philoso- 
phers who, wondering at the world rather than its Creator, 
have declared that it did not come into being but is eternal. 
Not so Moses. He knew that there is always an active 
cause and a passive cause. This world is tangible and 
visible, apprehended by our senses, and therefore it must 
have come into being (avaynaCvs av &r\ kclI yevtjros); for 
everything that is apprehended by the senses is in a state 
of becoming — coming into being — and of change. Only 
the things which are not seen are eternal. The deification 
of the universe abolishes Providence, that most profitable 
aid to godliness. Well does Moses narrate its Genesis, 
refuting by his mere title (i. e. the title of the Greek 
version) this false theology. "The active cause is the 
Mind of the universe, higher than virtue, than knowledge, 
than good itself : the passive cause is lifeless and incapable 
of movement of itself, but, moved and fashioned and quick- 
ened by the Mind, it changed to that most perfect work k 
this present world." 

This position was first taken by Anaxagoras, the friend 
of Pericles, and thereby he showed himself, as Aristotle 
says, " a sober man among random talkers." He affirmed 
indeed that the elements of the universe were eternal, but 
after correcting this error Philo is content to follow him 
completely. " Anaxagoras first (Diog. ii. 6) set mind upon 
matter, for he thus begins his work (on Nature) : ' All 
things were together, and Mind came and arranged them.' " 
And Philo adopts this conception of God in his relation to 
the world : throughout his account of the Creation he uses 
Anaxagoras' word hiaKocr^eiv, and speaks of Moses as " pos- 
sessed by a sober drunkenness." The designation Mind 

G % 


suggests to him a powerful argument against atheism, to 
which he often has recourse. " Know thyself," he cries to 
the ignorant or wilful blasphemer. " See how thy body is 
animated and governed by the mind. As in the microcosm, 
so in the universe. The Mind which fashioned all things 
directs all things. There is — there must be a Mind of the 
universe, as a mind in thee, lacking which thou art dead. 
There is, there must be Providence — God, in fine." 

But Philo the Jew, though he may adopt and employ 
habitually such philosophical conceptions of God as "Mind," 
"the Absolute," and so forth, does not rest content there- 
with. The God which the Greeks had found out by ceaseless 
speculation might be identified with, but could not supplant, 
the God whom his nation had come to know from his 
dealings with them. Philosopher he is through and through, 
but his philosophy rests on a firm foundation of piety, of 
faith in, and love toward God, the good Father. " For if 
any should wish to track out the cause wherefore the 
universe was created, methinks he would not miss the mark 
if he said with one of the ancients that the Father and 
Maker was good (ayaObv elvai rbv naripa koX Tsoir\Ty]v) ; where- 
fore he grudged not his own best nature to Matter that had 
no good thing of itself, yet could become all things." The 
ancient in question appears to be Plato, but a comparison 
with the apparent original shows how Philo has made it 
his own. In the Timaeus (29 E) the Platonic Socrates 
says : " Let us say for what cause the framer framed genesis 
and this universe. He was good, and no good man can 
ever feel any grudging ; and being free therefrom he willed 
that everything should become as far as possible like him- 
self." Plato the Greek personified his first Cause: Philo 
the Jew knew God as the Father. 

This much of his best-known tract may serve for intro- 
duction to the account of the Life of Abraham which comes 

The first of the five books in which the sacred laws are 


written is entitled Genesis because the account of the 
creation of the' world is the most important part of it. 
This has been expounded as accurately as may be in the 
pi'eceding treatise. Next in order come the laws them- 
selves, particular and general. The former Philo postpones 
in favour of the latter, which are, so to speak, archetypes of 
which the others are copies. But these general laws are 
not precepts, but men — they who lived honourably and 
without reproach, whose virtues are engraved in the Holy 
Scriptures in order to impel (irpoTpixj/aa-dai) and lead the 
reader to a like zeal. The patriarchs in fact have come to 
be living and reasonable laws. Self-taught, they recognized 
and welcomed the ordinances of Nature, and therein found 
so good a law that all the particular pi'ecepts which were 
later written down are but the memorials of their lives. 

Well then, since the beginning of the participation in 
good things is Hope, the first lover of hope is called Man, 
to show that the hopeless are but beasts in human form 
(Gen. iv. 26, v. 1). Enos, the Man par excellence, is fourth 
from the first earth-born man, since the number four is 
honoured by Moses as holy (Lev. xix. 24) — to say nothing 
of other philosophers (Platonists) who have " welcomed the 
bodiless ideal essences." To inspire men with good hope 
is of course the object of all laws and lawgivers: Enos 
was trained in this virtue by the unwritten law of 

Next after Hope comes Repentance for sin and Amend- 
ment : so Enoch, " he who is graced " (Kexapio-^ivos), follows 
Enos. For "Enoch pleased God, and was not found, for 
God translated him." His translation implies turning 
or change, and that for the better, because under God's 
providence. Once translated or converted, he is not found. 
The wise man loves loneliness and retirement from the 
society of the many who delight in the evil which he has 
renounced. So he shuts himself up at home, or, if disturbed 
by frequent callers goes forth without the city, dwells in 
a solitude (h povaypiq), preferring the society of the best of 


all the race of men, whose bodies time has dissolved, but 
whose virtues the writings left behind keep alive by poems 
and chronicles. So he seeks peace. 

Noah, whose name means " Kest " or " Righteous," follows 
Enoch, and he calls the seventh day (or Sabbath, as the 
Hebrews call it) Rest — not, as some suppose, because after 
intervals of six days the people left their usual tasks, but 
because the number seven is in us and in the world the 
most peaceful of all. In us there are six things which 
wage unceasing war, the five senses and the spoken word 
(6 Trpo<j)opiKbs hoyos) ; but the seventh power is that of Mind, 
which overcomes the others, and retires into solitude to 
commune with itself in peace. Such is the dignity of Noah 
that in his genealogy no man or woman is set down as his 
ancestor, but virtues only ; for the wise man has no home, 
country, or kindred, save virtues and virtuous actions 
(Gen. vi. 9). He is a man in the true sense of the word, 
because he has tamed the bestial lusts of the soul, and is 
"righteous." And so he is perfect, not absolutely, but 
as compared with his generation, whose sins brought about 
the Deluge and their destruction. 

These three men or dispositions of the soul present an 
harmonious order. The Perfect is whole from the beginning : 
the Convertito is half-made (rj/xiejoyos), for he dedicated the 
former part of his life to vice, and only the latter to virtue : 
the Hoper is lacking, as his name denotes (ek-ntfav : Zkkmris), 
ever aiming at virtue, but never attaining it. 

So much for the first trinity of men who yearned after 
virtue. The second is far greater — Abraham, Isaac and 
Jacob, men of one house and race — whose names God con- 
descended to add to his, that having a refuge for supplica- 
tions and entreaties they might not lack good hope. And 
this supports the view that, though nominally men, they 
are really virtues or powers, which, being incorruptible, 
can more reasonably be attached to the name of the 
Eternal. All aim at virtue ; the first by learning, the 
second by nature, the third by practice : not that any one 


is devoid of all three, but that each takes his name from 
his pre-eminent quality. 

After a short preface dealing with this " trinity " collect- 
ively, Philo at last reaches his main subject. Abraham, 
zealous for piety, the highest and greatest virtue, strove to 
follow God and to obey his commands, not only those 
conveyed through voice and writing, but those made 
plainer still through Nature. Scripture records many 
proofs of this obedience, which must be considered in order. 

First of all he was charged by an oracle to leave his 
country, kindred and home. What other would have 
been so steadfast as to resist their allurements ? Banish- 
ment is usually reckoned by lawgivers next to death as 
a punishment, and might well be thought even worse than 
death, as it entails a thousand deaths and consciousness 
of them all. Men leave their homes for many reasons — 
some for gain, some on embassy to serve the state, some for 
love of new knowledge — yet all long to return home and 
often leave their tasks unfinished. But Abraham departed 
to Haran (Gen. xii. 5) and thence to another place of which 
we shall speak later. 

Now according to the letter of Scripture these are the 
travels of a wise man, but according to the laws in allegory 
those of a virtuous soul in quest of the true God. The 
Chaldeans are the great astronomers absorbed in the study 
of the visible world. With them and like them the soul 
dwells long, but at last opens its eye as from a deep sleep 
at the call, " Come out to the smaller city and learn to 
know the Overseer of the universe. Come to Haran, that 
is the 'caves' which are the symbol of the seats of our 
senses. Shall they have an unseen ruler — the mind — and 
the world of which all things else are parts have none?" 
Then God appears (Gen. xii. 7) : he " was seen," for none 
can see or apprehend him unless he show himself. Then 
Abram, " lofty father," the astronomer, becomes Abraham 
" father of an elect sound " — the wise man free from the 
unstable guidance of the senses. 


His second departure is to a desert where he leads 
a wandering life (Gen. xii. 9). They who yearn to find out 
God love the solitude dear to him, striving first herein to 
assimilate themselves to his blessed and happy nature. 
Whichever interpretation we adopt here, literal or allegorical, 
man and soul are equally venerable. 

