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Be Somniis, I. 

The treatise entitled " concerning the [doctrine] that 
dreams are sent by God," begins with a reference to its 
predecessor, in which Philo has discussed dreams of the 
first kind. This class includes aU dreams which, sent by 
the deity, correspond to the predilections or idiosyncrasies 
of the sleepers. The second class comprises those dreams 
which imply the sympathy of our minds with that of the 
universe, in virtue of which we are enabled to anticipate 
and forecast the future. 

The first dream which belongs to this class is the ladder 
which appeared in . the heaven, as is narrated in Gen. 
xxviii. 12.-15. In order to understand the significance 
of this apparition we must first examine what went befoi'e 
it. "Jacob went forth from the well of the oath and 
journeyed into Haran, and met a place, for the sun had 
set, and he took of the stones of the place and laid them 
by his head, and slept in that place (ibid., 10 f.)." Here 
are three questions which must be answered : — ^first, " What 
is the well of the oath, and why is it so called ? " then, 
"What is Haran, and why did he arrive there immedi- 
ately ? " and lastly, " What is the place, and why, when 
he came there, did the sun set and he sleep ? " 

The well is presumably the symbol of knowledge, which 
is in all cases hidden and hard to discover. Take any 
art you please — not the noblest, but the most obscure, 
which no free man bred in a city would consent of his 
own will to practise: you will find it hard to acquire 
at the price of sweat and thought. And water may not 

1 One of a series of articles in which the works of Philo are being 


reward the toilsome search after all (cf. Gen. xxvi. 33), 
for the ends of the sciences are indiscoverable. As a man 
advances in knowledge there is always more behind, 
beyond, so that when he fancies he is touching the limits of 
a science he is but half-way in the judgment of his fellow- 
student, and according to the standard of the truth he 
has only just begun. The well of knowledge has neither 
boundary nor end ; and accordingly the well is " the well 
of an oath," since there is no truth which is surer than 

But why is it the fourth and last well digged by the 
servants of Abraham and Isaac to which this title is given? 
There are four elements in the universe, earth, water, air, 
and heaven: all are perceptible by our senses except the 
heaven, which sends to us no clear knowledge of itself. 
All the theories of astronomers are but guesses. No mortal 
will ever be able to comprehend clearly the nature of 
the heaven itself, of the stars, or of the moon. 

So too in us the fourth element is incomprehensible. 
Body, sense, speech we can describe. The body moves, and 
is the vessel of the soul. There are five senses, each with 
its proper organ, and they are the bodyguard of the soul. 
Voices are loud or soft, harsh or musical, and in articulate 
speech, gift granted only to man, it serves as interpreter 
to the prompter, Mind. Well then, this fourth thing within 
us, this ruler Mind, is it comprehensible? What is it in 
its essence ? Is it spirit, or blood, or body at all ? Surely 
it is not body. And if incorporeal, which of the many con- 
ceptions suggested by the philosophers shall we adopt? 
Again, is it born along with us? Or is it inserted from 
without? When we die, is it quenched or does it long 
survive, or is it wholly incorruptible? Where does it 
reside ? In head or heart ? 

Heaven in the world, and mind in man — both ai-e in- 
comprehensible. And therefore is the fourth year holy 
and praiseworthy (Lev. xix. 34). For the heaven is holy 
as the home of the incorruptible and long-lived natures ; 


and mind is holy, being a fragment of God, as Moses says, 
"He breathed upon his face a breath of life, and man 
became a living soul" (Gen, ii. 7). It is man's peculiar 
privilege to worship the "I am," Praiseworthy therefore 
is man as the heaven, whose eternal melody would wean 
us from our needful food, making us immortal by its songs 
could we but hear them as Moses heard, 

" They found no water in the fourth well "—what is this 
but to say that Leah, who is virtue, bare no more children 
after Judah, the perfect fruit. Thanksgiving, her fourth son. 
Both symbols set forth the truth that all things thirst for 
God, from whom is all birth and nurture. Let little minds 
suppose that the Lawgiver speaks all this concerning the 
excavation of wells. They who are enrolled in the greater 
country, the universe, will know clearly that the search 
is not for wells, but for the four parts of the whole, earth, 
water, air, heaven — at least for the seers and contemplative. 

Haran is a metropolis of the senses, so to speak, for it 
means a pit or cave, and in the body are excavated holes 
in which each sense may lurk. So when one leaves the 
well, which is called Oath, one necessarily comes at once to 
Haran. The emigrant from the perfect and infinite know- 
ledge needs no escort to guide him to the senses. Too 
weak to consort continually with pure intellect he declines 
upon the senses and sensible objects. Well for him if he 
grow not old therein, and live there his life, but only 
sojourn as in a strange country, ever seeking restoration 
to his fatherland, Laban reckoned it his home, but Jacob 
could not endure to spend many days there as a concession 
to the needs of the body (Gen. xxvii. 43 f,). So Abraham, 
the grandfather of this practiser of virtue, went forth from 
Haran when he was sixty years old (Gen, xii. 4), Terah, 
on the other hand, as Scripture expressly says, died there, 
being but a spy upon virtue, and not a citizen of virtue, 
capable only (as his name denotes) of smelling at wisdom 
like a hound. Blessed are they who can sit down at the 
holy table and feast, and stUl thirst for knowledge. 


We are not to see in this account of the migration of 
Terah a literal fact such as we should learn from an 
historian. It is recorded in order that a lesson of the 
utmost value for life, and fit for a man, should not be 
neglected. The Chaldeans are astronomers : the citizens of 
Haran are busy with the place of the senses. Here is the 
lesson. Why busy thyself with speculations that are high 
above thee 1 Contemplate that which is near thee. Search 
thyself without flattery. Go to Hai-an, and there prosecute 
thy research. Study thy senses, I do not say thy soul 
and mind. Fetch down the spy from the heavens and 
know thyself if thou wilt attain to human happiness. 

This disposition then the Hebrews call Terah, the Greeks 
Socrates. They say that Socrates grew old in the accurate 
study of self-knowledge, never philosophizing save about 
what concerned himself. But he was a man, and Terah 
the principle itself. Abraham excelled him, for he learned 
to know himself and then renounced self-knowledge that 
he might come to accurate knowledge of the truth. The 
more a man comprehends himself the more he renounces 
[knowledge of] himself, apprehending the universal nothing- 
ness of that which comes into being, and he that has 
renounced [knowledge of] himself comes to know him 
who Is. 

The third problem, which arises out of Gen. xxviii. 11, 
is "what is the place which he meets?" The word 
"place" is used in three senses in Scripture. The first 
is the ordinary sense of space occupied by matter or body. 
But in the second it denotes the divine Logos, which God 
himself has filled through and through with incorporeal 
powers. Thus it is written, " I saw the place where stood 
the God of Israel " (Exod. xxiv. 10), wherein alone he bade 
them perform sacrifice. And thirdly, God himself is called 
Place because he contains all things, but is contained by 
nothing at all save himself. God is his own place, whereas 
you and I are in a place. So we can understand how 
Abraham "came to the place which God told him, and 


lifting up his eyes saw the place afar off" (Gen. xxii. 3 f.). 
He that is led by wisdom reaches the divine Logos, the 
head and end of hpeo-KeCa, but sees the other Place far 
removed, since the comprehension of God as he is is far 
removed from human understanding. 

So here, the place he meets is not God but God's Word, 
which he sends into the region of sense to help the virtuous, 
and they heal the soul's diseases, setting up the sacred 
admonitions as immoveable laws. This place he meets 
involuntarily, that is not coming to it of set purpose. 
Suddenly the divine Word appears, ready to journey with 
the desolate soul and affording greater, because unlooked 
for, joy of hope. So Moses leads forth the people to meet 
God (Exod. xix. 17), knowing well that he comes unseen 
to the souls that yearn for him. 

"He met the place" then. And why? "Because the 
sun went down" (Gen. xxviii. 11). It is not the pheno- 
menal sun which is meant but the brilliant light of the 
invisible supreme God, before which the second lights of 
the Word or Words pale and, much more, the places of the 
sensible material world are overshadowed. Wonder not 
that, according to the rules of allegory, the sun is likened 
to the father and ruler of all things. Really nothing is 
like God, but two things are conventionally compared to 
him — soul and sun. The likeness of the soul to God is 
clearly implied in the account of the creation of man (Gen. 
i. a; ; cf. ix. 6) ; that of the sun is indicated by symbols. 
With little reflection it is easy to perceive the likeness. 
In the Hymns the Psalmist sings " the Lord is my light " 
(Ps. xxvi. 1), and not light only but archetype of every other 
light, nay rather older and higher than every archetype. 