The greatness of the actions which follow can only be 
appreciated by those who have tasted virtue and are wont 
to deride what the many admire. In time of famine 
Abraham finds that there is corn in Egypt, thanks to the 
river, and goes thither with his wife. The officials, seeing 
his wife and admiring her beauty, — for nothing escapes 
those in high office — tell the king. Finding no escape 
from the royal lust she appeals to God ; and he, the 
champion of the wronged, sends tortures by which king 
and consenting household are racked. Thus was that 
marriage preserved unsullied, from which was to spring 
"a whole nation — dearest of all to God — which seems to 
me to hold the priestly and prophetic office on behalf of all 

Here the literal truth of the story is so much bound up 
with Philo's national pride that he introduces not his own 
allegorical interpretation but that of others : — " I have 
heard, however, certain philosophers (<pv<riK&v &vbp&v) who 
allegorized the passage not amiss." The man, they say, 
is the symbol of a good mind; the woman of virtue. 
Spiritually the man takes the place of the woman and the 
woman of the man in their marriage ; for, apart from the 
misleading genders of the names, to those who can see 
things as they really are, virtue is masculine, reason 
feminine. The king of Egypt is — as always in Philo's own 
exegesis — the mind that loves the body. So the deeper 
meaning of the story is plain, once the actors are thus 

The next incident chosen is the visit of the three " men " 
to Abraham (Gen. xviii). Hospitality to strangers is an 
offshoot {ii&pepyov) of the greater virtue of piety. But the 


letter of the narrative is but a symbol of what can only be 
comprehended by the mind. The apparition is threefold, 
but the object is one — God in the midst of his Creative 
and Sovereign Powei-s. True, this is not the vision of God 
as he is in himself, and thus it falls short of the highest bliss. 
But God, receiving no injury by such imperfect com- 
prehension, gladly invites all that are purposed to honour 
him, in whatever form. In no-wise does he cast out any 
man (jj.t]b4va <TKopa.Ki£eiv a^i&v to ntapaitav). Nay, to those 
that can hear he speaks this oracle all but aloud in the 
soul : " The first prize shall be given to them that worship 
me for myself, the second to them who do so for themselves 
in hope of good or freedom from punishment. Though 
they hope for benefit from my beneficent Power, or fear my 
sovereign Power, their object is still to worship me." 

Now all this is clear not merely from the allegorical 
treatment of the passage, but from the letter also ; for 
Abraham says, "Lord, if I have found grace with thee" 
(Gen. xviii. 3), speaking to the three as one. Again, only 
two go to destroy the inhabitants of Sodom : the third — 
the Absolute God — judges it fitting that, while benefits are 
conferred by him immediately, punishment should be 
inflicted through the instrumentality of others, that so 
he may be accounted a cause of good only and not of evil 

This, then, is the superficial explanation of the story 
of Sodom for the many : the secret for the few, who seek 
for moods of the soul rather than forms of bodies, shall now 
be set forth. The cities of the plain are the five senses : 
Segon, the place of refuge, standing for sight, the queen of 
the senses, from which spring wisdom and love of wisdom 
or philosophy. 

The culminating act of Abraham's life is the sacrifice of 
his beloved son. After giving a sketch of the incident, 
which includes none of the proper names of persons or 
places, — an omissioncharacteristic of this group of writings — 
Philo proceeds to deal with certain objections. Many have 


been ready to slay their children, it is alleged, to save their 
country from plague or defeat, or to serve their religion 
(cf. Deut. xii. 31). In India the gymnosophists bum them- 
selves when that incurable disease, old age, comes upon 
them, and widows join their dead husbands on the pyre. 
But all these practices are due to custom, which has been 
observed so long as to become a second nature, and are 
therefore involuntary and therefore not praiseworthy like 
this deed of Abraham. Nor can any other motive be 
admitted, such as fear or hope of fame. 

But the narrative does not come to an end with the plain 
and literal interpretation, but seems to suggest something 
which only the few can grasp. "Isaac" is the name of 
the son and it signifies "laughter," that is "joy," which is 
rightly offered to God as being his peculiar possession. 
So Sarah denies that she laughed (Gen. xviii. 15), fearing 
lest she should appropriate what belongs only to God. But 
she is reassured: God has mixed joy with the sorrow of 
men and he has willed that the soul of the wise should 
rejoice during the greater part of life and be glad in the 
contemplation of the world. 

The complement of this piety or love towards God is 
love or righteousness towards man ; and this virtue 
also is conspicuously exhibited by Abraham in his rela- 
tions with Lot and Lot's servants for example. In 
fact, throughout his life, Abraham performed the law 
and all the commandments of God, instructed not by 
writings but by the unwritten law of nature, and eager 
to follow its healthy impulses. Such was the life of the 
first and captain of the Nation — law-abiding, some will 
say, but really, as my homily has shown, itself a law and 
unwritten ordinance. 

The second group of Philo's works appears to be a series 
of homilies, or Midrashim, on the Law, containing his more 
advanced teaching. The tract " concerning the descendants 
of Cain the wise-in-his-own-conceit and how he becomes 


a wanderer" begins with Gen. iv. 16. The commentator 
or homilist points out that this verse alone is enough to 
prove the legitimacy of allegorical interpretation : — " For if 
the Absolute (rd ov) has a face and he that wishes to leave 
it behind can easily remove elsewhere, why do we renounce 
Epicurean impiety or the godlessness of the Egyptians or 
the mythical suppositions of which life is full % " So, to 
avoid attributing to God human form, and as a necessary 
consequence human passions, we must not take the words 
as literally true but turn to the way of allegory. Cain, 
then, the selfish, wilfully blinded the eyes of his mind and left 
his soul without vision of the Absolute. Worse than Adam 
whom God cast out, he forgoes deliberately the quest of 
that goal which ever recedes into the distance and evades 
the pursuer though he be a Moses or an Abraham. For no 
creature can behold God as God is : even mind, the swift- 
est of all things, falls infinitely short of apprehending the 
great First Cause, though he be touched in respect of the 
Creative and Punitive Powers, which are near each one 
of us. Yet we congratulate those God-lovers who seek 
after rb ov, though they never find ; for the quest of virtue 
is of itself sufficient to gladden, though the good be never 

The land to which Cain betakes himself is Naid, that is, 
" tossing " or " restlessness," which properly belongs to the 
fool (cf. Deut. xxviii. 65 f.). Standing and steadfastness 
belong to God and the wise and good, to whom he imparts 
his own calm. So Abraham " stood before the Lord " (Gen. 
xviii. 22 f.). To Moses God said "Do thou stand here 
with me" (Deut. v. 31), and on the other hand (Gen. 
xlvi. 4) to Israel " I will go down with thee to Egypt " — 
"Thou with me" when standing is in question: "I with 
thee" when change of place is concerned — "and I will 
bring thee up to the end." Clearly the descent is figurative, 
for God fills the universe with himself. "This I do — is 
Philo's paraphrase — for pity of the rational nature, that 
from the passions of Hades it may be brought up to the 


Olympian place of virtue under my guidance, who have 
cut the highway leading to heaven for suppliant souls, that 
they might not grow weary with walking, and have shown 
it to all." 

In considering the famous difficulty " who was the wife 
of Cain" (Gen. iv. 17) Philo dismisses the theory that she 
was his sister as not merely sacrilegious but false, for 
Adam's daughters were born later according to the Scripture 
narrative. "What then must be said? The wife of the 
impious Reason, as I suppose, is Opinion which he holds 
concerning things, just like thousands of the philo- 
sophers who have introduced some the same, others 
different, dogmas into our life." And the particular opinion 
is the maxim of Protagoras, child of Cain's folly, that man 
is the measure of all things ; for the child of the union is 
Enoch, i. e. " thy grace," and all things on this supposition 
are the grace or gift of the mind. But this is to honour 
the immediate before the final cause. The strength of the 
dogma is shown by the victory over Abel, but "in my 
judgment and in that of my friends death with the pious 
would be preferable to life with the impious, for them that 
die thus will the everlasting life await, but them that live 
after that fashion the eternal death." 

So much for Cain's son Enoch : but what of the 
descendant of Seth (Gen. v. 18) ? Are they identical or 
different ? The meaning of the name Enoch may be inter- 
preted in two ways. Only some deify their mind as source 
of all good things : others attribute their blessings to God's 
graces. These, the true nobility, born not of families long 
rich but of lovers of virtue, are classed under Seth as chief 
of their clan. So with Methuselah and Lamech. Their 
double affinity corresponds to the ambiguity of their names 
" sending forth death " and " humiliation." 

To return to Gen. iv. 17, it is incredible that one man 
should by himself build a town. Perhaps, then, since this 
is not in accord with the truth, it is better that we should 
allegorize and say that Cain resolved to prepare his own 


dogma as if it were a city. Each of the impious is found 
to be the framer of such a city — made up of vices — in his 
own wretched soul. 

The children of Lamech and Ada (" testimony "), Jobel 
and Jubal, represent change or declination, the one in mind 
or disposition and the other in the spoken word. So the 
first is the father of tenders of flocks — those occupied with 
the irrational sense-perceptions — and the second of music. 
Such declination is forbidden in the law (Num. xx. 17): 
the middle way is the royal road which leads to God, the 
first and only King of all things, and this way is philosophy. 
" It is not the way followed by the present herd of sophists ; 
for they, practising the arts -of words against the truth, 
have called cleverness (i-tjd iravovpyiav) wisdom, giving a 
godly name to an evil thing. It is the way the ancient 
band (diacros) of ascetics went — men who renounced the 
cajolings of pleasure and engaged themselves nobly and 
austerely to the practice of virtue. At any rate this royal 
road, which we say is true and genuine philosophy, the Law 
calls the word of God (Deut. xxviii. 14)." 