As the sun shows up hidden bodies so God begat all 
things — did not merely bring them to light but made the 
things which were not before, being not merely framer 
(brjixiovpyos) but actually creator. 

Elsewhere the sun stands for the human mind, for per- 
ception, and for the divine Word ; as here for the Ruler 


of the universe to whom all things are manifest, even the 
invisible workings of the mind's recesses. 

To clinch this point Philo cries out like an orator in 
a law court, "Eepeat the law." The statute to which he 
appeals is Exod. xxii. 2,6 f., " If thou take in pledge the 
cloak of thy neighbour thou shalt restore it to him before 
the going down of the sun ; for this is his only covering, 
this is the cloak <jf his unseemliness. Wherein shall he 
sleep? if, therefore, he cry unto me I will hear him: for 
I am merciful." Is it not natural that those who think 
that the Lawgiver showed such zeal for raiment should 
remind us, if not abuse us, saying : " What is this — the 
Creator and Governor of the universe call himself merciful 
in respect of so trivial a matter as this ? Such a view is 
characteristic of those who do not understand the greatness 
of the virtue of the all-great God, and without any warrant 
attribute human pettiness of mind to the uncreated and 
incorruptible nature of God. It is not strange that the 
creditors should keep the pledges untU they recover their 
own. If the debtors are poor it would have been better 
to write a law that they should rather assist them with 
alms ; but for what could a man pledge his only garment 1 
no one lacks the necessities of life so long as there are 
springs of water and the earth bears its yearly harvest. 
And why is the garment to be restored at night when 
darkness would conceal his shame ? Nothing is said about 
the return of the bedclothes in the morning, indeed the 
peculiarity of the language is sufficient to lead even the 
slowest to perceive some meaning other than the literal. 

Such considerations may be urged against the wiseacres 
who insist upon a literal interpretation and lift their eye- 
brows at any other. Let us follow the laws of allegory, 
the cloak is a symbol of speech, the best gift given from 
God to man. Speech enables him to resist all revolution- 
aries, it conceals his fJaults and leads him to amendment. 
But thei-e are some who take his speech in pledge and rob 
him of it. Such wage implacable warfare against the 


rational nature, cutting off its shoots, stifling its young 
growth, rendering it barren of all noble practices, and 
quenching love of philosophic speculation. 

The "shame" "which speech hides is ignorance, and 
therefore it is added "this cloak is the only cloak of his 
unseemliness." In what then will he sleep ? that is to say, 
in what then will a man rest and be at peace save in 
speech ? For speech lightens the burden of our race, just 
as the kindness of familiar friends has often healed those 
who are oppressed by grief, or fear, or any other evil, so 
not often, but always, the heaviest load of all, which bodily 
necessities and unforeseen accidents lay upon us, is warded 
off by speech alone. Speech is our friend and familiar 
companion, united to us by an indissoluble and invisible 
bond. It tells us what will be profitable for us, and when 
anything unforeseen comes upon us it is ready of its own 
accord to help not only as counsellor but as comrade. If 
it fail in plan or act it can still console us, for it is a salve 
of wounds and a salvation of the soul's passions — this 
speech which we must restore before the rays which God, 
in pity for our race, sends into the mind of man have set. 
So he that receives man's peculiar possession may cover 
the shame of mortal life and profit by the divine gift and 
rest calmly. So long, then, as God sheds upon you this 
holy light strive in the day to repay the pledge to the 
Lord: for at its setting, like all Egypt, you will have 
a darkness which can be felt for ever, and smitten 
with blindness and ignorance you will be robbed of your 
fancied possessions, enslaved perforce by the seer Israel, 
whom you held in pledge. 

This lengthy digression is necessary to bring out the 
meaning of the words " he met the place for the sun had 
set." When the rays of God, whereby the clearest concep- 
tions of things are produced, desert the soul then the second 
and weaker light of words, not of things, arises ; as in this 
world the moon rises at sunset. To meet a place or word 
is gift sufficient for those who cannot see the God who 


transcends place and word : since that pure light has set 
for them they reap the fruits of the tempered light. 

Some, supposing that the sun is a symbolic expression 
for perception and mind, which are considered to be criteria 
in ourselves, and that place is the divine Logos, have inter- 
preted thus : — the practiser of virtue met the divine Word 
when the mortal and human light set. It is only when 
mind and sense confess their weakness and, so to speak 
set, that right reason comes forward to champion the soul 
that has despaired of itself. 

It goes on to say that he took of the stones of the place 
and laid them at his head and slept in that place. The literal 
meaning is sufficiently impressive ; it contains a condemna- 
tion of the luxurious life of the miserable people who think 
themselves happy, but we must search out the symbolism 
of the passage. The divine place and the sacred region are 
full of bodiless intelligences, and these are immortal souls. 
One of these he takes, choosing the highest, and places it 
near his mind, for the mind is, in a way, the head of the 
soul. So he will not sleep, in the litei-al sense, but repose 
upon the divine Word and rest thereon his whole life, no 
heavy load. And the Word gladly hearkens and receives 
the athlete for training until his strength becomes irresis- 
tible. Then with divine inspirations he changes Jacob's 
ears to eyes and calls him Israel the seer, and crowns him 
with the crown of victory whose name is numbness (Gen. 
xxxii. 25). For it is said the breadth was numbed ; for if 
the soul which has been perfected in the contests of virtue 
is not elated, but contracts the breadth which is widened 
by opinion, and then trips itself up voluntarily, and halts 
in order that it may be passed by the bodiless natures, it 
will conquer though it appears to be defeated. 

Such is the preface of the vision sent by God: now it 
is time to turn to the vision itself. "He dreamed, and 
lo a ladder planted firmly on the earth, whose head reached 
to the heaven, and the angels of God ascended and de- 
scended upon it ; but the Lord was set upon it." Now 



the ladder is the air whose foot is the earth, and whose 
summit the heaven ; and the air, which gives life to all 
creatures, is itself a well-peopled city, whose citizens are 
incorruptible and immortal souls, equal in number to the 
stars ; some of these souls go down to be imprisoned in 
mortal bodies, being akin to earth and fond of bodies. 
Others go up, and if they yearn for the conditions of mortal 
life return again ; but those which condemn its futility 
call the body a prison and a tomb, and escape to the upper 
air, there to remain on high for ever. There are other 
souls, pure and good, whose thoughts are greater and more 
divine, who never desu-ed any earthly thing, but are the 
lieutenants of the All -ruler, ever seeing and hearing all 
things ; these are the demons of all other philosophers, who 
are called in the Law angels or messengers. It is not 
that the omnipresent God needs iuformei's, but that it is 
expedient for us poor mortals to have intelligences as 
mediators and arbitrators, because we quail before the 
supreme Judge. So once perceiving this, we besought one 
of the mediators, saying, " Speak thou to us, and let not 
God speak to us lest we die." God must employ ministers 
for his beneficence, else we cannot beax' it. 

There is a ladder in man as well as in the universe. 
If we look we shall find that the ladder in man is the soul, 
whose foot is the earthly sense, and whose head is the 
heavenly mind ; now throughout the soul the words of 
God go up and down incessantly, now dragging it up with 
them, away from the mortal sphere, to see the sight of 
those things which alone are worth seeing, and now, not 
casting it down, since neither God nor the Word of God 
can be the cause of punishment, but descending with it 
for love and pity of our race, to help and succour and 
revive the soul that is still carried about within the body 
as in a river. The Ruler of the universe himself walks 
about in the minds of those who are absolutely cleansed 
(Lev. XX vi. 12) ; but in the minds of those who are still 
being washed, and have not yet washed away the pol- 


lutions of bodily life, the angels walk, the words of God 
gladdening them with the doctrines of virtue. Strive 
then, soul, to become God's house, an holy temple, 
a goodly dwelling-place ; for perchance thou too shalt 
have the householder of the whole world caring for his 
own house, that it may ever be kept well fenced and free 
from harm. 

Perhaps also the practiser of viiiue conceives of his own 
life as like a ladder, for practice is an unequal thing, now 
soaring up and now descending. Some one has said that 
the life of the practisers of virtue alternates between 
waking life and death-like sleep. And this is true, since 
they are midway between the wise, whose dwelling-place 
is heaven, and the wicked, whose home is the recesses 
of hades. Those who are practising virtue walk up and 
down as upon a ladder, drawn up or dragged back until 
God, the umpire of the struggle, award the prize to the 
worthy and destroy the rest. 

Again, the affairs of men are like a ladder. One day, 
as some one said, puts down one man from on high and 
raises another up. Princes become commoners, commoners 
become princes. Rich become poor, and poor rich. Such 
and such is the road of human affairs, up and down ; full of 
unstable fortunes whose inequality time plainly shows. 