Sella is " Shadow," symbol of bodily and external good ; 
and her son Thobel " All," for in fact they who have gotten 
that double blessing, hymned among the vulgar, " health and 
wealth," think that all things, small and great, are added to 
them. He is an iron worker, for all quarrels past, present, 
and to come are for the sake of woman's beauty, wealth, 
glory, honour, dominion, in a word, of bodily pleasures, or 
for possession of external things which are proved every one 
to be unsure and unsubstantial by time that tries all things. 
Sella's daughter is Noeman, " Fatness," the fatness not of 
strength but of weakness, which consists in departure 
from the honour of God (Deut. xxii. 15), fatness of body 
not of soul. 

So much for Cain and his progeny. Philo now turns to 
consider " the regeneration (ira\iyyei>e<r(a) as it were of the 
murdered Abel " in the birth of Seth whose name signifies 
" Watering." The interpretation suggests a digression 


which occupies most of the remaining part of the tract 
(§§ I 25ff.) dealing chiefly with the stories of Hagar (Gen. 
xxi. 19) and Rebecca (Gen. xxiv). In each case water 
stands for wisdom, " For whence should the thirsty mind 
of knowledge (<ppovrj<re<i>s) be filled save from God's wisdom^ 
the unfailing spring?" Hagar's child, whose soul has just 
begun to aspire after instruction is given to drink from the 
wine-skin. Rebecca offers the water-pot itself, saying, 
"drink." And thus she shows forth the divine wealth 
which is poured forth for all that are worthy and can 
use it. She brings down the pot from her shoulder, 
accommodating herself to her disciple, like a good teacher 
or a good physician, looking not to the greatness of his art 
but to the capacity of the patient. " For bestow not what 
thou canst, saith right reason, but what the suppliant is 
capable of receiving. Or seest thou not that God pro- 
claimeth oracles corresponding not to the greatness of his 
own perfection but to the power of them that shall be 
benefited thereby" (cf. Ex. xx. 19). For the creature is 
never without a share of the gracious gifts of God — else 
it had been utterly destroyed — but it cannot bear the 
much and unstinted force of them. Wherefore, wishing 
that we should have profit of that which he offers, he 
apportioneth " the gift to the power of the receivers " — unlike 
mercenary sophists. And the camels in the story of 
Rebecca stand for memory, without which wisdom bestowed 
is useless. The fruit of wisdom is virtue ; and though the 
way to it be hard yet God has changed toil from bitter to 
sweet. Bodily blessings are contemptible : wild beasts 
have them in greater perfection than rational men — 
though this point needs no amplification since the most 
reputed of the ancient sages are agreed that Nature is the 
mother of beasts, step-mother of men. Hard is the way of 
wisdom and virtue but its end is the sight of God (Deut. 
xxxiii. 39 ; cf. Ex. xxxiii. 23) — not, indeed, as he is but as 
he manifests himself in his acts — vouchsafed to the eyes 
of the mind. " And so the race of men will have use and 


enjoyment of deep peace, taught by the law of nature, 
which is virtue, to honour God and hold fast to his service 
for this is the spring of happiness and long life " for states 
and for individuals alike. 

The division between the tracts Concerning Giants and 
That the Divine is unchangeable seems hardly warranted, 
as the former ends with the words "Having said thus 
much- — sufficient for the present at any rate — concerning 
the giants, let us turn to the sequel of the narrative. And 
it is this." It is not uncommon to find two different 
subjects treated in the same tract (cf. e. g. Concerning the 
Progeny of Cain, etc.). 

The "many men" of Gen. vi. 1 are obviously impious 
men, because their children are daughters. The story of 
the union of these daughters with the angels of God is not 
a myth. Just as the universe is animated (i^/vx&o-Bai) 
throughout all its parts, earth, water, fire (especially, it is 
reported, in Macedonia) and heaven (with stars), so the air 
must be filled with living things, invisible to us like the 
element in which they live. What Moses calls angels 
other philosophers call demons, souls flying about in the 
air. Surely air which gives life to all creatures has a 
natural right to a population of its own. Well, then, some 
souls have descended into bodies and some of them are 
able to resist the current of human life and fly up 
again : these are the souls of true philosophers, who from 
beginning to end practise dying to bodily life (jSfou) that 
they may share the bodiless and incorruptible life (fan/v). 
Other souls, again, disdained union with any part of earth, 
and these hallowed souls, who are concerned with the 
service of the Father, the Creator is wont to use as servants 
and ministers for the protection (i-nioTcurlav) of mortals. 
These are of course the good angels, angels worthy of the 
name. There are bad angels also, of whom the many speak 
as bad demons or souls, and it is they who descended to 
converse with the daughters of men. 


Here Philo is once more in agreement with the Stoics, 
who held that the souls of the dead (or of the righteous 
dead) existed in the air until the great conflagration in 
which the universe was to be consumed, and that there 
were also demons sympathetic with men, watchers (ejrojiTav) 
of human affairs (Diog. vii. 151, 156, 157). The statement 
that the universe is alive (l/on/rux ") and full of demons is 
attributed to Thales and Heraclitus. Philo expounds again 
his doctrine of demons or angels in de Somn. i. §§ 1 34 ff. 
in connexion with Jacob's dream of a ladder reaching from 
earth to heaven. The body he regards, with Plato, as a 
prison or tomb, and the purest and best souls or spirits are 
those which never yearned for earthly life, the proconsuls 
of the All-ruler, who correspond to the lesser deities with 
whom Plato surrounds the Creator (Tim. 41 A). 

But in evil men God's spirit cannot remain permanently 
(oi> KdTaiievei, Gen. vi. 3). It remains indeed on occasion 
" For who is so devoid of reason or soul as never, willing 
or unwilling, of his own will or without, to receive a con- 
ception of the Best ? Nay, indeed, even upon the accursed 
there alights often of a sudden the appearance of the Good 
(tov KaXov), but they cannot appropriate it or keep it with 
themselves. For it departs, removing straightway, re- 
nouncing the stranger in the land who has forsaken 
(exbebiriTrinivovs) law and right, to whom it would never 
have come at all save to convict them as having chosen base 
things instead of honourable." 

Such men are flesh ; and the fleshy nature is the founda- 
tion of ignorance. But the Law, in the ordinance against 
unlawful unions, commands us to despise the flesh (Lev. 
xviii. 6). A man that is truly a man — such an one as one 
of the ancients (Diogenes the Cynic) sought with lighted 
lantern at noon — will not approach that which belongs to 
his flesh. The emphatic repetition of the word man in the 
(Greek) text of the passage shows that it is not the ordinary 
human being but the virtuous man who is meant (avOpooiros 
avOpomos irpos itavra oiniiov <rapnds avrov oi npo<re\ev(reTai). 


They who fail to keep this law degrade themselves, " reveal 
their unseemliness " ; and such are the self-styled wise who 
sell wisdom and cheapen their wares like cheapjacks in 
the market. 

The giants who issue from this union are not those of 
Greek mythology : " Moses wishes to impress upon you 
that some are men of earth, others men of heaven, and 
others men of God. The men of earth are the hunters of 
bodily pleasures, who practise the use and enjoyment thereof 
and provide whatever contributes to each one of them. 
The men of heaven are all artists, craftsmen and 
scholars ; for the heavenly part of ourselves — the mind — 
practises general education, and the other arts, one and 
all, sharpening and whetting, exercising and training itself 
in the ideal things (rot? votjtoIs). The men of God are 
priests and prophets who disdained any state connected 
with this world . . . and have emigrated to the ideal world 
where they dwell, enrolled in the state of incorruptible and 
bodiless ideas." For example, Abram, " lofty father," is a 
man of heaven and rises to become Abraham " elect father 
of sound," that is a man of God (Gen. xvii. 1). Whereas the 
children of earth, like Nebrod (Gen. x. 8), are deserters 
degraded from their proper rank to the lifeless and motion- 
less nature of flesh, as it is written " they twain shall be 
one flesh " (Gen. ii. 24). 

So the beginning of the tract headed That the Divine is 
unchangeable, is reached with Gen. vi. 4 : " After this, when 
the angels of God went in unto the daughters of men, and 
they begat (or bare) to themselves." That is to say, after 
the departure of God's spirit the comrades of darkness 
unite with the passions and bare unto themselves — not to 
God like Abraham and Hannah, the mother of Samuel, who 
dedicated to God the children which he himself gave 
them. Such selfishness is sometimes fatal, as in the case 
of Aunan (Gen. xxxviii. 9). 

The " wrath of God " (Gen. vi. 5-7) does not, as perhaps 



some will suppose, imply that the Creator repented that he 
had made man when he beheld their impiety. Such a theory 
dwarfs the crimes here recorded. For what impiety could 
be greater than to suppose that the Unchangeable should 
change? And that though some claim that not even all 
men waver in their opinions ! For that they who practise 
a guileless and pure philosophy win as the greatest good 
out of their knowledge that they do not change with 
changing circumstances, but with unbending fixity and 
steadfast firmness set hand to all their tasks. This quiet, 
at which philosophy rightly so called aims, is the property 
of God and by him bestowed on the wise (Deut. v. 31, 
as before). And rightly, for God is free from all the un- 
certainties and changes which are responsible for change of 
mind or repentance, as he is lord of time and omniscient. 