Now the di'eam showed the archangel, the Lord fixed on 
the ladder. For we must suppose that as a charioteer 
stands above his chariot, or a pilot above his ship, so 
the Absolute stands over bodies, souls, things, words, 
angels, earth, air, heaven, perceptible powers, invisible 
natures, over whatever can or cannot be seen. God is 
the charioteer of nature. But if God is fixed thereon it 
is only because he is the prop and firm foundation of all 

He that stands upon the ladder of heaven says " I am 
the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac " 
(Gen. xxviii. 13). The difference in the phrases is not 
without meaning. Isaac stands for the knowledge which 

z a 


is self-taught, bu.t Abraham for the knowledge which is 
being taught. The one is a son of the soil, the other a 
settler who has forsaken the language of the astronomers, 
and come to that which befits a rational being, the worship 
of the Cause of all things. Abraham then needs two 
powers, governance and beneficence, while Isaac needs only 
the gifts which are showered down from above. God is 
the name of the gracious Power, Lord is the name of the 
kingly Power, so Jacob prays that the Lco-d would be to 
him a Gk)d, for he wished no longer to fear him as Ruler, 
but to honoud" and love him as Benefactor. 

Shall we then be blind to all but the literal meaning 
of scripture 1 Nay, truly, if we close the eye of the soul, 
and will not or cannot look up, do thou, Hierophant, 
prompt and direct us till thou initiate us into the hidden 
light of sacred words, and show us the beauties which 
are hid from the gaze of the profane. And ye souls who 
have tasted the divine desires rise up from your deep sleep, 
scatter the mist, press on to the glorious spectacle, quitting 
your slow and hesitating fear, that ye may perceive what 
sights and sounds for your advantage the president of 
the great games hath made ready. 

The oracle calls Jacob's grandfather his father, and does 
not add the title to his real father. It is well worth while 
to examine carefully the reason for this. Virtue is said 
to be acquired either by nature, or by practice, or by 
learning. So there are three chieftains of the nation all 
wise, but not stai"ting from the same point, although they 
press towards the same end. Abraham, the eldest of these, 
used instruction as his guide upon the way leading to 
virtue ; Isaac self-taught nature ; Jacob toilsome practices. 
All three are types or kinds of minds. Thus Jacob, if he 
run strenuously towards the goal, becomes Israel, and then 
has Isaac, not Abraham, for his father. This is not my 
own legend, but an oi-acle inscribed in the sacred records. 
Scripture says '■' Israel removed, he and all that were his, 
and came to the well of the oath, and sacrificed a sacrifice 


to tbe God of hi& father Isaac" (Gen. xlvi. i). Now do 
you Tinderstand that the text does not concern corruptible 
men, but the nature of things ? 

God bids Jacob " fear not," Abraham he taught, Isaac he 
begat. Abraham was his disciple, Isaac his son. How 
shall we fear who have God as our defender? To Jacob 
God promises the earth, that is fruitful virtue, whereon he 
sleeps. The race of wisdom is likened to the sand of 
the earth, for instruction checks the flood-tides of sin. The 
wise man is not a blessing to himself alone, but to all 
who share a rational nature. If any one in house or city 
or district or Biation become a lover of wisdom, that house, 
city, district, or nation must lead a better life, influenced 
by the sweet savour of his wisdom. 

But the greatest benefit for the soul that labours and 
strives is to have the omnipresent God for comrade on 
his journey. For lo, he says, "I am with thee." What 
wealth then could we need ? Thee we have who alone art 
the true wealth, guarding us on the way, which in all 
its windings leads to virtue. Very well is it said, " I will 
return thee to this land." It were best that the reason 
should remain in its own sphere, and not migrate to the 
sphere of the senses ; it is next best that it should return 
to its own sphere again. And perhaps also there is here 
a hint of the doctrine of the soul's immortality ; for it left 
its heavenly place and came, as it were, into a strange 
country, the body. So the father that begat it says that 
he wiU not leave it for ever imprisoned, but taking pity 
will loose its chains and send it free to its metropolis, 
and will not cease before his promise is made good. 