Happiness was first defined by Democritus as the calm 
and stable condition of the soul, which is untroubled by 
fear, superstition or any other passion, in his book, -rrepl 
evdvixias (Diog. ix. 45 : Seneca de Tranquillitate). Timon, 
disciple of Pyrrho the Sceptic, held the same view 
(Aristocles apud Eusebium, Prep. Ev. xiv. 18); and it is 
generally identified with that school — foapagta being the 
fruit of l-noyfi or suspense of judgment — who inherited it 
from the physical philosophy of Democritus and handed 
it on to Epicurus. But Philo is probably thinking rather 
of the Stoic doctrine that what the vulgar reckon as good 
things are really abta(popa, things indifferent. For, as he 
judged schools of thought chiefly by the conduct of their 
scholars, his praise of the philosophers in question as 
guileless and pure, points not to Epicureans but to Stoics. 

How then are we to understand God's wrath? First 
notice that there are four distinct grades in the realm of 
Nature — stones and inanimate things, which have habit 
(efts); plants and vegetables, which have nature ; animals, 
which have soul ; and men, which have rational soul. 
Man only has freedom — freewill — and therefore only man 
is blameable for his meditated misdeeds, praiseworthy for 


his deliberate right actions. The soul of man alone received 
from God freewill, and therein was made most like him; 
and therefore, being freed as far as possible from that harsh 
and grievous mistress Necessity, must be accused because it 
respects not him that freed it. For indeed it will most 
rightly pay the penalty incurred by ungrateful freedmen. 

But it must not be thought that God (rd 8v) is really 
afFected by anger or any passion. For wrath is character- 
istic of human weakness, but to God belong neither the 
irrational passions of the soul nor the parts and limbs of 
the body. None the less, such expressions are used by 
the great Lawgiver, in order to lesson those who cannot 
otherwise be chastened. For of the laws contained in 
the Precepts and Prohibitions which, be it known, are 
laws in the proper sense of the word, there are set forth 
two most important summary statements concerning the 
First Cause — one that God is not like a man (Num. xxiii. 
19), and the other that God is like a man (Deut. i. 31). 
But the first is guaranteed by certain truth, the second 
is introduced with a view to the teaching of the many, 
for the sake of instruction or admonition, not because 
he is such by nature. In fact the two statements corre- 
spond to the two divisions of mankind, men of soul 
and men of body. To suppose that God really is like 
a man involves the unspeakable mythology of the impious, 
who profess to ascribe to God the form of man but in 
reality credit him with man's passions. But Moses' one 
object is to benefit all his readers, and if the men of body 
cannot be schooled by means of truth, let them learn the 
falsehoods by means of which they will be benefited. They 
need a terrible master to threaten them. And so to these two 
doctrines correspond two attitudes of God's worshippers, fear 
and love. To them who conceive of the Absolute without 
any mortal part or passion, but honour him as he is, be- 
longs the love of God, and the fear of God to every other. 

But even so the meaning of the words "I was angry 
because I made them" is not settled. Perhaps it means 

h a 


that the wicked are made by the anger of God and the 
good by his grace (cf. Gen. vi. 8). And so the passion 
anger, rightly predicated of man, is ascribed to God meta- 
phorically in order to the explanation of a most necessary 
truth, that all that we do for anger, or fear, or grief, or 
pleasure, or any other passion, is culpable, and any actions 
accompanied by right reason and knowledge praiseworthy. 

Noah, then, is preserved when the rest perish. The one 
righteous outweighs the many impious. Thus God mingles 
"mercy and judgment" (Ps. c. t), showing mercy before 
judgment: the cup in his hand is full of a mixture of 
unmixed wine (Ps. lxxiv. 9 : oXvov aKpdrov irkrjpes Kepaa-fiaros). 
The second quotation leads, as often, to a somewhat lengthy 
digression. Philo's point is established by corroborative 
evidence from Scripture, but the evidence itself must be 
analysed. God's powers represented by the cup of wine 
are at once mixed and unmixed ; unmixed so far as he 
himself is concerned, mixed so far as they come into 
contact with his creatures. Who could bear the unmixed 
light of the sun? What mortal could sustain God's know- 
ledge and wisdom and righteousness, and each of the other 
virtues untempered % Nay, not even the whole heaven and 
world could receive them. 

But what is the meaning of the text, " Noah found grace 
before the Lord God " (Gen. vi. 8). The word " found " may 
or may not imply previous possession. The ordinances 
relating to the great prayer l (Num. vi. 2 ff.) give a clear 
example of the finding of something previously possessed 
but lost. GeD. xxvii. 20 and the promises of Deut. vi. 10 f. 
represent the second kind of finding, treasure-trove. In 
Deut. i. 43 f. the Law gives the contrast to these happy 
finders in the persons of those who are compelled to labour 
against their will, doubly unhappy because they fail of 

1 Prayer is the asking for good things from God ; but a great prayer 
consists in considering God in himself as the source of good things, 
without the co-operation of any secondary or immediate cause which 
appears to bestow the benefit. 


their end and incur shame to boot. Each passage cited is 
of course fully expounded in accordance with its symbolical 
significance, and then Philo returns to his text. The 
obvious explanations are either that he obtained (hvxev) 
grace, or was reckoned worthy of grace. But both impute 
too high a dignity even for one who never debased the 
divine coinage within him, the most sacred mind, by evil 
practices. And so it might be better perhaps to adopt the 
view that the good man (6 aoreios), having by seeking 
gained much knowledge, found this great truth that all 
things, earth, water, air, fire, sun, stars, heaven, all animals 
and plants are the grace of God. For he pleased not the 
Absolute, like Moses (Ex. xxxiii. 17), but his ruling and 
beneficent Powers, " Lord " and " God." 

To complete the exposition, Philo recalls the story of 
Joseph. It is said that he " found grace " (Gen. xxxix. 20 f.), 
but with the gaoler, not with God ; and at the touch of 
the wand of allegory this patriarch is transformed into the 
mind that loved the body and its passions, sold to the 
chief cook, banned from the holy assembly by the Law 
(Deut. xxiii. 1), and finally cast into the prison of the 
passions. The story of his life as a whole is given else- 
where, but this episode, taken by itself, is now used as an 
awful warning to the reader. Reject such pleasing, soul : 
aim with all zeal at pleasing the First Cause. Or if thou 
canst not that, become suppliant to his Powers that thou 
may be ranked with the generations of " Noah, a righteous 
man, perfect in his generation, who blessed God" (Gen. 
vi. 9). 

One might fittingly inquire why it is said immediately 
after this that the earth was corrupted before God, and was 
filled with iniquity (Gen. vi. 11). But perhaps it is not 
hard to attain a solution if one is not too devoid of culture. 
Whenever the incorruptible rises up in the soul the mortal 
immediately is corrupted, for the generation of the good is 
the death of the evil practices, since when light shines the 
darkness vanishes. All which is set forth in the law of 


leprosy (Lev. xiii). For there it is said, contrary to the 
general opinion of mankind, that that which is healthy and 
living is the source of corruption of that which is diseased 
and dead : partial leprosy standing for voluntary, complete 
leprosy for involuntary sin. The priest convicts us of our 
sin, bids us purge ourselves that he may see the house of 
the soul clean, and if there be any diseases therein may heal 
them. It was so with the widow who encountered the 
prophet (3 Kings xvii. 10 ff.), for she is not widow in the 
ordinary literal sense, but one whose mind is widowed 
of the passions that hurt the mind, like Thamar (Gen. 
xxxviii. 11). 

In Gen. vi. 1 % " all flesh " is of course feminine in the 
Greek, but the pronoun "his way" is masculine. Some 
may think that there is a mistake here, and correct the 
inflexion (inwis). But perhaps the way is not that of the 
flesh alone but also that of the Eternal and Incorruptible, 
the perfect way that leads to God, the goal whereof is 
knowledge and understanding of God. This path every 
companion of flesh hates, rejects and attempts to corrupt ; 
and the earthly, for such is the interpretation of Edom, bar 
this royal road to the seers, that is Israel. The way, as was 
said before, is wisdom, through which alone suppliant souls 
may fly for refuge to the Uncreated. They that go thereby 
realize his blessedness and their own worthlessness, like 
Abraham (Gen. xviii. 27) ; for they take the mean between 
all extremes, good disciples of Aristotle, and so draw near 
to God. And as we pass through the enemies' country we 
will not touch their water, else must we give them honour (for 
Ti/iMj here is " honour " not " price "). For when the wicked 
see any of the more austere yielding to the allurements of 
pleasure, they rejoice and count themselves honoured, and 
begin to philosophize about their own evils as necessary 
and profitable. Say then to all such that human affairs have 
no real subsistence, they are but lying dreams. Consider 
the history of any one man and the history of the world. 
Hellas flourished once, but Macedonians robbed it of strength ; 


Macedonia flourished and fell — so was it with Persian and 
Parthian, with Egypt, Carthage, and Pontus ; so throughout 
the world the divine Logos, which men call Chance, orders 
the shifting fates of nations, exalting one and abasing 
another, that the whole world like one city may keep that 
best of all forms of government, Democracy. Let us have 
done then with mortal things and strive to have our inward 
judge — our conscience — favourable, as we may if we never 
seek to reverse any of his decisions. 