So Jacob cries out repentant, "It is not as I thought; 
the Lord contains and is not contained, according to the 
true theory." But this visible universe is nothing else than 
the house of God, that ia of one of the powers of the 
Absolute, his beneficence. Further, he calls the universe 
the gate of true heaven. What then does this mean 1 It 
is impossible to conceive of the world of ideas save by 


migration from the material world. We must enter in by 
the gate appointed. 

But enough of this. There is another dream which 
belongs to the same class, which is thus narrated by the 
dreamer : — " The angel of God said to me in sleep, Jacob ; 
and I said, What is it ? and he said, Look up with thine 
eyes, and behold the goats and the rams mounting upon 
the sheep and the goats, white and spotted and ring- 
straked ; for I have seen all that Laban doth to thee. 
I am the God that was seen of thee in God's place, where 
thou didst anoint for me a pillar, and didst vow unto 
me a vow. Now, therefore, rise up and come forth from 
this land, and depart into the land of thy birth, and I 
will be with thee" (Gen. xxxi. 11-13). Hence we see that 
dreams, which come thi'ough the interpreters and attendant 
angels of the First Cause, are also reckoned as sent by 
God. Notice what follows. To some the Holy Word speaks 
as a king in command : to others it suggests as a teacher 
to his disciples what will be beneficial for them : to others 
as a counsellor it introduces the best thoughts, and so 
benefits those who of themselves are ignorant of what is 
expedient: to others again, like a friend, it brings up 
unspeakable things, which none of the uninitiated may 
hear. Here, as to Moses at the bush and to Abraham at 
the sacrifice of his beloved and only son, it speaks as to 
a friend, first calling him by name. And Jacob looks up 
to discern the meaning of the symbols presented to him. 
The he-goat and the ram are leaders of their flocks. The 
flocks are souls ; the he-goats and the rams are the right 
reason of wisdom. 

And when he looked up — saw with the eye of his mind 
which before was closed — he beheld the perfect Reasons, 
sharpened to the diminution of vice and the increase of 
right action, mounting upon the young and tender souls, 
not seeking empty pleasure, but sowing the invisible seed 
of the doctrines of knowledge. Go then, sow your seed, 
ye Eeasons, pass by no soul of good and virgin soil, for 


such will bear good fruit, all male offspring, ringstraked, 
speckled, and grisled. 

We must inquire into the force of each of these terms, 
"ringstraked, speckled, and grisled." " Eingstraked " is 
literally very white, hidXevKoi — for 8ia has an intensive force 
in compounds. So the meaning is that the firstborn of 
the soul that receives sacred seed are " very white," like 
the clearest brightest light of unclouded noon. 

"Speckled" does not refer to the irregular spots of 
leprosy, which represent the unsettled life of an unstable 
mind, but to the regular and harmonious markings which 
fit into and correspond with each other. The word is 
commonly appropriated to weaving or embroidery ; but the 
universe itself is a piece of embroidery, an harmonious 
combination of different elements which calls for reverential 
respect for the work, the art, and the artificer. 

The thu-d ofispring is described as "grisled," dust- 
coloured, sprinkled (o-n-oSoeiSeis pavroC). What sane man 
would not say that these also belong to the class of speckled 
or variegated? Such zeal for minute details is not con- 
cerned with the difference of cattle, but with the path 
which leads to virtue. The meaning is that he who walks 
thereon is sprinkled with dust and water, because the 
story goes that earth and water were mixed and moulded 
by the Creator and transformed into our body, which is 
no handiwork, but a work of invisible nature. It is then 
the beginning of wisdom not to forget oneself, but ever 
to hold before oneself that out of which one is compounded 
so may one be cleansed from haughtiness, the evil which 
God most detests. For, who bethinking himself that ashes 
and water are his beginnings of being (t^s yei'ea-ews), can 
be puffed up and exalted by pride? Therefore, the law- 
giver ordained (eStKaiwo-ev) that those about to perform the 
sacred rites should be sprinkled therewith, thinking none 
worthy to sacrifice who had not first known himself and 
perceived the nothingness of man, inferring from the 
elements of which he is composed his utter unworthiness. 


The great highpriest, whenever he is about to perform 
the ritual ordained by law, must first be sprinkled 
with ashes and water (Exod. xxix. 4) to remind him of 
himself, just as the wise Abraham when he went to entreat 
God said that he was earth and dust (Gen. xviii. 37). 
Then he must put on the coat reaching to his feet, and 
the varied thing which is called the breastplate, the image 
of the stars. 