The tract On Husbandry deals with the section (Gen. 
ix. 20 f.) which introduces the righteous Noah as a 
husbandman. The very title shows how Moses always 
uses the right word, for yewpyia differs from yijs tpyaa-ia as 
implying skill and care for the ground worked. And from 
the consideration of the culture of the ground we are 
naturally led on to consider the culture of the soul. Just 
as all cultivated plants and trees bear yearly fruit for the 
service of man, so in the soul will the mind, which is the 
man in each one of us, reap fruit of the nurture supplied — 
general education, corresponding to the child's milk or 
advanced instruction corresponding to the bread of the 
man. All trees of folly and wickedness must be torn up, 
roots and all. Such as bear fruit, neither profitable nor 
harmful, must be used as bulwarks (Deut. xx. ao). For 
philosophy has been compared to a field by the ancients ; 
physical philosophy stands for the plants and trees, ethical 
for their fruits for whose sake they exist, and logical for 
the fence which guards them. So the plants sown by 
the agriculturist of the soul are first the practice of reading 
and writing readily, the exact investigation of the teaching 
of wise poets, geometry, rhetoric — in fact, all general educa- 
tion ; and then the better and more perfect studies, the tree 
of understanding, of courage, of soberness, of righteousness, 
and of every virtue. Accordingly Moses ascribes to the 
righteous Noah the art of agriculture, and to Cain the 
working of the ground, unskilled and burdensome. 


These two terms then appear synonymous, but once we 
allegorize according to the mind of Scripture we find they 
are very different. So also is it with the terms " shepherd " 
(iroiixriv) and "tender of flocks" (ktt]votp6<j>os). Both are 
applied to the reason, but the first to the good, the second 
to the bad. The soul of each one of us puts forth two 
shoots, which are the flocks of our nature : the one undi- 
vided, whole throughout, is called mind ; the other splits 
into seven natures, the five senses and the powers of 
speaking and generation. If then a man declare him- 
self his own master, he brings a multitude of evils upon 
these nurslings of his. Those then who provide them 
with all the nourishment they ask must be called tenders 
of flocks; and those who give them enough and no 
more, circumcising and cutting off excessive and useless 
profusion, are shepherds. Hence the honour paid to the 
art of shepherds, practised by Moses for example, in the 
poets and in Scripture. The Lord's congregation shall not 
be like sheep which have no shepherd (Num. xxvii. 17). 
For lack of a shepherd leads to mob-rule (Ochlocracy), that 
counterfeit of goodly Democracy, just as does the sway of 
a tyrannical or of an over-lenient governor. And the shep- 
herd is God, who puts forth his right Reason and first-born 
Son to take over the care of this holy flock, the universe, 
like a satrap of the great king (Exod. xxiii. 20). Let 
the whole world then, no less than the individual, say, 
" The Lord is my shepherd " (Ps. xxii. 1). Such disciples 
of God laugh at the tending of flocks, and have worked out 
the skill of shepherds, as may be seen in the story of 
Joseph and his brethren. Joseph — he that is ever occupied 
with the body and vain opinions — the ever-youthful, bids 
the lovers of virtue avow themselves tenders of flocks to 
Pharaoh, the king of the land of passions (Gen. xlvi. 33 f.) ; 

1 A companion work to that On Vine-dressing (irepl $v\ovpy(as) which 
follows, beginning iv iiiv rip vporipco 0t0\iw to irepl •yjiapyucys t«x>"?s 
yevtKrjs 8<ra iccupbs qv tiiro/iev iv Si toutji irtpl t§j #<jt' ttdos dfnrtXovpytKrjs e&s 
&v olov t« yv airofiua'ofiov. 


but they, true to themselves and their fathers, say : " We 
are shepherds, come to sojourn,not to settle " (Gen.xlvii. 3 f.). 
For in truth every wise man's soul holds heaven for father- 
land, earth for a strange country. 

Here again the allegorical method has led Philo to reverse 
the ordinary estimate of Joseph and his brethren. But 
the new view only holds good when applied to detached 
incidents, and in the tract de Josepho, which deals with the 
whole story, Joseph comes by his own again. 

Another pair of so-called synonyms is " horseman " and 
" rider." The horseman is skilled in guiding and controlling 
his steed, while the rider is unable even to hold the reins 
and is thrown after a wild and random career. " Horses," 
of course, stand for lust and anger (e. g. in the irpoTpenTLKa. 
of Moses, Deut. xx. 1), against which God, by his army of 
the virtues, defends the souls that love him. And after 
the victory the song of thanksgiving is sung (Exod. xv, 
especially verses 1, 30). No horseman, Moses says in the 
admonitions (reus itapaivecrwiv), is to rule over Israel (Deut. 
xvii. 15 f.). It is not unnatural therefore that he should 
pray for the complete destruction of the horsemen (Exod. xv), 
and the prayer is given in Gen. xlix. iyf., which needs 
explanation. Dan, "judgment," is the faculty of the soul 
which examines, investigates, discerns, and, in a way, 
judges each action, and is therefore likened to the serpent, 
not the friend and counsellor of Life (which is called Eve 
in the language of the Fathers), but the Brazen Serpent. 
The two stories referred to may appear mythical, but in 
the allegorical explanations (h rdis hi virovot&v diroSo'awi) 
the mythical element is entirely removed, and the truth 
found plain. Eve's serpent is pleasure, unable to rise, 
which bites man's heel. Moses' is endurance, the opposite 
of pleasure, which bites the horse's heel. The prophecy 
that " the horseman shall fall " leads to the reflexion that 
he who is mounted on and carried away by any passion 
is happiest in falling, that he may rise to virtue. Such 
defeat is better than victory. And so Philo comes to 


consider the sacred games of Greece. Surely they are 
not really sacred if the prize be awarded for pitiless 
brutality, which the laws condemn. So then that Olympic 
contest alone may lawfully be styled sacred — not that 
which the men of Elis hold — but the contest for pos- 
session of the divine and truly Olympian virtues, for 
which they who are weakest in body but strongest in soul 
are all entered. 

So much then for these pairs of words. It is time to 
turn to the rest of the text. "Noah began to be an 
husbandman." The beginning, according to the ancient 
proverb, is half of the whole, but, if the rest be wanting, 
it is harmful. So it was in the case of Cain (Gen. iv. 7). 
His honour of God is right, but not his lack of discernment. 
And there are some like him who make piety consist in the 
assertion that all things are made by God, whether they be 
good or not. It is absurd that priests and offerings should 
be examined for blemishes before coming to the altar, and 
yet the opinions about God in each man's soul be left in 
confusion. Seest thou not that the camel is an unclean 
beast, because it chews the cud, but does not divide the 
hoof (Lev. xi. 4) ? The reason alleged has nothing to do 
with the literal interpretation, everything to do with the 
allegorical interpretation. Rumination stands for memory, 
and memory must discriminate. Both memory and dis- 
crimination are necessary to any real progress. 

Daily the herd of sophists tickles the ears of their hearers 
with endless discriminations and divisions, and grammarians, 
musicians and philosophers follow suit. Yet neither they 
nor their hearers are bettered. Rightly are such compared 
to swine, unclean because they divide the hoof, but do not 
chew the cud (Lev. xi. 7). But from their wordy warfare 
all who have made a beginning or progress, or attained 
perfection, are exempt, for the Law thinks it right that 
a man should be trained not merely in the acquisition 
of good things, but also in the enjoyment of what he 
has acquired (Deut. xx. 5-7). Descend not then into the 


arena lest another receive the virtues typified by house, 
vineyard, wife. Enter then the new house — culture that 
never grows old — crown not thyself rather than God ; slay 
not thus thy soul, but remember God that giveth thee 
strength to do power (Deut. xxii. 8 ; viii. 1 8). 

So much of Noah, who gained the first elements of the 
art of husbandry and then fell weak. What is said of his 
vine-dressing let us speak on another occasion. 

The book On Noah's Vine-dressing fulfils the promise 
made at the end of "the former book,'" On Noah's Husbandry. 
Philo turns from the general to the particular, from the 
genus to the species, and takes up the greater part of this 
sequel with preliminary discussions. Noah's vine-planting, 
a species of husbandry, is not reached till § 1 39, where the 
previous sections are described as dealing with (1) the 
oldest and most holy husbandry which God (to oLtiov) 
employs in relation to the world; (2) that of the good 
man ; (3) the ramifications of the number four. 

The greatest of planters (QvTovpy&v) and the most perfect 
in his art is the Lord of the universe ; and the plant which 
contains in itself the individual plants is this world, whose 
sure prop is the eternal Word of the everlasting God. 
Of these plants some possess motion (and these we call 
animals), some do not. Each and all have their own order 
and their own sphere. Greatest of all is man, whose eyes 
alone are so placed that he can behold the heaven ; so that 
he is, as the old saw says, not an earthly but a heavenly 
plant. By some our mind is said to be a part of the 
aetherial nature, but Moses cannot compare the rational 
soul to any other created thing, only to the Creator himself. 
As our bodily eyes can run up to the far-off heaven, so 
the eyes of the soul pass the boundaries of the whole 
universe and press on to the Uncreated. For this reason 
they that pass their lives never satiated with wisdom and 
understanding, are said in the oracles to be " called up " ; 
for it is right that they should be called upwards to the 


Divine who have been inspired by him (cf. Gen. ii. 7). 
And as with the great so is it with the little world— man. 
In him God plants trees, his members and the faculties of 
body and mind. 