For there are, it would seem, two temples of God — the 
one, this world in which God's firstborn, the divine Logos, 
is highpriest ; and the other the rational soul, whereof the 
true man is priest, whose material image is he who performs 
the ancestral prayers and sacrifices, who is commanded to 
put on the aforesaid coat, the counterpart of the whole 
heaven, that the world may join with man and man with 
the universe in the rite. 

What then of the third class — the pure white? When 
this same highpriest enters into the inmost place of the 
sanctuaxy, he puts off his varied garment and takes a 
second made of finest linen. This is the symbol of har- 
mony, of incorruptibility, of most brilliant light: for this 
fine linen is unbroken and is made of nothing that dies, 
and, moreover, has a bright and shining colour, being not 
carelessly purified. Thus I read this riddle. None of those 
who guilelessly and purely worship the Absolute (to Sp) 
but must first be determined to despise the affairs of men, 
which beguile and harm and bring weakness : then, derid- 
ing the vain inventions of mortals, he aims at immoitality ; 
and last, he is illuminated by the shadowless brilliant light 
of truth, no longer entertaining any vain opinion. 

In strong contrast with the highpriest who is clad thus 
and thus we read of Joseph with his coat of many colours. 
He is not sprinkled with holy purifications, whence he 
might have known himself to be a compound of ashes and 
water; nor may he touch the white and radiant garment, 
virtue. His coat is the varied coat of politics, wherein the 
smallest portion of truth is mingled with many large portions 


of specious lies. Hence have sprung up all the sophists of 
Egypt, augurs, ventriloquists, diviners, from whose trea- 
cherous arts it is very hard to escape. So it is but natural 
that Moses speaks of his coat as being drabbled with blood 
(Gen. xxxviii. 31), since all the life of the politician is 
bedrabbled, warring, and warred upon, smitten by unfore- 
seen contingencies. Examine the great leader of the people, 
unaffected by the general admiration which he commands. 
You will find many diseases lurking within him : dangers 
are dogging his footsteps : each individual is raising itself 
by violence and secretly wrestling with him, while the 
many are discontented with his rule, or a moi-e powerful 
rival is rising up against him. Envy is always a terrible 
enemy, ever clinging to our fancied success. But if we 
don the embroidered robe of virtue we shall escape the 
snares of Laban (Gen. xxxi. 1 2). 

When the sacred Word has cleansed us with the purifi- 
catory sprinklings and adorned us with the unspeakable 
words of true philosophy, it condemns the envious trea- 
cherous disposition, and we must not quail who have the 
hope of God's alliance. 

But when it is said I am the God who was seen of thee 
in the place of God we must ask: "Are there then two 
Gods," as the phrase suggests? He that is truly God is 
one, but they who are loosely so called are many. Where- 
fore the holy Word uses the definite article of him who 
is truly God, and not of the many. In the present instance 
it is his most ancient Logos that is called God — not that 
the writer is superstitious about the application of terms, 
but because he sets one goal before himself to keep to his 
system. For no name belongs rightly to the Absolute, who 
is of a nature to exist simply, not to be described. There 
is an old legend that the deity at different times visits 
different cities in human form, seeking out cases of unright- 
eousness and lawlessness. Perhaps it is not true, but even 
so it is profitable and expedient that it should be current. 
And Scripture, though it employs more reverent conceptions 


of the Absolute, does at the same time liken God to man, 
speaking of his face, voice, anger, and so forth, for the profit 
of the learner. Some are so dull that they cannot conceive 
of God at all without a body. So it is written, on the one 
hand, that God is not as a man (Num. xxiii. 19), and, on 
the other, "the Lord thy God shall school thee as a man 
might school his son " (Deut. viii. 5). Why then should 
we wonder if God is made like angels, and sometimes even 
men, for the assistance of the needy ? 

Why then, soul, dost thou still labour in vain ? Why 
dost thou not attend upon the ascetic, that thou mayest 
learn to wield the weapons that overcome passion and vain 
opinion ? For, perchance, having learned thou shalt be lord 
of a flock, approved rational and varied. So wilt thou 
bewail the piteous race of men, and never cease entreating 
the Godhead, So shalt thou continually glorify God and 
engrave holy hymns on pillars, that thou mayest not only 
recount fluently but also sing musically the virtues of 
him who is. For so shalt thou be able to return to thy 
father's house and escape the endless storm that rages 

J, H. A. Hart.