The planting of Paradise is consonant with what has 
been said. The story obviously cannot be taken literally. 
To take one point only — for whose benefit is the garden 
planted? Not for God's benefit, for the Cause cannot be 
contained in that which is caused. Nor for man's, since 
no man is introduced into it at first. So, then, we must 
have recourse to allegory, which is dear to men capable 
of seeing. Indeed, the oracles clearly offer suggestions 
pointing thereto. The trees of life, knowledge, and so 
forth, are of no earthly growth, but must be virtues and 
virtuous actions, plants of the rational soul which revels 1 
in God alone. No beasts are introduced into Paradise, as 
into the Ark : the Ark is the symbol of the body, Paradise 
of the virtues which welcome nothing untamed or irrational. 
The man who enters is not he who was fashioned after 
the image, but he who was created ; for the other, the ideal 
man, does not differ from the tree which bears immortal 
life. And the man, or mind, proves earthly and is banished. 
Wherefore Moses, in pity, prays that the clear-sighted may 
be restored (Ex. xv. 1 7 f.) to the hill of God's inheritance, 
whether that be the universe in which they may live in 
accordance with nature, the sumrnum bonum which they may 
use and enjoy, or the company of wise souls (Deut. xxxii. 
7-9), who are united by virtue, while the children of earth — 
the sons of Adam — are scattered. Indeed, not only are such 
souls the portion of God, but God is also — so Moses dares 
to say — their portion (Deut. x. 9 ; Num. xviii. 30), the 
inheritance of the mind which is perfectly purged and, 
renouncing (aTroyivaxTKoov) all created things, knows only 
the One Uncreated, to whom it has come, by whom it has 
also been received (v(j)' ov nal Trpoo-etArjTrrai). Such, Levites 

1 Edom means "revelling," or "luxury" (cf. Ps. xxxvi. 4). 


indeed, are like the ancient philosopher who looked on a 
gorgeous procession and said, "See how many things 
there are which I do not need" — so was he enamoured 
of the beauty of wisdom. It is true that some who 
counterfeit (t&v iiniAop<f>a(6vTa>v) piety say that such a claim 
is neither holy nor safe, but this is due to their ignorance. 
Levites possess God just as a painter the art of painting ; 
the possessor is not the master but the beneficiary of his 

Abraham is the next planter (Gen. xxi. 33), and with his 
" field " must be connected the well in which no water 
was found (Gen. xxvi. 32 f.). The well symbolizes the 
search after wisdom which is never satisfied: so one of 
the ancients (Socrates) said that his wisdom consisted in 
the fact that he alone knew that he knew nothing. The 
" name of the Lord God everlasting " (Gen. xxi. 33) refers 
to the two Powers of God, sovereign and beneficent 
respectively, as in Jacob's prayer (Gen. xxviii. 21). 

But not only the wise, but we also who are not yet 
perfected, are commanded by the Law to learn agriculture 
(Lev. xix. 2,3-25), and to prune or purge our trees. For 
example, sacrificial worship is a goodly plant, but its off- 
shoot is superstition. Piety does not, as some suppose, 
consist in the sacrifice itself apart from the mind of the 
worshipper. God's court of justice is not to be bribed. 
The guilty, though they offer a hundred oxen every day, 
are rejected ; the innocent, though they make no offering, 
are accepted. The reference to the purging of the fruit 
is obviously allegorical, and the mention of the fourth 
year depends, as in the account of the Creation (Gen. i. 14), 
upon the mystical significance of the number four. The 
duty of thanksgiving here inculcated is to be discharged, not 
by offerings but by hymns, and those not vocal but mental. 
To illustrate this, Philo quotes the myth of Mnemosyne 
as an " old story discovered by wise men, handed down 
by memory from one generation to another, which has 
not escaped our ears ever greedy of instruction." The 


story is that when the Creator had completed the universe 
he asked one of his underlings (virotyriT&v) if any thing 
were lacking. He answered, only speech to praise it 
all. The All-Father praised the answer, and soon there 
sprang up the race of musicians and singers from one of 
his Powers, a maiden Mneme (memory) or Mnemosyne. 
Accordingly, we say that as the peculiar work of God 
is beneficence so that of his creation is thanksgiving. 
This let us practise in poems and encomia, that the Creator 
and the world may both be honoured — " the one (as some 
one said) the best of Causes, the other the most perfect 
of created things." 

Returning to the text (Gen. ix. 30 f.), it is obviously 
necessary to discuss intoxication (ixidrj) and the favourite 
problem of the philosophers, " Should the wise man be in- 
toxicated." Now there are two intoxications, one the being 
drunk with wine (olvov<rdcu) , the other the raving in wine 
(Krjpdv iv olvio). Of those who have handled the question 
some say that the wise man should not be intoxicated in 
either sense; others that the first kind befitted and the 
second did not befit the good man l . The arguments which 
support the latter position start from a consideration of 
homonyms and synonyms, the first being words each 
denoting a number of objects, the second groups of words 
each denoting the same object. Well, then, \xedv is merely 
an ancient poetical synonym of dtvos ; therefore to be 
intoxicated is nothing more than to be drunk with wine ; 
therefore the wise man will, like Noah, be intoxicated. 
Again, the enjoyment and use of wine in ancient times 
was far different from what we see to-day. The men of 
old first prayed, offered sacrifice, cleansed body and soul, 
and then joyfully held their revels in the temples where 
they had worshipped. Hence, some suppose the word 
fit$Tuei.v to be dei'ived from /xercfc &veiv, "after sacrifice." 

1 So the Stoics taught that the wise man should he drunk with wine 
(olvaS^crtaBai) but not intoxicated (pe0v0&fi0c<r$ai), according to Diogenes 
Laertius (vii. § 118). 


A third argument is likewise based upon (a different) 
etymology, which explains the word as the equivalent of 
IxiOt-cris, i.e. "relaxation" of soul. And truly, wisdom is 
not austere and downcast, but joyful. According to the 
divine Moses its end is sport and laughter ; so Laughter 
(Isaac) sports with Patience (Kebecca), and is seen by no 
vulgar eye but only the king's (Gen. xxvi. 8). So wine, like 
wealth and fame, makes the good better, the evil worse, 
and the good man will be intoxicated without losing aught 
of his virtue. 

If, as in a law court, we must employ not merely 
technical pleas but points of substance — the evidence of 
witnesses, for example — we will put forward many well- 
reputed sons of physicians and philosophers who in speech 
and in their writings plainly regard intoxication as being 
simply drunk with wine — which is no bad thing for a wise 
man in season, if he carry it not so far that he cannot keep 
a secret. 

So far, then, Philo agrees with the Stoics in the matter, 
but reserves for the next treatise the teaching of Moses. 
The end of the tract is surely unique in a sermon (if such 
it be), for he calls upon those who hold the opposite view 
to state their case that judgment may not go by default. 
"No one," he says, "contending by himself is proclaimed 
victor, but if he so contend he will appear to be fighting 

In the de Plantatione Philo gives, so far as possible, the 
sayings of the other philosophers concerning intoxication, 
and now turns to consider the opinion of Moses. In the Law 
some are commanded to drink, others forbidden (e.g. the 
priests, Lev. x. 9) ; others again sometimes forbidden and 
sometimes commanded (Num. vi. 2 ff.). Moses, in fact, 
takes a more serious view of wine than the philosophers : 
to him it is the symbol of insensibility (avata-drja-ia) and 
lack of education (aircubevcria), which produce the same 
disastrous results. This symbolism is clear in Deut. xxi. 


1 8-21, where four charges are brought against the sinner : — 
disobedience, provocation, contribution to feasts, and in- 
toxication. The first is, so to speak, the passive form of 
the second : the third, though praiseworthy if directed to 
a good object, is vitiated by folly : the fourth is the 
inflammation of boorishness or lack of education which 
ever burns the soul. The punishment pronounced upon the 
offender is that he should be expelled from yourselves 
(Deut. xxi. 21), for these guilty thoughts are within us. 
" Father " and " mother " may be explained either as the 
Creator and his Understanding (Prov. viii. 22), whose only 
and beloved son is the universe, or — better here — of right 
reason and general education. 

Having thus reached an interpretation of the parents in 
question, Philo proceeds to discuss the four classes of their 
children : those who obey both or neither, and those who 
obey father or mother. Of the last class the plainest type 
is Jethro, " creation of confusion " (irAaa^a vl>(j>ov), who will 
go only to his own land of false doctrine and unbelief (Ex. 
xviii. 1 6 ; Num. x. 29 f.), and convicts himself of impiety 
even in his pious professions (Ex. xviii. 11), by comparing 
God with false gods. Laban is such another, who substi- 
tutes human laws for the laws of nature when he refuses 
to give his younger daughter first in marriage (Gen. xxix. 
26). But the athlete of wisdom (<5 <nx/>£as &<tkyitj]s) knows 
that natures are independent of time ; and, to take the 
passage in its ethical sense, all such must first consort with 
the younger education, that they may hereafter attain to 
an undisturbed enjoyment of the more perfect and mature. 
Yet how amazing it is that we cannot rise out of the clutch 
of phenomenal good things! Once there come any hope, 
however faint, of wealth or fame, we yield and cannot 
resist. Womanish custom (for Rachel speaks "of the 
custom of women," Gen. xxxi. 35) prevails, and we cannot 
wash it out and run to the home of men, like Sarah 
(Gen. xviii. 14) when she was about to bear Isaac, the 
self-taught; for to men belongs the following of nature 


instead of custom. But though we are still the prey of 
our senses and passions, we shall have an ally, none the 
less, in our mother, middle education, who records what is 
considered just in every city, and lays down the law thus 
for this people and thus for that. 

Some there are who can obey the behests of their father, 
and their reward is the priesthood. "And if we narrate 
the course of action in which they won this privilege wes 
shall be mocked, perhaps, by many who are deceived by 
superficial appearances and do not descry the unseen and 
overshadowed powers." These priests were murderers, 
fratricides (Exod. xxxii. 37 ff.). Yes, but Scripture does 
not say murderers of men. Their victims are the affections 
of the flesh, the band of the senses and speech (<5 Karct 
TTpoQopav hoyos), which is nearest of all to the' mind. Such 
are they who honour their father and all that is his, but 
think little of their mother and all that is hers. 

Those who are at war with both parents are like him 
who said, " I know not the Lord, and Israel I send not 
away" (Exod. v. a). They are not yet extinct but exist 
to plague mankind, impious as regards God, untrustworthy 
as regards their fellows. 

Those who obey both are good keepers of the laws which 
their father, right reason, laid down, and faithful stewards 
of the customs which education, their mother, introduced. 
They were taught by the one to honour the Father of the 
universe, and by the other not to despise that which is 
universally considered justice (dea-et not <pv<rei). And so 
Jacob becomes Israel. The learner attains perfection, com- 
plete insight and wisdom. And as the art of Pheidias 
is stamped unmistakably on all his works, whatever the 
material — brass, ivory, gold, what not — so the true form 
(eiSos) of wisdom, the art of arts, remains unchangeable on 
whatever material it be impressed. 

So much, then, for the children of this pair. Rightly is 
the disobedient, provocative, prodigal drunkard expelled 
as a worshipper of the golden calf (Exod. xxxii. 17-19). 



Scripture allegorizes bodily life and calls it the camp 
wherein is war. Far off will the wise man pitch his tent, 
removing to the divine peaceful life of rational and happy 
souls (Exod. xxxiii. 7). 

" When I go forth from the city, then will I stretch out 
my hands unto the Lord, and the voices shall cease " (Exod. 
ix. 29). No man said that, but the mind which, contained 
in the city of the body and mortal life, is cribbed, cabined 
and confined as in a prison. With Abraham (Gen. xiv. %% f.), 
he that has seen the Absolute recognizes no secondary 
cause. All good things come from God, not from the im- 
mediate sources through which we derive them. The voice 
of war is the voice of men who make a beginning of wine 
((fxavrjv i£apxovTwv olvov) ; those who wilfully take the way 
that leads to lack of education and folly. Pray then that 
this may never happen to thee, and so, when thy prayers 
are fulfilled, thou shalt be no longer a layman (26«£rijs) but 
a priest. 

For only to priests and worshippers of God belong sober 
sacrifices (Lev. x. 8-10). Aaron, " the mountainous," is 
the reason that minds high and lofty things and renounces 
wine and every drug of folly, including wine. The literal 
sense of the passage is wonderful enough: it is only 
reverent that one should come to prayers and sacrifices 
sober and self-possessed. If, however, we suppose that 
neither the tabernacle nor the altar is the visible thing 
fashioned out of lifeless and corruptible matter, but the 
unseen, intellectual object of speculation (Oedprma), of which 
this is the perceptible image, then he will marvel the more 
at the command. The tabernacle is the symbol of bodiless 
virtue, the altar that of an image perceptible though it 
never be perceived, just as a log sunk in mid- Atlantic is 
never burned, though meant for burning. The form of 
words and expression shows that the writer is not con- 
veying a command merely, but setting forth a meaning 
(yvdnriv a-no^awo^vos). For he says, "ye shall not drink," 
and such an one " will not die." It is an eternal ordinance 


that education is a healthful and a saving thing, and the 
lack of it the cause of disease and death. 

Similarly, Samuel will never drink wine or strong drink 
(1 Kings i. 11), for he has been ranked — as his name 
denotes — in the ranks of the divine camp. Perhaps he 
lived as a man, but he has been conceived of not as a 
composite living thing of flesh and blood, but as a mind 
rejoicing only in the service and worship of God. His 
mother Hannah was accused of drunkenness (1 Kings 
i. 14), for in those inspired by God (nns 0eo<£op)jrois) not 
only is the soul raised but the body is flushed and inflamed 
by inward joy. Great is the boldness of the soul that is 
filled with the graces of God. This then is the band (x°P°'s) 
of the sober, who make education their leader ; the other 
that of drunkards, whose leader (efjapxos) is boorishness 

The other sense which "wine" bears in Scripture is 
insensibility or ignorance, the insensibility of the soul, 
the opposite of which is skill or knowledge (cViodj/at)), 
which is, so to speak, the soul's eyes and ears. There are 
two kinds of ignorance, the one simple, i.e. complete 
insensibility, the other double when one is not only 
possessed by lack of knowledge but imagines he knows 
what he does not know, being uplifted by a false opinion 
of wisdom. Of these the second is the greater evil, as it 
produces wilful wrongdoing. So Lot has two daughters, 
Counsel and Consent, by his wife Convention, who was 
turned to stone (\iQovnivr)s) ; and they lead him completely 
astray. But as a matter of fact the senses are not sure 
guides. Many of the objects of sense are continuously 
varying. Among animals the chameleon and the polypus 
change colour with their environment; the dove's neck 
changes its hues in the sun's rays ; and the reindeer is 
hard to hunt, not so much on account of its strength as 
because it adopts a protective colouring suited to any 
surroundings. The same variation is found among men. 
Often at a theatre I have seen some of the audience so 

1 a 


carried away by the performance as to rise involuntarily 
and applaud, others as unmoved as the benches on which 
they sit, and others so alienated as to get up and go, hands 
over ears. 

The refraction of water and the deceptiveness of a 
distant view all point in the same direction. Indeed we 
can never perceive any sensible object as it is, but always 
in relation to something else. Nothing at all in the world 
is known save by comparison with its opposite. All sense- 
perception is a complex process and therefore uncertain, 
and even judgments of right and wrong depend upon 
early education in the case of most men. The multitude 
believes what was once delivered to it, and, having left its 
mind untrained, affirms and denies without independent 
examination. The philosophers, on the other hand, who 
test and examine all questions, logical, ethical and physical, 
cannot agree in their answers. So reserve of judgment is 
the safest course. 

The de Sobrietate naturally follows the de Ebrietate 
(though the latter is perhaps imperfect, lacking as it does 
any full exposition of the nakedness of Noah), and the 
discourse deals with Gen. ix. 34-37. Philo has little to 
say about sobriety, but that nothing can be better than 
a sober intellect, nothing so valuable as the clear insight 
of the soul which it brings. This done, he turns to the 
text and fastens on "the younger son," which is proved 
from Scripture parallels to refer not to age but to maturity 
of mind. Ishmael, the sophist, though a youth, is called 
a child in comparison with Isaac the philosopher (Gen. xxi. 
14-16). The whole people Scripture calls children (Deut. 
xxxii. 4-6) when they behave as such. Kachel, who 
stands for bodily beauty, is younger than Leah the beauty 
of the soul. Joseph is always young or younger (Gen. 
xxxvii. 2 ; xlix. 22). Similarly, elder is first applied to the 
wise Abraham, the shortest-lived of all the patriarchs 
(Gen. xxiv. 1). The seventy colleagues of Moses are elders 


whom the wise man knows (Num. xi. 16). The significance 
of these terms is clearly set forth, for those who are skilled 
to hear, in one commandment of the Law, viz. that relating 
to the children of the beloved and hated wives (Deut. xxi. 
1 5- 1 7). The beloved wife is the symbol of pleasure, her child 
the pleasure-loving temper ; the hated wife is the symbol of 
understanding, and her child the love of virtue. The first 
is always a child, the second an elder from his cradle. 
Accordingly Esau, the elder in point of age, resigns his birth- 
right to Jacob; and Ephraim, who is " Fruitfulness," i.e. 
Memory, is preferred before Manasseh, who is Forgetfulness. 

But why does Noah curse the child of the offender and 
not the offender himself (Gen. ix. 35)? Wherein did 
Canaan sin % Well, those who are accustomed to elaborate 
the literal and superficial meanings contained in the laws 
have considered them by themselves perhaps, but let us 
obey the suggestions of right reason and interpret the 
underlying meaning. Ham means "hot," Canaan "com- 
motion." Both are evil, the one quiescent, the other 
in motion. Rightly then is Canaan the son of Ham, and 
rightly is Canaan cursed. For being moved to sin Ham 
himself becomes Canaan. So is the law that the sins 
of the fathers are visited on the children (Ex. xx. 5) 
justified ; the results, or children, of reasonings are punished, 
while they, if no culpable action be laid at their door, 
escape accusation. 

Shem is, as has been said before, the eponymous good 
kind of man, and God is his God. He who, like Shem and 
Abraham (Gen. xviii. 7), has God as his portion (K\.fjpop) 
has passed beyond the bounds of human happiness. 

With regard to the blessing of Japheth, we are not clearly 
told who is to dwell in the tents of Shem. It is possible to 
understand that it is the Lord of the universe. What more 
fitting home could be found for God than a soul perfectly 
cleansed, counting virtue (rb kclXov) the only good? Of course 
he will dwell there not as in a place — contained therein — 
but as bestowing special forethought and attention upon 


it, like every master of a house. But perhaps the whole 
prayer refers to Japheth, that he may reckon all worldly 
goods at their true rate and seek only those of the soul. 

The de Confusione Linguarum opens thus: "As far as 
these things are concerned what has been said will suffice " 
— probably referring to the group of homilies relating to 
Noah — "next we must consider, and not casually (ov 
irapipycos), the philosophy of the narrative of the confusion 
of languages " (Gen. xi. 1-9). And now Philo explains the 
position of the antagonists, hinted at in the beginning of 
the de Gigantibus. Certain Jews, presumably Hellenists, 
disgusted with the ancestral polity, always grumbling and 
carping at the laws, use tins and other such passages as 
stepping-stones for their atheism, impious that they are. 
They say "Do you still make solemn professions about 
your code as containing the canons of truth itself? See, 
your holy books contain myths such as you deride, when 
you hear others reciting them." Well, we have not their 
leisure to search out these scattered myths, and will be 
content to deal with the passage in hand. 

The first parable is the myth of the Aloeidae, who piled 
Ossa upon Olympus and Pelion upon Ossa. But notice 
Moses speak of a tower. The second is a myth, akin to 
that before us, relating to the common speech of living 
things recorded by fabricators of myths. It is said that 
in ancient times all living things, animals, fishes, and 
birds, had a common speech, so that they could sympathize 
with each other's sorrows and joys, as now Greek with 
Greek and barbarian with barbarian. Then, sated with 
their unstinted supply of blessings, as often happens, they 
all turned to longing for the unattainable and treated for 
immortality, asking for destruction of old age and for 
perpetual youth, alleging that one of their number, the 
serpent, had already obtained this gift. But they paid 
the fitting penalty for their presumption; for their one 
common language was immediately cut up into different 


languages, so that they could not understand one another. 
Here again a discrepancy is to be noted, for Moses speaks 
only of men as having the same speech. It is said that 
the scriptural account is as mythical as the parables cited, 
and that the division or confusion of tongues was a cure for 
sins, intended to prevent men from conspiring together to 
do evil. But the latter theory is untenable. If wicked 
men wish to conspire they will not be stopped by the 
difference of their languages. They can always communi- 
cate, like men whose tongues have been cut out, by means 
of signs. Again, if a man learn many languages, he is 
always held in good repute among those who understand 
them, and regarded at once as a friend. In fact, the literal 
interpreters of the Law alone will refute these students 
of comparative mythology, without opposing sophistry to 

Well then, we understand this scripture to refer to the 
universality of evil both in the world and in the individual. 
Heaviest of all evils, and wellnigh incurable, is the co- 
operation of all parts of the soul in sin, when no one part 
is able to heal the rest, but physicians and patients are 
sick together, as at the time of the Deluge (Gen. iv. 5-7). 
We must flee all associations for purposes of sin, and 
confirm our agreement with companions of understanding 
and knowledge. 

In this connexion the saying, " we are all sons of one 
man, we are peaceable" (Gen. xlii. 11), is introduced as an 
example of perfect harmony, and leads to a consideration 
of its origin and its complement. Inevitably will they 
love peace and hate war whose one and the same father 
is not mortal but immortal, God's man, who being the 
Logos of the Eternal is of necessity himself also incorrupt- 
ible. Their life is peaceful, while the polytheist's is full 
of strife, and yet not, as some think, lazy and ignoble. 
Men of peace are men of war when opposed to the enemies 
of the soul's peace. Such is the disposition of each lover 
of virtue, and the words of the inspired prophet bear the 


same testimony: "O mother, what manner of child am 
I ? a man of war " (Jer. xv. 10). 

" The East," or " Dawn " (Gen. xi. a), bears two meanings 
in Scripture, according as it refers to the dawning of light 
or of shadow in the soul. It is used in the good sense in 
the account of Paradise (Gen. ii. 8). So in the oracle 
of one of Moses' companions (Zech. vi. 12), "Behold a man 
whose name is Dawn or ' Rising ' ." A most novel title this, 
if you suppose that a man composed of body and soul 
is spoken of; but if it be that bodiless man who is identical 
with the divine image you will confess that the title is 
most happy (evdvfiok&TaTov). For him hath the Father 
of the universe raised up to be his oldest or first-begotten 
Son. " East " occurs in a bad sense in the story of Balak 
the fool and Balaam (Num. xxiii. 76 f.). 

It is notable that these fools " find " the place most fitted 
for their folly, and " settle " there. Both points are signi- 
ficant. No wicked man is content with the crimes towards 
which his evil nature proceeds of itself, but invents fresh 
ones and therein abides. Therefore are all they whom 
Moses reckons wise introduced as sojourners, who reckon 
heaven their fatherland. Thence were they sent as colonists 
and thither they yearn to return (Gen. xxvi. 2, xxxiii. 4, 
xlvii. 9 ; Exod. ii. 22). 

The mention of " bricks " (Gen. xi. 3) naturally suggests 
the bondage of Israel, in which the Egyptians compelled 
them to make bricks and to build fenced cities. The eye 
of the soul which alone can see God, bound in the bodily 
nets of Egypt, groans over its task (Exod. i. 11, ii. 23). 
But the way to freedom is sure. For all men labouring 
for gain, or fame, or pleasure there is ransom and salvation 
in the worship of him who alone is wise (Exod. viii. 1). 
Right is it for them that keep company with knowledge to 
aspire to see the Absolute and, if that they cannot, then at 
least his likeness, the most holy Word, and after him the 
world, the most perfect of sensible things ; for philosophy 
is nothing else than to study to see these distinctly. 


The Lawgiver uses "city" not only in the ordinary 
sense but also of that which a man carries about, built in 
his own soul, whereof those built on earth of material 
substances are but copies. How evil their city is, how 
shameless the exposure of their guilt, is shown by the 
warning of their conscience which foresees their impending 
dispersion (Gen. xi. 4). Their tower is like that recorded 
in the Book of Judgments, Phanuel, that is, " Aversion of 
God " (Judg. viii. 9). 

The statement that " the Lord came down to see the city 
and the tower" (Gen. xi. 5) must certainly be understood 
metaphorically. To suppose that the Divine should really 
share the positions and motions of men is monstrous 
impiety (virepmKedvios Kal ixeraKOfffxios a>$ eiros elireiv ao-efieia). 
The human phrases are applied to God, who is not human 
in form, for the benefit of our education. And this 
particular expression is by way of being an exhortation, 
that no one should refrain from examining things closely, 
or judge by hearsay (Exod. xxiii. 1). Let no one think 
that the addition " which the sons of men had built " is 
otiose and insignificant. We must track out the hidden 
treasure of Scripture. The " sons of men " are polytheists ; 
the worshippers of the One are styled "sons of God" 
(Deut. xiv. 1, &c). 

The words put in God's mouth need careful attention, 
"Come and let us go down and confound there their 
tongue" (Gen. xi. 7). For he appears to be speaking to some 
who are as it were his fellow workers, as at the creation 
of man (Gen. i. 26, cf. iii. 22). First, it must be said that 
there is no existing being equal in dignity with God : there 
is one Kuler and Governor and King, to whom alone it 
belongs of right to govern and order the universe. The 
poet's saying, "the rule of many lords is no good thing; let 
there be one lord, one king," applies better to the world 
and God than to cities and men. The next point is that 
God, being One, has innumerable Powers around him, all 
defenders and saviours of the universe, and with them the 


Powers of punishment, that is the prevention and correction 
of sins. By these the ideal world was framed and man 
also. God entrusts to them tasks which befit him not, for 
man is prone to err in his free choice between good and 
evil, and the way toward evil in the rational soul must not 
be created by God through himself. So God is the cause 
of all good and of no evil at all ; the evil is allotted to his 
angels or Powers, which work under his supervision. 

God says, "let us confound their tongue." It is not, 
then, as the literalists suppose, simply the division of the 
speech of mankind which is the penalty of their sin. Yet 
I would not blame those who follow the superficial sense, 
for perhaps even they have reached the truth ; but I would 
urge them not to be content therewith, but to come over 
to the metaphorical interpretations, regarding the letter as 
the shadow and the inherent spirit as the fact or substance. 
By choice of the word confusion the Lawgiver directly 
suggests a deeper meaning. If he referred only to the 
origin of different languages, distinction would have been 
the better word. Confusion is the abolition of the powers 
of each element of a compound or mixture in order to the 
production of the compound. Here the end in view is the 
dissolution of the fellowship of wickedness. And if we apply 
the Scripture again to the individual, it is obvious that God 
has separated the parts of the soul. It is fitting for God 
to tune the harmony of the virtues and to dissolve and 
destroy that of the vices. Now confusion is the most 
appropriate name of wickedness, as any fool proves plainly, 
as his words, counsels, and actions are all reprobate and 
confusion l . 

J. H. A. Haet. 

1 A further article on Philo will follow in a subsequent number of 
the J. Q. R.